Tag Archives: McCalls M6035

Journal: 18 August 2014

It’s been a bit of a while since I’ve posted here—I don’t want to be one of those blogs where half the space is spent apologizing for not putting up more content, but I do want to mention that I may be posting less often for a while but that I am not hibernating. For a long while there I was binging on designing tatted lace, which makes it really easy to put up a new pattern every few days; I was also completely unemployed. More recently I’ve been feeling a bit tapped out on tatting, having embarked on a couple ambitious knitting projects instead; I’ve also picked up a very, very part-time job which is reducing my need to feel productive by blogging. This particular long break between posts was a combination of the above factors, plus I spent this past week on a family vacation with really poor internet.

Today I have a couple of hand-sewn blouses to show you—both of which showed up in my last tutorial post, but I have a couple more pictures that didn’t really fit in. I’ve got a little bitsy crochet meta-project: a box to hold in-progress projects. I’ve also got a knitting project that I am rather excited about, although I actually have no clue if I’ll like it at all when I’m done.

Sewing blouses

First, progress on the Great Five-Blouse Sewing Project: I have now completed three of five. Photos:

I’m still quite happy with the pattern, McCalls M6035, on the whole, but a little disappointed with how the stand-up collar and short-sleeve variants came out. I love Mandarin collars, but the collar coming forward all the way to the overlapping front makes it rather awkward. I kind of like how it looks with the collar folded down, but a) it’s a very old-fashioned look, which is sometimes but not always a good thing, and b) I used a non-reversible fabric, so you see the wrong side and it looks less professional. My complaint with the sleeves is just that they’re too tight—which may be more to do with my chubby upper arms than anything, so your mileage may vary. The green one is a little frumpy—using the full collar and bishop sleeve variants—but I did it deliberately, so I’m okay with it.

One final bit of news about my sewing situation is that I recently found out that Woot occasionally sells sewing machines. Really nice ones. For half their usual going price. So I’ve got a 185-stitch Brother with automatic buttonholing features in the mail, about which I am exceedingly excited. For anyone keeping score, this brings my total sewing machines up to three, and I barely use the ones I have—on the other hand, there are good reasons I don’t use them. At any rate, I am designating one of the remaining blouses as my getting-acquainted-with-my-new-machine project, and I’ll let you know how that goes.

Crochet project box

basket_inplace

Basket, full of cashmere knitting, in amongst my other crafting things

I’ve got some odds and ends—all right, several skeins—left over from the big bag o’ cotton yarn I got a while back; they are awkward colors that I don’t really want in my kitchen, but I hate to waste good yarn and I don’t mind having a, well, eclectic crafting space. I also have a knitting project on sock needles with cables, with really delicate yarn—so I thought it would be nice to have some way of holding all those little needles and all together and protect the yarn from the rest of my crafting space. Putting two and two together, I made a quick basket in single crochet out of the hideous yarn, and am rather pleased with the result. It’s not the flattest or most beautiful thing I’ve made, but it serves its purpose well enough.

Detail of claw feet

Detail of claw feet

I don’t have a pattern for this wee beasty—I bet you could do as well or better on your own—but the general idea is a flat rectangle worked in spirals, then side walls that use decreases to slope inward a little bit and hold everything together. I do rather like one detail I came up with, which is to give the corners a bit of a claw-foot. The first row of the sides is in normal single crochet, working in only the front loop of the last row of the base; the second is in single crochet except a few stitches around the corners, which are: yo, yo, yo, insert hook in back loop of a stitch on the base, pull up loop, (yo and pull through two loops) twice, insert hook through both loops of a stitch on the side, yo and pull through all remaining loops. From the inside it looks just like a sc or possibly an hdc; from the outside it is a raised column. I did this to the five stitches directly on each corner, then on one stitch to each side separated by one sc. Anyway, a couple more photos:

Knitting a drape-neck shell

Drafting and pattern creation!

Drafting and pattern creation!

drape_frontSo I’ve done a little bit of drafting of sewing patterns in the past—mostly by modifying commercial patterns. The one shown above is traced and modified from New Look 6483; I removed the seam allowance, moved the bust dart, and heavily slashed the neckline to create a drape-neck. I had an idea a while ago to make this in diagonal knitting, but ended up getting too frustrated and scrapping it. In the meantime I added the seam allowances back in and sewed the shirt shown at right, which I wear pretty frequently and like. Just before heading off on vacation, though, I realized I didn’t have a project to take on the airplane, so I hauled it all out and set to work.

Back piece of shell

Back piece of shell and first few rows of front

For some reason—I am not at all sure why this is—I hate the thought of making knits in sections and then joining them, even though I don’t mind sewing at all. I think it just offends my sense of elegance: there are so many shaping tools you can bring to bear in knitting, so you should be able to make fairly complicated garments all in one go. Plus, I hate cutting yarn, in case I decide later to rip out the project and do something else with it. At any rate, this means the construction plan needed some thought. I figured out that I could do a one-piece sleeveless shell by starting at the back, at armpit level; working upwards to the neck; working the neck like a buttonhole with a bind-off and then cast-on in the middle of a row; working down across the bust to the armpit; then reconnecting with the back and working the torso in the round. Connecting this plan to the sewing pattern required making a gauge swatch, then taking a lot of measurements across my pattern and converting them to stitch counts. At the end of a couple hours’ work I had a plan of increases and decreases.

Shoulder showing slip-stitch shaping

Shoulder showing slip-stitch shaping on outside edge

The first cast-on, since it needs to be joined later, is the double-sided cast-on you’ll see sometimes for toe-up socks: the yarn is just wrapped around and around two needles. The main part of the work is all in stockinette, since I don’t have the patience for complicated drafting plus lace at the same time, on oversized needles. The armhole shaping, which is horizontal, is done with simple decreases and increases. The back-neck and shoulder strap shaping, which is vertical but doesn’t need to be precise, I did by making some sections of (slip 1, k1)/(slip 1, p1) work, which compresses vertically. Apparently this stitch curls a lot though—hopefully I can get it flat in blocking, or failing that by sewing in a facing.

Detail of front showing cast-on

Detail of front showing cast-on

The bind-off for the neck is the usual knit bind-off, with the trick of working a knit-in-front-and-back stitch at the beginning to avoid gapping or distortion. The cast-on for the neck I wanted to make a little decorative, so it’s actually the tatting double stitch, which does just fine and creates long, lacy loops at the edge. Now I’m beginning the long, slow slog of decreases to shape the drape-neck and front armholes.

 

Detail showing yarn colors

Detail showing yarn colors

The yarn, by the way, is premier yarns’ serenity sock weight, which I’ve mentioned loving before, in the Harlequin colorway. It’s coming through really dull in my photographs, for some reason, and indeed in the online-yarn-store photographs I can find, but in person it’s a really vibrant mix of Mardi Gras teal, purple, gold, and a bit of leaf green. It’s somewhat of an interesting experience to work with—in some lights I love it and think it’s the best thing, in others I hate it and suspect I will never wear the shirt. So I’m feeling a bit of trepidation about this project. On the other hand, this yarn definitely does not want to be a shawl or a scarf or anything, at least to my mind, so I’m not sure I lose anything if the shirt doesn’t turn out great either. Wish me luck!

Journal: 12 July 2014

Since my last journal post, I have been a busy little bee—by which I think I actually mean, it has been a while since my last journal post, so I’ve gotten a fair bit done without getting any more done per time than usual. I’ve developed and posted a bunch of tatting patterns, done a bunch of utility/housewares sewing, chugged away a bit on my knitting, finished one of my blouses and started another. I’ve also done a bit of crochet that I can’t talk about just yet.

Housewares sewing:

apron_pocket

Forgive the blurry picture: apron with ruffle and with a potholder in the pocket.

The major piece of housewares sewing I did was to add a pocket and a ruffle to my frumpy apron. The photo at right shows the pocket, with a round potholder in it, and the ruffle. I am not entirely sure why I bothered with the ruffle—I think it took more work than the rest of the apron put together—but I just feel that if one is to make a frumpy floral apron, a ruffle around the skirt is required. Anyway, here’s a much better photo of the apron spread out on the floor:

apron_flat

 

tote_pocket

Card pocket for tote bag

While I was doing housewares sewing, I added a card pocket to one of the tote bags: my local grocery store has those rewards cards; I don’t want to waste wallet space on it, so it lives in the grocery bag, but having the tiny card floating in the great big bag is inconvenient. I solved this by making a small pocket and top-stitching it into the inside of the bag just below the hem. I used a scrap of quilting cotton, so managed to do the stitching by hand.

needle_case_side

Big needle case

Due to the influx of tatting thread I mentioned recently, I spent a while sorting out my yarn stash, which led to me deciding I really needed a better way to store my crochet hooks and knitting needles. In cutting out the apron, I cut considerably more narrow strips of fabric than I ended up needing, so I decided to make needle cases out of it. Out of a 32″x3″ strip I made a 15″x2″ rectangular case with a zip closure, and out of an 8″ strip I made a narrow little DPN case that fits inside the big one, and has a fold-over closure with drawstring and button:

The zipper for the main case was a salvage from an old laundry bag; it is bright blue and had a stupidly large tab/pull on it, making it impossible to set hidden. So I snipped off the tab and replaced it with macrame/friendship bracelet. The loop holding the tab was open at one end, so I was worried a soft tab would slide off; I closed it with a drop of super glue, which I am pleased with the results of. Photos, playing with the zoom settings on my camera:

I am a lot happier with this one than I am with the one on my wallet/coin purse, so I may put up a tutorial on replacing zipper pulls soon. My technique is still not quite there yet, though. I am proud of the color coordination; all of the floss was stuff I had on hand, too.

Knitting:

cashmere_cables

Starting the cables

I’ve been working on a pair of mitts/arm warmers out of the cashmere lace-weight yarn from my birthday, and it is going slowly. I’m beginning to regret some of my choices, namely deciding that cabling a fluffy, tiny yarn on #2 needles was a good idea. I haven’t dropped any stitches that I couldn’t get back yet, but all the tight little stitches and keeping track of four DPNs and a cabling needle just make me so tense that I can do about five rows on a good day before needing to switch to something else. I don’t suppose anybody out there has tips for tiny cabling without losing one’s mind?

cashmere_onhandI do think that I will like these mitts and consider them worth all the pain when they’re done, though. I’ve finished the ribbing section, including the thumb hole, on both, working on a circular needle so I can try them on (see photo), and am happy with the fit. I’m a little concerned that the cabled section may be too tight to comfortably get my hand through, and since I moved to DPNs for the cabling I can’t check it, but I think it will be all right.

cashmere_thumb

Mitt showing thumb hole

Blouses:

blue_blouse

Navy blue blouse

Finally, I’ve made progress on the blouse-sewing mega-project I mentioned in my last journal post: making five new button-up blouses. Namely, I finished blouse #1 in navy blue and started in on blouse #2 in green. Both are using McCall’s M6035 pattern. The blue one has sleeve style C: straight elbow-length sleeves, and I decided to omit the sleeve-cuff tab and the collar band, making a simpler collar. I am very happy with this pattern so far; the princess-seamed base is completely solid and flattering, the sleeves sit well, and there’s a lot of customizability.

The first blouse did remind me just how much I hate sewing buttonholes by hand; I remembered that I hate it but figured it couldn’t be but so bad, then sat down to actually sew them and it was so much worse. And I signed up to do 30ish of them, entirely of my own volition: good job seesawyer. Still, now that they are a few days in the past, I am back in “how hard could it be?” mode, besides which I have an idea for making fancy concealed plackets which will not need buttonholes, which hopefully will work out. I do also really love how hand-made buttonholes look, to the point of being driven a little nuts by the sloppy buttonholes on some off-the-shelf machine-made garments, so the relationship is a love-hate one at worst.

green_blouse_pieces

Cut pieces for the green blouse

Next up is a green blouse; I’m planning to make the full banded collar this time, and the sleeves will be elbow-length bishop sleeves (style B). I’m also changing one of the fitting details; I am right on the line between two non-interpolatable sizes (cup size, which this pattern implements with separate pieces for the front and side front, for each of three options), so I’m going to see which of this one and the blue one I like better. I am planning to try my fancy plackets with this one, too, although I may chicken out and go with the recommended straightforward button plackets. If it does work out, I’ll post a tutorial here and consider my contribution to the human race to have been made :P. The pieces are cut, and I’ve started sewing the back and side back pieces together.

Journal: 15 June 2014

I feel a little silly making two journal posts in a row, not sure why; at any rate I have not been feeling especially creative (although still craftsy as ever) so what’s to do? Since my last post, I finished the patchwork shirt mentioned there, made some things out of embroidery floss, and made a frumpy floral apron so I stop grease-spotting all my trousers when cooking. I also made it out to the store and picked up fabric for my next five projects: button-up blouses, in hopes that I will soon have a job that wants them (wish me luck!).

blue_patchwork

Blue patchwork shirt, made from stash scraps

First up, the patchwork blouse, Simplicity 1462 in shades of blue. I’m not as pleased with how the colors worked out as I was with the brown one I did, but I think this time around my construction was better than either previous attempt. That is, the collar lies a lot flatter than either the brown or red shirts’ collars, and the seams and hems are all very neat. blue_detailWe’ll see if it grows on me.

 

 

apron_full

Apron with bib up

Next up, the Frumpiest Apron Of All Time. Seriously. I made it for purely utilitarian reasons—after a couple years being frustrated with getting grease spots on my clothes when I make fajitas or chicken tikka masala or basically anything in my big frypan, and simultaneously thinking of aprons as a rather silly frippery, I suddenly put two and two together and had to have one. I don’t always learn fast, but I learn well. apron_detailAnyway I had some floral fabric on hand that I was never, ever going to use for serious clothing, which I think I actually got from my grandmother’s stash (she basically ordered me to go through it one Christmas and take as much as I could pack). I cobbled together a pattern from the front panel of an A-line skirt, a trapezoid for the bib, and a bunch of strips.

apron_skirt2

Apron skirt with bib folded down behind

The skirt is hemmed, the bib is hemmed on top and bound with the neck straps on the sides, and they are joined by a broad waistband that ties in back. I will probably mostly wear it skirt-fashion, with the top part folded down, but I like having the option of a bib for cooking e.g. bacon. When I was cutting fabric, I planned to put a ruffle around the skirt, but basically wussed out while sewing—I calculated that the ruffle alone would take at least twice as long to sew as the rest of the apron put together, and I wanted it ready to use ASAP—but since I have the strips all cut, I may gradually hem and gather them when I am between projects and attach them at some later date. I also plan to add a pocket or pockets at some point in the future. Despite making fun of how frumpy it is, I am actually rather proud of the construction—the sides of the skirt and bib actually line up well, even though I didn’t do any Serious Drafting With Math or even much measuring, the straps are good lengths and solidly constructed, and the coverage is good.

apron_floor

Apron laid out on floor, showing construction

hearts_braceletWhile the apron and blouse were in progress, I made my way to the fabric store, mostly to get embroidery floss, but also because I was completely out of project-sized fabric (!). The embroidery floss was for a deadline—at the end of this past week, my SO departed to counsel a multi-week residential summer camp, so I made matching friendship bracelets for him and me. The pattern is a slight modification of this one, in a color scheme that he likes and that’s camp themed. headbandsWhile in the embroidery floss aisle, I picked up some floss for headbands—one to match my brown patchwork shirt especially, or brown clothing more generally, and another to match the bright red shirt with off-white flowers and basically nothing else in my wardrobe. The brown one follows the tutorial I’ve posted, while the red one uses my Atlantis edging pattern, slightly modified to make it taper to the ends.

blousesFinally, a glance ahead at my next few sewing projects: I meant to pick up fabric for three or four plain, workaday button-up blouses, just because I am trying to transition from grad school’s jeans and t-shirts to the respectable world and don’t have enough blouses. The store happened to be on a particularly good sale, so I bought five pieces in the end, figuring I’d want that many eventually anyway. I’m particularly excited about the white fabric—I can’t get it to show in a picture, but the fabric has a subtle but lovely paisley design in white-on-white paint, and I love me some paisley. The gray fabric is a fairly subtle floral print, and very soft; the rest are inexpensive cotton-poly broadcloth. I also picked up a new blouse pattern with sleeve and collar variations, McCall’s M6035, which I plan to make some blouses straight from and then use as a jumping-off point for more variations.