Friday, April 3, 2015

Found Treasure

A few weeks ago I sewed a sweater top for myself, in the midst of the epic winter of February/March 2015, where in the Northeast we had 10 weekends in a row with measurable snowfall. I brought home the last cut of Avalon cotton sweater knit from work at Sawyer Brook, and matched it with McCall's 6796.

I've wanted to sew this pattern since seeing Ann's post about it. This fabric spoke to me from the moment it was introduced at Sawyer Brook, but naturally I talked myself out of it - until it was down to one last piece. Instead of listing that final cut for sale, I bought it.

This top is a joy to make. I love the stylishness of the collar, and the way it drapes so softly around the neck. I'm not much for tight collars - turtlenecks drive me insane. I love cowl necks too, but this shape is a new experience for me, as was sewing with a sweater knit. It was easier than I expected. After doing a full bust adjustment on the pattern, I was able to fit as I sewed and the knit responded well to basting for several test fittings.

The only "inside story" here is that twill tape was inserted in the shoulder seams to keep them from stretching out. I finally determined the right size to use for my neck, shoulders and upper torso - two sizes smaller than I've been cutting for myself for the past - lord-only-knows several years! - and I didn't want the top to grow as it is worn.

As the collar is cut double width, no interfacing is recommended - and none was needed with this stable knit fabric. After sewing the ends to form the front and back points of the collar, it was turned right side out, pressed, and the neck edges basted together. Then both edges were sewn to the neck edge of the sweater. As with all the seams, I basted first on the machine, then used the 4-thread stitch on my serger.

Collar/neck seam sewn with the 4-thread serger
Basting all the seams first allowed me to fine-tune the fit before everything was stitched. I was able to get a relaxed but flattering fit through the waist. I left the length fairly long - not quite a tunic, but it falls low on my hips.


True to form, I ended up with a bit less fabric than I needed  - and no matter how creatively I tried to lay out my pattern pieces, long sleeves were not happening for this sweater. Okay then, 3/4 sleeves it is. They look great on the sweater and on me, but it has made it difficult to wear while temperatures in Massachusetts have lingered in the 30's right into the early Spring. Wearing a sweater over a sweater really defeats the purpose.

I waited until the top was finished before searching for complimentary buttons in my button box. Finding this great match was an unexpected pleasure. These pewter buttons from Norway came from my mother's knitting stash - probably purchased in the 70's for a sweater she never got around to making. 6 on a card, the price in pencil: $4.00! It's nice to feel her presence when I wear this top.

3 pewter buttons from Mom's stash set this off perfectly!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Too much stretch?

Happy Valentines Day!

I finished a pair of jeans for myself last week, the second I've made from the old Sandra Betzina pattern.

The first pair, now over 2 years old, is so comfortably worn in I can't remember a time when they didn't fit so well - but I know I wasn't 100% satisfied with the fit when they were completed.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Purple Passion

Last Summer I had the opportunity to make a custom outfit for a mother of the groom. It's always nice when a client returns for a second custom dress - even after many years have passed.  She wanted to be very comfortable for this late-September wedding, first and foremost. She also readily acknowledged that she needed an outfit that would suit her body type and age, without being too matronly. And she wanted a little bit of glitz.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Skirts, a top and a cardigan - oh my!

Just a quick after-Thanksgiving post to share some photos of the outfits I made during my sewing retreat. I hope to get some shots in a few days of the garments on Dr. Erin - I think they'll look so much better on her than they do on Gwendolyn, but these will have to do for now.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sewing Retreat Dreams

Wenona cotton jersey, from Sawyer Brook (of course!)
If you had 3 days just to sew exactly what you felt like making, what would you dream up?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

How did they DO that???

This post isn't going to be about anything I've sewn. Not that I haven't been sewing (actually very little, since I just got back from vacation.) It's about something new I just discovered in the RTW fashion that's available. I'm looking for any knowledge anyone out there has to share, to help me figure out exactly what was done to this garment.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2nd life for the gown

In years past, a young bride held onto her wedding gown, carefully packing and preserving the white innocence for its next appearance - hoping her daughter someday would want to wear it for her own wedding. I've been doing bridal alterations and custom work for over 20 years, and only once did I have a bride come to me with her mother's gown.