A Little Accessory Knitting


Tis the season for the sewing room to be fridged which means KNITTING ALL THE TIME.  Or at least in the evenings when my lizard body has had it with temps below 65 degrees. This month I stuck with small projects to use up some of those random balls of yarn sitting in the stash.

First project was the Bosc Hat.  Knit in Cascade 220 Superwash in the color Ruby.
I have some mixed feelings about this hat mostly stemming from my yarn choice. When it comes to superwash yarn, sock weight is delightful but worsted weight kind of skeeves me out. When I touch it my brain screams, "EWWWWW, it feels weird. So gross." Apparently my brain is a 5 year old girl.
The only reason this yarn is in the stash is thanks to a very sleep deprived Past Heather who thought she was going to knit baby Desmond a bunch of sweaters.  Poor Past Heather, she should have just gone home and knit another garter stitch blanket. Instead she bought a bunch of Cascade superwash and now I'm stubbornly trying to use it.
The Bosc hat pattern comes with two sizes and I cast on the larger one. This turned out to be the wrong decision because the stretchiness of superwash yarn made the brim circumference larger than I prefer.  Oh well, when you refuse to gauge swatch hats these things are gonna happen.  On the plus side the yarn shows off the stitch pattern nicely and I'm pleased with the amount of slouch in the beret.

I have nothing but good things to say about the pattern itself. The instructions are clear and include charts for the stitch pattern, which is my preferred method. This was my "purse project" so I can report that it's easy to figure out where you are on the chart by reading your knitting.  So long story short, I recommend the pattern but not the yarn.

Second project was another beret, the 16 cables hat.  Knit in Rowan Lima in the color 881. (Already glimpsed in my last post.)
I'm much more pleased with this FO because the yarn choice is to my liking and the beret fits around the head snuggly. Being fresh off the Bosc project, I decided to use the large hat size again but go down a needle size for the ribbing. That worked perfectly and I got the snug fit I prefer in a hat. The rest of the knit was pretty straight forward, other than discovering that I couldn't cable without a cable needle.  Between the width of the cable and the yarn construction it was impossible not to start dropping stitches all over the place.  I'm sure the almost black color in a dimly lit room didn't help matters either. I pressed a DPN into service as a cable needle and carried on.
The cable pattern is not charted in the directions, but it is very simple to follow.  Most of the knitting is just knit and purl rounds and all the cable crosses are at regular intervals.  I managed to knock this hat out in a week because it was hard to stop knitting it. I'd recommend both the pattern and yarn on this project.

Finally I made good on my promise to knit Des some socks. Here are "Spice Kids" knit out of some Wollmesie, cause I'm really nice.  Someone might have destroyed the tag when I was winding the yarn so the colorway is a mystery.
I find all Yarnissima patterns a pain in the ass to knit because they use my least favorite construction techniques.  Toe up sock, ick.  Judy's magic cast on, hate it with the heat of a thousand suns.  The recommended M1 technique, there are much easier ways to do this!!!!  (And yes I do them on DPN's because magic loop is my mortal enemy.) But I keep knitting Yarnissima patterns because they're pretty and they feel great on your feet. Something about that annoying to knit gusset construction makes them the most comfortable socks to wear.
In this case I also thought doing them toe up would keep me from knitting the foot too long.  NOPE. Despite trying the sock on multiple times the darn thing was about 1.5" too long once I finished the heel. Ended up knitting the gusset area three times on the first sock, all while muttering a few choice words.  But as you can see I suffered through and fulfilled my Mom promise of handknits.  He's happy and that's what's important. Look at that great smile! Maybe you'll get another pair of socks out of me.......after a couple of months.

PR Hacks - Upgrading Butterick 6169


Hello everyone!  Hope those of you also on the East coast are keeping warm and safe during the "Blizzard of 2016." We've got at least a foot of snow on the ground already and the storm is not expected to stop until sometime in the wee hours tonight. I foresee a shit ton of shoveling in my future. At least I've got my Froggie pit crew permanently on hot chocolate making duty.  In the meantime let's procrastinate on all that shoveling by talking about this month's pattern hack.
After two months of knit garment hacks it seemed right to give woven fabrics their turn.  I took some inspiration from PR "Best Patterns of 2015" contest entries and finally dusted off my copy of Butterick 6169. Seemed like a great way to finally sew up at least one of those pleather fabrics lurking in my stash. (Let's not talk about how many more are left.)
Butterick 6169 is one of those patterns that is the perfect base for pattern hacking.  So many different design ideas popped into my head that some severe editing was needed. There's only so many weeks in the month for sewing after all.  In the end I went with adding a yoke, changing the front hem line shape, and drafting a collar.  Oh and I changed the in seam pockets to zipper inset pockets.....because I like to torture myself with pleather. ;)
To get all the juicy drafting details hop on over to the PR blog

P.S. Sewing all that pleather was a nail biting experience so I decided to have a little fun with the lining. Meoooow, behold my Jungle January insides! 

P.P.S. - This morning I was a little out of it and accidentally deleted my December PR hacking post.  After spending way too much time googling, "How to recover blog pages," it occurred to me that having all these posts in one place would be very helpful.  I've added a "PR Hacks" tab to the header and will gather all the article links there. That should make finding a specific hack easier in the future. 

Veronica Enters the Scene


As someone who hoards a lot of fabric it's no surprise that there are several pieces "waiting for the right pattern to come along."  Yes I know this is a recipe for disaster ending with adult Desmond chucking yards of fabric in a waste bin while grumbling about his mother. (Don't do it future Desmond, I will come back and haunt the poop out of you.) The horror of my pretties being incinerated should light a metaphorical fire under my butt and it often does.  However there are certain yardages that seem to be immune to this. They are still waiting for their perfect pattern and every once in awhile that right pattern does magically appear  This was the case when the Veronica coat popped up in my IG feed in mid December. I immediately thought, "Squuuuueeeee, this is the perfect thing for the 3 yards of plaid magenta coating that has been in the stash forever."
This fabric is so old that I'm not quite sure how old. It predates both my son and the purchase of our house so it's at least 6 years, but could be a little older than that.  Those of you with 15-20 year old pieces in your stash are laughing at me right now.  ;) For my stash this is pretty much the bottom layer as long as you don't count the accumulated years of inherited pieces of fabric.  This coating was originially purchased from Emmaonesock.com in one of those, "It must be mine......I don't care what it costs....take my money please," sort of moments.  Between the lovely colors and the plaid being woven on the diagonal it was too awesome to pass up. It was also too awesome to sew. No pattern pairing ever seemed right for it, which is why it was still sitting in the back of the closet in late 2015.
Thrilled to have finally found this fabric's pattern mate, the PDF pattern of the coat was purchased so I didn't have to wait to start it.  The pattern was assembled, traced off and a muslin was made in about a week. Can you tell I was excited?  Everything looked great so I got out the plaid coating, unfolded and found......it was covered in bug holes. NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! This picture doesn't look too bad, but it was actually the heaviest part of the damage being the outside layer when the fabric was folded. The bugs seemed to like the magenta parts and would eat down to the backing layer which is black.  You can see the biggest hole in the photo, but there were a lot of smaller one's peppered throughout the fabric. I thought the project would have to be scraped right then and there.
After some self pity induced cookie eating, I took a closer look at the fabric and found that the left side of the fabric was in pretty good shape.  Sometimes what looked like holes were actually areas where black fiber had clumped when the fabric was being made. On the flip side more holes were found in the right side of the yardage, which made plaid matching a big concern.  Damn you bugs!!!!  In the end I just got stubborn and started cutting the coat out thinking, "I am going to make this work!"  Long story short, there was enough undamaged fabric to cut all the pieces out and I got pretty good plaid matches.  One side seam is off because the plaid repeat seemed to bias a bit at the fabric edges. I could either plaid match the CB or the side seam, but not both. I did find two small bug holes that escaped my notice while sewing. Thankfully neither went all the way through the fabric or was that noticeable. Since there was literally no more undamaged fabric to work with I'm going to call it a win.

After all the drama of cutting out this project the rest of it went pretty smoothly. I did need to thread trace all the buttonhole and pocket placement lines because no marker/chalk/wax showed up on this fabric. Thread tracing was a bit annoying, but it turned out to be good TV watching project. That must have given me the hand sewing bug because it suddenly sewn in interfacing seemed like a great idea! I got out the lightweight horsehair interfacing and and hand sewed it all into the body of the coat 1940's style. Yeah, I don't know what came over me either. After that it was mostly straightforward machine sewing, with the exception of the hems.  I did hand sew them up with some rayon seam tape like the instructions suggested. The final bit of drama was the buttonholes.  Now my Bernina is an absolute trooper with buttonholes when compared to my last sewing machine. This wool/mohair blend was just a bit more than it could handle, soo sooo squishy. During the 4 hour buttonhole sewing process I was pretty jealous the NY girls who can pay someone to put buttonholes in using an industrial machine. NY ladies, that is money well spent. Saves you from having to use every screaming/crying emoji on your iPad and inhaling so much mohair fluff that you feel like you've been licking goats. I'm sure someone enjoys licking goats as recreation, but I'll pass.
Let me talk about the pattern for a minute. The Veronica coat is what Wearing History categorizes as a "Resto-Vival" pattern. This means it is a vintage pattern that has been slightly reformatted and graded to include a number of sizes.  For example this 40's coat was originally an unprinted pattern with holes punched out to indicate darts, grain lines, etc. Wearing History transfered all this info into printed lines similar to more modern patterns. The actual drafting of the garment remains the same, which the exception of there being two sleeve cap options offered. (More on that in the Confessions/Advice area) The directions are also the originals with a few added notes from the Wearing History clearly marked "WH Notes."  The 1940 directions are sparse compared to modern ones, but if you have prior coat making experience this won't be a problem. Personally I preferred this sort of reissued pattern to ones where the drafting gets dumbed down for modern sewist. And as someone who barely reads instructions for any project, using the original ones was no problem.

Veronica - 1940's Coat from Wearing History. I sewed View 2.

Fabrics used
Wool/mohair coating from the stash.
Warm coat lining from Emmaonesock.com
Pattern changes/alterations
1. 1/2" Forward shoulder alteration to the shoulder and sleeve.

2. I added a 1" pleat to the CB of the lining.

- This is a large PDF pattern.  Those of you who feel like PDF patterns are puzzles to put together will be fine with it. There's a printed version available for those of you who think PDF patterns are the work of the devil.

- When you look at the pattern sheet you'll see that there is an modified sleeve cap option towards the top. WH explains that as drafted the sleeve is much puffier than what the fashion illustration shows.  They provide the smaller cap that can be swapped and give you the flatter look of the illustration.  If you want to be 100% authentic you can trace the sleeve as is and use the original sleeve cap.  For my coat I used the modified sleeve cap with the shorter sleeve head.

- I prefer to have some waist definition in my coats, which is why I went with the belted view 2.  Some of you don't have the same tastes so I took an unbelted photo just for you.
- I think there is a typo on page 4 of the instructions. There is says most of the pattern has a 1/2" seam allowance but the side seams, underarms and CB all have a 3/4" seam allowance. I found my collar did not fit in properly with a 3/4" CB seam.  Went back and made it 1/2" SA and then the collar fit perfectly.  (The 3/4" SA was used for the side seams and underarms on my coat.)

- I did forget about that 3/4" SA on the lining and sewed the whole thing at 1/2".  Happily the thickness of the wool meant it fit perfectly at that size.

- The lapel buttonhole was left off because I like wearing my collars open. Also because I couldn't face trying to sew another buttonhole and my child had heard enough profanity for the day.

Husband Comment
"What fictional character are you talking to in this coat?  Claude Rains?  Are you using him or his he taking you for a ride?  Also it's got big pockets."

My Final Thoughts
I've been thanking my lucky stars that this plaid coating wasn't completely destroyed by whatever stealthily munching bugs were involved.  It would have been a crime against old man winter....or maybe just would have reduced me to eating half a pan of brownies in one sitting. Either way not a good scene.

So far Veronica is in heavy rotation with my blue Butterick 5824 and I like having a shorter coat length option in the mix. The big patch pockets are really handy for keys, gloves and about 8 rocks that your kid picked up on the way home from school. He even said, "Ooooo these pockets are so big," as he stuffed a rock into them. Oh and I got to buy a new hat to go with this so winning all around. So with that I'm off to play a dame lurking the shadows in some Film Noir. My pocket full of rocks should come in handy.

Being Wooed By The Forties


Since January is the month of goals/planning, I've been thinking about what vintage patterns need to be sewn this year. Usually my go to era is the 50's and the old mental sewing list might still contain a pattern or two from that decade. However I've been seeing a shift towards the 40's in my tastes of late.  I've always enjoyed browsing 40's patterns, but have shied away from making them.  The whole slim hipped/flat butt part of the silhouette was not in the genetic cards for me. In fact my deck is stacked just like my backside. ;) So for years I've only enjoyed watching tall drinks of water like Cate Blanchett float around in 40's confections and left at that.  Then Agent Carter happened.
If you aren't watching Agent Carter than you should be. Admittedly I jumped on board last year just for the costumes, but quickly discovered that it had excellent writing and was highly entertaining. And then there's Hayley Atwell as titular character who is just delightful. I think she perfectly embodies the strong and resourceful woman that is Agent Carter..... and her costumes are great.  So as I was happily watching the show last year it struck me that Hayley Atwell doesn't have the stereotypical 40's body. I'm sure she's 2" taller and 20 pounds lighter than me, but she does have a curvy figure that's a lot closer to mine than all those 40's fashion illustrations.  My brain finally said, "Hey wait, Hayley looks good in all these 40's fashions. I bet you could too."  In hindsight it's a bit of a duh moment right? Of course women of all shapes and styles wore the same fashions in the 40's.  Sometimes you just get an idea in your head that something's "not for you" regardless of any evidence to that effect.  So in 2016 I plan to sew up a couple 40's patterns and see if I enjoy wearing them.

First up is a new pattern acquisition which is pretty exciting.  A suit set from Hollywood patterns, #1032.
I'll be making the shorter skirt version because that will get more wear.  I'll also straight up be copying the red jacket/black skirt combo because they might as well have designed that for me.  We'll have to wait and see if I go frogs or button closure. Ribbit.

In the flurry of December I purchased this pretty separates pattern from Du Barry, #5510.
Not sure if a woven wrap blouse will work on my body, but these girls make me want to try it. Color and type of fabric to be determined.  (The stash probably has something that would be perfect.)

When it gets warm again I'd like to finally make up a dress pattern that's been sitting in the stash for awhile, Advance #4227.
This design would look cute in either some light weight cotton or rayon. I will have to see what my tricky fabric meter is set to when it comes time to actually sew it.

I'd also like to try a 40's button down blouse but don't own a pattern like that yet. Oh darn, guess I'll have to spend hours browsing on Etsy to find one.  How we "sacrifice" for our craft, but we must work through the pain. 

So those are the closest thing to sewing plans that I have for the year. We'll see how my foray into the 40's actually goes. I may chuck it all and just wear artfully draped fabric yardage on my body instead.

P.S. Since I'm a super fan though I'd mention that you can watch season 1 of Agent Carter for free on ABC go this week and the new season starts on Jan 19 at 9pm. Go give yourself a treat. 

My Stash Busting Spreadsheet


Hi guys, today's post is a little info dump about my record keeping since some of you expressed interest after reading my last post. My spreadsheet is pretty basic, so it was no trouble to take a few screen shots to show you how I record yardage in and yardage out.

First of all I have to thank my sewing friend and serial stasher in crime Katie for giving me the idea of a spreadsheet in the first place. Three years ago she send me a copy of her own excel file and I dumbed it down a bit for my own purposes.  For example Katie keeps track of sewing for individual family members and types of garments for herself.  My sewing is much more....Heather centric you might say. A simple column of patterns and fabric is enough info tracking for my uses. Which is a great thing about spreadsheets, they can be as simple or complex you want.

I use the spreadsheet program in Google docs for my sewing records because my main "computer" is actually a chromebook.  I can't install any software on it, so all applications need to be web based.  That's fine with me because being able to access the file from any location has been helpful in the past.  I started with a blank spreadsheet and added 4 tabs to it.  Those tabs are, sewing, purchases, fabric removed non-sewing and monthly total.

Not surprisingly the "Sewing tab" is where all the garments sewn during the year are logged.  I record the pattern name or number, a brief description of the fabric and the number of yards used. Each month is split out separately so that the total yardage can be tracked.

On the flip side the "Purchases tab" tracks all the fabric coming into the stash during the month. I also log any fabric gifts on this tab, but give them a red background. That way I know if a stash influx isn't something I should feel that guilty about. After all fabric gifts are always good even if they up your numbers. On this tab only a description of the fabric and the yardage acquired are recorded.

The "Fabric removed non-sewing tab" is for any fabric sold in the Etsy shop and stuff I decide to throw away. Usually it's a ton of small scraps that I either don't feel like sewing or are too small really too use. (Lillestoff is so hard to throw away.)

At the end of the month the "Monthly Total tab" is filled out so that I can easily see how I'm doing with my stash busting goals.  The sewing/fabric removed non-sewing numbers are added together and put in the "Total Removed" column.  All fabric purchases and gifts logged in the "Total Added" column.  Then I subtract the two numbers and record how much fabric has been removed/added to the stash.  Here's my entire 2015 year below. 
So that's all the details on my stash busting spreadsheet. I hope that sparked your creative juices if starting your own sewing recordkeeping is something you'd like to do in 2016.  

2015 Stash Busting Wrap Up


Happy New Year to all my sewing friends!  I've spent the last week and a half after Christmas furiously finishing a coat before the end of the year and then reorganizing/cleaning various areas of my house. Also stuffing copious amounts of cookies into my mouth and refusing to take any Christmas decorations down. Gotta make sure to balance all that virtuous stuff with a little vice.

Tis the season for year end review, a trend which I am not immune to. Heck the blog is probably my only "accountability" partner since Froggie is the perfect enabler.  So let's start with a look how my stash busting goal for 2015 worked out.

In case you've forgotten, and why would you remember, my goal was to get one of these rubbermaid containers off the floor and into the stash closet. Here's a pic from 2015.
Did this happen....Nope.  Here's the same area today. Other than the knits in the basket being level it looks the same. (Though I am pretty pleased with myself for keeping the top of my dresser clean for about half a year.)
So that's the bad news.  The good news is that I kept spreadsheets on how much was sewn/removed in other ways, and purchased. Those numbers tell a much more successful stash busting story for the year.

First of all fabric acquisition was way down from last year. In 2014 I added 154.75 yards to the stash, in 2015 that number was a more manageable 83.75 yards. Also about 40% of the new additions were also sewn into garments during the year.  Those fabrics that are still stashed fall into my "yellow layer" designation where I think, "Yeah I'm glad I bought that."  Overall I feel that I've modified my fabric buying habits in a successful way that actually reflects what I like to sew and wear. In case you're interested how this was accomplished, here's what worked for me.

1. Figured out my color palette and sticked to it.
I will be eternally grateful to Gillian for doing a blog series on this which gave me a kick in the butt to get working on this.  Even though I had a general idea of what colors were flattering to my coloring, my stash didn't always reflect this. Sometimes an interesting print would catch my eye and I'd buy it even though it was olive, ivory, some other color that makes me look ill.  Problem is that you can't do anything to those colors look good on you.  I'd sew that fabric up, put the garment on and immediately take it back off again. That's wasted money, time and closet space, not to mention latent guilt about all 3 of those things. So I stopped thinking of a color palette as something that constricted my creativity and embraced it instead.

If you go by seasonal color palettes I fall into the winter category. Here's a sample palette that I yonked off the internet.  Now most of these colors look "right" for my coloring, with the exception of that pale yellow, however they are not all colors that I like to wear.  Last year I took outfit photos almost every day for a couple of months and that helped me nail down what my personal palette is.
I like to wear a lot of bright but cool toned red, black,white and navy.  Bright/cool toned blues and greens also get mixed in regularly, but fabric in those colors is harder to find so they make up a smaller percentage of my closet. Similarly cool toned yellow is almost impossible to find, so you don't see me wearing a lot of it. I love pink in floral prints, but seem to hate it in anything else.  Finally as I've gotten older the color gray has mostly fallen out of favor. It is a flattering color, but I seem to be gravitating towards black or navy instead. Now I keep these preferences in mind whenever I think about purchasing a fabric.

2. Tracked what types of fabric got sewn the most. 
This was a side benefit of keeping spreadsheets showing what patterns/fabric were sewn through the year. Even though I love buying all types of fabrics, my stats clearly show that I mostly sew cotton wovens and knits. It also shows that I tend to make a small dent in the wool stash during the Fall and only 1 or 2 silk projects get sewn during the year.  I've kept these stats in mind whenever the fabric buying mood strikes me. Right now my personal buying rules are:
- All cottons in the color palette are fine to buy. Bonus points if they are in my favorite prints - florals, tropical plants and birds.
- Buying wool or rayon for a particular project is fine, but don't stash either of these fabrics without plan.
- Silk buying ban remains. Just shop the stash instead.

I pulled out a couple of fabrics bought and stashed 2015 to illustrate.  From the top left - Red wool jersey with black flicks, Red/Navy/White cotton - block print with birds, Black/white tropical print cotton, Dark Navy denim, Pink roses on black cotton and pink roses on white cotton.  I've purchased the wool jersey to knock off a knit dress and the denim is for jeans.  The rest of the cotton has no plans as of yet. However that's fine because they are in color palette, are my most sewn type of fabric and are my favorite type of prints.
Asking myself, "Is this in my color palette?" and "Does it fit my buying rules?" has cut down on buying overall and given me a stash with more things I want to sew.

3. Actively shopped the stash more
Sometimes when the itch to buy more fabric came a calling I did close the computer and go rummaging through the stash. Before buying new patterns I also thought about what fabrics in the stash would work with them. Overall I did pretty well using what I already had instead of buying new.

4. Looking at the numbers
Finally actually looking at the amount of yardage sewn and bought for the month was sometimes enough to table purchases. My goal was to sew more than I bought every month and consulting the tally was a good reality check.  It's easy to forget how much you might have bought earlier in the month. In 2015 I only went "into the red" with fabric purchases in July and August. I'll take 2 months out of 12 as an acceptable level of, "Oops, did I do that?"

Now that I've gone on and on about buying fabric during "stash busting" did my stash actually get smaller in 2015?  It did!!  After subtracting all the purchases I'm still down 161.25 yards for the year. Not all of that was sewing, some was rehoused in other people's stashes.  Big Thanks to those of you who purchased my "regrettably changed taste layer."  I'm glad those pieces have gone to good homes.

So if I reduced the stash by 161.25 yards and there's still no room in the stash cave then it must mean my 2015 goal was just a little over ambitious. Just a little.  Seems after all these years I still have no idea how much space X number of yards takes up in anything other than wool coating.  But you know what, I moved all the wool coating into that bin so now it's only something like 4 sewing projects away from being empty. Because of this I'm making 2016 stash busting goal the same as last years.  Here's to 2016 and more floor space in my bedroom!

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