March 2019 | Mismatched Buttons (A Monthly Journal)
Camping and knitting
Late February and early March was the period my husband and I had set aside for our summer holiday, camper-vanning around Aotearoa’s beautiful Te Wai Pounamu. With calm, quiet times hanging out in DOC campsites, or driving between destinations, it was the perfect holiday for knitting: a chance to wear my first Hoarfrost hat (it can be rather cold in the South Island, even during the summer months), finishing knitting a second, and plan a Birkin Jumper.
Hoarfrost, the second
My second Hoarfrost hat uses the same yarns in a different order from my first, furnishing me with an excellent mustard hat to go with the rest of my yellow-prioritising wardrobe. It’s knitted in Chickadee yarn from Quince and Co, using the colours maple, thorne and gingerbread, with honey as the main colour. I bought the yarn at my local, Holland Road Yarn Company. I now have a third on my knitting sticks—this one for a friend—and plan to have it finished by the end of April.
The Hoarfrost Hat is designed by The Petite Knitter (this is the link to her Ravelry shop). She has recently released her first jumper pattern, and I have a seriously serious eye on this design for a future project.
In the mean time, however, during March I tried to test swatch up for the Birkin Pullover by Caitlin Hunter. To be frank, this didn’t go at all well. I’m a really tight knitter, and I often find that if my stitches give me the correct gauge, my row count is off. So, the net result of this combination of this was I was knitting on a stupidly small needle to get the stitches, but my rows were still off. The gross result was I spent a lot of March in a renewed fug (despair) about my knitting, which took a visit to my knitting-therapist in Auckland, the wonderful Michelle, to dispel. A delicious dinner with her and another friend set me on the right path for how to balance gauge, size and the type of fabric I’m after, and although I haven’t started working on my jumper again, I’m feeling a lot better about it.
Oh, while camping, I also did some important research into the pocket capacity of the Kelly Anorak, specifically testing its beer-can-carrying-capabilities. You’re welcome.
Reunited with my sewing machines
After our holiday, I was dead-keen to crack into some quality sewing time. First on the list was to finish my Gable Top by Jennifer Lauren Handmade, which I began in February. As I wrote in my previous post, I like slash necklines because they feel like, depending on fabric or outfit, they can be either elegant or playful, and their retro nature makes it a classic shape. I’ve made this from a mystery remnant in my stash, the perfect thing for a wearable toile.
This is a great, simple little pattern, although I’m going to have to do some fit tweaks through the shoulders to make it sit properly on me. I think the wrinkles you can see in the photos are because my quite developed trapezius muscle—the triangular muscles between neck and shoulder—make my shoulders steeper than what the pattern is designed for. So I will be turning to a few trusted fit resources to try sort out those wrinkles for round two.
Oh, and there will be a round two! Setting aside those wrinkles, I have worn this top loads. In all other ways it’s comfortable, and fun and I love it. I made a size 16 bust, graded to 18 waist/hips, sizing up from the suggested 14b/16w+h because I’m not keen on negative ease across my stomach, and that was a really good decision. It feels fitted enough if I want to wear it tucked, and not too tight for days spent at a desk. I want to use this as the basis for a cowl neck version in later iterations.
And with that, I have completed my first Make Nine 2019—yippee!
Fifty Days Till Me Made May
March also ended up being a more highly productive than usual month for me, sewing-wise, as half way through the month I made the rash decision to start a Fifty Days Till Me Made May sewing extravaganza! Inspired by @hannahmcorey on instagram, who had recently completed her deeply inspiring 100 Days of Sewing, I wanted to try a shorter version to see what having a daily sewing practice might look like for me. The fact that all this thinking aligned with a lovely round number until Me Made May was an excellent coincidence, and a chance to spur my sewing on in preparation for my second MMM.
My plan for Fifty Days Till Me Made May was to complete four garments: finish my long-neglected Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns; a third Blackwood Cardigan by Helen’s Closet; a heavy-duty Moss Skirt by Grainline Studio; and A YELLOW TRENCH COAT OF STUPENDOUS AWESOMENESS! —a Luzerne Trench by Deer and Doe. Two of these projects are also on my Make Nine 2019 grid: the Moss and the Luzerne.
Moss Skirt | An explosion of topstitching!
Stand by, dear reader, for a separate blog post doing a deep dive on topstitching, because I have learnt so much from this project! First, though, here are the deets for the skirt. I’ve long wanted a Moss Skirt as a replacement for a much-loved and much-worn RTW skirt that’s starting to get a bit tired. The Moss seemed a good replacement—not like for like, but a super-cool me-made update.
I made a size 14 out of a 12-ounce duck cotton canvas from Blackbird Fabrics, in the dark khaki colourway, and embellished it with my favourite Gütermann 412 topstitching thread.
My simple, geometric topstitching design borrows heavily from the aforementioned RTW skirt, and I intended to use it just on the back pockets, a feature I added because when it comes to pockets, the more the merrier. I used the pattern pieces from the Ginger Jeans as I wanted that classic jeans look. In line with this, I also did faux-flat-felled seams, using my trusty 412 to give the seams that jeans-like finish.
Although I intended to make Version A, I freaked out a little when an oversight made me realise that it was sitting a bit higher than I was comfortable with and I needed the more comfortable length that a partial Version B would provide. And, actually, I gotta say that I think the hem band makes this skirt. To integrate the hem band a little more into the skirt, I used the same topstitching design as the pockets. I also didn’t want the full length that the original hem band offered. The pattern directs cutting two hem band pieces to create an enclosed hem.
Flying fairly firmly off piste by this point, I cut one hem band. I sewed the topstitching design across it, sewed it onto the existing hem, and and then folded it in half to the underside of the skirt until it covered the original hem to create the enclosed hem. It makes for some convincingly pretty guts, no? It also brings the feature of the diamond pattern through the whole of the skirt, instead of having it isolated to the back pockets, and I’m seriously happy with that.
Oh, and what’s this? With that, I have also completed my second Make Nine 2019—I’m on a roll now!
Blackwood Cardigan | Striving for a rainbow
This was my third Blackwood Cardigan, and I love it as much as I love my first and second. This pink version was made out of 150gsm merino from The Fabric Store, and I made a size large, with no adjustments except to shorten the sleeves a little. As a lightweight layer, the Blackwood is just what’s required for those slightly cooler summer evenings, and I live in my Blackwoods during spring and autumn. Because of its clever shaping through the front, it also works perfectly beneath coats and jackets. I love the way that the Blackwood teams with all sorts of tops, from blouses to tees, to even working with something a little more glam.
I now have a blue-grey version and an ochre version. My plan is to make the full rainbow of Blackwoods: blue, yellow, pink: check, check, check! Red, green, purple and orange: you’re on my radar…
I sewed parts of both my Gable and my Blackwood on my coverstitch and I’ve been interested in how differently it behaved between the stretch cotton and the merino on the hems. Basically, it behaved better with the stretch cotton than with the merino. I want to investigate this more, so stand by for a blog post experimenting with troubleshooting between fabrics.
A new love affair…
I was heartily spoilt by my lovely chap on my birthday this February and one of the very special presents he bought me was an afternoon workshop learning how to use a four-shaft table loom!
The workshop was taught by Christine Brimer of Niche Textile Studios, and was a really lovely taster into weaving on a table loom. I came away with a wall hanging that I’m super proud of, and utterly entranced with weaving!
And although I intended to resist the siren call of a new hobby … I very quickly caved and am now the proud owner of my own four-shaft table loom. I’d like to introduce you to Looma Lovegood, my newest sewing space pal. She and I will be getting to know each other over the coming months, and I’ll keep you up with our progress. Till then, happy crafting, you crafty folks!