Friday, June 11, 2021

Upland Trousers in Linen

 Here is take two on the Upland Trousers by Itch to Stitch.

I made this pair up in some mid-weight linen from The Fabrics Store. They seem to specialize in 100% linen. They offer a variety of weights and some truly dreamy colors. Also some nice looking free patterns. I think I may be hooked.

I don't have much experience sewing or wearing linen, so these pants are a bit of an experiment. I hear linen is the fabric of choice if you're living someplace hot. We don't get a lot of steamy weather here on the Central Coast, but The Man and I will be spending a few days in Las Vegas next week, where daytime highs are predicted to be 115, with nighttime lows of 90. That should push these pants to the extreme. 

I made these pants from the same pattern pieces and using the same steps as my first Uplands in corduroy. To my eye, the linen version looks a bit more sleek and a bit less slouchy. Fabric really does make a difference. 

The making was smooth sailing this time around. If you don't muck up the zipper installation you can knock out a pair of these pants in a couple of hours. I think this is my new favorite pants pattern; definitely my favorite for non-stretch fabrics.

My pattern review is on here.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Upland Trousers in Corduroy

These are my new Upland Trousers by Itch to Stitch.

I made them up from two yards of corduroy that had been kicking around in the fabric closet for who knows how long.

The pattern is ranked as intermediate, but if you omit the welt pockets, like I did, I'd call them totally do-able by an adventurous beginner.

The pants are topped off with a facing rather than a waistband. I liked that idea because I do not enjoy installing waistbands on pants. Careful as I am with stitching-in-the-ditch, I always miss part of the waistband facing. 

Here's a shot of how the topstitching looks on the outside once you've installed the waist facing. 

And here's the finish on the zip, which I think looks very nice. This is the neatest finish I've ever achieved on a pair of pants, thanks to the clever design and the clear instructions. Also, the first fly shield I've ever installed. I feel so fancy!

I used a large snap for a closure because my machine had been giving me some lip and I was worried she would refuse to work a buttonhole through several layers of corduroy. Turns out I like the snap a lot. I think I'll do the same with my next pair.

The pants were very straightforward to sew, though I admit I struggled. All due to user error. I had an errant fold at the top of the fly when I first attached the waist facing and in troubleshooting that issue I managed to yank the pull off the top of my beautifully installed zipper. I'd trimmed off the top of the zipper tape so the zipper could be neatly concealed by the facing. Curses!

I set my pants aside for a day, then admitted I had to rip out my fly and start again with a new zip. Which really didn't take that much time. Fixing mistakes usually isn't as hard as I expect it to be, and making it work gives you the feeling that you are the boss of your sewing (credit to Elizabeth Zimmerman for that phrase).

The finished pants are just what I was hoping for. My actual measurements are a bit between sizes, so I chose to trace the size that was a bit larger, and I blended from a size 4 at the waist to a size 2 at the hip. They are so comfortable to wear that I've been happily reaching for them instead of my sweats. Win! 

I'm just about finished with a second pair in linen, and I have 2 yards of mushroom colored twill that will become pair number 3. 

My pattern review is on here.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Fortuna Joggers in Blue

 Looks like I am finally over my sewing funk. After sewing nothing to speak of for several months, I've turned out two tops, a sweatshirt, and two pairs of pants in the last week. Most of these are re-makes of patterns I've used before. Nothing like a TNT or two to help dig you out of a sewing slump. 

This is my first waltz with this pattern though; the Fortuna Joggers from Sew Beautiful, by Kennis Wong. Kennis Wong is the mastermind behind Itch to Stitch. I've used a bunch of her patterns over the years and I've enjoyed them all, so when the book came out I ordered a copy.

I've been wanting to make a couple new pairs of sweat pants for a while now. My original versions were from a Burdastyle pattern from March, 2014. Wow, that means those sweats served me well for six years. 

The Fortuna Joggers are a sleeker, hipper style. Kind of a stretch for me, but I was feeling a little frisky.

I used a cotton jersey I ordered from Cali Fabrics. The thing about ordering fabric online is I can't really judge the weight until I open the package. This jersey is really too light for a pair of pants, but it is soft and comfy to wear, so I'll enjoy these joggers until they snag on something and die.

The cut is narrower than my Burda pattern, that's for sure. I had done some flat pattern measuring, so I knew that going into the project, but the fit is close enough that I felt a little indecent when I first tried them on for size. They're definitely growing on me now that I've worn them. They'll be primo for bike riding; no worries that my pants hem will get hung up in the chain.

One of my favorite parts of the pattern is the pockets. I don't know what this style is called. Instead of having a front pocket facing, the back pocket piece is sewn to the front leg piece around the inside edge. It makes a pocket that won't be folding up funny or turning into a wrinkled mess in the laundry. 

The top of the pocket is finished with a strip of woven fabric, which stabilizes the edge very nicely. It's also a chance to have fun choosing a scrap of coordinating cotton from the quilting remains.

Here's a hands-in-pockets photo for you.

My only alteration was to shorten the legs a couple of inches. Once I'd committed to a size and made that change to the pattern pieces the joggers were very quick and straightforward to sew. 

I'm planning on making another pair of these babies ASAP, so I can finally say good-bye to my baggy old sweats.

I'm also eyeing several of the other eight patterns in this book. Specifically the the Mornington dress, the Palermo blouse and the Orosi scarf-neck top. And I've already traced out the Taktsang dolman wrap, but it turned out I didn't have quite enough of my sweater knit to squeeze it out. Those dolman sleeves, man. They always take more fabric than you imagine they will.

My pattern review is on here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

High Neck Tee

 I've been in the midst of a creativity slump for the last month. I suspect Covid fatigue is to blame. The Man and I have gone back to hard-core shelter in place practices, as it sounds like the little buggers are everywhere. We decided we'd feel really dumb if we went and got infected now, just as there's a vaccine available.

So I made myself a deal: I'd trace a simple pattern and haul out the machine and get moving. I worked. It did make me feel better and now I have a new top.

This is Top 121 from the December, 2020 issue of Burdastyle, and it's about as straightforward as a knit top can be. 

This is the photo from the magazine. It's hard to tell with her hair, but it has raglan sleeves and a bit of a high neck. Not quite a turtleneck. More like a half-turtleneck. It's been chilly enough here on the Central Coast that a high necked tee sounded pretty good to me.

I used a mystery knit that I picked up at BackStitch in Nevada City many years ago. I'm pretty sure it's rayon, because once I pre-washed it became basically pudding in fabric form. Soft and comfortable, but no structure whatsoever.

I made zero changes to the pattern. I could make it a little shorter next time; I'm 5 foot 2, for reference purposes. But I kind of like it hip-length like this. 

The sleeves are long enough to just cover my elbows. I'm not sure what to call that. They're too short to be 3/4 length but too long to be short. I kind of like them as they are though.

I was a little worried the neck would be too small to fit over my head, which is astonishingly large for someone my size. I can pop it on just fine though, except I do need to take off my glasses first. Also, note to self, stick to stretchy knits for this top.

Top 120 in this issue uses the same pattern pieces but has a full-on turtleneck. I think I'll go the whole nine yards with my next version.

If you're in the market for a high-neck raglan top with a loose but not boxy fit, I recommend this one. My pattern review is on here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Santa's Coming

 I just finished a rare commissioned knitting project. My only commissioned knitting project, actually.

It's a stocking for my granddaughter, Margot. She's two, so she's calling herself Gogo. Lucky for me, because I would have had a hard time fitting all 6 letters of her full name onto 28 stitches of sock real estate. 

I used this free pattern, which I liked quite a lot. It's written clearly and it uses a fold-over cuff. The double thickness at the top makes the sock feel more sturdy, and it covers the messy tails left from knitting the name at the top. 

It also uses an "afterthought heel." I'd always wanted to try one of those. 

It produces a sock which is nice and roomy. As I explained to The Man, who never had a Christmas stocking, bigger is definitely better.

Here's a view of the guts, to show what I mean.

I used Encore acrylic yarn. I always have some of that sitting around. It feels pretty nice, comes in tons of colors and is machine washable. Good for items that are going into the hands of children.

My Ravelry notes show that it took me about a week to turn this baby out. A lot of that time was spent figuring out my chart to knit Margot's name at the top. Otherwise, it's a quick and enjoyable knit.

My Ravelry notes, if you're interested, are here.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Holiday Trolls

2020 has been one heck of a year. Normally, I'd be making little tchotchkes to wrap up for my loved ones, but it's probably going to be a big year for online gifting for me. Which some of my family and friends may be a bit relieved by, to be honest. 

But the kids are stuck with a handmade gift, whether they want one or not. 

I had an assortment of leftover Encore yarn, the remains of presents from holidays past. While meandering through Ravelry, I came upon a pretty darn cute free hat pattern called Troll. It uses worsted weight yarn, which Encore is. And trolls happen to be something that the grandkids will associate with me. 

One of my pandemic projects was to build a little fairy house in the yard. I didn't have any spare fairies to populate the house, but I did find a 10-pack of trolls on Amazon for $9.99. 

So there they are! The kids have seen them several times via FaceTime, and once in person, on the funnest weekend ever.

The layout even includes a troll gold mine, with a little ore cart and some gold nuggets. My neighbor is a very creative person. She got sucked into the project with me, so a lot of the cuter elements are thanks to her. Thanks, Mary!

The first hat is baby-sized, for my new great niece Jeanne. Jeanne is a girl who can really rock the gray.

The next three hats are toddler-sized. The red and black number is for my great nephew Zeke. 

The blue and gray is for my grandson, Miles. He's three.

And the sparkly blue is for my two-year-old granddaughter, Margot. 

It's anybody's guess if these hats will fit an actual kid. They're too small for me, which is probably a good sign.

The pattern was clearly written and very quick to work up. I'm trying to think of more toddlers who need a troll hat so I can make another. These four kids live in southern California, so they'll probably wear the hats once a year, when the temps drop into the low 60s.

If you need a quick gift for a kid, I recommend this pattern. My Ravelry notes are here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Dog Quilt is Done

 When I finished my anvil quilt, I thought I might have one more silhouette quilt in me. Also, there's one bed in the house that does not yet have a foot-of-the-bed quilt, and it's the room that my grandchildren stay in when they come to visit. I am a dog fan, so I thought I'd try a dog silhouette quilt for the kids to snuggle under while they're here. Luckily for me, my friend Jessica had just made a dog silhouette quilt so she had already tracked down all the dog shapes on the internet and printed them out. All I needed was dog fabric and my sewing machine.

I used the down-and-dirty appliqué technique from the Craftsy class, Cute Quilt As You Go Monsters. It's a fun process, and pretty easy too. Kind of like coloring with bits of fabric. 

Back of quilt shot

The only part of the project that's kind of fiddly is stitching around the outside of the appliqué pieces. My tip, if you should try this (and I think you should because it's lots of fun) is to pick subjects that have smooth outlines. Line anvils. Things that are shaggy or spiky are kind of a pain to stitch around. The Scottie was a bit of a trial, and I just gave up on the Maltese.

Well, for fun, here are a few of my favorite dogs:

The Tea Cup Chihuahua, a tribute to Jessica's dog, Peabody. He weighs 3 pounds but his spirit is mighty.

The Giant Schnauzer. Not too bad to stitch around, except for his chin whiskers.

The Scottie. Enough said about his shagginess.

The Great Pyrenees. What a wonderful breed. We have had two; Zoe, the dog of my heart, and now Maeve, who is also a dear. Great Pyrenees are huge and hairy but they're super calm and they love everyone. Well, except for squirrels that are trying to get over the fence into the back yard.

The Dalmatian. It was finding this fabric that made me pull the trigger to make this quilt in the first place.

The Corgi. Because, the Queen Mum. Also because my friend Aaron has always wanted a Corgi. 

The Golden Retriever, for all the outstanding Golden's that I've known, including my beloved Brandy, who was the puppy who grew up with my son and nephews.

And, last but not least, the Black Labrador, for my friend Carole's ball-loving River. 

Actually, every dog I've ever met is a good dog. 

My pattern review is on here.