Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cocoknits Lizzie

This spring I went on up to Stitches West with a couple of my knitter friends. During our explorations we stopped by the Cocoknits booth. Julie Weisenberger had just released a new book called the Cocoknits Sweater Workshop. She had a bunch of her patterns made up for us happy knitters to try on.
I tried one of the cardigans, the Lizzie, and bought the pattern book on the spot. I also bought 2 skeins of a cotton/hemp blend yarn ($28 bucks). I was so excited, I cast on pretty much right after I got home.

And here it is, all finished, blocked and ready to wear! This was a quick knit for me. Most of the patterns in the book would be, I think. I won't say it was super easy though. The patterns use some techniques that were new to me, so I stumbled around in the beginning. Take a look, for example, at this sleeve.

That lump is the Kirsten Kimono Tee that I have on underneath
Looks like a set-in sleeve, don't it? It fits like one too. But it's done seamlessly, from the top down, using a method I've never seen before. The book walks you clearly through the whole process but I found it a little mind-bending.

I was reading a thread on Ravelry about how many times knitters are willing to rip and redo to get something right. The average seemed to be about three; many folks figured that if the third time wasn't the charm it was a sign that the yarn wanted to be something else and you should set it free to find its true destiny.

This Lizzie taught me that I'm willing to rip and re-do 9 times, if I think I'm learning something. Luckily the challenging parts are all right at the beginning, so ripping was hardly heart-wrenching at all.

I'm super glad I persevered, because I love the way these shoulders fit. I think I might have square shoulders? At any rate, top down cardigans always feel like they're slipping off of me backwards. Set in sleeves, on the other hand, feel much better. Well, this is a top-down, seamless knit with sleeves that fit like a seamed, set-in sleeve. And now that I know how to work the magic, I'll never go back.

back view showing cropped length
The Cocoknits aesthetic is what I would call clean and modern; asymmetrical lines, lots of drape, lots of open fabrics. My knitter friend, Jessica, is tall and slim and stylish. She was born to wear these styles. As a short brick, I feel like I have to approach them with some caution.

There's a write-up in the book that helps you choose which styles and which modifications will work best with your frame. Julie points out that the waterfall neckline works well for us shorties by giving a strong, vertical line, and that by ending both the body and the sleeves close to my narrowest point I can emphasize whatever waistline I have.

I would say that I enjoyed the making and I'm enjoying the wearing. I could totally see knitting this one up again, maybe in a light wool for a bit of coziness. Come to think of it, I have some green Mission Falls in stash that has been looking for a project for years.

If you want to give the Cocoknits method a whirl, they have a Youtube channel with videos that will show you the way.

My Revelry notes are here.

Little Hoodie

OK, this is absolutely the last piece of baby clothing I'm sewing until the kid is at least 18 months old.

This is the Brindille & Twig hooded raglan sweatshirt. I used a soft, gray cotton jersey and lined the hood with some frog jersey, left over from the Froggy Coco that I made for my DSIL for Christmas.

Frogs on lily pads for the hood liner
I've made a few Brindille & Twig patterns by now and I like them very much. Some of the baby patterns I've tried seem to have the same "excessive ease" issues that I've found with the Big 4 adult sewing patterns. Witness, Butterick 6364, which delivered an 11 inch inseam on pants allegedly sized for a 6 month old. I ask you.

The items I've made from Brindille & Twig look like they'll fit an actual child of the age the size suggests. Now, I haven't tried any of them on a actual child yet, but within the next month I should have my chance.

They're also easy to put together, and include the kinds of cute details that make the result feel special.

For example, this hoodie includes a functional front pocket. Not sure what a 6-month old will be wanting to carry around in his pockets, but he'll have them if needed!

Besides being very cute and easy to put together, this pattern is free. And it includes sizes from newborn to 5-6 T. What could be better?

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

I'll leave you with a very LA picture, taken while sipping a glass of wine in the garden with my DSIL after the baby shower.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Another Undersea Sleep Sack

This is another make from New Look 6310. This time around, I made the sleep sack from a soft cotton jersey.

I stuck with the undersea theme

The original pattern has the front made in two over-lapping pieces that tie (or snap) together at the top. I re-jiggered the pattern to cut the front in one piece with a V-neck.

I finished the neck with a band, like a regular tee shirt. I'm hoping the neckline is big enough to fit over one of those enormous baby heads.

In order to have quick access for midnight diaper changes, I left the bottom of the sack open and added a drawstring.

I totally have to stop it with the baby clothes now. They had the baby shower last weekend and there were 65 guests. It was a super fun party. I got to meet a bunch of new family members, plus a significant percentage of the guests were cute babies themselves.

There was a huge stack of presents still to be opened when I left. When I asked The Boy if they got them all upstairs and sorted out, he just kept saying, "Sooo many baby clothes..."

My review of this pattern is on PatternReview.com here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Packing the Grandma Suitcase

Just so you know that I have been doing some sewing these last few months, here's a quick tally  of the baby swag I packed up to take down to Orange County with me on one of my recent visits.

This is a little sleep sack from New Look 6310, Babies Layette, including Romper, Bunting, Top, Pants, Diaper Cover, Hat and Blanket.

I used some soft, cotton flannel in an undersea print. The pattern would have you close the front with little ties, but I was after an excuse to try my new KAM snaps.

Close-up of sea creatures and KAM snaps
I also packed a couple of Brindle and Twig tee shirts. These are from their Basic Tee pattern.  Super quick, super easy, and uses hardly any fabric.

My sewing teacher, Sara Homan, gave me this little piece of super cool VW bus fabric.  Adorable, right?

And here's another one in a Frieda Khalo-esque Day of the Dead print.

I also threw in another pair of the Burdastyle MC Hammer pants, this time in a soft, grey knit.

When he saw this piece, The Man shook his head and murmured, "The poor kid." But I say, if you can't wear a novelty print when you're 6 months old, when can you wear a novelty print? I got this fabric at Britex on my holiday shopping spree.

And look, it even has the Britex sign on it. Along with tie dyed tee shirts, cable cars and fortune cookies.

To top it all off, I made a couple of swaddling blankets from some light double-gauze.

Whew! I'm putting finishing touches on a couple of items for me, and then it will be back to the Grandma sweatshop.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Tiny Little Overalls

Yes, it's more baby things. I'm heading down to visit the parents-to-be right after Valentine's Day and I'm trying to get my bag of tiny duds all packed to bring with me.

The latest effort is Kwik Sew 3145, Babies Overalls and Hat.

Front view with ruler tucked in the hip pocket
My friend Jessica kindly spent hours pawing through a sale pile of Kwik Sew patterns to locate this little gem for me. This is no baby jumpsuit; this is a full-on pair of overalls with all the grown-up details. Well, except that's a faux fly and the pants are roomy enough for diapers.

I made the the 6-12 month size because there was enough work involved that I didn't want the kid to grow out of them before I have a chance to take a picture. Though just imagining the cuteness in the 0-3 month size makes my grandma fingers start itching.

Kwik Sew 3145 pattern envelope. Might need to make that hat too.
The pattern wants you to be using real hardware, but I wasn't able to find overall buckles in our local fabric store, so I used buttons instead.

Close up of buttons
I'm sure a 6-month old isn't going to be able to make full use of all those pockets, but they're just totally adorable.

Hip pocket with ruler. That's a screwdriver in the bib pocket.

There's a bib pocket on the front, along with two nice, deep hip pockets.

Little hammer pocket holding a screw driver. All our hammers were too big.
And on the back there are two patch pockets and a little hammer pocket. That just slays me.

I used some lightweight denim from Hart's here in Santa Cruz. Even though there were a lot of pattern pieces for a garment this small, the instructions were super clear and the drafting was great. It was really fun to put all the bits together.

Oh yeah, the other difference from adult overalls is the crotch snaps. I used snap tape, which was no fun to apply. I used my zipper foot but it was still tricky to catch the edge of the tape without getting hung up on the snaps. I almost decided to just sew the danged things on by hand but I wanted them to be able to stand up to a lot of hurried diaper changes without malfunction. The proof will be in the pudding!

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Still More Bras

I've been having so much fun playing with bra sewing. Just can't stop.

polka dots 
My latest is the Jasmine bra from Ohhh Lulu. You may notice one of the straps is a bit mucky. I was so excited when I finished this first version that I rushed over to show my friend Jessica in a gully-busting rain storm. Bit of mud; it will wash out.

The Jasmine is a version of what they call a bralette, which, according to the internet, is "A lightweight, simple design, usually an unlined, soft-cup pullover style bra. The breasts are covered but the bra offers little, if any, real support and is suitable for small busts."

I'd say the Jasmine provides a surprising amount of support for such a straightforward style. Plenty for this small bust anyway.

The pattern calls for a two hook closure, but I omitted that and made my versions up as pullovers. I find I usually pull my bras off and on even when they do have closures. So much easier, and so much more comfortable to wear. 

There are only three pattern pieces. No tricky curves, no easing. The cups are two piece with a vertical seam and I just cut the back band on the fold to get rid of the closure.

version two
I can get this bra out of the leftovers from a half yard of jersey that was used to make a baby tee shirt.

close-up of cups with cute raccoons
I made myself three of these bras this last week. Quick, easy and fun. The designer has a Youtube channel with a bunch of nifty tutorials that walk you through constructing her lingerie, including handling all the elastics and closures.

version three
My version three is from some scraps of Day of the Dead jersey. Very soft and comfy.

Day of the Dead jersey
Here's the Brindle & Twig 6 month tee for which I actually bought this jersey.

Baby tee shirt, also from half yard of this soft jersey
One of these days I may go wild and make a fancy lace and satin version of this pattern. Come to think of it, I have some lace up in the fabric closet that might do very nicely.

Awwww, look. We can be twins!
Until then, I'll keep going through my jersey scraps and have a whale of a time.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.