Archive | Projects RSS feed for this section

The Pants Saga Continues

2 Mar

Well, I did it. Taking suggestions from here and from around the internet, I embarked on fitting a pair of pants in muslin form. And somewhere in there, with yarn wrapped about my hips and everything pinned awkwardly in place, it occurred to me that anything involving the phrases “crotch depth” and “rear wrinkles” might not be something I want to post publicly to the internet, particularly not accompanied with photographs, particularly not with everyone I know watching. (hi, mom. No butt pictures, not today).

It is serious fitting business, this “pants” subject. And I have learned that muslin show off every bump and wrinkle.  I think I have learned some other things, as well: that I’m not actually sway-backed. I thought I was, but I may, in fact, be the reverse. (Flat back?) I’ve learned that I’m knock-kneed and that I am thicker on my front side than I am on my back side (a thing I should have known since my Anatomy class all those years ago.)  I’ve learned that even though the “Full Figured Woman” diagram in my Coni Crawford pattern makes me uncomfortable in its harshness, I should pay attention to the related tips, just the same, since that is my body she’s adjusting for.

And I’ve learned some things that I still have in front of me to learn, like that making side seams perpendicular to the floor (when few, if any, parts of my body stand perpendicular to the floor) is an absurd proposition, and that I will probably have to read another forty websites on pants-fitting before this game is over.

And I would like to note: even Fit for Real People doesn’t have a “pants” chapter. They’ll fit the bodice and dress every which way including sideways, but sometimes when you throw in crotch-depth and ass-wrinkles, even the pros realize they need a whole new book for that material.

Just another red sweater

29 Feb

…in what seems like a long line of them.  “A red sweater” seems like my default knitting project, but red is my favorite color, so voilà.
In a yarn store, I am statistically more likely to fall for a skein of red than any other possibility, and that is what happened in this case.

 

I made this pattern up as I went along. I was tempted to write I “designed” it, but to me, “design” indicates some forethought, some planning. What I did was start a top-down in-the-round pullover, and then every few inches I tried it on, and then ripped out what I had knitted if I didn’t like how it was working, and then re-knitted it.  It went through a lot of changes. It had panels of lace, at certain times. The shaping grew and changed. I probably knitted the equivalent of three of these sweaters by the time it was all over. It’s so different from my original “design” that in fact, had I made it as first conceived in my imagination, there in the yarn store…it would have been a hat and mittens.

I even purchased the buttons with the brim of a hat in mind.  Get a look at these buttons, they’re one of my favorite parts:


In the spirit of “why buy it when you can make it yourself?”, these buttons are handmade by a local woodworker, from a stick.  I love how the wood is a different shade toward the center, and the raw bark edges.

Other features of this “design” include…

Continue reading

Pants, Pants, and more Pants

21 Feb

I don’t wear pants very often.

It’s not a rule, per se, or a thing that I do, intentionally, wearing only skirts (although I’m a great fan and admirer of the No Pants! blog.)

I just figured out a while ago that in all photos of me taken anywhere, I prefer the way I look in skirts and dresses to pants, and since then, I’ve tried out various theories, in the following progression of thought:
1) Pants are particularly difficult to fit on MY body, and I just need to find the right styles and stick to those.

(and I drew this little sketch to illustrate it.)
2) I’m actually not really sure how to fit pants, and many of the ones I buy simply don’t fit very well, and I just squeeze myself into them, not knowing the difference, having quite likely spent my entire life thus far in ill-fitting pants.

Continue reading

Life’s too short for “hum-drum”

19 Feb

This is my new kimono-styled jacket, made of fabric recycled from other garments I owned, and then chopped up into pieces:

I finished it yesterday, after a week of sewing, and today I wore it out and about into the world. A woman commented “You clearly have a very unique taste.” I laughed. “Unique”, along with its partner “interesting”, is one of those words non-crafters often use to politely say “Good god, what are you wearing?”
But this time, the compliment was sincere. The woman continued “You don’t see things like that, very often. Mostly you see the same old hum-drum grey and tan and black, over and over again.  It’s so nice to see a departure, for a change.”
My jacket is certainly a departure from the “hum-drum”, and making it has been a delightful, although sometimes trying, process.

Continue reading

The 30 minute jacket, a.k.a the Easiest Thing I’ve Ever Sewn.

22 Jan

I’d call it more of a “cardigan” or a “shrug” than a jacket, but I suppose it depends on what material one uses.

The design is from the publication Threads, and it’s free online, right over here.

I made it in a stretchy, snuggly black knit, and while it’s cozy as can be, it will probably photograph like a blob.

The oddest thing to me about this jacket instructions (I hesitate to even call it a “pattern”) is how many people get frustrated with the directions. I was thinking about this through the whole…uh, 13 minutes or so that it took to sew the two seams it takes to construct this jacket.  I think the problem is that we think about folding cloth the same way we do about folding paper. If I handed a sheet of paper to someone and said “fold this three times” it’s quite likely that they would fold it either lengthwise down the middle, width-wise down the middle, or from opposite corners, through the center.  Unless we are willfully iconoclastic, most of us think linearly and in a routine fashion, so even a set of directions as simple as “fold, sew” can go radically awry if the “fold” part doesn’t follow one of those three intuitive ways we’d all most likely revert to, when instructed to “fold this”.

So I wondered if I could explain this in a different way that might make it clear, illustrating the way I saw this in my head when I looked at the Threads diagram. (And maybe I can, or maybe I will wind up just confusing the issue further.)

Instead of letters and numbers, I’m color coding it. The colored lines are where you are going to sew: red to red, and blue to blue.

So you take a long rectangle (2 3/4 yards by 25″, but there’s room for variation in all directions) of soft, draped fabric. This softness is the key: your fabric will not fold like a crisp piece of paper!

You’re going to sew the red edge to the red line, and the blue edge to the blue line. That’s all: two whole seams, for an entire jacket/cardigan thing.

To make sense of how it turns into a cardigan, I’ve drawn in a humanoid (sort of) model, keeping the red and blue seam lines:

Your head goes in the middle, your hands go out the openings left at the top edge.  The bottom edge becomes both the back bottom as well as the left and right fronts, once they fold up.

Voilà, a cardigan in two seams. (A red one on your right arm, from those two red lines coming together, and a blue one on your left arm, from the two blue lines coming together.)

Easy. No pattern, no numbers, no letters, no measurements, even: a perfect project for beginners, or for haphazard people who like to wrap fabric around them, stick it in place, and wear it out of the house as if it’s the latest in designer fashion.

If you prefer directions with numbers and letters, I’ve made a version like that, too, as well as the secret to taking it from a 30-minute jacket down to a 13-minute jacket, the way I made it.

Continue reading

Haphazard knitting results

20 Jan

You know how some people, when they cook, they measure everything, and follow the recipe directions exactly? They put in a quarter teaspoon this, a half cup that?  And then some other people, when they cook, they just throw some salt in, and then some water, and if it needs a little more of something, well, they add a little more.

I’m like the latter, in both sewing and knitting. That’s what I mean, when I say I’m a “haphazard” handcrafter.  I make things up as I go along.  Sometimes I read only partway through the directions. Sometimes, I confess, I knit without even swatching. And sometimes, I admit, my results are questionable.

But I swear, sometimes I swatch, and I can’t tell the difference in the results!  Like the sweater I just finished this week. I swatched twice. Two swatches!  I even washed those swatches, and blocked them. But my sweater ended up too small just the same.


But I’m living with it. I realized it halfway through, of course. I had the option to rip back (weeks and weeks worth of knitting!) But no, I did not rip. I charged resolutely onward. “It’ll be form-fitting,” I told myself. “That’s a good thing, in a cardigan.”  “It’ll grow!” I decided, a week or two later. “Cotton always grows, after you’re done knitting it, and I hate saggy sweaters.”

So now it’s done, and I have to wait a few washings to see just how much, in fact, this thing is going to grow and sag…or if, in fact, it might always fit like some vintage sweater I found in a thrift shop and just had to have, regardless of the fact that it was three sizes too small. At any rate, I love the color, and I love the pattern (It’s “Que Sera”, from Knitty), and I love the sparkly crystal buttons that throw catchlights around the room when I wear it, and make it look even more like a vintage find.

And in preparation for my “handmade, only handmade” trip next week, I wore it with my “Marginal Skirt” from last week. Two halfway-great items, added together, equal great…of course they do.

One More Skirt!

16 Jan

Another long weekend, another skirt completed:

This one, I think, is a little better. I like the shape of it, straight through the hips and then with a little flare. It’s based on the skirt pattern from the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook. This time, I just copied the pattern pieces and then put it together myself, bypassing any potential confusion in the directions.

Between my rust handbag, my olive-green shift, and now this skirt, I have now depleted my stash of all corduroy fabric. But it’s such a good wintery fabric, I will relish wearing each of these items.

A Skirt of Marginal Success

9 Jan

I made a skirt this weekend.

 

 

I was taken by the beautiful angled folds of a skirt making the rounds on the internet, but when I tried to duplicate it myself at home, well…it took about six tries and even now there are things both objectively “wrong” with its structure as well as things I would change, creatively, if I was making it again.  It’s too hard to discern the deliberate folds from the accidental folds, for one thing. For another, the waist fits funny, and I suspect that’s just additional proof that you can’t make a fabric tube and have it fit a not-tube-shaped person. This is a lesson I’ve learned over and over, and while I’m pretty clear on the concept, I’m still not always sure about the remedy.  “Why” is easier than “how”, in this case.

The one thing I did learn, though, is that if I’m going to do an extreme pleated/folded project in fabric, it helps to visualize it first by folding a comparable strip of paper. I probably won’t be remaking this design, but I might try a different “folded” style design just for the fun of it, using a similar process.