Sunday, November 14, 2010

everyone needs a white tank top, + binding tips!

I can't do without tank tops during summer, and since it is almost here I thought I would try and replicate my much-loved racer-back tanks from Max - that are now limp, faded and strictly relegated to the painting and decorating wardrobe!

Plus, can you believe I don't actually have any white tops?!

I used my knit top block - you can use a tried and true knit pattern too and follow what I did.  I scooped the front neckline and cut away the back armhole so it was a similar shape to my Max tanks, added a bit to the hip side seams just in case....

...cut a mock-up in my white viscose/elastane knit...

...and tried it on... (with my black bra - cringe - please ignore!)

I am happy with the neckline and armhole, but I do need a sway back adjustment!

Here is a view of the cut away back for the record...

Do you know how hard it is to get a back shot of you in the mirror without liveview?  I had ten tries until I finally got both shoulders...!

I cut the top double thickness, with the hem as the fold line, and all the remaining neck/armhole edges were bound.

This is what the top looks like cut, and you just sew the inner and outer side seams in one long seam. 

Make sure you have a little notch at the hemline so you know exactly where to fold:

This hem fold trick is a favourite of mine because
  • no hemming to do - yeh!
  • hem is nice and flat with no visible stitching
  • the double layer adds opacity and extra body to my fabric, which being white is a little sheer and flimsy for my liking.  Increased quality factor is always a plus!
I pressed the side seams open...

and if you fold the seam allowances together at your hem notch...

and stitch them together...

your hemline will stay in place..


Then I tacked the two layers together around the neck and armhole at 3mm (1/8") so they were ready for binding.  If you have cut and sewn the two layers accurately, they should be flush with no bubbles and puckers - if not, fix it now - before it is bound!

For the binding I used my cheat's method which is good when you want to reduce bulk, as only three layers are involved instead of the usual four.  Although it is not the prettiest method as overlocking is involved.  I don't know why I call it my cheat's method - maybe because it is too easy and I feel like I am cheating?
  • I cut the binding strips 2.5cm (1") wide and overlocked one edge. 
  • Stitch the binding to your neck or armhole at 6mm (1/4") with right sides together...

  • Then fold the overlocked edge to the back and edgestitch the binding from the right side...
  • as long as your binding is cut to the correct width your overlocked edge will automatically be caught underneath...

  • Ensure your binding is of even width as you stitch for a pretty result! 

And here is the finished object:

Mmm, maybe I could go up a size?  What the heck - I'm already looking around for other colours and a Breton stripe!

More on binding:
Have you ever seen bound necklines that are out of shape - assymetrical even though they should be even?  Or binding that looks like it is gathering the fabric up, or causing the neckline to waver?  Obviously these are things we want to avoid, but how exactly do you get perfectly fitting, evenly distributed binding? 
Here are some tips to try:
  • Add some notches at critical points around your neckline and armhole - ie CF, CB, F armhole, B armhole, even more if you have complex curves to bind.
  • Measure between these points and the existing seams, exclude the seam allowances. 
  • For knits, reduce this measurement by 10-30% depending on the stretch factor of your knit (try 10% for firm knits, 30% for ribbed knits). 
  • For wovens, cut the binding on the bias.  Measure the cutting line of your pattern minus seam allowances.  Don't measure the sewing line as it is longer, and no stretch factor reduction will be necessary.
  • Test your binding length and width on a scrap.  Admire or adjust.
  • Make a pattern for your binding with your new measurements, hopefully you can see my example here! 

Now you can cut and sew with confidence, knowing that your binding will fit and be distributed evenly.
Happy sewing!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

~1968 burda~

I thought I'd share a glimpse of what Burda magazine was like 42 years ago - August 1968 to be exact:

There are some cute trapeze dresses in bright colours:

A lot of doubleknit dresses, like these ones in gold and ochre:

Dandy looks in velvet - I could go a green velvet suit.....

 More dandy dresses with collars and cuffs.....

And where would we be without some folk inspired gear like this?

All the patterns are included for the embroidery designs too!

There are more bright colours in jersey knit, and some crochet berets:

Some knitwear designs - including twinsets of course!:

And some rather charming teeny tech drawings!

Check those descriptions:
  • "Dress with slenderising effect for burda size 46!"
  • "Sportive suit in cord for burda size 46!"  
The designs only come in one size - just like when I was first introduced to Burda - and the pattern sheets look familiar too, with those pretty fancy lines they used to use:

I don't remember the Burda I grew up with having an English translation included, like this one does.  My Aunt introduced us to them, and showed us how to navigate the patterns.  As for instructions, I fumbled along inventing my own construction methods.  In retrospect this is a good experience - you do learn quickly when you are thrown in the deep end!

So which designs are your favourites, and which ones would you actually wear today? 
Which ones do you abhor and absolutely wouldn't be seen dead in?
Also - which ones shall I make!?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

raglan cardigan

Meet me and my new cardigan:

I love it!  I think it is one of my favourite knitted pieces, and all from recycled yarn!  My Mum gave me this unravelled wool from an old jersey about a year ago, and I've finally found a use for it.  Only problem is, I only used about 6 out of 12 balls for this, so need another bright idea....

The pattern is from Vogue Knitting W09/10, and is #24 Raglan Cardigan by Tanis Gray.  I didn't love the pattern to begin with, but soon grew to admire its retro feel.  It has a rather cute band of XOX cabling adjacent to the garter stitch front bands, and I looove the raglan armhole - it fits perfectly and is cut nice and high, which I like.  

 And look - the raglan seam has some neat little garter stitch triangles to accentuate the line.

I also love the collar which I did a little altering to - the pattern says to pick up 80 sts along the neck and is knitted straight across, I picked up 68 sts and knitted 4 rows straight, then increased 1st at the shoulder seams every 2nd row, plus a couple of additional increases at the CB, to create a collar with a roll.  This makes a collar shaped more like a woven pattern would be - better in my opinion.

I should mention I did a couple of waist decreases/increases at the side seams (I'm square enough without shaping!) and I"m glad I did because it seems just right.

And did I mention the cutest little totally useless non-functional pockets ever - complete with more garter stitch triangles?

I did consider making them larger, but decided the small size was part of the charm.  Rather than knit the pocket bag separately as the instructions instruct, I knitted into the front and back of each pocket stitch at the base and did it that way - saves hand sewing!

And that's it!  It was a bit cloudy and windy today and I've worn it all day, and it is so cosy and comfortable - I highly recommend the pattern and I'm already thinking of knitting another in some olive yarn I have in stash.....

Anyway it is Guy Fawkes here tonight, and now it is dusk the whole city is alight with the bangs and pops of fireworks -  I'm off to pour a glass of wine and admire the view from our verandah!