Finished Object: 9 Lines Sweater, Tee and Hack

May’s Hack of the Blank Canvas Tee- the 9 Lines Sweater and Tee- is complete!  Sure, it’s June 10, but I’m getting better with the dates.  I always seem to sew up the hack during the month and forget all the work that goes into writing it.  I’ll try to be more punctual.  This is the hemp-rayon jersey version.

I added three lines of pintucking to the back neck, I like the effect.  It takes so little effort to embellish a plain layering tee, and I think it’s well worth it.  This tee features a regular knit neck binding, underarm gussets for mobility (and to reduce bulk), and pintucked embellishments made with twin needles.

Though I intended the hack as a sweater, I made this one first to check if my gusset drafting would work on a knit.  It does!  I know gussets are kind of scary, but I over-explain them in the hack and I hope it’s useful to someone.  I know that some hiking and activewear uses gussets, and they’re especially wonderful for sweater weight fabrics.

The Hemp Rayon was not terribly difficult to sew with, even on the fiddly places. I still don’t see any pilling, I’ll be sure to update at the end of the winter.  So far, so good!

I re-watched Charade with Audrey Hepburn last week and this collar on “Reggie” caught my eye.  It’s one of those curious little standaway collars so popular in the 60’s.  I also have several standaway collars on my Hack Inspiration pinboard.  I wanted to try my hand at a collar like this, combined with my other inspiration (though on closer inspection, it looks like this is a standaway collar, too):

I used a very plushy merino jersey and felted it gently in the washing machine.  The result is like polar fleece, but sooooo soft and warm and magical.  Really.  I found the fabric as a second at The Fabric Store.  I’m not sure why it was a second, I couldn’t find a flaw on the fabric.  (In fact, before I cut the hack I wore the length of merino as a pashmina on a night out and was sorely tempted to leave it as a pashmina.)

You can see the seamlines. Buttons are glass and metal ones I re-discovered while digging through my stash. I love special surprises like that!  I like the shape of the collar, but I could easily add a hook and eye to keep it closed tighter.

Sewing in the button loops

Close-up of embellishment. I made 3 lines of pintucking on each line I marked, very effective for this fabric.

back neck embellishment- I hadn’t washed out the chalk lines yet, in case they were needed to help show the embellishments in photos…

This picture shows range of motion. It’s important to me that my clothes allow me to pursue a double life as Spiderman.

I really must blog this skirt… I wear it all the time.

Click image to download hack + sewing notes .pdf. It’s different from my previous hacks.

When I was about halfway through writing this hack, I had an idea about how to best present the information.  I’ve been struggling with this since I started publishing the hacks.  I’d like them to be as visually pleasing and useful as possible, to present drafting as a delightful creative exercise rather than some secret and scary skill.  I divided up the various design elements on this top and present them separately- both in the hacking and the sewing instructions.  I’d be very interested to hear any thoughts on the hack.

More shots from the mobility testing.  Clothes should be able to move, even the really lovely ones with glass buttons and pretty collars.

I’m really happy with this hack- both the garments I made and the pdf.  Time to turn around and work on June, maybe I’ll get it out before July!

Up Next: Altering the Clovers and also Welt Pocket Testing.  I’ve stumbled across several interesting welt pocket tutorials lately so I thought I’d try a few of them and pick a favorite.

Kimono Wrap Top Pattern Now Available and Merino Fabric Giveaway!

The Kimono Wrap Top and Draped Cardigan pattern is now for sale on Craftsy!  I learned a LOT about making a pattern for sale with this project, and I hope to make more patterns available in the future.

Not for a while, though.

The Kimono Wrap top uses 1.7m (1 3/4 yd) of medium weight knit fabric and modern sewing techniques.  It’s a heavily adapted version of Advance 7701 from the 50’s.   I like how quickly the pieces go together, and the fact that it’s easy to wear without but feminine and pretty.  Check out the details on the pattern page.

To celebrate, I went shopping at The Fabric Store.  Not for me, for you!  I picked up this delicious piece of blue New Zealand merino to give away.  I’ve been going on about this fabric so much lately, I’d like to share the merino joy.  This piece is not exactly sweater weight, more like a winter blouse / spring cardigan.

Can you believe the way it ripples when I drop it?

When the fabric is laid out flat and the light hits it just so, I see shadowy stripes.  I love subtle details!

When I hold it up to the light, I see the gently slubbed yarn.  It’s fine, but strong and soft.

To win 1.7m of New Zealand merino fabric and a copy of the Kimono Wrap pattern, leave a comment below telling me what kind of pattern you’d like to see next. (Not immediately.  I’m knackered.)  If you would like to enter more than once, post a link to this page on your blog or Facebook and let me know in a separate comment.  MT @3hourspast and a link to this post on twitter to enter, as well.

I’ll choose a winner at random next Saturday evening at 6pm (my time)!  I’ll ship anywhere.

Thanks for all your encouragement and support while I worked on this, I probably wouldn’t have tried making a “nice” pattern otherwise.  It’s not perfect (what is?)- if you have any difficulties or find any errors please let me know and I’ll correct them.

I’m going to take it easy the next week or so- I have a friend visiting from the United States!  I’ll still write posts and email, but at a slower pace.

Edited to Add: If you win the pattern and you’ve already bought it, I will refund you.

Finished Object: “Merino Kimono” Wrap Top

Remember my obsessive crush on Advance 7701?  And how Jane lent me her copy?  And how I made it up in a vintage-inappropriate cotton knit and vowed to make another in merino for winter wear?

I did it.  The Sew Weekly challenge this week was “Down Under” (reverse seasons).  I thought since the fabric came from New Zealand (a gift from Leimomi when she visited, no less!) and it’s summer here, I went ahead and made my winter merino version.  This fabric is incredible.  It’s smooth and softer than soft against my skin.  And, ever thoughtful and detail-oriented, Leimomi chose a perfect shade of teal.

If you’d like to read the brief rundown on the project, check out my post on Sew Weekly.

Over the past few months, I devoted quite some time to learning to put patterns online.  That’s part of what the Blank Canvas Tee was for.  The patterns aren’t as flashy and professional looking as I’d like, but I think I have the basic idea down.  I consider this a big milestone in my own sewing, because I tend to work with hard-to-find or completely made up patterns.  Then I share what I did and- well- I always felt a little guilty for going on and on about patterns no one else can find.

With this top, I have adapted the pattern for modern sewing techniques and fabrics (like this perfect knit).  I think the pattern will be “perfect” after one more tweak.  For the merino top, I eliminated the horizontal bust dart.  It’s not a big deal on this top, but in the future I will put it back.   I think if I created some gentle “easing” type shaping instead of the dart, it would be just the ticket.

My point is, have you seen Craftsy’s new independent pattern section?  It’s amazing, and I’m really excited to watch how it will work.  And I want in!  The Blank Canvas Tee and hacks will always be available for free.   However, if I start putting some of my favorite self-made patterns on Craftsy for sale then perhaps I can help pay the rent.  Maybe I could eventually afford some red Astorias!

The back of the short sleeved cotton version. Both sleeve lengths would be included in my craftsy pattern.

I like this pattern a LOT, not the least because it’s an unexpected cut, very comfortable and takes about an hour to sew.  I know this one will hardly leave my back come winter- in fact I have plans to make several once cold weather hits (and when I can afford a little more merino… it’s my new fabric crack…).

If I didn’t attach the ties and left it open, it would look like one of those drapey open-front cardigans everyone is wearing…

What do you think?  If I put this pattern up on Craftsy, my own modern translation of the cut and with full instructions, would you be interested?  Are there any of my other self-made or “translated” patterns you’d love to see available on Craftsy?


So Grateful for Creative Collaboration

When I first noticed blogs a few years ago, I saw them as a platform from which to spew one’s ideas all over a blank-faced anonymous internet audience and wondered what kind of attention-whore ego maniac would have one.  That was incorrect.  Terribly, terribly incorrect.

Now I appreciate the time and skill that goes into blogging.  I also value the creative collaboration that blogging and social media facilitates.  Sometimes it’s as simple as weighing in on whether white and cream should go together, sometimes it’s a little more involved.  That’s what “Sew Grateful” is about- celebrating these collaborations.

This is the shrug that 3 bloggers made.  It’s a very fine, airy New Zealand merino/ viscose blend.  Leimomi brought it with her to Australia as a gift.  (Crazy how well it coordinates with my other clothes…!)  When I draped it over my body and pottered around my house trying to decide what it should be, I felt a shrug in the fabric.  I remembered Tanit-Isis’ 1950’s shrug pattern available as a download.

Tanit-Isis and I are differently proportioned, but I decided to go with her original size anyway.  I’m not a “shrug” person, generally, but I want to experiment with lightweight tropical layering.  Perfect.

I believe the fabric must have spread while I stitched (despite my best efforts), because my neckline looks much wider than Tanit-Isis’.   I don’t mind the “drapey open neck easygoing shrug over a dress” look.

How many sewists can we fit in a single shrug? In the spirit of collaboration, I’d like to hear if/how you’d change the neckline.    Should I go for a button?  What about ties for a prim bow?  A brooch? If I covered the inside seam with pretty bias tape and left the neckline open, would that accentuate the drapey open neck look or make it worse?  Should I trim it down to “just sleeves”? What do we think?  I can’t decide exactly what to do with it, but I feel like it’s millimeters away from perfection.  (And surprisingly comfy on a blistering day.)

This post is for Debi, too- she’s participating in the “Sew Grateful” challenge and I wanted to chime in.

Wins and Fails in Winter Sewing

(Favorite combination of palazzo cords, husband sweater, and trilobite cabled beanie)
I had some plans for this winter.  I was testing a few new-to-me styles and fabrics, figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t.  All in the name of science…
What worked for me for winter?
Win- Flanelette 1930’s House Coat:
This is by far my favorite.  It has precisely served its purpose.  The long flannel skirt made it snuggly, but I didn’t feel completely sloppy around the house.  I want to make a similar one in a fine batik cotton for summer, maybe a different style.Fail- Just because the pattern envelope suggests jersey doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

I intended to make the top in the left corner from a medium weight New Zealand merino.  Wisely, I tried it first in a soft, cheap rayon:
The wool would only have been slightly heavier than the rayon, so it might be firmer but I wasn’t willing to risk it for a house shirt.  I do like this shirt, and wear it though I never finished it more than a quick muslin.

Fail- Those pants were another incomplete failure.  They are too short with shoes.  Because I -ahem- measured the hem while barefoot.  I like them anyway and wore them all winter.

Win- Persephone Weskit

I really, really like this semi-tailored weskit.  I reached for it on rushed mornings to pull two pieces together.  Many of my work basics are black and white, and the weskit (I hope) camouflages a less than perfectly ironed blouse.  The fabric proved both sturdy and hard to wrinkle.

It’s getting to be the bright time of year, every picture from this morning’s Self-Stitched-September shoot captures an awkward face.  Time to dust off the sun-jacket.

I’m looking at a few favorites from last summer, to help guide this year’s sewing.  I’m thinking a palette of crisp white, clear blue-red, baby blue, and aqua.   I’ll post more this weekend, plenty of free time.

 (Wholesome Dress, an unexpected winter favorite)

Also, I just saw a post on Dress a Day… I’m so excited, Erin’s blog has informed how I think about clothing and sewing, especially Dressing for Joy.  It’s what turned me to sewing for myself, in a style I enjoy.  Thank you, Erin.

My Work, Cut Out For Me

Name: Asymmetrical pleated skirt from distressed silk.
Age: 15 months
Needs: Zipper, waistband, hemming
Name: Cotton voile blouse from a favorite 50’s pattern with piping
Age: 10 months
Needs: Shoulder seam, one sleeve, collar, darts, hem, buttonholes
Name: Cotton corduroy self-drafted skirt with back godets
Age: 3 months
Needs: Side zipper, attach lining, hem
Name: Burda skirt in linen-cotton
Age: 5 months
Needs: Technically a finished garment, but the lack of waistband makes me uncomfortable.  I need to make a shaped waistband and attach it.
Name: early 1950’s dress with contrast collar and cuffs, made from a $1 sheet.
Age: 2 weeks
Needs: Belt, zipper, hem
Name: Smooth Sailing pants with lining, welt pockets and exceptional belt loops in wool-cashmere.
Age: 5 days
Needs: Attach waistband, belt loops, hook and bar, hem.  It’s not a long-standing unfinished project, but I thought I should mention it.
These are the garments which weigh on my conscience lately.  I can’t tell you exactly why I haven’t finished them, I just haven’t.  Most of these are work-appropriate clothes and I’ve only been working a day or two every week for some time.  I can’t be bothered to sew something I might wear once a month, though I do like to cut them out.
Now I have a full-time job!   I’ll be working in the administrative office of the shop I already work for- answering phones, managing social media, e-mails, etc.  I haven’t had a steady job in a long time, so I’m excited.  I start on Monday; this weekend I plan to finish up at least most of these projects and make sure the rest of my wardrobe is in top condition.
I need new work blouses.  These three fabrics sat on my work table for months.  I know what they should be- Burda 01-2011-107 in the scrimshaw Liberty print; Jalie 2794 with lace inset in cream merino slub knit; and one of my late 40’s blouse patterns for the delft blue print.
How should I best avoid fussiness with the blue? Simple lines?  Complete severity of cut? What about a mannish tailored shirt with deep pintucks?  Can you see something cool and not frou-frou made from the blue, or should I relegate it to craft fabric?
Why do I have so many projects lacking zippers and hems?  It’s not like I don’t know how to do them…

Goldfish Knitting

Sometimes my fingers twitch in a way that only knitting satisfies.  Cold weather brings that feeling to my fingertips.  This year, I started with a scarflet gifted to a friend before I photographed it.  I was so pleased with the finished product, I made one for myself.  It’s the perfect little scarf for a slightly chilly sub-tropical winter.

I can’t decide which side I like best.  This comes from Ravelry, “Anthro-Inspired Scarflet.”  Knitters like to knock off Anthropologie as much as sewists.  I used one-and-a-bit balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran- perfect pairing of yarn and pattern for optimal stitch definition.  If I had it to do again (and I suspect I’ll keep making them), I’d make the back neck 20 sts wide instead of 26, which would make this a one-ball project.  It curls despite blocking, I may need to wet-block.

I knit a few beanies for my husband every year.  He picked this one, Aaron’s Hat, which I knitted with “Jet,” a soft alpaca blend which also yields great stitch definition.  I worried it would come out too textured for his taste, but it’s soft and warm and barely leaves his head.

And finally, Capucine.  I started it with an angora blend held double, then realized I would run out of yarn well before I finished.

No problem, I blended in some gray wool-cashmere to finish the back.  I didn’t do the applique in from the original, and only modest side tassels.  I suspect my guage was slightly small, as it has the tendency to slip off the back of my head when I look up.

Regardless, it sees plenty of wear.  I like the “coif” air to it, and it’s soft and warm.  The back decreases beautifully, which was an unexpected pleasant surprise.  I realize I’m wearing a thick knitted hat with an exposed back, but this isn’t exactly Antarctica.

These three projects share a common virtue- big yarn.  I can complete them in a sitting or three, I like to knit when I chat with Mom over Skype.  I lose interest in larger projects, or those that require a smaller gauge.  Big chunky projects for me or nothing!  (Except lacework, that also goes fast…)

I’m roaring back into apparel-making with an ultimate pair of Katharine Hepburn trousers.  I’m working with a wool-cashmere blend twill, with Hong Kong seams, lined to the knees, and styling based loosely on this pair of pants:

(Oppositional Forces)

They’re from… Anthropologie.  The circle now complete, I must go H.K. some seams on my K.Heps.

New Lease On Life: Swing Jacket Refashion

My first weskit; my first swing coat’s second chance.

Years ago, after I had my daughter, I felt like I was drifting.  Uncertain of myself.  The winter after I had my Lila,  I was cold.  And kind of fat (for me).   None of my warm jackets fit.  Not being able to fit into “my” clothes upset me deeply.

I remember snapping one day and leaving my small baby at home with my husband, determined to scour the shops to find a decent little jacket.  When you move countries, its hard to know where to shop.  Back then, I wasn’t the sewist I am today.  This sang to me from the rack, I absolutely adored the fabric and felt pretty wearing it.  Thank you, jacket, for the moment of shangri-la.  Eventually  I outgrew (if that’s the right term) my lovely little swing jacket that skimmed the wobblies on my new-mommy body.  I dissected her a year and a day ago with the idea of fashioning the fabric into a weskit; she sat on my work table since then.

With the return of chilly weather, I cast around for weskit designs I could use to re-fashion her, settling on an early to mid-50’s (correct me if I’m wrong) weskit pattern:

I drafted the red one from my basic block, then tried to make my pattern pieces fit the jacket pieces.  They didn’t.  I improvised.

Front.  I made every part fit except the arm hole, but arm holes are fluid entities on a sleeveless garment.  I had a similar problem with the back.

I cut the back lining first, then had to sacrifice part of the back arm hole and sleeve seam on the exterior.  So I laid the exterior on top of the lining and trimmed.  Not elegant perhaps, but it got the job done.

I used 1/2″ sew-through boning on the side seams.  Note the rounded ends.

I thought next time I’d opt for a slightly longer weskit.

Persephone lives again, I can’t convince my Northern Hemisphere brain that it’s actually Autumn.  So this is the Persephone Weskit.  Photos at dusk create funny colors, but I rather like it.

I know I haven’t posted much lately.  I won’t lie- I felt flat.  Not depressed exactly, just flat.  My husband always tells me to write for myself, and I really didn’t want to create more chatter about sewing.  I teach sewing, I spend 20-30+ hours a week sewing, I write extensive notes for class, I read sewing blogs and I write a sewing blog.  I suppose it’s natural that every now and then I’d feel the urge to do nothing with my free time but sit around watching Period Dramas (Try Upstairs Downstairs, Daphne, South Riding and Cruel Beauty).  When I don’t post, that’s where I am.

Moderne: A Fresh Start

(Wearing History’s Moderne, sent to me free as a test-sew pattern. Though Lauren let me off the hook I’m not ready to give up just yet.)

After my recent break-up with the lilac cotton pique for Moderne, I wanted another crack at the pattern with more suitable fabric.  I already altered the pattern and put it together well enough to know I like the cut, so why waste the pattern work?  Lately, I find myself working on ridiculously complex projects to the exclusion of simpler sewing.  I might need to take my time on this Moderne, fitting it between lighter projects.

My tropical weight wool arrived last week.  The small person delighted in burrowing into its folds.  Check out the drape.  It’s soft against my skin, no itch.  I never worked with tropical weight wool and despite the name, I feared it might be too heavy to wear in this climate.

Now I have no doubt it will be light enough for year-round wear.  It’s gently slubbed and faintly luminous- like silk but not so flashy.  It’s also surprisingly wide, I may be able to eke out a little waistcoat or even a skirt in addition to the dress.  I crammed the wool into my front-loader, dumped in a cup of vinegar and washed on the wool setting.  Dried on the line and hey presto, beautifully pre-washed fabric with no noticeable change to texture or width.  I know I should have tried a sample before washing the whole shebang, but I have experience with my machine’s wool setting.  I will not hand-wash anything but hand-knitted items.

Tonight I needed a break from WW2 jackets.  Seriously.   So I played with my new fabric.  Here’s a 22mm self-covered button.  It’s a little blah on the gray.

I like the Chanel-style buttons in Claire Shaeffer’s book and after seeing Patty’s gorgeous coat with those delicious buttons, I wanted to try it out.  This is with the silk (shiny shiny silk!).  I suppose it’s a good thing I went through an outrageous black phase in my sewing.  I have a PILE of useful black fabric scraps (not to mention a wardrobe full of black separates, which mix so easily with everything).

The linen is subtler and the texture pleases me, so I’ll use linen for the button rims and buttonholes.

Zero problems with the buttonhole, I like the effect.  I wonder if I should make smaller cuff buttons, or just use plain black linen buttons on the cuff?  These buttons on the cuff would provide a real “wow” factor when I reach out my hand, but I’m not sure I want to make five for the body plus four more for the cuffs.

I tried every top-stitch on my machine with two different weight threads, then stitched my favorites on a curve to gauge the result.  The five from the furthest right were with a regular weight poly-cotton; the other straight lines were with a slightly heavier mercerized cotton top-stitch thread.  I think I like the lighter weight thread.  The french knot lines charm me, but the Husband said they remind him of Frankenstein.  They may be too heavy, and don’t look so great on a curve.  I’ll probably use the plain saddle stitch (second from the right).  As always, input is appreciated.

In the interests of science, I plan to throw the whole sample into my next load of darks and see what happens.  Will the buttonhole ravel?  Will the stitching warp?  How will the Armo-weft interfacing behave with the fabric when washed?  I don’t know, but I figure if I torture this piece of fabric to the fullest extent of my imagination, I know how I can handle the finished garment.  Maybe I’ll spill coffee and wine on it and see what happens.

Next time: WW2 Jacket the Second: Man Version.  It will all about how I discovered men’s bodies are shaped differently to women’s (no really!), what I realized I did wrong on the first jacket, and why cutting napped fabric when you need a nap yourself is a terrible idea.


I decided to buy my Husband a proper grown man’s suit in inky black tropical weight wool.  I haven’t bought clothing (let alone nice clothing) for quite some time and the price shocked me a little.  Of course, I paid it, but it did give me a bigger head a greater appreciation for my skill.  (Not that I would bother with a suit jacket for him, but I do fuss with my own wardrobe quite a bit.)  Shopping is so different from sewing, I believe I’d rather toil away in my quiet sewing room than fight crowds and only *maybe* find what I’m looking for.

Husband is slim, so a slim cut flatters him.  No, that’s not my husband.  Judging from the young professional men I see on the street, I believe suits are cut in a more European style here.  I bought him a beautiful aqua and white pinstriped shirt to wear underneath with a slim black 1960’s tie.

How revolting- it fit right off the rack.  He didn’t even come shopping with me.  Perhaps the sleeves are a shade too long, but otherwise a very good fit.  Sick.

Flat piping joining the facing to the lining, two pockets on the inside left.

An extra swish pocket on the right side.  I like the completely unnecessary triangle of lining fabric.

Nice little lapel, beautiful single welt.  The exterior also sports two welt pockets as per normal; six pockets total.  I would have preferred to find a jacket with a ticket pocket, but I suspect it’s a very British/European flourish:

The front obviously has the proper chest shields (pinch test) for a nice man’s suit, and I was told the interfacing was hand pad-stitched.  I’m not bothered, the English Cut or another tailor blog did an exhaustive write-up on the subject some time ago, concluding machine pad-stitching is fine.

So with all that pretty work and nice fabric, you’d think they could throw in an undercollar:

Apparently, suit jackets don’t need undercollars any more, the very idea is rather Edwardian.  I never ran across anything in my tailoring books or readings about this.   This is not the world’s most expensive suit by a long shot, but for the price you think they could kick in the under collar, something other than what looks like dark medium weight fusible interfacing.

Is this done to reduce bulk?  To cut out the roll line?  I could see how it might speed up construction to omit the troublesome piece of fabric.  The edges are clean.  I’m happy with the suit otherwise.   I couldn’t find any other RTW suits made with an under collar.

Please advise.