Picking Knits

Turner with gored skirt and pockets
black knit t-shirt dress (Cashmerette Turner)

So a few Saturdays ago, I woke up with one burning idea: I needed to hack the Cashmerette Turner dress to have a six-gore skirt with patch-ish pockets.

Why? No earthly idea. If it were the beforetimes, I’d at least have the excuse of frequent air travel, but at this point I haven’t been on a plane since February of 2020. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This is my second shot at the Turner—I made a wearable muslin a while back just to kick the tires, so to speak. It was so easy to put together (and fit so well, with minimal adjustments) that I thought “huh, how can I make this more difficult?”

But even splitting up the skirt and adding on-gore pockets can’t overcomplicate the Turner. It’s SUCH a fast sew—I think I spent more time winding stretch thread on bobbins and remembering how to use my twin needle setup than I did actually putting it together. It definitely took me more time to trace and hack the pattern than it did to construct this dress!

This fabric is thick (think old-style Hanes Beefy-T, heavier than jersey) knit cotton with some lycra or spandex in it; it has a nice recovery. (It was on super-sale at Cali Fabrics, so of course it’s not available anymore.) There are some drag lines in the picture above, but that’s mostly because my dress form is a bit small now (it broke and is no longer adjustable, or, rather, I am more adjustable than it is, although over a longer time period).

When I make this again (and I probably will, if I can find the right fabric … it would be cute in a lightweight sweatshirting which I’m pretty sure I already have in my stash) I have some further hacks … the pockets would be better if they started a bit higher on the inner edge, or I might play with having them integrated into the gore instead of on top. I meant to reinforce the side seams along the pocket seams with some clear elastic, but I ran out after the waistband, so it will have to wait until I buy some more. The skirt could also be shortened by a few inches (I don’t mind the longer length, but I don’t really need it, either).

The heavy knit means it’s not very staticky (my main complaint about jersey knit dresses; evidently I have an electric personality which results in clingy, shocky knits), and it hangs nicely. It’s also very comfortable (I mean, why wouldn’t it be? It’s a giant t-shirt with pockets!)

Turner bodice
The neck binding here is some knit binding I had that miraculously was the same tone
Turner pocket (with errant thread)
a better look at the pocket (and the thread I didn’t clip yet)
Turner hem
the double-needle hem (I stiffened the hem with knit fusible interfacing cut in 2″ strips)

I definitely feel late to the ‘sewing knits is great’ party. I don’t wear a lot of t-shirts so the gateway project of “make a custom tee” never caught my eye. And until recently, I didn’t have a rotary cutting mat big enough for my cutting table, so cutting knits was always fraught—I always seemed to pull them out of grain when cutting with scissors. And the revelation that is stretch sewing thread! (Kids, come onto my lawn, I need to tell you about how I used to have to wind bobbins uphill, in the snow, both ways!)

Also, the knits available for home sewing have gotten a LOT better, especially for natural-fiber snobs like me. (I remember walking through the fabric store touching knits and hating the scratchy, oily, slippery hand of everything I could afford.) The prints are better now too, she said, at the end of a post about a plain black dress.

Might as well jump(er)

front Grainline Farrow jumper

This is one of my favorite fabrics (and favorite patterns). (You might recognize the fabric from this dress—which I still wear—and this one, which I took apart and from which some of this yardage was recovered.)

The pattern is the Grainline Farrow, modified a bit to turn it into a jumper. (The Farrow has a sleeveless version, which is not quite the same as a jumper version …)

back Grainline Farrow jumper
Farrow back (The bright dots on these pics are sunlight—weird for where I live, I know!)

Because I didn’t have much fabric, I kind of took a “this is deliberate” approach to just picking a stripe direction for each major section and rolling with it. The center front stripe below the pocket isn’t quite right but … eh. “Good enough for Zoom”, that’s my new motto.

pockets Grainline Farrow jumper
pocket + piping
bias binding Grainline Farrow jumper
neck bias
other side Grainline Farrow jumper
side view, slightly dizzying, in a ‘welcome to Castrovalva’ way

I’ve made a few other Farrow jumpers, mostly in denim/heavy twill/corduroy, but I don’t think I’ve blogged any of them. They’re pretty utilitarian, but make a great work-from-home uniform with a long-sleeved tee and leggings underneath. (If you’d told my eighteen-year-old self that someday I would wear Birkenstocks and socks every day for a year, BY CHOICE, I’m pretty sure she would have looked at you with horror.)

I’ve been trying to plan out more projects that will sew down my stash/remnant pile. (I thought that making a metric faceton of masks, a braided rag rug, and enough 2″ squares for a king-size quilt would have taken care of the remnant problem but … lol no. Comments are open for suggestions …) This is the first of two (the other is a buffalo-plaid Fringe that I hope to finish this week, it’s all done but the neck facing/waist seam/hemming/shouting).

Summer is for stripes

blows dust off top of blog, hits power button

Well, I’ve gotten two shots (shoutout to my Pfizer Pfriends) and in a week or so I can perhaps consider leaving the house, so I suppose it’s time to start sewing again?

I have basically been wearing the same seven dresses for a year, mostly in shades of gray and black, and I am assured that at some point I will emerge (like a cicada, only quieter) into the light of the sun. So this seemed like a relatively sunny fabric to start with.

heavily modified Chalk and Notch Fringe dress in Kaffe Fassett yarn-dye
heavily modified Chalk and Notch Fringe dress in Kaffe Fassett yarn-dye

I think I bought this fabric at Scrap in Portland, in the beforetimes, but I’m not sure.

So yeah, this is the Chalk and Notch Fringe dress, which is super-comfortable, even more so when you turn the skirt into a six-panel one and add gathering to the center front and back and extremely deep pockets. As you can see I also turned the facing to the outside so I could play with stripes and piping.

Fringe bodice
turning facing to outside means never having to match the center seam
Fringe back
back with gathering at the waistline
Fringe sleeve
bias finish for the sleeves
Fringe facing with piping
I forgot to interface the neck points so they’re a bit gentler than usual
Fringe hem
bias bind the hem too? why the heck not?

I’ve actually done a tiny bit more sewing since putting this together—I finally bought a cutting mat large enough for my cutting table, so I am now a late convert to the Church of the Rotary Cutter. (Wow, those things are neat!) Rotary cutting means that a bunch of knit projects I always bought fabric for and then dismissed as too much effort to cut conventionally are now within reach—I made my first jersey knit dress in more than a decade (a Cashmerette Turner) recently, and it was such a quick sew! (I also acquired some stretchy bobbin thread and a jersey double needle for topstitching, which was extremely satisfying.)

Anyway, in addition to not sewing, I’ve mostly been spending my time this past year appreciating how lucky I’ve been and trying to quash my incandescent rage at those who made the decisions that caused other people to be hideously unlucky. Also, as is now required by statute, I started a newsletter. (It’s free.)

How’ve y’all been? I’ve missed you.

Today’s Pattern Story: Simplicity 1170

Simplicity 1170 four women in blouses with patient looks on their faces

Here we present four stellar graduates demonstrating what they learned in our best-selling How To Look Like You’re Listening While Thinking Of Completely Unrelated Things course—available as a seminar on three long-playing records!

In this course, you’ll learn how to:

  • keep an attentive, thoughtful look on your face for up to three hours straight
  • subconsciously register pauses so you can say “why, I never thought of it that way!” or “what an interesting idea!” at appropriate times
  • make mental lists of things you would rather be (or should be) doing, and remember them even after you are released from your “conversation”!

Order now and get our special bonus booklet: How To Listen Without Giving Any Sign of Encouragement That The Speaker Should Continue! Perfect for public transit, work break rooms, and large family gatherings!

quick mask hack: add a nose wire with piping!

Hi folks! Like everyone else in possession of a sewing machine and any amount of free time at all, I’ve been sewing masks! I’ve been using the NYT pattern — not because I necessarily think it’s the best, but because it was Good Enough, and I found myself falling way way way down an internet hole of different patterns, techniques, etc. …. which was not getting any masks sewn!

I’m very lucky in that I have tons of leftover/scrap high-quality cotton fabric, and literally MORE BIAS TAPE than I knew what to do with. I also have (as regular readers know), vast quantities of piping, and much love for same.

I also wear glasses, and was interested in maybe having a mask with a nose wire so that I could fit it tightly and limit the amount of glasses-fogging that could occur. Plus (and this is the important part) I had some leftover wire from a project that I don’t even remember doing. The only problem was, the wire was thin and sharp … hmm … what to do … piping!

By adding wire to piping and piping the top line of the mask, I could have a tighter-fitting mask, not poke myself in the eye, and also have piping! Win-win!

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Cut out your mask pieces (fabric and lining) and sew the center seam of your mask as directed.
  2. Cut a piece of piping long enough to go the whole top edge of the mask: mask and piping
  3. Cut a piece of wire (with paper scissors, not fabric scissors!) about 3/4 to 5/8 as long as the piece of piping (I just eyeball it): wire, piping, and mask
  4. Insert the wire INTO the piping. Just poke that sucker in between two stitches!
    wire inserted between the stitches of the piping
    Skoosh it through the piping, like you were putting elastic or a drawstring cord through a casing. It should go through reasonably well, although you might have trouble if there’s a seam in your piece of piping. Take care not to shove it so hard that it bunches up the piping cord or goes through the piping fabric. (This is easier than it sounds, I promise!)
    wire inserted partway into piping
  5. Make a sandwich of the piping, lining fabric, and outer fabric:

    Note that the piping edge is going DOWN into the mask!

    (I had yards of this fine white cotton fabric and wasn’t sure where it had come from, and after cutting quite a lot of it for mask linings I realized that it was leftover from the surplices my husband’s grandmother used to sew for her local priest …)

  6. Sew the piping sandwich. I use a narrow foot. If your lining fabric is thinner, put that side up. Basically you want to be able to feel or see the edge of the piping, so that you don’t sew over it.
    IMPORTANT: there is a slight chance you could break a needle if you accidentally hit the wire (I haven’t yet) so do wear some eye protection! 
    mask sandwich going through sewing machine

    Pivot the needle at the center seam:
    pivot the needle at the center seam

  7. Turn and press:
    right side of the mask, showing piped edge
  8. If your fabric is likely to fray, you can finish the edge with a narrow zigzag. If you’re feeling super-ambitious you can also edge-stitch the lining, but I haven’t.
  9. Finish as you otherwise would!
    finished mask

I hope you find this helpful! Stay well!

another mask pattern

With a few small adjustments this mask would handle both airborne virus particles and help a LOT with social distancing!

picture of frankly disturbing knit balaclavas

NOTE: THIS IS A JOKE PLEASE DON’T MAKE ONE OF THESE INSTEAD OF A REAL MASK. GOT A GREAT MASK PATTERN? PLEASE PUT IT IN THE COMMENTS!

 

(If you really want to make this—I don’t know, social isolation does weird things to people, no judgment—the pattern is available on Etsy from seller PatternGrove.)

 

Still on the Fringe(s)

Hello! Happy New Year! Well, 2019 has been a blur, hasn’t it? I did more sewing than I did blogging, that’s for sure. 😬

The dress I was obsessed with for most of the latter half of 2019 was the Chalk and Notch Fringe dress (with some significant alterations, mostly in the pocket department). I liked the neckline and the roominess of it, and the shirt-tail hem (which I faced for better weight/drape rather than using a narrow hem finish). It’s nice in the summer, with sandals, but I’ve also been wearing it over a long-sleeved tee/with a cardigan and leggings with boots.

What did I make it in? Well, probably a better question is what didn’t I make it in. My favorite was probably the Nani Iro double gauze, which I made in two colorways because one is never enough:
blue Nani Iro grace stripe dress

I didn’t take a good picture of the multicolor stripe, but you can get a glimpse of it here. I also made it in a lovely gray broken plaid double gauze from Stonemountain and Daughter (did you know they send you sewing stickers now if you mail-order?), but no pictures of that yet, I’ve been too busy wearing it!

This pattern is great for fabrics with large motifs (and/or masochists), because there’s really only one big, important seam to match:

Anna Marie Horner fabric matched across front seam

In order to have pockets in the style to which I have become accustomed, I split the front skirt panel into three pieces, and changed the pockets from in-seam to scoop, like so:

view of pocket with black piping on black and white gingham seersucker fringe

(Of course there’s piping, pockets are 87% to hold your stuff and 10% to give you an excuse to add piping, and 3% to put fun linings in.)

By making the skirt three panels (I did this with the back skirt, too) I could add some more gathers and make my now-customary Sir Mix-A-Lot adjustment to the back pieces.
gray chambray fringe dress back view

I replaced the cuffs and ties in the pattern instructions with plain ol’ bias finishing:

bias tape finishing on Fringe dress sleeve

This dress has a button-front version, which I also made at least three times (but only have pictures of one version so far). This is a gray chambray with some slightly dodgy topstitching:

gray chambray fringe dress with white buttons

With any luck it won’t be another year before I update again!