And just like that it’s August

What happened to July? The last I knew I collapsed in a breathless heap after stitching my little fingers off (figuratively!) for Indie Pattern month in June to meet all of my deadlines for the contests on TMS as well as a submission to a knitting magazine [which was rejected. Boo hoo :*( ] .

Then my household was suddenly plagued with summer illnesses – multiple ear infections, pink eye, strep, sinus infections, a stomach bug, and most notably – hand, foot, and mouth disease. My baby caught HFM first – probably when he went to the doctor for pink eye and then shared it with the rest of us. He was the only one who got it really bad – so bad in fact that his skin looked like he was a burn victim but it still left me with blisters all over my fingertips and unable to sew or knit a stitch, or type anything for that matter, for weeks.

Ok. Enough of the pity party. That’s not what this is about. After more or less recovering I have managed a few projects in the past few weeks that I’d like to share but first, a big THANK YOU to all who voted for my entries for IPM on TMS. I won two of the three contests I entered and took home some beautiful prizes.

For the New to Me contest I received three patterns: the Natalie Dress and Top from Muse patterns,
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the Bronte top from Jennifer Lauren,

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and the Sylvie Dress from Christine Haynes which I think will look great in a border print floral I inherited from my Grandmama.
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For the Hack It contest I won two patterns from Oki Style – I chose the Cinco men’s raglan shirt 

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and the Nandia coat.
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And I got my coveted London Coat Dress pattern from Sew Chic! Squeal! london_1

 

I’ve already stitched up a Bronte top because this had been on my pattern wish list (yes, it’s an actual list about 100 items long) for a long time and I couldn’t wait to get started on it. I’d also been ogling the London Coat Dress, but that’s a longer term project so I haven’t started on that.

To start, I have to give some major credit to Jennifer Lauren for making the pdf tile together separately for each pattern piece. I really hate pdf patterns because if you get one page just a hair crooked it messes up the whole shebang. This one doesn’t end up being a giant floor puzzle gone wrong, but rather 4 separate puzzles that are much more managable. It really made it much more of a pleasure to assemble.
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I used some leftover $1/yard dark teal knit from the clearance bin at Walmart that I picked up to make a self drafted pattern that I worked up this winter. I wanted something cheap for that project in case I really screwed it up. Spoiler – I kinda screwed it up, but a better version will be in the works next winter. I’ll share it then. But now…
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I had plenty of that teal knit left to make the Bronte and probably another top (or skirt?) later. I chose the cheap again because I always have to shorten patterns between the shoulder and bust apex but because of this fold-over shoulder I wasn’t the least bit sure how much to shorten it. I took a wild stab in the dark and shortened it an arbitrary amount. Again, I didn’t want to screw up an expensive fabric so here is my dark teal Bronte. The fabric is drapey and has a slight sheen and a bit of weight to it but I haven’t a clue as to the the fiber content.

I’m glad I didn’t cut into a precious piece of material because while my shortening guess worked it turned out too tight for my liking. While I love very close fitting clothes, I feel like a sausage in this thing. It’s not awful and it is quite comfortable but I don’t really like everyone to be able to count the hooks on my bra strap because my shirt is so tight.

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I certainly want to go up a size for the next iteration. I also need to adjust the shoulder tacks where the front of the shoulders cross. I tacked them together while it was lying flat but once it was on me, they pull too much – probably because it’s too tight.
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All in all, it was a fairly quick project. Just a front, back, sleeve, and binding. The longest part of it was switching thread spools back and forth between my serger and my new-ish coverstitch machine (!) because I only have 4 spools of each color. I serged the binding on, coverstitched it on top, serged the sleeves on, serged the side seams, and coverstitched the sleeve and bottom hems. So it was back and forth a couple times. But it still only took me two quick sewing sessions.

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I’ll be back again soon with another knit top I whipped up yesterday.

Disclaimer: Thank you to all the sponsors who donated prizes for IPM. I received these patterns free as prizes for the contests. I was not compensated in any other way and not asked to blog about them. All opinions are my own. However, give the sponsors some love and thanks for being an integral part of this awesome online sewing community.

 

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Completed: Threads Magazine Cowl Top

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sorry for the fuzzy photos! Camera issues!

I’ve managed to squeeze in one more “From a Sewing Book” project for The Monthly Stitch’s November challenge. Everyone seems to have decided that magazines are fair game for this challenge so I used the latest Threads magazine, number 170 (same one I’m in!) to create this cowl top. They give you clear and concise direction to turn your plain best fitting top pattern into one with a draped neckline, either front, back, or both.

Just two days before reading this article, I happened to pick up this amazing, soft, drapy knit fabric in the clearance bin at Hancock Fabrics while I was searching for something else. I snagged it for $3.49/yard and bought the whole 1-1/2 yard piece. I assume it’s rayon (acetate) based on the incredible softness and drape. It behaves just like other rayon jerseys I’ve used and loved before.

When I bought it, I intended to make my favorite basic long sleeve t-shirt that I have made a dozen times before.  I don’t even feel like I need to give credit to the original pattern because I have morphed the pattern so many times the only seamlines that are original are the shoulders. Fair enough, right?

I started out with my TNT pattern and carefully followed Threads through this mess:

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… among other frightening illustrations and directions. I took a leap of faith and cut my fabric with my wonky looking pattern, which ended up looking even more curvy and wavy than the one in that bottom drawing.

They give a few pointers on construction. I went with one of their options for back neckline finishing: self binding. I used what I know about super stretchy rayon jersey and decided upon a binding that was 80% of the length of my back neckline, a formula that has proven me well in the past. Usually that 80% means that the binding will hug the body rather than sag and distort the neckline but that assumes a binding that goes all the way around the neckline! Oops! The tighter back neck binding coupled with the soft, drapy cowl front means that it pulls the entire cowl toward the back at the neck opening. My shoulder seams are pulled to the back by about 1/2″ on each side. No biggie, but I certainly notice every time I look in the mirror.  My husband also commented that it pulls a little oddly right at the back neckline but only someone who was examining it could tell that something wasn’t right.

For the rest of the construction, I followed Threads’ advice on how to fold the neck facing at the shoulders to stitch it. That worked out okay on the second go-round. The first time I had pointy shoulder bits sticking up at the neckline because my serger always pulls to the left when it reaches the end of a fabric. I just turned it around, started at the neckline and stitched over it again, chopping off the pointy bit.

Oh – and as you can see I ended up with 3/4 sleeves because I didn’t have enough fabric for long sleeves. That’s ok with me though since this is rather lightweight and not really the best fabric choice for a really cold day. Plus I usually push up my long sleeves to steer clear of wayward spaghetti sauce and play dough.

I stitched everything but the hems on the serger. I took the sleeve and bottom hems over to my Singer Scholastic machine, tossed on the walking foot and finished them up with a zig-zag. On that note, I find that different machines behave differently on knits with the same stitch settings and feet. I can’t sew a decent knit hem on my White Quilter’s Star to save my life because the presser foot pressure is far too high, even at it’s “lower” setting. It just holds the fabric in place, stretches it out, and practically eats it to pieces. On the Singer Scholastic it’s just fine and dandy. Thought I’d throw that out there for those of you who are frustrated with sewing knits! Simply try a different machine – even if you borrow a friend’s.

Anyway…

I really love the design of this top. I know I’ll make it again. For the next time I’ll be sure to adjust the back neck binding to the same length as the neckline, though. I think I may also extend the self-facing on the cowl neck another inch. Sometimes as I wear it you can see the cut edge of the facing. Another inch ought to take care of that.