Though I now think differently about the phrase “an apple a day will keep the doctor away” after reading Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire, I’m still a big fan of apples and likely eat close to an apple a day anyway. And, honeycrisp apples have become a favorite splurge this year. My husband and I will occasionally buy one and split it since they’re so massive. These fantastic apples inspired the most recent pattern released by Mari of Disparate Disciplines, the Honeycrisp Mittens, and I was lucky enough to be asked to help test the pattern before it was released into the wild.
When the pdf pattern arrived in my inbox, I read through the suggested fabric guidelines of “medium to heavy weight knits with 30% stretch” and began plotting my fabric choice based on what I had in my stash. I was hoping to use some old sweaters I’d saved for just such a purpose, but I realized that the box they were in was tucked too far back into our storage closet for me to reach. I gave up on trying to get to it since I can’t seem to lift or move much these days thanks to the baby belly! Next, I started thinking sweater knit and wool jersey. I had just received some of the latter from Mood Fabrics for my January MSN project, but I couldn’t bear to cut into it before I’d made sure I had enough to finish my actual garment. Finally, I turned to my scrap pile, and I found my answer right on the top. The leftover bits of silk jersey from my most recent twist dress would keep me decently insulated while also being super fancy. And, though they look demure when paired with my red jacket above, I decided to take advantage of their potential for super fancy by making them into arm-length mittens.
Ta da! Super fancy, super awesome mittens to keep me warm when wearing sleeveless dresses this holiday season.
I was pleasantly surprised with how the taupe background blended in with my skin, giving the appearance of black rings tattooed all over my arms. I wish I had enough of this silk jersey left over for leggings as well!
The mittens have a unique design that uses separate pieces for the front and back of the hand that twist together just below the palm to form one seam down the inside of the arm. The seaming gets a bit lost in my busy print, but you can see it if you look hard enough! The pattern instructions kindly show you exactly how to sew this complicated seam in one fell swoop. Honestly, these mittens come together in minutes.
The best part is that they have the option for using conductive fabric at the finger tips so you can use your fancy touch-screen devices without needing to take off the mittens! I didn’t have time to grab conductive fabric while testing the pattern, but some is currently on the way as a thank you for pattern testing from Mari. She has both black and gray available. I can’t wait to try it out when I make my next pairs!
The pattern comes in XS to 3XL. It took me longer to figure out how to grade the pattern between my long fingers, which required an L length, and my skinny little wrists, which required an S width, than it did to both cut and sew these mittens together. Figuring out the grading is totally manageable though, and it means you can make custom mittens for anyone if you know just a few of their hand measurements. Hello quick and easy holiday presents!
Mari has put together an awesome blog hop all week long to show off different versions of the Honeycrisp Mittens.
- Tuesday - Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow
- Wednesday - Brooke of Custom Style
- Thursday - Winnie of Scruffy Badger Time
- Friday - Amy of Sew Well
- Saturday - Rhonda of Rhonda’s Creative Life
I recommend you check them all out! Gillian and Winnie made the elbow length mittens, Brooke made the wrist-length mittens, and I made the full-arm mittens, so you can get a feel for all three lengths that come with the pattern. I’m not sure yet what version Rhonda made, but I’ll update this post with Rhonda’s actual post link when her mittens go live (for now you can still click through to her blog though). Winnie also tested the conductive-fabric pattern option when she lined her second pair. And, I have to say that I second Winnie’s feeling that the longest version of the mittens, the ones I made here, would be great for running. It often helps to have an extra layer on your arms when you begin a run on a chilly morning, and these long mittens would provide warmth for your hands and your entire arms. Once you’ve warmed up, you can either push the arms down or pull off the mittens entirely. I even mentioned this idea to Mari in my feedback since it seems to me she’s always making patterns that are secretly perfect for runners (see my take on her Avocado hoodies)! Thanks Mari!
You got a sneak peek of my newest make yesterday, or you may have gotten a full peek if you clicked over to my MSN post. It was fun to sew something for my darling husband. He’s been working so hard these days that he deserves a nice new shirt (or two – I already have plans for another!).
I’ve missed sewing with wovens the past few months. Everything’s been knits, knits, knits to accommodate my growing baby belly. So, when I came across Mood Fabric’s silk and cotton blend shirting while browsing their website looking for inspiration for my next garment, I knew I wanted to make it happen somehow. I liked that the silk in the blend gave it just that extra something and that the color was a natural ivory.
Before long I also stumbled upon Mood Fabric’s Stone/Cream Striped Woven, and I was struck by the idea of pairing the two together. In a men’s shirt. For my husband.
I loved the idea of a classic ivory men’s shirt with a bit of a twist, so I only used the stripe on the inside of the button placket and the inside of the collar stand.
I like that the stripe adds a bit of added interest.
Because the stripe ended up showing through the ivory shirting, I underlined the outer button placket and the collar stand with an extra layer of shirting to make them opaque. I only wanted the stripes to peek out at the top, not to be visible all the way down the front of the shirt. You can see the difference in the photo above between the underlined outer button placket and the non-underlined inner button placket. I’m really glad I added the underlining even though both the outer button placket and the collar stand ended up being a bit thick with their two layers of cotton shirting, layer of interfacing, and layer of striped facing. Thankfully, my machine stitched through everything just fine. Even the buttonholes were a breeze!
The pattern I used was my old men’s shirt standby – Butterick 4712. I first tackled this pattern a couple years ago during the Men’s Shirt Sew-Along hosted by Peter of Male Pattern Boldness. I’ve made it before in linen-and-silk and blue plaid flannel. Because it’s already been fit for my husband’s square shoulders, long arms, and long torso and because the collar and collar stand have already been adjusted so they’re not quite so 70s, the only tricky part was cutting the extra pieces for the striped facings.
To change things up a tiny bit, I tried a square pocket. One of these days I’ll get up the courage to try a pocket with rounded bottom edges!
A traditional sleeve placket (no stripes here!)…
…gathered cuffs, and a serged then folded under hem round out the details.
My husband has already worn the shirt to work – more than once in fact! – so I’d say it’s a success. I really like the ivory color on him, too. Even though I originally wanted to use the silk and cotton blend shirting for something for myself, I’m really glad my growing belly forced me to consider other options. It seems like sewing for men has become popular these days over at MSN. Just last Friday Threaded posted a men’s shirt, Male Pattern Boldness posted an amazing pea coat just prior to that, and Ginger Makes posted a men’s cardigan last month. I think it speaks very highly of Mood’s selection of fabrics – there’s something for everyone in their vast selection. Here’s to finding the time for a bit more men’s sewing this holiday season!
This post can also be found on Mood Sewing Network. I used my MSN allowance towards the purchase of the fabric.
I really missed sewing with wovens, so I dipped my feet back into the non-knit game with a new shirt for my husband. Check it out over on MSN if you want a sneak peek before it goes live here tomorrow!
About a year ago a friend and I tried to pick up knitting. She took to it pretty quickly and made it a decent way through a scarf, but I never made it past casting on and the first few rows of a knit stitch.
Maybe it’s the season, or maybe there’s something about having a little one on the way, but I recently decided to try to pick it up again. Sadly, I’d forgotten everything I’d learned last year. And, I hadn’t left myself any helpful notes or clues as to what I’d found helpful while learning the first time around in my only blog post about my efforts.
I decided that this time I’m going to walk myself – and, thus, all of you! – through my lessons as I go. That way if it’s another year before I pick up my knitting needles again, I’ll know where to start. Or, if any you are also feeling the urge to learn to knit, perhaps these notes and videos will help you, too!
Since I lost steam pretty quickly last time, I decided to start with a pattern this time so that I’ll have an end goal to keep me motivated. I’ve chosen a small project in the hopes that it will actually be achievable before I get distracted by the holidays or the impending arrival of the little one. What pattern did I chose, you ask? The Pixy Newborn Hat by Palak of Make It Handmade, which is a free online pattern. It seems easy enough – cast on, knit two purl two for the brim, and then knit, knit, knit for the bulk of the hat.
So far, I’ve made it through the brim, plus a little extra. Here’s how I got where I am:
First, I needed to find the loose end of the yarn from the skien of Lion Brand Yarn in a lovely (and what I’m considering gender neutral!) charcoal color that was kindly gifted to me by a good friend back when I lived in the Bay Area. I used this video to find the start of the yarn:
This method seems pretty simple, just pull from the center, not from the side. Although maybe it was just my inexperience, but I had to pull quite a lot from the center to find the start of my yarn. I ended up making quite a mess! Are there better ways to prep yarn? I’ve seen a lot of yarn balls out there, but if the yarn pulls nicely from the center of the skein once you get it started – and it seems to based on where I am now in my knitting, I’m not sure why you’d want to go through the extra effort to wind a yarn ball. Any advice out there from the knitters?
UPDATE: I’ve now heard a few times in the comments that pulling from the middle tends to make a huge tangled mess when the skien collapses after there’s too little yarn left in the middle to hold it together. Good to know!
Next, I needed to cast on 40 stitches. I watched a few different videos, but here’s the one I ultimately followed to learn how to cast on:
Other videos used one needle and a long tail, two needles and an entirely different way of handling the yarn, and more. Is there a best method? Or, are there just a variety of different methods with everyone preferring their own particular style?
Now, I’m hoping to make a hat, not a scarf, so I needed to knit in the round. I’m choosing to use double-pointed needles because they’re what I had, and right now I’m trying to keep new supplies to a minimum. I’m not sure how well I’ll take to knitting, especially considering I haven’t touched it in nearly a year! Plus, I’m still trying to finish up a few projects from my last job, which means I’m working for free these days and only bringing in a small paycheck based on tutoring and other small jobs I’ve been able to pick up in my spare time. Couple that with a new baby on the way, and you get a tight budget!
So, anyway, double-pointed needles it is for now. After I cast my first ten stitches onto my first double-pointed needle, I paused and followed this video to add a second double-pointed needle:
I then cast on another ten stitches, added a third needle, and repeated until I cast on all 40 stitches.
But, at that point I still had a long stretch of cast-on stitches, not the loop that I wanted. I found this video helpful for creating the join between the first cast-on stitch and the final cast-on stitch:
Next, because I wanted to make version of the hat with the cute little hem band, I needed to learn how to knit two knit and two purl stitches for the first several rows. Here’s a video I found that shows how to knit two, purl two:
The trick for me was learning to pull the thread to the back before beginning each set of knit stitches and then pulling it to the front before beginning each set of purl stitches, each time making sure not to loop the thread over the needles in any way that would create an extra stitch. I can’t tell you how many times I started over because I just couldn’t get it down before watching this video.
Now that the hem band has been completed, it’s just a matter of knitting the knit stitch for a total of 35 rows. Oh, yes, and then stitching up the top, but we won’t go there yet! Except, maybe it is just my inexperience, but doesn’t it look like there’s some other type of stitch at the edge of the brim? Maybe a row or two of pure purl stitch? Anyway, even if there is, I’m just a teeny bit past that now and don’t have the courage to go back and try to change anything unless I find some sort of major mistake. A bit of brim trim that no one will even know should be there in the first place does not currently count.
Anyway, wish me luck! And, let me know if you are inspired to learn to knit along with me, or if you already know how to knit but have better resources than the ones I’ve posted here. I’m all ears!
Wow. You guys had a lot to say about my last muslin. Thank you so much! And, even though many of you said to save the fabric and stick to knits right now, I’m going to side with the folks who said, “Go for it! Make that dress out of a fabric you’re excited about!” But, not without modifying it first. Some of the modifications I was planning on doing anyway, but some of them were taken straight out of your suggestions. So, thank you!
I made the change to the shoulder seam, and I was surprised to realize that it didn’t fix the gapping. So, I pinched out what will be an invisible dart (a dart that goes from one seam to another, which means you can just fold it our of your pattern), and it did the trick. But, these two fixes brought the front center empire waist seam up a lot. So, I’ll need to add length there in the final dress.
I also sewed the side seam with a teeny tiny seam allowance, and I do think it helped the drag lines from the bust to the side seam, but I don’t like how it also pulled the empire waist seam out from my body. Part of the pulling might have to do with the fact that that seam is now too high, as I mentioned above. But, I’m thinking about adding to the bust pleats to increase the amount of fabric across that area instead of adding a lot to the width of the empire waistline.
I changed the dress pleats into gathers, and I really like the effect (ignore the poorly sewn together seam though!). For the final dress I plan to add many, many more inches to the width of the dress since I think the voile will handle the excess gathers nicely (just like it did for my Saltspring maxi dress), and I think it will also help the dress continue to work with my growing baby belly.
I also released most of the pleats in the back, and it seemed to help a lot with the comfort of the dress through that area. The dress now has more of an A-line shape as a whole, but I think it works better with all the gathers at the front and with my belly. I can always sew down the pleats whenever I decide I no longer have need for maternity wear.
Finally, I think I’ll just go with plain sleeves, probably in a shorter length (maybe something similar, or even a bit shorter still, to my Alma blouse - I do love my Sewaholic patterns!). A shorter, three-quarter length or so sleeve works really nicely for me since I find it to be so transitional through the seasons. Plus, if I ever decide I just want this to be a summery dress (it is voile after all!), I won’t feel so badly about wasting fabric if I were to cut the sleeves into little cap sleeves.
And yet another picture of the baby bump. One more week is in the books. Thirty-two down, eight to go!
- Pattern: Simplicity 2145
- Fabric: FineFabrics.com Emerald and Purple Cross-Dyed Voile
Friday, November 22nd
I am taking full advantage of my current life as unemployed scientist, enthusiastic seamstress. It’s just after 1:30 pm as I close down my computer, dimming the science paper I’ve been trying to write for months (years, really!). I grab my jacket, scarf, and camera, and I hop into my car. I am headed to the part of Seattle called Fremont in search of a new-to-me and relatively new-to-Seattle fabric store called District Fabric. The reason behind the early end to my “work” day: Maris of Sew Maris.
(That’s her above! Doesn’t her love of sewing just radiate off of her?!)
Maris is coming all the way over from her home and studio in Bellevue so that we can finally meet and so that she can introduce me to one of Seattle’s fabric gems. I am beyond excited.
I arrive at District Fabric a few minutes before Maris and get a chance to browse the store. I am more than pleasantly surprised. The space is the perfect size for its selection of well-curated fabrics. I find that there’s just enough fabric to suit most any project, but not so much to be overwhelming. As I browse on one side of the room, I keep stealing peeks at the two gentlemen pulling colorful bolts from the center aisle, all the time wondering what they were up to with all that color!?
Once Maris arrives, the conversation flows easily. Eventually, we also pull Ashley, the owner of District Fabric, into our chatter. (Ashley’s the one on the far right in the first photo, Maris is in the center, and I’m on the left.) We discuss all sorts of things – what Maris’s students are sewing, why I should join the Seattle branch of the American Sewing Guild (I already knew I wanted to, thanks in great part to reading about it on Maris’s blog earlier this year, but I hadn’t yet done anything about it – I blame being new to the area and getting ready to have a baby, but, really, I know it’s silly to keep putting it off!), what it takes to start a fabric store, what we could do to get something awesome going with the Seattle sewing community, and more.
Maris has to run off to a sewing lesson, and I’m left with Ashley and a store full of fabrics. I have long since realized I’m going to leave with something new – it’s just a matter of what.
As I look back over the store, the bolts of sequins fabric really stand out to me as something not only fun and perfect for a dress for the upcoming holiday season but also a great new-to-me challenge. I quiz Ashley on how exactly she would go about sewing something covered in sequins, and I decide it doesn’t seem that bad. I happily commit to this minty-coraly ombre knit covered in clear sequins.
I pay my bill, but I don’t seem to be leaving. I just can’t stop chatting! Finally, I throw my new fabric into my bag and take my leave with the promise to myself that I’ll make more of these little meet ups happen.
Here’s to having just the right amount of sparkle during the upcoming holiday season, to making new friends, and to getting out and exploring this new city I call home!
Okay, I’m going to brave posting pictures of my muslin since I’m curious about your input. Here is Simplicity 2145 straight out of the envelope in a size 10, although I left most of the length in the front pleats unsewn. I would typically cut a size 8, but my body has changed a lot these past few months from the pregnancy. Now, can we pause for a second right here? If you’ve been following along for awhile, you’ve probably realized that I don’t have any other kids – this pregnancy is my first. While I’m excited for why my body is changing, I’m also having a tough time watching all of my measurements creep up. My bust and my waist were the first to go, and now my hips are also gaining in circumference. It’s just that I’ve had the same measurements for so long, and now I look down and I don’t recognize anything! Then I see a little heel or elbow or something push out from my belly, and I really start to wonder what kind of alien has taken over! No, really, the whole thing is pretty magical, but this past week of working in a woven fabric has really brought to my attention just how much my body has changed. And, I’ll admit there’s been a small amount of panic over whether I’ll ever see my old body again. I’m sure it’s okay if I don’t; it’ll just take time to get used to the new me.
Now, before I begin to express my own opinions about the fit of this muslin, I wanted to first remind you of the fabric the real dress will be made in. It’s a soft and supple cross-dyed cotton voile, so it’s much more forgiving than the stiff muslin I’ve used for this toile. I took another photo of the fabric this week that shows off the cross dye on the corner where last week‘s untreated swatch was cut. I hadn’t noticed how cool it looked with the purple threads come off one side and the emerald off the other until I was laying the fabric out to give it a good press.
Now on to the fit of the muslin. Let me start by reminding you I am no expert in fitting. If I were, I’d probably be cutting my fashion fabric right now instead of writing this post! No, I’m just beginning to learn how to assess different issues, and I imagine I’ll still be learning years from now as well! That’s why I’m turning to you. If you see things I don’t see, or disagree with things I do see, please speak up! I’d love to hear your opinion.
My initial reaction was that this muslin was not so bad. There’s enough fabric in the skirt portion to expand around my belly, and overall everything seemed pretty decent. The most obvious fitting issues to me were the small amount of gaping at the neckline and the drag lines pulling from the empire waistline to the side seams.
But, before starting to mess with any of those issues, I tried to channel all the little lessons I learned in Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit Craftsy class. First up: the shoulder seams. And, would you believe it – the front shoulder seams seemed to be pulling a bit forward at the neckline. In the photo below, the top of my shoulder (as my husband and I saw it!) is marked in blue. You can see that while the shoulder seam meets the blue line pretty closely at the sleeve, there’s at least a centimeter difference at the neckline. Lopping the difference off the back bodice seems to do the trick to bring the shoulder seam up to where it should be. Then, without making any changes to the front, the front of the neckline is tightened up since it is pulled that centimeter or so tauter when sewn to the new back.
That said, I’ve never had this large of a bust before. Is the shadow running from the shoulder to the side of my bust in the first and third photos in this post indicative of needing more adjustments in that area? I was just planning on adding a little extra to the side seams from the bottom of the armhole down to my hips (which I’ll discuss more below), but I figured I’d at least throw out the possibility of potentially needing to do more bodice adjustments just to see what you all thought. Though I remembered to add the grain line to the bodice pieces (and both the grain and cross grain lines to the dress pieces), I forgot to add the horizontal cross-grain lines to both the front and the back bodice pieces, which means I can’t follow Lynda’s method of determining fit through this region. Perhaps forgetting those cross grain lines this time means I’ll always remember them in the future!
Next up: the pleats at the top of the front dress portion. Though I was hoping to keep at least the top of the pleats so that I could quickly sew down their entire intended length when I want to turn this dress back into the non-maternity dress it was meant to be, I don’t think even the tiniest hint of the pleats work for my belly. There’s just too much pulling going on from the top of each of the pleats to the side seams. My current plan is just to gather the dress to the waist instead to help more evenly distribute the fabric.
And, though the dress zipped up just fine, I plan to sew the side seams with a smaller seam allowance from the bottom of the sleeve to the hip since I think a bit more ease through that area will help things out a bit. Going down to a 3/8″ seam allowance will give me 1″ extra all around. I hope that’s enough, though now that I think about it, a safer bet might be to actually widen the dress through that region to give me plenty of fabric in case I end up liking even more ease. What do you think – will 1″ extra be enough?
I think the back looks pretty good. All the marked grain and cross-grain lines seem straight (though, just as with the front, I forgot the cross grain lines on the back bodice). I also think the extra ease I’m already planning on adding through the midsection of the dress will help erase any snugness in that region of the back as well.
Now, one final decision: the sleeves. The long sleeve pattern pieces come with these tuck-pleat details right near their hem. I can’t decide whether I like them or not. They’re kind of fun, but they’re also kind of weird – at least in the muslin. And, I’m having trouble imagining how it’ll look in the voile. I could just pin or baste them into the voile to check before stitching them up, but if I don’t like them, I’ll probably want to narrow the sleeves the amount they’re narrowed by the tuck in the pattern, which means some extra work down the road in the voile. What do you think? Are the tuck-pleat things a plus?
Now one last photo from the side to show off my ginormous belly. I can’t believe it has to get even bigger than it is now before the baby is due!
- Pattern: Simplicity 2145
- Fabric: FineFabrics.com Emerald and Purple Cross-Dyed Voile