Friday, 30 March 2012

I sewed something!

Oh my gosh, I am so relieved I cannot even begin to say how much.

I have been obsessing about sewing, dressmaking more specifically, for the last 3-4 years.  And yet: I just didn't get anything done.  Not finished I should say.

But look at this:

I broke through the block, I got out from under the jinx!  Yes!
I am so pleased.

It is by no means perfect, in fact the photos are very useful so I can tell where this pattern needs to be adjusted.  My plan is to get this right as much as I can - and then to put the two pieces onto some stiff paper (like wallpaper lining paper, that should do the trick) so I can use this as a template for all sorts of other designs: different necklines, with sleeves, buttoned at the front, wrap style, you name it.  I can embellish this by adding roses, origami shapes or flounces to the neckline, I can add a collar, or piece it together out of different fabrics, I can crop it or lengthen it - lots of possibilities.

Best of all: once I get the fit of this right I should never have another fitting issue as long as I want to make this simple style.  And I think simple suits me best.

I can see from the frontal photo above that this drapes well from the shoulder (thank goodness! That's the most important aspect that I think needs to be right first, everything else is secondary) - but I might tighten the side seams near the armholes just a little bit, lose maybe a centimetre at most.

The side photo: I am really aghast at how overweight this makes me look, I'm not that big!  So perhaps the side seams do need to be just a touch tighter down to about half way?  I'm not sure if this would work, I need to try that out.

I can see here that I need to make the centre front longer but keep the side seams the same length.  I want to shift the bust dart  at least an inch (bit more) further down - it's just plain wrong for it to end half way between the bust point and the armhole seam (who are these patterns made for?).  The front shoulder can be a bit less broad if I want a more close-fitting style.

I guess I need to look into a swayback adjustment (I think that's what it's called.  Not sure what it is nor what it does) and I can see from this photo that the back piece is much, much too wide at the waist. I think I applied my bigger waist measurement all the way around but I need to keep the front piece as is but use a smaller dress size (or two!) for the back.

The shoulders at the back are way too wide, they make me look rather broad-shouldered.  Carrying on from a slimmer shoulder at the front, I will probably want to go a lot further in - this will probably end up as quite a rounded armhole shape for the back whereas the shape at the front needs to remain quite straight down.

I am not sure if I am keen on the shape of the back neckline but I think this is quite easy to change.

I used this fabric because I have plenty of it and can't think of a suitable project, it seemed perfect to use it for what is really a muslin (or toile).  I didn't appreciate that the fabric is quite soft and is quite easy to pull out of shape - I would much rather use a plain cotton next time I do a muslin.

Now I just need to look for another piece of suitable fabric from my stash (I got plenty!) and then I can go for version number 2.

Oh, this is fun!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Thick and thin blue summer top

I finished this in January 2011 but actually forgot to blog up. Here's the Ravelry link for anyone interested in the yarny details etc: Blue summer top.

Another project that finally made it from 95% to all done:

I tightened up the thread a bit more on the left hand side then the other when I sewed it up.  I will do that as well with a bit of spare thread to even things out on the other side.  When I get round to it...

Closer-up shots of the details:

If you don't have access to Ravelry, the yarn is a thick and thin acrylic by Texere called New Fancy.  It is a good price and I like that it looks quite glossy.

But I felt a bit of a fool for ordering one cone for evalution, liked what I saw and ordered more before knitting up a tension square.  How silly of me!  I would have realised that it is thick and thin - just from looking at it that fact hadn't jumped out at me.  Uh-oh.

I do like the effect of this in the resulting fabric. I just would have preferred this to be a smooth yarn.

I had to do some fancy foot work on the hem and the armhole facings.  Neither of those would lie flat: both kept flicking over.  Acrylic has that annoying characteristic of not blocking well.  The hem was initially only half the height - I picked up stitches and knitted downwards, repeating the same yarnover pattern, finishing with a purled turning ridge row and knit up an inside stocking stitch facing that I sewed up.

The armholes started out with a three stitch wide garter stitch that I worked in while knitting this.  The result was that they kept turning to the inside.  So again I picked up stitches and even though the orientation is different to the garter band, I just knit out a K1 P1 rib.  That seems to do the trick and stay in place where it's needed.


I still have some of this yarn left. Ponderations...

Friday, 23 March 2012

Rebecca Wrap Update

A quick update on how far I got with the wrap top from the Rebecca magazine.

I had motored through the back at such speed, I was quite sure that this would be a quick project!  I just love knitting this even though the needles are tiny and the yarn pretty darn thin.  I just love it: the stitches seem to firmly flow off the needles.  I think it may have to do with the yumminess of the JC Rennie lambswool - it feels very nice on your hands as you knit.  I'm sure you could take it double and get through it much quicker, but hey.

There is a bit of a hold-up on this.  I have already blogged about the three sleeves I produced to make sure they're both the same - these two are still at the same stage: just at the point where the side seams go into the armhole seams.  I need to see what shape my back and front pieces are before I continue.

It is the front piece that's giving me the most trouble.

I am on version 2.  I had to rip one of them down quite a bit too, so this is really version 2.5, or higher!

The problem is that my yarn and therefore gauge is so very different to the pattern instructions.  I also seem to be quite a different shape to the young, svelte slip of a girl model in the magazine - that might have even more to do with it!

The front piece is knit from the top down: you start making the two shoulder pieces and then join them together with newly cast-on stitches for the bottom of the neckline.  Then it should be full steam ahead in more stocking stitch until you start to introduce the ribbing from both sides - slanting inwards so the ribbing meets in the centre a bit further down.  The ribbing does not just run in one direction - there are increases alongside what would be a seamline on a sewn dress: this should run across the bust point and then straight down.

This is not what was happening with my first version.  The ribbing and the 'seamline' unfortunately didn't hit the right spots but ran down the sides of my boobs, rather emphasising them in the process.  This is completely the opposite effect of what you would ever want to achieve!  It just looked really horrid and dilettante.

So I ripped and re-knit.  I started the ribbing higher up and introduced the line of increases further in towards the middle.  This adjustment made it necessary to make a further change.  Either side of that 'seamline' the instructions called for one portion of the ribbing (the outer one) to run downwards in parallel ribs and all the increases to occur on the inner side where increasingly more ribs would run down at a slant -if that makes sense.

Exactly that wasn't working for me - so I switched it round.  Unfortunetely that in turn means (it never ends, does it!) that the ribbing wouldn't look right once the seamline reached the bust point, the slanted line would carry on slanted whereas I wanted it to run straight down.  So I reversed direction: now the increases occur on the outer ribbing side of the 'seamline'.

And do you know what?  I think it works!

I was really nervous that all these changes wouldn't work out.  I am still not completely convinced that this top will work as it should, but I can't see any obvious error so I'm still keeping my fingers crossed.

I got to the stage where the ribbing meets in the middle.  I did another slight adjustment here by twisting the central two ribs (like a cable) for further interest.  I like it!

Then shortly below this point the front piece is split into two halves.  I am chosing to knit both at the same time on one needle with obviously two balls of yarn.  I like circular needles but you could use straight needles just as well.  I knit two rows on the right half and then two on the left half - this way I can increase in the same places and I did end up with the same number of stitches for both without having to put in lots of effort of counting and checking.  Much easier!

I also decided that I would gradually increase the ribbing further at the side seams - stocking stitch and ribbing obviously gives you quite different widths.  I don't want the ribbing to flatten out too much because I don't think this will look good.  But because ribbing pulls the material together quite a bit more I need more stitches and that's the reason why I decided on increases at the side seams.  It might look a bit odd.
Like I said: I am not at all convinced that all these adjustments will result in a good look.  It might come out rather strange looking.  On the other hand: I will have learnt a lot about shaping and what things look like when you use ribbing.  That's a new learning experience.
I can't say that the top will look terribly similar to the photo in the magazine though... Story of my life.

I got to the point where I need to cast off some stitches for the bottom hem of the front.  I am a little unsure how many - the remaining stitches will continue on into long ties to wrap round for a knot at the back.  I think that I need to cast off more than the outer ribbing stitches, that will look a bit odd but it would be worse if I tried to make the ties too wide.  They are bound to bunch up at the hem and that would draw attention to my tummy.  Again a look I am exceedingly keen to avoid!

Once I decide how much to cast off it will be a case of some anxiety until I can see how it works and what it will look like!  It's all very exciting but also induces some nail-biting!

I guess I like challenges, this sure is one.