Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Willamette Part Deux

A post shared by Sara (@knottygnome) on

After finishing my test Willamette I was eager to sew the "real" version. Back in 2014 I had experimented with indigo dyeing. I took a length of a lightweight cotton/linen blend and dip dyed it to make a sort of ombre effect. Honestly I didn't do a great job with what I had intended to do. There was a very pronounced difference between the front and back of the fabric, which eventually came in handy (more on that later). I washed and pressed the fabric and then put it away for 4 years because I could never figure out what to do with it.

I had 60" wide fabric so I was able to be pretty careful with my fabric placement to get the fronts and the back/yoke to match up as best I could. The pocket, cuffs, and collar were all placed a bit further down in a darker section by necessity but I did my best to make the colors as consistent as possible. I couldn't and didn't try to match the front facings since they were on the inside of the garment.

This time I made View A which is longer with a curved hem. I don't think I made any further adjustments to the pattern but I did change up some of the sewing details.

  1. My first Willamette was stiff in the front "buttonband" so I did not interface the fronts at all.
  2. I moved my stitching line for the fronts down from my last version so the shirt is easier to get over my head and I was still able to eliminate the button at the top.
  3. I left about 7 inches at the bottom fronts unstitched so that I can theoretically tie the fronts. However, after actually trying it I probably won't ever do this. it's a bit too cropped and my stomach shows. If I wanted to do this in the future I'd lengthen the garment a couple of inches overall.
  4. To facilitate these tie fronts that I'm not ever going to use I also put side vents in the side seams. I actually really like the ease it creates over the hips though in retrospect i could have made them shorter as I get that peekaboo of skin I'm not particularly fond of. I think the vents were about 4.5" long before sewing the hems.
  5. Obviously this is an option in the pattern, but I only made 1 pocket and topstitched it. I was trying for the Madewell aesthetic as much as possible.
  6. I had a hard time stitching in the ditch of the cuff seams on Willamette #1, so instead I made a small stitching line perpendicular to the sleeve seams to tack down the cuffs. honestly if i weren't being so lazy i probably would've hand stitched them. that probably would've looked the best.
July 16

I am really proud of this shirt. I feel like the fabric makes it look like a premium designer take on the classic chambray shirt when it really wasn't difficult at all to sew. The pattern along with the fabric/notions only ended up costing me about $18 total. I've already worn it and it's very comfortable to wear though it does wrinkle thanks to the linen. I love my new shirt and I'm sure it's going to become a staple in my spring and summer wardrobe.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Six months of socks

A post shared by Sara (@knottygnome) on

From January through June, I've completed 3 pairs of socks a month. One pair is for a friend, and another is for my husband but the rest are mine. I think that my sock knitting will definitely slow down for the rest of the year though, for a few reasons.

  1. I have so many pairs of socks. I haven't worn any of the new ones, as I've decided to wait until 2019. Not including these, I have about 35-40 pairs of socks that I still wear. It hasn't been as cold for the past few winters so I don't even wear handknit socks every day for 3 seasons like I used to. At some point, you just have enough socks.
  2. I've been sewing/quilting a lot more this year so I have less time to knit. Most of my knitting has come during my lunch break at work or within a half hour of going to bed.
  3. I really want to start making fall/winter accessories soon so that I'll have them before the weather turns. I procrastinate on this every year and end up with cold hands/head/neck/etc. I could legitimately use more hand accessories and a new scarf. I don't need more hats but I have fewer hats than socks. It also takes less time to knit hats than socks. I would love to knit a new sweater or two.
  4. I've really been neglecting my blankets and I'd like to get them finished. One is very close to being done and it'd be nice to have a cozy wool blanket for fall.

Having said all that, I should be able to keep knitting at least one pair of socks a month. I do still have tons of sock yarn in the stash after all. I haven't been buying much yarn at all this year and I've gone through over 5 pounds of stash yarn so far. I'm hoping to keep up that trend even if my pace isn't quite as fast.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Basics are boring (but also essential)

McCall's 7604 skirt

My posting has been out of sync with the order that I've actually finished things, but I'm sure you don't care. I made this skirt right after I finished my linen maxi skirt, in case you were wondering.

I needed a basic black skirt in my summer wardrobe. I have a black faux suede skirt that I wear in the fall/winter, but I think it looks strange for summer wear. Until very recently I still owned and occasionally wore my black Crescent skirt, but the fabric has faded over time and the waist is too big for me now. I decided that I wanted a ladylike midi skirt, or at least what I think of as a midi skirt. Because I am so short a true midi skirt tends to hit at the widest part of my calves and looks generally terrible, so I usually stick to above the knee skirts. However, sometimes a little extra length is nice with heels and looks a bit more dressed up and feminine. I made View B, which is supposed to be just above the knee, but on me I wanted it to hit just below the knee (more on that later). So I actually didn't have to shorten the pattern much at all. I think I shortened it one inch.

I debated just drafting a skirt myself and not using a pattern but in the end I chickened out and chose McCall's 7604 because A) It's a really easy pattern, just rectangles, B) It has a few different styles that I might be interested in making and C) Joann's had a pattern sale, making it only $1.99. I figured it was worth $2 to save myself some drafting headaches. While at Joann's I also bought fabric and chose the same black linen/rayon blend that I made my Crescent skirt out of all those years ago. I figured if it's not broke, why fix it? I know that the fabric will fade eventually but the reality is that I'll probably be ready for a new black skirt after a few years so I'm not worried about it.

Somewhat unusually this pattern has XS/S/M, etc sizing rather than numbers. I made the size S but should have made the XS. I did not make a muslin first because it's made of rectangles and because I hadn't broken my habit of being a lazy sewist yet. It's an elastic waist skirt but the elastic is only in the back. It looks nicer from the front but it's harder to get the fit right. I had the exact same problem that I had with my linen maxi skirt, which is that the weight of the fabric pulls the waist down when I wear it. Because of all the gathers this skirt has a lot of volume and therefore uses a lot of fabric and the linen/rayon drapes well but is heavy as hell.

It is not just a styling choice that I'm wearing a belt in the picture. If I don't wear a belt the skirt slides right down to my low waist and becomes that unattractive true midi length that I was trying to avoid. I really should go back and take the skirt in at the side seams at least another inch. I will probably do that eventually or else I won't wear it much but right now I'm feeling peevish about it and don't feel like it. For future versions I might even skip the elastic entirely and install a zipper instead so that I can get the right fit at the waist, as I'm just not sure that elastic on only half the garment is enough to keep it in place especially for the longer versions.

Oh and I added side seam pockets from a dress pattern because it doesn't come with pockets. Why do they make patterns without pockets? I feel like you should always have the option unless there are specific design reasons not to and then you can leave them off if you don't want them. At any rate they were very easy to add but do increase the weight of the skirt even more especially if you put things like keys in them.

So yeah, not my best work and kind of boring to write about. But I really needed a basic black skirt. And once i finally suck it up and fix this one I'm sure I'll wear it a considerable amount. I'm also thinking about the maxi length version in a lighter fabric, but maybe not until next year as 2 new skirts is plenty for me for this summer.

Monday, July 09, 2018

My new favorite

A post shared by Sara (@knottygnome) on

My garment sewing obsession continues. I've been shopping for some summer weight blouses and not having a lot of success. I love the Madewell aesthetic but when I tried on their shirts in store even the XXS was too big. I find that I tend to just swim in their shirts. I stumbled upon this Willamette Shirt pattern when I was looking for something similar to the Central Shirt. I was so excited that I printed off the pattern pieces on Friday so I could get started right away.

I did have some issues printing the pattern. My first copy did not print the border notches on 2 sides, making it impossible to match up. I went ahead and tried a second print and this time I got 3 sides to print, leaving just one to draw the boundaries in myself. I won't lie--this was pretty frustrating to deal with. but on the plus side for the first time I used the tile printing function and only printed out my size, making it a lot easier to trace and I saved ink too.

According to the sizing chart, I'm about an inch smaller than the smallest size 2. I did an SBA on the front piece. I basically just followed her FBA tutorial but overlapped rather than spread the pieces. I had some issues figuring out how to match up the sleeve piece but I ended up keeping the shoulder seam aligned so it would be the same length and drawing a new side/underarm seam. For the back, I scooped 1/2" out of the side seam at the waist. so overall I removed about 2" total circumference from the shirt, and I think it fits well.

After the fitting process, I still wanted to make a practice garment before cutting into some of my long hoarded pieces. I found a length of black and white check cotton pique that I bought at Fabric Mart way back in 2010. I had made a skirt out of it but I had a little over a yard left. with some creative squeezing I was able to get the entire shirt cut out of my remaining fabric. For this version I made View C, the cropped straight hemline with the regular back pleat. I was surprised that I didn't have to shorten it at all and it's still a little cropped on me.

I'm really happy with the shirt construction. It's very easy to follow and gives nice finished results. The only change I made was to skip the French side seams as I wanted to cut down on bulk. I serged them instead and pressed towards the back. The only other change I'd make next time is to make the 1/2" hem 5/8" instead. I just feel it's a little easier to press and sew and doesn't make a noticeable difference in the total length. I also raised the stitching on the fronts so I wouldn't have to sew a button but I made it a little too high. it's not bad but a tiny struggle to get the shirt over my head. Lastly one other change I'd make is to use a different interfacing. I used a lightweight fusible but the facings were just too stiff.

I love this shirt so much. It has that retro look i was going for and it's nice and cool to wear. Plus I was able to stashbust and use up some fabric that's been around forever. I've actually already cut out and mostly sewn another version that I am tremendously excited about. I have a feeling that the Willamette Shirt will become a TNT pattern in my summer capsule rotation. I could honestly see myself making a new one every spring.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Garment sewing, again

It seems to happen a lot in the summer for some reason, but I've become interested in sewing clothing again. This time it was because I edited out all of the long skirts in my wardrobe because I lost some weight and none of the old ones fit anymore. I tend to wear skirts and dresses more in the summer and I like to have at least one long skirt because it's so comfortable to wear. I had a terrible time trying to shop for one because I'm very short, so I finally broke down and decided to sew my own.

A post shared by Sara (@knottygnome) on

I pulled a piece of medium weight linen from my stash that's been around for years. I did not use a pattern for this skirt. I just measured the length I needed plus length for the elastic casing and hem, and cut one length, then divided it into two equal sized rectangles. My fabric was about 60" wide, so the two panels were a bit less than 30" wide. I also used a pattern piece from a dress that I had for the side seam pockets.

This skirt was incredibly simple to make, but I did have some issues with the elastic. I wanted a skirt that hits at the natural waist, but I did not take into account how heavy my fabric is. The weight of it drags the skirt down a lot. I had to adjust the elastic a few times to make it tighter and I'm still not 100% happy with the fit at the waist. Next time I would make the elastic significantly shorter than I think I need, maybe 2.5 to 3" shorter to help keep it up on the waist. I also did a blind hem by machine and this is the first time using that stitch where I've been happy with the results. Because the fabric was on the heavy side, I simply serged the edges for the hem rather than turning them under and creating an additional layer of bulk.

I should get a decent amount of wear out of this skirt over the summer but honestly it's too hot right now to wear it. I think this skirt is more of an 80 degree skirt rather than the 100s we've been experiencing.

A post shared by Sara (@knottygnome) on

Next up is a summer tank. I used Vogue 9109, view A. It only has 2 pattern pieces and comes with different cup sizes, so I didn't have to do an SBA, which is nice. Even though it is so simple I went ahead and made a muslin. I've been watching a few fitting classes on Craftsy unlimited and I've really learned a lot from them.

I used up some old floral cotton poplin from my stash that I was never going to make into anything else (one of those "What was I thinking?" purchases) for my muslin fabric. I used the A cup front piece and added 1/4" of width to the shoulder, which I then had to remove from the armhole. I shortened the entire top by 4.5" to make it hit just below the hip. I also scooped about 1" from the back at the waist because I have a swayback. I'm really quite happy with the fit overall. I could see myself making this top again in a slightly more cropped version to wear with high-waisted pants, and lengthened/widened at the hem as an easy-fitting dress.

The only thing I did not care for was the neckline and armhole finishes. I made my own single-fold bias tape, and I find the method of attaching it a little fiddly. I think I prefer the double-fold binding that gets turned and stitched down to the inside. I will probably substitute that method next time.

Although I do still have a clothing fabric stash, I no longer like a lot of what is in it so I went to Joanns and bought this denim blue pinstripe cotton eyelet shirting for the top. it's nice and lightweight but it is quite sheer, which is annoying. I'll probably have to wear a nude tank underneath. I also purchased 2 other new fabrics so hopefully you will see them made up soon.

I am trying very hard to be more intentional with my sewing. In the past I believe I've sewn up pieces just to get fabric out of my stash without taking into account what I will actually wear. I also haven't been as thorough as I could be with fitting or taking my time with techniques. These days my time is so precious that I don't want to waste it on sewing something that doesn't really fit in my wardrobe, or that I don't wear because it doesn't fit well or there's some sloppiness that makes it look homemade. I plan to really carefully monitor how much I wear what I've sewn so that I can avoid making mistakes in the future and only sew what I love.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Modern Sampler Block 12

A post shared by Sara (@knottygnome) on

Ahh, the Card Trick block. I've made it a few times before. It's fun as a one-off but I doubt I'd ever want to make a whole quilt with it. I had a minor hiccup where I forgot to cut out an entire fabric and didn't notice until I put the pieces together and realized that one of the "cards" was missing.

It doesn't happen very often but I just have to say that I was having a very good piecing day and my points are nearly perfect. whenever you have a day like that you should celebrate, since the opposite day also exists...when your points won't match up no matter what you do.

Because this quilt is based off of 6" blocks, I would be lost without my 6.5" square up ruler. It's so handy even for the larger blocks because many of the components are 6" squares that need to be trimmed before assembling the whole thing. I also use it to trim my 3x6 flying geese and 3" HSTs. i probably wouldn't buy square rulers in every size available, but this 6.5" ruler is incredibly handy.

And the diagram keeps on filling in. only 2 more 18" blocks to go and I'll be on to the 12". I doubt anyone will notice but I have been moving some of the blocks around on the diagram to ensure that my fabrics are evenly dispersed and that the blocks look good next to one another. I'll probably do that even more when I get to the smaller blocks. it's handy to have this visual representation because the quilt is so large that it won't fit completely on my design wall.

This post uses referral/affiliate links. I may receive a small credit or commission if you make a purchase using the links.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Modern Sampler Block 11

A post shared by Sara (@knottygnome) on

I really love how my fabric choices turned out for this block. I designed a whole quilt using this block called Sunday Potluck many years ago. well, nearly the same. there are a few small differences from this version. It was very easy to put together thanks to strip piecing.

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I've been using my stripology squared ruler throughout the process of making this quilt. It's really handy for cutting strips when you need a bunch of strips from single fabric. it's also great for cutting scraps, which doesn't really apply to this project right now but will probably come in handy when it's time to deal with the leftovers. I've also used it for squaring up block components before sewing them together. It's an expensive ruler but I have found that it speeds up the cutting process considerably.

This post uses referral/affiliate links. I may receive a small credit or commission if you make a purchase using the links.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...