Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Playing Dress-Up

Before - Plain, double stacked and glued washers
I suppose everyone who has looked to buy pattern weights has witnessed the absurd costs companies think we should pay for them. The packaging isn't any better than the pricing, when it comes down to it. Seriously, a pack of four weights? Where is the point in that? You'd need how many packages to hold down one large skirt pattern piece? How about a coat back?

If you've shopped for pattern weights, then your next step was probably Pinterest, the mightiest time suck of the internet. Based on my own hours of wasted time, I'd say the washer style pattern weights are probably the most popular. They are certainly the easiest to make. A stop at the hardware store and you've got yourself a stack of weights. What's more, they come in a variety of sizes, which is particularly useful for everything from tiny facing pieces to large coat/skirt pieces. You can leave them plain, paint them with spray paint or nail polish, or wrap them in fabric strips or ribbon.

My preference is ribbon wrapped. I'm not going to share a tutorial, because frankly, there are loads and buckets of them already out. It isn't particularly difficult, all you need is some ribbon, glue, washers and perhaps a good movie on the TV. I like my weights with a little heft so I use a double stack of washers, hot glued together to keep them from shifting about while I'm wrapping. The glue in between isn't required, but I find it easier to work with them stuck together.

After - Pretty!
I took some time today to add a few more to my growing stash. I really like to lay out a full pattern in my living room floor and have found that I kept running short on a couple of the sizes I like to use. We were in our local Atwood's Farm & Ranch store, which runs the washers for $1.99 for a pound. Ten dollars netted me enough washers to make seventeen weights. The seven largest weights accounted for half my cost. After I got them wrapped, I thought they were very nice but lacked something. Honestly, I've felt this way about all my weights, so this wasn't at all surprising. I dug into my ribbon and button stash to come up with a fix.

A bit more hot glue and a little dressing and Voila! Fancy weights. Just because their sole purpose in life is to hold down my patterns while I cut out my fabric doesn't mean they can't be pretty.

The buttons were bought several years ago and intended for a Christmas project. My tree has a snow theme going for it. The colors are some of my favorites, which meant I had a load of ribbon bits in varying teal/aqua color tones. It didn't even occur to me that there might be another underlying theme until Thing 1 came to take a look at my project and proclaimed them Frozen Weights! Ha. Elsa should be so lucky to have pattern weights that look so good!

How about some close up shots at my fancy new lovelies?


Do you use pattern weights? Have you ever considered dressing them up a bit?

Monday, April 6, 2015

That's A Wrap

Despite living in Oklahoma, my internal thermometer iss set to freezing. This means I spent at least 3/4 of the year layered up. It is rare for me to be seen out and about without some sort of cardigan or lightweight jacket. So when Kimberly of Straight Stitch Designs put out a tester call for a cardigan, I jumped at the chance. The timing couldn't have been better for me. Honestly, this is the last thing I sewed before the Cedars and Elms began their annual fornication routine that drags me down with the Allergy Plague. The Bradford Pears joined the party as I was finishing up the cardigan, putting me out of sewing commission right into the first days of Spring Break. The monsters are back to school and thankfully, I'm starting to remember that my lungs belong on the inside of my body. I might just survive until the Dogwoods and Cottonwoods jump into action.

I bought this lovely ivory Pontielle knit from nearly two years ago with the intent of making it into a cardigan. Score one for the home team for actually using the fabric for the purpose it was purchased! The knit is a good weight for the capricious Oklahoma Spring weather, which can range from 40's in the mornings to 80's by the time the sun goes down. It also pairs nicely with t-shirts and jeans as well as skirts and slacks.

Seriously loving the way the front
hangs on this!
This is a quick make, with three seams and a couple of set in sleeves. Kimberly suggests going with unfinished hems, but I opted to fold over my edges and stitch them down with a double needle. I like the way the hem adds body to the front drape with this particular knit. The pattern calls for setting in the sleeves after the side and shoulder seams are completed. While that definitely works, I ended up stitching the shoulder seams first and stitching the sleeves in flat. As a tester, I really should have followed the pattern directions, but I was behind nearly all the other testers and I knew that particular part of the pattern was well tested. I wanted to serge those particular seams and I knew that trying to do it with setting in the seams was a recipe for disaster for me, despite my serger having a free arm feature.

For anyone wanting to follow my lead and stitch the sleeves in flat, you will need to do the slice into the front pattern pieces and stitch the center neck seam first. Mark the center back and match it to the center neck seam. Pin, or use Wonder Clips to line up the centers out across to the edge of the back shoulder seams. Stitch and press, then line up the sleeves and stitch those before tackling the side seams. At this point, you can call it done or you can go the extra mile and hem the sleeves and body. I added some stay tape across the shoulder seams to give that area some extra support. As an avid wearer or cardigans, I knew that seam would get the most strain. Despite two runs with the serger, I still managed to have a pesky hole where the shoulder met the neck on one side. After a few choice words questioning the parentage of the fabric, I dug out a needle and thread and hand stitched the hole closed. You can't even tell it was ever there!

The only addition I made to the pattern was an elastic band across the back. After I tried on the finished cardigan, I thought there was too much loose fabric across my tush and I just didn't like the way it hung. Using one of my favorite cardigans for reference, I encased some elastic in fabric and stitched it across the center back. Kimberly asked if I would write up a tutorial for this and since I took tons of photos of the process I said I was delighted. Look out next week for that tutorial and a chance to win your own copy of this awesome cardigan pattern!

OMG!  The Sun!  It Burns!

Obligatory tush shot

Do you have a favorite transitional garment to carry you through those awkward capricious weather days?