Sewing success from a knit failure

Nothing to post yet on my efforts with my OAL Dress…. lots of interuptions to regular sewing !! But I’ve had some pictures ready to post with a while so here we go….
I’ve mentioned before that I own a pretty old Knitting Machine which I’m slowly teaching myself to use.   I have even made something very wearable!.  But before that there were quite a few wtf pieces that will never see the light of day ( or blog!).   But there is one such piece I am prepared to share, since I managed to salvage the remains!


I had gone all creative making a dropped stitch design on the front piece and using some black yarn on the back piece.  Here’s the before picture:

red jumper lge

wonky geansai – not even slightly wearable


The neckline is a mess, the hem is a mess, it hangs away from the body stiffly and the sleeves were pretty gross too!!

close up red jumper

oh dear…


I made alot of beginner mistakes on this one.  First up I didn’t make a swatch…. Big Mistake! I ended up with a sweater that was stiff instead of draping nicely.   I had knit it too tightly, but thought it would soften up in the wash.  It didn’t.

I also misjudged the sizing, so ended up with sleeves that were too wide at the top and just looked ugly. The neckline doesn’t bear mentioning, it was just wrong! But because I tried to fix my sweater by taking the sewing machine to the seams ( yep bad idea) I couldn’t unravel the yarn to be re-used.

I know…. a real learning curve ha!

I follow a great blog that has lots of info on sewing with sweater knits call Crafting Fashion.  The designer Olgalyn Jolly knits the most beautiful sweater fabric that she sells online.   So with a little courage that it might work , and knowing there was little to lose at this stage, I went for broke and cut it up to use as fabric…….!


I then cut apart a childs sweatshirt to use as my pattern ( it was stained beyond saving ).   It was a case of Bye Bye Kitty…..

cutting frnt

cutting sleeve

Using the sweatshirt sleeve as my pattern



And hello sweatshirt pieces:

all cut pieces


I used a strip of interfacing around all edges to stabilise them for sewing together:

stabilising seams


Then assembled the new child-sized sweatshirt

joining pieces

seam joining

Sewn and overlocked seams


I attached the sleeves flat and added cuffs of cotton ribbing:

sleeve bands



I also used cotton ribbing for the neckline and the waistband:

hem new

attaching waistband




Neckband was zig zagged then overlocked


new finished


closeup new



All that was left was to try it on its new owner :

red mk modelled

Finished sweatshirt

0AL 2014 – Myrna completed, dress not so much….



Oops where has the month gone? ……. First up…… I misread the closing date for the nettie sewalong which is probably just as well, since I didn’t get round to making my second Nettie yet!

I’m still working ( slowly) on my Outfit Along dress, but my cardi is finished and has been worn a few times.  The more I knit for myself, the more I’m starting to learn which changes to make in order to fit my shape (which is on the straight side fyi!).

After making a few of Andi Satterlund’s Patterns, and from looking at her finished measurement diagrams, it’s clear that she designs for a shape with a bigger difference between bust and waist than I have.   Either my waist is too big or my bust is too small (a little of each I think! ) This is pretty much the same with rtw clothing on my frame, so not a complaint about Andi’s designs!  More of a lament about sizing really.  Most sewing patterns and rtw clothing assumes  approx 8-10 inches of a  difference between bust and waist,  ( mine is only a 6″ difference).   I look forward to the day an Indie designer launches some patterns for the straight bodies out there !!



myrna cast on

The beginning :)



In the mean time I did what I do with my sewing patterns – remove some of the shaping.   I made the size small which fits really well in the shoulders/arms.  I worked the pattern as written until the underarms.  Then instead of decreasing two stitches at each side as per pattern instructions, I only decreased one stitch at each side. This gave a gentler slope at the sides and left me with more stitches and more room at the waist.


This cardigan went everywhere with me until it was done! It was such a lovely pattern to knit up and since I finished I’ve missed bringing knitting to do while I keep the kids amused on my days off.

myrna at the beach

Continued at the beach…


myrna playground knitting

Last sleeve at the playground


I wet blocked my Myrna and when it was dry I stitched on some hem tape to reinforce the button band: ( I used hem reinforcing tape as it was the only thing I had to hand but it does the job!)

band on cardi




The dress part of the OAl is not going so well unfortunately. I started with this pattern, Simplicity 1797:

oal dress pattern

Simplicity 1797


It has a nice high neckline which I like and princess seams. I intend to add a different skirt – not sure what yet though.  I made the practice bodice in a printed cotton and adjusted the seams as necessary and then transferred the changes back to the pattern.

armhold bnding



The armholes are bound in the same way as Lauren explains in her blog.  This is a lovely neat way to finish necklines or armholes, especially if the dress ia unlined.


So now I need to get my skates on and instead of making my practice dress wearable, I need to get cutting on my actual Oal dress to match my Myrna or I’ll miss another deadline !! Anyone else this far behind?

Outfit Along 2014, Nettie Sewalong etc…..!

Hey there :) There are a few things that I am juggling at the moment so I thought I’d gather them into one post!

Fabric & Yarn for #oal2014

Fabric & Yarn for #oal2014


First of all is anyone else participating in the Outfit Along ???  It’s being hosted jointly by one of my favourite knitwear designers Andi Satterlund and the lovely and entertaining Lauren aka LLadybird   The idea is to make a knitted and a sewn garment that co-ordinate before the end of July.

The suggested pattern is Myrna - a very cute cardigan, and a Simplicity dress pattern. But it’s fine to substitute other patterns.

My yarn and fabric are pictured above – I’m almost half-way through my knitting , but haven’t decided on a dress pattern just yet.   We’ve been having the most beautiful summer weather in Ireland, which means hitting the beach to make the most of it.   But my knitting has been coming along with me! I rarely read at the beach as I get too engrossed in the story and wouldn’t be able to keep an eye on the kiddies, but with knitting I can sit back and knit away while keeping an eye on everyone – win/win :)




The other project on the go is my second Nettie bodysuit, to be made from a printed stretch jersey.  My first Nettie was made with a cotton/spandex fabric :

Nettie version 1

Nettie version 1

Heather at Closet Case Files   is also hosting a Sewalong and competition, so I hope to have it ready and photographed in time to enter. I cut a size 8 with a 10 at the waist, according to my measurements.  The only changes I need to make to the next version is to shorten the length a little , to use narrower binding (especially on the legs) , and to make a slightly wider sleeve.

If the fit comes out well, I could see myself making ALOT of these – seriously! so  so handy , especially in the winter under a dress.


And finally I want to thank Helen over at Cutitoutstitchitup .  Helen nominated me for a Liebster award in April, which was a really lovely surprise but with the excitement of heading off on holidays just after, I forgot to pass it on! So  I will get onto that too!


New Make – Nettie Bodysuit

nettie 1

I made myself a nettie :) And I’m pretty sure I’ll be making more!
I followed the sewalong posted on Closet Case Files blog for the most part. I used a different method for attaching the woven fabric to the crotch area. It’s the same method I use to cover the end of a zip. So I’m sharing it here as another option in case anyone is interested :)


Fold crotch piece in half and half again and press


Pin right sides together to the front crotch piece and stitch


After stitching


Fold opposite side of cotton under


Then fold it back onto itself


Hold with a pin


Flip over and re pin ready to sew


Sew across both short ends of cotton as shown here and below


Short ends sewn - now trim down excess


Reach in and flip cotton right way out


Flipped over


Inside view


Attach snaps


Then slipstitch closed


Finished view of right side

Summer sewing – a patternless maxi skirt


I had a lovely length of viscose that was calling to me ever since I brought it home from my hols.  I had visited Rathdowne Fabrics while I was in Melbourne – and saw the biggest selection of remnant fabrics ever!!  It’s a great shop, ( big selection of fabrics)  but I was very restrained and only bought this viscose and some stretch lace pieces, as I was pretty close to my luggage allowance already.


The beauty of a maxi skirt is that it keeps you nice and cool in sunny weather, while also covering up skin prone to sunburn if  it sees the sun for more than ten minutes!  It was a quick and easy make and I snapped a few pictures as I went along.

I didn’t use a pattern for this.  Instead, I just measured from my waist to the floor and cut a rectangle across the full width of my fabric ( it was 54″ wide I think).

For the waist I used an elastic at the back and foldover waistband interfacing at the front.  I cut the interfacing to be half my waist measurement and then pinned elastic onto it while it was around my waist, adjusting the amount of elastic until it felt comfortable.


elastic and fold a



I then ironed the interfacing onto a strip of the fabric.  I  covered the elastic with a fabric casing, the fabric tube was approx twice the length of the elastic ( to allow the elastic to stretch ) I trimmed the excess fabric in the picture below to a seam allowance of 1cm for attaching to the skirt.

cover elastic

The waistband pieces were then sewn together at both ends to form a continuous circle.


I marked the center front and sides of the skirt panel by dividing it into 4 equal parts.  It was then joined right side together to the waistband.  I pleated the front skirt onto the interfaced band.  The back was sewn while stretching out the elastic.




waist pleats

After that it was just a matter of neatening the seam and trying it on before hemming!  And there you have it – no need for a pattern – a perfect summer sewing project!!!

So whats up next on the sewing table? A Nettie Bodysuit . Heather Lou has posted a sewalong to go with the pattern which should come in handy. And I think a bodysuit would go very nicely with my new maxi :)

And one last shot where you can just about see the back split.




Beginner Machine Knitting – Slouchy Cardigan

front view cardi

I might have mentioned before that I own a very old second-hand Knitting machine …..? I’m very much a beginner, but enjoying the process.  This is one of the nicest things I’ve made on my machine.   It’s a Slouchy Cardigan by Marianne Cant.  I follow Marianne’s blog Picperfic   and fell in love with her design as soon as she posted details of teaching her friend to make one.


If you’ve never used a knitting machine there are a few things that might be of interest to you:

* You need to know the type of yarn you will be knitting with before you purchase a machine.  Eg – thin yarn like 2,3 or 4ply , dk , Aran, bulky etc.

* My machine is a standard gauge, which means I can use thinner yarns. A mid-gauge would be for dk and also Aran I think, and then a bulky machine is for heavier yarns.

*  The tension dial is the opposite of a sewing machine – on a dial of 1-10 , 10 is the loosest tension and 1 is the tightest. This threw me at the start as I kept turning the dial the wrong way to tighten or loosen the yarn tension!

* Gauge swatches are an absolute  must !!!   I learned this the hard way, after my first jumper was more cardboard than drapey!


So back to the pattern in hand The Slouchy Cardigan on Ravelry here . It was exactly as described – an easy beginner project.  Because I only had 4ply yarn on hand, I did have to make slight adjustments.  The recommended yarn ia a lace/ 2ply.  My stitch count was the same as on the pattern, but I was getting more rows than suggested.  To allow for this I used the pattern row count and the finished garment measurements to work out how many rows I needed to do to get the correct length pieces.

Once I had changed the row count on my pattern I followed the very clear instructions as written and it came together very easily.

It has an interesting seam detail on the center back:

side drapey cardi

It really is a great beginner pattern – very little shaping or transferring stitches required, and an encouraging result which is always helpful when you are a beginner at anything.  Marianne has also realised a Jumper (Sweater) Pattern called Ali’s Jumper which has been added to my knitting queue on Ravelry so I hope it won’t be too long before you see one appear here !  Has anyone else ever considered taking up Machine Knitting ?



Burda 04/2014 – Dress 106

Have you seen the April Burdastyle Magazine?  It’s the best I’ve seen in a long time.   Finally some interesting designs worth tracing off !   In fact, as soon as I got it home, I traced off this number:

burda dress 04 2014

I love the fold over detail at the front – not sure I like how it is folding in at the legs, I’ve noticed a few other bloggers mentioning it too. I’m hoping that I can figure a way to make it look better.

The line drawing gives a clearer picture :

burda dress 04 2014 line drawing


It’s also shown as a top in printed fabric.   Which I think I could always shorten it into, if the dress doesn’t hang nicely.

I’ve had some dark blue crepe de chine ( poly – something , definitely not silk!), in my cupboard with over a year.   It was just waiting for this kind of pattern.  So far I’ve begun to assemble it and, even though it is illustrated in the pull-out section, it is still a little bit of a head scratcher.

My measurements almost match the size 36 ( bust & hips –  my waist is always closer to the 38).   I cut this as a 36 as it looks to have enough wearing ease to allow for a larger waist ( but I added a half inch to the side seams just in case)

This is what the folded front piece looks like :



I rarely use chalk to mark darts or dots, instead I pin right on the dot and then sew to where the pin is.




Here’s the front piece opened out . The rectangular shapes are the draped front & collar pieces.

open front piece

The drape pieces are folded in half toward the centre of the dress and stitched from the marked notch to the dot at the end of the v , and back up to the centre front.


Here is how the centre of the dress looks after stitching:   The instructions tell you to fold down the tip of the centre front piece before you sew.


And here is the right side :


The wrong side again after both sides have been stitched:  The instructions tell you to reinforce the v points before stitching ( which I forgot to do) And then to snip into the v as close to the stitches as you can.


Then from the right side you need to reach in pull the drape pieces right side out and then press:


How it looks after both sides have been pulled through:


The next part of the magazine instructions were a bit confusing to me,  I’m not sure if it was tiredness on my part or that the pictures threw me off slightly.  But it took me a minute to understand that I was to partially baste each draped piece to the front neckline.20140326_211834

Lining up notches, I then pinned and basted some of the way along the front neckline:


After that I sewed the darts in the back piece, and then basted the side seams and shoulder seams. I also basted in a sleeve.


And then it was ready for trying on….. no pics I’m afraid as it was pretty late at that stage.  The fit was pretty good, it has nice shaping in the back. Although it calls for a side zip, I was able to pull it on without any trouble, so I might not bother with one.

The centre front skirt is going to be an issue. It is pooling oddly around the legs because the folds are opening out.  So far,  I have two options of fixing it that I’m trying to decide between.   Either I follow the line of the draped piece with a line of stitching on the right side to make them like angled pleats . Or I stitch the folds on the inside so that they don’t open up.  I came across a good example of how to do this on the ‘Off The Cuff’ blog-  Here’s a wonderful tutorial on controlling a bias pleat 

I’m experimenting with it and will have it figured sooner rather than later, as I really want this finished in time for my Hols next week !