FO: Cattails Cardigan

Hello world! I have had family visiting so have been too busy to update this blog as I planned. I have a lot to share with you, including changes in my plans for the Outfit Along, a tutorial on side seam pockets, a few finished items and wardrobe sewing plans.

I'll start with the project I finished first: the Cattails Cardigan.

sweaters 037

A long time ago, in a small yarn shop not-so-far away, I bought a few balls of Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool. I love the rustic, lightweight nature of the yarn. I once knit a Leaf Lace Shawl with it and really enjoyed the fabric it created. I did not, however, purchase enough of the yarn to do something interesting with it, so it rusticated in one of my stash bins. Then, one fine day, I was perusing Ravelry and noticed a new pattern by Melissa Schaschwary for a striped, open front cardigan knit out of Silky Wool. It was the answer to my dilemma. All I had to do was buy a few more balls of Silky Wool in a contrasting color and I would be in business.

I am delighted with how this cardigan turned out. The fit is just right. The fabric has great drape and an interesting texture. The stitch pattern for the hem and front bands is subtle, but really pleasing.


There's only one problem. The colors of my yarn are more subdued than everything else in my wardrobe and I'm struggling to find things to pair it with. I really need a t-shirt in a good color to wear under it. II will NOT wear it out in public with the beige top pictured above. That color makes me look ghastly and/or like I'm nude under the sweater.  The layering top issue must be worked out stat.


Fabric & Yarn Decision for Outfit Along

There are so many wonderful options for dress and sweater patterns a person could choose for the Outfit Along, but sometimes, variety can be overwhelming. I'm taking the easy way out and will be using the suggested patterns for both the dress and the sweater.

As I've mentioned previously, the dress is Simplicity 1803, a pretty fit-and-flare dress with several neckline and sleeve options.

I will be making the bodice with the notch front. I'm wavering between the cap sleeves and the short sleeves. The cap sleeves might be the better choice since I'm planning on wearing a sweater over it and longer sleeves may add too much bulk. However, I love sleeves on dresses. They are few and far between in RTW, so I'm sorely tempted to put real sleeves on this dress.

I picked a pretty floral cotton from my stash. It's a little bit on the sheer side, so I'll be underlining the dress with cotton batiste.

For the sweater, I'll be knitting Andi Satterlund's new design, Myrna. it looks REALLY cute on her. My figure, however, is a bit different from hers, so I'm not sure how such a snug and cropped design will look on me.

It's a great design for trying out a new silhouette, since since it uses a worsted weight yarn and won't require an extraodinary amount of time to knit up. I could easily lengthen it, if I feel uncomfortable with the cropped length. However, I'm looking forward to trying out a new style for me.

dress2 003My favorite details is the little keyhole in the back. It's a nice surprise, which echoes the eyelets around the neckline.

I chose a pretty magenta yarn (Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran). I think it coordinates nicely with my fabric and 95% of the items in my closet. It's one of my favorite colors.


Part II - Princess Seam Bust Adjustments

In between soccer games, and TV marathons, I squeezed in some sewing time this weekend and made some progress on my Simplicity 1803 dress. I sewed up a muslin of the bodice after making the alterations I described in my previous post. I'm REALLY glad I took the trouble. You see, I generally sew a size 10 for bodices in Simplicity patterns. For this pattern, the measurements were off by one size. What's usually a 10 is a size 12. Once I had that figured out, it was smooth sailing!

My muslin showed that not only did I need extra width at the bust line, I'd need to lower the bust point of the pattern about one inch.  I've used a couple of different techniques to accomplish this in the past, but here's what I did this time around:
  1. I drew a line straight across the side front piece starting at the bottom of the arm hole and keeping it perpenidcular to the grain line. (red line)
  2. I then drew a second line parallel to the first and as far down from it as I wanted to lower the bust point. (green line)
  3. Next, I cut off a portion of the curve as shown by the blue line in the diagram above.sidefront02
  4. I moved this piece down until the red line on it matched up with the green line on the larger piece. 
  5. I taped it in place, making the front curve as smooth as possible. This did involve a little bit of scrunching of the pattern paper...not much, but a little.
It worked like a charm! I now have a bodice pattern that fits me just right.

dress2 008

Unfortunately, my mannequin doesn't fill out the bodice quite like I do, but I'm not about to model this skimpy semi-transparent piece for you. You'll just have to take my word on it!


Tutorial: Full Bust Adjustment on Princess-Seamed Bodice

Hi everyone! I'm really excited about a new sew/knit along I'm participating in called the "Outfit Along."  The goal is to knit one piece and to sew one piece that can be worn together. It's hosted by Andi of Untangling Knots and Lladybird. You can sew and knit whatever you wish, or you can use the suggested patterns. I'll talk about the sweater I plan on knitting later. 
Today, I'm going to talk about the dress, Simplicity 1803. It's a pretty fit-and-flare design. The bodice has flattering princess seams and several neckline variations.

Lladybird already wrote up some great advice about picking out appropriate fabric and some basics on choosing the right size. I wanted to expand on her advice a little. She notes that the Big 4 pattern companies typically build a lot of extra ease into their patterns and suggests looking at the flat pattern measurements rather than the numbers on the pattern envelope to get a better idea of how the garment might fit. That's very smart.

The amount of ease you find comfortable is a matter of personal preference. Lladybird says she prefers her garments to be very close fitting. I know I prefer a little breathing room in my clothes.

One of the best ways to figure out how much ease you like in a dress, is to put on a dress which you feel fits you well and then pull all the fabric fullness to one side and pinch it. If you can take a 1” deep pinch of fabric, then you like 2” of ease, etc. According to Fit for Real People (one of my favorite fitting books), a tailored-fit dress typically has 3-5” of ease at the bust and 2-3” at the waist/hips. A figure-hugging dress would have 0-almost 3” of ease at the bust.

  EASY enough, right? (pun intended)

Where it gets tricky for some of us is the bust area. The Big 4 Pattern companies typically design for a woman who wears a B cup. If your bust is smaller or larger than that, you may need to do a bust adjustment. I can't speak to the small bust adjustment, but I do know a little about altering patterns for a larger bust.

1. First, choose your size based on your upper bust measurement, not your full bust.

2. Next, trace out all of the bodice pieces for that size. For this pattern, you should have the side bodice, the front bodice, the back bodice and the front and back bodice facings.

3.  Start by altering the side bodice piece.


4. Measure 1" down from the armhole and draw a line across the bodice perpendicular to the grain line. Mark this line 5/8" from the side to indicate where the seam line will be, then cut across the red line from the front center to that dot. Next, clip in the seam allowance on the side, leaving a hinge at the dot.


5. Put a piece of scrap paper under your side bodice piece and then pivot the top part of the bodice up 1/2" for every cup size larger than B. I pivoted up 1" for a D cup.Glue or tape these pieces in place.


6. Draw a smooth curve at the opening and then trim away the excess.

7. Now you have to alter the bodice front so that where the two pieces join is equal in length.


8. Draw a line perpendicular to the grain line in the corresponding spot (same distance from the bottom of the front piece as where the cut was made across the side bodice).


9.  Cut along the red line.Glue/tape this piece onto a scrap piece of paper and extend the grain line upwards.


10. Draw a line perpendicular to the extended grainline the same distance from the top of this piece as the amount you opened up the side bodice. In this case, I drew my line one inch above the piece.


11. Glue the top part of the bodice piece onto the scrap paper aligning it with the grain line and the line you just drew.

12. Draw a smooth curve along the side and trim away any excess paper.


There you have it!  I hope that helps. Feel free to ask questions and I'll do my best to answer.

This method is described in Sandra Betzina's excellent book, Fast Fit. If you plan on doing a lot of sewing, I recommend picking up a copy of it!


It was a Piece o' Cake!


I'm really pleased with how my Tiramisu dress by Cake Patterns turned out! It's not too snug and it's not too loose. It's just right.


It swings when I walk and twirls like a dream. It's going to be wonderful for the warmer days ahead!

It's hard to see the print in the (blurry) photos above, but it's a French-looking print of birds and cages.


I like it. Kitty would like it better if the birds were real ;)

kitty 017

Deer & Doe Plantain T-shirt

I'm going to cut to the chase. I LOVE this top. The fit is great for me. The subtle feminine shaping makes me feel less schlumpy than mo...