Sweater knit fabric and Olgalyn’s online course

Hi, I’ve blogged about Olgalyn Jolly’s online course “How to Cut and Sew a Sweater.” If you haven’t read that post, here’s a little background on how I know Olgalyn, a sweater knit designer and teacher. Nearly two years ago I interviewed Olgalyn, on my blog and hosted a giveaway of a sweater knit fabric kit. I had been following her blog and her Instagram account  (@ojolly) for a while and met her in person on a trip to New York in 2016.

Sweater knit fabric from O! Jolly!

Earlier that year, I had also purchased the lovely 100 percent cotton sweater knit fabric featured in the above photo and later decided to get some matching ribbing from Olgalyn, which she kindly delivered in person when I met her. (You can still but the ribbing from one of her online shops.)

Cotton ribbing - O! Jolly! sweater knit

Olgalyn is just as lovely in person as she appears in her photos. She also blogs about cutting and sewing sweater knit fabrics on her blog O! Jolly! Crafting Fashion.

Olgalyn Jolly in sweater she sewed

I’m writing again about her online course because she is reopening registration this weekend, offering a 20 percent discount from Saturday, September 29 to Monday, October 1! The regular price is is $59 – with the discount, it’s just $47.20 (affiliate link: How to Cut and Sew a Sweater, regular price now but still worth the price). When Olgalyn asked me if I wanted to be an affiliate again, I immediately said yes.

I’ve had time to watch each lesson and feel so much more comfortable about cutting and sewing the fabric I bought from her. There really isn’t any other online course available that focuses specifically on sweater knit fabric, which is not the same as jersey knit or other knit fabric.

Olgalyn is great at explaining how to find the right size pattern for your fabric – it’s a combination of looking at the finished pattern size and the stretch and recovery of your fabric. Here’s an image from her online course:

Stretch and recovery of sweater knit fabric

She very clearly explains every step for how to cut and sew sweater knit fabric, including:

  • how to mark your fabric,
  • basting vs. pinning,
  • what type of pins to use,
  • sewing pattern suggestions,
  • how to finish your seam allowances,
  • how to finish your necklines and hems,
  • and how to care for your fabric.

I wish her course had been available when I tried to sew a cardigan for my husband a while ago and it ended up being too big! Now I know where I went wrong. 😉

Plus she include many files for you to download – everything from a “Sweater Sewing Guide,” which she describes as “An outline and checklist for planning the construction of your sweater”  to helpful worksheets.

I really appreciate the time and care she took in putting this course together. And that’s why I wanted to help spread the word about Olgalyn’s course. If you’ve ever wanted to sew sweater knit fabric, you’ll find this online course to be an invaluable resource.

Once again, to get a 20 percent discount on the course, click on this (affiliate) link (or on the image below) from Saturday, September 29 to Monday, October 1. This discount is no longer available but you can still register for the course at this affiliate link. I think it’s a great value at $59. Olgalyn is an excellent teacher.

How to cut and sew a sweater - Olgalyn Jolly

Striped knit top from She Wears the Pants

Hi, I’ve had this striped rayon fabric in my stash for quite a few years – an impulse buy from Discount Fabrics in San Francisco (back when they were still around 11th and Mission St.). I didn’t have any particular pattern in mind when I got it; I just liked it. Since I’ve been on a RTW fast this year – and somewhat of a fabric fast, I have been making an effort to shop my stash. And that’s when I decided to make a striped knit top with this fabric.

Striped knit top - She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada - Japanese sewing book - Tuttle Publishing - CSews.com

The pattern is the Top with Epaulettes from the Japanese sewing book She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada (affiliate link here). I made it in 2015 using a medium-weight striped knit. You can see that version on my review of She Wears the Pants – just scroll to the end of the post to see photos of that top. I made size L and added more ease in the hips. I used the same pattern pieces.

What I really like about this top is the classic boat neck design and slightly belled sleeves, which you can (sort of ) see in this photo.

Striped knit top - She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada - Japanese sewing book Tuttle Publishing - CSews.com

If you use a heavier weight knit, the sleeves will have more body and stand out a bit more like they do in my first version. I think if I make it again, I would use a heavier weight knit to show off the sleeve shape.

Top with Epaulettes - She Wears the Pants - csews.com

This fabric was a little fiddly. I had to take my time cutting out the front and back pieces so they would match on the side seams. First, I cut the back piece because I knew I wanted the dark stripe to be at the top. Before I cut the front piece, I carefully placed the back piece on the fabric, lining up the stripes. Then I placed the front pattern piece on the fabric so it lined up with the back.

I also knew that I wanted the hem to end on a black (or is it navy?) stripe, which meant I could just cut along the bottom edge of the white stripe. My plan was the fold the hem on the bottom edge of the dark stripe.

I pinned each stripe at the side seams, set the pressure on my presser foot to zero and sewed a zig zag stitch on my sewing machine. It was a nearly perfect match! I sewed a test piece before I sewed it. I didn’t use any stabilizer and it was fine.

Matching stripes - rayon knit fabric - CSews.com

Looks like a perfect side seam!

Striped knit top - She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada - Japanese sewing book Tuttle Publishing

When I cut out my sleeves, I just cut them so the hem would end on a dark stripe. Hems get dirty and this is an easy way to hide the dirt. I wasn’t concerned about matching stripes across the body. I like the way it looks. I’m wearing my denim knit skirt with this striped knit top.

Striped knit top - She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada - Japanese sewing book Tuttle Publishing

Here’s another view of the back.

Striped knit top - She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada - Japanese sewing book Tuttle Publishing

The pattern for this striped top calls for topstitching the neck facing and the hems. I opted to hand sew the facing because I didn’t want to see topstitching around the neckline. But you can tell where I made my stitches – see the slight shadows in the white stripe below?

Striped knit top - She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada - Japanese sewing book Tuttle Publishing - CSews.com

For the hems, I fused fusible stay tape on the wrong side of my fabric to stabilize it. Then I used a twin needle to sew the hems of this striped knit top. The stitches blend into the fabric so you really can’t see the stitches.

Striped knit top - She Wears the Pants by Yuko Takada - Japanese sewing book Tuttle Publishing

In case you’re wondering about the hat, it’s a vintage straw hat with a veil and a fun ribbon detail. I got the hat from All Things Vintage, a delightful shop in Oakland which always has a lovely selection of hats. The label on the inside says The Hat Box, H. C. Capwell Co., Oakland. I did a quick online search and discovered that Capwell’s was a department store in Oakland.

Vintage hat - CSews.com

The building is still there in downtown Oakland. A Sears store was in the space for several years. Capwell’s also had branches in other parts of the Bay Area. You can read about Capwell’s history on the Department Store Museum blog and you can read more about the building on this Oakland wiki page. Uber bought the Capwell building in 2015 but sold it in 2017.

I love hats with veils – though they don’t really fit in with life today. In public, I usually wear my veiled hats with the veil up, tossed over the top of the hat.

Bomber jacket sewing patterns – inset or raglan sleeves

I was on a crowded BART train and saw this bomber jacket on a woman standing next to me and immediately thought, “I want to make that!”

Bomber jacket with lace sleeves - CSews.com

I love the look of the venise lace sleeves. I have a large scrap of venise lace that I got in New York a couple of years ago for just about $2. It would be perfect for the sleeves. Here’s the lace.

Venise lace scrap - CSews.com

I have no idea how I would deal with the raw edges. I could leave them unfinished but I would rather have a cuff of ribbing. I don’t know how that would look. Or maybe I could line the sleeves with a mesh and then sandwich that in between the ribbing. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments below.

I began looking at bomber jacket patterns. Because I have a limited amount of lace, I think I need to avoid raglan sleeves, which would use too much fabric. I’m going to include some of the raglan sleeve patterns at the end of this post for future reference. I think raglan sleeves are the classic bomber jacket design.

I’ve made plenty of longer jackets so it will be fun to make something that’s shorter than the four Pilvi Coats I’ve made (ponte knit, colorful fabric, big faces fabricblue version).

Bomber Jackets with Inset Sleeves

Here are a few possibilities, in alphabetical order.

Amelia Bomber Jacket, PDF sewing pattern by Wardrobe by Me, $12, sizes 0-16 (US), 30-36 (European)

This pattern is designed for medium-weight woven fabrics. The PDF is for letter-size and A4 paper. Note: no copy shop version.

Amelia Bomber Jacket - Wardrobe by Me - PDF sewing pattern

 

Jalie’s Charlie Bomber Jacket, $12.99 (Canadian), paper, $11.99 PDF, $17.98 for paper and PDF, 27 sizes (girls, women, plus sizes)

This pattern is for knits or stretch wovens. I’ve always heard great things about Jalie patterns, which focus on knit fabrics. I have one cardigan pattern by them but I still haven’t made it. I love that their patterns come in so many sizes. My lace isn’t a stretch lace so I can’t use this pattern but I will keep it in mind for a knit fabric bomber jacket.

McCall’s M7637 Misses and Men’s Bomber Jacket, $19.95 paper and PDF (cheaper at Joann’s or when there’s a sale), sizes S-3X

This pattern has collar and pocket variations, plus you can also make a hoodie sweatshirt.

McCall's bomber jacket M7637 - CSews

Mimi G Bomber Jacket 8222 – from Simplicity, $12.57, sizes 6-22

Mimi G has lengthened the traditional jacket from high hip to mid-thigh. This pattern is for stretch knits.

Simplicity Mimi G Bomber Jacket - 8222 - CSews.com

Mood Fabrics’ Free Reversible Bomber Jacket 

You can get this PDF pattern as a free download when you sign up for Mood’s newsletter. The pattern includes women’s sizes (0-16) and men’s sizes (XXS to 4X).

Mood Fabrics free reversible bomber jacket pattern - CSews

 

Bomber Jackets with Raglan Sleeves

BurdaEasy Zip Up Blousons FS/2014

This pattern has three variations (short sleeves and pocket variation) $5,99, sizes 34-44, no seam allowances in this PDF pattern

Burda blouson jacket

 

Burdastyle Plus Size Hooded Jacket B6489, $7.77, paper pattern, sizes 18-32 (US), 44-58 (European)

You can make a jacket or a hoodie with this pattern.

Burdastyle - B6489 - hooded jacket, bomber jacket - CSews.com

The Midway Bomber Jacket, a PDF pattern by Greenstylecreations, $10, sized XXS-3X

Midway Bomber Jacket - Greenstylecreations PDF sewing pattern

New Look Flight Jacket 6545, $4.29, sizes 6-18

New Look 6545 bomber jacket - raglan sleeves - CSews

Papercut Patterns Riegel Bomber Jacket, $30 NZD for paper, $20 for PDF, sizes XS-XL

This is a little shorter than the traditional bomber jacket and the neckline is also a little lower. It’s a sexy cropped version.

Riegel Bomber Jacket - Papercut Patterns - CSews.com

Style Arc Bobbi Bomber Jacket, $19 AUD, paper; $17 AUD, PDF, sizes 4-30

The description says it has “panelled raglan sleeves.” From the photo, it appears that the sleeves have three panels, instead of being one pattern piece.

Style Arc Bobbi Bomber Jacket - CSews.com

Obviously, I found more raglan-sleeve patterns than inset sleeves. I think I need to measure my lace scrap and see exactly how much I have. Maybe I should see if I could squeeze two raglan sleeves on it. What’s your favorite bomber jacket pattern? Which one would you pick?

My denim knit skirt – Alabama Chanin pattern

Earlier this month I thought about making some trouser jeans for a job interview at a tech startup. But I soon realized I didn’t have enough time to make a mockup and then make the jeans without stressing out. So I decided it would be better to make a knit skirt, using the mid-length skirt pattern from Alabama Studio + Design. I’ve made it before and to save time, I’d skip the hand sewing and just sew it on my machine. So I popped over to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics and found this great heavyweight cotton denim knit fabric (5 percent lycra). Perfect to make a denim knit skirt!

Denim knit fabric - Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics - CSews.com

In the above photo (taken after I washed the dried the fabric), it looks black. But in person, it looks like a dark indigo denim. You can buy this heavyweight organic cotton knit fabric in black on Stonemountain’s website. The weight feels great and it’s so soft! It was worth the price of $26.70/yard, the most I’ve ever paid for a knit fabric. All I needed was 1 1/3 yards for my denim knit skirt. The pattern calls for 1 1/4 but I got a little extra in case of shrinkage.

I used the pattern from this Alabama Chanin book, which is now out of print but you can find copies of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design on Amazon. I’ve made the bolero, a tunic, and two other mid-length skirts from this book. You can see the second skirt I hand sewed in my Toaster Sweater 2 post.

I bought the fabric on a Saturday, finished sewing it on Sunday and wore it to my interview on Monday. So that’s why I didn’t have any time to hand sew it. I rarely ever sew fabric that quickly. It usually sits in my stash for a while before I sew it.

If you’re familiar with Alabama Chanin aesthetic, it’s all about organic cotton knit fabric and hand sewing. I’ve hand sewn my other Alabama Chanin outfits but for this one, I just used a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine. 😉

I cut size XL but because there wasn’t a lot of stretch on this denim knit fabric, I decided to increase the seam allowance to 5/8 to give my self enough ease. Then I quickly basted the skirt to check fit and took the waist in about an inch. I usually have to grade up in the hips so this wasn’t a surprise. Then I removed the basting from the side seams and zig-zagged the two front pieces together and then the two back pieces. Now I was ready for the elastic.

This skirt pattern uses foldover elastic at the waist but with this heavyweight knit fabric, I didn’t think that would be strong enough. So I looked for something similar but wider and a little more substantial. I found this soft elastic that was 1 3/8 inches wide (~3.5 cm) and wouldn’t add too much bulk. It wouldn’t fold as easily as foldover elastic but it was pliable enough to do the job.

Wide elastic used as foldover elastic - CSews.com

It was a little tricky to sew it to the waist. I had to rip out my first stitches because I decided to use double-sided fusible at the waist to hold the elastic in place before sewing it. The idea was to avoid pinning the elastic. I used a wide zig-zag stitch and then tried on the skirt. If you’ve worked with knit fabric before, you can probably guess what happened. The waist was too wide and stood out from my waist. I realized I needed to slightly stretch the elastic as I sewed it – similar to sewing neck binding on the t-shirt.

So I ripped out my stitches – luckily, very easy to do because of the wide zig zag – and then used a small zig zag to sew the elastic to the wrong side, stretching it slightly as I sewed it. Then I folded it over to the right side and sewed a wide zig zag in the middle.

Here’s the wrong side of the front. You can sort of see the small zig-zag stitches just above the wide zig zag.

Elastic at waist of denim knit skirt - Alabama Studio Sewing + Design mid-length skirt - CSews.com

And here’s the right side of the front waist. This fit well.

Elastic waist - denim knit skirt - Alabama Studio Sewing + Design mid-length skirt - CSews.com

And here’s the finished denim knit skirt, which I wore to the Bay Area Sewists meetup at Britex Fabrics last weekend with my Pilvi Coat (ponte knit) and my Toaster Sweater 2 (black French terry). It’s my all-knit ensemble! I took the photos with my iPhone and the lighting wasn’t the best because I’m standing in the shade. You can’t really see that the skirt is a dark denim, not black. In this photo the skirt blends in with the Toaster Sweater.

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

I used a photo timer app (gives you a countdown and lets you pick how many photos to take and how much time between each shot) and attached my phone to a tripod using the Promaster Mobile Phone Tripod Mount (affiliate link). I got mine at Adolph Gasser Photography, an independent store in San Francisco, which sadly closed last year. The tripod mount expands from 2 inches (~5 cm) to a maximum of 3.75 inches (9.5 cm). It fits my iPhone 6 and it’s battery case.

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

Here are a few more views of this A-line denim knit skirt. This fabric has a lot of body and not much drape so it stands out at the bottom. You can really see the silhouette of this skirt in this photo.

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

I got my hair cut two weeks ago – lopped off a couple of inches. It had been covering my neck before I got it cut.

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

Here’s a back view. It was a warm day so I didn’t wear a hat – plus new hair! It’s so nice to have my hair off my neck!

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

Here the denim knit skirt looks a little more like denim rather than black.

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

I didn’t get the job but I have a skirt I love. I know I’ll wear it all the time.

Knit ensemble - Pilvi Coat, Toaster Sweater 2 and denim knit skirt from Alabama Chanin Studio Sewing + Design - CSews.com

Toaster Sweater 2 – big print ponte fabric

Hi, I had big leftover scraps of this large-print ponte fabric after I made my fourth Pilvi Coat earlier this year. So I thought, why not make another Toaster Sweater 2 but make it tunic-length? You can get the pattern on the Sew House Seven website. I had also made this pattern in French terry and jersey knit – making size XL, shortening the sleeves 8 inches to make them to 3/4 length. Each of those versions has a hem that hits at the high hip.

I used the same patterns pieces as my first version with the shortened sleeves and added 5 inches of length to the front and back.

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

This pattern has side vents with mitered corners. You can see the vent next to my hand in this photo. I added length below the area where the vent starts.

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

Here’s my earlier version of the pattern made at the pattern’s length. You can see the vent in this photo.

Toaster Sweater - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

This fabric, which I got at Britex Fabrics‘ moving sale last fall, was easy to work with. I love the print. It looks different on each side of the garment.

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

One sleeve of this Toaster Sweater 2 has more of the navy blue print on it…

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

… and the other has more white on it.

Toaster Sweater 2 - right view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

You can really see the print here.

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

Here’s a closer look at the back…

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

… and the front.

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

The pattern calls for finishing the hems by cover stitching or using a twin needle. I hand sewed the hems because I didn’t want any seam lines. I did the same thing for my Pilvi Coat in this fabric.

Here’s a look at my hand stitching from the inside. I switched thread colors according to the color on the right side.

Toaster Sweater 2 - tunic-length - hand hemmed - CSews.com

Here’s the right side of the front bottom hem.

Toaster Sweater 2 - big print ponte hem

I also didn’t finish my raw edges because folding it over would have made the hem a little thick and create a line like it did in the sleeve hem of my Pilvi Coat. See that faint line just above the sleeve hem? I ended up unpicking the sleeve hem on this Pilvi after this photo was taken and then hand stitching it again.

Pilvi Coat pattern placement - CSews.com

Here’s a look at one of the mitered corners of my third Toaster Sweater 2.

Toaster Sweater 2 - mitered corner - CSews.com

Ponte knit fabric doesn’t ravel so it’s fine to leave the edges raw.

And here’s one last photo of the front of this Toaster Sweater 2.

Toaster Sweater 2 - front view - big print ponte fabric - CSews.com

I really like this version of the Toaster Sweater. It’s a bit too warm to wear in Berkeley right now but I’m sure it will get a lot of wear when the weather starts to cool. I could also wear it on a cool summer day in San Francisco. Summers are not very warm in San Francisco because the fog rolls in and keeps the temperature several degrees cooler than other parts of the Bay Area.

Have you made anything with a big print? What did you make?

Choosing a sewing pattern for my dotty linen Ikea fabric

Hi, have you ever had a fabric just hanging out in your stash for years and then you forgot about it? Well, I’ve had this Ikea linen fabric in my closet for a long time. I’m guessing more than six years.

Choosing a sewing pattern for this dotty linen fabric from Ikea - CSews.com

I remember using it as a backdrop for this photo I took for my blog when it first launched in November 2011. You can sort of see the dots in the background.

Vintage hat with feathers

It’s a heavyweight linen that’s a bit stiff – even after I washed it in the washing machine and put it in the dryer. As you can see the dots vary in size and they are equidistant from each other. Choosing a sewing pattern for this fabric was a bit of a challenge because the dots are large and their placement is symmetrical. I’ve got about 3 meters or 3 1/3 yards of this 35″/88 cm wide fabric.

Here’s a shot of the fabric against my body (please excuse the dirty bathroom mirror and bad lighting!). 

Choosing a sewing pattern for this dotty linen fabric from Ikea - CSews.com 

I posted an image on my @csews Instagram account and asked what should I make with it – a jacket, pants – and asked for pattern suggestions. I received many responses, including that I made a jacket, circle skirt, dress, tote bag or a shower curtain. Here were the pattern suggestions:

I hadn’t heard of Ann Normandy before so I was happy to learn that her patterns were aimed at heavier weight linen fabric. I like the clean lines of her designs. The suggestions also spurred me to consider other patterns – the Sapporo Coat by Papercut Patterns, (which I’ve made in wool melton and with a cotton sheet) and The Strand, an unlined coat by Merchant & Mills.

I was really taken by the Oversized Kimono Jacket so I went ahead and ordered a copy. I decided I really wanted to make a jacket because it would get a lot of wear. I don’t wear dresses that often and I couldn’t really see this fabric as a skirt. But I still wasn’t sure about the Oversized Kimono pattern for this fabric so I also searched the jacket patterns in my stash for possible candidates.

Here are the finalists

Anne Klein Vogue, V1098, which is in my stash and out-of-print (OOP) – the lines in this jacket could make for an interesting design with the dots, breaking up the symmetry.

V1098 - Anne Klein Vogue sewing pattern - CSews.com

New Look 6532, which I mentioned last year in my blog post about new fall patterns. I bought this pattern but haven’t made it yet. The seam lines here would also let me play with dot placement. My idea would be to deliberately misalign the dots across the pattern pieces.

New Look 6532 - separates

Marcy Tilton Vogue pattern (V8620, OOP) – I think the heavyweight linen would work well with this pattern and the seam lines would also be fun to experiment with.

V8620 - Marcy Tilton Vogue sewing pattern - CSews.com

The Oversized Kimono Jacket by Jenny Gordy, which could be color blocked. Here’s my photo taken from Making Magazine of this pattern.

Oversized Kimono Jacket by Jenny Gordon in Making Magazine, Issue 4

I used MyBodyModel custom croquis (fashion sketch template) to play around with how the fabric would look in the different designs. I’ll be doing a guest blog post for the MyBodyModel blog later this month so you can see all of my sketches. 🙂 Here’s a sneak preview of one of my sketches for the Oversized Kimono Jacket.

Oversized Kimono Jacket by Jenny Gordon pattern - fabric ideas - CSews.com

Sketching out how the fabric will look with different designs was really helpful! I don’t usually sketch out my fabric choices. I can usually visualize in my head how I think something will work with a particular pattern. But I was having trouble seeing how these big dots would look in a jacket. I was afraid the big dots would give the garment a clown-like appearance.

I thought the color blocking would look better. So I’m glad I sketched this combination.  I’ve sketched a couple of other variations, which you can see on the MyBodyModel blog later this month.  I’ll have picked my final choice by then. I’m hoping I’ll have enough scraps leftover to make a tote bag!

What pattern would you choose?

2018 RTW fast – 6 months later

Hi, back in March, I blogged about my participation in the RTW fast hosted by Goodbye Valentino. (See 2018 RTW fast and make your stash sewing challenge.) Now that six months have passed, I thought it would be a good time to report on what I’ve made since I began the fast.

I’m happy to report that I haven’t bought any new garments this year. But it really wasn’t hard to not buy anything. I just told myself, “You have a lot of fabric and patterns. You don’t need to buy anything, just make it.”

I was hoping it would give me the push I need to make more pants (or trousers as people in the UK and Australia call them). I’ve gained a bit of weight so I need to make some that fit. Nearly all my pants are too tight. 🙁 Pants are still on the list.

I also gave myself the additional challenge of fasting from fabric buying for at least six months. And I’m happy to report that I didn’t buy any fabric from January 1 until now. But I did get one piece of fabric for free from the Bay Area Sewists fabric swap in May. (I’m the organizer for the group.)

Then the following month a Bay Area Sewists member told me that a client gave her more than 20 bins of fabric and she wanted to give it away. So I arranged a Fabric Bonanza meetup for the Bay Area Sewists. Of course, I had to check it out and got a few pieces of black fabric and a knit fabric with a fun print. I didn’t buy any fabric but I did add new fabric to my existing stash.

I haven’t had as much time to sew but here’s a collage of some of the garments I’ve made this year.

2018 RTW fast - here's what I've made so far this year - CSews.com

Clockwise from top left:

  1. A rust red hand-sewn cotton knit skirt worn with Toaster Sweater, version 2, color blocked (black with blue sleeves)
  2. Toaster Sweater, version 2 in black French terry
  3. Pilvi Coat in large-print fabric, my fourth version of this pattern from the book Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style (affiliate link)
  4. Twist-and-Drape top from the Japanese sewing book Drape Drape by Natsuno Hiraiwa (out of print, unblogged)
  5. Bias-cut skirt in a beautiful cotton print I got from Britex Fabrics years ago (unblogged)

Not pictured: Day-to-Night Drape Top by Maria Denmark (unblogged), which I bought when she had her 50 percent off moving sale. I’ll be blogging soon about the third Toaster Sweater, which I made using leftover fabric from my large-print Pilvi Coat. I made a tunic-length version.

I have more plans underway – a jacket, tops and of course, pants!

Are you participating in the RTW Fast? What have you made so far this year?

 

My mom’s last sewing machine – a Scandinavia 200

If you read my post yesterday about taking a sewing machine on a plane, then you know I now have my mom’s last sewing machine, a Husqvarna Viking Scandinavia 200. She can no longer sew because she has dementia.

When my three sisters and I were growing up, my mom made all our clothes. She also taught us how to use her sewing machine, a Singer Golden Touch. She wasn’t an expert seamstress but she knew enough to make our clothes and Halloween costumes.

Here’s a photo of us with my mom. I’m standing to the left of my mom in the red shorts.

My mom, my sisters and I wearing clothes my mom made.

Here’s a closer look at our outfits. She mostly sewed Butterick, McCall’s and Simplicity patterns. It looks like it was a hot summer day at the petting zoo.

Sisters at the zoo wearing clothes my mom made

When my parents moved from Delaware to New Jersey a few years ago, she could no longer sew. But my dad had the movers pack her Scandinavia 200, to their new home. I think sewing was so much a part of her that he didn’t think about leaving it behind. Or maybe he still couldn’t accept that she could no longer use the machine. She was still able to thread it when they lived in Delaware.

But last fall, her dementia got worse so my dad could no longer care for her by himself. She’s now in a nursing home, not far from where my dad lives. Just last year I was writing about sewing patterns for women with Alzheimer’s. We had no idea she would deteriorate so quickly.

My sisters live on the East Coast so they have been helping my dad deal with her things for the past several months. In the nursing home, she has a roommate and a small closet. So she couldn’t take much with her. My sisters have been going through her things and choosing what to sell, keep and donate.

When I was visiting in April, my dad asked me if I wanted her last machine. I immediately said yes. It’s like having a piece of my mom. I sew more than my sisters so I think everyone agreed that I was the right person to have it.

My dad didn’t have the instructions so I found a link to a PDF of the Scandinavia 200 manual.

Viking Scandinavia 200 sewing machine

It will be my first sewing machine with any electronics. My other machines are all mechanical. When I can set aside a good block of time, I will do some test stitches and play around with its capabilities. And then I will sew something for her that’s easy for her caregivers to dress her in, such as a top with snap closures in the back.

It’s weird to deal with my mom’s things when she’s still around. It’s like she’s gone but not gone. She can still recognize us most of the time, which is amazing but her ability to communicate is limited. She doesn’t talk much anymore.

One of my sisters told me that on a recent visit, she told my mom that I had her sewing machine and she smiled.

Taking a sewing machine on a plane

Taking a sewing machine on an plane

Have you ever taken a sewing machine on a plane? In April I was visiting my family on the East Coast and attending Meetup Togetherfest in New York. My mother no longer sews (more on this tomorrow) so my dad asked me if I’d like to take her last sewing machine, a Husqvarna Viking Scandinavia 200, which she got at Joann’s several years ago.

Here’s a nice photo of the Scandinavia 200 machine from the Husqvara Viking site. (Interesting fact: In 1872 the company changed from making firearms to making sewing machines. Really.)

Viking Scandanavia 200

I did a quick Google search and discovered that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says you can take a sewing machine on board on as carry-on luggage or check the bag. Yay! Here’s the TSA page on sewing machines. But if you bring a sewing machine on as carry-on luggage, they advise you to  “check with the airline to ensure that the item will fit in the overhead bin or underneath the seat of the airplane.”

Once I found out that I could take a sewing machine on the plane, I said yes. My dad no longer had the box it came in and I didn’t have time to figure out how to pack it to survive baggage claim. So I decided to pay the $25 to check my suitcase and buy a bag that was big enough for the sewing machine. I got this sturdy bag for about $25 at Marshalls, a discount store. Here’s the bag at the airport. It was a bit heavy to lug around but it did the job.

Sewing machine in carry-on luggage
Scandinavia 200 in the carry-on bag at the airport

When I went through airport security, the TSA guy told me that it was his third sewing machine this year. When he saw it, he said, “Oh, it’s a new one.” I guess the other machines he saw were vintage machines. After my machine went through the X-ray procedure, I was asked to take it out of the bag. I asked him if he needed the power cord to turn it on. He didn’t. But he did run a swab test on the sewing machine. That’s where you swipe the surface and put it in a machine to check for trace explosives. It passed the test and then I proceeded to the gate.

I wanted to take a photo of the swab test but I didn’t know how he’d respond. I didn’t want any unnecessary delays so I only took the photo of the machine in the carry-on bag.

If there are other items you want to check to see if you are allowed to bring on a flight either as a carry-on or checked bags, type your item in the search bar of the TSA page What Can I Bring? The list is pretty extensive. I discovered that you can bring on board antlers, bowling balls and Harry Potter wands as either carry-on or checked items. Really? Were there people asking whether their Harry Potter wands were prohibited on planes? In case you’re wondering, here’s what an authorized Harry Potte wand looks like. 

Harry Potter wand (affiliate link)

Knitting needles are allowed. Check out Spruce Crafts blog post on knitting needles on a plane for more info.

Five Vogue sewing patterns I got on sale at Joann’s

I dropped by Joann’s over the weekend because the chain store was having a $4.99 sale on Vogue sewing patterns. I ended up with five patterns.

I brought my notes from Sandra Betzina’s talk at last fall’s Artistry in Fashion event presented by Canada College’s fashion department. I put a star next to Vogue 1515, which doesn’t look like much on the pattern.

Sandra showed a version without elastic in the neck and that looked really good. She said the top was inspired by Japanese fashion and that it was flattering because it stood out from the body and helps disguise the middle (i.e. any extra belly weight). It can be a nice layering piece, too.

V1515 - Today's Fit by Sandra Betzina - Vogue sewing patterns - top and skirt

These two patterns by Lynn Mizono caught my eye. I grabbed the last two left and didn’t notice that I got the wrong size (8-10-12-14). Oops. I needed the larger size. Well, maybe I can exchange them later or I’ll just have to grade up one size. Both patterns are loose-fitting so hopefully, it won’t be too hard to grade up. (Fingers crossed.)

I have some black seersucker that I was going to use to make a dress from a Japanese sewing book pattern but now I want to make the dress on the right (V1410).

V1410 - Lynn Mizono - Vogue sewing patterns - dress

Don’t you love this jacket (V1246)? I have some lightweight denim in my stash that could work for it. But I was saving that for a pair of pants. I may have to break my fabric fast, which I tacked on to my RTW fast. but I’m hoping to hold out for six full months – so that means at least until the end of June. (Confession: I did buy one piece of fabric when I was in NYC in April.)

V1246 - Lynn Mizono - Vogue sewing patterns - dress

I love vintage patterns and couldn’t resist the top and jacket of this reissue (V9082). I think they would look great with some high-waist pants.

V9082 - Vintage Vogue sewing patterns - 1960 - dolman-sleeve jacket, top and dress

I also saw this Vogue sewing pattern (V8868) for fascinators and snapped that up, too. Vogue calls them “embellished hats” in the website description but they are really fascinators. Fascinators are attached to a headband, clip or comb.

v8868 - Vogue sewing patterns - 5 hats, fascinators

I love veils on hats. These are a bit fancy but who knows when you need a fancy accessory, right?

Toaster Sweater – Version 2 in French terry and jersey knit

I finally got around to making Toaster Sweater – Version 2 by Sew House Seven. Last year I made Version 1, which has raglan sleeves and a turtleneck. (You can get the pattern here.) I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to sewing Version 2, which Sew House Seven says “features a semi-high-neck that takes its inspiration from funnel and boat necks.” I love boatnecks so this neckline was very appealing to me.

I made my first Version 2 Toaster with some black french terry that I bought on sale at Fabric Outlet last fall. I consider it part of the #makeyourstash sewing challenge that I decided to participate in earlier this year. The #makeyourstash challenge is to use fabric that’s been in your collection for at least six months.

I made my black Toaster Sweater – Version 2 in April, the night before I was to fly to the East Coast to visit family and attend the first annual Meetup Togetherfest. It didn’t take very long to sew. There are just three pattern pieces – front, back and sleeve. The neck has a self-facing – you fold it over and to keep it in place, you stitch in the ditch at the shoulder seams.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - french terry, 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

I decided to cut size XL for a loose fit. I made size L when I made Version 1. I have broad shoulders and wanted extra ease in the hips. The only change I made to the pattern was to shorten the sleeves to 3/4 length, a nice length for Bay Area weather.

Here’s how I shortened the sleeve. I sliced it at the shorten/lengthen line and overlapped 8 inches (~20cm) of the pattern and folded the pattern to true the seams, and pinned the excess in place as you can see in the photo below. I used Swedish tracing paper that I got for my birthday to trace the pattern.

Toaster Sweater 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - sleeve shortened

Note: I have long arms so if I shorted it by 8 inches to get a 3/4 length sleeve, then the sleeves on this pattern are unusually long. If you sew this pattern, measure the sleeve length and compare it to your arm measurement. You will likely need to shorten the sleeve.

The neckline is like a small boatneck or maybe you could call it a high boatneck?

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - french terry, 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

Here’s a back view of the Toaster Sweater – Version 2. I used the zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to sew this together. I decided not to use the serger because I didn’t want to fiddle with the tension and differential feed. Plus I had to finish packing for my trip.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - french terry, 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

Here’s a closer look at the front. You can (sort of) see that the shoulder seams go a little beyond my shoulder point. I knew it would be a little wide but I liked this relaxed look. French terry is so soft. This is so comfy to wear.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - french terry, 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

About a month after I made this version I decided to make another Toaster Sweater – Version 2. I had some medium-weight black cotton jersey fabric in my stash but only enough for the body, not the sleeves. So I looked in my stash for another knit and found this lightweight blue rayon fabric, which has a nice drape. Another score for #makeyourstash! I think I got the blue fabric on sale at Fabric Outlet.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

For this version, I read the instructions and used what the pattern calls a “double stitch” for the seams – a zig-zag stitch and a straight stitch. I did that for this version. Then I finished the hems using a double needle, which you can’t really see in this photo. The trickiest part of sewing this Toaster Sweater was using the double needle at the corners because you can’t pivot your needle.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

Sewing the sleeves was a little tricky because the rayon knit was lightweight. I had to use a ton of pins on the sleeve head. The black cotton knit was more stable. When I attached the sleeves to the body, I put the black knit on the bottom and had set the presser foot pressure to zero. I didn’t need to use a walking foot – having the heavier weight fabric on the bottom worked well and it sewed nicely.

The back hem of this Toaster Sweater – Version 2 is an inch longer than the front, which is a nice detail.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

Here’s a back view where you can also see a bit of the high-low hem.

Toaster Sweater - Version 2 - Sew House Seven sewing pattern - 3/4 sleeves - CSews.com

I’m wearing a skirt I hand sewed earlier this year. The skirt pattern is from the book Alabama Studio Sewing + Design by Natalie Chanin (affiliate link here).

I got the skirt fabric at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, which has a great selection of knits. I originally bought the fabric to make some active wear but decided to make a skirt instead. I think the fabric colors work well together. The blue is the same intensity as this rust red.

I like this pattern so much I cut yet another Toaster Sweater, VErsion 2 with leftover ponte fabric from my fourth Pilvi Coat. I had about one full yard of that bold fabric, which I used to cut the front and back and making it tunic-length. Then I had big scraps that I could use for the sleeves. Stay tuned for my third Toaster Sweater!

Sewing Tip: If you want to experiment and use a lightweight knit fabric, you may want to put a strip of interfacing at the shoulders to give it a little extra reinforcement to prevent it from stretching out. It’s not needed for medium-weight fabrics.

I will be looking through my stash for more knit fabrics and making more Toaster Sweaters – Version 2. Do you have a favorite pattern that you’ve made multiple times? For me, it’s been the Pilvi Coat and now it looks like the Toaster Sweater will be a staple top for me.

Building a Sewing Community and Meetup Togetherfest

Hi, as some of you may know, I’m the organizer of the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group. Since 2014, I’ve planned and organized monthly meetups for people who enjoy sewing. Along the way, I’ve met many wonderful people who are part of a vibrant sewing community in the Bay Area.

I’ve also developed relationships with local businesses that offer our members discounts on sewing studio memberships (Hello Stitch in Berkeley and Sips N Sews in San Francisco), discounts at their fabric stores (Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics on our Berkeley meetups days and Britex Fabrics when we meet there) or discounts on classes and merchandise (The Sewing Room in Alameda). They have also donated raffle prizes to our annual Frocktails in February event.

Bay Area Sewists - a sewing community - at Hello Stitch and Sips N Sews

Bay Area Sewists members range in expertise from beginning sewists to expert costumers and sewing instructors, such as Beth Galvin who blogs at SunnyGal Studios and teaches at Hello Stitch and Jennifer Serr who teaches apparel sewing to kids and adults at The Sewing Room. We’ve had meetups for fabric and pattern swaps, sewing workshops, fitting meetups, frocktails and indigo dyeing.

At our events, I’ve held raffles with various prizes, including Japanese sewing books from Tuttle Publishing and sewing patterns solicited from various indie designers, such as 100 Acts of Sewing, By Hand London, Blueprints for Sewing, Bonjour Teaspoon, Cashmerette, Christine Haynes, Green Bee Patterns, Kate & Rose, Sew Liberated, Sewaholic, and Thread Theory.

Bay Area Sewists members have also offered sewing books, sewing magazines, new sewing patterns, and thread catchers to give away. They have also been a great resource for ideas for future meetups. People in the sewing community are generous and genuinely helpful.

Bay Area Sewists - a sewing community - Meetups in 2018

Bay Area Sewists started in 2012 by Meg of Made by Meg. She stepped down at the end of 2013 and I volunteered to be the next organizer. You can read my 2014 blog post about the first Bay Area Sewists meetup I organized – a pattern swap. (You can see our past meetups here.)

Bay Area Sewists - a sewing community - Meetup at Sips N Sews

I love meeting people who sew. And we do have a couple of male members. In the above photo, see if you can spot Michael, who blogs at Line of Selvage (in the back row under the “NS” of Notions).

If you are ever in the Bay Area and would like to attend one of our sewing meetups, please let me know. Most of our meetups are free to attend. I like to think of the sewing community as a global community.

Since February 2014, I’ve organized more than 40 meetups. Apparently, Meetup noticed that we consistently meet and people show up. In March 2018 I got an email from Meetup inviting me to attend the first annual Meetup Togetherfest in New York! Here’s part of that email:

Meetup Togetherfest

I was so very surprised and deeply honored to get the invitation. The email also said: “There are over 230,000 Meetup Organizers around the world, but this year we only have space for 150.” 

Wow. Who knew there were so many organizers?!

I have family on the East Coast in New Jersey, so I immediately replied YES, and planned to spend a week on the East Coast, two of those days in NYC with Meetup organizers.

Meetup paid for a two-night stay in New York – Thursday and Friday, April 19 and 20 – we just had to make our way to the Big Apple. Here’s Meetup’s brief Medium blog post about Togetherfest. It was wonderful to meet organizers from around the world. I met people from Berlin, Brisbane, Delhi, Dublin, London, Melbourne, Sydney, Toronto and from all over the United States – Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, etc.

When I explained to people that I was the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists, I realized that people weren’t familiar with the word “sewist.” So I usually added, “people who like to sew.” Then people seemed to think that we got together with our sewing machines at every meetup. I explained that we didn’t sew at every meetup but the events usually focused on some aspect of sewing apparel (fabric, patterns, sewing techniques).

Meetup Togetherfest

On our first day, we got a tour of Meetup Headquarters, with Meetup folks telling us about what they did in their various departments. They had photographers documenting the event so we didn’t have to.

Tour of Meetup headquarters

They also asked us to take post-its and write one positive thing about our Meetup experience as organizers and one pain point. Here I am writing about my problem with members not being able to rejoin the group after their membership expires.

Chuleenan at post-it wall

We also spent part of the afternoon in small groups, with each group trying to solve a riddle – fun but really cold. My group was outdoors most of the time, going to various locations, where we were to find an actor playing a role and ask him or her questions. It was in the 40s, chilly and windy. Here we are downtown in the financial district. I’m wearing my teal Sapporo Coat but I was still cold. I didn’t bring enough layers.

Meetup Togetherfest - small group photo

When we got back to Meetup HQ, we had dozens of New York pizzas waiting for us. I gorged on the pizza. Here are just a few of the pizza pies they served us. Yum!

New York Pizza

What was the point of this two-day event? Well, according to the booklet in our swag bag, Scott Heiferman, the co-founder and CEO of Meetup, he had the idea of holding a “global gathering of great Meetup organizers for a long time.” He wanted to give us the opportunity to share our stories and to “be inspired by others’ Meetup stories.”

I was certainly inspired by other Meetup organizers. I met organizers of groups focused on hiking, writing, photography walks, programming, dads in the city, real estate, you name it. I didn’t meet any other sewing Meetup organizers so I guess I was it. 😉

Some Meetup organizers meet weekly or even more than once a week! I was pretty amazed that some groups met so often but those were often large groups (thousands of members) with multiple organizers so they took turns organizing various events. I met the organizer for Fierce Friends of Phoenix, an LGBTQ group, that has become a nonprofit organization.

I admit I was felt a little insecure comparing the size of Bay Area Sewists (less than 150 members) to groups boasting 8,000+ members. I wondered if the size of a group affected the algorithm. (Yes, Meetup uses an algorithm that picks which meetups to feature in your local area.) Luckily, I was able to buttonhole Meetup’s Chief Operating Officer and ask her if that was a factor. She said, no, what’s more important is that you meet regularly and that people show up. And, in fact, some of the smaller groups are more successful than the very large groups.

I met people who organize multiple groups, like DeRM from the Bronx (pictured below), who runs a Taco Night Meetup in NY and co-organizes three other meetups – MMA in NYC, Foolinary Culinary and the New York City Organizers group.

Derm, organizer of 4 Meetup groups

Throughout the event, in between sessions about Meetup features and hearing from the Meetup and WeWork CEOs (WeWork acquired Meetup last fall), we got to hear from individual organizers about their Meetups. Some had moving stories to tell about how their group had an impact on people’s lives, how they gave back to their local communities or their group grew from one chapter to many chapters throughout the country.

The second day we spent at Industria, an event space in the West Village. It had a large open space and smaller rooms for breakout sessions about everything from using the apps and Meetup Pro to hosting at WeWork and making the website work. We had to pick two sessions we wanted to attend. I learned that Meetup Pro starts at $30/month and seems aimed more at people whose Meetup group is a business for them. At the website session, I also got a chance to tell the Chief Operating Officer about the problems people rejoining the Bay Area Sewists group after Meetup’s redesign. Apparently, the redesign was focused on the member user experience, not the organizer’s user experience. They are working on making it a better experience for organizers.

One of the last sessions involved all the organizers in the room and Priya Parker (seated in the center chair below), who led a thoughtful discussion about the process of gathering, what happens at the beginning middle and end of a meetup.

Priya Parker talking about the process of gathering

Here’s Priya signing copies of her book, The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters (Amazon affiliate link). Meetup got copies for all the attendees. Thank you, Meetup!

Priya Parker

I’m still processing the experience and figuring out what I’d like to incorporate into the Bay Area Sewists Meetups. Our group is small because I charge annual dues, which means that after the three-month trial period, you either have to pay the dues ($15/year) or Meetup automatically removes you from the group. This means that only people who are genuinely interested in attending a meetup remain in the group. I like our small size – small but mighty.

Thank you Meetup for a great experience and thank you Bay Area Sewists members for coming to the meetups, building a sewing community, sharing ideas and inspiring me to keep organizing!