Tag Archives: knit

Close Encounters of the 4th Kind

Big 4, that is.

I did something a little while back that, in hindsight, is new to me. I made a Big 4 stretch-knits-only pattern.

I made View E. Duh.

I made View E. Duh.

I mean, I have lots of them. I just haven’t really made any up before. (The odd kids’ pattern excepted) Not really intentionally, but just because Jalie and Kwik Sew or Burda or a few other indie patterns always seemed to have something a little more what I was going for.

But then Simplicity 1612 threw itself in my way, and, well, how could I resist?

Simplicity 1612 and Border Print

Simplicity 1612 and Border Print

I mean it, how? Especially View E done up in this gorgeous knit—drapey without being too fiddly, with a crazy-perfect border print. How could it go wrong?

Above-bust adjustment. I made it stepwise so as not to raise the neckline.

Above-bust adjustment. I made it stepwise so as not to raise the neckline.

It started well. I decided to make a 10 (I often make a 12, but I was pretty sure smaller would be better for this pattern. I made my usual changes to the bodice—shortening both between bust and shoulder, and between underbust and waist. I took advantage of the rear seam to do a swayback adjustment, and mindful of Sunni’s advice, (and some previous personal disasters) I reduced the amount of gathering at the front just a smidge.



I was worried about the crisp, cut-out appearance of the bodice, so I used lots of knit interfacing. (The pattern only called for a little right at the front opening.) I’m not sure if I used not enough or too much, but I sure didn’t get it just right…

What's right

What’s right

Ok, so off to such a good start, right? And, well, let’s start with what’s right. (Apologies for the craptacular photos, by the way—I’ve been sitting on this hoping I’d get better ones taken but it hasn’t happened yet and I figured I should just get this posted before I forget everything.) Anyway. Fit—good! Bust was at a perfect level, sizing was right on, a little bit of tweaking of the back seam helped a bit there, and overall just WOW. Look at that fabric. Love it. Long, sleek, elegant shape.

Flippy shoulder

Flippy shoulder

The devil, as always, is in the details. Worst is the neck-circling shoulder-thingy. I’m not sure if I should’ve interfaced this entire circle, or not interfaced it at all.  Or maybe done a bound edge all along the arm-area-opening. Anyway, one side flips up. The other doesn’t. The neck-band-tie isn’t stretched enough to lie flat (I matched markings and everything!) and was wavy and bubbly, so I topstitched, which wasn’t a good idea, either. I think it’s a bit wide, really, too. The bodice is lined and the princess-seams don’t tend to line up perfectly, which makes some weird ridges; I should go in and hand-stitch them together, except that hand-stitching knits just irks me. Irrational, I know, since I’m perfectly happy to hand-stitch the snot out of anything else. /sigh. I guess I’m just feeling like the whole construction and finishing of the dress is, hmm, not quite as “knit like” as I’m used to.

Back view

Back view

One last, maybe piddling, little point: scroll back up to look at the cover art. See how smooth and sleek the dress is in the back views? Ok, so I’m not perfect at back shaping, but here’s the thing. In order for a dress to hug the back like that, the front needs to be snug. At least with the way my back curves… maybe you non-swaybacked people out there have different experiences. Well, the only way to make that happen in this dress would be to totally get rid of the gathered looseness in the front. And, well, I like a little bit of looseness over my belly these days, thanks. Plus, y’know, it’s part of the design.

2013-04-29 11.29.40

Rolled hem!

On the bright side, after fighting with my serger tension issues for almost two hours, I finally managed to get it to produce a nice, stretchy, rolled hem! (I wrapped some button thread permanently between the tension discs for the needle thread. It holds them open enough that they have a normal tension, now.) I used white thread and Oona’s trick and coloured in the black areas with permanent marker, although real fabric marker would’ve been better.



I keep hoping that some time in the magic closet helps me forgive this dress’s flaws, because really, it’s black, who’ll actually notice them? People notice the crazy print and that’s pretty much where it stops. But so far, I notice them (especially that flippy-up shoulder!), and it’s been a couple of weeks already. Maybe I should just re-do that neck band? maybe with some FOE instead?

At least I got one Me-Made May wear out of it...

At least I got one Me-Made May wear out of it…



Filed under Sewing

Absolutely NOT the #Oonapants



In fact, in the world of leggings, if Oonapants are at one (wild, crazy) end of the spectrum, these leggings are at the other. The sober, staid, boring end. But, I needed black leggings for a dance performance last night, and I’ve had this fabric earmarked for something of the sort for well over a year now, so leggings it was.

This has to be one of the fastest pattern-purchase-to-wearable-clothing projects I’ve done in a LONG time. The Crafty Sister-in-Law enticed me out in the morning with a jaunt to Value Village (a whole ‘nother sad tale of enablement, to be related at a future date…), and we decided on a whim to check out the next in our grand tour of the Saskatoon Garment District,* a humble little shop with the rather grand title of “Academy of Fashion Design.”

This shop is one I’ve been meaning to check out for several years, since my mom nosed them out as retailers of Jalie patterns. They are also, as the name suggests, a design school, as well as a Singer retailer/repair shop. They seem to specialize in dance/figure-skating and rodeo fabrics, although they have a little bit of everything. Behind the doors is a long, narrow cavern of fabrics, dotted with treadle sewing machines and French mannequins. I have to say, this is the most at home I’ve felt in a fabric shop, maybe ever. Maybe the prodigious mess reminded me of my own sewing room, or maybe it was the old machines dotting the place, usually half-buried in drifts of fabric. They have a little bit of everything, including the only stretch denim I’ve seen in person outside of Fabricland. And the girl minding the shop… well, I don’t know if she HAS a sewing blog, but peeps, she totally has the vibe. She felt like one of us.

Anyway, I picked up Jalie 2920, a pattern for leggings and stirrup tights. The more obsessive keen-memoried among you may recall that I already have a leggings pattern or two, including one traced out in my size, which I’ve teased you with glimpses of in the past. But, well, I confess shortly after I cut out the blue (as yet un-blogged) leggings, I lost the pattern piece; presumably it got folded up and stuffed in an envelope with something else, because I sure as hell can’t find it. And I have the Kwik Sew ones around Syo’s size, but, well, I was craving more variety in sizes, in particular a size that could be adapted for the Waif, who is nearing five but still has the width of a rather slender toddler. And, well, Jalie.



So I bought the pattern, scurried home, and, after a minor panic when my tracing paper went missing, traced it out. I’m either a size R or S in Jalie sizing, but I went with the S, thinking that over-stretched leggings are not a good look for anyone. Having worn them for a couple of days, this may not have been the best idea… there’s a touch of looseness in the thigh that isn’t quite right.

As I traced, though, confusion set in. I added about three inches to the length (towards the low end for me and Jalie, but when I measured out the inseam of the pattern, I was alarmed to discover it still measured a measly 26″. I don’t do less than 32″, peeps. But then I spied a second pattern piece, meant to be combined with the end of the leg. I had ignored it, thinking it was just for the stirrup version, but maybe it was required for both? I don’t know. I was confused. Anyway, I added it on, roughly seven inches. That seemed to bring things into about the right ball park, right?



Erm, not so right. Those four-way stretch fabrics that stretch in length as well as width. Hrmph. So I will have to cut some off, although figuring out how much to cut off will be the trick. Still, too long is ever so much better than too short. Ever so much.



I had to cut out both legs separately as my previous leggings for Syo had whittled my good jersey into some rather peculiar shapes. I was meticulous about flipping the pattern so that both sides would be mirror image… unfortunately I apparently also flipped my fabric when I was moving it, because both legs wound up cut out with the right side of the fabric on the same side. Fortunately for me, on this particular knit it’s almost impossible to tell the difference… anyone who can is, ah, WAY too close.



I made a slight adjustment to the rise, which may be typical of me and Jalie patterns, lowering the front by about an inch but keeping the back as is. I know the rest of you are all over the high-waisted leggings… Not that I have any intention of sharing my leggings waistband with the public, but I’ll still take hip bulges (which I have anyway) over waist-bulges.

And really, that’s a lot more talking about a terribly boring pair of black leggings than is really merited.

*New Yorkers and other people from real cities with real garment districts, you can snicker politely into your sleeves. The “Saskatoon Garment District” is three smallish fabric shops (and a thrift shop that carries fabric and patterns) that happen to be located within a few blocks of each other downtown.


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Baby Steps

New Look 6641

I salvaged this pattern from an assortment of sadly bedraggled sewing paraphernalia that belonged to the late grandmother of a friend of my husband’s. Let’s just say that it was a bit of a sobering look at what I don’t want to leave behind for my heirs to deal with when I go. This pattern was one of the few that was reasonably intact (actually, completely unused) and not 80s-old-lady-esque. It’s also size 3-8, which puts it borderline small for my children but pretty much perfect for Stylish’s.

The fabric, on the other hand, is one my aunt offloaded kindly donated to me a year or so ago. It’s a polyester sweatshirt knit of, yes, unmistakable 80s vintage, and I’m pretty sure I remember my cousins wearing properly oversized unisex sweatshirts out of this exact fabric in the closing days of that nefarious decade.  It’s really not the right material for the pattern, but it’s fuzzy, soft (at least for a few more launderings), and was a handy stable knit for Stylish’s first stab at knit sewing. And free and taking up space. And her girls thought it was ace for nighties. Kids these days.

The Waif Models

Stylish did this one all on her own—the most I helped with was a bit of the pinning. Oh, and on the construction order. I had her put the sleeves in flat. Much, much easier. Although she is understandably annoyed about how I keep making her read pattern instructions, and then telling her to ignore them.

I had her trace the size three (smallest in the pattern), with the expectation that it would be a bit roomy on the Waif (who is currently four and a half with the chest-diametre of a kids size 1.) The sweatshirt material is not as stretchy as called for on the envelope stretch gauge. A pro for this pattern is that the neck band is nicely shorter than the neck opening (although the length difference was too big for this particular fabric and Stylish wound up with some little tucks that I did not make her fix). A con is that the neck band is way too wide. One of those things where the proportions are just off, in a way that screams “home sewing.” (Yes, another of those legitimacy things. I kind of love cataloguing them.) The fabric choice doesn’t help with this. The Waif is not at all bothered, however. In fact, the only one not happy with the situation is the Waif’s older sister, Fyon (five going on six), who has had to wait impatiently a whole three days now for her mother to make one for her. It’s a harsh and untenable situation. Probably there’s something in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child against it.

Also, Stylish used the rolled hem foot on the sleeve ruffles, and turned up the bottom of the dress hem using my hem gauge, and stitched them both with a precision that is entirely disgusting and uncalled for in a second project. We didn’t try to match the stripes on the side-seams, but were fairly careful about the placement along the sleeves. And neck band, but then we put it on (and I did the pinning so this is actually my fault) inside out so our nicely-aligned stripe is totally invisible.

What I didn’t have her do was any really knit-specific techniques, other than using a lightningbolt stitch for stretchiness (her fancypants machine has all kinds of stitches to choose from.) I think I’m afraid she will want to steal my serger, which really only came to me because Stylish didn’t seem likely to use it (it was originally her mother’s machine.) Not that I wouldn’t mind a serger upgrade, but that really, really, really isn’t in the budget at the moment.

Anyway, the most important people in the equation—Stylish and her Waif—are happy. So all is well in Sewingland. Except with Fyon; hopefully she’ll get her 80s nightie soon. Somehow the long weekend got away from us…

(To those of you wondering at the degree of Stylish’s sewing addiction commitment… while I can’t, of course, guarantee the future, she has purchased several patterns of her own, plundered my stash, and bought fabric for a winter coat. So at least for the short term, I’d say she’s hooked.)

(In my own sewing news, I am wearing a very comfy pair of fleece Jalie yoga pants I’ll write up as soon as I can blackmail a child, or sister-in-law, into taking photos. I miss my photo-spot in our old basement. I also miss my tripod and my camera charger. /sigh.)


Filed under Sewing

Back in the Saddle (?)

I sewed!


It took a lot, both in terms of re-organizing (the box with my main sewing machine conveniently wound up at the very bottom of the middle of the massive pile of stuff we have in storage right now) and personal patience. This having the sewing room in someone else’s house bites bigtime. Not least because every time I go over to try and tackle things, I feel like I’m being rude for heading down to work rather than upstairs to visit. Going to have to work on that.

There was the predictable myriad of small, unanticipated hiccoughs, from not having my good pins or my seam-ripper, to discovering that my mother-in-law, who is currently allowing me to occupy a corner of her basement with my sewing stuff, doesn’t have an ironing board. I had assumed everyone with a “real household” would have one. I mean, she has a rice steamer, people. She said, “I don’t iron.” I said, “I don’t bake. But I still have cookie sheets.” That may not have been my most diplomatic moment as a daughter-in-law. >_< So I also need to dig my ironing board and iron out of storage.

Former T-shirt

Anyway, I did eventually settle on the quickest of projects, a T-shirt refashion. Why didn’t I get a damn before picture? /headdesk. This black tee has been kicking around the bottom of my wardrobe for roughly a decade at this point, one of those shapeless “unisex” T-shirts that I can never actually bring myself to wear, courtesy of my student club days. The pattern is an old one, dating from one of my first knit projects, but is presumably roughly comparable to Zoe’s vest pattern. I used the same fold-over elastic that gave me such fits with Tyo’s tank top back in the spring, and I’m happy to say that with a good deal more care and attention to the stitches (and practice samples!), helped along by this more stable fabric, I was able to attach it more or less adequately. Because this particular fold-over elastic doesn’t fold on its own, I stitched it on in two passes, using a three-step zig-zag and being careful not to let my stitches reach the midline groove, where they basically shred the fabric of the elastic.

The T-shirt knit is not as stretchy as the last fabric I used this pattern for, so the top is quite snug, giving a bit of a flattening uniboob thing. But it’s comfy, and infinitely more wearable than it was before. And nice and long.

Strappy fun.

I decided to bring both straps to the centre back, partly because it looks cool, largely because it meant that I could just stitch them in place without worrying about where the straps should be positioned. They are a little long, but I didn’t have time to re-adjust before I had to round up children (my own and nieces) for home-made pizza at Uncle’s house. The pain of having family around, I tell you.

Oh, and for the really geeky among you, the logo says “Miocene Park” and the skeleton is that of an entelodont.

Is this the beginning of big things? I really don’t know. I have hopes (I have coats on the brain, frankly), but we’ll see. Also, I got eight (possibly nine) patterns at the local Mennonite thrift today. They’re usually 50¢ there, but the guy only charged me $2 for the bunch. Yay. I think I need to sew more, if only so I’ll buy fewer patterns…


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A dress for the boredom

A dress for roasting marshmallows

My kids have been done school for just over a week, although they’ve only really been home for the last two days, since we went Home for Canada Day (July 1, just for reference). Nonetheless, last night Tyo was moping around as only a near-teenager can. “Dad and Syo are out fishing, Grandpa’s watching TV, and you’re sewing! There’s nothing to do!”

This is actually wonderful.

“So, does this mean you don’t want to be homeschooled after all?”

Since the main thing coming out of her mouth for the last three months  of school has been requests to be homeschooled.

“NO! I don’t get to see any of my friends!”

Somewhere, choirs of angels broke into hallelujah chorus.

Anyway, it appeared that the only thing that could possibly alleviate boredom at eight o’clock on a Friday night was sewing with me, or rather, me sewing while she sang me her most recent song.

Front view

The fabric she selected was one of the slinky knits that I can’t seem to resist. I love buying them. I love wearing them. I just don’t. love. sewing. them. This particular knit threw itself at me on the Fabricland Canada Day sale (which took place several days early) when even the clearance racks were fifty percent off. I have a hard time resisting $1.50/m fabric. Fortunately, I bought three metres, so even with this dress for her, there’s still plenty left over.


Obligatory racerback shot

For the pattern, we just used the ubiquitous racerback tank pattern, Y1201 from Young Image Magazine (which was a dress pattern, originally). I added what I thought would be enough length to take it to her knees, and a bit of width over the hips because, well, Tyo, and more-or-less happily went to work.

Now, the four previous times I’ve made this pattern, I’ve used a rib-knit. What I hadn’t really grasped on was how much rib knits grow. I mean, my brain knows it, but I didn’t really understand it. This was an easy-fitting tank when stitched in a rib-knit—close fitted but not exactly skintight.

In this slinky knit it’s, ah, pretty tight. Note to self. Also, next time add more to the butt. Tyo is not one of those children who can wear a skirt whose back and front are cut the same.

Because I don’t trust these slinky knits as far as I can stretch them (which is pretty far, actually), I used clear elastic inside the binding on the neck and arm-holes. I didn’t stretch it quite enough on the neck, which is a bit wavy, and then stretched it a little too much on the arm openings, so they’re a bit snugged up. It seems pretty much ok when worn, however. I should really look into elastic and/or binding attachments for my machine…

Back view

I had measured Tyo from shoulder to knee to get the length, thinking I might have to trim some off as the fabric sagged under its own weight. But I forgot/neglected that four-way stretches will lose length as they are stretched sideways, so it’s actually an inch or two above her knees. Not horrendously mini, but a bit shorter than planned. It rides up a bit in back, but I’m not sure if that’s because it needs extra length, or more width so it doesn’t get caught up on her posterior. Probably both.

We left the bottom unhemmed, as I’m congenitally unable to get a nice hem in these thin knits so it would flow nicely.

I was a little worried about how sheer the white base fabric might be, but it doesn’t seem to be horribly bad.


OK, actually I’m really jealous. I love this fabric, and really want my own garment out of it. I’m thinking flowy maxi-dress.


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A Fluttery Finale

Flutter Sleeve Top

The second, “definitive” version of the Flutter Sleeve Hack has been completed.

It is made, as my husband noted, of the same stretch lace as my Tee-shirt dress last year.

Actually, my dearly beloved man didn’t realize this was a different garment.

*eyeroll* *headdesk* *facepalm*

Anyway, I’m quite happy with the flutter length and angle etc. I will say that this is not the easiest way to get a flutter sleeve—turning a regular set-in sleeve of a length you like into a flutter is dead easy to get right the first time. On the other hand, this one you don’t need to actually sew on, which is the major win of the BCT pattern all around.

I also quite like how it looks with this knit skirt, which is one of those pieces that, while I love it, doesn’t go with much of anything (except a plain white tank-top). It’s not so much the colour or even style that’s the problem, as the hip-hugging shape; any kind of boxy or detailed top tends to overwhelm it. I feel like I’ve kinda got some vague 20s-vibe going (or maybe that’s just the evening gloves and the shoes).

For the purposes of the photos I was daring and wore the top over my lilac-coloured bra. I think it’s pretty fetching and fairly subtle, but in real life I’ll be wearing the afore-mentioned white tank top underneath. Just saying. I think I prefer the lace with a white underlay anyway—it brightens it up and takes it a little farther from my skin tone.

I did a very simple neckline finish, just zig-zagged some narrow clear elastic to the neckline, folded it under, and topstitched. It turns out I could’ve pulled it a little tighter, but it’s hard to judge on this fabric—the amount of stretch and recovery in the lace is really, um, confusing, somehow.

All in all, this is about as simple and easy as a knit top gets. No hem finishing. No sleeve finishing. Just four seams and the neck-opening.

And that’s all there is to say about that. 🙂


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Renfrew vs. Knit Sloper—Round 1

Some of you will remember my battles with Lydia, the $1 download from Burdastyle for a very basic knit pullover. The end of this process was my knit sloper, which, frankly, bears little resemblance to the original pattern.

Although for reference, the basic changes were:

  • going down two sizes to remove ease (Lydia, like Renfrew, was intended to be an easy pullover, which wasn’t actually the look I was going for)
  • petite-alterations to the armscye, sleeve-cap, and above the waist
  • square-shoulder adjustment
  • removing ease from the sleeve-cap
  • my ubiquitous lengthening of the sleeve

Once I had the knit sloper worked out, I traced it out on bristol-board so it’s a) durable and b) easy to trace and then hack.

Now, there is one MAJOR confounding factor for comparing it to other patterns, however. Which is that the sloper has no seam-allowances, while Renfrew and Lydia both have 1.5cm (which is way too much for knits, in my opinion—.6 cm is fine, although for slippery annoying knits I think I do prefer 1cm). So in the following pictures, you need to mentally add 1.5 cm to most of the borders.

So, first up—because this is what most of you may be interested in—Renfrew vs. Lydia. (And please do click through to see the full-size photos, because the details are not so obvious at blog-size. Although the full-size photos are fuzzy as crap, because I am still lacking the charger to my good camera. Sorry.)

Renfrew vs. Lydia

Now, *this* is complicated because I don’t have a pristine print-out of Lydia anymore, and I wasn’t in the mood to produce one just for the purposes of pattern comparison. On the other hand, both these patterns have the same seam allowance. Unfortunately, the bodice pieces are opposite sides, so it’s difficult to superimpose them, especially since this particular copy of Lydia is the one I hacked to make my mother’s (unblogged 😦 ) Christmas present. So pay attention to the lines of the smaller sizes on the Lydia pattern, not the cut outline.

As you can (hopefully) see, Lydia actually has more shaping going on than Renfrew. It’s also a somewhat shorter pattern (remember Renfrew has the band at the bottom to lengthen it). The waist is slightly longer in Lydia, and, most surprisingly, the hips are a little more generous (this is suprising because Sewaholic patterns are supposed to be drafted for pear-shaped women, so I was expecting Renfrew to have more width below the waist).

I should add that the shoulder height and angle in the Lydia you can see has been altered to match my sloper, since my mom and I share a short upper body and square shoulders—the original Lydia was rather longer through the armscye and had a much more sloping shoulder. So Lydia originally would’ve had a shoulder-slope similar to Renfrew, but a rather lower armscye, and a longer, somewhat more shaped, waist. I think the amount of ease each pattern was designed for would’ve been similar.

Sloper vs. Renfrew

Enter my knit sloper. This is when things get a bit wacky.

Like Lydia, you can see that my sloper has more shaping than Renfrew. The waist is slightly higher in my sloper, but not as much as I had thought it might be (I tried to align the bottom of the armscye, remembering that my sloper doesn’t have seam allowances. The armscye in my sloper is shorter, but again, not as much as I had thought it might be. The shoulder slope is hugely different, however. There’s a slight difference in ease (remembering that my Sewaholic size, 6 or 8, is the 4th or 5th line over, while the sloper needs 1.5 cm added to the edge, to be comparable.) I’d say at the bust, the difference in ease is about 4 cm around the whole bust, rather more at the waist and almost no difference at the bottom. There are also some differences in the shoulder-point position and armscye curve, but seeing as 1) my sloper has very narrow shoulders, and 2) I’m really not sure what to make of them, I’ll get back to you about it once it’s made up.

And, for your edification, here’s how the sleeves compare:

Renfrew sleeve vs. Knit Sloper

So I should really have set the knit sloper a little further down, to allow for seam-allowances. Sorry. Anyway. Sleeve cap height is actually fairly similar, however. Renfrew’s sleeves don’t seem to have much (if any) front/back shaping, and there’s no notching to indicate it, anyway. I know lots of knit patterns don’t, it’s not necessary, but I do think you get a slightly better fit when there is some. (You can see I have a little bit of shaping on my sloper—the front is to the left—although for the life of me I can’t remember if that’s original to the Lydia or if I added it as I was messing around.)

The original Lydia length is about where the knit sloper starts flaring out, so that length is very close (remembering that the sloper should be down another 1.5 cm, but on the other hand the Renfrew has the cuff on the end. So Renfrew sleeve is probably functionally longer, for your size, than the Lydia. I think the taper of my sloper is pretty true to the original Lydia sleeve as well, so the Renfrew sleeve also appears to be a little more straight overall. It also doesn’t appear to be drafted with sleeve cap ease, which is great in a knit.

So what does this all mean?

Sloper vs. altered Renfrew

At the end of things, I still wanted to be making Renfrew, not just another version of my knit sloper (but with sleeve-bands). So I opted to keep as much of the Renfrew shape as I could. For size, considering I like a little less ease in my knits (and I *REALLY* liked Seraphinalina’s Renfrews, where she went down a size), I went with the 6.

I “petited” the armscye sightly, by the simple expedient of using the size 4 rather than the size 6 height, and squared the shoulder by going over to the size 2 at the side of the neck. I also shortened above the waist, but by considerably less than the 2″ I removed from the Lonsdale—only about 2 cm, this time. And, because I wanted to keep the same overall length, I actually just “slid” the waist shaping up.

Since I’m making the 3/4 sleeves this time, I didn’t make any length alterations on them—I just adjusted the sleeve-cap height to the size 4 rather than the size 6. And it’s all cut out and ready to go, except that now I want to take a whack at adding Lisa’s hood. Which may not work (and I have enough fabric to make one go at it but not several), but requires a bit more thinking about matching the neckline that I haven’t quite gotten to. Maybe on the weekend…


Filed under Sewing