Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Hexagon Project: Block 14

It was bound to happen. This past month, I didn’t maintain my pace of four English paper piecing blocks in four weeks. In fact, I only managed to sew one hexagon flower block. It’s my fourteenth so far.

English Paper Piecing Hexagon Flower Block at an Angle

What happened?

My work hours have increased, which means I spend a lot more time in front of a computer. By the time I get home, I want to rest my eyes; hand sewing ends up toward the bottom of my project priority list.

Halloween is right around the corner. My 14-year-old planned an overall look based on a pattern and asked me to work on a costume with her. When we went to the fabric store, however, we struggled to find materials that would accomplish what she envisioned. Rather than trying to force something that really wasn’t coming together, we decided to go home and regroup.

Over the following days, she came up with some possible new directions for her costume and we narrowed them down together. We wanted to be armed with a few solid plans for our next trip to the store. The second trip was a successful; a partial muslin has been fitted, and final pattern pieces are cut and ready to be sewn. The timing is going to be tight, but we should be able to finish the costume in time for Halloween.

English Paper Piecing Hexagon Flower Block

The costume will take up a lot of my free time this week, but then I’ll be able to settle back into a normal routine. As part of my new normal, I’ve started bringing my supplies with me to the office and sewing during my lunch hour. In addition to getting something accomplished in good light while my eyes are still fresh, it relaxes me to do that little bit of sewing in the middle of my work day.

I don’t know if I’ll get back to a pace of one EPP hexie flower per week, but I expect to have more than one block completed by my next update in four weeks — and a happy costume update even sooner!

What sort of adjustments do you have to make to fit your projects into your schedule?

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

MN2402 Acacia Underwear

It feels weird to write this for the purpose of sharing it online, but:

I made underwear!

Red, orange and black Acacia panties from MN2402

Now that the most awkward part of this post is out in the open, we can get on with things.

Most of my sewing experience is with quilting cottons. I can hold my own with other woven materials, even silky fabrics thanks to assorted princess costumes, but I’ve done very little sewing with stretch or knit fabrics — which is ironic, when you think about all of the knitting I do. About two years ago I sewed a beginner-level shirt; beyond that, my attempts have been limited to altering a few old t-shirts.

With my recent foray into making clothing, I wanted to expand my knit garment sewing skills. It seemed best to start small — literally.

Folded red, orange and black Acacia underwear from MN2402

I still have some red-orange fabric leftover from making that shirt in 2016. I have black one-inch (2.5 cm) fold over elastic. And I have the Acacia low-rise bikini underwear pattern, MN2402, by Megan Nielsen.

According to the pattern, my measurements call for making a size Medium. If you’ve never made underwear before, let me warn you that the flat pattern pieces look enormous! I pulled out a few pairs of my ready-to-wear panties to confirm the size; a quick check of the waistband and rise, with seam allowances in mind, proved that those giant pieces were correct.

The pattern instructions were clear and simple. I zigzagged my way through the project — no serger here — and was excited to try on the underwear.

The briefs were too ... brief! I checked my measurements again, then pulled out my ready-to-wear underwear and found the culprit. Acacia has fuller coverage than the pairs I originally checked the pattern against. Although they’re all labeled as the same size, my fuller coverage ready-to-wear panties are larger than the other styles. And I don’t mean they simply use more fabric, as one would expect from the definition of “more coverage.” The openings for the waist and legs are also larger with the fuller cut. As big as I thought those pattern pieces were, they were about to get bigger!

I made the next pair as size Large. They fit perfectly and, yes, this pair is the same size as my ready-to-wear fuller coverage bikini underwear.

Unfolded red, orange and black Acacia panties from MN2402

One thing I really like about the Acacia pattern is that there are instructions for using regular elastic, lingerie elastic, and fold over elastic. As a beginner, it’s nice to have those options spelled out because I don’t have a preference yet and don’t know the best way to attach any of them.

I made both of these pairs with fold over elastic. I like it at the waistband but, as expected, it’s a bit bulky at the legs. With the next pair, I plan to use regular 1/4-inch (0.6 cm) elastic for the legs. I just picked up a narrower fold over elastic and I’m on the lookout for lingerie elastic at my local shops for future sewing experiments.

I can hardly believe I wrote about underwear once, and I’m already planning to do it again!

If you have any tips for sewing with stretch or knit fabrics, I would love to read about them in the comments.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Scandinavian Hat #3

I’ve never been big on rereading books. I can watch movies more than once, but only if it’s been a while since the last time I saw them. For me, part of the entertainment value is in the surprise that goes along with not knowing what’s next. Familiarity ruins the surprise.

When it comes to making, a certain amount of repetition can be a good thing. For example, when I’m learning a new technique, going through it more than once can improve my skills.

Scandinavian Hat pattern knit in three colorways.

Many times, the surprise of how my vision of a certain material will come together with a given pattern keeps me trying new things. A simple change in materials or tweak of the instructions can get me through multiple versions of the same design without a bit of boredom.

This doesn’t happen with every pattern. Once is more than enough for some projects — I think we’ve all been there — but the #03 Scandinavian Hat by Deborah Newton has held my interest through three versions so far.

3 Versions of Scandinvavian Hat Pattern in Different Colorways Side-by-Side
The red hat was knit with larger needles and I skipped a pattern repeat on the purple hat, resulting in a range of sizes.

My latest version of this slouchy beanie was by request. My daughter searched through my stash of leftover sock yarn and chose an assortment of cool grays and blues, to be set against a black background as follows:
  • Fingering weight handspun Louet Northern Lights Wool Top in 28 Icy Winter (I call the resulting yarn Stormy Skies)
  • Two different variegated gray sock yarns that no longer have labels
  • Cascade Yarns® Cascade 220® Fingering in 9620 Castor Gray
  • Cascade Yarns Heritage in 5601 Black

For a while now, I’ve been thinking that I may need to order a few skeins of basic solid fingering weight wool yarns to help use up my leftover multicolored sock yarns. Since I wasn’t confident that I had enough black yarn to complete the hat, I ordered a skein of Dale Garn Daletta in 3695 Black (plus a skein each of Jagger Spun Heather in Edelweiss and Valley Yarns Huntington in 10 Natural to get me through future projects). I alternated knitting with the two black yarns as I worked through the various stitch motifs.

Gray and Black Slouchy Knit Scandinavian Hat Worn with Pompom Hanging Down Back

The knitting went along smoothly, as it did the previous times I made this pattern. I used US-2 (2.75 mm) and US-3 (3.25 mm) knitting needles once again, but made a larger pompom by request. The Castor Gray and two variegated gray yarns are all used up, and I am now a firm believer that making pompoms is the ultimate stash-buster!

Gray and Black Knit Slouchy Scandinavian Hat Worn with Pompom Brought Up and Forward

I enjoyed making the Scandinavian Hat one more time, and seeing how the chosen colors changed the look of the design. My daughter loves her new hat, and I love seeing her so happy! That’s something worth repeating.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

M7093 Tunic

It’s said that the only constant is change. I had a couple of big changes this week.

The first change is an increase in my work hours. In anticipation of that change, I went into a sort of nesting mode — deep cleaning the house, stocking up the pantry, trying to get ahead on errands, and sewing some clothing.

Yes, you read that correctly!

My other change is that I made clothing; the last time I added to my self-sewn wardrobe was in September 2016. I wanted to spruce up my office wardrobe, and what better way than by making a few custom items? Never mind that my garment sewing has been mostly limited to children’s Halloween costumes.

I had enough fabric leftover from that last wardrobe addition to make a blouse or top of some sort. I pulled McCall’s M7093 from my small pattern collection with the tunic in View D on my mind. According to my measurements and those on the pattern, I needed a size 16 or 18. Since the version that I have only goes up to a size 14, I decided to take my chances with it.

For the most part, the pattern was simple and straightforward. There are only five pattern pieces for View D, and no tricky techniques. The one quirk was that the fold lines for the center front and center back pattern pieces each have a convex curve, which is something I’ve never seen before.

My first thought was to check the grainline on the pattern, but it happens to be missing from only these two pieces. After testing different angles, I decided to align the top of each piece with the fold; I thought this would keep the neckline at its intended size so the collar band would still fit correctly. As a result, the lower halves of those pattern pieces swing out wider than I believe was intended, making the tunic look more like a short dress than a long shirt.

The bias-folded collar band ended up a little too long after all. It’s not enough of a difference that I noticed while sewing, but the finished collar sticks up just a bit. In this case, I think there’s a good chance that the difference is user error rather than another quirk in the pattern.

The fit is good, but I need to think a bit more on how I want to pull together a full look. With the right styling, I might still wear this me-made tunic to work.

Speaking of work, I know my increased hours will decrease the time I have for making. What I don’t know yet is how much that will impact what I have to share on this blog. But I’ll continue making as much as I can, because it’s simply what I do and that will never change.