Stevie the Second: Jersey Edition

A long while ago, I attempted two different projects with two beloved pieces of fabric and I managed to screw them both up. It was so incredibly disappointing to look at those failed projects and think about all the things I wish I would have done differently. But the fact that I loved the fabrics also made me hold onto them for much longer than I probably would have otherwise while I puzzled through a possible salvage operation.

 

Tilly and the Buttons Stevie

 

It took about 15 months, but I finally figured out how to get a wearable garment from both projects, starting with this shirt. While I was still working on my tulip-print Stevie Top, I ended up moving my fabric stash into a new storage cabinet and, in the process, found myself puzzling over the remnants of this gray and black pinstripe jersey and wondering how I might get some kind of top out of the pieces.

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This jersey is from Mood and it feels lovely—it’s a cotton, rayon blend that is soft and completely opaque while still being lightweight. It also has very little stretch—maybe 15% at most—which makes it a poor candidate for a lot of the knit top patterns I have. I didn’t really have enough fabric to make something with sleeves but also didn’t think I would get much wear out of a tank top. I started wishing I had a knit pattern in a style similar to the Stevie top when I realized that the Stevie pattern would probably easily work with a fairly stable jersey.

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The only significant change I made to the pattern was to eliminate the back closure, cut the seam allowance off the center back yoke, cut the yoke on the fold, and then redraw the back facing piece to match the new yoke. I kept the top-stitched facing because I thought the detail of the stitching would complement the fabric and the style. I wanted to keep the back yoke because it made it easier for me to work with the fabric scraps I had on hand, but I also wanted to play around with the direction of the stripes, so I cut the lower back with the stripes going vertical. I had just enough fabric to cut out the pocket piece, so I added that to the front for just a bit more detail.

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I love the resulting shirt. It’s not perfect—the floppiness of the fabric means I had to tack the sleeve cuffs down in a few places, sometimes the facing and necklines wrinkles a bit at the neckline, and the pocket has a tendency to sag. But there’s something about the whole look of the shirt, including its imperfections, that just looks cool and casual and modern. It’s really just a t-shirt, but it makes me feel fancier than any other t-shirt I own.

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I’m so happy that I’m getting to enjoy this fabric now, and even happier that I’ve turned a failed project into a big win.

Striped Jenna Cardi

I feel like I’ve been hearing a lot of praise in the sewing community for the idea of “slow sewing”—of pulling back on the rush to make all the things and instead investing more time in the process of each project and finding joy in more time-intensive finishing techniques with the hope of creating more thoughtful, longer lasting finished garments. But like a lot of things that get a bit romanticized (minimalism, tiny houses, eating locally, etc.), there just isn’t quite as much shine to the idea when you’re forced into it by circumstance rather than consciously choosing it. Or, at least, that’s how I’ve been feeling as someone who is doing a lot of “slow sewing” just because that is all I am capable of accomplishing right now.

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Take this cardigan, for instance. I cut the pattern out in March 2017. I put it aside because I was pregnant and simultaneously wanted to work on some maternity projects and felt too overwhelmed to deal with stripe matching. I had the baby in August, and I managed to put some fusible knit stay tape on the shoulders around Christmas that year. I think I serged the shoulder seams over Spring Break in 2018. And then once my classes had wrapped up in May and I had a few days where I was able to send Jude to daycare while I stayed at home doing whatever I pleased/trying to recover a bit from the most exhausting period in my life, I was able to sew up the rest of the cardigan.

Obviously, this is not what people have in mind when they talk about slow sewing. And I actually do completely understand wanting to get outside of the feeling that we’re supposed to be constantly producing more. I’m just a tiny bit salty right now because sometimes trying to get something sewn up feels like slogging through a mud pit while dragging a bunch of bricks behind me.

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It doesn’t really matter though—getting something done is better than nothing. And thankfully getting this project finished and off my sewing table set off a steadier (although still slow) stream of sewing activity.

This is the Jenna Cardi from Muse Patterns, made using the expansion pack that includes a v-neck. I’ve made this pattern once before (when I said that sewing a cardigan felt like cheating to me as a knitter since it’s such a fast process—Ha!), and I made zero changes to the pattern from the last time I made it. That turned out to be a little bit of an issue, since I experienced the same problems I encountered the last time I sewed it, especially with the ease in the sleeves. I did a basted fit on the sides after attaching the sleeves and ended up taking about 2” of width out of the sleeve and sleeve cuff. Based on my experience with this project last time, I also used one less button than called for in the pattern, which I think works better.

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Since I cut this out pre-baby, it is made to my pre-baby measurements, which I can’t actually remember but are about a size smaller than I currently wear. The result is totally wearable—I don’t think it looks like it’s too small or like the buttons are about to bust open. It just means that it has a tendency to ride up a bit at the front if I wear it closed. That’s not a huge deal since I almost always wear cardigans open anyway. The fabric is a cotton-spandex blend that I bought from Fabric.com. It was listed as a sweater knit but it’s actually a really nice and soft French terry.

The big surprise with this project was finding that I don’t actually have much in my closet to layer underneath this cardigan. I’ve mostly been wearing it with a black t-shirt underneath. I should spend some time playing around with some of the shirts I have to see if there is an unexpected combo that might work and allow me to get a bit more mileage out of this combo. Maybe I’ll get around to that next May. Lol.

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Baby Gift x3: Snugglers and Maddie Hoodies

I was already in the process of planning a baby gift for a friend when we found out that we’re going to have twin nieces or nephews (or some combination of the two—why is there not a gender-neutral word to express that relationship in English?) coming into our family at the end of the summer. For some reason, the idea of picking a couple of patterns and making them in triplicate seemed like great fun to me. And, indeed, it was a lot of fun to see all three items lined up at the end and feel like I was the master of the pattern, which I think is mostly a reflection of the way the meaning of “fun” shifts when it’s deep winter in central New York and you’re at the height of a job search. Anyway…

Lotta Jansdotter Snuggler

First up, I made some baby swaddlers. The pattern I used is originally from Lotta Jansdotter’s book Simple Sewing for Baby, but it’s also available for free on MAKE. I used quilting cotton for the outside layer and flannel for the lining. These are generally pretty easy to make, except for two little hiccups. First, if you use the free pdf version of the pattern, there aren’t any reference points for assembling the pages and there is a substantial amount of (unmarked) overlap between the pages, making this the least intuitive/most unnecessarily frustrating pdf pattern I’ve encountered. I didn’t come across it until after I had managed to put the pattern together, but there is a picture of the assembled pattern on Zaaberry, which would definitely would have been helpful.

Lotta Jansdotter Snuggler

The other tricky bit is the step where you have to sew the lining to the outer shell. At that point, you have to find a way to sew around both the inner part of the pouch and the swaddle flaps (for lack of a better term), and if you’re not careful as you pivot around that corner, the fabric can easily get twisted up at the seam where the two connect. Rather than trying to sew the seam in one pass, I started at the top of the inner part of the pouch and sewed to the side seam, repeated for the other side, and then sewed from side seam to side seam (leaving an opening to turn the swaddler inside out) around the swaddler flaps. Does that make any sense?

Blood Orange Maddie Hoodie

The hooded cardigans are Carrie Bostick Hodge’s Maddie Hoodie pattern. I knit up the 12 mos size and followed the pattern almost to the letter, except that my row gauge was off just enough to require some minor adjustments to the sleeve increases and to the row counts for the hood. I used Berroco Weekend DK in Blood Orange, Seedling, and Swimming Hole for the main colors and Daisy for the stripes. I really liked this yarn and would definitely use it again for kid stuff.

Maddie Hoodie pocket

This pattern is very easy to follow, but there is a fair bit of finishing work for such a small cardigan—seaming the pockets, seaming the sleeves, extra ends to weave in from the stripes, and a bunch of buttons to sew on. If you aren’t knitting three of these cardigans in a row, I suspect the finishing is less of an ordeal. The little green sweater sat around for two months before I could stomach another round of buttons. Anyway, I like that it’s a basic style with some more distinct details. Like those little pockets! So useless, but so cute. They will be great for storing things like runaway Cheerios and partially smashed blueberries.

Maddie Hoodie in Berroco Weekend DK

My own style tends enough toward “somber” and “boring” that the best part of making things for small people is using color and bright prints. Now that we’re moving closer to our families, I’m going to make a habit of regularly measuring our smaller family members so I can make fun, bright things when the mood strikes. I’m sure it won’t be weird at all when I try to wrangle them with a measuring tape.

Lotta Snugglers and Maddie Hoodies