Tag Archives: knit fabric

Pattern Testing – Nautilis Swimsuit

I made a swimsuit! I’d been thinking about making one for a while, so when I saw that Seamstress Erin was looking for pattern testers for her new swimsuit pattern I jumped at the chance. Nevermind that it was still cold and rainy here when I was sewing the suit…

Eek! Swimsuit photograph!

Eek! Swimsuit photograph!

This is my first time sewing with swimsuit knits, and I’ll admit being a little apprehensive, despite plenty of experience sewing knits in general. I needn’t have worried. This was a quick easy project. I suspect there will be more swimsuits in my future. Actually I’d really like to make a tankini version, as that’s my swimsuit style of choice. It sounds like that will be discussed in the upcoming sewalong Erin is going to run.


So, I know there are lots of great swimsuit patterns out there these days. I’ve certainly been drooling over a few of them. Having only sewn up the Nautilus so far, I can’t comment on how it compares to other patterns out there. I will say though, that for someone sewing there first swimsuit, this pattern had great directions. Very clear and well explained. Lots of diagrams, and a section at the beginning with some helpful tips for sewing with swimsuit knits.

So, obviously I made the two piece version. I have a really long torso, and have never had any luck buying tank suits, so I’m out of the habit of wearing them. Although, that’s the beauty of being able to make my own I suppose. Now I can have a tank suit that fits it I want to! I opted to tie the straps at the neck, halter style, rather than fiddle with attaching them to the back band. I may go back and change that. Haven’t decided yet.


As to fit, the pattern is great. The bottom piece fits me perfectly. Seriously. I’ve never had a purchased suit fit anywhere near that good. I was so surprised when I tried it on. Just couldn’t get over the fact that it fit so well. Actually, I think I might try using the pattern to make underwear with. Why not? Anyway, I picked rather drastically different sizes for the top and bottom, based on the sizing chart. As it turns out, I should have sewn an even smaller size for the top. Need I mention that I’m very pear shaped? The sizing chart went through a few changes during the pattern testing process, and I chose my sizes based on the first version. I suspect a top sewn based on the final sewing chart will fit perfectly. That’s not to say my top didn’t fit me. It will work just fine for pool use. But it is a smidge loose on the sides, so I won’t be wearing it in the wave pool at Water World anytime soon. I suppose I would recommend sizing down, if one is between sizes. Swimsuit material does stretch, after all.


My fabric was a standard swimsuit knit, nothing special there. And regular swimsuit lining. Oh yea, did I mention the suit is fully lined? Maybe that’s standard with swimsuits, I don’t know. But I definitely like that the suit is lined. Oh, and despite how it may look in the pictures, the suit is actually a really rich navy blue color. It was far too cold out to do any kind of outdoor photos, so the sub par lighting in my entryway had to make do.

There’s not much else to say about the Nautilus pattern. It was a quick easy project, with great directions, and very satisfying results. And now that it’s finally gotten hot in my neck of the woods, I need to get myself to the pool!


Lots of sewing and lots of sneezing

Well it’s just been nuts here. The last month has been full of frenzied sewing and not much photo taking. Oh, and the spring crud that seems to be going around. Everybody in my family has been sick. I still sound like death warmed over. Ugh.

In between snotty tissues and coughing, there’s been lots of deadline sewing. First off is the wedding quilt for my sister-in-law. Who got married last June. Really, as long I they get the gift before their first anniversary then it’s not late. I love that tradition. It’s saved my bacon a few times for wedding gifts.


The quilt is actually the 8th one I’ve finished this year. So I’m way ahead on my goal, but way behind on documenting any of it. If I can just make it through the next couple of weeks of scheduling madness, then I’ll have time to start photographing things.

The rest of the sewing is all related to the upcoming wedding of some good friends. First off was sewing one of the bridesmaid dresses. The wedding is going to be fairly casual, and the bridesmaids were simply asked to wear dresses in certain colors, no real specifications on style. My friend who I sewed the dress for is currently seven months pregnant and wasn’t too happy with the limited selection of maternity dresses she could find. Brilliant woman that she is, she tried tracing a pattern off an existing simple jersey dress she owns. We tweaked the pattern a bit, and with relatively few adjustments came out with a lovely dress for her. Gotta love good jersey! I made a copy of the pattern, and plan on making a few shirt versions soon.

Next up is a silk robe as a bridal shower gift. The pattern is from Amy Butler’s In Stitches. I haven’t actually made many things from this book other than the bathrobe. But I’ve made at least five robes at this point. It’s my go-to bridal shower gift.

My husband is one of the groomsmen in the wedding. The guys are wearing dark jeans, light dress shirts, light colored ties and brown vests. He already had everything except for the vest, so that’s where I come in. I actually made formal vests for my husband and the groomsmen for our wedding, so I’ve already got a good pattern. It’s just a matter of finishing the darn thing at this point.

Vest for husband

Vest for husband

Last, of course, is a dress for me. I’m not in the wedding or anything, but assuming I can find the time, I’m going to make a dress to wear. Nothing fancy, as the invite made it clear that the wedding is casual. But something that will look nice and at least be comfortable. I’ve got the fabric picked out already (from my stash of course) and the pattern. Whether I get time to sew it up before the wedding is a whole different issue.


Aside from all that, there have been a few pairs of boxers for the husband, a quick t-shirt or two for me, and a pair of Thurlow shorts almost entirely finished! Look at me, sewing before the season, instead of halfway through it! That never happens.

So yea, really busy. Anybody feel like that happens every spring?

Red Renfrews and a Plain Plantain

As I reach for the me-made shirts in my closet far more often then store bought at this point, it seems prudent to make a few more. Enter one of my favorite shirt patterns: the Renfrew. I’ve already made eight (I think) shirts off this pattern, in a variety of fabrics, and using most combinations of sleeves and neck finishings on the pattern. This is the first one I made with a cowl neck and the three-quarter length sleeves. As usual the top went together without a hitch. This one is made out of a super drapey rayon-poly jersey. It feels great, and is light enough I should be able to wear it well into the spring.


The lovely lady standing next to me is my mom. In a funny bit of coincidence, she happened to be sewing a red Renfrew at the same time I was. So of course, we took pictures together. Her top is made out of a heavier weight cotton interlock. She added the machine embroidery accents. Also, she made the cowl removable! I think it’s a great idea, as it makes the shirt wearable for a great range of temperatures. Too hot? Take the cowl off. Too chilly? Put it back on! I didn’t even realize she’d made the cowl a separate piece until she told me. She did mention that she made the cowl slightly larger around (maybe and inch or two – I should probably check).

Removable cowl!

Removable cowl!

As there was a little bit of my mom’s red fabric left, kiddo got a shirt too! I love that I can sew clothes for him out of what might otherwise be considered scraps. I know that won’t last for long, given how fast he’s growing, but I’ll enjoy it while I still can.

Kiddo’s shirt is off a vintage pattern for Toddler Sportwear by Sunrise Designs. I’m guessing it was printed in the late 1970’s, or early 80’s since my mom made clothes off this pattern for my brother and I. Thankfully, after we both out grew it, she tucked it away to use for future grandchildren. And I’m thrilled she did! It’s got nice classic patterns for shirts, pants, shorts and jackets that should be enough to keep kiddo dressed for a while. And it’s sized 1T through 4T. Anyway, this was the first shirt we made him off this pattern, but it fits so well, my mom has already cut out four more. She also machine embroidered the bunny on his shirt. The text reads “I’m your little Valentine”. Yes, it’s a Valentine’s Day shirt. That’s how long it’s taken me to get around to this post. Sigh.

ValentineKiddo2And one more picture for good measure…


While I was on a shirt making roll, I decided to try out the Plantain, a free pattern by Deer & Doe. I’ve seen the shirt made up on countless other blogs, and thought it would be good to make something other than a Renfrew for once. You know, variety and all. Anyway, I’m pretty happy with how it came out.


Since I really had no idea how this was going to fit, I opted to make a test version before cutting into any of my really nice fabric. I’d already made two other shirts (maternity, no less) out of this blue fabric, so I wasn’t too worried about wasting this fabric if the top came out awful for some reason. Admittedly, this isn’t the best fabric choice. It’s a cotton/lycra (or spandex? how does one tell?) blend, so it’s got plenty of stretch. Not much drape though. Still, the shirt is wearable, and now I know how the pattern fits.


I didn’t bother with the elbow patches this time. Maybe on the next shirt. The bottom hem does tend to roll up, but I know that’s due to the fabric, since both the other shirts in this fabric do the exact same thing. The sleeves are a bit shy of the three-quarter length on the pattern, because I simply ran out of fabric. The length works fine for me though.

In the lengthy interval it’s taken me to get this post up, I’ve actually finished a second Plantain. This one is out of a lovely, drapey rayon jersey. It’s a much better fabric choice for this pattern.


As with the first one, I used up the whole piece of fabric, and the sleeves are actually a bit shorter than the pattern’s three-quarter length sleeve. Still just enough to cover my elbows though. But not really long enough for the elbow patches. Eventually I’ll make a long sleeve version and put on the elbow patches.

PebblePlantain2There’s not much else to say about the Plantain. It’s a lovely pattern, and one I’ll certainly sew again. Actually, I’ve already played with it some more since this last shirt. But I’ll save that for another post.


Well, I’ve really fallen off the blogging bandwagon, haven’t I? Not much sewing going on around these parts lately, save for some mending. But hey, I did get through nearly my whole mending pile. It’s not like I have any shortage of other things to sew, either. I’ve somehow amassed a pile of unfinished projects. And at this point, I need to start finishing some of them in order to unearth my cutting table.

First off, we have the dress shirt that’s been languishing in my studio for at least three weeks at this point. All it needs is sleeves, a little top-stitching and buttons. I think I stalled originally on the hand-stitching at the collar. But that’s finally done, so really, I have no excuse for not just finishing the thing.


Next up is the cut-out-but-not-sewn-at-all baby romper. If I don’t sew this up soon, it may be too late, given how fast kiddo seems to be growing. I cut this out from the romper pattern in Sewing For Boys. Then, before I got around to glancing at the sewing instructions, I had to return the book to the library. So, the romper has been waiting for the book to come available again for check out.


Then there’s these two t-shirts. Because I didn’t haven enough on my plate already, I used up valuable nap time to cut out two more t-shirts. And now they’re both in half-finished states, waiting for another nap time sewing stint.


I think maybe I’d better try to finish up all of these projects (and the rest of the mending) before I cut anything else out. Although, I’d really like to make a pair of Thurlow shorts…

Not Dead, Just Gardening

My garden has been taking up nearly all my spare time lately, so not much sewing has been going on. However my garden apron has been getting daily use! More use than anything else I’ve sewn lately.

In my small bits of extra time I decided it’s high time to start making some clothes for my son. While he’s still very little, he’s past the point where making clothes for him feels like sewing doll clothes. I recently got a copy of Sewing For Boys from the library. I’ve seen it mentioned on a few other blogs (most recently on Blogless Anna, where she made a very cute boys hat) and thought it was worth checking out. Many of the patterns are for older boys, but there are a handful with sizing for those under 1 year old.

I decided to try out the Mr. Two-Face pants pattern. Pants are quick and easy, and kiddo is pretty hard on the pants he’s got, now that he’s crawling everywhere. Also, I thought it would be nice to finally have pants that fit him well. He’s pretty long compared to his weight, so most pants are too short. Plus, I’ve got him in cloth diapers which are a good bit bulkier than the disposables, so there needs to be a little extra room in the seat to accommodate the diaper bubble butt.


That said, I figured I’d just make the pants up straight off the pattern for the first go round. Kiddo is solidly in 12 month size commercial clothing (despite not being 12 months yet), so I cut out the 12 month size pattern. That was a mistake. Apparently the sizing in this book is much more accurate than commercial clothing. Really, I should have known that. I don’t think I’ve ever been then same pattern size as commercial clothing size. The pants are definitely too big for him right now. Conveniently, babies grow. So at some point (probably around 12 months) these should fit him fine.


“Hey Mom, these are kinda big, don’t you think?”

The pattern actually calls for making each leg in a different color, and adding a pocket to the back. I didn’t bother with any of that as I wanted to see how the pants fit first. I used some scraps of an old piece of cotton interlock to make this pair. That’s a definite perk of baby and kid sewing by the way – using up those pieces of fabric that are too big to get rid of, but too small to make any kind of adult garment out of. This particular scrap had some faded fold lines that were right in the middle of the piece. Since there wasn’t enough fabric to cut around them, I decided to make them a design element. I laid out the pieces so the fade lines were (almost) centered on the front of the legs. Then before putting the pants together, I ran some decorative stitching down the fade lines to help disguise them. I used the same stitch for the hem. I think it looks okay, better than the fade lines at least. And hey, kiddo can’t even talk yet, so it’s not like he’s going to protest.


Another added bonus of this project is that it used up a chunk (albeit a small one) of stash fabric! Next up, I’m planning on trying out the romper pattern from Sewing For Boys. Since it’s supposed to be in the 90’s (and therefore too hot to garden) for the next week or so, I might actually get some sewing done.

No time to sew

And apparently no time to post either. Sigh. Not much sewing going on lately, save for a project that I can’t write about yet. So, in lieu of current sewing, here’s the write-up on a couple of my new shirts from May.


The yellow one was first. It was actually the test shirt, to make sure the style would look okay on me and have enough ease to be comfortable with a camisole underneath. Sure enough, I added just a smidge more ease to the second shirt.


enlarged sleeve

The pattern is just my self-drafted kimono sleeve t-shirt with extra room added to the sleeves and body, and hems on the sleeves instead of sleeve bands. That’s it. Quick and easy.


Looser sleeves

Though it’s hard to see in the photo the yellow one is actually thin yellow and white strips. The fabric has been in my stash forever (yea for stashbusting!) so I don’t have a clue what it is. Probably some sort of poly/cotton blend, from the feel of it. It’s a very lightweight knit, perfect for hot weather and just sheer enough that it really requires a camisole underneath. It thought it would be great test fabric, since my “good” piece of fabric is also a very light weight knit that requires a camisole underneath.

May 29-four

The second shirt is out of this lovely black and gray striped knit. The fun part is that the black stripes are actually lace. I need to try this shirt on sometime with a bright or light colored cami, to see how much color actually shows through the lace. This piece is also out of my stash, and the shirt used up all of it. Nothing but scraps left.

May 29-five

a little bit looser sleeve

Both shirts are terribly comfortable, especially with the recent heat wave that’s kicked in here. I swear, it feels like we went from snow every week to a summer heat wave. The black and gray shirt has rapidly become one of my favorites. I’ve worn it at least once a week since making it.

So there you go. Two more super quick tops to add to my arsenal of t-shirts. And two more pieces of fabric to add to my stashbusting count!

Twisty Dress

Ha ha! I sewed a dress! And I actually wore it (this is only remarkable given how rarely I wear dresses). And I remembered that knit dresses are pretty darn comfy. Perhaps this will inspire me to make (and wear) a few more of them.


yes, my legs really are that pale

This is the dress version of one of my favorite t-shirts, from Butterick B4745. Having made a dress off this pattern once before I knew I needed to make some adjustments to the pattern.


I lengthened it about 2 inches, and flared the skirt out. The original skirt is a fairly minimal A-line that doesn’t really have enough room in the hip area. I’ve had this pattern for a long time, and at the time I bought it I generally went ahead and cut the tissue instead of tracing. So, the pattern pieces are cut in the size that fits my bust, but not really my hips. Easy enough to fix though. I re-traced the pieces (there are only two!) with the extra length, and added some width from the waist down.


Needs shaping in the back

The back of the dress is one piece, so I added a center back seam to be able to add to the skirt from the center as well as the sides. Also, it gave me the opportunity to add some much needed shaping to the center back.


As drafted, the back hangs straight down from the shoulders. I’m sure it would be fine if I had a belt to wear with this, but since I don’t, the back really needed some help. I didn’t actually add any shaping until after I’d sewn it up. Then I put it on inside out and had my mom pin in the back to fit better.


Pinned and ready to take in

Here’s a detail shot of the twist in the front bodice. The front is cut too low for my comfort, but looks rather nice with a camisole underneath. I may just stitch it closed a bit higher in the future, but for now the v-neck in a stretchy fabric make this wearable for nursing.


The fabric is an ITY knit that’s been in my stash for a few years. And this dress used up just about all of it. I have nothing but scraps left. Maybe enough for a little girls t-shirt, but that’s it. And it’s sheer dumb luck that I was able to line up the pattern to get the stripes matching all the way around.


Of course, if I hadn’t been able to fit the pieces, I wouldn’t have cut the dress out of this. As it is, it’s very satisfying that I could get the dress cut out with everything matching and use up the fabric.


There really is a seam in there somewhere…

I used my serger for most of the construction. The hems are finished with a twin needle. It looks decent, but is messier on the inside. And I had to fiddle with the tension a fair bit to minimize the tunneling that so frequently happens when using a twin needle. This is the kind of sewing project that makes me wish I had a coverstitch machine.


Magenta and black thread, just for kicks

I’m pretty please with the finished dress. Now that I’ve got the pattern re-traced with my changes it’ll be easy to knock out a few more of these if I want to. This would certainly help use up some of the knit fabrics in my stash!