Back When I Still Sewed: a Hit and a Miss

First of all, thank you for all your fabulous responses to my last two posts! Extra thanks to those of you who let me know about the Anne of Green Gables Knit and Read Along. A convergence of too many good things at once – I can hardly stand it! Of course I signed up right away. And you should too.

So way back in June (how is it September already?), I sewed some stuff. A lot of stuff, actually. I didn’t sew everything I wanted to sew, but I still sewed enough that I spent almost every day of a 4-week trip wearing at least one handmade item. (Some of it I blogged back in June). It was like sewing took the place in my life that is supposed to belong to knitting (though I did still manage to knit a sweater that month – not that I have yet managed either a photo shoot or a blog post about it). Now that time in my life seems a world away. Everything before Little Buddha’s accident seems to belong to a different world than the one I live in now. I haven’t touched my sewing machine since. That’s partly because I need to take it into the shop for repair (the stitch length adjuster doesn’t work. I get one length, all the time), and I have resisted doing it because I don’t want to be without my machine (though I haven’t used it for anything for more than 2 months now). But it’s also because knitting has taken its accustomed place in my life again. After the accident, knitting saw me through a lot of anxiety and grief, and now I can’t seem to put down the needles.

My study is still stacked with fabric I had planned to use for summer and fall projects, and I will get to some of them. Soon. I think. I hope. But for now, it is all knit, all the time. (Okay, not really. Because truthfully, there is another little hobby that has captivated me a wee bit lately, too. More about it another time.) I have been a bit astonished at the amount of knitting I’ve been doing (and the amount of Ravelry-based knit-plotting I’ve been doing). The Lace Leaf Pullover I cast on for 16 days ago? It’s done except the grafting (which I hope to do tonight). That’s like some kind of record for me (both in terms of project finish time and in terms of knitting monogamy). But I have these few sewing projects to show still, so show them I will.

Warning: in my haste to get these babies blogged already, I pulled off the most ridiculously quick photo shoot yesterday, complete with totally wrinkled everything. I just grabbed up all these things in whatever state I found them and put them on, in whatever state I found myself in, and went to shooting.

Enough freakin’ buildup already, right? Without further ado (could there be anymore ado?), here’s my poorly-executed wrinkled beach wrap:

pattern: Sew What? Skirts Breezy Beach Wrap
fabric: super-cheap cotton beach print from Hancock’s going-out-of-business sale ($2/yd)
made: one afternoon in June
modifications: I wanted this to be a long straight skirt rather than a short A-line, so I made those adjustments. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it nearly as long as I meant. I wanted another 5 or 6 inches. Note to self: measure twice, cut once.
verdict: Like the idea better than its incarnation. I didn’t wear this at all at the beach (or elsewhere). Maybe if it had been as long as I meant. Also I made it too big in the hips. Also the pattern has you overlap the back pieces and tie in front. I prefer my wraps to overlap in front, but that means this one ties in back. Next time (if there is one), I will make the ties much longer, so I can overlap in front and still tie in front. This will probably get relegated to the scrap pile for the fabric to be harvested for some other beach project, some other time.

Next up, my usual Built by Wendy Simplicity top.

pattern: Simplicity 3835
fabric: gauzy, crinkly white cotton from JoAnn
made: one day in June
modifications: none
verdict: I really love this top. It is so simple (not just to make, but to wear – I like a nice simple look, especially for summer). It is so cool and summery. It has become my “go-to” top when I want to be comfortable but look both casual and pulled-together. White cami, white gauzy top, dark blue jeans, black sandals, I’m done. This top is a great alternative to a t-shirt. It’s just as comfortable, but not as clingy.

These pictures really don’t do it justice, thanks to my hasty photo shoot. But you get the idea. If you are thinking of taking up sewing and want something super-simple to start with, I cannot recommend this pattern highly enough. It gives a huge bang for the buck.

In a previous post of tops from this pattern, someone asked for any tips I might have for a beginner sew-er making this top. I am really a sewing novice myself, so there may be others out there with better tips than I have. But here’s what I’d say:

  1. Choose a thin or sheer cotton fabric. This pattern can look a bit boxy otherwise. (A way to combat that would be to add darts in the back, but a true novice might not want to try that yet). This version, in this gauzy cotton, has been my favorite of the three I’ve made.
  2. Check the finished measurements for the sizes, rather than going by the size the pattern recommends for your personal measurements, and choose how close you want it to fit. Patterns typically build in more ease than I really want in my clothes. For this top, I ended up going down two sizes from what it recommended based on my measurements.
  3. Do not be afraid of the elastic, but do be prepared for it. The elastic is what makes this top easy – it means you don’t have to sew a real neckline or set in the sleeves. But elastic can be a bit frightening for a beginner. Just follow the directions and you’ll be all right, but do make sure you have a way of threading the elastic into the casing other than just your finger (I’ve tried that – it doesn’t work so well). You can buy something called a “bodkin” that is meant to help you thread elastic into casings, but I just use a safety pin. I attach it to one end of the elastic and then thread the pin into the casing first. Then I can feel where the pin is through the fabric, and I just sort of push and pull the pin along till it comes out the other end.
  4. Do not try to take a short-cut on the hems. Do it right and do a double-fold hem (fold 1/4″ and press; fold another 1/4″, press, and stitch). I have done short-cuts on these tops and it has left me with a frayed mess at the bottom – and it does show.
  5. Speaking of doing things “right” – do take the time to press your seams open.

So there ya go, some sewing tips from a gal who hasn’t touched the machine in almost three months. I still have 5 more unbloggged FOs to show from June, but since I apparently can’t show pictures without adding several paragraphs of text for each shot, and since this post is already ridiculously long, I’ll stop there.

[In other news, my Sockapalooza Pal, Kristin of Spinning Athena, got her socks and they fit and she seems to like them! (I’m blogging this way late, I realize, but she did get them on time – phew!). I really loved knitting the Waving Lace socks for her, and am happily knitting myself a pair as well. For a beautiful silk version of this pattern, check out Rachel’s.]

8 thoughts on “Back When I Still Sewed: a Hit and a Miss

  1. Like them? I LOVE them! I’m keeping them on my dresser so I can make sure they don’t make a hasty escape back to you before I can wear them.

    Also? You have the most awesome hair EVER. I’m so jealous.

  2. I had no idea there was an AOGG knit and read along. Hmmm. I don’t know if there’s a point to me reading along since I’ve read every book L.M. Montgomery ever wrote, plus her journals, about a zillion times, although most frequently the Emily series (not because my name is Emily) but I’ll need to think about projects mentioned in the book that are knitted besides Emily’s hated striped stockings.

  3. bravo on all these gorgeous projects!! i must try that built by wendy top. i really love it and before long summer will be over and it will be too late 😉

  4. I love the white top! I just bought some patterns last night, but I didn’t see any tops I liked that truely looked easy. I have some white gauze that I had bought for making baby carriers/slings! I also have some beige, but I think I sliced it in half so it’s probably too narrow. I’m going to write that number down and stop by the fabric store tonight!
    I never got into L.M. Montgomery, but I do love PEI, and I live in an area of Ontario that has several connections to her.

  5. I’m looking for your other posts of this top. I’m glad to read that I should look at the finished measurements. It’s a bit of a stunner when you’re used to buying size 12 in ‘ready-made’ clothes, but you need a 18/20 for a pattern!! And most of the patterns cut off at 18 but I’m just a tad bigger 😦

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