/striped sweatshirt tee


Just checking in to make sure everyone knows I'm still sewing almost exclusively with striped fabric. (Har har.) I feel like I've been seeing this sort of short sleeved sweatshirt style around everywhere (probably just Madewell... I always have their clothes on my mind!) so this striped sweatshirt tee was pretty much destined to pop out of the serger.

To get a little stripe-blocking going on, I changed up my raglan sweatshirt pattern. I created side panels and closed up the neckline a bit to be more of a crew. It's pretty boxy because I'm all about keeping the lines at right and 45 degree angles. The top is drafted so that stripes can match on the top of the raglan seam; it needed to be as close as possible to a 45 degree angle but still somewhat shaped under the armpit.

This tee is made with a really nice sweatshirt terry from Mood; you can see from the link that the reverse side is sooooo soft! To me, it was obvious that the non-fuzzy side was meant to be the right side, because after a few washes the fuzzy side is still blissfully soft but a little too pill-y and linty to be facing outward.

Even though I've had a lot of experience sewing with knits, this project wasn't without its road blocks. I had to baste in and trim the collar ribbing three or four times before I got it to lay flat! The neckline is so closed in and I wanted the ribbing to be somewhat wide, so I couldn't just wing it like usual. Also, the side panels meant that I couldn't follow my usual order of operations (1. attach raglan seams to back and front 2. sew SS + sleeve) but had to do it in reverse and sort of set in the sleeves, which felt weird but turned out alright. As always, I matched the stripes using this method.

The hem isn't turned up because long torso and I forgot I wouldn't be adding 2 inches of ribbing to the bottom to compensate for this. I will likely just hem it and only wear it with high-waisted bottoms, but for now it's finished with just overlock stitches and constantly curls up at the CF and CB (as evidenced in the photo on the right). I guess as with any sewing project, there's always that one thing you've just gotta let go!

/plain & purple


 This winter, I've been laying back with some simple, useful projects that I've been wanting to put together for a while. There is a good amount of random yarn and not-so-random fabric in my sewing room, neglected and crying out to be used. So loudly. So, while I wait for clients' fabric and apron materials (SO MUCH WAITING!) to arrive, I'm slowly crossing things off that list.

Let's get this out of the way: I'm way into making pom poms. Check out this wreath I made a couple months ago! You can crank out hoards of poms while catching up on TV shows, and trimming them is almost as satisfying as shaping overgrown hedges. They're just fun. And they make make even the most plain hats happy and jaunty! Case in point: The Purl Bee's Classic Cuffed Hat

I bought this yarn (Cascade 220 wool in mystic purple) on sale a couple years ago, because the color was so irresistibly pretty- these photos don't do it justice! It needed a plain pattern to showcase the color, so I think this pairing worked. Obviously, the kicker was that it wouldn't be complete without a pom!

Here's the Ravelry project page if you're interested, I'd love it if you'd be my Ravelry bud!

Yeah, so I know my outfit can't make up its mind here- bare ankles and a winter hat? Spring-y stripes and a sweater knit (but cotton) sweatshirt? Such is the weather in northwest right now, which seriously cannot make up its mind. But I love a simple two-piece outfit just as much as crazy layering, so I think I live in the right temperate place!

How's everyone else coming along on their to-make lists? I've noticed a lot of new year, refreshed productivity with many of you sewing & knitting ladies. Totally inspiring. I'd better get back to it while I still have time!

/giving handmade


Hi guys, it's been a while! It seems like every time I'd sit down with the intention of putting a blog blurb together over the last couple months, there wasn't really that thing that would warrant an entire post. No super stunner sewing projects or especially exciting life changes to note. BUT, I recently realized that I totally did make stuff- but they were all gifts so out of sight and mind! I've corralled some photos I was able to snap before gifting, but unfortunately didn't end up getting photos of everything.

As soon as I got my cousin Sarah for our family gift exchange, I knew I wanted to sew her something special. She's a kindergarten teacher, so it had to be professional but wearable and easy to care for. Also something easy to fit, because I didn't want to ruin the surprise by asking for her measurements! I decided on the Grainline Scout tee, and it fitting and looking great. I totally regret not having any photos of her modelling! I had ordered a good amount of the coordinating poly challis (was skeptical about the poly, but it's beautiful and soft enough) specifically for her before deciding what to make, so I have some bonus yardage to play with!

For my brothers-in-law (there are two of them), I was about to buy ready made dopp kits when I realized how easy it would be to make them myself. Though I really didn't need to add to the list of Christmas stuff to do, they were fun to make and finished in no time. I even made little mesh pockets inside with fold over elastic that ended up looking pretty professional!

On the other side of the family, I drew the most coveted name... the only kid! He's two, and I got a tip from his mom that his favorite things are trains and doggies. He was SO excited to find this pup in his gift that he pretty much ignored the other store-bought stuff! The pattern is the Purl Soho Pup, which you can get for free by signing up for the Purl Soho newsletter- even if you're already on the list! I had never made a stuffed animal before, and this was really enjoyable with easy to follow instructions.

Not all of these were Christmas gifts. I made this pillow with scraps leftover from an emergency Thanksgiving napkin operation my sister had me undertake in 2013. Since she bought the fabric, I thought it'd be fun to make her a pillow with the scraps and to practice making a quilt square at the same time! It was the first real quilt square I'd made, with free indispensable instruction from Craftsy. This was the LeMoyne Star from the Block of the Month 2013 class. Now that I received an invisible zip foot for Christmas, I'm sure there will be many more pillow covers to come before I tackle a big quilt.

This hat is battling the puppy for cutest gift of the year... I think it's a draw. It's another iteration of the baby aviator, but this time in infant size and with a pom pom! It's seriously about the size of my hand (see Ravelry project page). Ahhh! I really can't get over the cuteness.

 So there's a bit of a look into what I've been up to, even though there are a few substantial things I never took photos of. I'd say a six-of-nine record on gifts is pretty excellent considering all the clothes I never blogged! Hoping to get to those in the next few months... and hoping I'm not the only one with this backlog problem!

/how-to: match stripes without using pins


Ok, so calling this a full-on legit sewing method would be a bit of a stretch- it's just a really useful shortcut I've found for sewing stripes together (for matching when cutting, here's a helpful tip). This post may very well have TMI, but I guess the more you know...?

I first bought Steam-a-Seam lite 2 because it was recommended to finish knit hems before I bought a coverstitch machine. That worked very well, and I've found many more uses for the stuff. It's great for placing pockets, appliques, sleeve cuffs- anything you want to stay perfectly put while sewing. There are some jobs pins are just not great at. I prefer Steam-a-Seam to using a fabric glue stick now, because it is easier to apply without shifting threads around.

This technique is especially helpful with matching stripes, plaids or prints on stretchy knits or when working along a bias cut or curved seamline.

With backing still on, sticky side down, place the Steam-a-Seam along your seam line so that the outer edge is at the seam allowance. My seam allowance for this sample was 1/2". Press the tape in place, making sure it's even all the way down the seam.

Peel off the backing, making sure the tape doesn't shift around. Now the top is sticky as well.

 Match each stripe and press down separately.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you are matching the stripes on the seamline, not the in the seam allowance. You will need to flip up the entire top pattern piece to see it is matched as perfectly as possible along the seamline.
Press the seam in place with your hand first- straight up and down.

 Press again to fuse with a dry iron. The Steam-a-Seam fuses like an interfacing, but on both sides. Be sure to lift and press the iron down along the seam; gliding may shift the fabric, and therefore the stripes. After this step you won't be able to re-align the stripes, so double check that they're flush before fusing.

This is the best part! Stitch using whichever machine you are sewing with. No stopping to take out pins or check on those stripes!

Note: I've never tried using Stitch Witchery or any other kind of fusible web for this purpose (and they may work), but I know that the Steam-a-Seam has yet to gum up any of my machines or needles. No $$ endorsement here, just truth.

 Turn seam right side out and get that satisfaction that only comes from nicely matched stripes!

/experimental tritik tee


This tee was a total accident that started when I was overdyeing some black linen pants for a client. Yep, it was the perfect time to try out a tye-dye technique from Tie-Dye: Dye it, Wear it, Share it by Shabd Simon-Alexander! I am always poring over this gorgeous book and I want to try all the projects in it. So, I unearthed a small piece of what I think is cotton/modal and went to town. I decided on a stitch-resist method called tritik, where you fold the fabric like an accordion and stitch through all the layers with a thick thread. I used pearl cotton embroidery thread, which worked very well to define the design, and a large needle which did not work so well and resulted in more than a few giant holes in my final shirt. Live and learn.

The thing I like most about dyeing is that it's always really obvious what you should/could do differently next time.

I could
  • leave it in the dye bath longer
  • agitate it more to get the dye in the inside sections
  • make sure to smooth out weird folds and scrunches when folding (see just below neckline)
  • use a smaller needle, appropriate for the fabric

There's something really satisfying about trial and error with dyeing projects, because most of the time even the error is beautiful and potentially useful.  Enter: the Sewaholic Renfrew tee pattern. The resulting shirt is not on grain at all, I just cut according to the dye design, which I hadn't bothered to line up properly. As long as I was experimenting new techniques, why not add to the fun? I sewed twill tape to the outside shoulder seams instead of the inside, and to finish the neckline I cut a thin strip from the crossgrain and pulled it so it curled under, then applied it just on one side. The hem is pretty insane, but I decided I really liked the length and somewhat disheveled look.

I really love making total design-as-you-go projects, such a different process than planning every detail from the start. It makes me excited to think what potential still lurks in my fabric drawers! Have you ever tried switching up your process or sewing without expectations? Was it a success?

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