Almost-perfect sweatshirt + Squam packing list

Almost-perfect sweatshirt + Squam packing list

This past weekend, I packed two totally different sets of clothes for two very different trips: Squam Art Workshops and Portugal. Pretty much all of my current favorite garments went into the Portugal pile (show you later), which left me combing through my remaining clothes looking for just the right few things that are A) reasonably presentable enough to teach in, B) appropriate for tromping around in the New Hampshire woods, and C) suitable for the cool, changeable, early-spring weather (as I sweat here in Nashville). And also, I seem to have entered some phase where each time I pack I’m in some kind of competition with myself to see how few things I can get away with! So, y’know, just a few complications there. But thankfully I left myself some very helpful notes after last year.

The Squam trip is just five days: travel there, teach, teach, playtime/art fair, travel home. (Although it feels so long and peaceful in those woods.) Having just watched On Golden Pond, which was filmed on Squam Lake, what I really wanted was to dress exactly like Katharine Hepburn in the movie — i.e., a daily diet of big button-down shirts over a jersey turtleneck and trousers.

In reality, there are two things going in both suitcases — my trusty old denim vest and my recently finished grey sweatshirt, above. It is perfect in every way but one: I cut the fabric the wrong direction. But it’s fine! And I’m looking forward to having it along for sleeping in, for knitting on the screened porch at night, and of course for those chilly mornings on the dock before class. It’s Grainline’s Linden Sweatshirt, and all I did was raise the neckline about an inch all the way around. The fit is utterly perfect, and I’ll definitely make it many more times over the course of my life.

So I’m takig 7 primary garments (outfit clothes) in my Squam suitcase:

Squam Art Workshops packing list

Black cardigan
– Denim vest (J.Crew, ancient)
– Chambray shirt (hand-me-down)
Black shell
Striped shell
– Clay wide-legs (Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Culotte, made in Nashville, sample sale 2017)
– Jeans (Imogene+Willie Willie, made in US, 2017)

(Lots of overlap with last year.) Plus for around the cabin: the sweatshirt, a tee, old cutoffs and my thick black leggings. And since apparently my good ol’ Chucks were the only shoes I wore last year, they’re the only shoes I’m taking this year — hopefully no rain. I’m tempted to throw in my black turtleneck, just in case.

Funny to think I’ll be seeing some of you in the dining hall tonight!

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PREVIOUSLY: Squam 2017 reflections and outfits and Knitting in paradise

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The Clyde jacket-to-vest rescue mission: accomplished!

The Clyde jacket-to-vest rescue mission: accomplished!

I finished two more things from my spring make list this weekend and technically this is the latter of them, but I’m telling you about it first because I am so over-the-moon in LOVE that I need to shout about it immediately. This, you may recall, began life as the Clyde Jacket that fell into my hands at the Elizabeth Suzann sample sale back in early December for $35, mysteriously unfinished (as in: it had never gotten its sleeves). Upon close inspection, the stitching around the hem looks as if the machine was acting up, and it even chewed a hole in the fabric in one spot, at which point there clearly was a decision made not to bother attaching the sleeves. Thankfully, instead of being tossed on the fire, so to speak, it was tossed onto the sample-sale pile — and I’m SO glad, because rescuing it has given me some serious joy, and I also might never leave home without it.

To convert it from an unfinished jacket to a finished vest, all I did was put it on my dress form, put one of my State Smocks on over the top of it, and trace the big armhole of the smock onto the canvas of the jacket with a chalk pen. When I took away the smock and looked at the line I had drawn, it perfectly echoed the shape of the pockets, as if fate had intended it all along. The Clyde jacket has front and back panels flanking the wide side panels into which the crescent pockets are set, so all I did is adjust the markings a tiny bit so I had just enough fabric running alongside those vertical seams to be able to attach bias binding. As it happens, I also had a bunch of navy linen fabric from last summer’s ES garage sale, which matched the navy canvas perfectly. So I cut long strips of bias, attached them all the way around the armhole, then turned it all under and top-stitched, so in the end the vertical panels form the tops of the armholes, with nothing visibly added. It makes for a really nice detail!

I don’t even mind the aforementioned hole in the fabric. You can barely see it, the jacket is so dark, but it’s also a good excuse to try out the darning function on my machine at some point.

So in the end, what I have is a shorter version of the Clyde Vest, and it feels completely indispensable to me — like the garment I can’t believe I’ve lived this long without. In fact, I have a Clyde Jacket in Clay that I paid full price for last year (and adore), and I’m considering making the same alteration to it! I may even have some matching canvas for that from the garage sale …

The Clyde jacket-to-vest rescue mission: accomplished!

Worn here with my canvas pants. And the other thing I finished this weekend is over on Instagram.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Recycled denim pants

Recycled pants (2018 FO-14)

Recycled pants (2018 FO-14)

On Saturday, while our beloved contractor was tearing an ever larger hole in the middle of our house,* I was on the other side of the wall from him, in my little workroom, keeping myself occupied by sewing up the other pair of pants I had cut out a few weeks ago. These are the same as all my other modified Robbie pants — my “toddlers” — with the caveat that each pair varies slightly in the rise and/or the thigh. (That’s in addition to the more major modifications shared by them all: my own pockets, longer legs, wider hems, totally different waistband.) Between the fabric and the particular tweaks I made when cutting this one, this is basically the pair I’ve been wanting the whole time; what I’ve always wished the denim pair to be. The fabric here is 100% recycled cotton — denim industry waste, woven into a heavy canvas. The light-denim color combined with this silhouette makes them feel a little bit 1970s, in a good way. And despite a hilarious number of thread issues along the way,** I’m extremely pleased with them.

These and the natural canvas pair are sure to be the cornerstones of my summer wardrobe this year, which I’ll be getting into the planning for tomorrow! I promise photos of them on me in the course of all that. These never look like much on the hanger …

Pattern: Robbie Pant by Tessuti (reuse No. 6, whoa)
Modifications: self-drafted pockets, assorted tweaks, modified 2″ waistband
Fabric: 100% recycled cotton canvas, not commercially available anywhere that I know of

*If you haven’t seen it in my Instagram Stories, we’re remodeling our bathroom, which — as they do — keeps turning into a bigger and bigger job than expected.

**Thread 1 was garbage, so I switched to thread 2, which ran out an inch shy of my finishing the waistband top-stitching, so then came thread 3, followed by the bobbin (still thread 1) running out just short of the second hem being complete (finished with thread 3). And since I only use natural thread in my serger, there are a total of four different threads used here! lol

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The sweatshirt vest

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The sweatshirt vest (2018 FO-13)

The sweatshirt vest (2018 FO-13)

This little sweater vest — or sweatshirt vest, as I’ve been calling it — turned out so incredibly cute. It bored me to tears while I was knitting it, but I’m completely in love with the finished garment and will be wearing it to death. And best of all, it was a clever use of great yarn sitting idly in my stash: the grey Balance from my abandoned cardigan, held together with ivory Pebble left over from my striped raglan. I actually still have enough of both yarns to make another one just like it. And you know what? I might!

I knitted it on US8s, at 4.25 sts/in, and the fabric is an absolute dream. The Balance is 50/50 organic cotton/wool, and the Pebble is recycled silk, merino and cashmere — just a whisper of that blend wrapped around the cotton/wool. I highly recommend you try it sometime!

I did not take good notes while doing this, I think due to the apathy at the time, so don’t expect there to be a pattern. But you really don’t need one! You could take any plain sweater vest pattern — like this one, for instance — and simply leave off the waistband, work three or four inches at each side in reverse stockinette, and add the little V detail at the neck. I’ll post The Details tomorrow about that bit.

I’m actually not 100% sure I’m done. I’ve tested assorted waistband/hem treatment possibilities, but I like it like this — the slight roll of the stockinette reminds me of a cutoff sweatshirt, which is a common feature of my closet — and I love the length, especially when worn over a camisole as seen here. (This is the spring equivalent of my favorite winter outfit this past season.) So for now, at least, I’m leaving it. And as noted, there’s ample yarn if I ever want to add on!

• Pattern: No pattern / Like it at Ravelry
Yarn: Balance in Talc and Pebble in Ivory, held together throughout
Worn with: Natural canvas pants and ikat camisole

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Hipster painter pants

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Hipster painter pants (2018 FO-12)

Hipster painter pants (2018 FO-12)

If you feel like you’ve seen these pants before, you have and you haven’t. These are the replacements for the previous natural pair that sadly shrank in the wash.* I’d been sorely missing having them to lean on all spring, and am thrilled to have a version back in my closet! They are both better and worse than the originals, in various ways. There’s no match for the incredible Huston Textile Union Cloth the originals were made of: Woven in California on a smaller loom, that cloth is chunkier and airier at the same time, and the fiber was CA-grown, climate-beneficial wool and organic cotton. Exquisite stuff. The ones above, on the other hand, are in some generic undyed canvas I bought at Elizabeth Suzann’s garage sale last summer for $2/pound (meaning these pants cost me about a buck), and it wears and hangs completely differently than the Huston cloth did. I feel great about the fact they’re 100% cotton remnant fabric, and even better about how genuinely not precious these are. I had said that I was not going to treat the originals as precious, and I’m saying the same about this pair, but it’s easier to feel that way when the fabric is, in fact, not precious! What I love about these pants in natural canvas is they’re like stylish painter’s pants, so that’s how I’ll be treating them.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I modified and sewed my waistbands on all of these “toddler pants” of mine, since I don’t use the Robbie waistband (or pockets). So I’ll do a write-up on my waistband method for The Details. After which, I’ll show you this sweater, as soon as I can get it written up! Details on the ikat tank are here.

By the way, happy #memademay! Are you participating in any way? I’m at a point where every month is me-made month, in a sense, so I’ll probably be pretty loose about how I chime in. Definitely, absolutely not taking 30 selfies. ;)

Pattern: Robbie Pant by Tessuti (reuse No. 5)
Modifications: self-drafted pockets, assorted tweaks, modified 2″ waistband
Fabric: remnant/unknown, 100% cotton natural/undyed canvas

*The fabric had been washed in hot water before it was given to me; I did not re-prewash, and I paid the price. And yes, I washed the finished pants on cool/delicates and air dried, despite their prewash. They shrank anyway — these things happen sometimes! The world carries on.

Belated FOs: The plaid tee and black puff sleeve

Belated FOs: The plaid tee and black puff sleeve

Someday soon I’ll be ready to do some spring-into-summer wardrobe planning, and am imagining once again including this little plaid top in my closet inventory with the words “never blogged,” followed by all the natural questions about it. So instead I thought Gee, Karen, what if you blogged it! And actually there are two of them from the same pattern, neither one ever properly recorded, so I’m here today to correct the record.

Both of these tops were sewn from a now out-of-print Cynthia Rowley for Simplicity pattern #2472. I can be that specific because I have this 6-year-old blog that has a much better memory than I do. Having just tripped back through a search, I can report that when I got the urge to take up sewing again after learning to knit, the first thing I sewed was this crosshatchy quilting cotton version after seeing this one on Make Something. I’ve made several of them over the years, always tampering with this simplest of patterns, but the two above are the ones that have stuck around and been worn.

The black one (from early 2014, just before I left Berkeley) is in a chambray I had left over from another project, just barely enough to squeak out a cropped version, which I love. With those gathered sleeves, it’s probably the girliest thing in my closet! But it looks great with wide-leg pants, and can be worn in just about any setting, so even though I wouldn’t want you to see the inside of it, it’s a keeper.

The plaid one is sewn from a translucently thin cotton plaid I bought from Drygoods Design in early 2015. All I did with this one is adjust the length, shorten the sleeves and hem them — no gathers. It was the last thing I ever sewed on my old machine, after the *#@!er acted up while I was topstitching the neck on this beloved and delicate fabric. It’s also wonky because the fabric has biased considerably over time. So it’s another case of something that might not pass muster with any scrutinizing sewers, and the fit is not quite as intended, but it has nonetheless proved to be a useful member of my closet for three years now.

I had some of the plaid fabric left over, and bought a couple more yards from Fancy Tiger not long after, and have been hoarding it. Despite the biasing, I absolutely adore this plaid. It’s hard to see in a photo but it’s black and grey and golden-tan, and the grey reads almost as lilac or pale blue depending what you put it up against. It’s just lovely. But given how thin it is and how it behaves, I have yet to figure out the ideal use for the yardage that remains.

RE the pattern, though, you can easily replicate this with the Fen top or Shirt No. 1. Just tinker with the length as you like, make the sleeve flaps elbow length, then gather them to your liking and finish with bias trim.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: My first sweatshirt

My first Linden sweatshirt (2018 FO-11)

My first Linden sweatshirt (2018 FO-11)

I was trying to figure out how this could be the first garment I’ve made this year, when it’s mid-April already, and then I remembered: blue Bellows. Anyway, here I am crossing the first thing off my Spring Make List, item 3b. This was a bit of a trial run with me and the Linden Sweatshirt pattern, and I promise it’s much less sad and droopy looking on me than it is on the dress form. I’m also still pretty new at sewing knits, and this fabric posed an extra challenge, so I went into the whole thing with a decidedly que sera attitude. It was very quick to make and I’ll get plenty of use out of it, but it’s not my best work.

The fabric is a super gushy, thick pile terry, with a little bit of a surface pattern to it. So there was no chance of finding matching ribbing, but I wasn’t sure how well it would work to use itself either. I also had a pretty small piece of it, all of which is why I opted to use it for view B of the pattern, which has a folded hem at the waist and short sleeves, and only the neckband to worry about, ribbing-wise. My other concern was the neckline itself. Jen Beeman and I have become great friends over the past few years, and agree on just about everything, but necklines are not one of them! I can’t stand a gaping neckhole, and Jen can’t stand anything up around her neck, so I expected that this neck would be larger than I would have drafted it myself. Rather than worrying about it (since I wasn’t sure this was even going to work) I opted to trace off the pattern as is, sew it up, and see how much I might want to adjust the neck on the next one. Sure enough, when I sewed the front, back and sleeves together — this is a straight size 8 — the neck was on the big side for me, but fortunately I had just enough fabric to cut a wider neckband and make up for some of that.

My first Linden sweatshirt (2018 FO-11)

Attaching the band was a job, thanks to the fabric. There was absolutely no chance I was going to get three layers of this fluff under the foot of my serger, so I basted it together on my regular machine — then unpicked the parts where the layers shifted and redid it, congratulating myself that I hadn’t tried that on the serger. Sewing the three layers together caused the top one to fold back on itself at the stitching line. So next I carefully zigzagged all three layers of the seam allowance together, again on my regular machine, and by then they were compressed enough that I could get the whole thing under the serger and finish the edge properly. I still have one spot where the outer layer wasn’t quite caught enough, right at the top of the raglan seen in the photo, and then I did a shoddy job topstitching it. But these are the sorts of things that the average person who sees it on me will never notice!

Then came the hemming. Even with the presser foot pressure off and using a long stitch, sewing the two layers together caused the whole thing to splay a bit, so it’s a little bell-shaped, which is fine with me, honestly. (I added two inches to the length when cutting it, and sewed a wider hem than called for.) But I didn’t want the same splaying to happen at the sleeves, so I just serged the edges and will wear them rolled.

This top has a lot in common with the wool knit version made from Jen’s other pattern — my whole modified Hemlock tee thing. But I’ll try to get pics of me wearing them both for comparison. Apart from one being boiled wool and one cotton jersey, meaning they’re useful at different times of the year, it’s a good demonstration of how much better I look in a raglan than drop-shouldered garment.

Having now sewn this wonderfully quick and simple pattern (just like everyone always told me), I’m excited to make my proper heather grey sweatshirt version.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: ScandinAndean earflap hat

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