Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hold the phone--new patterns from Collette!

So, so excited to see the fall offerings from Collette which are now available for pre-order. I am particularly excited to see the pattern for the Jasmine blouse which has a simple shape that I think I can modify to be a maternity top! Woot! I think I'll be making the 2nd view (shown above) which has a simple tie in the front and not a bow (bows and ruffles in that area often make my bust look overwhelming, although maybe it would help balance out the big belly?).

I also like the Peony dress which will be going on the post-baby wishlist (more on that another time). The Clover cigarette pants (also shown in the image above) I am not so enamored with. Skin-tight pants do not look so good with my thunder-thighs. Would love for them to come out with a simple, straight-legged pant. That would be awesome.

Instead of saving the image straight off the website, I did a screen capture. Does that address copyright issues? I'm leery of taking the photo directly from the site, but I feel like if I do a screen capture, it's now my photo of their photo and therefore okay to show.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Learning to slow down

Hand-basted sleeve/armscye seam

The other day, I cut out a newborn-sized baby gown (McCall's M6103) from a cute little green knit with pink ladybugs on it. The pattern seemed to be very straightforward--front, back, sleeves, drawstring hem at the bottom that I'm putting elastic in instead. However, I ran into trouble at the very beginning (!) while attaching the picot-edged elastic to the neckline. The machine didn't seem to want to feed it through and would get stuck and just stitch in one spot for awhile. Also, even though I pinned the bejeezus out of it, in some places I was sewing on just the elastic (that is, not attaching it to the fabric). I wasn't sure how to solve the feed problem, but I knew it would be easier to make sure I was sewing on the elastic + fabric if I hand-basted the elastic onto the neckline first.

I dunno, I seem to have this psychological/pride issue with basting. I have this sense that I should be good enough at the machine to not need to hand-baste seams together or trims to the garment. Why I think this, I don't know, considering that I'm a relative beginner at sewing. When I point that out to myself, I then say to myself that I should practice, practice, practice to get better, not use hand-basting as a crutch.

I maybe need therapy.

At any rate, I realized that could: A) stitch and rip out and restitch and rip out until I became so frustrated I gave up on the entire project OR B) I could just hand-baste the elastic on the neckline and then machine stitch it and move on with my life. I decided to go with choice B. And, of course, the hand-basting did make the machine stitching a lot easier (as did pulling on the elastic slightly while I stitched) and it wasn't very much trouble to take out the basting stitches afterward. So, lesson learned. Then, I turned to the sleeve where I encountered another point of stubborn pride: easing in fullness.

Easing is when you sew one piece of fabric to another piece that's shorter. So, there's more fabric on one side of the seam than the other. The instructions usually just tell you to attach the sleeve (it may suggest basting first), easing in the fullness, which is something I've tried to do on other garments via pinning with limited success. It always gets bunched up in one spot or I get little tucks in places when it's supposed to be just a smooth line. I think one way to avoid this problem is to stitch a gathering stitch along the longer piece of fabric and gather it evenly, then pin the sleeve to the armhole, then hand-baste to make sure I've got it the way I want it, then machine stitch it. But, again, I have avoided using this method due to pride.

Actually, it's not just pride that keeps me from gathering and hand-basting and such, it's time. I am not much of a process sewer (one who sews just for the enjoyment they get from stitching), I'm more of a product sewer (one who sews primarily because they want the finished project). So, I'm not a fan of going slow or doing things the long way. I want shortcuts. But, I've finally, finally come to accept that if I want a good quality finished product, I need to do whatever it takes to make that happen even if it means doing things the long way (like hand-basting picot-edged elastic to a baby gown).

So, I'm trying to slow down and enjoy the process more, like how soothing it was to do the basting by hand, actually.

Maternity Sorbetto Muslin Fitting

So, aided by my trusty helper (I can trust that he will always stop whatever he is doing and come lay on my sewing) I cut the modified Sorbetto pattern pieces out of muslin and machine basted them together. I didn't bother putting the binding on the armholes or neckline because they're not necessary for fit and that's all I'm looking at right now. I didn't hem it either, just sewed a basting stitch where the hem would fall after being sewn so I would have some idea where that would be. I did sew the pleat down to just past the bust, pressed it, and basted it at the top to sort of anchor it down.

So, the first issue materialized as I was sewing the side seams.

Evidently, despite my efforts to curve the hemline back to the tip of the original side seamline, the back is still shorter than the front. So, I'll adding length to the back for sure.

Then, I tried the muslin on.

It looks surprisingly good, given all of my adjustments and the fact that I'm a novice at pattern adjusting!

The good stuff:
  • The belly area doesn't look as tentish as I feared after cutting out the modified pattern (which just means that my belly really is that big now *sigh*) although there's definitely room for my belly to grow so I will be able to wear this top for awhile (I live in the SF Bay Area, so we will be having sleeveless top weather for awhile yet).
  • I like where I ended the pleat. It gives definition to the top of and offers something to draw the eye away from the big honkin' belly below. For the real deal, I may embellish the pleat more, maybe with buttons or a little bit of lace or ribbon down the sides of the pleat? I don't know, we'll see what inspiration grabs me.
  • By not sewing the pleat all the way down the front, I did get extra room for my belly, so that little bet paid off.
  • The bust darts are at the right level, pointing straight at the "apex" of my bust (I guess it's not common in sewing to just say "nipple").
  • For the most part, I like how the shoulders, neckline and underarm fit which tells me that starting with a size 10 in that area was a good idea.
The not-as-good stuff:
  • Well, obviously, I need to add some length to the back so it will match the front
  • I'm going to add length to the front, too. I like the length exactly how it is without the hem. So, I need to add the amount of the hem (5/8 inch) to the front before adding length to the back.
  • There was a tiny amount of gaping under the arm that I pinched out.
  • The upper back feels a bit tight just above the waist. Now, this could be due to problems in the bust, but I don't think so for reasons I'll get into later.
  • The bust darts seem a little long, ending almost at the apex. I might make them about half and inch shorter.
The major issue:

  • It is way too tight in the bust.
So, the biggest modification I need to make is to add room in the bust. I first tried removing some of the stitching in the pleat so that it was shorter and left more room for my bust. But, I didn't like how that looked (there was a distinct increase in tentness) so I resewed it. So, in order to figure out just how much to add to the bust area, I needed to slash the middle of the top, to see how much it spread apart at the bust. But, of course, I had this pleat there and as soon as I started slashing, the pleat was going to have all of this extra fabric flapping around. So, I sewed down the sides and middle of the pleat in order keep it tacked down during the slashing.

I didn't take a photo of this part because I'm not keen on putting pictures of me in my bra on the internet. So, trust me when I say that I there was a gap of about 2.5 inches in the bust area after slashing. Now, I assume that if I do an FBA to add 1.25 inches (since the pattern piece is half of the front, I need to use half of the total gap distance), I will end up with a fitted bust. However, the pattern is supposed to have about 3 inches of ease (I figured this out by looking at the pattern size chart and comparing the finished measurements of the bust to the sewist's bust measurement). That's 1.5 inches of ease for the front. So, I'm trying to decide if that means I should add 0.75 inches to the side seam at the bust and do an FBA for 1.25 inches or should I do an FBA that adds 2 inches to the bust (1.25 + 0.75) in order to get the proper fit?

The upper back was still a bit tight after slashing the front so I think that I need to add some width there. Again, there should be 1.5 inches of ease across the back and at the moment, it's skin tight. So, I need to add 0.75 inches to the pattern piece (which is 1/2 of the width of the total back). I'm guessing that means that I simply need to go up a size or two in that area to get the back right.

So, more pattern modifications and a new muslin are in the works (also a trip to the fabric store because I am fresh out of muslin). Hopefully this new round of modifications will fix the current problems without creating new ones!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sorbetto modifications

It's starting to be all baby all the time here at e-beth knits, so I thought I'd throw in something that is only a little bit baby.

Ever since the Sorbetto pattern was released, I've been wanting to make one. It's a pretty simple, slightly fitted slip-on top (no closures) with a box pleat detail in the front and the armholes and neck are finished with bias tape. I've resisted making the top until now because, of course, I am currently not at my regular body size/shape. For instance, my stomach now sticks out further than my boobs. This is a little weird considering it's been about 25 years since anything on my body has stuck out further than my boobs.

But, I have an overwhelming urge to make myself a top, so, I decided to try and modify the Sorbetto to make it a maternity top. Considering that: 1) I've yet to make a top that fits me and 2) I'm completely new to pattern modification, I may well have bitten off more than I can chew. Nevertheless, I sat down at the table with my Sorbetto pattern, and my various pattern-adjusting accoutrement. These included: freezer paper for tracing, a tracing wheel, pens and pencils, a curved ruler, a calculator, a notebook, tape, push pins, and a cardboard cutting mat.

So, first up, I had to decide what pattern size to use. I decided to tackle the back first since I didn't need to adjust for boobs or belly. According to my upper bust measurement, I should use a 10. So, I started with that. I want to keep the back fitted and not baggy (to minimize the "tent effect" so prevalent in maternity tops), so I decided I would try cutting the back piece as though I wasn't pregnant and adding all of the extra inches to manage my belly to the front piece. Therefore, I measured my back across my natural waist approximately from side seam to side seam and decided I need a 14 there, so I basically drew a line that went from the size 10 line at the armhole to the size 14 line at the narrowest part of the pattern. Then, I drew a line from there to the size 18 line at the hem to account for my hip measurement. Then, I traced the pattern onto the freezer paper. Finally, I wanted to make the hemline curve (because I am making the front hemline curved so that I can add extra inches in the middle to cover the belly), so I extended the line for the center back (to be placed on the fold) 1 inch and used my curved ruler to draw a curve to the original hemline at the side seam. That was all pretty straightforward.

Next, I tackled the front which was not at all straightforward. I started with a 10 on top (shoulders and armholes) and then I did a Full Bust Adjustment. I used the technique in Pattern Fitting With Confidence by Nancy Zeiman which is unlike anything I've seen on the web, but I figured I'd give it a try. Essentially, she has you increase the bust dart according to cup size and increase the length of the front to account for the change in dart size. So, I traced a size 10 and cut it out, then followed the FBA instructions from the book, and cut that pattern piece out. That was all relatively easy. Then, I ran into something of a wall. Briefly, moving the side seam out by three inches at the waist gave me something that looked like the bust and the waist couldn't connect without creating some funky shape. I decreased the amount I added to the waist by half because I thought that if I didn't sew down the center box pleat past the bust, I would end up having extra room from that. Eventually, I was able to draw a line I thought might work for the side seam. Then, I wanted to add length to make sure it covered my belly. I added 3 inches to the center front and curved the hem to the original hemline at the side seam. Hopefully, this means that the front and back pieces will line up. Having made all of those adjustments, I cut this final pattern piece out (I numbered all of my drafts of the pattern, btw, and wrote on them what adjustments they incorporated so I could keep them straight)

Bottom line: the front pattern piece doesn't much resemble the original Sorbetto front pattern piece any longer. Actually, it looks amazingly tentish (is so a word!) which is something I've been trying to avoid with maternity wear (I feel like a blimp already, I don't need an immense, baggy shirt to emphasize that fact). So, I'm not at all convinced this modification will work at this point, and even if it does work and everything fits, I'm not sure I'm going to like how it looks on me. But that's why you make a muslin, right?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Embroidery Practice

As I mentioned in my "Updates" post, I purchased the Daisychain ABCs Embroidery Sampler from Posie Gets Cozy earlier this summer. I loved the look of the finished sampler and it seemed like it would be a lot of fun to stitch up. However, when it arrived I felt a little intimidated by it. It involved quite a number of different embroidery stitches, most of which I had never done. Also, it was crewelwork, which means that instead of using cotton embroidery floss, you use wool yarn, something I had not worked with in embroidery. Now, I understand that the original purpose of a sampler was to practice your embroidery stitches, but since I wanted to display this in the baby's room I really wanted it to look nice and not like somebody's first attempt at crewelwork.

So, I decided that, as a first step, I would practice the new-to-me embroidery stitches on something a little less dear. To that end, I went to the Embroidery Basics series put together by Mollie at Wild Olive. I particularly wanted to see how she did the stem stitch because I anticipated having a little trouble with it since I am a "stabber" when it comes to embroidery, not a "sewer." With that post, there was a free practice pattern (pdf) designed by Mollie so you could practice your stem stitch. I downloaded the pdf, transferred the design to white muslin using a micro-tip marker, and got to work.

Using this cute little pattern, I practiced chain stitch, backstitch, stem stitch, long and short stitch, satin stitch, fern stitch, and horizontal flat stitch:

The horizontal flat stitch is not represented in the Daisychain sampler, but one that I found in a book* while looking for instruction on fly stitch (which was not part of the Wild Olive series and I didn't quite understand the stitch diagram that came with the sampler). The book suggested horizontal flat stitch specifically for leaves, so I thought I'd give it a try. Unfortunately, you can't really tell the difference between it and the satin stitch in this photo, but it does look different in person. Also, you can see that I did the stem stitch two different ways--the traditional "sewing" way and a modified way found on the Wild Olive blog that I felt much more comfortable with and produced (in my opinion) a neater stitch.

So, after completing this practice piece, I decided to start on the Daisychain sampler itself. So far, the work has gone well, though working with the wool does take a bit of getting used to. In particular, it's very difficult to thread the needle and I find myself not wanting to rip out stitches that are wonky because it's such a pain in the butt to get the needle rethreaded. I'm using a needle-threader now, even though I had always considered needle-threaders a tool for the weak. :)

Returning to my little leaf sampler, even though it is a practice piece, I find that I'm kind of attached to it and pretty proud of the way it turned out. Therefore, I'm thinking about doing a couple other nature-themed little samplers and displaying them together somewhere in some simple hoop frames. There are lots of free embroidery patterns online, I'm sure I can find something that goes nicely with my little leaves.

*The Good Housekeeping Needlecraft Encyclopedia, ed. Alice Carroll, 1947. I picked this up at a used book sale a number of years ago.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Twinkle cardigan

Twinkle Cardi sans one sleeve

So, back before I knew the baby was a boy or a girl, I started the Twinkle Cardigan (Ravelry link). This is a vintage pattern that was rewritten and is a free pdf download on Ravelry. I decided to go ahead and do the original eyelet pattern in the body and sleeves of the sweater (the knitter who rewrote the pattern uses stockinette for the body and arms but included the eyelet pattern in case we wanted it) because it would make the knitting more interesting and I didn't think it was too girly for a boy (which, at that time, I was convinced we were going to have). The yarn is Cascade Heritage Sock yarn which is a lovely sock yarn at a reasonable price and perfect for a baby sweater.

The pattern calls for a ribbon tie at the top as a closure, but I decided that buttons were more practical and safer so I added buttonholes.

Since I'm just a few knitting hours from being done with the knitting, I should start thinking about the buttons. Here are a couple options I'm considering:

Yellow polka dot buttons (from Super Buzzy)

Red apple buttons (from Super Buzzy)

I've been looking on etsy, too, in the vast, vast realm of "vintage buttons." Most of them are far too big, but every so often I find some smaller ones that might work. I'm probably going to have to bite the bullet and just buy a few different ones and then see which ones work the best.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


So first, an update on the pregnancy. We are having a girl. We are very sure we are having a girl because we had amniocentesis done and chromosomes do not lie. The amnio was actually quite horrible due to the bedside manner of the doctor but, I'm glad we did it. I wish I could say that I was one of those women who seemed to glow and find inner peace through pregnancy, but the truth is I hate being pregnant. I love that we are going to have a baby, but I could do without this whole pregnancy business. I'm tired, cranky, emotional, uncomfortable and I pee a little when I sneeze. And I have several months to go. Also, I have been diagnosed with a low-lying placenta which is known as placenta previa. The condition may correct itself with the continuing expansion of my uterus but until then, I am on a sort of restricted movement. I don't have to stay in bed, but I can't exercise or lift anything heavy and I'm mostly supposed to be taking it easy. I've already had one incident of spotting, but that stopped when I stopped moving bookcases (this was before we knew about the placenta previa). If I have another, I could get put on bed rest. If the condition doesn't correct itself, then I will have to have a C-section. :6

So, that's the health report. Now, onto the craft report.

The craft goals I started out the year with pretty much got thrown out the window once I found out I was pregnant. First, because I was tired and miserable and spent most of the first trimester sleeping (for real, I'd have a 6 hour nap during the day and then sleep 12 hours at night). Then, because I started thinking about baby stuff and pretty much haven't stopped.* There's a lot to do in the apt. to get it ready for the baby and lots of stuff to research and buy and so on. But, I've started to remember why I love to craft so much and that is: it helps keep me sane (literally). I've been neglecting my knitting and sewing in favor of reading blogs about knitting and sewing which is really not the same thing at all (though they are inspirational). But, sitting in front of the computer is easier than paying attention to my knitting or figuring out what I'm going to sew, especially if I'm thinking about sewing for myself. Easier, but not as fulfilling. So, I'm slowly getting back into the habit of doing a little crafting every day and I decided I should put together a list of craft projects. I decided to do it on ye olde blog because it makes me feel a little more accountable and maybe that means I'll actually keep working on it, which (as I keep telling myself) is good for me. So, here's my list of craft projects I want to do:

*Twinkle baby cardigan. This is a free pattern on Ravelry which I started knitting in May. I modified it slightly to have three buttons in the top half instead of a tie closure at the neck and I decided to use the simple eyelet pattern from the original vintage pattern. I've knit the body and 3/4 of the first sleeve.

*Daisychain ABCs Sampler from Alicia Paulson of Posie gets Cozy. I purchased this as a limited edition embroidery kit (you can no longer buy the kit, but you can still buy the pattern). The kit came with all of the wool, two needles, instructions, and the pattern silk-screened onto some beautiful fabric. I got the kit a month or two ago, but I put off working on it because my embroidery skills were lacking. I've done a bit of practicing and now I'm ready to get started. This project will be put in the baby's room after being framed.

*Baby gowns. I bought this McCall's pattern at JoAnns a month or two ago along with some cute baby print fabric and I want to make a few of the items, starting with some gowns. I like the idea of baby gowns because I really see no need to go through the hassle of trying to get the baby's legs into the legs of a sleeper. Babies are squirmy. It's hard enough to get their clothes over their heads and their arms in the arms whatever you are putting them into. Why fight with the feet if you don't have to? I haven't started on this at all yet, but hope to sometime this week.

*Sorbetto top. Colette patterns put out a freebie top pattern called Sorbetto a couple months ago. It's not a maternity top, but I think it could easily be converted to one. It looks to be a very simple top. My plan is to do a Full Bust Adjustment** and then enlarge the waist to cover my belly. I'll be making a few muslins (practice garments) before I end up cutting into the fabric I really want to use (which I haven't bought yet, actually).

*Baby hats for my new nephew. My sister requested green baby hats for her baby due at the end of Oct. I guess that's only color she's missing! So, earlier this week, I went and bought some green yarn to whip up a couple of baby hats.

I have a bunch of other things I'd love to make, of course, but I'm trying to keep my list reasonable, so I'm going to concentrate on these for now. Hopefully, I'll have some progress shots to show soon!


*This eventually made me batshit crazy, so I've decided to work on baby stuff only 4 days out of the week.

**So, something that I've learned (and has been very enlightening) is that tops and dresses (ready-to-wear or patterns) are drafted for a B cup. I am so, so very much not a B cup so that's why I have difficulty finding button-down shirts that fit me. Colette is unusual in that they draft for a C cup. I am also not a C cup. I'm a DD or E depending on the bra. The way to add room in the bust without increasing the size of the rest of the garment is to do a Full Bust Adjustment. I've never done one but it's about time I learned.