My January Sewing, in a single post

I had a big burst of sewing activity before Christmas and spent my time away for the holiday plotting a huge list of things I wanted to make as soon as I got back. But once I was home, my motivation took a nose dive. All told, I managed to finish a single sewing project in January–another pair of Winter PJs for my godson’s birthday.

Jonas PJs

(Adorable PJ photos courtesy of my friend, Nicole)

J is currently very into what he calls “jungle” print, and I got the idea to make these when I saw a camo “jungle” cotton spandex jersey pop up on Girl Charlee. I cut the cuffs and neckband from some leftover black Kaufman Laguna jersey. I made these in a straight size 6. For reference, my friend says J usually wears a size 5 or boys XS.

The only other significant sewing thing that happened in January was that I finally got myself a serger. I’ve been wanting and then talking myself out of getting a serger since I started sewing. I just didn’t feel like I did enough sewing or had enough room to justify a second machine. But the three pairs of Winter PJs I made for our nephews for Christmas (or, more specifically, the tediousness of finishing every seam in triplicate) finally convinced me it was time.

serger

I went with the ever-popular Brother 1034D. I was a little hesitant to get this machine because I’ve had two lower-end mechanical Brother machines that were pretty crappy and difficult to use. But I’m really happy with this serger so far. It was really easy to get the tension adjusted and I was able to thread it right on the very first go. People have complained that this machine is loud. It’s definitely not quiet, but I don’t think it’s much louder than my regular machine is when I’m using my walking foot (which is most of the time).

I used my new serger to make J’s “jungle” PJs. I didn’t feel confident enough to just serge all of the seams, especially since they were a gift, so I sewed the seams on my regular machine first and then finished them on the serger. I’m feeling confident enough at this point to just use the serger for mostly straight seams but I’m going to need some serious practice before I feel good about serging curved seams. Anyway, I’m excited about my new machine. It’s fun to use.

I’ve got a new project in progress, so the sewing landscape for February is already looking brighter. Maybe I’ll actually finish two whole projects this month!

Madigan, Revised

When we last we spoke of my Madigan pullover, I was thoroughly disappointed with how the sweater had turned out. I just didn’t like the way that it looked on me, primarily because I wasn’t a fan of the cap sleeves.

Madigan

As I kept looking at the photos of the sweater, I realized there were other, less obvious aspects of the sweater that I didn’t like. I hated the welted detail at the hip and it seemed a touch too long through the body. Add in the cap sleeves, which required a longer-sleeved tee underneath, and the one feature of the pullover that I really liked–the welted cowl neck–was getting kind of lost in the visual shuffle.

Madigan Pullover

When I initially finished this sweater, I was ready to just rip the whole thing out, but some encouraging blog comments got me to slow down and think about how I could save it. My friend Abby suggested 3/4 sleeves, which I decided to go ahead and add. I also ripped out the welted hem and replaced it with 2″ of 2×2 ribbing, shortening the body of the sweater by ~1″. The ribbing also eliminates the weird rippling I was previously getting around the bottom of the welted hem.

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The end result is more wearable because it doesn’t require any creative layering. But even more than that, the revised sweater is a more streamlined look that puts all of the focus on the cowl neck–I’ve basically eliminated anything that was previously a visual distraction from the cowl. People talk a lot about the importance of proportions, which I always find difficult to understand, but I think the new version of the sweater works because of the issue of proportions. The length of the sleeves and the slightly shorter length just look better on my body.

madigan before and after

Anyway, I’m really happy with how this sweater ultimately turned out and even happier that I didn’t just ditch the whole project. The changes were really easy to make since the sweater is knit top-down in the round. I think it took me four or five evenings to add the sleeves and the ribbing. That’s not very much time at all to take a project from being a loser to being one of the best pullovers I’ve made!

Highlighter Socks

So named by Aidan, who kept remarking on how bright these socks are. He has also noted that they are brighter in real life than these photos actually reflect.

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I got it in my head at some point last fall to make some striped socks in neon yarn. (Neon yarn was a thing a year or two ago, and I like to come to trends as late as humanly possible.) This particular yarn is Knit Picks Stroll Brights in Pickle Juice, which is a neon yellow-green. The gray yarn is Stroll Solids in Ash. I used one ball of each to make these.

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I made these for myself, using the same needles and same basic sock recipe that I typically use for myself. When I was about halfway through the first sock, Aidan asked me if they were for him. I said, “No. Why? Do you like them?” And he said, “Well, they are pretty masculine.” I took this to mean “yes, I like them” and felt a significant pang of guilt for keeping them to myself but forged ahead making them as planned anyway.

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But through some twist of fate, these ended up too big for me. This is one of the constant mysteries of knitting. How can you make the same basic thing over and over, even using the same yarn base, and still end up with a random fit failure? Luckily for Aidan, they fit him very well. So he has a new pair of very bright socks, which he wore right away.

Luckily for me, I have another ball of the gray yarn and a ball of a hot purple neon yarn, so I can take a second stab at making myself some striped neon socks.

Ottobre 02/2014 “Till Dawn” Jersey Top

Several months ago, I decided that I could use some shirts in non-neutrals to wear with all of the black and gray cardigans I own. So I found two pieces of rayon jersey in my stash, cut out some pretty simple patterns from Ottobre, and then left the cut out shirts sitting on the end of my ironing board for weeks on weeks on weeks. I finally got around to sewing them up in the week before Christmas. And while one of them was a flop (and was featured as #5 on my Top 5 Misses list), I’m pleased with how this one turned out.

Till Dawn Jersey Top from Ottobre Woman 02/2014

This is the “Till Dawn” V-neck Jersey Top from the Spring 2014 issue of Ottobre Woman. It is just a basic tank, but uses a half lining (kind of like one of those useless shelf bras that they sometimes put in camisoles) to clean finish the neckline and armholes. I didn’t notice until after I’d cut my fabric out that the pattern calls for a jersey with 30% stretch—the rayon-spandex jersey I used has about 60% stretch. If I was wiser, I would have also taken note of the fact that the pattern photo shows a shirt that skims the body rather than being fitted, and that the tank is fairly long. However, I noticed none of these things and had to adjust for them all after the fact.

Till Dawn Jersey Top from Ottobre Woman 02/2014

I found the instructions on this pattern a little bit confusing. I’ve never lined a garment like this before and managed to majorly screw up the armholes the first time. I ended up cutting the armhole seams off and re-sewing them the right way. The trick is to imagine the right side of the neckline as your “home position.” From this position, you twist the pieces to get the right sides to match just for the half of the armhole that you are sewing (the other half of the armhole will be enclosed in the fabric), sew the seam, and then turn it right side out so that you are back at your “home position.”

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The instructions for sewing the side seams and attaching the elastic to the bottom of the lining were also confusing and possibly had a step or two missing. I just ignored them and added elastic to the bottom of the lining pieces first, and then sewed up the side seams in one go. I also substituted fold-over elastic for the clear elastic called for in the pattern since it’s more flexible.

As far as sizing goes, I started with the same size blending I’ve been doing with the other Ottobre patterns I’ve made–46 at the shoulders, blended to 48 at armscye, to 50 at waist, to 52 at the hip. I also added ½” of extra length to the center front of the lining, blending to nothing at the sides of the lining piece. Of course, if I had realized before cutting into my fabric that the pattern calls for a jersey with moderate stretch, I would have cut a smaller size. Instead, I just ended up taking this in a ton as I was sewing—I removed a total of 3.5” through the body and pinched out additional width under the arm to remove armhole gape. Ottobre shirts seem to run a bit long for me, but this one was especially so. I cut two inches off the bottom and then folded up a slightly deeper hem then called for.

Till Dawn Jersey Top from Ottobre Woman 02/2014

Anyway, that seems like a lot of work and detail for a straight-forward tank top, but I like the end result even more than I expected to. It looks a bit more polished than the cheap layering tanks I’ve bought from Old Navy before. I like the color and the fabric and the shape of the neckline is perfect. I’ll definitely be wearing this one a lot this spring.

Madigan

This sweater was part of the stack of projects I finished up before the year ended. It’s a first attempt to deal with the lack of knitted pullovers in my closet, but I’m frankly not sure how I feel about the style on me. Aidan expressed some serious doubt about this sweater when I finished it–he was deeply skeptical of the concept of the short-sleeved sweater and said something along the lines of “Is this an actual thing in fashion?” Seeing the photos, I’m skeptical now too and think it looks better on other people who have made this than it does on me.

Madigan

The upside is that Madigan is a pretty straight-forward knit. After working with some truly massive, page-intensive patterns like the Grandpa Cardigan and Little Wave, it was refreshing to work on a piece where the actual instructions for the sweater, from cast on to bind off, fit on a single page. It is knitted from the top down in one piece, and the majority of the body is knitted in stockinette, which makes this a really easy pattern to adjust for fit.

Madigan

I started with the 42.5” as my base size, following that set of instructions through the cowl and yoke shaping. I needed to add about 3” worth of stitches for my full bust, so I cast on for a few extra stitches under each arm and worked a set of vertical bust darts after I finished the welt pattern in the yoke. I also added 3” of length to the front through horizontal bust darts and substituted my own shaping for the waist and high hip.

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By the way, I’ve been doing the standard wrap-and-turn short rows for my horizontal bust darts. But with this project, I tried using German Short Rows following this tutorial from La Maison Rililie. It’s a great tutorial and I’m really happy with the result—the German Short Rows blend in so much better than what I was doing before.

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Ramona carefully supervised the blocking process.

The yarn is Valley Yarns Northampton in Medium Grey. This project is a testament to the healing powers of blocking. When I first finished it and tried it on, it felt like a sausage casing and the cowl was completely stiff. After a nice, long bath, the yarn relaxed, the fit was much more comfortable, and the cowl has enough drape that it lies nicely now.

Madigan

Still, even the wonders of blocking aren’t enough to save this one for me. I’d much prefer a lighter weight pullover–worsted weight just feels too bulky to me for a garment like this. Plus, the style just isn’t my favorite. At this point, I’m about 90% certain that this one is going to be ripped out and turned into something new. Such is the beauty of knitting. I’m thinking a second version of the Grandpa Cardigan in this gray would be especially useful. We’ll see.

Handmade Christmas Gifts 2015

So here’s the run-down of everything I made for Christmas this year. I didn’t make much, which was the right choice given that this was The Year of Stress. I managed to finish everything up by mid-December without any rushed, late night speed-crafting sessions so I’m pleased.

Winterlong

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Recipient: My dad’s girlfriend, Jess

Pattern: Winterlong by Bristol Ivy

Yarn: Patons Classic Wool in Grey Mix

Notes: I still love this pattern as much as the first time I made it and would make it a third time in a heart beat. I decided to make this for Jess while we sat together in the waiting room during my dad’s bypass surgery in October. She is a wonderful person, and I was very grateful to have her there.

Family Stockings for the Newest Additions

Modern Classics Stockings

Recipients: Our twin nephews, Gus and Oliver

Pattern: Modern Classics Stocking

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Hollyberry and White

Notes: This is the sixth and seventh time I’ve made this pattern. I made stockings for me and Aidan about six years ago, and then another set for Aidan’s sister, her wife, and their son a couple of years ago. They had twins in August, and so the new boys needed stockings to match the rest of the family. As I’ve done every time before, I mixed the “classic” and “modern” charts from the pattern. It’s a good thing that these are quick to knit (I think I managed the second one in three days?), because I was not feeling this project, which made for rather joyless obligation knitting.

Ninja PJs

Alex and Anna Winter PJs

Recipients: Our trio of nephews–Rowan, Gus, and Oliver

Pattern: Alex and Anna Winter PJsAlex and Anna Winter PJs

Fabric: Blue Riley Blake “Year of the Ninja” cotton-spandex jersey, plus some black cotton-spandex leftovers for the neckbands and cuffs

Notes: This project was driven entirely by the potential cuteness of getting all three boys in some kind of matching clothes. Rowan is almost five, so getting him on board with matching his baby brothers seemed like a window that could slam shut at any moment. I went with the Winter PJs pattern because it has a huge size range (3 months to a size 12), and because they are similar in style to the PJs Rowan usually wears.

Alex and Anna Winter PJs

Figuring out sizing was a bit tricky. Rowan is such a skinny thing that his waist measurement puts him in the 6 months size. I ended up following the 3T for width (but cutting the elastic shorter than recommended for the 3T) and extending to the 4T for length. The twins’ measurements put them squarely in the 3 months size at Thanksgiving. They are growing fast (as babies do) so I was worried that the 6 mos size would fit them for about a minute, but the next size up was the 12 mos. I improvised a sort of 6-9 months size by using the 6 mos size as a base, adding a little bit of extra length, and then sewing them with a slightly smaller seam allowance.

Alex and Anna Winter PJs

When I was looking for reviews of this pattern, it was hard to find much discussion of the sizing, beyond that they are meant to be close fitting. I haven’t seen the babies in their PJs, but I was surprised at just how close-fitting Rowan’s were, especially since his width-wise measurements put him in the 6 mos size and I made him a 3T in width. It might have just been shocking since he is so skinny that all his clothes are baggy–my father-in-law even asked, “How did you get them to fit so close?”

Alex and Anna Winter PJs

Rowan’s PJs fit him really well right now, but it makes me nervous about the fit on the baby PJs and makes me wish I had washed and dried the fabric twice before cutting. I would also say that the length on Rowan’s pair seems just right for his size. So, to sum it up, these are really cute but you definitely need a jersey with at least 50% stretch and you should just automatically cut one size up–it won’t give you baggy PJs; it will just give you some wiggle room.

So that was the gift scene this year. I don’t think I disappointed anyone terribly by giving them something handmade rather than, say, a Target gift card. The real risk was giving the 4-year-old clothes. But we also gave him a truck that shoots out Hot Wheels, so I think we managed to balance the scales.

Top 5 of 2015

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I decided to participate in the Top 5 series hosted by Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow. It seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on what I managed to accomplish during a particularly stressful and busy year. All in all, I managed to knit 19 items (3 baby sweaters, 4 adult sweaters, 8 pairs of socks, 2 cowls, and 2 Christmas stockings), and I sewed 28 items (22 garments for me and 6 kid/gift items). I didn’t want to do this in several posts, so here is one long monster post with all of my thoughts on the year:

Top 5 Non-Sewing Highlights

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A post-dissertation defense pic with my committee, including a committee member who had to Skype in.

#1-3: In March, I accepted my first full-time teaching job. In June, we moved to Cincinnati. And in August, I finally graduated with my PhD. All of these things made for an incredibly stressful and exhausting year, but they have also all been exciting and positive changes.

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#4: Aidan’s sister and her wife had twin boys in August, so we have two new nephews. They are bald, adorable little Charlie Brown babies, and I could eat them up.

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My dad exploring the lemur bubble at the zoo.

#5: My dad and his girlfriend rode down to Cincinnati on his motorcycle at the end of July. We spent a week exploring the city with them, which was a lot of fun and a much-needed, reenergizing break for me.

Top 5 Sewing Hits:

Ottobre Faded Stripes Top

#1: Ottobre Fox Shirt–Still one of my favorite things in my closet.

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#2: Onyx Tee–When I started making this, I wasn’t at all sure I’d like it. But I ended up wearing this all the time until the weather turned colder.

Ottobre 05/2015 Get Moving Hoodie

#3: Get Moving Hoodie–A recent finish, but I love everything about this project. I’ve been wearing this almost daily since classes ended.

Simplicity 1062

#4: Simplicity 1062–This is the only thing in my closet that actually makes me feel kind of cool when I wear it, so it remains a winner.

Little Wave Cardigan

#5: Little Wave Cardigan–I haven’t had the chance to wear this a ton since I finished it so recently, but I’m just really proud of this piece. This is definitely the best thing I knit this year.

Top 5 Misses

Jalie 2921

#1: Jalie Tie Front Top–This shirt fits well and looks good in pictures, but it just isn’t my style. I think I’ve worn it once, maybe twice? I thought I’d be forced to wear it because I’m so short on work clothes, but I actually ended up getting more creative with work outfits in order to *avoid* wearing this shirt.

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#2: Featherweight cardigan–I’ve already thoroughly explored my disappointment with this one, and the fact that it made this list will be a surprise to no one.

#3: Style Arc Becky Yoga pants–I never blogged this project, but I made two pairs of these in an effort to replace my ratty lounge pants. I didn’t particularly like the fit of the pattern, and I used a fabric that was too thin so these are basically glorified leggings that I would never wear outside of my house. I’m still choosing my thread-bare, holey yoga pants over these and am actively looking for a better pattern so let me know if you have any recommendations.

SBCC Tonic Tee

#4: Tonic Tees— I hesitate to call this a “miss” because I have worn these a lot since finishing them, and I do really like the pattern. But, I’ve grown more dissatisfied with the fit (I think I made them a bit too small) and dissatisfied with my fabric choice (the cotton-spandex jerseys I used for these t-shirts is too firm for my tastes). I’m actually in the process of trying this pattern again in the next size up with a lighter weight cotton jersey to see if I can get something that is closer to my t-shirt ideal.

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#5: Solid Green Jersey Top from Ottobre Woman 02/2014–I haven’t and won’t blog this project, but it was a whole series of “what was I thinking?” moments. I tried to use up a length of jersey that was much different than pictured online and not a color I wear by using a pattern that is not at all my style and, not surprisingly, ended up with a shirt that makes me think “WTF!?” When I put this on, I feel like the scenes in Orphan Black when Helena wears Allison’s clothes. Good riddance.

Reflections:

  1. I feel like I did more knitting than sewing this year, or I at least knit more consistently than I sewed. I’ve been knitting for long enough and knitting is so much a part of my daily routine that it’s easy to keep up with even during stressful periods. So far, I sew more in bursts when I have big blocks of free time open up.
  2. This year, I sewed my first pair of pants (the HP Tailored Track Pants) and my first woven shirt (the Onyx Shirt), which I’m pretty proud of. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with sewing knits, so I’m glad I finally started to branch out a bit.
  3. I feel like I saw a noticeable increase in the quality of my sewing this year. The finish and the fit of my clothes is getting better, as is my matching of pattern with fabric, which has resulted in more items that I am happy to have in my closet and that are getting worn a lot.
  4. This is an ongoing process, but I also feel like I’ve made progress in figuring out what I really like and want to wear. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I feel like I finally have a good handle on what I like in a hand-knit sweater. But I’m also embracing my love of black and gray and being more discerning about the style of the sewing patterns I’m making (hot pink t-shirt disaster notwithstanding).
  5. I bought a lot of fabric this year–more than I feel comfortable with, especially given how little I sewed. I know that what I have wouldn’t seem like a lot to many people, but I am not a stasher and don’t really want to stay in the habit of stashing.

Top 5 Goals for 2016:

  1. Try to focus on sewing in smaller bursts of time so that I can make sewing a more consistent part of a my routine.
  2. Knit more sweaters. Now that I’ve figured out what styles I’m most likely to wear, I’m hoping to get more hand-knit sweaters in rotation. My working goal is to make 8 new sweaters this year.
  3. Focus on sewing pants. I wear pants everyday and have a horrendous time trying to find pants that I like and that fit in stores, so it just makes sense to focus my attention here.
  4. Make myself some button-down shirts. Right now, I’m planning to make McCall’s 6649, the BurdaStyle Button Up Blouse, and the Itch to Stitch Mila shirt.
  5. Whittle down the fabric stash. I think the question of whether to keep a big fabric/yarn stash comes down to personality and how you go about planning projects, and my personality does not mesh with the stashing lifestyle. Right now, I’ve got just under 80 yards of fabric stashed, and I’d like that to be a significantly smaller number by the end of next year.

I feel good about my goals for 2016 and am looking forward to a great year of making!

 

 

Little Wave

It’s taken me a minute (by which I mean several years) to figure out what I really like in a hand knit cardigan. As I recently established, I’m not feeling the open front cardigan. But I’ve also made a handful of more traditional, fitted cardigans like my Audrey in Unst cardigan and my Squared cardigan, and I don’t really enjoy wearing those styles either.

Little Wave Cardigan

 

The cardigans I do reach for are relaxed and cozy heavier-weight cardigans with shawl collars. My most-worn cardigans have been my Girl Friday and my Grandpa cardigan. I wear them regularly as a top layer in winter, and throw them on in lieu of a light jacket in spring and fall.

Little Wave Cardigan

This Little Wave cardigan is very similar in style to those favorite cardigans, and I’m confident that I’ll be wearing this one all the time. I love all the design details on this pattern—the little wave stitch pattern, the pockets, the saddle shoulder, the garter stitch elbow patches. For me, this sweater represents all the best things about being able to make my own clothes. With this piece, I get all of the design details I like about more masculine clothing, but made to fit my body.

Little Wave Cardigan

The Little Wave pattern is actually written as a unisex pattern, with a separate set of instructions for men and women. I think this is a really smart design move. The men’s and women’s versions aren’t radically different, but are simply adjusted for different bodily proportions and design preferences. So the sleeves and body on the men’s version are longer while the women’s version has some waist shaping, a more shallow yoke, and slightly narrower shoulders. Including two versions results in a fairly long pattern (16 pages), but it’s a great pattern overall. The instructions were clear and easy to follow and the construction of the yoke is clever and results in a great fit.

Little Wave Cardigan

My measurements (hip 52”, waist 41”, full bust 47”, high bust 41”) mean that my body typically spans about 3 conventional size ranges. Since this is a heavily patterned piece with a new-to-me yoke construction, it took me a bit to figure out how I wanted to modify the pattern to fit me. In the end, I decided to use the 46” size as my base for the body. I added some extra stitches to the garter panels on the sides so the sweater would be 50” at the hips. Then I worked extra decreases and decreased at a faster rate to get down to the correct stitch count for the waist of the 46” size.

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The next challenge was decreasing from the 46” size so that I could follow the yoke instructions for the 41.25” size. I did this through a combination of methods—starting the neckline shaping early to work in a few extra sets of decreases, adding a couple of extra decrease rounds early on in the yoke shaping, and binding off a few extra stitches under the arm. The only other change I made was to shorten the sleeves by about 2”. As many people have noted on Ravelry, the sleeves on this are really long, even when you factor in the cuffed sleeves. In the end, I’m happy with how all of my modifications worked out. The sweater still has a casual, relaxed feel but is fitted enough to keep it from looking sloppy.

Little Wave Cardigan

The yarn is Valley Yarns Northampton in Ocean Heather. Northampton is my go-to worsted right now–it’s equitable in quality to my other favorite, Cascade 220, but with better yardage at a better price. I’ve got a bunch of Northampton in Charcoal that I’m going to use for my first sweater of 2016. As you might have guessed, I’ve got another cozy, relaxed, shawl-collar cardigan style planned: Mari Chiba’s Solitude Jacket. I just have a few lingering 2015 projects to finish up so I can start a new year of knitting off fresh.

Get Moving Hoodie

The name of this pattern taunts me. So bossy! Despite its imperative, this hoodie has not gotten me moving in the way intended. Instead, I have been wearing this while engaging in low-octane activities like grading, lounging, and grocery shopping. Still, it’s really comfortable and I’m very happy with the way this project turned out.

Ottobre 05/2015 Get Moving Hoodie

This is my third Ottobre pattern–it comes from the 05/2015 issue of Ottobre Woman. Like the other two patterns I’ve made, I like this piece because it is a comfortable basic but has enough details to make it interesting to sew and interesting to wear. This hoodie has a saddle shoulder and pockets that are hard to describe—they aren’t really welt pockets, but the concept is kind of the same. I guess they are kind of a more casual, informal version of a welt pocket? The sleeve and hood seams are all topstitched, which make them look professional and kind of sporty. Like my Gym and Sport Sweat Shorts, I used a honeycomb stitch for the top-stitching. The fabric is a cotton blend sweatshirt fleece from Girl Charlee.

Ottobre 05/2015 Get Moving Hoodie

The most difficult part of this pattern was actually the tracing. Ottobre using the crazy pattern sheets with the overlapping lines that you have to trace off. I’ve traced five other Ottobre patterns that were very easy, but this one was a pain. The pattern pieces for this hoodie are the same basic pieces used for three or four other views in the issue. However, the other views involve different pattern markings and have different cutting lines for length and necklines. All the different markings made it quite a chore to distinguish what, exactly, I needed to trace for this view from what was irrelevant. Of course, the upside of all this is that I can use the fit adjustments that I made with this pattern as a starting point for any of the other views I might be interested in.

Ottobre 05/2015 Get Moving Hoodie

As far as fit adjustments go, I started with the size 46 at the upper torso, blended to a 48 at the armscye, to a 50 at the waist, and then to a 52 at the hip. I also did a 1.5” FBA and eased the resulting dart into the side seam at bust level. I removed 1” of length from the sleeves.

Ottobre 05/2015 Get Moving Hoodie

When I first finished this piece, I was worried that there was too much ease through the hips, although after sending it through the washer and dryer once, I’m more satisfied with the fit. I’m also glad I made this piece in black because my work with the pockets is kind of sloppy—sewing around the sharp turns for the pocket bag was tricky. But the dark color hides most of the issues.

This was my first time installing grommets, which was pretty fun. I used a Dritz eyelet kit from JoAnn’s that was pretty inexpensive and easy to manage. Now I just need one of these mini anvils.

Ottobre 05/2015 Get Moving Hoodie

I have a weakness for hoods and shawl collars. I’m glad to have this sweatshirt, especially because I like the fit through the shoulders. But I also have more sweatshirt fleece coming to me so that I can make the SBCC Brooklyn Hoodie. And then, maybe, I’ll consider sewing something I can actually wear to work. We’ll see.

Ottobre 05/2015 Get Moving Hoodie

Featherweight: The Sweater of Nope

Let us discuss disappointment.

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Because that’s what this cardigan is: a disappointment. It doesn’t necessarily look disappointing in the photos, but I won’t wear it. I shoved it in a closet after I took these photos and it will stay there until it gets shoved in the next donation box.

Featherweight Cardigan

This is Hannah Fettig’s Featherweight pattern, but it’s the version of the pattern made using CustomFit. I made the original version of Featherweight several years ago but didn’t like the end result—it was too short in the body, it slipped off my shoulders, and I didn’t really like the fabric that resulted from knitting a lace-weight yarn at a really open gauge. I thought that a version of the cardigan with set-in sleeves and knit at a tighter gauge might work out better for me. Plus, I figured it was a good opportunity to try out CustomFit.

Featherweight Cardigan

You can see some of the problems with the sweater in these photos. The neckband ripples and doesn’t want to lay correctly. The sleeves grew too long during blocking. And there is a strange bubble at the front of both sleeves at the armscye. I’m frankly not sure what’s causing the bubble, although I’m pretty confident that it has nothing to do with seaming (especially since it occurs at the same point on both sleeves). It could be that the shape of the sleeve cap in the pattern doesn’t work for me. Or it could also be related to the yarn growing during blocking (I used a wool/silk blend). I’m thinking this last one is the most likely explanation.

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Those issues probably wouldn’t be enough to stop me from wearing this if I really liked it, but I’ve decided I’m just not that big a fan of the open cardigan. I always wear my cardigans open, but I don’t like these cardigans where the fronts aren’t designed to meet. Plus, I feel like the shoulders on this cardigan have been made so narrow (to accommodate the ribbed neckband) that there isn’t enough to anchor the cardigan to the body, even with a seamed shoulder. And this is really the biggest reason that I won’t be wearing this cardigan—because this is what it looked like after I put it on and walked down the stairs and out the door of my apartment:

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NOPE.

As far as using CustomFit for the first time goes, I’m pretty pleased with the results. Particularly since I’m leaning towards yarn growth as the culprit for the sleeve bubble, I think the things I dislike about this cardigan come down to the design and the style and not to the fit of the actual pattern produced by CustomFit.

Featherweight Cardigan

I entered all of measurements that I typically use when planning and making my own sweater adjustments, and the fit at the back is really nice. I don’t mind making adjustments to existing patterns—in fact, it’s become one of my favorite things about sweater knitting. Plus, I’m pretty happy with the results I get and appreciate the flexibility that comes with being able to alter any pattern, regardless of construction style, by myself. But if I were going to attempt another project like my Jet Pullover, I’d definitely use CustomFit to generate a pattern.

So to sum up: CustomFit seems all right, but I do not like Featherweight and probably should have been more judicious in my pattern choice. Luckily, the next sweater I have to share turned out much better, so look forward to less disappointing projects.