Monday, March 27, 2017

all straight things must bend

The Grainline Scout tee.  Like the Linden opened up a world of patterns for me, the Scout taught me not to fear setting in sleeves and how to bias bind a neckline properly.

My first attempt was yet again in Cotton and Steel rayon.  While I liked how the pattern came together, it was a wee bit short for my taste and I rarely wear this version.

As you can see, I didn't perfectly set the sleeves, but since I didn't realize it was possible to do better than this, I left them as is.

My second version was another Leah Duncan Art Gallery voile.  I followed this tutorial to use French seams throughout, including at the sleeve cap, and I lenghtened it by 2 inches.  This worked well for me, and this top is often worn, though I don't think I have any pictures of it.

I then followed another Grainline tutorial to lengthen the Scout sleeves to elbow length.  My first attempt at this produced sleeves that were just slightly too narrow: not quite bad enough to notice immediately but uncomfortable after being set in.  So I scrapped them and recut the sleeves a little bit wider.  I was using a lovely Nani Iro brushed cotton and just barely had enough to get the right pattern on the front of the recut sleeve.

I decided to make a neckband for the neckline rather than finish it with a bias binding, since the brushed cotton is a little thicker.  I love this top and wear it often.  

Following that success, I made another with longer sleeves from a Japanese textured cotton found at Stonemountain and Daughter.   

I tried my darndest to pattern match along the side seams, and while I did get the pattern to line up, I cut one of the pieces backwards so the design does not match correctly.  (You can sort of see this in the second-to-the-bottom picture.). Nonetheless, this is another favorite that I wear often.

Thinking about how much I enjoy wearing three of my four Grainline Scouts has made me wonder why I haven't made more of them!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

and when I opened my eyes

Circa June 2015, the next big development in sewing for me was the Grainline Studio Linden pattern.  I think I'd come across the pattern while hunting for more Liberty sweatshirt fleece.  I had made a handful of circle scarves out of the Liberty sweatshirt fleece for Christmas 2014 and was fairly enamored with it.  It's hard to come by, though, so I was hunting for it (probably to make a boxy tee; I think I had visions of a long-sleeved one).  While hunting, I came across the amazing Lindens in Liberty on the Make Something blog.  I think this one was the first to catch my eye, though there are a number of amazing ones.

That sold me on trying the Linden, and I found some delightful Art Gallery knit (another Leah Duncan print: Mojave) to test it out.

I was totally hooked.  I loved the great instructions from Grainline and how they walked me through making a real top so it wasn't really hard at all.  I also really loved the Art Gallery knit fabric and promptly purchased a ton more.

Though I loved that first top, it became a pajama top pretty quickly as it was a wee bit too short.  For future knit Lindens, I lengthened by 2 inches which was a great length for me.

I subsequently made 2 more knit Lindens for me, 1 for a gift, 3 Liberty Linden sweatshirts for gifts and 2 woven Lindens.

For one of my knit Lindens, I used the split hem tutorial from the Grainline blog.  I like the idea in theory but the hem pieces stuck out a little bit like wings so I'd need to fine tune that if I were to try it again.

That shirt has basically been relegated to casual wear after it pilled pretty badly from friction from my backpack on the hike seen above.

I don't have a picture of my favorite Linden though I probably wear it about once a week.  {Update: picture available here.]  I also only have one pic of the gifted Liberty Lindens.

For the Liberty sweatshirting, I found that it was best to cut the neckline long and on the bias and then figure out the right length.

The woven Lindens were fun to try, though I'm not sure I'm going to spend the time to get the fit just right.  They are both a little tight.  

One is made from more Cotton and Steel rayon and the other from the other piece of Liberty that I got on our honeymoon.  I still need to make myself a Liberty Linden sweatshirt!

Next time: the reason why I won't bother perfecting the Linden for woven fabrics.

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.