Saturday, July 26, 2008

Finished Object - Knitted no less!

(apologies for the less than stellar photos - it's waaaaaay too hot here to be setting up photo shoots and wearing this more than 2 minutes!)

Details: the Katharine Hepburn sweater from Lace Style, heavily modified. Mary Maxim "Starlette" worsted weight yarn, acrylic.

First off, the sweater called for sport or fingering weight yarn (I can't remember), so I did my usual graphing trick of printing out knitter's graph paper in both the original and my gauge. I plotted the outline of each piece on the original paper by tracing out each step (every time it called for decreasing one, I jogged in by one square, work straight for 4" was a straight line up for 1/4 of that since I was using 1/4 scale paper, etc). Then I laid the new graph paper over top, traced the outline, smoothed everything out into whole rows and stitches, and voila! new pattern. Which I then played around with some more, making the body length in between the two sizes, and making the ribbing part much longer. I'll have to fix the buttonholes somehow, because the yo loop is too big for my buttons (I'm thinking of taking a piece of yarn and tracing around the hole and pulling it up a bit), but otherwise I'm pretty impressed!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Continuing Vintage Pattern Series

A random pull of 3 patterns out of the bag - and, oh, I'm loving every one...

Simplicity 4312, size 14 (bust 32), 1953. A little worse for wear inside and out - but how cute is the view 2 striped set?

Simplicity 1814, size 15 (bust 35), 1956, uncut. I saw it as a swing jacket, but it's described as "Junior misses' and misses' housecoat, robe, and smock". That wording confused me a little - but the instruction sheet labels both View 1 and View 2 (the only difference is the sleeve length, and view 1 has the piping) as "housecoat or robe".

Butterick 7433, size 14 (bust 32). I can't find any date, but the price is the same as the other two. I'm wondering if I could pull this off, if I decreased the fullness over the hips... I think there's a reason they labelled this one "teen age extended bodice dress" - slim people look like it's all the dress!

JCC Wrap-up

Wow, has it really been that long? Methinks there was a bit of a burn out after all that frantic activity!!

So the June Capsule Contest was a resounding success! Check out the flickr site for the official entries. Such eye candy - go grab a tea and watch the drooling! It's unbelievable what some people can accomplish in a month, all around jobs and kids and life in general! Very, very inspirational.

That made it all the sweeter that I actually got Second in the Accessory category!!! My first ever prize for my fibre work, and during the first ever finishing of a contest... I might be hooked ;).

Thank you to Elizabeth for not only musing about the idea, but jumping in with both feet, hosting the contest, creating the framework, compiling the entries and votes, and even throwing in a monetary prize. That's an awfully big undertaking for a new mom, and she made it look easy! We managed to fill two 20-page threads on Stitcher's Guild during June, sharing the successes and the frustrations, and everyone who got something done felt like a winner. And those who came out with capsules in the end realize how neat this method of planning and execution really is - even if seeing one more blue swath of fabric makes you want to scream at the time!

I'm very happy to have participated - but I'm also glad that the SWAP contest (11 garments!!) isn't for a long time yet!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

JCC - Summary Post

tumblina's June Capsule Contest 2008 Entry: Summertime Blues

Item 1: jean-style skirt (chambray and dark blue stretch cotton), Simplicity 9842 (OOP)

Detail Post Here

Item 2: skorts (chambray), Vogue 8324 (vintage)

Detail Post Here

Item 3: halter top (dark blue stretch cotton), Vogue 7639 (OOP)

Detail Post Here

Item 4: wrap skirt (dark blue stretch cotton), previously made, handdrafted

(all clean finishes inside, and I did end up sewing the front panel to the side seams up to mid-thigh level)

Detail Post Here

Accessory: crochet picture hat (ecru cotton), my design

Detail Post Here

JCC - Detail Post: Item 3

Ah, the most anticipated, then most frustrating piece: the halter top.

Vogue 7639. I loved the lines on this pattern. I made the long sleeved, long hemmed version in a white stretch cotton a few years ago. I don't wear it very often - really, most of the places I go it's pretty out of place. Plus it doesn't like to sit nicely when I'm sitting - a combination of the length and the fact that, actually, it doesn't fit all that well. I made it before I got picky about such things! I had already known not to bother with the boning (thank you Pattern Review!).

So I thought - hey, let's try the halter top. It's shorter, there's no upper back and shoulders to fit, and it looks much more relaxed ;).

(fitting mirror montage - and I didn't bother taking pictures of the first attempt!!)

Uh huh. Right. I came to believe that the less fabric you've got, the better the fit has to be or the whole thing goes way off keel.

The major adjustments:
- took an inch off the top, where the collar attaches (should have built that into the upper pattern piece for a short torso, but I didn't want to have to cut out yet another set of pieces! this worked out fine because there was so little fabric up there anyway)
- small bust adjustment (was already done for the previous version), plus I split the bust dart into two, staggering the ends, to try and soften the "pointed" look)
- still had to take in the side seams at the top by quite a bit

(shown horizontally, both side seams one above the other, yellow chalk line for new seamline!)
- SWAY BACK ADJUSTMENT. This is what gave me the most headaches. How to alter for the curve of my back, without over fitting, yet still having enough length to put the hemline back down where it was supposed to be. I ended up pinning out the folds in a horizontal dart, transferring that to the back pattern pieces, and redrawing them, adding the length on the bottom. What came out required the centre back to have it's own seam line, all the back seams to arch out pretty quickly, and the back side seam to be more vertical. It's still not quite right, but at least it looks a heck of a lot better.
Photo of the back seams by the time I got them figured out:

After all that was sorted, I got down to the sewing bit. Didn't help that I was on the last day (or two?) of the contest!! The sewing machine obviously knew I was under a deadline, because it started throwing fits:

Topstitching - there is LOTS in this pattern, and regardless of the tension or needle I kept getting these loops popping up once or twice a line. Some I stopped, pulled back, carefully started the topstitching in the middle of a run. Some I took the tip of a seam ripper and gently eased the excess into the surrounding stitches.

The invisible zipper (put in instead of the row-of-hooks tape (trust me, that's annoying to have to put together in the morning!) - I've done lots of them, and with my regular zipper foot, but this was not cooperating. Finally said FINE, and pulled out the hand sewing needle! You know what? Pretty easy that way. And probably almost as fast, if you count the inching-forward method I use with the machine to make sure I'm keeping right in that hollow. Then, to pre-empt the bubble at the end of the zipper where it joins the seam, I did that seam by hand too.

Alright! In the home stretch. Collar. Went together no problem! Attach to top - ok. Now sew facing on. The only picture they have in the pattern notes has you hand whip stitching the facing to the sewn-on collar stand, as normal - well that's no problem. Except that 3/4 of my collar stand is all by it's lonesome, because there are no back and shoulders! I could assume they want me to whip stitch the whole thing... but blanket stitch would probably look nicer, I thought:

(at 4pm on the last day of the contest? collar stands are reeeally long!)

But in the end??

It's a good thing.

JCC - Detail Post: Item 2

(aka A Shorter Post (ha!) (I promise - the last one was a novel!), this is a continuation of A Fitting Post)

Going for the punch line first: Finished Skorts!

From a vintage Vogue pattern (8324, no date)

View A, although I did severely cut back on the closures! They called for 2 hook and eye combos, two snaps, a zipper, and three buttons - all for something goes from waist to halfway down the thigh! And it's not like there isn't enough coverage, it's a full skirt and a pair of shorts!

I went with one button, one zipper, and two snaps:

(see that facing? there's one on each side of the skirt opening - invisibly stitched down to the skirt by hand!! I'm very proud of how that turned out!)

Since I was trying to go for a more versatile piece, I didn't go with the patch pocket. But pockets are important! So I pulled out the instructions for an inseam coin pocket (from Vogue Patterns magazine, Oct/Nov 2002), and put a little pocket bag in between the skirt and the shorts, attached at the waistband:

The thing that bothers me most about these is the hem:

Because it's 3" deep, on an A-line skirt, there's a lot of fullness to be gathered up. I serged the edge, then put a basting thread through each section, then pulled up the gathers until the distance matched the seamline, then stitched using the machine hem stitch. I'm not sure what else could have been done - seam tape, maybe, to hide the edge and hand stitch it down? Maybe it's just the body in the chambray that makes it annoying for me. I could have made a shorter hem. I liked the idea of the deep one!

Give me a week or two, and I won't remember the inside so much anymore :P.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

JCC - Detail Post: Accessory

I hope I'm not jumping the gun too much, as I'm going to have to use some of my "official" pictures in these detail posts - but the big reveal is in a day an a half, and it's going to take me a while to write these up! If anyone knows how to save a bunch of drafts with uploaded photos in Blogger, I'd love to know for next time.

The June Capsule Contest at Stitcher's Guild required an accessory.

I wanted a lace picture hat. (Yes, that was a little bit crazy, given the time limits, but I did have a back-up tote idea. One of these days I will make it to the library with something other than a 5 year old "Toronto Public Library" tote that's definitely a little worse for wear...)

In the interests of the time limit, I thought crochet would be the better option (faster!). Besides, isn't this something that crochet should excel at? Shaped/free form, lace... Except I couldn't find any wide brimmed crochet hat patterns. Admittedly I am a novice in the crochet supply chain, and these things aren't quite in fashion yet (should be, with the amount of fear over skin cancer!!), but I was still surprised. I found two knit versions, but they weren't quite what I was looking for.

So - change the stitch pattern in one of the knit versions, or go for broke and design my own? I have made up toques before, but this is a whole 'nuther ball game! Well, hanging out at the library one day, I find IK's Harmony Guide Basic Crochet Stitches (how have I not seen that one before?!?), and paging through, started to see some options. While I was at it, I pulled other books off the shelves, and found an interlocking-circles motif in the middle of an afghan square. My idea was to start off with big holes (let heat escape off the top of my head!) and get more dense for the brim to provide more shade. Why not at least swatch and see where it goes?

It went a little like this:

(pictured next to the Jones New York Sport ecru cotton sweater I got the yarn from)

The biggest hurdle turned out to be how to incorporate the increases. In knitting, I just add knit stitches until there's enough room for a full lace repeat, and keep going. Except in crochet, at least in the lace bits I was doing, you skip over lots of base stitches to put in the lacy bit - so it wouldn't matter if I added another stitch in the previous row! Not having much experience with crochet, I did what made sense to me - figured out where in the pattern I could increase enough that I had an extra full repeat (or could fudge one) the next time I needed it. Between that, and my strange ability to end up with more stitches than I should have at the end of a round, I managed to get the stitch count I was aiming for eventually. Freeform, baby!

So that made picking stitch patterns tricky, because I didn't want anything with too high a stitch count - that would make it too hard to increase. I ended up with Theatre Box Stitch for the main hat (p. 109), and Winkle Picot Stitch for the brim. Surprisingly, I was making pretty good speed on this project (hey, when I've got a bee in my bonnet... ;) ).

Next tricky bit - how to stabilize the brim!! The knitting patterns called for millinery wire. I was having trouble tracking down a local source and online would mean (a) too late for the contest, and (b) requiring me to either buy a whole roll or pay way more in shipping charges than the wire was worth. So first I tried coating one of the swatches in white glue, like they do for Christmas ornaments. Well, it works fine when it hangs with gravity, but horizontal... gravity wins. So DH tried hitting every possible place on our way home one day - no dice. Most people looked at me like I was speaking in tongues. Beading wire and floral wire is the extent of things around here. Last stop: Home Depot.

20 gauge galvanized wire

"Colourflex" electrical coding tape

Grand total: somewhere on the order of $3.50. Almost makes up for the time and gas!

A bit of tongue-sticking-out concentration as I cut the tape lengthwise (it's pretty thick - using the whole width wrapped around was getting too large and bulky) and tried to evenly coat the wire.

My attempt at joining the ends - I ended up bending back each end linking them together, then pinching hard with needle nose pliers and taping over the whole thing. It's secure - but it does tend to pivot at that point. Next time - super glue? soldering?

I used a joined half double crochet over the wire to partially hide it and hold it on.

Not bad for guess-or-by-golly:

Next time (well, give me a minute to get over the annoyance of the last round - even with the covered wire, trying to hold everything in place, with a spool of wire off to one side, and not develop RSI over the kabillion stitches at the edge is a feat!): thicker wire maybe (this one crushes pretty easily), try to find a thin white cloth tape to cover (I had trouble at the tape joins), and figure out a better gauge - the lace on the brim on this one isn't really taut. It lies perfectly in a circle unblocked - but that was probably the problem. I also guessed the length of the wire, and I was a bit too long - I have a hyperbolic shape rather than a flat one!

Still, I love it!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

JCC - the fun posts

(this probably won't make too much sense yet - wait for the next few instalments for more background!)

Going with fun first, here's the artistic and the goofy pics from the JCC photo shoot:

Watch the background now...

Strike a pose!

I think Marilyn Monroe's title is safe.

And what's a Nova Scotia photoshoot without the crows?

Happy Canada Day!