Andi’s pattern ‘From A to Z’ is finally released!

As I’ve previously mentioned, testing for Andi from Untangling Knots was a real pleasure. The moment I’ve laid eyes on this cardigan I fell completely in love with it. With that retro look and imagining how good it could go with my dresses there was nothing else that I needed. I was hooked and I needed to make it. Period.

I found the pattern very well written and the construction immensely clever. As I’ve said before, this is a nice project to try intarsia, since it’s used for the pocket bands. Ideal for a first try but not overwhelming. I would definitely say that if you want to try to see how intarsia feels, you should try this pattern.

The pocket construction is different from the one I did on Émilien, but it’s also very well designed and it was one of the things that made me fall in love with this cardigan. And there’s no sewing involved! No mattress stitch, no blanket stitch, no stitch at all!

And you can stuff your hands in them, or your keys, or some coins. They are ideal and usable pockets.

I love seamless sweaters. I have to say that I don’t really enjoy sewing by hand, and joining sleeves and other parts to my knitting projects is not really my cup of tea; but sometimes it’s nice to escape from the typical raglan construction. And this is a construction that will surprise and please you. Again, it’s so clever! The final project looks like a traditional cardigan with joined sleeves, but it uses a seamless construction. I really want more of it.

As you can see, the cardigan is fitted, enhancing the female figure. The sleeves were also a nice surprise, since most of the time I need to modify them and make them narrower than what the pattern says, but this was not the case. The sleeves were just right for my arms.

It looks nice buttoned and unbuttoned, and it feels so cozy that I want to wear it all the time (that is, if the temperature is not 40 ºC).

The pattern includes charts to double stitch each letter in the alphabet. A nice and unique touch to make your cardigan really custom made.

When making the arm bands I thought about using jogless stripes, but those only really work if they are wide, since at the joint the stripe is one row thinner and it would look too evident in this case. I thought about using travelling jogless stripes, but that meant my rows travelling 4 stitches and I was not convinced. I tried them anyway and decided it was not worth the hassle. Again, Andi was right.

This is by far my favorite cardigan until now. Bravo for Andi and her really clever construction.

If you want to make this beautiful cardigan you can get the pattern on Ravelry.

Here my project page in case you want to take a look.

Pattern Following vs. Pattern Drafting

This topic has been in my head for the past months. I’ve been following a course for the last year about pattern drafting. It showed me a world of infinite possibilities but also with more than one issue. Later on I tried the world of just following a pattern made by someone else and here I also found vantages and disadvantages. My pattern drafting classes resume in September, and I’m still not sure whether I’m going to continue or not.

My first garment was a skirt. I don’t know if it was the pattern or the teacher skills, but it came out quite large. Some other people had the same issue, so I don’t think that time it was me. Later on I discovered some other issues, like some corners where they shouldn’t be just because I did not respect the square angle rule. I didn’t because nobody had explained that to me.

After being a bit thrown away by these little problems, I was also a bit abashed by the lack of neatness of my technique, and here the patterns I bought later on gave me the key I needed (thanks, Tasia, the first patterns I followed were from you). What made me make the leap was the A-line skirt Craftsy class. That showed me a whole world beyond my knowledge.

I think pattern drafting has infinite possibilities, as I’ve said, but it’s also that it should be accomplished step by step. The course I follow is very attractive, because it allows you to start making a skirt from the first class, and the teacher will help you to make later on much more complicated garments; but that’s a double-edged sword. It creates the illusion that you can make very nice things “like the one in the picture”, but you will make stupid mistakes because you’ve missed the basics.

Following a pattern gives you less freedom and you will need to perform some modifications to adapt it to your body, but with a little bit of attention and reading about pattern drafting and sewing on the net, will make you grow. And it will give you those basic techniques that make a garment a professional look.

With all this, it’s still not clear to me what I prefer. I guess that lacking creativity doesn’t help. I think you need to follow lots of patterns and directions to be able to achieve good results on your own. That’s what I’m not sure if I will continue the course this fall. It eats more than two hours each Monday and it’s also an investment of money that I could put somewhere else, which I’m already doing, and with a full-time job and the rest of the amenities of life it’s very difficult to find the time to work on these two kind of garments that I want to make.

That reminds me of how I started knitting. I just learned the basics on internet (mainly youtube) and then I built it up myself just following patterns and experimenting. When people see some of my sweaters they often exclaim that they look gorgeous, but deep inside I know that I just followed a pattern. In some cases, experience has allowed me to make  the necessary modifications to adjust it to my body and my liking, but in the end, it was just pattern following. With knitting, the beginning is just learning two different kinds of stitches: knit and purl, and maybe that’s why I found it easier to start on my own. With sewing that was an unknown world and I needed somebody to hold my hand and walk with me. Maybe it’s time that I start to walk on my own and decide which path I want to take.

How has it been for you? Any advice for this wanderer?

Make a complete muslin

One of the things we enjoy less of the process of sewing is making a muslin (I also hate cutting the fabric, but that’s because my place is quite small). Skipping this step is very tempting, since it implies making at lest two garments: the muslin(s) and the finished project. Another temptation we find in our way is making a partial muslin. It happens often, we think that we need to focus on the trickiest part of the garment and make a muslin of that part (e.g. a dress bodice), skipping the rest of the garment thinking that it will fit just right. Big mistake! I also know the theory, and had a partial fail because of me being lazy.

You see this partially finished Lonsdale dress? I know this dress is like the Neverending Story. It doesn’t look very good because I haven’t installed the zipper yet nor sewed the back of the skirt. I’ve just pinned the bodice to see how it would look like when finished.

Apart from the lack of zipper (and the bagginess that it implies), there’s something else that bothers me. It doesn’t look like the ones I’ve admired on the internet (some of them at least), and it won’t look like that if I don’t fix it. Yes, the bodice needs to be shortened. The Lonsdale dresses that I like most are the ones where the bodice looks short. It’s also possible that just have a short body. My hawthorn looks also a little bit weird there, but not sure if it’s due to this or because I didn’t do a correct FBA. Here another picture with the dress pinned to make the bodice between three and four centimetres shorter. Yes, this is what I want!

When I made the muslin of this dress I ended up making two muslins of the bodice, one for size 6 and another one for size 4. Size 4 was the winner with no doubt. And that was it. I then cut my final fabric and started sewing (2 weeks later, but that’s another story). What I missed from my test was the dress as a whole. The bodice looked right, but I didn’t check how the skirt was gonna look like regarding the bodice. I could have tested with a partial skirt, but not without skirt at all. We need to know how the trickiest part of our garment will look like, but also the intersecting lines of it with the rest of the complete project.

Making a complete muslin will also allow you to know your pattern instructions and tricky points beforehand, so that you will make less mistakes during the final sewing. This last argument may not convince you but I’m sure the rest of the article will.

I’m going to get a tattoo on my forehead which says: “Make a complete muslin, make a complete muslin, …”.

We’re leaving tomorrow for Belgium, so this dress will have to wait another week for this major change. Is it me or this dress seems doomed?

Paula and her bathing suit

Do you remember the bathing suit I made for the swimsuit sewalong?

During my stay in Vigo I could finally make some pictures of Paula modelling it. The weather was quite bad during the two weeks I spent there, being cold and foggy most of the time, but I managed to go to the beach on two occasions: the first was on the Wednesday of the first week, on which we went to the Cies Islands with Koen’s parents; the second was the day right before I came back, and it’s when I took these pictures. I apology for the quality, since I seldom carry my DSLR with me to the beach (afraid of sand and sea water) unless I clearly intend to make pictures, and at this point I was so tired that I completely forgot about this bathing suit.

These are my sister (left), my mother and my niece Paula. She’s carrying her white pony; and we are walking to a place on the rocks between my mother’s two favorite beaches.

Paula is such a clever and funny girl, and she first delighted us with some singing and dancing:

When Koen’s parents were visiting she demonstrated them her gymnastic abilities and how she can count to ten in English! She also knows the colors in English since some months ago, and she’s just three and a half! Smartass!

And here some shots of the bathingsuit in action.

And here, in a completely unrelated note, my bikini. This picture was taken during our trip to Valencia, but was lost and forgotten in my cellphone. I think now it’s the time to share it with you.

As you can see the sand is different in Valencia, thinner and darker. You cannot see the sea but it’s also quite different. Used to tides in the Atlantic, it’s amazing to see how people place their towels just at the border of the sea line. I know that there are no tides in the Mediterranean, but knowing the fact doesn’t stop me from being amazed at seeing it.

And here a last picture of the Atlantic Ocean and my dear Bay of Vigo.

 

 

Changes

Due to having come back just last Saturday and leaving again this weekend (this time for Belgium) it’s very difficult to accomplish anything. I’m back to the routine (work, sports) but I find very little time for knitting and sewing. The place is a complete mess (suitcases were partially unpacked for a couple of days, clothes just being washed) and I don’t find neither the time nor the place nor the peace for finishing my Londsdale dress or starting the camera bag or tracing the Jedediah pants or starting to use my newly acquired fabrics.

Arriving in Madrid sleep deprived (the only moments I had for myself were late at night) and starting to get up early and doing sports again is keeping me constantly tired. With that and all I’m trying to do at home these days, and thinking that next week I’ll be away again, I see how my wishes of making three or four garments a month will not become true. And then September will come and autumn and cooler days and then sewing dresses and blouses will make no sense.

With just one week that I could use to making garments, I suddenly find myself in a decluttering mood; and I spend my free time opening drawers, trying old clothes and sorting them as wearable and not wearable anymore. My body has changed since we arrived in Madrid, not only my hips, but my chest and shoulders have broadened. I blame Capoeira for this change. In a way it’s good because I feel much better and some curves I like though some others not so much (like my massive thighs). Anyway, I accept the change, and it comes in handy since I want to renovate my wardrobe with handmade clothes.