Tagged ease

Colette Phoebe Dress

Well, I’ve been avoiding posting this one because I was so excited about the pattern and my dress really didn’t work out very well. I’m just going to get this done and over with…


It looks more or less okay from the front, I suppose. There are definitely issues though.

The neckline is way too high for me. I don’t like a neckline that comes higher than my collarbones, even if it’s a t-shirt. Why? Because I’m rather well-endowed, all that fabric just makes my bust look even bigger. There’s nothing to break it up. Maybe some chunky jewelry would help, but that’s not my style. The neckline needs to be lowered about 2″ in the front, and 1″ at the back, because it’s just a wee bit high for me there too.

The fit in the waist is good. The fit in the bust is good. The fit in the hips is okay. The fit across my tummy is terrible. This is more apparent from the side.


Look at those drag lines! I have a bit of a tummy pouch, and that’s what is causing them. I blame my kids, but really, I need to exercise more and it would be less of a problem. There’s not a whole lot of room in this dress for my tummy. Because my tummy is bigger than this dress can comfortably accommodate, it is pushing up the waistline, causing weird wrinkles below the bust.

I don’t want to have to wear spanx, which might help somewhat, but I don’t honestly find them all that helpful. They do smooth out lumps and bumps, but they give me a sausage silhouette, which isn’t much better than lumps and bumps.

I’m not sure I’ll try making this dress again. It just needs too many modifications in order to work. I love the idea of sheath dresses, but with my tummy, I’m not sure they’re the most flattering on me. I’ll try this one again someday, after I get my tummy under control, but in the meantime, I have fabric for four more of them that I need to find other uses for.

Not every project can be a success, and this one definitely was not one of them. I’ll keep it on hand, just so that I don’t have to sew it again later if/when my belly is less pouchy, but this definitely is not a wearable dress.

The other fabrics I purchased are fine wale corduroy and lightweight suiting. There’s definitely enough for either pants and skirts, or dresses. I’m inclined to go for dresses, but I need to find the right pattern. I thought about the Sewaholic Cambie as an option, but it isn’t going to be suitable for the corduroy. I made one out of quilting cotton a while back.

I came across this blog post from Sewaholic, and love the finished dress, but Tasia’s body type is very different from my own. I’d end up with the same issue with the neckline being too high. I don’t like the back either, but the front is nice.

This might be a good option, because of the neckline variations. I find it frustrating that the pattern companies don’t list everything that is in the catalog on their websites though. I’d rather go through the patterns at home, then make a trip to the fabric store. Sadly, I don’t have anything in my collection of patterns that would be suitable.

Snowflake Sweater

I don’t often post about knits that just don’t work out, but I’m going to do so today. Some time ago, I fell in love with the Snowflake sweater pattern from Tin Can Knits (they’re local, woo!) It’s a fantastic pullover, with a nice lace yoke. I never wear pullovers, because I get too hot, but ever since I saw the sample in person at Knit City, I was obsessed with it.

Back in November, Knit Picks had a too-good-to-pass-up sale on some of their yarns. Specifically, Capra, which is normally one of their most expensive yarns. It’s a soft, squishy merino cashmere blend, and has a beautiful, subtle halo after blocking. Only the tumeric colour was on sale, but since I love Autumn colours, I snapped up eight balls of it, along with the wine colour, since I decided this was the perfect yarn for the Snowflake sweater. The funny thing about my colour selection is that I accidentally picked Gryffindor colours, which is the Harry Potter house I was sorted into when I joined Pottermore. It would be my accidental Gryffindor sweater!

As soon as my yarn arrived, I swatched and started knitting. The yoke lace is a little confusing, but I found the help I needed on the Tin Can Knits forum on Ravelry, in this thread.

Once the lace was done, it was time to work out my bust shaping. I tried short row bust shaping, but the picked up wraps were incredibly ugly. Maybe a dark yarn would be okay, but on such a light colour, any imperfections show up and are obvious. I ripped back my bust shaping and tossed the sweater in time-out, until I could find a better way to accomplish my bust shaping.

I re-read Amy Herzog’s Fit to Flatter, but her instructions are typically for bottom up, seamed sweaters. It made my head hurt trying to work out the shaping on my top down, knit in the round sweater. I re-read Ysolda Teague’s Little Red in the City, and it was easier to work with, because she typically writes top down, knit in the round patterns, but I wasn’t really feeling the love on how she suggests that you work bust darts.

Off to the internet I went. Read the post from the Knitty Professors again, but it uses short row shaping as well as darts, and as I said before, I wanted to avoid that. After spending way too long searching, I came across a tutorial written by a Ravelry member named strickauszeit. In the tutorial, she discusses different methods of shaping a sweater bust, using darts, specifically in top down sweaters. Eureka! I did the math, and came up with my bust shaping. I posted the calculations on my Ravelry project page, if you’re interested.

DSC_4617Guess what? It worked like a charm.

Now for the bad news. I’ve come to accept that there’s a very good reason I don’t wear pullovers. They’re hot, and I can’t just take it off like I can if a cardigan gets too warm. We don’t want the decency police coming after me! Granted, I’d probably tell them where to go and how to get there, but that’s another topic. After all of the work I did to make the sweater work, I started having serious doubts about whether I’d ever even wear it. The more I thought about it, the more I came to accept that I wouldn’t. The sweater would sit in a drawer, with its nearly perfect bust shaping, and that would be that.

The other bad news is that I bought far too much of the wine coloured yarn, and not nearly enough of the tumeric. I could buy more, except Knit Picks is out of stock until April, which would mean that even if I did manage to wear my sweater, it wouldn’t be until October, at the earliest. The yarn would also be a different dye lot, which may or may not end up being a big deal. At this point, I completely lost my mojo and decided to frog it.

Is that the end of the story? Nope. A frogged knitting project, while not something I often write about, is not a failure by any means. I learned a lot on this sweater! I now have a bust shaping technique for top down sweaters that works! And I like the results! I also learned that if I have to do shaping on a field of stockinette, I should use a darker colour. Granted, blocking would have helped, but while blocking is magic, it doesn’t remedy everything. I also learned that my reality is that I overheat easily, and pullovers aren’t my thing. I do have a few pullover patterns in my Ravelry queue, but most of the ones I’m likely to knit can be modified using a steek, and voila, I’ll have an awesome cardigan!

Also, this yarn isn’t going into my stash, to be forgotten until I eventually find something to knit with it. Once I’ve gotten all of the kinks out of it, I’ll be knitting Caramel, which is a free pattern, and will be amazing in Capra. I guess buying too much of the wine colour was a lucky accident. It’s also a very forgiving sweater, because it’s draped, so no bust shaping!

As for the Snowflake pattern, if anyone I know produces offspring and I feel the desire to knit for the little one, I’ll reach for this pattern. I’m also really interested in modifying the yoke to make it a cardigan…Just give me some time, okay?


Minoru, part II, in which I sew a muslin

Sunday was muslin day! Exciting, right? Maybe not, but making a muslin is an important step, especially when you’re using fabric that is expensive, hard to come by, or leaves no room for error! Tasia at Sewaholic made a great blog post about making a muslin for this pattern, and it might be interesting to give it a read.

As for my muslin, I needed to make almost no adjustments to the pattern, which surprised me. My measurements put me in a size 16 in the high bust and waist (I measured over top of my down underlayer, and loosely, so there’s some wiggle room in my measurements), and a 10 in the hips. Remember, Sewaholic patterns are made for a pear shaped figure, and I’m more hourglass shaped. This means I always have to grade down in the hips with their patterns. This is a bit of a disappointment for me, because I’d really love to sew the Thurlow trousers, but they’d be a nightmare to adjust.

Anyway, once I worked out my size, I looked at the finished measurements and saw that there’s much more wearing ease in this jacket than I had expected. Even in the sleeves! My arms are about 13″ at the bicep, and the sleeves measured 18″ at the armpit, so I’ll have plenty of room. My full bust is 43″, and the bust of the size 16 is 47″. Again, plenty of room. No sleeve adjustment! No FBA? I’m shocked, actually, but this makes the jacket so much easier for me, so I’m certainly not going to complain!

I cut out the size 16, and graded down to a 12, because I wanted it a bit bigger around at the bottom, and I generally don’t like grading down that many sizes. Then I hunted through my stash for sacrificial fabric, and found two lengths of coordinating pink quilting cotton that I had purchased to make knitting bags and never used.

Sewaholic Minoru muslin, photo taken with jeans and t-shirt underneath.

Here’s the end result. Yes, the muslin looks ridiculous, but I didn’t plan on making a wearable muslin, so I don’t care. I only cut the outside pieces, since I’m not worried about the fit of the hood, and didn’t need to bother with the finishing touches.

As you can see, the bust fits fine, but I think I’ll add another 1/2″, just to be safe. There’s plenty of room in the sleeves. The waist is a bit large, but that’s likely because I didn’t have 2″ wide elastic, which is what the pattern calls for.

The sleeves are about 1.5″ too long, so I will have to adjust the sleeve length, but otherwise, the fit is good. I may end up using a shorter piece of elastic, because the recommended length for my size doesn’t draw the jacket in enough at the waist. The placement is perfect, however. I tried the jacket with my puffy down underlayer, and it fits well with the down, so I’m ready to go forward with cutting this size, once I adjust the sleeve length.

DSC_4482I have yet to determine my pocket placement, but I’m hoping to make welt pockets like I had on my last rain jacket, which I handed down to my daughter since it doesn’t fit me properly anymore. I prefer zippered pockets on jackets, because I’d hate to lose my keys while walking the dog! I may get lazy, however, and just do side seam pockets using this tutorial. It should be fairly easy to add zippers, but my preference would be welt pockets. They’re fairly simple to do, it’s just the placement and angle that are a bit of a challenge.

There are a couple of things I’m going to change… I’m not a big fan of the way the waist elastic casing is sewn, especially since I’m making a waterproof jacket. I will sew an actual casing, rather than through the lining of the jacket. This way I can seam seal the casing, and stay dry. I’m also going to line the hood. As I mentioned previously, I’ll be adding piping along the raglan shoulder seams, as well as down the centre of the hood.

The only places that I can see seam tape being necessary are on the hood and on the raglan sleeve seams, as well as the underarm seams. The gathers at the collar won’t work with seam tape, so I will use liquid seam sealant.

My zipper facing will go on the inside of the jacket, though it will depend very much on how much fabric I have left after cutting everything out. I am cutting it pretty close on my yardage, so it is possible that I won’t have enough for a facing.

I do have one complaint though. Usually, Sewaholic has excellent, very detailed instructions, but this pattern is lacking in that department. The instructions for the collar are unclear, and if you’re doing view B (without the hood), there are no instructions at all. They do have a sewalong on the blog, but without reading through all of the posts, the collar instructions wouldn’t have been clear. Not everyone thinks to look for sewalongs, so the written instructions that come with the pattern really ought to be more detailed than they are.

I bought the zippers and elastic that I need today, since Fabricland didn’t have what I needed. I’ll be cutting out my jacket shortly.

Grey floral Granville

I needed a new, neutral shirt to wear with my Owligan, so I made another Sewaholic Granville, because I know it will be trouble-free, and I’ve already done the pattern adjustments. The only problem is that my upper arms have, um, grown a bit since the last one I made, so I had to add some ease to the sleeves. Yes, I can still wear the previous one I made, but the sleeves are a tad snug, and that’s just not comfortable.

DSC_4375I used the Curvy Sewing Collective post on sleeve adjustments to add ease to the upper arm. Turns out my upper arm measurement is only 1/4″ less than the actual sleeve measurement, so I definitely need to do the adjustment. I added just shy of 1 1/4″ to my sleeve width.

This adjustment is surprisingly quick, and I finished within five minutes. Just make sure to add your seam allowance when you draw the horizontal line, and draw it from that point, rather than right at the corners where the sleeve meets the cap. You will also have to redraw your grainline, because this adjustment shifts it outward more at the top end than it does at the bottom, and you want your sleeves to be on grain.

I traced the new sleeve onto a piece of pattern tissue, since I don’t enjoy manipulating multiple layers of printer paper when I’m pinning my pattern. Normally when you do pattern adjustments like these, you would put a bit of paper in the gap you created, tape it in, and carry on with cutting your fabric. I find patterns adjusted this way difficult to store, and difficult to pin, so I traced it onto tissue.

DSC_4377The fabric I chose is a quilting cotton. I know, “garments shouldn’t be made from quilting cotton”, but it was pretty, neutral, and the price was right. It also reminds me of a colouring book for grown ups. I couldn’t find anything I liked in the shirting fabrics, because all they really had were stripes and plaids, and I didn’t feel like messing with matching. THIS is why I didn’t want go go with plaid – I’m sure the finished product will be worth all of the extra work, but I don’t want to do that much matching. This is supposed to be quick to sew, remember?

At any rate, I’ve successfully sewn garments out of quilting cotton dozens of times. Would I have preferred a lovely Liberty of London fabric? Absolutely, but there was nothing interesting at Dressew, so quilting fabric it is. In fact, if you’re interested, Tilly & the Buttons has a great post about sewing garments out of quilting cotton, and I recommend that anyone considering it give the post a read. She does warn against sewing garments with sleeves in quilting cotton, because it is frequently stiffer than fabrics intended for garments, but I say, you be the judge. Some quilting cottons have more drape than others. My fabric is quite soft, so while it is certainly thicker than garment fabric, it has similar drape to a lightweight flannel, and flannel shirts are really popular for autumn!

DSC_4399I cut out my shirt on Tuesday, and finished it on Friday. I am pretty pleased with my new shirt, and I think that while the quilt fabric is a bit thicker than shirting fabrics, it works pretty well. I wore it out to dinner with my husband over the weekend, and found it very comfortable to wear. Remember the caution against sewing garments with sleeves in quilting cotton? No problem, they’re quite comfortable, and don’t feel stiff.

Here is a list of shirtmaking posts on the Sewaholic blog that are handy when sewing this shirt.