Pause, the Yellow Knit-Lace

‘Fraid I need a break, even though I’ve hardly started with the knit-lace vest.  I favor two, but none of my bindings make me happy.  Binding the edges is going to take a lot of time and even more testing. I’m reluctant to start when I’m not the least bit enthused about possible results.

I did want to thank all those who made suggestions and make a few replies.

I don’t believe a rolled hem, or satin stitch (tight zig-zag) edge finish would work well due to the nature of the fabric.  There is no place that I can cut without gaps appearing. It’s just the nature of the lace fabric.  Instead of finishing nicely, there would be gaps and even stitches falling apart.

Dying my own fabric for edging is out simply because in recent years I’ve decided I want nothing to do with dyeing.  It’s the whole chemical issue I disagree with.  I abhor ‘gowning up’ ie. adding personal protective layers like a mask and gloves for my creative work.  I know others do it, but I don’t want to and it’s my sewing.

I could however go all Jason Pollack for the project. I love working acrylic paints which need only a drop sheet beneath the work and apron to protect my own clothes. So while I reject dying, I find the suggestion inspiring and may do a bit of painting; and am happy to thank you for the dyeing suggestion.  It will take some time and planning. I’ll need to locate a fabric that can be used and time to paint the various layers (and allow them to dry).

But, I  think I will be heading for Sioux Falls or Rapid City in the next few months.I’m not happy about the medical necessities. I am happy about destinations which support good quality dressmaking stores.

What it boils down to, is I’ve decided to set this project aside and see if I can find a good binding fabric either pre-printed, dyed or ready to paint.

I’ll let you know when/if I make progress.

Yellow Knit-Lace

I put away my last and less-than-satisfactory projects and pulled out the knit laces I’ve been eyeing for several months now.

I purchased 3 (I think) Knit-Lace yardages which the vendor insisted were “Crochet Lace”.  These are not crotchet.  Crotchet is a one needle technique which produces distinctively different stitches and texture.  These are Knit Lace which is lovely and very holey, even to the point of suggesting crotchet patterns. But, crotch it is not. Nonetheless I purchased these last spring and have been wondering ever since what I was going to do with them.  They’re actually heavier than the sweater knits I bought at about the same time .  But their holey and thereby revealing nature prevents me from seriously considering sewing them into the pull-over shapes I love to wear in the winter. I felt they were too heavy for summer shawls and wraps which I rarely wear.  I’m considering the sweater/pullover shape, anyway, but with the understanding I would always wear a blouse beneath said sweater. Another option would be lining.  A nice knit- tricot lining that would spare my modesty and elevate the garment from pullover to knit top. For this first garment though I’ve settled upon a cardigan and then further refined it to be a sleeveless cardigan or vest shape. Because, my typical winter uniform is pants, with blouse or knit top and a vest.  Jackets and cardigans are worn much less often.  A vest suits my need for just a bit more warmth when inside.

I’ve chosen my pattern, NL 6249 View C or D

This pattern appeals to me for several reasons.  The shape is still current. If the garment lasts long enough, it’s big enough to be reshaped should I so desire.  I’ve made it before (scroll down to first post) which means I’ve solved my fitting issues. More importantly, I have a fair idea of how this looks on me and how it works in my life.  It is neither my best nor worst look i.e. I’m not suddenly 2′ taller nor a little blob. It is however wonderfully useful.  I”m likely to keep making copies even as it becomes less stylish just because I really do like the garment.  Using a known pattern eliminates some of the problems that could be encountered when using a novel or difficult fabric. Why is all this so important?  Because at this point I can consider the sewing techniques and finishes needed for:

  • Pockets — hem edges finished, turned down 1″ and top stitched. The 3 unfinished edges are caught in the side seam, hem and center front seam.
  • Center front is finished with a long, wide band which is folded in half length-wise and then stitched to the center front, around the neckline and down the other center front.This is fine for most fabrics. 
  • The side seams are finished (serged, bound, etc) then folded 5/8 to the inside and pressed. The side seams are then stitched from the bottom up to the dot which marks the underarm.  Side seams are pressed again and  the ‘armscye’ is top-stitched catching and holding the previously finished  seam edges.
  • The hem is  finished, turned up and stitched into place.

Actually, it is a well thought out sewing procedure.  As I recall, several finishing methods were suggested, but I serged everything on my first garment.  I’m not sure that is the best option for my knit-lace.  The seams will show at least a little. Plus whatever I do,  seams  will be thick.  Serging the center front will involve 3 and sometimes 5 layers of spongy, thick fabric.

So the next step in my mind is considering possible finishes.

I can still serge everything and ignore the seams peaking through.

I don’t think french seams are an option.  I would have to find another finish for the neckline and hem and the armscyes would present some difficulties.

Over lap seams?  I’m not sure lapped seams are a good idea.  Wherever I cut there will be little pieces sticking up.  Trying to catch those may not be easy and catching all may not be possible.

Same thing with felled seams. All those little pieces sticking out are going to be hard to control plus I’ll need another finishing method for neckline, armscyes and hems.

I could bind with bias tape. I don’t like making bias tape so I hunted through my stash of commercial bias tape.My application, not shared, was rather mangled. But I would have worked at it more except  I didn’t like the look  of the commercial tape up against the knit lace. It looked “home-made”.

I considered ribbon to edge and cover the edges but I have no matching ribbon.

At this point I’m thinking either serge and top stitch or bind edges.  Either way, I need to do a little testing.


First Samples

I’m leaning towards binding the edges because  I can still follow all the easy and neat finishing instructions in the pattern.  I looked for binding fabric in my stash.

I have nothing that matches exactly.  So I made a bunch of samples.

My samples are all 2″,  crosswise cut strips that are folded double (WST, lengthwise) and then stitched to the raw edge of a swatch. I varied between 1/8, 1/4, and 3/8 seams.  The binding was then wrapped around the edge and either top stitched or stitched-in-the-ditch.  #1, is a quilting cotton I wanted to use in a camp shirt.  #2 is self fabric and it was not doubled i.e. folded in half as all the other swatches. I felt it would be too heavy.  So I aligned raw edges, stitched, wrapped and trimmed close.  It does make a nice finish and is not as heavy as I expected.  Still I’m hesitant to use #2 because of what will be the combined weight when the garment is finished.

3 is a fine twill blouse fabric.  I wanted to try a contrasting binding even though I hesitate to use brown.  I don’t want the garment limited to brown and yellow combinations. Yellow works well with black and blue (my other basics) but I won’t mix brown with black or blue. I just don’t like the combination.  Interestingly this twill was not flexible enough to completely wrap the edge.  So I folded the entire seam up once and top stitched. Raw edges are still completely enclosed. The dual finished sides do create an interesting look.

4 is a crinkle voile cotton.  Very light weight. Almost an organza.  I made a self-lined blouse from this some time ago because it is nearly transparent.

5 is a cotton calico I’d intended for craft projects. 6 is a poly lining, 7 acetate and 8 is a home dec fabric.

I’m surprised at the range of yellow ochre fabrics in my stash. I prefer this muted yellow to lemon yellow and seem to buy it often but wear it sparingly. I had thought the knit-lace to be a very light yellow. In fact I expected it to match the cotton voile.Instead the the cotton voile emphasises the ‘ochre’ part of the yellow.

None of my bindings are a clear winner. Some were difficult to apply but I would use if I really liked the finished appearance.  Not shown was a tulle which was difficult for me to see while cutting folding and sewing. I knocked it out of the running almost immediately because I couldn’t imagine working with the yards of it I will need to bind all the edges of my garment. (Discussion of the chosen garment yet to come).  I like the acetate #7, but my previous experience is that acetate wears and tears quickly.   #8 takes on a greenish cast next to the knit but handled beautifully.

Once I select a binding, I still have more testing to do.  I recently bought a binding foot that I’d like to learn how to use. This project would be a perfect showcase for a newly mastered technique. I’m planning to set aside a day just to work with that foot.  By planning to do nothing else, I remove a lot of self-inflicted stress and will probably do well immediately.

For the actual project and final testing, I’ll cut my binding on the bias.  I need bias to smoothly go around the neckline.  From experience, albeit limited, I’ll need to starch my chosen fabric. Starching will add another day to my process while it dries. Even though I’m not wild about any of these binding, I prefer to work from my stash.  It’s 1.5 hours to any store. 3 hours to a store with good dressmaking fabric. So while I’d also like to try a faux suede, I know that’s not going to happen.  I could order online but I have the same problem that put me in the spot I’m in:  color.  Do I want to order and wait for samples?  Which could be out of stock by the time I receive them and make my decision. Do I want to extend this project by adding the few weeks ordering on-line  would take? No I think I’ll just sew from the stash as originally planned. So now, I just need to decide which of these bindings I want to use.

Which is your favorite?

My Almost Autumn 6PAC

Apologies for the garbled post.  I write my posts a day or two before actually publishing so that I have a chance to re-read the post with fresh eyes before you can read it. Even with that, I will still catch errors and omissions later on.  In this case, I didn’t get back to read the post before it went live, hence I’m editing and republishing now. 

So sorry to admit that I didn’t complete a 6PAC for Fall 2015. I had good intentions and started fine, but along the way fell apart.

Perhaps it was the way I started.  I was sweating through the summer heat  trying to think of cool weather and warm clothing all the while sorting through fabrics to configure my fall group.  My first downfall may have been the color selection. I’m so far out in the sticks that acquiring coordinating fabrics is challenging.   Often I buy through the internet after navigating endless pages of less then illuminating descriptions.  Thankfully, color is much better represented today than it was in the past, but that doesn’t help with fabrics acquired previously or with fabrics that are not fully described.   The blue above is one of those. It’s a lovely color but not one that I would buy had I been in the store. Nonetheless,  I thought I had enough of this muted blue color and the coordinating ginger brown to make a 6 PAC.  So I started sewing.

The blue pants, a cotton/poly fabric, were constructed using my TNT PP113 pattern. Because I had used the pattern so much, I did a small amount of embroidery (not visible in the pic) along the hem.

The blouse is the same shade but lightened so much that it appears white.  I used Louise Cutting YED pattern and chose embroidery colors to coordinate with the next pair of pants a cotton/lycra constructed using Trudy Janen’s Designer Jean pattern 906. For the plaid silk vest/3rd layer, I chose the sleeveless version of Conni Crawford’s 5793.

So far not bad. The 5 garments work together for a late summer collection.  Then I blew it.  I had chosen a cotton/poly sheeting to make a long sleeve blouse. I ruined it. I dunno. Bad day.  I didn’t have a replacement fabric.  My 6th piece and the one which would have made this a transitional collection could not be completed.

I’m miles and miles away from any fabric store  I waited for months until I could get to a real fabric store. I should have just called it done when I realized I had ruined the final fabric/garment. But I didn’t and I preserved the completed garments unworn for weeks  in the closet. That turned out to be another mistake because…

the YED top which I lovingly embroidered because I thought I had it fit was pretty bad when worn. It was amazing for the 10 minute photo shoot and initial wearing. But  during the first actual wearing, I found I’d made a terrible mistake. The back pulls from underarm to underarm. Almost like something sawing back and forth and very uncomfortable.  The front armscye binds.  It’s not that the garment is too small; rather it is too long between shoulder and underarm. I’m not sure by how much. I am sure that when fitting a bodice I shouldn’t select the initial size based upon my hip measurement. Yes, I’ve finally adopted the view point of many of my peers:  fit a bodice by starting with the bust measurement then adapt to fit the hip.

The ginger jeans also turned wicked during wear.  They had felt large during fitting and I had accordingly stitched the side seams a little deeper until they both looked and felt good. But wear warms the fabric and encourages it to stretch apparently in all directions.  The jeans which fit beautifully during pics and in the morning, became rumpled and dumpy when worn.  A good hot wash shrank them back to size but now I’m reluctant to wear them. “Dowdy” is not my sewing objective.

Thankfully the plaid, silk, over blouse/vest/3rd layer is fine  during wear.  However, it doesn’t work well as a 3rd layer.  It doesn’t provide the warmth I need in the grocery freezer section nor the protection I need when the sun blazes upon my arms.   It is too warm to wear a 3rd layer during d most of late summer/early fall. I’m hoping rescue it by converting to a blouse next spring.  I  take away the knowledge that the short sleeve vest positively does not work in my lifestyle.

Sigh.  I made a 5 PAC instead of a 6 then effectively lost one of the tops due to fit and one of the bottoms due to the way the fabric stretches during wear; and lost my 3rd layer because short sleeves don’t work as on over blouse in my life style.  So I don’t have a collection at all. I have a pair of pants in an odd blue color and a hope to fix my 3rd layer into a wearable short sleeve blouse. I might have an outfit since I can combine the pants with other neutrals in the closet and wear either my navy blue or white  summer jacket pieces as a 3rd layer.

You know, that’s just how it goes some times.



This Collection pointed out a very real problem I have, that of acquiring coordinating fabrics when I am so far away from fabric sources. I’m already formulating a goal for 2016 to use or dispose of the several small groups of fabrics which were purchased thinking they were one color when in truth they weren’t.  I need to know how to avoid these odd pieces and how to select fabrics from my on-line sources that will work. At the same time, I don’t want to look in my closet and see a coordinated mass of black and white. I do want to see some color in there.

Some afterthoughts on Eleanor

Read my full post here.


My version of Jalie’s new pant pattern The ELEANOR:


Read my full post here

Narrow Hemmer

I never successfully mastered narrower hemmers and folders.  Even though every one said “just keep practicing”.  My imperfect practice seemed to reinforce imperfect results rather than improve. I avoided the narrower hemmers. Created my own procedures (this was before the internet) for creating narrow hems and eventually settled into favorite hem widths and procedures.  My narrow hem procedures were blown away with my first serger.  After my first practice, I swore I’d never again narrow hem at the sewing machine. But that has changed. Age and new machines have changed my mind.  Don’t get me wrong. I still love my serger’s narrow and rolled hems.  But I don’t always want a thread wrapped hem. Plus this serger has so many setting that I have to get our the book every time to set it up AND I need the book again to make sure I’ve reset everything.  Even then, I may not have reinserted the needle exactly right; or could have a defective needle. Either way it will be several seams after a serger narrow-hem before I’ve got everything once again working correctly for the standard 4-thread seam.  The seam I use the most. The seam I use the serger for  nearly all the time will be messed up for several seams after I make a rolled hem.  I decided to give narrow hems at the sewing machine one more try.  Not too terribly confident of the outcome, I bought the foot above at rather than buying a very similar but pricey foot from my dealer. Frankly, I was afraid I would use the foot once for a few minutes and regret the lost $40. (Foot above was $9.99).

Then I queried my friends at Stitchers Guild for their favorite You-Tubes and advice. I spent some time watching You Tubes and did indeed surf to the various links to view pictures as well. Armed with this new knowledge, I selected a thin rayon crepe from the scraps pile for testing.  It was incredible:

From the first pass, the narrow hemmer worked perfectly.  I cut curved and straight samples to run through the hemmer. It was amazing. So amazing I decided to try it on an actual project, my cowl-collared top from a few weeks ago:

What a disaster:

OK doesn’t compare with Katrina. In fact you may not be able to see all the pokies and edges that folded out instead of inside. I rescued my blouse with generous applications of Frey Chek and my duck-billed scissors

The Frey Chek makes sure the hem won’t unroll or further ravel. The scissors trimmed away the existing pokies and fraying.

Even though I was able to recover, I was angry. Why did the rolled hem work perfectly with one of the worst fabrics on earth to deal with?  Rayon crepe crawls, creep travels, unravels  Many curse words have been directed at such fabrics. Why did it work now and work beautifully through the hemmer?  Both fabrics are about the same weight. Both are excellent quality blouse fabrics.  I think the difference is I expected the crepe would be the devil to work with and before even laying it out for cutting, I soaked it (every square inch of it) in half strength starch.  That’s a technique I was introduced to several years ago when I decided I either had to find a way to sew with crepe fabrics or I needed to get them out of my life. Hey, I can do that every time I want a narrow hem. In fact, I could paint just the hem area with starch when I’m working on a more cooperative fabric like my blouse above.

I don’t use very narrow hems that often.  For one thing they require the setting up the serger and then returning the settings to normal. Sigh, and with me that means probably 3 or 4 days before I figure out which setting is not set right (and being off only a little can make a big difference.) But fresh from my somewhat successful venture, I decided to purchase these:


also available at  I do and would use hems of these widths especially for blouses.   Stay tuned, I’ll be reporting on them too.

Mixed Result?

Why  I called this blouse a mixed result.  Read my full post here.

Cowl Collar: Mixed Result

Read my full post here

Neckline Collars: Cowl

I’m learning how to add and draft a cowl collar.  Read my full post here