Sewing with Knits: A Better Patch Pocket

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Recently I made a wearable muslin for the Blackwood Cardigan and learned that I really love this pattern.  The sweater is long and has cuffs for warmth and style, has pockets and is very easy to sew.  The lower band addresses the hemming dilemna that sometimes occurs with hand-sewn sweaters.  What’s not to love.  I’m eager to make another out of a different fabric.

The Muslin:

I used a wool, poly and bamboo knit that’s cozy warm but which has poor recovery and pilled after a single washing, making it the perfect fabric for a muslin.

As for the pattern, I made a few changes:

  1.  The front band is 2″ wide and hangs nicely down the front however it doesn’t overlap, which is a personal preference.  So I removed the band and thankfully had enough fabric to cut a new band, doubling the width to 4″.  For the next try I’ll go with a 3″ band.
  2. The patch pocket is topstitched, which isn’t my favorite method on this type of knit.  Even after using iron-on tape, the top-stitching looked wavy and uneven.  And that’s the point of this blog post.  Here’s my try at topstitching the pocket (sorry about the poor color but you get the point).

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The Solution:

In a creative moment, I decided to try attaching the pocket using a very narrow zig-zag stitch (after using iron-on fusible tape to keep the pocket in place).  Here’s the result, which I really like:

 

To do this, I used matching thread and a stitch width of 1 (out of 4) and a length of 3 (out of 4), just catching the edge of the pocket with the needle. For the navy band I switched to navy thread.IMG_1030  After it was sewn, I gave the pocket a little tug to make the stitches disappear into the fabric.  The pocket has of a 3-D look and appears more like ready-to-wear.

I’ll give this pattern another try soon and will see if this method works with different fabric.

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From Bedsheet to Morris Jacket

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This Grainline Studios Morris Blazer had a previous life as a twin bedsheet that was made from a twill jacquard Egyptian cotton. Unfortunately the previous owner had a bleach accident and donated the sheet to St. Vinnie’s.  I found it in a bin for $.50 and was enamored by the quality and weight of the cotton and by the lovely jacquard design. Hence it came home with me. I removed the elastic and casing and it lived on my “to be dyed” pile for a while.  Here is the orphan sheet:

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Snow dyeing: 
This winter when I was snow dyeing a few items, the sheet received it’s new life. Actually I snow dyed it twice as the first time it turned out too light for my taste, but the second time it came out beautifully. Here’s the link to the first dyeing and one more for the second dyeing.

The Dreaded Muslin:
Most often I don’t make a muslin but because this pattern is intended for stretch woven fabric I used a worn-thin bedsheet to make one and it was worth the effort. Based on this sample I made a narrow back adjustment, my usual sway back adjustment and added a French dart in the front along a fairly large wrinkle line. In the end I probably should have made a size larger as the dyed fabric had minimal “give” whereas the muslin was fairly lightweight and not very stable; a case of over-fitting. As mentioned in some patten reviews, I also scooped out the armhole about 1/2″. Last of all I lengthened the jacket 1.5 inches which is uncommon for me, a height-challenged person.

Jacket Construction: 
After the fairly easy jacket construction, I added 1/8″ of uncorded piping to the edge. The inside seams have a Hong Kong finish, made from the lining of a prom dress. Because of the weight of the fabric, I did not use a interfacing, which turned out fine for this jacket.

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Pattern Description:
The Grainline Studios Morris Blazer is: “… a mixture of drape and structure, bracelet length sleeves, and a gentle shawl collar, it looks great dressed up or down. It sews up well in fabrics with stretch making it comfortable for everyday wear.”

In Summary: 
This was a really fun project. If you’ve never tried snow-dying or ice-dyeing, it’s really quite easy and fun as you’re always surprised by the outcome.  And it’s a great example of how you can find great fabric in a variety of ways.

More on Dyeing Wool with Wool

In the last several posts I shared my new fiber love, which is using pieces of wool to dye other pieces of wool.  I’ve named it “Wool on wool dyeing”.  To date I’ve only dyed lightweight pieces of wool which were in turn made into scarves and the donor pieces have been wool flannel or wool crepe.

For this, the third experiment, I had a grey, off-white and reddish wool gauze scarf that I accidentally felted and afterward the colors looked dull.  My hypothesis was that a piece of royal blue wool would donate enough color to the scarf to revitalize the it.  Here’s the grey scarf.IMG_0816  To dye the scarf I used the same process as in the previous experiments, although this time I only used a single piece of donor wool, log rolling the scarf along with the blue as below.  Of note, the piece of blue wool was tainted by moth holes so there was nothing to lose by using it for dyeing.  My friend Martha suggested the “donor” terminology, which seemed quite appropriate for this process.  Thank you, Martha.

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As with the previous wool dyeing I tied it (though not too tightly as I think the ties stress the fabric and releases excess amounts of color from the donor).

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The next step was to dip the wrapped fabric into a slow cooker  (this one is reserved for dyeing fabric) 2/3 full of near boiling water.  After about 30 minutes I unplugged the cooker, turned the wrapped fabric upside-down and left it in the slow cooker for another 30 minutes.

After the hour in the slow cooker I removed the fabric and allowed it to cool.  The last step was to rinse the scarf in cold water (1 cup of vinegar per gallon of water).  Now I have a lovely blue scarf.

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My sense is that there’s a lot more to learn about wool on wool dyeing, and I can’t wait to take the journey while searching second-hand stores for more wool.

Here are some of the questions I have:

  1. How frequently can a piece of wool be used as a donor?
  2. What is the largest piece of fabric that can be dyed in this manner?
  3. Does water need to be boiling hot or just very hot?
  4. Would a shorter period of time in the hot water be sufficient?
  5. What types of wool can act as the recipient?
  6. What about wool blends – do they work the same as 100% wool?
  7. How about dyeing silk with wool?

What questions do you have?

DIY Wool Scarf: Wool on Wool Dyeing Again

If you’re tired of hearing about dyeing, skip this one, but I have to tell you I’m not the least bit tired of this method for transforming wool. Several weeks ago I posted about using wool to dye wool. For this project I used the same method but with printed wool.

This project was born when I changed the coat I planned to take on a trip. My red and blue scarf just wouldn’t work with a purple coat. Since I’m on a one year sabbatical from purchasing clothes, I shopped in my stash. I had a piece of lightweight vintage wool (maybe Liberty – not sure) with potential so I tested a small piece with good results before proceeding.

After assembling cranberry wool, the print and a teal wool/nylon blend, I used the same method as described in my previous post. Here’s the before and after photo.

Try it, you’ll like the results.

As you can see on the turned corner (right side of above photo), the front picked up more red and the back side more teal.

What a beautiful and warm scarf.

The Perfect Travel Bag

When traveling, I’m admittedly pretty fussy about my handbag. First and foremost it needs to protect against all of those greedy hands that want to steal, but also it needs to be large enough without being too large. Then there’s the need for a distinct place for my passport, money, phone, kindle, water bottle, etc.

Over the years I’ve purchased and worn out one bag, bought a few (usually Ameribags) and been disappointed by the design so I sold them on eBay. Several years ago, like many of my kind , I said “I can make that”. First I copied the pattern and made a muslin which I used on one trip.

Then I made this bag which has been used and abused until it was time for another. The lining actually had wear spots.

After removing the hardware I worked on #3 which is shown at the beginning of this post and below. In the future when not typing on an iPhone I’ll post on the details and maybe share the pattern. Until then I’m traveling with my new bag and I love it.

Wool on Wool Dyeing Produced Amazing Results

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Wool on Wool dyed scarf

By no means did I plan for every post to be about dyeing but here’s one more.  This time it’s something I’d only read about on one blog and haven’t found any other references.  Caroline D.H. wrote about using wool to dye other pieces of wool.  Since I had a piece of off-white wool gauze that wanted to be a scarf and some other scrap pieces of wool, I thought I’d give it a try.  Here’s the story.

For some upcoming travel, I wanted a new wool scarf (accidentally felted the old one – oops) but since I’ve joined Goodbye Valentino’s 2018 RTW Fast  I couldn’t buy one.  In my stash I found a scrap of wool gauze that was long enough but not wide enough for a scarf.  So I added some scraps to the side to widen it.  With little to lose, I started the wool dyeing process.

Here are the steps:

  1.  Selecting the fabrics:  I chose a red piece of vintage wool crepe from St. Vinny’s, a royal blue piece of wool flannel that had a few moth holes and a lovely loden twill piece.  Each was cut to one yard.
  2. Creating a fabric roll:  In the following order, I laid the 4 pieces of fabric on the floor.  Red, Off-white gauze, Royal blue, Loden.  I rolled them into a log and tied the log so it would stay rolled.IMG_0230
  3. Bathing in Boiling Hot Water:  I had very hot (not quite boiling) water ready in an old crock pot and dipped the wool pack in the water bath.  After about 30″ I turned it upside down to make sure all of the wool was submerged in hot water and left it for another 30″
  4. Setting the Dye:  After cooling the cloth until warm to the touch I dipped the pack in several gallons of warm water with 1-2 cups of white vinegar.
  5. Rinsing and Drying:  Rinse the fabric in cool water and placed in clothes dryer
  6. Enjoy the beautiful result.  Below are photos of my pieces.
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Red Crepe. Has a dark band because the scarf was narrower than the other pieces of wool. Hopefully this piece will be used for future wool dyeing projects.

The royal blue has a lovely crinkled look.  In the third photo you can see that there was an errant red thread that created a design (and which gives me an idea for future wool dyeing projects. As with the red, I’ll use this piece for future dyeing projects.

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Loden is now a reversible piece of wool.  It’s beyond beautiful.
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This side took on the red
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And this side took on the blue

The loden is so magnificent I can’t stop looking at it. Since these aren’t my colors, I’m not sure what to do with it but it could easily be cut into 2 scarves.

And last of all, here’s another look my new scarf.  The straight lines in the middle are from folding the wool gauze as it was longer than the red, blue and loden.  Overall, a great result.

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Snow Dyeing: Take 2

In the last post I talked about dyeing rayon jersey.  The second part of that project was to dye an Egyptian cotton thrift store sheet in a greenish-grey color (pretty ugly). I picked it up at the thrift store for $.50.  It was newish but had bleach spots.  Despite this it had a lovely weave and thus seemed worthy of a new life so I kept it on my “to be dyed pile”.

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On the first try at snow dyeing, the sheet turned out OK but it wasn’t transformed into a beautiful piece of fabric so I washed it and set it aside until it snowed again a few weeks later.  Below is a photo of the first try.

At any rate, I liked the blue but was less enamored with the greens and pink.  Of note, for this snow dye, the snow was very wet, thus saturating the fabric.  Not sure if that made a difference but seems worthy of a mention.

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On the second try, I used two colors of navy and a deep purple.  The snow had just fallen and it was extremely light.  As with the first time, I covered the fabric with about 2″ of snow.  My thought is that the light fluffy snow didn’t saturate all of the fabric. It’s also important to note that for this second try I allowed the dye to stay on the fabric for 24 hours before rinsing it out.

As you can see below, it resulted in a floral-like pattern.  Not sure how this happened, but it surely is beautiful.

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Now that the dyeing is complete, the next step is to think about what to do with the fabric.  Maybe just own it?