Friday, July 27, 2012

Dress Re-Fashion

Over the past couple of summers, I documented here my attempts at learning how to solve my fitting issues.  I thought I had it figured out last summer and was looking forward to making more clothes this year.....and then I went and lost weight!  Many of the dresses were princess seams and just don't alter easily in the bust.  I haven't had much time for sewing this year, but I did have a couple dresses I bought to be refashioned.  Even though I had two in pieces already, I grabbed a third to work on, thinking it would be an easy change up.  Some of it was, some, not so much.
 These two pictures are the before pictures, from last summer.   I don't have the collar done up in that picture, sorry.  Really, except for the neckline and the sleeves, it doesn't look a whole lot different.  Since the dress pretty much fit me last summer (the upper bodice was a bit too long), taking it in to fit the new me doesn't make the new pictures look radically different, LOL.

First I took off the neck and opened the shoulder seams.  I did that because I thought I might not need to take the back and the front in different amounts---last year I seemed to need to adjust my shoulder seam location a lot.  Turns out I could take it in evenly, and it was mostly the outer part of the shoulder--but since I was narrowing the shoulders and moving the armhole inwards, the bodice length adjustment wasn't really needed.
I altered the side seams and princess seams next.  The button band was straining just a smidge, so I let the princess seams out just a touch on both sides (1/8 of an inch on each side of two princess seams adds up to an additional 1/2" across the bust, and I was able to leave the serging on the edge--it had been serged with a 4 thread, so I did my new seam along the right thread and clipped out the left thread). 

The neckline was the next thing that needed changing.  I wasn't sure what I was doing, so I started by re-topstitching the collar stand.  However, that left a button at the top, on the stand, and below it, a peek a boo hole.  A little too fussy for me.  I tried leaving it open, but it looked messy.  Eventually, I ripped out the stitching, folded it in and topstitched the facing and front to make a V neck.  I couldn't figure out how to work the stand in though.  So I took it off and used it sort of like bias binding around the back of the neck where there was no facing to use.  Much better.
Okay, I know I look miserable here, but I wasn't, honest.  Next I had to tackle the sleeves.  I had to re-open the top of the side seams a little since I thought sewing the sleeves in flat would work easiest.  I didn't know what to do with the newly created extra ease at the top of the sleeve head.  I stitched the sleeve in, matching the armhole up to where the notches would be on a commercial pattern.  Then I gathered the top.  That was 1980s icky.  I took out the gathered section and made an inverted pleat.  It's okay, but too pouffy.  I need the width at the hem of the sleeve, but not at the top.  I might just make a seam up the middle. 

On to the back.  I wanted to keep the details, but the elastic under the doubled ....loops needed replacing to pull the back in more.  I didn't want to remove the four buttons and the loops to take in the back seams, but I do think that would have really improved the back fit.

I kept the length and slits.  I like how I look all school teacherish when I'm standing still and then shazam!  Some leg pops out.  It's not quite a floor duster maxi (which I don't like anyway), but still long.  Maybe next summer I'll hem it shorter.

It's not my most favourite dress, but it fits.  That's the priority right now when it's been super hot and most of my shorts don't fit either!  Sorry I don't have any more pictures, but I wore it to "Movie in the Park" and that's not somewhere I really want to take pictures at, LOL.  Next time I wear it I'll get more pictures :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Squared Again

Yup, it's another square crocheted blanket.  Again, in the Giselle yarn from Sears.  This one had two different dye lots, but I don't think you can tell.  Not much to say about these now, LOL.  Used a 10mm hook for the whole thing.  Machine washed it, even though the label says handwash.  However, there was a lot of shedding!
  It's a lot darker than this picture shows, rich shades of pinks.
Yarn In:  13 966gr
Yarn Out:  259gr + 12 008= 12 267gr
Balance:  1699 gr more In than Out
Costs:  $306.30/213 days = $1.44/day

Another Water Bottle Holder

I thought I'd give making another water bottle holder a try, again to be reversible, and this time to use some aluminum backed foam sheeting I got at JYSK (a cheap, smaller version of IKEA).  The aluminum mat is showed as a sleep pad, it's like what's inside lunch boxes.  The pattern called for batting, which I hadn't used in the first few, and I thought I could use it instead.  I wasn't sure about sewing through it, but the pattern doesn't have you sew through the batting on the side seam anyway.  It's thin, but I didn't want the bulk.

I used some left over scraps from a dress I made a few years ago when I was learning how to do the FBA.  The dark turquoise is from a pair of girls' pants that came from a friend of my MIL.  It's not actually as dark as in the picture; it's quite bright.  I used the pant hem around the top and didn't want to stitch through it  when joining the print, so that's why there's a border.  I had to do a seam in the strap, but oh well.  I keep having this issue where I cut the strap the full width, instead of cutting two straps, each 1/2 the width.
In the end, I couldn't get my aluminum backed foam in between the layers.  I didn't think about needing more ease to allow for that.  Then, I used the foam to wrap hot dogs in Lucy's camp lunch and she says they weren't warm at lunch time.  So, I don't hold much  hope for it.  And anyway, the aluminum is on one side only; once reversed, then the foil is on the other side (hidden between the layers).  One way it would be reflecting the outside heat, the other way it would be reflecting the bottle's temperature.  Would that matter?  I also like how these holders are squishable for packing.  With the foam in them they wouldn't be quite so squishy.

I really like this holder, though I do think the wool ones keep the water  colder!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bill King Bolero #2

Finally, I'm giving up on getting a good picture of my Bill King Bolero that I made for myself.  I'm not sure what the issue is!  The first pictures I took were over a light beige dress.  I thought it looked good, until I looked at the pictures.  Too much contrast (though it showed the design details).  Then I tried over a brown top.  Hid the stains on the t-shirt well, but not very good for getting photos of.

I used two of the Forsell 2ply that I got at the Peterborough seminar I went to in early May, and one strand of probably the oldest cone I have in my stash (well, the one that I've had the longest), of a 1ply boucle.  The boucle is a cool dark brown, and the Forsell is a warm brown which really fuzzed up when washed.  I think I got gauge with this combo.

 I started the sleeves with 20 groups of 3, I think, but the sleeves are still quite floppy and loose.  That's why when I did the next one--the white one I gave to my niece--I started with even fewer.

 Yes, that's my man hiding behind the cardi.
I knew I had taken a close up of the original swatch, to show how the colours blended and the texture, but I can't find it.  The sun washed this photo out too much.  The cardi is quite warm, despite weighing nothing, due to the 2ply wool.

I'm not getting any more machine knitting done, since the machines are in the basement and the kids haven't been down there in the past couple weeks.  I have been doing some sewing--refashioning some dresses I bought last summer.  And another crochet square baby blanket, and a pair of handknit socks are on the needles.  I really need to plow through both my fabric and my yarn stash!

Yarn In:  13 966gr
Yarn Out:  11 821+ 187gr = 12 008gr
Balance:  1958 gr more In than Out
Costs:  $306.30/209 days = $1.46/day

Friday, July 13, 2012

"True Tracy Design"

First off, is anyone having trouble coming to my blog?  I added a thingy for the MKing web ring, and sometimes when I click on my blog, it's coming up with the webring page instead.  Let me know.

I decided I wanted a water bottle holder.  I'm tired of carrying my big purse just so I can jam my bottle in.  I'm tired of carrying the other kids' bottles.  I'm tired of not having my water because I had no way to carry it easily.  I saw on that she had made a water bottle cozy from a sweater sleeve.  I had somewhat forgotten this when I embarked on my design, but I did use a sleeve.  The sweater had a weird folded back cuff that I had to deal with.  I just used my limited design skills to design a cylinder with a folded down, to the outside, casing for a strap.  I cut a strip off the bottom of the sweater because it had a nice design, folded it over, and also added two additional plain sections that I thought I needed for length, and I thought they'd be hidden in the casing.  Then I made a second one, using the other sleeve.

Well.  Issues galore.  I worried about the strap stretching, and it did.  Big time.  It also pulled up over the bottle, and just looked bad.  You can see that I had just knotted the straps because I wasn't sure about length, stretching, and if maybe sometimes we'd want to tie them to something, or if someone of a different size was using it.
I went back to the Resweater blog and looked at her's.  Well, she didn't have a strap.  Meg then asked for her own, but didn't like any of the sweaters available.  I knew I had to do some googling.  I found a tutorial for a reversible holder.  That would work with sweaters, although I started with sweatshirt material and hot pink fleece for Meg's.
Things started out great.  Then I went to sew the circle on the bottom.  On mine, I had kept the sleeve seam, so I just had to sew the circle on.  I just traced around the bottom of the bottle to figure out the size.  This tutorial has you do (easy) math to make the circle, which worked well.  But then you sew the circle to the flat rectangle before the side seam.  It doesn't really explain how to do this well.  You have to leave 1/4" flap at each end, of the rectangle.  Yeah, not the easiest thing to line up.  As I was almost done sewing on the circle, I had a thought...did I sew it to the right edge of the rectangle--one side was 9", one was 9 3/4", and which was which?  Luckily I had sewn it to the right end!  I made a mental note to always check that.  Then it came time for the straps.  I was skipping the steps with the batting, so I got a little confused...I really don't think the tutorial is written well.  I had this white webbing from a "SSC" (soft structured baby carrier) I was going to sew.  Perfect for this project.  But the tutorial doesn't say how long to make the strap!

 I wasn't sure how it would be reversible, but it worked!  So, I set about trying to re-work the sweater ones  I made.  This was a bit more challenging, since I didn't want to/couldn't undo the sleeve seam.  I also snipped a small hole in the sleeve on the left, so I did a little applique from a piece of the sleevehead--I wouldn't be able to use that part of the sleeve for other projects since it's a set in sleeve.  And, when I was trying to figure out the size of the inner piece, I snipped it, instead of getting a marker, and it turned out to be in the wrong spot.  Just a little snip, once I had it all together, I put some Fray Check on it.
For the bottle on the left, I used a polyester top that I had sewn and never liked so I hadn't really finished it.  For the strap, I cut the neck ties off the shirt, and top stitched them on the original wool strap (shortened).  For the middle bottle, I used some blue/beige seersucker from the stash.  For the strap, I made a tube and thread the original wool strap into it (thereby obscuring the details that were on the original).  These two are not reversible...well they are, but they won't fit onto my water bottle if I reverse them.  It was hard to get the sizing right.  If I were doing this again, I'd slice open the sweater sleeve to ensure the two body pieces are the same size.  These carriers are much better than my original carriers, and I envision more to come.

The reason for the title....often when I make things, plan things, do things, I don't start with the easiest way.  I dive in.  Rob (my husband) often says " true Tracy design....." (or "fashion" or "style") when I'm doing something like this, in a way different than how he'd do it with his engineer brain.  Yet, even he acknowledges that it turns out in the end.  I'm thinking of this as my new "business" name  :)

Monday, July 09, 2012

Bill King Bolero #3

I'm going to show you the third Bill King Bolero that I made, before showing the second.  I haven't been able to get good photos of the second one yet :(  A while ago, I found two matching pillowcases at Value Village.  I knew one would make a nice pillowcase dress for Meg, and I knew Lucy would not want one to match, LOL.  But they have a cousin in the US who is about 7 months younger than Meg, and nearly as big as her.  Perfect!  They could be matchy, but they don't have to worry about showing up at the same time in the same outfit!  To go with it, a little girl needs a lightweight little white cardi!
This is the same (annoying) yarn that I made the "Kill Me Shawl" in.  I know every time I use it, I say I'm never using it again, but it is a HUGE cone.  I did do a swatch, not so much to accurately match gauge, but just to get an idea, LOL, and to see how it behaved.  Well, it biased.  I decided to throw caution to the wind anyway.  All I knew was that it would turn out smaller.  Not sure how much smaller....
 I had Lucy try on the Bolero to see how big it was, and she really liked it, and wants one for herself.  The cone is huge, so no problem (except for how much I hate the yarn).  Then, a few hours later, she asks if she can have it in any colour...
 Sewing this together was horrible.  The slubs in the yarn made using it impossible.  I had a white sock yarn, but it looked horrible next to the sweater.  I ended up using serger thread, doubled.  A tip for using thread to sew---double the thread, and tie a knot about 6" from the end.  Go into the first stitch, and take the needle back between the strands and pull tight so it pulls up to the knot...sorry, no picture...but then there's a 6" tail from the knot to the end to get woven in.  For the first seam, I had done the knot near the end, and I started the seam, and of course the knot pulled through...and then I had a little tiny tail that couldn't be woven in.
One thing I did to alter it was to start with 16 groups of stitches, knit 10 rows, then increase on the left side (the seam side) every other row until up to the 24 groups of sts, then knit 10 rows to get to the 70 rows.  On the last section, remember to knit 10 rows, then decrease on every other row, and end with 10 rows.

 I added some rick rack I found in my sewing desk, along the bottom and along the hem stitching line.  I had hoped to do more with the trim, but the satin ribbon I used for the straps....took up nearly the entire roll (for the two dresses).  I had some really narrow satin ribbon in the same colour, but I couldn't figure how I would sew it on.  For the rick rack, I did it the slow way...following the path of the zigs and zags, stopping at every point and raising the presser food and pivoting...took awhile, but I hope it stays looking nice!
 I didn't want to make the pillowcase dress that uses bias binding on the armholes and elastic on the neckline.  Something about them didn't sit right with me.  Plus, I would have had to go back to get bias binding.  However, I am having trouble when trying the shoulder straps.  I stitched the ribbon down at the center points of the front and back casings, so it won't pull out, but it makes it tricky to get both sides the same.
 I hope the bottom hem hangs straight in the back.  On the one I made for me, it dips upwards at the seam.
 Meg wore her dress to Grandma's today, and it got rave reviews.  I hope her cousin loves hers too!
Yarn In:  13 966gr
Yarn Out:  11 684gr+ 137gr =  11 821gr
Balance:  2145 gr more In than Out
Costs:  $306.30/196 days = $1.56/day

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Yes, another square crocheted baby blanket to donate.  I wrote back in the winter about getting bags of yarn and fabric from my mother in law's friend.  I used quite a bit when I made hats/scarves to donate.  There was quite a bit of a bulky acrylic (70%)-mohair (15%)-wool (15%) from Sears, in different colours.  The yarn is called Giselle and was made in Canada, probably by Patons.  It actually feels pretty good and the colours are nice, but a fuzzy, bulky yarn in pastel colours is not high on my list of desired yarn for garments.  I do have a pattern for a cute vest, which I think the girls would like, but I doubt they'd actually wear it.

 Anyway, it was a perfect choice for more of these crocheted square blankets.

This one is pale green, blue, and white.  I started with a 9mm hook but switched to a 10mm hook near the end.  I still have more of this yarn, I just stopped because it seemed big enough.

Yarn In:  13 966gr
Yarn Out:  11 361+ 323gr = 11 684gr
Balance:  2282 gr more In than Out
Cost:  $306.30/191 days = $1.60/day

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Some Ideas

I've been musing about the Bill King Bolero; about the issue with large armholes, but width and length are closely connected.  Most women don't like to wear square shaped tops, it's rarely flattering.  This isn't quite square, but close.  It could use a little length.  But adding length meant adding width.  And sometimes, we want more width but not more length.  How to do these adjustments?

I mentioned yesterday about doing a straight section to get more body length.  What I'm finding when looking at pictures of this being worn, is that the armhole is really long, especially on larger busted women.  But how to get extra width without extra length?  And how to get the width where we need it?  In another version of the bolero that I haven't posted yet, I did start the arm with fewer stitches and increased during the 70 rows, and that helps the arms.  But the armhole....

Then I couldn't sleep last night and started thinking.  The pattern calls for 4 rows for each group of needles.  The first version (which didn't live, since I had half the amount of yarn needed), I tried the suggestion of 6 rows, since Cheryl is a bit taller than me.  I felt the holes were a little large.  But what if you start out that first turn, doing two rows for each group, and when you get about 2/3 way across, switch to 4 rows.  THen, maybe for the last few groups, do 6 rows, but wrap the first two, so the hole is the same as the 4 row one.  This will mean there's fewer rows over near the armhole, and more rows going over the fuller part of the bust.  For the 2nd and 3rd turns, you can keep it at 4 rows.  Then, for the upper back, decide if you need more for the upper back too--some women have some padding on the upper back (often related to thyroid issues).  If you stick with the 4 rows, you might have to ease that shoulder seam...I'd have to take another look at mine.

I haven't swatched this yet; the kids are having a "spa day" and I'm quickly typing this while Meg has a mask on her face, LOL. I just wanted to get my idea out there and documented :)

Monday, July 02, 2012

Bill King Bolero

Ever had one of those weeks where you save money on something, and you're so happy, but then turn around and pay more than you should on something else?  It's been that sort of week.  Oh well.  I was at Michaels, and they had a new lot of that Starbella yarn so I picked up one ball in the turquoise colours so I could make that shawl I showed awhile ago.  How that affects my totals is at the bottom.

I've mentioned before that I'm not much of a "trend" knitter.  I've never knit a Clapotis, a Wingspan, a Koolhaus, or even a garter stitch dishcloth.  Early this spring, some knitters in a yahoo group were talking about a machine knit pattern and a picture was posted.  The pattern is "Bolero" by Bill King, and was in MKM Dec 2011 (MKM stands for Machine Knitting Monthly).  I decided to order the issue. 

NOTE--That issue sold out!  It was reprinted in April 2014 because there was such a demand!

There was lots of talk about the pattern, how to do it, how to adjust it, etc.  I was a little miffed that some of the basic info wasn't in the pattern.  There wasn't a good shot of the actual item.  The sizing?  "One size fits more, but can adjust with tension" etc.  There wasn't even a schematic.  The pattern called for 3ply yarn, but the other knitters had used 4ply.  Well, I'm not too familiar with 3 vs 4 ply yarns, although I do have some cones to compare.  I kept hesitating on starting--there was always something else more urgent.

Back on June 10 I held a big birthday party for my older brother.  It was so great to have nearly everyone together.  My just-turned-14 year old niece made herself right at home, leaving her clothes laying around after being in the hot tub.  My younger brother's girlfriend started chiding her and taking the clothes and putting them on.  She really liked a grey shrug that our niece had been wearing.  Bigger than a shrug, but not a cardi.  She asked me; jokingly but in a serious tone, if I could make her one, but "oh, I wouldn't need to since she had found this nice one just laying on the chair"...
 Of course, it took me about two days to realize that I HAD to knit her something.  In grey.  A little cardi for in her air conditioned office.  I thought instantly of this pattern, and dug in my yarn.  I found a darling charcoal grey alpaca that looked like it would fit the gauge.  I didn't swatch.  Yes, Diana, this was also before that striped top in the Panama :)  I thought I might do 6 rows between each group of short rows, as per a suggestion in the pattern, and got to work.  My first ball ran out before I had completed the first wedge.  I had 4 balls.  I thought, okay, I'll go back to the 4 rows, that should mean one ball per wedge (more on "wedge" later) would be enough.  It took me until laying in bed that night to realize that 4 wedges is only HALF the sweater.  You make it in two halves and seam it up the back (and under arms).
So, back to the basement.  I dug around, I searched the 'net.  I looked at other patterns and had nearly convinced myself to make one on the LK150 that was rated intermediate/advanced, but I'd have to order yarn, and had almost picked out some from knitpicks.....then I shook my head, reminded myself that this was an unsolicited, non-occasion, gift from me because I happen to be able to do things like this :)  I had this cone of the grey yarn, used it for the Eileen Montgomery shawl in my scarf project.  I wondered how many ends of it (2/24) would I need to equal 3 ply. 
 Well, wouldn't you know, I found the answer on Diana Sullivan's site (through Google), and then I found a chart in the back of MKM that also gave me the answer. LOL.  It would take two ends.  I wound off two cones, and rigged up a system with a coffee can so one cone was fed through the lid and up through the middle of the other cone, then the two yarns were thread through the mast together.  This spun the yarns together really nicely.  I made a swatch.  Washed it, steamed it, etc.  But um....I didn't write the info down....and I want to knit one for myself....I think it was T6....
I made it just as the pattern says, but with 4 "turns".  Doing a 5th turn creates points on the sides.   Some people like it, some people don't.  I sewed it all up, gave it a wash and steam to tame the curl.  I'm not sure how well that worked; the front edges roll in, but not like fresh stockinette.  The sleeves are very loose and do roll some.
But the jacket is so light and airy!  180 grams!  I actually got out of bed and went downstairs since Rob was dropping it off in the morning and I had forgotten to weigh it.  I also forgot to re-measure the gauge.  I have since made one in brown, and half of one in white....with modifications :)

So, my SIL loved it, and wore it to work, where her co-workers loved it.  It's a very simple piece, perhaps not too figure flattering to thin gals, but as long as you don't make it too big, it's actually not bad (and don't wear it over schlumpy clothes!). 
Something to keep in mind, there are no seaming sts accounted for.  In a pale, or smooth yarn, you might notice this.
I'm also wondering if it can be done with wrapping the last st, so you don't get the holes.  I like them on the front, but not as much on the back.
I also have plans to bead it along the sleeve edges, front edges, and lower edge.
I also realize that this is a nearly square gauge, so the same needle set up might work well for making a mitered square blanket that actually turns out more square.  So many thoughts going through my head after this one...

Yarn Out:  11 181+ 180gr = 11 361gr
Yarn In:  13866gr + 100gr = 13 966gr
Balance:  2605gr more In than Out
Costs:  $6.09 + $300.21 = $306.30/189 days =  $1.62/day