This is a lovely pattern – exactly what I was looking for, something light, easy to throw on, a perfect three-season dress for those days that are sunny and warm, but not so much that I want to wear one of my sleeveless summer dresses. The dolman sleeves are a nice stylistic touch, and they made this dress particularly easy to sew – no set-in sleeves! I like both the style and utility of the pockets, and the wraparound tie gives me a waist and keeps the dress from looking too baggy or shapeless.
Style: Dress C – although I modified the length to fall between the “B” and the “C” lengths
Size: 10 (although I had to take almost four inches total in on the side seams!) Size 10 fit me perfectly in the shoulders and bust, but it needed a lot of adjustment in the side seams from below my bust all the way down to the hem. Ultimately, I added darts in the back because otherwise the back side looked too gathered and bunchy when I tied the ties tightly enough to look good in the front.
Fabric: Robert Kaufman Chambray Union Light – I’m not sure of the exact pattern/color, but this fabric weight was perfect for the drape that the pattern needed, and I absolutely love clothes in any shade of chambray! I used 3 yards of 58-60″ wide fabric.
This Christmas, I received a beautiful piece of vintage indigo fabric – a one-of-a-kind stitched-together compilation that was one of many fabric pieces that the women of an indigenous tribe in Africa created to raise money to support their families. This large rectangle of fabric could be used as a shawl or a wrap, or even a table topper. It had fringe on both short sides, and the fabric itself was unique and well-loved — frayed in places, stitched by hand in others, it felt like threads of many stories stitched together.
What to do with such a unique piece? I own so many shawls and wraps – and rarely use the ones that I have – and I didn’t want it to just languish in my closet. At first I wanted to make it into a wrap dress, but I didn’t have enough fabric. Next I thought of a long shirt or a tunic, but the fabric was so delicate in places, I wasn’t sure how it would hold up to being sewn and repeatedly worn.
Then, I saw a blog posting by Karen Templer of Fringe Association. She was discussing a piece of hand-dyed indigo fabric that she was thinking about sewing into a kimono. Inspiration! This piece would make a beautiful casual shirt-jacket with drop sleeves and wide front bands.
I started with the Crossroads pattern Contemporary Kimono as the base for my idea. I first stitched a sample jacket (size medium) in muslin, since once I cut my indigo fabric, there was no going back. This turned out to be a wise precaution, as I made multiple modifications, including:
* I reduced the sleeve width and altered the sleeve length
* I changed the approach of the cuffs (rolled and tacked, instead of sewn on separately)
* I changed the approach of the neck band by reducing the width and finding a different method of attaching it
The biggest change I made was to first make the fabric double-sided. I wanted to line the fabric, because I knew it was too fragile, and too soft, on its own. I could have sewn a jacket lining, but I didn’t want it to feel separate – I wanted the actual fabric to be double-sided. Using 2 yards of Robert Kaufman’s Double Gauze Chambray in color Marine, I stitched the two fabrics wrong sides together and, in effect, created one single double-sided piece of fabric. I then cut all of the pieces I needed, basted the two fabrics together, and then sewed the pieces as I would have with any other fabric.
I even managed to preserve the fringe and place it at the bottom of the jacket pieces, and even at the bottom of the front band pieces! I used up almost every inch of the fabric, which made me feel good – no waste, nothing leftover. I tried interior side pockets, but because of the positioning of the jacket’s side seams, the pockets seemed to be set too far back, and it was awkward to use them, so I sewed them shut and trimmed them away. I thought about trying after-thought patch pockets – I think I had just enough fabric left – but I didn’t want to clutter the front of the jacket, or detract from the fabric in any way.
I don’t have a good moniker for this creation – it’s of the style of a kimono, but fitted enough that I don’t think it actually fits within that category of jackets. Regardless of the name, however, I absolutely love how it turned out. It’s well-fitted, comfortable, and shows off the vintage fabric exactly as I had envisioned. It is truly a one of a kind piece, both in terms of fabric and pattern, and its creation has allowed me to add my own story to the running tale of the fabric.
This is a fabulous sewing project – it is quick and very easy, and because of the nature of the knit fabric, the fit is almost guaranteed! I got the idea from one of Fancy Tiger Crafts‘ Instagram posts, and I really like the fabric their sewing sample featured – Pickering yarn-dyed jersey (55% hemp / 45% organic cotton). It’s a little heavier than most knits, and I think that helps it hang better. I chose color Storm and had no problem cutting size medium (8-10) out of 3 yards.
Moneta is a Colette pattern, and I think it’s accurately rated as beginner. You will need to have a jersey knit machine sewing needle, and understand the stitches on your machine well enough to choose the right stitch for knits. I didn’t have a twin needle, so I finished off my hems with a zig-zag stitch – it really didn’t matter because the marled nature of the fabric means that your stitches don’t show at all, which is an added bonus if you’re worried that they may not look very neat and straight 🙂
I had never used clear elastic for gathering a knit fabric before (this is for attaching the bodice to the skirt), so I reviewed Colette’s tutorial, which I found helpful. It’s really a very cool trick, and worth remembering for future projects.
The only part I struggled with was the hem along the neckline – because it’s a knit fabric, you don’t need a facing, which is nice. However, after I sewed the shallow hem, I found that the neckline gapped some right in front. I experimented with several ways to address the problem – maybe the neckline is cut too wide? – but in the end, I just folded the front of the neckline in again and sewed a little deeper hem, gradually fading it out to the sides near my collarbone. It’s still not as tight as I would like it to be, and the wide neckline means that sometimes my bra straps show, but I think overall it looks neat enough.
I would highly recommend both this fabric and this sewing pattern – it makes the perfect spring/fall transition dress, easy to sew and very comfortable and easy to wear – and I love that it has pockets!
This is a really great sewing project – just make sure you’re using a jersey needle and a knit/stretch/small zigzag stitch on your sewing machine. There’s only three pattern pieces – front, back, and sleeves – and then the binding for the neck and sleeves. The neck binding may appear really small at first, but it’s important to stretch it VERY tightly around the neckline – this is what keeps the neckline from hanging poorly or gapping open when it’s done.
Pattern: Lark Tee by Grainline – I sewed the scoop neckline / long sleeve option
Mods: I cut 1/4″ off the sleeves before the 3/4″ hem, and I cut the bottom of the shirt at 18 1/4″ from underarm seam before the 3/4″ hem (which meant I cut off at least 2-3″ – it would have been WAY too long).
What I like about this pattern is how it’s got such a flattering silhouette – with just a little bit of shaping in the body, combined with the knit fabric, you get a really attractive fit. I’ve got knit fabric in three more colors, just waiting to become Lark tees . . .
For the past few months, I have been inspired by several maker blogs that focus on apparel sewing. I had been thinking for some time about sewing my own clothes, but often felt too frustrated and intimidated by the process. However, the posts of other bloggers, particularly Karen Templer of Fringe Association, really made me think about some crucial issues, as well as the concept of honing down my wardrobe to several basic, well-made pieces that all worked together. What a relief it would be to go to my closet and have only a few pieces – but beautiful, well-made pieces – to pick and choose from! That might seem like a strange thing to say, but it feels like the more clothes I have, the less I appreciate each piece, and the more overwhelming it is to figure out what to wear each day. In any case, I just end up wearing the same core pieces over and over, so why do I have a closet full?
I did know how to sew, and I’d sewed clothes for my daughters, but I’d never successfully sewed my own clothes – at least, not pieces that I ended up liking in terms of fit. I was worried that if I tried it again, I’d have the same frustrating results, so I decided to buy a few private lessons at Modern Domestic, a great sewing/fabric store in Portland, and see if I could learn some tips that would get me started.
I began the lessons in late July, and since then I’ve sewn an Everyday Skirt (Leisl + Co), two Scout Tees (Grainline), two Tiny Pocket Tanks (Grainline), a Zinnia Skirt (Colette), two Aster Shirts (Colette), two tank dresses that my instructor and I hacked from a store-bought dress, the Tofino Pants (Sewaholic), and I’m currently working on the Moss Skirt and Lark Tee (both Grainline). I feel like I’ve learned so much through this process, not just in terms of technical sewing knowledge, but even more, what it takes to try to sew a wardrobe that I will actually wear. I sat down and put to paper some of those thoughts:
Lesson One: Fabric Matters I guess I should have already known this, given what I know about the importance of choosing the right yarn for a knitting project, but I think it might be even more crucial with sewing apparel projects. Unfortunately, while a knitting pattern will have a recommended yarn – whatever the sample was knit in – the same is not true with sewing patterns. Instead, the pattern lists only broad categories: cotton, lawn, etc. A good pattern might give some further recommendations about how light or heavy the fabric should be, the drape of the fabric, etc., but most of the time, all you’ve got to go on is “cotton.” Of course, that’s like listing the yarn for a knitting pattern as “wool.” What weight, gauge, hand, drape, and a million other descriptive terms? My most successful sewing projects were sewn with the exact fabric that my instructor recommended – and, I found, it’s much easier to buy a pattern you like and then find a good fabric to sew it in, rather than picking out a fabric you love, and then trying to match it to a pattern. Sometimes I was steered away from fabrics I really liked and agreed to choose something I wasn’t as crazy about, but I always liked the end result better than when I plowed ahead with a fabric I was drawn to, even if it wasn’t ideal for the pattern I was working on. The moral of this story: choose your pattern, then get help from knowledgeable experts in a fabric store to choose the best possible fabric for your particular project.
Lesson Two: The Right Tools Make All The Difference As in so many handcrafting hobbies, I found that a few crucial tools made a world of difference. First amongst these were sewing machine feet – I quickly acquired an overcast foot, an edgestitching foot, a foot with a seam guide, and several others. Even though they’re a little expensive, they’re well worth in if you plan to keep sewing clothes. The reason: they allow your sewing to be more precise, especially the stitches that you will see when the project is done, and it is the preciseness of these lines that makes your project look professional. A straight and even seam line goes a long way to making a project look well done! Sewing feet and other tools take a lot of the guesswork and struggle out of the project. Some of my favorites (all under $10): a seam guide, Wonder Tape (for adhering buttons so they stay in place while you’re sewing them on), a chalk marker, and Swedish tracing paper (for tracing and customizing your patterns – this might be more like $15).
Lesson Three: Get Help! When I began this journey, I already knew how to sew – I’d sewed many quilts, blankets, tote bags, curtains, pillows, etc – all things that didn’t require much fitting! I had also sewed a lot of cute dresses for my three daughters. But once they got old enough that they didn’t want to wear what I sewed for them, I wanted to try sewing my own clothes. The problem: every time I sewed something for myself, I felt like it fit poorly. I was following the directions, so what was I doing wrong? I decided that there must be some tricks of the trade that I didn’t know about, so I signed up for a series of private lessons with a sewing instructor at one of Portland’s great sewing and fabric stores. This was immensely helpful, not only in teaching me important techniques, but also in teaching me little tricks and tips that are never in the published sewing patterns, and in increasing my overall confidence.
Lesson Four: Be Prepared to Sew a Pattern More Than Once I almost never knit the same pattern more than once, especially if it’s a sweater – let’s face it, a lot of time and yarn money go into one sweater! Sewing a piece of clothing takes less time than knitting, although it doesn’t go as quickly as you might think when reading the pattern because set-up (pressing and pinning in a hem, for instance) often takes as much as 3-4 times as long as the actual sewing. Nonetheless, for me it was much more feasible to sew a pattern twice than it has been to knit a pattern twice. Which is a good thing, because I think you have to sew each item you make at least twice in order to achieve a good fit. Once I accepted this – and looked at it as an opportunity to try out different fabrics – I was a lot happier with my finished products. I will likely wear the “first run” items I sewed, but it’s the tops and skirts that I sewed a second, or even third or fourth time around, that I like the most. I think this is especially true with tops, because the fit tends to be much more exacting than with a skirt (unless the skirt is form-fitting- most of mine had some gathering, so the fit wasn’t so exact).
Lesson Five: Fabrics Cut on the Bias Can Help With a Flattering Fit My greatest success was when my instructor and I took a factory-sewn dress that I liked the style and fit of, and hacked a pattern straight from the dress. It was extremely easy – no sleeves – but the final result was beautiful, so much so that I sewed two of the dresses, and I’m working on a third. While working on this project, I learned a lot about cutting fabric on the bias – how it is much more difficult and expensive, since it requires a lot more fabric, but how it also can result in a much more flattering fit, because fabric cut on the bias stretches and drapes in a way that helps positively accentuate your form. I now look for patterns where at least part of the apparel piece is sewn on the bias, because I think it’s much more likely that the result will be a flattering fit.
Lesson Six: Sewing Bias Tape is an Essential Skill I discovered that of the most essential – and difficult parts of sewing any kind of shirt or top that looks like it fits well is how it fits around the neck (and armholes, if it’s sleeveless). By and large, this is a matter of how well you sew (and edgestitch) the bias tape. One great trick I learned: if the neckline seems to gap or hang open, it means that you need to tighten up the bias tape a little. In other words, when you’re pinning the bias tape to the neckline, pull on it – just a little. It’s very stretchy (of course, since it’s cut on the bias) so you don’t want to overdo it, but by increasing the tension on the bias tape, you’ll help tighten the neckline a little, to prevent gapping. Good pressing will help too, but it won’t completely solve the problem of a neckline that gaps or hangs open.
Lesson Seven: Choose Your Patterns Carefully I have found that I prefer the patterns published by independent designers much more than the traditional patterns (McCalls, Butterick, etc). However, the independent patterns are much more uneven in terms of a good fit, clear directions, etc. For that reason, once I find a designer that I like, I’m inclined to buy more of that line of patterns. For instance, I’ve found Grainline patterns to be explained clearly and to actually fit a wide variety of “real” women’s shapes. Because a pattern often doesn’t have a single photograph of the actual item, being worn by an actual person, I found it very helpful to use Pinterest and Instagram to see how the finished product was being sewn – and worn – by real women. If I saw a variety of women in different shapes and sizes, all able to wear the piece and have it look flattering on them, then I knew that it was the pattern for me!
In the next couple of weeks, I will post photos of me wearing my newly sewn wardrobe – I think you get a much better feel for how the pieces look and fit when someone is wearing them, but it’s a lot more time-consuming to put together that kind of a photo shoot 🙂
I knit this tee with Camellia Fiber Company’s CFC Flax (50% alpaca, 25% silk, 25% linen) – such an unusual, multifaceted yarn! The silk gives it a shimmer, the alpaca gives it a halo, and then the linen gives it strength and structure, while still keeping it lightweight. It’s a sport weight yarn, naturally dyed with madder root, and at 435 yards per skein, I only needed about 1 1/2 skeins for the entire tee.
The pattern is Edie by Isabell Kraemer. I went down to US 3s to get gauge and knit size M2. I had wanted a little bit of an oversized fit, and probably should have knit up a size to achieve it, but the M2 gave me a well-fit FO.
I didn’t make any mods to the body, but I did pick up an additional 8 sts per sleeve, and I knit a total of 11 rounds (instead of 8) on the sleeves before binding off. I wanted a little more of a finished neckline, so I followed the optional neckline instructions.
The FO is very soft, but I’m hopeful that the linen will keep the alpaca from stretching too much. It’s a pretty clingy fit, so I’m glad I didn’t go any smaller than M2, but I think it’s an attractive warm-weather tee that I can wear with shorts, jeans, or a skirt. The color is very subtle and difficult to capture on camera, but gives the FO a nicely washed-out tonal look that goes well with hot, sunny weather.
I have an entire untouched skein, plus about 1/3-1/2 of a second skein, leftover – they’re posted for sale on my Revelry page here.
Another of this week’s quick sewing projects – using up the rest of my Shetland Flannel from this project to make PJ lounge pants for my girls. I’ll give these as Christmas gifts at the same time that I gift the flannel robes. Quick, easy, and oh-so-comfy!
I used Simplicity #2290 (a repeat from this project) and sewed size eight for my 9 1/2-year-old youngest daughter, and size Adult XS for my just-turned-12 middle daughter. I only had two yards of each color, so I had to use scraps for the bottoms of the legs on the bigger size. The fit on both was right on (or at least, as much as it needs to be for lounge pants 🙂
I purchased just two fat quarters of the Tiger Stripes from Cotton & Steel’s Hatbox at Modern Domestic, not knowing at that time what I wanted to do with it. My daughter has about a million dresses that I’ve made for her, and we have too many blankets, quilts, pillows, etc, around the house, but I thought she could use a pair of PJ pants to lounge around the house in.
I already had Simplicity #2290, but not near enough fabric to make a pair of pants for a nine-year-old, so I turned to my fabric stash and managed to put something together. I sewed the eight-year-old size, because I knew that this pattern ran really large. My patched-together fabric pieces were barely wide enough, but I squeaked by.
I think the scrappy look makes cute pants, and best of all, she thinks that they’re super comfortable and already wears them just about any time she’s hanging out at home 🙂
A quick project that literally only took a little more than an hour – and an excuse to get to sew something with Nani Iro double gauze, I love how this fabric feels! I bought 2 1/2 meters of this fabric in colorway Freedom Garden from this Etsy shop, and used the simplest pattern I could find for lounge pants, Simplicity #2290.
Based on the pattern measurements, I went with size adult medium – I should have known better, the pattern sizes are always so much bigger than their measurements indicate! The pants were HUGE, so I had to go back twice and sew 1 1/2 – 2″ seams, then cut away the extra. The only thing that was spot-on was the length – I only needed a 1/4″ double-rolled hem. I also had to double up the waistband, folding down the fabric 1 1/2″ twice – at first I thought it would make the waistband too bulky, but I ended up liking the look and feel of it. I used 1″ elastic, as recommended by the pattern.
I love how this fabric feels as lounge pants – it would be worthwhile to whip up a few more of these for the coming fall, although I’ll go with the size small (maybe adding a little length, as necessary) next time!
I’ve been wanting to knit this pattern for some time for my youngest daughter, and finally found the perfect yarn – unfortunately, it was fingering weight, but I got gauge with it doubled on US 6s, so I plunged ahead. I’m always nervous knitting for my kids, because there are so many reasons they may not wear the finished item – it’s too big, or too small, it’s itchy, they don’t like how it looks, the sleeves are too long, the collar is too high, etc. I wish that I’d been knitting more sweaters back when they were all very small and would wear anything I dressed them in!
By now, I’m down to knitting only for my nine-year-old — her older sisters are just too likely to end up leaving my lovingly knit sweaters that too SO LONG to knit tucked away deep in their dresser drawers. I knit so many sweaters for myself that it’s like a mini-vacation to knit a child’s sweater – it goes so fast!
Here are the specs on this one:
Pattern – Starboard by Alicia Plummer
Yarn – Bumblebirch Wellspring (100% super wash merino), fingering weight in color Hellebore (it took two 490/yd skeins and part of a third, held doubled)
Needles US 6s (US 4s for ribbing)
Size: age 8 years
The yarn is beautifully dyed – I found the first skein at Knit Purl in Portland, and then custom ordered matching additional skeins from the indie dyer on Etsy (she happens to be a local Portlander, too!)
I like the simple, top-down seamless construction, and the ingenious styling for the pockets. I think I could have got with size 10, and gotten a little more of a loose fit – this one is pretty fitted across the chest, and I wish I’d knit it an inch or two longer – but lately, when I’ve knit up a size for my nine-year-old, the FO ends up way too blousey and oversized, so I went down a size this time. The real test: whether she wears it this fall . . .
I have leftover an entire skein, and part of a second skein – if anyone is interested in knitting with this beautiful yarn, leave me a comment and I’d be happy to mail it off to you 🙂
The details really give this jacket a nice finished look – the twisted stitch band along the front and the tops of the sleeves helps to avoid an overload of bulky yarn stockinette stitch.
* Pattern: Urban Hiker by Tin Can Knits (the cool thing about this pattern is it’s sized for small children, all the way through adult – I knit size child’s 8-10)
* Yarn: Plucky KnitterSnug (70% merino, 20% cashmere, 10% alpaca) – 5 1/2 skeins (110 yds/ea) of color High Cotton
* Needles: US 9s (this made the fabric pretty dense, but I think it worked well for a jacket, which needs a lot of structure to look and fit right)
I knit the pattern without mods, and decided I wanted a zipper closure to provide a pop of color – you can order just about any color or length of zipper at Zipperstop on Esty, which is a great resource, since for some reason I find it difficult to locate a good variety of separating zippers at our local sewing stores. Also, because it’s a separating zipper, you can’t adjust the length by just cutting it off and sewing a “backstop” at the bottom, so you really have to be able to get the length right.
In the past, I’ve hand sewn zippers in, which is very painstaking and laborious – this time, I tried machine sewing in the zipper, and it worked perfectly! Now I won’t have any reason to dread sewing zippers into my finished hand knits 🙂 I’m still not sure how I feel about how zippers look in knitted sweaters – I think it’s because a zipper has no give, which is so counter to the natural give of knit fibers. I found that it was really important that the zipper not be too long – in fact, I went with a little shorter zipper, just to make sure that the knitting didn’t get stretched while being sewn onto the zipper, because that seems to make the zipper bump and buckle, which doesn’t look very flattering!
I’m not sure I’m completely happy with the fit on my 9 1/2 year old daughter – it’s pretty bulky, definitely a jacket (as opposed to a sweater). The sleeves came out uber-long – I could have shortened them by at least 4″ – and the body is long, too. I think it may look better by this winter – or maybe next winter! – if she grows into it a little.
I used some of my stash fabric and Purl Bee’s tutorial to sew several of these lightweight summer tops for my nine-year-old daughter. All you need is approx. 1/2 yard of fabric, a yard of 3/8″ elastic, and an hour or two in front of your sewing machine.
I made the first top from the blue and purple flower print fabric, which feels like a typical quilting weight cotton. I love the print, but it wasn’t quite the look I was going for, so I tried again, this time with a Liberty of London-type flowered yarn. I find this fabric much more difficult to sew with, but it definitely resulted in the light, floaty effect that I was looking for.
I like many of the style features of this project, including the french seams (important for the lawn, but not really necessary if sewing with cotton), the tie straps (so you don’t have to worry about getting the length just right), and the way you can adjust the fit just by adjusting the elastic band across the bodice.
If I was sewing for a younger girl, I would make the top a little longer – kind of an A-line swing top fit – but I think that it looks better at a shorter length, hitting just a little below the waistline, on an older girl. This would make a great first sewing project – it’s the kind of instant gratification sewing that I need during the summer months!
The perfect summer knit – I had fun playing with Quince & Co’s new yarn Kestrel, and I finished it in less than a week! The pattern is North Fork, and I knit size M (40″ bust). I ended up using 6 skeins of Cove and one skein of Senza. I got gauge on US 10s and also used US 9s for the sleeves, per the pattern instructions.
My MC was Cove, which I used until I reached the Stripe Sequence portion of the pattern. From that point on, I knit as follows (MC = Cove, CC = Senza):
7 rounds MC
3 rounds CC
Knit this stripe sequence 6 times total
Once I switched to the hem, I knit in MC for 4 rounds (instead of 6), then knit the rest of the hem as instructed.
I wanted a little longer sleeves (I don’t like really short sleeves because I think they make my upper arms look big!) Also, I usually find that I need wider sleeves at the armhole opening than patterns call for. To accommodate, I picked up 8 stitches (instead of 3) after transferring the sleeve stitches from waste yarn to my needles. Then:
Knit 3 rounds
Knit decrease round
Knit 11 rounds
Knit decrease round 1 more time
My only other modification is that I didn’t use the stretchy bind-off – I almost never find this to be necessary, and I don’t really like how it looks. I just bound off with a knit stitch, taking care to keep my bind-off loose (but not too loose), and it kept the edges neat and tidy.
I wet blocked the top on my blocking board to keep the bottom edges from curling too much, then tossed it in the dryer when it was still damp, which made it much softer and gave it a nice drape. I like how it came out, although the colors are a little muted. I think I would have knit it an inch or two longer, although maybe linen grows and stretches – I can’t remember, does it?
This sewing project was both a success and a failure. First, the success . . .it was my first time sewing with knits, and by using a specialized sewing machine needle and knit stitch on the machine, it went very smoothly. Another successful aspect of the project was the clearly written directions – I was able to sew both the leggings and the tunic with little to no confusion. I particularly liked the pattern’s focus on details that make the project look more finished and professional.
The failure, however, was the fitting – I originally tried to sew this for my 11-year-old, which shouldn’t have been a problem since the pattern is sized through age 12. However, when I measured my daughter, her measurements were all much bigger than those listed on the pattern (inches across chest, arm length, inseam, etc). I have no idea how Oliver + S came up with its sizes, because my daughter is a typical size for an eleven-year-old (at the 50th percentile for height and weight, according to her last doctor’s visit). I’d really like to know how the pattern concluded what the size of a typical twelve-year-old is!
To compensate, I increased the size of the pattern pieces. For the leggings, this was very successful, although I had to REALLY increase all of the dimensions. But when it came to the tunic, even though I added multiple inches to the bodice, it was still WAY too small. Good thing I have three girls of differing sizes . . . it became a project for my nine-year-old! In my opinion, this pattern is sized small – I would always sew the next size up, instead of the child’s actual age/size. Most frustrating of all, it’s WAY too big for my just turning nine-year-old — even after I completely hemmed and took in the pants, and cut down the length of the tunic and the sleeves. It looks like she’s wearing her big sister’s clothes – shoot!
I experimented with trimming out the sleeves with bias tape – I like the look, but it makes the sleeve cuffs somewhat stiff, which for this piece is a nice finish, but I’m not sure I’d like it for a different type of a top.
Takeaway – I’d definitely use the pattern again to whip up knit leggings – it was very quick and easy, and you could make these in a rainbow of colors for easy-wear coordinates. However, if I want to upsize this pattern again, I’m going to need to do a better job of using some of my daughter’s current clothing to create new pattern pieces.
I used the same pattern and fabric as I did for the simple summer sundress, but this time, I left the fabric undyed. I thought about adding some hand embroidery, but somehow, no matter what I considered, it seemed to just clutter up the simplicity and clean lines of the pure white cotton voile. Also, because of the fabric I used, both hand and machine embroidery would have been very tricky – the fabric is so sheer, that any tension in the threads would pull it too taut. I think that I would have had to use an interfacing on the underside in order to embroider, which would, of course, have ruined the lightweight nature of the fabric.
You can see the smocking detail here – I’ve really become a fan of this technique, it takes a little time, but is actually very simple and I’ve had good success thus far.
I love sewing projects like this – quick, simple, no pattern, nice fabric to work with and a few clever details. There’s something about the simplicity and clean lines that gives it a finished appearance. It just says summer to me!
Another gorgeous pattern from Isabell Kraemer – her patterns never fail to knit up beautifully and fit beautifully, too. This is one of her new releases, Emerald. I used a sport weight yarn, instead of a DK weight, so I downsized to US 5s. I still knit size medium, because it had a 41″ chest, and it fits well, but given how thin and lightweight this fabric is, and how it clings and drapes, I’m glad I didn’t go any smaller. I used Sundara sport silky merino yarn in July yarn club color Coral Reef. This yarn feels amazing – 50% silk and 50% merino. I thought, given the instructions on the pattern, that I would need 2+ skeins (each skein is 415 yards), but I completed the tee with only 1 1/2 skeins.
The tee is knit from the top down with an ingenious provisional cast-on that avoids a shoulder seam. There is no seaming, and the cap sleeves are picked up and knit in the round. The pattern gives instructions for a long-sleeved version, too.
I chose simple pearl-colored buttons, so as to not detract from the varigated colors in the yarn. I love how quickly the button placket, neck edging, and cap sleeves knit up. The little bit of design around the top of the bust is just the right touch of detail, and I like how it runs around the back, too.
You can see in the photos where the yarn color differs when I changed skeins – I’ve never been good about alternating between skeins to avoid this, and to tell you the truth, I don’t notice it at all when I’m wearing the tee. This is the perfect pattern and yarn for summer knitting; the top is so lightweight, I feel like I could wear it on even the hottest days here in Oregon.
Because I ended up with an extra skein, I’m hosting another giveaway – just leave a comment below, letting me know what you’re knitting this summer, and I will randomly draw a winner for a skein of the sport silky merino in color coral reef. And, I’ll throw in my remaining half skein, as well, so you’ll have plenty of yarn for whatever you’d like to knit! Get your post in by midnight on July 22nd, and I’ll announce the winner on July 23rd 🙂
My youngest daughter, age 8, is the only one who will still reliably let me sew clothes for her (and actually wear them!) Together, she and I planned this project and it was easy enough to finish in an afternoon. I used a wonderful cotton voile, which is so light and fine, yet still easy to sew. I wanted a fabric that would make the most lightweight dress possible. I bought two yards of Robert Kaufman’s Organic Voile in PFD bleached white (57″ wide), and had plenty left over.
I didn’t use a pattern, or create a yoke – the entire design is based on a single rectangle. The width of the rectangle is twice the circumference of my daughter’s chest, plus a few more inches added in. Her chest is 27″, so 27 x 2, plus 3 more inches = 57″. The length is her measurement from underarm to however long I wanted it to be – I used a length of 28″, then subtracted 3″ for the ruffled bottom, so I cut the piece 57″ x 25″. I cut this piece so that the 25″ length was paralell to the selvedge edge, to allow for maximum stretch of the fabric. For the ruffle, I cut a piece as long as my remaining fabric (approx 100″) x 5″ (I added on a little width to account for the seam and the hem).
* Finish one long edge of the ruffle with a rolled hem; stitch a gathering stitch along the other long edge, gather it into ruffles, then sew right side to right side to one of the 27″ edges of the main piece, and then press the seam toward the main piece and top stitch 1/8″ from the seam.
* Finish the other 27″ edge of the main piece with a rolled hem, then sew 8 rows of shirring with elastic thread, starting 1/2″ from the top and spaced 1/2″ apart.
* Measure the piece around the child, pin and sew the side seam, and trim the seam to 1/2″.
* Make straps – I cut one long piece of fabric 1 1/2″ wide, folded each long edge to the middle, then folded the strap in half lengthwise and sewed along the length (this way I didn’t have to turn such a thin, long piece); measures the straps on the child, to get the right length, then cut off the extra and tuck in the raw edges and sew inside the bodice, right along the rolled hemline.
That’s it! I loved it in clean, pure white, but my daughter wanted to experiment with RIT dye, which I’d never used, so we chose the violet color in powder form and followed the directions here for ombre dyeing. I didn’t think that this worked out well for several reasons. First, you’re supposed to wind the fabric onto a dowel and lower it section by section into the dye, but this fabric was so light that it wouldn’t lower evenly into the dye; it had to be pushed underwater (using gloves, because the dye really stains and it’s really hot!) and this resulted in uneven borders between the darker and lighter sections. Second, the fabric soaked up the color incredibly fast – maybe because it’s such a lightweight fabric – and as a result, I couldn’t really get an ombre appearance, because even when I dipped the last section in for only a second, it turned bright purple. And then, of course, I had three gallons of VERY purple dye, and nothing to do with it . . .
I think I would try a different kind of dye next time, or perhaps try RIT again using a heavier fabric. I’m fascinated with the idea of using dye on fabric, but RIT isn’t very user-friendly for dying by hand, and least not based on my experience here.
If only I had the time, I’d make these dresses in every color that this pattern line comes in – I especially love the red, teal, and lime. I made the skirts a little longer, but otherwise followed the pattern dimensions, and they fit my almost 8-year-old and 10-year-old perfectly.
The directions were clear and well-written, and I had no problem with the simple sewing skills, including pleating, an elastic band, buttonholes, and sewing the bodice to the skirt. The lack of sleeves made the project that much easier, but it took a while to put together the pleats on the skirts.
The buttons are handmade ceramic from Jennie the Potter – I’ve had them for a while, and they ended up being the perfect size and color matches for these jumpers.
Isabella now has her own business up and running: Alphabet Animals Embroidery! All twenty-six letters of the alphabet (and their corresponding animals) are available on T-shirts in any size, from newborn through adult. Custom made to order, the recipient can choose T-shirt size, letter/animal, and color scheme. Below are all of the available patterns:
The T-shirts are white, 100% cotton (the colored borders in the photos are not on the T-shirts). You can request any color(s), including multi-colored hedgehogs or yaks:
You can also order either a large (8″ x 8″) or small (6″ x 6″) canvas square wall hanging, in any of the letters/animals and color schemes: