Knitting and sewing this week

I know, way to make with the creative titles, right?  It’s just been one of those weeks.  I made a quite muslin for the Sencha blouse and… too big all over, as well as possibly unflattering on me anyway.  I give you all permission to yell at me if I start talking about wanting to make something with cut-on or dolman sleeves… so unflattering to the petite.  I looked like a big ol’ blousy triangle.   So I decided to make a muslin of this dress, the Sense and Sensibility Swing dress.

I was hoping to make it from a pretty Rayon Challis (above)for spring.  The bodice muslin went better than I expected – I even understood the shoulder instructions, which called for topstitching a seam.   There are a few issues, and I need to decide whether this dress is worth the work.

My dressform, who has yet to be named, is actually a bit more buxom than I.  You cannot buy a reasonably priced dressform that goes down to a 31.5″ bust.  This one stops at a 33, but it was a gift, so what can you do?  I see a few problems here… first of all, I don’t like where the gathers fall (too close to the underarms.)  It looks weird on the dummy, and worse on me, since I am smaller.  The’s easy enough to fix.  I already shortened the bodice by almost 2 inches, as it was super long before, and this style doesn’t work without a well fitted waist and bust.  The ties are too short – again, an easy fix.  I will probably remove the back tucks – they are cute, but they just don’t work on me, as I am very narrow and straight through the back.  The sleeves seem to be strangely drafted, but I may shorten them, since I don’t love the length they are here.  There’s a short sleeved option, which might be nicer in the floral fabric anyway.  There was a whole ton of ease in the sleeve cap, leaving me uncertain as to whether the sleeve should be gathered or not.  I opted to gather, since it wasn’t going in otherwise.  It’s a little janky, but my gathering skills are a work in progress.  Maybe I’m being a perfectionist, but I never feel like they are evenly gathered!  I’m going to go back to my old method of gathering – sewing a strand of crochet thread on with a wide zigzag stitch.  It makes a much more even gather possible, and you won’t break any threads.

Finally, the dress just exactly fits me in the waist, even though I cut a good 2 sizes up in the waist and skirt.  I never knew before I started sewing that my top and bottom measurements were so different!  Explains why I can’t find dresses that work on the top and bottom. I feel like there’s too much material in the chest area, so it might need an adjustment for small bust?  Maybe I should move the crossover in a little?  It fits through the shoulders, and they are very flattering (I do have shoulder pads in on the first photo above, but not the 2nd… this style looks better with them in.)    I generally like all the gathering.  I’m just a little discouraged because it seems that everything comes out big in the chest on me.  I suppose everyone has their fitting challenge, and that must be mine.  40s dresses have always been good to me in true vintage, so I know this will work if I can get the fit right (50s? not so much… I am too skinny, but I wear them anyway!)

I’ve also been contemplating my next knitting project.  I’ve decided to go on to knit something out of one of my vintage booklets.  I looked for inspiration, and narrowed it down to these:

#1 is from the 50s, and I like the lace treatment.  #2 (on the left in the photo) assures me that it is not, in fact, a bedjacket, but a cover-up for over your evening dress.  The last 3 sweaters are all knit in light fingering, and all are from the 40s (the 1st 2 are worsted.)  I did look for some 4-ply yarn today, but I suspect I will have to look at heavy lace weights to achieve 8 st/in (With fingering I am lucky to get 7, as I am a loose knitter.)  Zephyr might work.   Any votes?  I do like them all, and I am not scared of the small weights either (hey, short sleeves!  I can do that!)

And finally, having to do with none of this, the preview for spring/summer Vogue knitting is out, and I have to say that I am very impressed!  They have a whole section of 1920s inspired knits, and they are to die for.  Look at these lovely lace capelets:

The sweaters in the section are equally lovely.

Yay, Vogue – thanks for improving after I nearly gave up on you!

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14 thoughts on “Knitting and sewing this week

  1. The little short-sleeved jacket with the ribbon at the neck is adorable. The design is also flattering to a smaller bust. The dress you are making is lovely, but I’ve always had a hard time keeping a wrap neckline in place. It will definitely drape better in the challis.

  2. ellipsisknits says:

    If you’re looking for a light fingering weight yarn, I would highly recommend the offering from colourmart.uk they sell mill ends of commercial luxury yarns, which tend to be quite thin. They will also twist singles together for you to get the exact thickness you need.

    Their labeling / weight system can be a little cryptic, but ravelry is a great help with that.

    Ultimately, you can get some really nice fibers (they’re famous for cashmere, but there is a lot of merino, silk, and blends too) for very good prices.

  3. I love the polo-ish sweater with the little lapels. There are several light fingering weight yarns out there – have you tried swatching with brown sheep co cotton fine, or dalegarn baby ull? I have found that they knit up much smaller than what modern patterns call fingering weight.

  4. madebymonet says:

    On the topic of dress forms…I’ve been searching for a good one myself, because I am very petite as well (a full 2″ smaller than the smallest sizes of most dress forms). I came across a brand called Uniquely You, which goes down to 29″ bust and 22″ waist. It seems kind of complicated, but here is the link: http://www.sewvacdirect.com/uniq-petite.html?gdftrk=gdfV2739_a_7c861_a_7c3747_a_7cuniq_d_dform_d_petite. I’m planning to buy one myself when I get my bonus in April! Maybe it would help you as well?

  5. Admittedly I don’t sew (my mom did), but the number of alterations you need to make to this dress sounds like it might be really frustrating unless you totally LOVE it and are willing to go very slowly when you are not tired. If you do decide to do the dress, you might want to make one of the easier vintage sweaters, so you have an easy aka instant gratification project and a hard project going at the same time, depending on what you’re up for in an evening. I know when I have a few hard, intricate things going at the same time, the knitting isn’t fun and becomes super stressful.

    All that said, thank you for the Vogue preview; I love the aqua sweater and will look for the issue! And thank you for the info on ordering a Stitch in Time.

  6. I’ve always loved this style dress and think it’s really flattering. I agree about the bust gathers and would move them in a bit – center the gathers under your bust point. Then you will need to reshape the lower edge to match its original curve and the waistband. If the cup size is too full, an easy fix would be to take an extra sliver off this lower edge – try it on and pin out the excess, tapering off smoothly.
    I notice the sleeves aren’t gathered in the sketch, but they do look heavily eased in. I’d try 2 rows of gathering thread 1/8″ either side of stitching line, pull it up slightly and ease the fabric in with steam, repeat until it won’t ease any more, then
    try and set in the sleeve. If this doesn’t work, the gathering still looks great! Rayon gathers so nicely and is perfect for this dress, so please persevere!

    I can’t wait for Spring Vogue either – it looks very exciting!

  7. Interesting to know about the dress form! I think I’m going to wind up making one out of duct tape rather than buying–if only because I’m a 31″ bust. From your posts I think we have similar proportions, and I agree that it’s difficult to find dresses that fit on top and bottom. I’m hoping learning to sew will help me have some things that look good all over.

  8. Heather says:

    I just found your blog by acident and have gone through several of the archived months. I am starting to feel like I know you! Your life sounds like you are making it a lot of fun. We all have our tough times, but you seem to be doing what you can to make it the best possible. We are building a house right now and I am going to have a craft room! I am so excited. My latest knitting project is a cowichan knit sweater using buffalo yarn and a pattern from the ’70’s. It looks great with the back just about finished. Keep writing! I am loving your entries and am now inspired to try sewing again!!

  9. I agree with the previous commenter – your dress-in-progress looks delightful, as do all the knitting patterns you highlight, especially the bedjacket/evening dress cover-up. Have you come across the Antonia shawlette/capelet on Ravelry? I just downloaded the pattern, and think it would also look very pretty with dresses.

  10. bernie says:

    the way you do gathers is the best. i also feel gathers come out unevenly otherwise. one alternate way is to set your stitch length very long and use a heavy duty thread that won’t snap when you pull it up. either way works great for the most even gathers ever. love your sewing lately

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