SWAP gets me again…

I’m pretty sure signing up for this is madness, but the great thing about Stitcher’s Guild’s SWAP (Sewing With A Plan) contest is even if you don’t finish, you’ve got a great set of pieces that work together already. And plenty of encouragement!

What got me going this time was this year’s rules split the garments into two capsules with one linking garment, so I didn’t need to come up with 11 pieces that all worked together. And then when someone mentioned a dance capsule… I was hooked :).

SWAP2013: dance

Jeans, black yoga pants, knit shirts, and a 1/2 sleeved plaid top are included in the “casual” capsule, three leo sets (I’ve decided to split them into tanks and bottoms for versatility) and chiffon skirts for the dance capsule, with a black knit cover up to work with both. Technically if I make 2-piece leos, I don’t need the skirts for the rules (3 tops, 2 bottoms), but I want at least one anyway! I’m debating making a dance dress instead.

Hey, the planning is half the fun, right? Now to see if my new sewing machine is quiet enough that DH can watch tv at the same time as I sew up a storm :).

Lizette in the round

With the powers of the internet, I can peak up from under my pile of Thesis with a little “here’s what we’ve prepared earlier…”.

I actually started this post in January! I know there were other people wondering if they could do this great Anne Ginger pattern from Twist Collective in the round

Lizette, Spring/Summer 2011 Twist Collective

so I thought I’d make notes of what I did as I went along (see the end of this post). I now know why Anne didn’t write it in the round: it is just as simple to knit either way, but it’s much more torturous to write it out in the round!!

I found a red merino sweater in a second hand shop that had thicker cuffs and turtleneck collar by having the yarn doubled. I was on pins and needles to see if I’d manage to get the whole project made with the doubled yarn… it was exciting to see the amount left by the time I got to the sleeves that meant I could make them elbow length. The merino is buttery soft, but a bit warm for a cap sleeved sweater.

My Lizette Front View

My Lizette Back View

It’s been a go-to sweater in the early weeks of summer-by-the-calendar, but the heat has finally arrived here.

I really like it as-is, but I’d also like to make another one in a plant-based fibre, and lengthen it so that it is actually tunic-length, like the pattern sample shows. The proportions between the sample and this one are pretty similar, so I’m thinking it’s a size-of-the-sweater:size-of-the-model thing (aka, I need to make a size up and lengthen it to get that look).

In the round modifications follow. Enjoy your July, hopefully I’ll be back in August, with lots of repressed fibre mojo!

My Lizette

Modifications to do in the round:
Make the bottom cable panel double the back length, join ends together into a loop.
Pick up and knit double the stitches (= front + back), placing markers at the beginning of the round and half way through. The back instructions will be completed during the first half of the round, the front on the second half. These instructions are the same up until the waist.

For the bottom short rows, complete all of the instructions as written for the back, except the last purl row. Continue knitting to the front, and complete those instructions except the last purl row. Continue the last knit row all the way around, picking up the first set of wraps on both back and front. Knitting in the round is established again, continue through decrease rounds as written. Add one more decrease round to eat up the 4 extra stitches that the seams would have used.

Once the “work even” portion of the bottom is completed, work the short row empire waist shaping in the same way as the hem shaping – complete all of the rows* but the last purl pick up row, knit around the back then around the front, picking up the first set of wraps. [*make sure that the first wrap is placed 1 stitch less than written in the pattern, to take into account the lack of seam allowance stitch; the rest are in relation to this one, so can be done as written] Knit the back again, and once the front is reached, place all the front stitches on waste yarn or another circular needle for safe keeping, crochet cast-on the given number of stitches minus 2 with waste yarn on the needle, and continue knitting the round from the back along these cast-on stitches. Once back at the front again, do both left and right sets of short rows at the same time: follow the stitch count minus 1 for the first left front row (the instructions list right front first, because they start on a wrong side row – the left front is the same on the right side), wrap and turn, work the back, work the first wrong side row for the right front, wrap and turn. Continue to work each wrap row, remembering to add increases as written.

After the last w&t, do increase row, but replace all “p”s with “k”s, as we’re back on the right side. Remembering to subtract off one stitch, work cable chart as given (every other row is a knit row), and continue increases until final stitch counts are reached.

After round 23 of the cable chart, work the next row of the front, replacing all purls with knits and vice versa, as RS is facing still – purl through the front and back of the middle stitch, but don’t start a new ball yet. Start the armholes at the end of this round (binding off the required stitches for both front and back -2 (no seam) at each underarm), and finish the next round by working the “RS” row of the front (remembering to account for the removal of the underarm stitches), attaching a new ball for the second half. The back and fronts are now split and the rest of the pattern is worked as written. This starts the underarms a few rows early, but allows for working the cables on the fronts from the right side only.

The Cuteness

Baby shirt and bloomers

The great thing about baby showers is getting to make cute things. Even better when they are cute, impractical things, because when else can you get away with that? I think I managed to be nice with this set – a double front kimono top and knit fabric bloomers. Pattern from BurdaStyle magazine from Mar 2011.

BurdaStyle Mar 2011 #145 & 146

(Hey, I didn’t to the multi-ruffled dresses I have paper patterns for! And it wasn’t because the gender of said baby is unknown, honest.)

I did go impractical in one respect: I added another set of Saartjes Bootees, because I had to:


They get me every time!

You win some, you lose some

pattern layout

It was a bad day.

First I pulled out a pair of wool pants I’d cut out a couple of years ago, and although the fit of that pattern was several iterations ago, I figured it wouldn’t hurt too much to make them up anyway. I start in on them, only to find out that the wool has a worn spot right on the upper thigh. I did buy that fabric new, but it was cheap for wool, and that was probably why.

So I moved onto a great Burda pattern (World of Fashion magazine, December 2009)
Burda 12/09 #115

Pattern traced.

Pattern edited to match my usual fit changes.

Pattern just barely fit on the 100% wool fabric I got from my aunt (who likely had it since the 70s).


Start cutting out, only to realize there’s a gash in the fabric right in the middle of the front thigh, sewn together with a whipstitch using the same thread that’s in the fabric, so likely done in the factory.


I had started to play around with embellishing the leg with embroidery or lace or something to cover the slit, but really – do I want to put that much work into fabric that’s obviously seconds, and ancient to boot?

Two tosses in one day. Ouch.

Not so formal

2010 had a lot of parties/formals, so come fall 2011 I started pulling out the stash and patterns. It turned out to be a lot quieter year, so although I’d cut this dress out and started to fit it, it ended up on the shelf when more pressing needs hit (like a new fleece for DH!).

Then DH called me and said we’d been invited to a dinner with his class, would I like to come? :) But a 4 day lead time is not much for a lined dress, good thing I’d already done some of the hard parts…

Burda Dec 2004 #107
#107 in Burda World of Fashion magazine from December 2004 has been on my list since, well, 2004. Part of the reason it languished so long was that the pattern pictures, and the dress in a shop window I was attempting to emulate with it, were both very formal. And I didn’t need another formal dress for a long time.

Burda World of Fashion December 2004: Dress 107

But when I pulled the stash out this fall, I ended up pairing the pattern with a red linen-look fabric I got from my MIL, probably a poly-cotton by the way it handled under the iron.

Red Linen Dress Front

It was quite tricky to petite-ify, since there’s no full front bodice. I ended up needing to both move the armholes down about 1/2″, as well as take an extra 3/4″ deep seam across the top of the sleeves to shorten the top half. That also meant chopping the top of the back off to be level with the top of the sleeves, but that wasn’t so difficult. I still ended up cutting 2 1/2″ off the bottom of the dress to end it just above my knees – that was a design change on my part, since the modelled version shows it below the knee. I do think at some point I’ll stitch closed the front vents, since the remaining little ones look kind of silly now.

Red Linen Dress Back

I did add a 1/2″ swayback correction. It’s still puddling, but by this point it was less than a day to the event, so I left it. It looks to me like more of a shape correction that’s needed now to the back pieces, I’ll try and puzzle it out when I make it again. Because it did turn out quite well, especially considering I tend to avoid shift dresses!

Red Linen Dress Lining

Lined and everything! With the lining stitched down to the zipper and the bottom hem done by hand on the bus to another event that day. Because I know how to cut things close!

I did try a couple of tricks with the invisible zipper, and got it in first try!
zipper seam mark
I marked where the back seam should hit across both sides of the zipper tape, since that’s the part that shows most obviously when the zipper is closed (I did the lining-top back seam later, so the top of the zipper wasn’t as much of a concern) and
double sided interfacing
I used double sided iron on interfacing (aka stitch witchery, heat ‘n’ bond, steam-a-seam lite…) to adhere the zipper sides to the dress before doing the final stitching on the machine. Much more stable this way than hand basting, or pins+machine basting. Plus, no need for extra interfacing, at least not with this fabric!

There’s something to be said for good materials. Unfortunately, I can’t say them, because @#$@#$%, these things were driving me to curse. The red poly-cotton fraying habit was stopped early on with surging all the edges before using, but was still a little stiff and didn’t press as well as I’d like (which is why I suspect a high poly content). But the really annoying bit was the $4/m lining I picked up from Fabricland off the discount table (100% unknown fibres, as is their wont for the discount table)…

lining pulls

It didn’t matter what needle I put in the machine (universal, sharp, microtex), it would snag a thread every inch or so. Maybe I should have tried ballpoint, but this was a slinky woven, not a knit! Good thing it was just the lining, it’s not like anyone is going to notice. OK, except all of you.

Sadly no pictures from the event itself, but I have it from DH that the red dress, red lipstick, and high heels were a hit :D. And since it’s a suiting-type fabric, I may actually get more wear out of this – it was really comfortable!

Red Linen Dress Front

Kidney warmers, and a little more pant length

Sure, it’s been unseasonably warm this winter, but that doesn’t stop the shivers when cold drafts hit skin first thing in the morning!

DH is a tall guy, and often gets “cold kidneys” when his shirt and waistband part ways (I’m working on that too, but shirt drafts are hard!). I finally had a brainstorm:


OK, extra long undershirts were only part of the solution. The brainstorm part was:

fleece liner

a strip of fleece sewn in over the lower back section! Double warm.

Now if only I could get the sleeve draft right in his shirts…

In other warming news, I finally had enough of cold ankles in my tan pants. I’d gotten them second hand, and apparently the last person to own them was a bit shorter than I. Turns out they just flipped up the hem and stitched again, so I didn’t need to redo the seam, just undo their alteration. But as any one who’s taller than me would know, letting down hems isn’t quite that simple: there’s the worn line at the old hemline to contend with…

longer pants

I found some seam tape in my stash that was a good match. Yes, normally seam tape goes on the inside, but hey, my ankles are warm! I did a quick overcast stitch on the sewing machine – normally I’d do invisible stitches by hand, but I’ll be lucky if these pants last more than another year, so I wasn’t going to put in the effort. I also considered tea-dyeing crochet style lace as the trim, but that was a bit too fancy for the style of these pants.

Stay warm!

A little 60s flash

As soon as I saw this BurdaStyle pattern, I knew exactly what to do with it.
BurdaStyle Dress with A-line Skirt

From my mom’s stash, I got this silk dress. She likely got it from an estate sale, and it looks like the tourist dresses you can get in Asia – the tag inside says STAR OF SIAM 100% pure silk, handwoven in Thailand.
Original Thai dress
Gorgeous colour: check.
Gorgeous fabric: check.
Border print: check!

The pattern is a petite, which I’m not. Except that I’m short waisted (my neck-to-waist measurement is actually an inch SHORTER than Burda’s petite sizing), and not model-long-legged, so I ended up using a smaller size than my usual for the upper bodice, and the length of my usual size, and ended up with the same basic outcome as the picture. With several more inches around :P. I didn’t know to do this: I started with a sheet muslin of most of the dress, pinched out what I needed to, and compared it to the original pattern. It was much easier when I figured out I just had to switch lines! The length was of necessity – that’s how much I could eek out of the other dress!

Finished Silk Dress

Most of these pictures were taken the day after the event, the fabric held up really well to the travelling and the event! The lighting seems to only pick up the shine of the gold thread in the border print sometimes in these pictures.

I was a little disappointed at first. My impression of the pattern picture was that this dress was very “Audrey Hepburn”. What I ended up with was very 60s-mod. Face on, I look very, very rectangular. Which is understandable, since I am very rectangular, but I figured the colour blocking would mask that. Instead, the horizontal stripes did what horizontal stripes do, even if they didn’t go all the way around.

Finished silk dress, side view

But then, when trying to figure out a wrap, I pulled out the vintage 60s brocade jacket (in vintage 60s polyester) out of the back closet:

Silk dress with jacket

I like :).

Silk dress in action

And it got a few complements last night too!