Wednesday, January 20, 2016

So, I Sewed a Sweater from a Blanket

The squirrel on the fence likes my new sweater too!

This sweater was born from the following things:
  1. I love cotton sweater knits
  2. I am slightly allergic to wool, so I can't wear a wool sweater
  3. It is hard to find RTW sweaters that fit me the way that I want them to fit me. Usually they are way too long and pool on my swayback.  Really, I want cute little sweaters.  Sometimes I can find them in the Juniors section of Marshall's (yes, in that pink "The Cube" section) but I hadn't found any this winter.
  4. I don't knit.

In May, I met Olgalyn Jolly from O! Jolly! , the same week I noticed her advertising on PR.  She writes a blog about how to sew with sweater knits, and she designs sweater knits for her shop.  Her cotton is grown in the US and knit by machine in NYC.   I don't think I've ever met a fabric designer before.  How cool is that?!.  I was immediately intrigued, but it was summer.  

Fast forward to the holidays, and I purused her site looking at her sweater knits for sale by the half yard, but she also has what she calls "reclaimed" sweater knit panels, specifically blankets that are an overrun from the factory where her own knits are made.  They are finished on three sides, but the 4th side is unfinished.  The panel was $34, more than a yard long.   I bought it as my trial run, and also bought swatches of her other cotton sweater knits.    Her other cotton sweater knits are $14-$28 per half yard, so I wanted to try my experiment out on this less expensive option.  (I would have bought a swatch of the sweater blanket first, but there are no swatches available for it. Generally I have been swatching before buying fabric online; the result of too many "totally not what I thought" online purchases.)

For the pattern I chose Simplicity 1983, the Mimi G pattern that I sewed the pants and shirt from last year.  This time I cut the shirt in a size 12 for a snugger fit, also knowing that the sweater knit had a nice amount of stretch.  I traced the pattern so I would have the full front and back so that I could center the pattern over the larger cable.    I added 3" to my traced pattern but then decided to add another 1" (the finished part of the blanket) for 4" of length total.

On Instagram I asked about placing the cables vertically or horizontally.
 Most folks said horizontally, but when I held the fabric up against my body, it just didn't look right, so vertical it was.

It was a bit weird to take my scissors to a blanket--it really is a nice, substantial, snuggly blanket even if it's not finished on one edge--but I forged ahead and did it.

It was a straightforward sew.  I basted first to check for fit, then unbasted the side seams to sew the sleeves in flat, then basted down the arm and down the sides.   I wound up cutting a half inch off the entire armhole, then basted again.  I serged at each appropriate step.  In the future I might be tempted to serge before sewing the pieces together because it looked like it had snowed on my sewing room carpet.  Maybe that's an exaggeration, but little cotton bits were everywhere--very much like working with corduroy.  The rug in my sewing room is burgundy, so they really stood out.

I was able to cut the front and back so the bottom of the shirt would be along the finished edge, but the sleeves had to be cut to end on the unfinished edge.  I wound up cutting them too long, after thinking that I had cut them the right length, which was probably partially due to my error and probably partially due to the fabric stretching under the weight of the sleeves.  

Anyway, that particular unfinished edge started unraveling in the dryer before cutting, creating a fun decorative-to-me looking edge, especially once I turned it up like a cuff.  I took to IG once again and was able to ask Olgalyn directly about what to do.  I thought the unfinished edge looked super cute, but I don't knit.  To a knitter, does this edge look unfinished?    She answered right away, which I was totally immensely grateful for, and said I could machine zig zag that edge to keep it from unraveling further.  Others chimed in on IG begging me to keep this design detail while others warned it would unravel further.  I have zig zagged the edge to prevent that from happening.

For the neckline, I basically cut the "selvedge" edge from the rest of the blanket and serged the raw edge.

Then I folded that over the raw neckline edge, sort of like an oversized double fold bias tape.  I zigzagged,  by machine, the back of the binding to the inside of the sweater, but then I handstitched the front of the binding onto the front.  I have been doing a lot of small handstitching lately (the sashiko, the whimsy kits, the Mollie Makes kits) and so this just felt like an extension of that instead of something annoying and tedious, which is probably how I would have felt even just one year ago.


In the end, I really love this combination of pattern with fabric.    The cotton hugs me, there is no swayback pooling, there are NO drag lines anywhere (wow!) and it feels really warm and snuggly.  I wore it on Saturday and again to work on Monday with a tank underneath.  It could probably just a tad longer as the tank does peek out from time to time, but if i wear it with a skirt that hits at the waist, I think the length would be fine.

This little experiment has made me think about buying some of the O! Jolly!  sweater knits that she created, and also about looking at thrift stores for buying big cotton sweaters and then cutting the MimiG shirt pieces out of them.    I'm also thinking about a little frankenpatterning--cutting the Renfrew neckline onto the MimiG pattern and using that giant Renfrew collar.  I think that would be adorable!  I'm also thinking about shorter sweater options, the kind where the tank underneath intentionally is seen.

So, that is how I sewed a sweater from a blanket!  Are you tempted to make one now?

Be well!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

McCall's 6992 I wear my heart on my (sweatshirt) sleeve


Happy New Year!!!   Thanks for your comments on my year-end recap!

I had 11 glorious days in a row off for the holidays.  Most of the time I was either binge sewing or binge purging the house.  I was hoping after returning to work that I could keep up the machine sewing at night, but I really can't.  It's just not feasible for me, but I enjoyed every minute of binge sewing while it lasted!  (I mainly machine sew on weekends, though I can do some handstitching during the week.)

Let's talk about the sweatshirt, shall we???
McCalls 6992

The pattern is McCall's 6992.   I cut the size 14, except at the neckline which was a 12 (but read more about the neckline below, I wound up cutting it differently later).

The navy contrast sleeves are Joann sweatshirt fabric from my stash.  The big shocker was that the Joann's fabric looks like sweatshirt fabric and feels like sweatshirt fabric, but has no stretch.  Surprise!  UGH!    So for the neckband I had to use some stretchy ribbed knit from stash.
 The anchor fabric is Juicy Couture sweatshirt fabric from the defunct Lucy's Fabrics (miss that site totally and completely.  I discovered Lucy's just before they changed their focus to rhinestones, and they stocked loads of wonderful knits that I loved.  Sniff.  When they sold off their knits, I bought the rest of the Juicy fabric.  I had made full-on pjs from this fabric years ago.).
I pretty much trace all my patterns so that I can cut them single layer. On this pattern, I wanted the CF to be centered over the anchors.
Stretch twin needle action for the hem.  Also you get a nice closeup of the anchors.
I twin needle stitched the hem of the sleeves, too.  I did not add the cuffs so the sleeve is a little bit short.  Next time I'll just add an inch to the sleeve pattern.
Like many reviews on PR mentioned, the neckline of this sweatshirt is kind of high. I cut off 1.5" all the way around, but if I make this sweatshirt again, I'll just lower it in the CF and CB, not all the way around.  Now the neckline is a bit too wide.
 I used rib knit from stash for the binding.
There is a new dress shop in Princeton that has dresses with heart patches on the elbows. Later I heard from ATP that this is a trend that's all over Pinterest?  I didn't know! But I thought it would be cute to sew on some heart elbow patches to match the hearts next to the anchors.   I did not think of it til after the sweatshirt was sewn, though, so I cut them out of felt and then stitched them on by hand.
So then it looked like that.  The hearts are from red felt, so I have no idea what they are going to look like after being washed.
The pattern has a neat shoulder dart, though I had to mark it in red so I knew where it was for tracing!!  All those lines were confusing for my vacation brain!
Completed front
McCalls 6992
The right elbow heart.
Completed Back.  I think it would also be cute with one heart on one elbow and an anchor over the other elbow.

Overall I enjoyed working with this pattern, and the fact that it is a sweatshirt meant there wasn't much to do in the way of fit!  And everything was already in my stash! Perfect!

Be well!!!