Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Amazing turnaround

My shoulder width fix (removing about 1.5cm or 5/8" of width from the front armscye and slightly less in back, tapering to nothing at the bottom of the armhole) worked brilliantly. So much so that I was able to convince myself to spend an entire day of my long weekend in my sewing room and to push through to the finish.

And as these things often turn out, after so many days of serious doubt and funk, I love my new coat!

So here it is.

Look! It fits me in the shoulders!

The pattern didn't suggest a belt with this view, but I thought its plainness would be improved by one. I briefly considered making the buckled straps for the sleeves but managed to come to my senses quite quickly.

As you can see, there is a single button in view at the neck. There are four more concealed behind a fly front opening.

I used some gaily printed cotton shirting or quilting cotton from stash for lining, in keeping with my goal of not buying any more fabric. The sleeves are lined with Bemberg so that the coat will ease over whatever I'm wearing underneath it.

All's well that ends well! I'm going to use the rest of the cotton to make the top from Vogue 7440.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Frustration on several fronts


I made Vogue 2449 before, and still wear the resulting trench coat, so I didn't see a need for a muslin.

I should have thought about the very different qualities of my fabric then (soft, limp) and now (stiff).

Right sleeve is pinned further in,
left sleeve still needs to be removed 
Stiff fabric that's coated on the reverse with a waterproof membrane of some kind. It's the very devil to sew without puckers. This is the only similar quality between fabric then and fabric now.

So anyway I had not realized how very wide this coat is across the front in the shoulder area, and how extended the shoulders. This became painfully obvious, once I sewed in the sleeves. In a softer fabric and a double breasted trench it didn't matter too much but there is no place to hide with a light coloured stiff coat front.

Yes of course I edge stitched the sleeve cap before I tried it on!

So I am spending some quality time with my seam ripper today. I think I'll move the sleeve seam in 5/8" (1.5cm) at the shoulder point and in the front bodice, leaving the underarm the same. The side benefit is that the little bit of ease in the sleeve cap (which was pretty difficult to deal with) will be taken up by the slight extra length of the revised seam line.

Machine Knitting

I bought a cone of rather lovely creamy yellow silk yarn, intending to use my Passap knitting machine to make a summer top out of it.

But it breaks. It is a noile silk that has no bounce (softness, stretch) whatsoever. When it's tensioned, its relatively short fibres just don't hold I guess.

I tried a different knitting machine. Same thing.

It's really thin and will take a very long time to hand knit.


But have a look at this terminally cute little sweater!

The knitting was surprisingly easy on my LK100 bulky machine. The collar was hand knit. In the time it took me to sew up the seams I could have made another back, I think.

Hand Knitting

So, this hand knitted cotton top was unforgivably biased. Some yarn just does that. I wore it a few times but its twistiness really bothered me. So much that I knew I wouldn't be reaching for it.
Don't know why this is sideways

The nice thing about failed knitting projects is that you can recover the materials and reuse them just as if they were brand new.

It doesn't take very long to un-knit a top, using a swift and yarn winder.

I started a new one in a lace pattern. For some reason, lace patterns can eliminate bias. Look how square the swatch is!

The pattern is Feather Pullover. You knit it top down, increasing within a modified version of the lace. So far my impression is that this is a great pattern; really well written and thorough.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Oh yeah, that coat?

Remember this post?


Not a trench

Not full length.

Not a Burda pattern (I'm using Vogue 2449, view E).

Not finished.

But it is robin's egg blue.

A sewer is always entitled to change her mind, right?


And look - I had the perfect buttons in stash!
I started knitting a cardigan in July of 2014 and I just finished it. Holy cow it took me a long time! In between starting and finishing, I went to work just about every day, a place where knitting is frowned upon. I sewed, an activity the doing of which is incompatible with also knitting at the same time. I also did a lot of curling, during which it is impossible to knit. Although I did a bit of traveling and they let knitting on planes and trains, I am pretty sure it's illegal to knit while driving. But the real reason it took me so long? Knitting acres of stockinette stitch is truly rather boring.

Last week, I'd had enough. I was within spitting distance of finishing the body (this cardigan is knit from the neckline on down to the hem). But the sleeves! Sleeves are not little tiny things; they're almost as big as the back of a sweater. And there are two of them! All stockinette; OMG I wasn't going to finish this thing until 2016.

In desperation I grabbed the life line offered by my knitting machine. I was delighted to find out that the Passap DM80 would handle my sport weight yarn (like a champ, really) and so I held my breath and carefully and with much cursing managed to transfer the live sleeve stitches from my project to the slippery little latch hook needles of my Passap, which can knit a tube, and very carefully and with much cursing knit two sleeves in two evenings.

They are not perfect. No sirree, not at all. The yarn (a strand of kind of dull purple alpaca held together with a strand of lively purple cotton/cashmere yarn) formed subtle stripes (which it didn't do when knit by hand). I managed to slip (not drop) a couple of stitches and didn't notice until it was too late to fix them. The machine left some loops of excess yarn when changing direction (4 times per sleeve, if you want to know). The gauge is not 100% spot on my hand knitting gauge. However, these defects are as fixed as I could make them, or are pretty subtle. The sleeves are good enough. And this puppy is finished.

Just in time for the warmth of summer, during which The Sewing Lawyer will certainly not be wearing an alpaca cardigan with long sleeves. However, 4 months in the magic closet will do its work, and in October or so, this thing actually will be perfect.

Do you know what knitting machines are really good at? You guessed it: stockinette. I have a lot of this cotton/cashmere yarn left. I could make a smashing light weight top to wear under this cardigan, when the weather cools off.

More details?

OK, here's the back. I like the bit of ribbing; it was so interesting to knit (not really, but it was more interesting than stockinette).

Knitting is so organic, and the construction of this sweater was super interesting (or would have been if it hadn't been all stockinette). But you know? You end up with a really floppy product. In particular, a top down and seamless sweater has zero structure in the shoulder and armscye areas. And knitting stretches, and it droops. The rate at which you increase, in this pattern, dictates the width of your sleeve caps and of your sweater body. You can't separate for the sleeves whenever you want. If your row gauge isn't perfect you can get an armscye that's not the right length. Mine was too long, and it would only stretch more with wear. This happened.

In the photo at left, one armscye was fixed and the other wasn't. No prizes for guessing which one.

Two armscye "seams" - the one
on the left is fixed

The fix is to get a crochet hook and crochet a chain, picking up the back of the knitted stitches along the armscye line (i.e. the point where I was increasing). This can draw the knitted fabric up, easing it invisibly so the line is shorter, and it also doesn't stretch so it provides stability.

The armscye is still a bit too low when coupled with the rather slim sleeves, but I will be able to live with it and this defect might even disappear in the magic closet.