Monthly Archives: December 2017

An (ugly?) Christmas sweater

I drew my aunt in the family Christmas lottery this year. This is my mother’s sister, who is in charge of everything, and who is at a point in her life where, if she wants it, she probably has it already.

She’s also a sewist, so a homemade gift seemed like a doubly good idea, and a sweater seemed even better.

My aunt has a distinct style and tends to wear a lot of black with bright jewel tones. I figured a black or grey sweater with a touch or two of bright colour might be just the thing.

After a considerable amount of stash digging I settled on a piece of the same fabric as my valentines’ outfit from last year. The marled grey cotton may not be the softest thing ever but it does look great.

Some more pattern digging turned up the out of print Butterick 5528—views A and B both seemed like they would suit my aunt and be doable with my limited amount of fabric. I made no alterations, but I did determine that I wanted to make the longer view B.

The biggest hurdle was cutting out. This fabric is a subtle stripe, and I was hopeful I’d be able to at least roughly match it. I cut out the front panels first—then promptly realized that the big piece is the BACK, and had several panicked moments considering whether or not I even had enough fabric to cut the back, even if I didn’t match it. In the end I wriggled it around and the locations of the stripes do match, but the direction is opposite so the sequence is off. I can live with that. I did have enough random bits to make sure my pockets and cuffs lined up nicely. The hardest thing about cutting this fabric is that the stripe only shows on the right side, so you can’t easily just put your first cut piece face down and line up the stripes around it for the second. Fortunately it’s a simple pattern.

I used some teal tricot to make a binding for the edge of the very narrow facing. It gets topstitched down, which is nice and fast, and didn’t turn out too terrible. And apparently I failed to get a decent picture of it. I really need better light in the basement. I used fusible knit interfacing in the undercollar (works much better!) cuffs, and facing, which was more or less perfect.

The front isn’t meant to overlap—the pattern features a button on each side with some kind of closure between. Probably the instructions elucidate. I just grabbed a purple hair elastic and stitched it down the middle into a figure-8, which seems to work well and can be easily replaced if it goes missing. I couldn’t find any large enough teal buttons in stash but I thought the purple was a good substitute. The pockets are a little small, but most importantly they’re there, and almost perfectly matched!

My aunt seems very excited about it. I’m hopeful it will be neutral enough to pair with a bright hat or scarf (or shirt), without being too boring.

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The definition of insanity

Is repeating the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

This is the third time I’ve made Kwik Sew 2133 for my husband. The first was made entirely to pattern, with an epic tone on tone appliqué that really felt like a “level up” in my sewing. Unfortunately, my sensitive sweetie found the bands too snug and the dense cotton fleece too heavy for his comfort, so once the initial thrill with the design faded, it didn’t get much wear.

The second time is the grey one that I refashioned recently. It was a little roomier than the first version and the bands were a little looser, but it was still made of a beefy cotton with heavy ribbing bands. Because that’s what I look for in a sweater. Honey-bun is more interested in softness, draps-ness, and comfort.

I made version three the other night while procrastinating on some Christmas sewing. I upsized the pattern quite a bit. (You can see the two versions superimposed in the first picture.

For the bands, I used a smooth, stretchy interlock. You can see they’re not doing a whole lot of pulling in, which seems to be the way he likes it.

The main fabric was a lucky find that came in with a lot of random, inexpensive knits at my Fabricland, that wound up getting further discounted as is was dirty all the way along. It’s not what I would call high quality—it’s fairly thin and feels more polyester than anything. Fortunately, most of the dirt did come out in the laundry. But it’s lighter and drapier than my preferred cotton sweatshirt fleece, so it seemed like it might be closer to his taste than my previous picks. A rayon sweatshirt fleece might be even better but I haven’t run across one in a good colour.

So far the signs are good. When I had him try it on after I got the neckband on he wasn’t keen to take it off. He looks a bit like a kid wearing his dad’s sweater, but that’s my issue, not his. 😉 So, fingers crossed. And even if he doesn’t end up liking it, well, the fabric was cheap and the time minor.

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Dadshirt

This is another one of those projects that seemed like a good idea at the time. Actually, i didn’t even mind the making so much. It was the making myself start making it that sucked eggs. I have a terrible time motivating myself for unselfish sewing.

The backstory is, I made my dad a shirt for Xmas—a short sleeved Negroni—back when we first moved back from Cowtown, and he has dutifully worn it every time we get together with them ever since. Which is flattering the first few times and then you realize he is definitely just wearing it because you are there, and then you have no idea if he actually even likes it at all.

In either case, though, it seemed like a good idea to give him another daughter-made option. So at least he’ll have options he doesn’t like.

After some digging around my Fabricland, I finally found a shirting that inspired me. It’s actually a home dec fabric, a medium weight cotton twill with a woven-in stripe. It’s a little thicker and a little softer than a quilting cotton.

For a pattern, since I was doing this as a shop project, I went with McCall’s 2447, in all its dated glory. I didn’t want a super-fitted or overly fussy pattern, and it actually seems fairly nicely drafted. It has a proper grain-elevator placket for the sleeve, a neat pocket detail, separate button band, and the collar isn’t as huge as I had feared. I checked the finished measurements and opted to make a medium rather than a large, because it’s hugely oversized. I’ve added 2″ to the sleeve length, which will hopefully be enough. I also made a cut-on button band rather than going with the separate route, because I was worried about stripe issues, but I like the option of the separate band for contrast and detail purposes.

I got a bit of coordinating quilt cotton to make contrast facings and a few other touches of color. The fun of menswear is in the little details, and it takes the right mindset for me to get in the mood.

I don’t feel like this is a crowning example of shirt making. My stitching isn’t quite as precise as I’d like, and the soft twill liked to shift around. I topstitched some of it at about 1/4″ and some is edge stitched and I like the edgestitch better, but not enough to go back and redo it all. I used three machines in construction, not counting the serger, which I only used to finish the armscye since I’m too lazy to flat-fell. I used my usual Janome for the main construction, with walking foot to facilitate stripe matching on the collar and back yoke. I used my grandmother’s old Rocketeer for the buttonholes. And I used a 70s-era Elna a friend gave me last summer for the top stitching, since it has a speed control, which is pretty much my favourite thing for top stitching ever.

On the other hand, I really like the overall effect. I like my little blue touches.

I kicked ass on the buttonholes (once I smartened up and put wash-away stabilizer under them all.)

I really like my pocket mod. (I used the pattern piece provided but not the construction method.)

And I think for a slouchy comfy shirt it might actually be just fine, even if I won’t be showing off my fine details.

To be honest, the more the topstitching trauma fades, the happier I am with it. It’s a soft, casual shirt but not sloppy, which I think SHOULD suit my dad’s current retired-professor lifestyle.

Who knows, he might even actually like it!

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