Thursday, March 16, 2017

wade in the water

I have been knitting lately, but never documenting, and a lot of my crafting time has gone into a new interest in sewing.  Yesterday, while organizing my sewing patterns, I realized that I'd better write down some notes before I forgot everything.  (I pretty much have forgotten everything, but I can collect what I can remember.)  I know no one is reading this blog anymore, but I'll at least have some record.  I'm going to try a few posts to catch up on the sewing that I've done so far and then will hopefully keep more detail about projects moving forward.

The events in this post are circa April to July 2015.

The first pattern that got me excited about sewing was the Purl Bee Boxy Tee.  True to its name, this pattern produces a totally wearable t-shirt out of a few rectangles of fabric.  Wamps had gotten me pretty comfortable with a rotary cutter and mat, so I wasn't intimidated by the idea of cutting rectangles.  (Come to think of it, that's how I started knitting, too, with a book of cushion patterns that didn't intimidate me because they were just squares.)

The other motivating factor was that I had fallen in love with some Cotton and Steel rayon.  I ran into their rayon substrate at Stonemountain and Daughter Fabric while looking for some flannel for a lap blanket (also a Purl Soho pattern).  It was beautiful and silky and the Stonemountain employees assured me that it was easy to sew with as long as I had thin thread so I impulse purchased it.

Several weeks later, all the rayon had given me was complete grief.  I was trying to make circle scarves out of it, but kept getting ridiculous thread nests and horrible tension problems and was about to throw out any idea of ever sewing with anything other than 100% cotton.  I tried researching solutions, but while the internet had lots of articles about how rayon was produced, I found very few useful tips about avoiding the problems that I was having sewing with it.  (Colette has now done a series about sewing with the Cotton and Steel substrates, but I don't think it includes the tips that made a difference for me.)  Anyway, eventually I found a site (which I unfortunately don't remember) that suggested a ballpoint needle.  And maybe the same site, or another site, suggested using spray starch to stabilize the rayon before sewing.  Both of those tricks turned out to be game changers for me and my circle scarves were completed.

It also helped to make sure that all the fuzz from lap blankets was brushed out of my machine.  Once the scarves were done and gifted, I was excited to try a top out of this fabric.

My first attempt at the boxy tee went better than I expected.  I messed up the neckline since I thought it was supposed to be a neckband rather than a bias binding (in retrospect, I should have been able to figure that out from the picture but I'd never sewn a neckline before so I didn't understand the directions).

As you can see, the neckline stood away from my neck.  I added some ad hoc and improperly constructed darts to make it lie flat.  And then I wore that top everywhere.  It is probably one of my most worn things that I have made.  The lovely color plus the drape of the rayon make this top work really well under suits/cardigans, both of which hide the awkward darts.

Given that success, I thought I'd just make a bunch more boxy tees.  So I cut into some lovely textured Liberty (not Tana Lawn) that I purchased on our honeymoon.  And it turned out that I'd been really lucky with my first top since the second looked like this:

Pretty bad and too bulky to be hidden under a cardigan.  I'm not entirely sure still how it tuned out so bad; there's definitely less drape to the fabric and Purl had enlarged the sleeves on the pattern between these two versions so maybe the proportions are just off, but it was startling how bad it was. If this had been my first attempt, I'm not sure I would have persisted so it was lucky the rayon one was first.

I tried again with an Art Gallery voile designed by Leah Duncan.  That turned out much better; their fabric had the right drape.  However, I have no pictures of it since the thin fabric didn't hold up to wear as well so it is in a basket waiting to be mended.

Around the same time, I talked Jenny and Elizabeth into "sewing days" which really helped me to become much more prolific with sewing.  Rather than spend hours online researching something, I could bounce ideas off of them and get advice.  And it made sewing more social as well, which made it feel more like knitting.  I think our first sewing day was on July 3, 2015, and you can see that Wamps was working on her own boxy tee:

Around this time, Wamps started talking about how great it was that I just plowed ahead with my "wearable muslins" and I tried to pretend that I knew what she was talking about.

Next time: I follow a pattern not made of rectangles.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

This post makes me so happy. I want to print it out and carry it around.