Monday, February 8, 2016

Grainline Studio Lark Tee - Cardigan version!

Cascade, waterfall - all those beautiful coats that have been popping up make me so jealous of people who actually have seasons. I want one! red or camel or black. With a scarf and gloves and slouchy knit hat. Can't have everything, so I made a waterfall cardigan.

The Lark Tee

And I got so much help.

I've been lurking the Grainline Studio Lark Tee. It comes with four necklines - scoop, vee, crew, and boat neck. But it's a tee. How many tee shirt patterns do I need?

Apparently one more :-) I convinced myself when I read Jen's (free) tutorial on making a cardigan with the crew neck version of the Lark. I even had suitable fabric at hand, a Maggy London cotton/poly/lycra stripe from Fabric Mart. It's been hanging out in my stash since last May, because the stripe is simply too small for a dress. But this cardigan is perfect - I had to buy the pattern.

Here's Jen wearing her version:


The Lark Tee is long at 28" or so, which I like since I don't tuck my tops. For her cardigan, Jen took 2.5" off the length of the tee. And I added 3" to mine, because I like to cover my bum.

Here's a look at the very simple redrafting of the crew neck pattern:


In typical Grainline Studio style, both the instruction booklet that comes with the Lark, and the tutorial for the cardigan, are beautifully done with clear illustrations and understandable directions.

I pretty much followed the directions, but I ran into difficulty when it came to hemming the neckline and front. The instructions are to turn in the edge 3/4" and topstitch/coverstitch to finish. Aaack! A raw edge inside that would show outside in the cascade. Worse - I simply could not get the fabric to turn in 3/4" around the tight curve at the shoulder seam/back neckline area.

So I fooled around with some scrap fabric, trying for a rolled hem finish. It was OK - but not the nice finish I like.

Finally my coffee kicked in (it was early this morning), and I remembered TwoToast's Sunday blog post  in which  she describes how she finished the edges of her new cascade cardi. Lightbulb moment - what a great approach! I cut 1.5" wide strips of rayon jersey, folded them in half wrong sides together, and attached them to the cardigan, pretty much the same way one would attach a band to a neckline. A little topstitching to keep the bands from rolling out, and done.

It's a little hard to see on black, but here's the outside and inside of part of the band. I really like the way this looks:

One note of caution: the sleeves are straight from the tee shirt pattern, so they are slim. I'm wearing a sleeveless Bantam vest under my cardi - I really couldn't get it over a long-sleeved tee very comfortably. It would be easy, though, to widen the sleeve. Also, I sewed the size 10, which matches my measurements. I always cringe mentally when I go down a size, but the pattern is true to its size charts.

I'm glad I made this, it's pretty neat. But I'm not sure it's the best look for me. Maybe with a turtleneck. Or long hair. Or a long necklace. (Or a scarf, mittens, and a knit cap :-) But I scratched my itch to have a waterfall coat, and I still have a wonderful tee shirt pattern to play with in the future. I have another two yards of this fabric, so I'm thinking a crew-neck tee with a cuffed sleeve.

Bye for now! Coco

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Simplicity 5314 - my TNT robe...

Oh gosh, it's been a little chilly here in Florida! I know a lot of you are laughing now - but 40 degrees F. is on the cool side for the sub-tropics. Time for a new robe, one of my favorite sewing projects. In the last four years, I've made 3 for my daughter, one for my grandson, one for Mom, and 4 for my greedy self.

I keep several kimono-style robes on a hook in the bathroom, a hooded purple fleece robe from Long Tall Sally in the bedroom (my splurge robe), and a long black one, made in 2013, near the front door.

The black one, which I fashioned after the iconic Calvin Klein knit robe, is for answering the door, getting the mail, putting out the trash bins. I want my neighbors to think I dress like this all the time, instead of in mismatched pj's and knee socks.

A note: I collect knee socks. All kinds of patterns and stripes. I find them irresistible.

Back to the robe: My TNT kimono pattern is Simplicity 5314, a unisex collection of PJ bottoms and robes. These are great basic patterns and include sizes S through the rare XXXL. At 5'7" and size 10-12 in Big 4 patterns, I wear the Small.

The one thing I always change on the robe is the pockets. I use great big patch pockets instead of the smaller inseam variety in the pattern.

Fabric - Calla Green Cozy Flannel, JoAnns

I start the pocket with a 10" x 9" rectangle, and end up with something around 8" square. And I attach the outside edge of the pocket in the side seam, about 3.5" below the belt loop.

Basted and ready to be topstitched.

If I attach the pocket with a single line of topstitching, I run a notch of reinforcement stitches in the upper corner.

Which reminds me of a question asked often on PR - should hidden seam allowances be finished? My vote: yes. For instance, flannel is very loosely woven and ravels in an instant with handling. If left unfinished, the insides of these pockets wouldn't hold up well with use and laundering. So I serged all the inside edges of the pockets before I sewed them. Takes about 5 seconds.

The big reveal - yes, I have legs, but they're not often seen given my penchant for maxi's and pants :-)

I had just enough left-over fabric to make a pair of PJ shorts, also in size Small. I love them! The fit is great, and they're super easy and fast to make.

Parting shot: I'm still knitting socks (soon to be blogged). A peek at the only two matching socks so far. Tube socks of course!

Ciao! Coco

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Valentine's Day dress...

I love February! It's such a sweet month, and the last day (3 out of 4 years) is my birthday. So I try to make a suitable something every year.

Anticipating this year's make, I picked up Girl Charlee's 'LOVE' knit jersey during the Thanksgiving sales. It comes in a white/red colorway as well, but I really like this gray/black combo. More subtle, if that's possible with this print - and it's very playful.

I've worn it twice already this month and received nice comments each time. The dress is my version of the Dixie DIY Ballet Dress, i.e., the top from the pattern and a length of fabric for the skirt. Lazy me, but the width of a most knit fabrics work great for my skirt without any shaping.

The neckline binding is black rayon jersey - I thought it would look strangely speckled if done in the main fabric.

This cotton/poly fabric, which is branded under Girl Charlee's own name, is light to mid-weight (7.5 - 8 oz.) and is easy to sew and wear. It has a nice amount of width-wise stretch without being 'spongy' or clingy.

A couple sewing notes:

I just can't wear the elastane tape  that is often recommended to support shoulder and waistline seams. For the waistline on a casual garment, I usually sew the seam with a lightning stitch, serge/cut the allowances together, press them up, and topstitch them to the bodice. That waistline is not going anywhere...

Waistline seam, inside view
I like to serge/cut my armhole seams together, and then let the fabric tell me what to do with the seam. On this dress, I pressed the seam in, towards the bodice, and topstitched it. Some fabrics want to go the other way, towards the sleeve.

Armhole seam, inside view

There's a recurring discussion of the 'which direction for seams' question on Pattern Review, and not just for sleeves, but for any seam. I go with the flow unless there's a compelling design reason to use a particular approach.

Because when the garment is laundered, the seams are going to tend to their natural placement...most of my garments wave goodbye to the iron once I've finished sewing them :-)


Fun project. But now I'm stuck. I've had three serious wadders already this year, all with new patterns. And I've no idea what I want to do next.

This happens once in a while, so I'm knitting while I wait for that lightning bolt moment. I decided to learn how to knit socks. Those skinny double-point needles have always intimidated me - but I've done 7 socks now, none of which are matching, and I'm getting good at it!

Bye for now - Coco

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Jungle January final makes...

And we come to the end of Jungle January...

I picked up loads of animal print fabrics over the year 2015, and I still haven't sewn all of them. Here are a couple things that I did finish, both in patterns I've blogged before.

What would the month be without a version of my TNT Jalie Cocoon cardigan. Love this thing.

It's a snakeskin print - a Maggy London jacquard double knit from Fabric Mart. Nice. I've been watching for more of this fabric. It's smooth like a ponte de roma, just a little heftier. And a breeze to sew in this pattern.

I was cruising QVC recently, looking at cardigans for ideas, and found this one from Halston for $65, and identical to the Jalie version. Which means I have $325 worth of cardigans in my closet...

More bottoms, this time in McCalls 6291 elastic-waist cargo pants. Another favorite that I've used to make both pants and shorts.


This crazy stretch denim is also from Fabric Mart, and it's one of the strangest fabrics I've sewn. The blue spots feel almost rubbery, kind of like puffy fabric paint (yes, I used a bunch of it when I was on my painted tee shirt journey).

I tested it with the iron, and decided not to push it! I didn't want blue goo all over my iron sole plate, so I used a calico pressing cloth.



On this pair I used one cargo pocket, no flap, but buttoned down, on each lower leg. I know they're lost in this print, but they're cute in real life. I also added 5 belt carriers, and then decided not to use them. The fabric is a little heavy with all those blue things, and the carriers made the waistband very stiff. My seam ripper got a real workout removing the waistband and carriers, I probably need a new ripper now.

The black slouchy turtleneck I'm wearing is Kwik Sew 4069. Andrea, this is for you :-) and thank you for pointing out that black is a good color for me! I've enjoyed this top.

The pattern is very simple and has two collar variations, folded or standing turtle. A caution: measure your neck, try on the collar, and modify it as needed, before you sew it on. I took 3.5" off the width of my standing collar for an almost-snug fit.

Thanks again, Anne, for a fun January. And I'm off to watch the replay of the Australian Open women's final...great stuff.

Ciao! Coco

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

New Look 6323 Tunic full of giraffes...

I'm covered in little giraffes! When I got this border print ITY from Fabric Mart last year, I thought the giraffes were bigger. But I think they're adorable as they are. It's just taken me a while to find a pattern that would work - the print on the 6" wide border runs vertically, and the main print runs horizontally. Head spin...

New Look 6323 is perfect. It's very similar to the Butterick 5954 tunic that I've made 5 times. But this one has a gathered back option that I just love.

Honestly, I had kind of forgotten I had it. I made it once last year in interlock jersey, and the fit in size 14 was really bad. Much too large. Plus I really disliked the color of the fabric, and it was donated.

This go 'round I used the size 12 - and it's a great fit. I have the pattern in a download file, so I reprinted it and drafted the new size.

How about those sleeves! I used the border down the center of the sleeves and on the neckline binding. I had to do something to break up the herd running all over the tunic. It just took a little redrafting of the sleeve (I kept the original instead of cutting it apart):

From the sleeve - the giraffes really are nice, they have a good attitude. I know the colors look black, white, and coral, but that's really a deep navy. So I'm wearing my indigo jeans and Rocket Dog flip-flops :-)


Now that I've rediscovered this pattern, I've already sewn it again, in solid black rayon jersey. Which I won't show here - black is impossible to photograph.

The back detail is also hard to capture, but it looks great in real life.

I love Jungle January! Ciao - Coco

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Vogue 9114 - Jungle January cheetah pants...

I guess I was born liking animal's my mom in 1955, in zebra stripe pants that she made. She modeled in her twenties and was so lovely. What a figure she had! I wish she had kept her portfolio - we found only a few photos after she passed away.


My 'abstract cheetah print' pants are not as, hmmm, sexy as my mom's, but they are super fun to wear. I used Kathryn Brenne's V9114 pattern once again, my third pair. 

It's really hard to see any details in the pics, because the spots just take over. In real life, the design elements are easier to see. The pocket is once again from V8712, Marcy Tilton's ankle pants. I love it, because the pocket bag stays in place - no reaching or jamming of hands to straighten out the pocket. It installs just like a regular side seam pocket, once the half moon detail is sewn.

The fabric is cotton sateen from Fabric Mart. I think it looks like leopard spots...

And here are the wonderful upside down leg cuffs, all prepped for attachment. I used solid broadcloth lining on the cuffs and pockets because the cream areas of the main fabric are just light enough to allow show-through.  Peeking from the bottom casing is the 1/4" elastic that I used instead of fabric ties. I find the elastic to be an easy-to-wear, no hassle alternative.

My first post of these pants has lots of construction and sewing notes.

Originally I added black cords to the ends of the cuff to mimic fabric ties. Then I cut them off! They were just a little much with all this animal stuff going on...

I tried to get a shot of the final cuff. No ties and tacked to the pant leg with a black button. Squint please...

With Kathryn Brenne's jacket, V9135...

I didn't try to do any pattern matching on these britches! Fortunately the faint pattern repeat down the front and backs of the pants legs worked out...

And out in my jungle. We have wonderful sunshine and cool breezes today, after a couple weeks of rain. I'm not complaining - I love rain - but it is a pretty day. Eventually I'll have the patio and walkway pressure-cleaned, a yearly maintenance requirement after the rainy season ends. I always notice it in my photos, a good reminder.

I hope you're enjoying a nice weekend. Ciao! Coco