Thursday, April 16, 2015

April Burdastyle Challenge Completed! And Me Made May

Usually I'm digging into my back issues of Burdastyle for my monthly challenge garment. This month, I'm pleased to say that my top is from the April, 2015 issue! Through diligent stalking, I spied the magazine on the shelves on April 7 and pounced.

I like this issue. There are a couple of dresses I'd like to make someday, as well as a couple of tops and a pair of high waisted cigarette pants that look intriguing. Of course, by now I probably have great examples of all these patterns buried in previous issues. Must think of a way to make my Burda's easier to mine.

Ta dah pose to illustrate the boxiness
I finally settled on pattern #123, the Boxy Top. I had my doubts, because boxy and me are not usually friends. I'm basically a box myself, so I'm usually trying to create the illusion of curves. Still, this top looked simple and cool, and I was tempted by the unusual pattern pieces, so I forged ahead. The Burdastyle Challenge is all about trying new looks, after all.

Line drawing from Burdastyle web site
Here's the line drawing; the top only has two pattern pieces (well, plus a neck facing). The back and front are both cut on the fold. The sleeves are cut on with the back and you fold them over into a raglan seamed front. Cute neckline too, right?

Burda recommends using a fabric with some body, like a jacquard. I was afraid that a boxy cut with a beefy fabric would make me look like a toaster, so I grabbed a very light cotton from the bottom shelf of the fabric closet.

Back view
You might notice in this back view that I have a seam running up the middle of the piece that was supposedly cut on the fold. When I tried on the top with the shoulder seams sewn and the side seams basted it was clear the neckline was going to be a no-go for me. It was low, but not indecently so. Width was the issue. My bra straps were going to be showing for a good six inches on both sides.

Side view
After some experimental pinching, I just sewed a seam up the center back, taking out about 1.5 inches. That brought the neckline up to a pretty reasonable level. The bra straps were still clearly on view though, so I took about 1/4 inch out of the raglan seams at the neck on both sides and now those straps are just covered.

If you are a bit taller than me and you have a lovely bosom, I bet this top would look fabulous on you right out of the box.

I'll probably tend to wear the top tucked in to a high-waist, just to mitigate the squareness a bit. I don't think it's too bad un-tucked though, which was a surprise. I'll probably end up wearing it un-tucked on occasion, maybe over that ponte pencil skirt I have on my cutting floor. One of these days I'll get a cutting table, I'm getting too old for the crawling-on-the-floor technique.
Tucked in view
This weekend I'll take the time to mark my seat-of-the-pants alterations on my pattern pieces. I'd like to make this top again in a knit. I think it would make a cute tunic-y tee shirt. Burda does it in a striped fabric, which would also be fun to play with. The stripes on theirs are horizontal on the body but turn to be vertical on the sleeves. Well, I guess they'd be horizontal on the sleeves too if you held your arms out to the sides.

In other news, I'll be hanging in for Me Made May again this year. If you haven't ever participated, it's a lot of fun and it encourages you to try your me-mades in new combinations. Some folks get tired of doing daily photo sessions. Lucky for me, The Man is very accommodating about taking a picture or two every morning, so that part is a breeze.

I'll be aiming to wear only me-made for the month of May.  I probably won't be able to achieve that goal, but I want the spur to work on some bras and undies, as well as some more exercise gear.

My pattern review for the Boxy Top is on here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Minimalist Cardigan

A rare event: a knitting FO! And it only took me 2 months. The burst of speed is due to the fact that this is the project I took along for my train trip to the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Pullayup. There's nothing like 44 hours of train time to kick your knitting productivity up a notch.

I took the sweater for a test drive today and it worked well. Comfortable and warm. The 3/4 sleeves are long enough to keep my arms cozy but short enough not to get wet while I'm doing dishes.

This is Ruthie Nussbaum's Minimalist Cardigan from the August 2007 issue of Interweave Knits - with a few changes. The pattern has you do the body of the cardigan in moss stitch and the collar in stockinette. Ruthie Nussbaum used a merino/alpaca blend that is probably very smooth and drapey.

The photo that sold me on this sweater, snatched from Ravelry
I made this cardigan once before, from a variegated 100% wool yarn that I was in love with. The moss stitch body turned out to be great for a variegated yarn, because the texture of the stitch kept the colors from pooling. Sadly, the springy-ness of the wool meant that the stockinette collar rolled up like a garden hose. I did everything I could think of to relax that collar, with no success. Otherwise, I really liked the shape and fit of the cardigan.

This yarn is also 100% wool from stash, so I switched things out and did the body of the cardigan in stockinette and the collar in moss stitch. Success! The collar lays flat and hugs the back of my neck just right.

Back view - under my hair the collar is doing just what a collar should do
The pattern is designed so that you knit the sweater in pieces and seam them up at the end. Out of laziness I knit the body in one piece from the bottom up and divided for the sleeves. I didn't want to have to mess with making sure all my pieces were the same length when knitting while traveling.

I also added a little shaping by reducing 4 stitches every inch or so three times above the waist and adding those stitches back in at the hips.

Once everything was finished and blocked, I remembered the downside of knitting sweaters in pieces. Someone has to seam them together at the end. Theoretically, I know how to do this, but for the past 10 years I've only knitted top down, one piece sweaters. My seaming skills have degraded. A lot.

I asked The Man if he would think I was a big baby if I asked my friend Jessica, the Knitting Sensei, to seam up the sweater for me. He said No, he would not. So I did.

Now I owe Jessica my first born child.