Saturday, August 30, 2008

The black jacket: I'm glad I'm not trying to make a living at this...

You know the old saying, "haste makes waste?" Well, inattention makes waste, too, a waste of time today.

I was setting forth to baste the hem of the lining to the inside of the jacket when I noticed something amiss with the pockets. See, the pocket flap and upper pocket are supposed to be lined like this:

But the right pocket looked like this:

Piffle! The pocket piece was turned end-to-end when I installed it!

The construction of a jacket pocket is just mysterious and complex enough, with enough seams and bits already trimmed, that tearing it apart was next to impossible, and would have consumed a lot more time than I wanted to give it:

What to do, what to do? Thinking I may be able to retrofit a lining piece, I rummaged through the drawers until (blessed be the sewing fairies!) found the scraps of jacket and lining. I cut a rectangle of lining, turned the edges under and basted them, then hand-stitched the lining patch in place inside the pocket. The result looked like this:

So unless I get pulled over by the fashion police ("Ma'am, we have a report of a serious pocket error. Please pull open your pocket flap.") it should be fine.

The shoulders are seamed up, and next I can tackle the collar.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stash enhancement in Bend and Sisters

Last week I was in Bend, Oregon, helping lead a week-long teacher workshop to kick off a grant project I'm working with (a two year Math and Science Partnership grant; we're the second one on the list of awards), and while I was there, naturally I had to check out a yarn shop or two. In my home town of Salem, we're down to one yarn shop, so a little variety, yanno?

I came upon Gossamer, a high-end yarn shop full of the stuff you'll never find at one of those big box craft stores. There was much there to tempt me, so to make sure I didn't go too much over budget, I went in armed with patterns for two shrugs I want to make and bought yarn for those. I wanted handpaint yarns, or something like them, in irresistible fibers. So I came home with:

That purplely skein is a sweet worsted weight merino and silk yarn from Manos del Uruguay. I, um, didn't look for the price before I bought. It wasn't horribly outrageous, but it's not bargain basement, either. But then, I've promised myself that if I'm going to go to the trouble of knitting a garment, I'm going to make it out of a yarn I love. And this colorway, called Violets, I love. The soft, silky texture I love, too. And the fact that its fair trade, made by artisans in Uruguay I love, too.

Those sea blues are a colorway called Woad, by Terra, a worsted-weight silk, merino, and alpaca blend with a nice soft hand. I like the color, and I like the name, though whether it's really dyed with woad or not I'm not sure. I'd like to learn to dye with woad. I have instructions. I could do it if I had the woad. But woad I have not. It's a rangeland weed, and it's illegal to ship woad seeds to this state. I have my sources where I could get my hands on some, but oh, the ethics. But the yarn itself is soft, silky, and has the slightly uneven feel of a handspun.

I felt that was about all the strain that my credit card could take. Since it was our last day in Bend, we hopped in the car and took off for home not long before noon, just the right timing to stop in Sisters for lunch.

I blame it on wool fumes. I must have smelled them as we strolled around looking for a likely cafe, for no sooner had we gone into Ali's, ordered our lunch, and sat down, than I looked across the street and spotted Baabaara's Wild and Wooly shop.

"From sheep to shawl, we have it all!" the sign proclaimed. Most of the yarn was either handspun, or mill-spun from fleece grown in the region, or handspun from local fleece, and since it's "sheep to shawl," as you might guess, there was a lot of spinning equipment, too. I don't spin -- yet. It's next on my list of textile skills to learn. Those silky pygora rovings were just about enough to tempt me into sitting down for a lesson right then and there, if we hadn't had a timetable pushing us along. I was wondering what I might buy, when hubby inquired if I might want to make something for him. Sweater? Vest? A request for a vest. Okay, so we pawed through a bin of alpaca and llama yarns, and came up with four fat skeins of the mocha brown sock weight llama yarn shown above. The color is natural, so no worries about it coming out in the wash or anything.

Now, which to start with once the kimono vest is completed? I'll probably have to start on hubby's vest, as soon as I work out a pattern. A simple v-neck, I think, with some gansey-inspired knit-in designs in a panel up the front and the back. But I may be tempted to cast on one of the other two yarns and do some work on a shrug at the same time just because the colors are calling to me...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Black jacket -- dumb mistake, and a little progress

It's dumb mistakes like this one that slow me down and make me want to throw a fit. I didn't, though. I just undid the seam and corrected it.

You can see, though, what happened, right? I was sewing a seam on the lining, turned it over in great triumph and -- a bit that wasn't supposed to be sewn into the seam was. Sewn into the seam, that is.

As they say, as ye sew, so shall ye rip. If only life's errors were that easy to fix, you know, like the one involving a cell phone and a fender-bender. (That wasn't YOU behing the wheel of the car that bumped into me, was it? Put that phone down and drive!)

Here's what the wool interfacing in the front of the jacket looks like. There's some padding stitch along the sides to anchor it, and a running basting stitch that just catches the jacket fabric to bind the fabric to the interfacing:

There are two layers of wool interfacing in the upper fronts (on a man's jacket, stiffer haircloth is often used), and the layers are held together with padding stitch:

The front linings were already sewn onto the facings of the jacket shell. Now it's time to sew the rest of the body lining to the front linings:

Turn it all right-side out, and voila, the body of the jacket is fully lined:

With the fronts folded in, the final form of the jacket starts to emerge:

This is the book I've used for years as a guide to tailoring. I sewed an entire suit when I was in high school from a golden brown wool, lined with golden yellow slipper satin. Alas, I don't have the suit any more, but it was a four-piece: jacket, vest, pants, and skirt. This book guided me through the process:

Waaay out of print now, but sometimes it turns up in used book stores.

On the sewing machine: Black boucle jacket

I'm not even going to say how long this jacket has been "in progress." It's too embarrassing. Suffice it to say that it's been sitting in the sewing basket for longer than it ought to have, long enough for the Butterick pattern (5644, if you're curious) to have gone irretrievably out of print, and it's high time I finish it. It's a good thing that the style isn't too dated. It's a classic cut that should last practicaly forever, or at least as long as my figure lasts, and there's no saying how long that will be now that I'm d'un certain age.

The shell is a black wool bouclé, light weight and somewhat drapey. It's supported by layers of wool interfacing and lined with purple lining fabric. Black, purple, and white pretty much describe my wardrobe color scheme. The jacket will be hip-length and nipped in at the waist.

Construction for a tailored jacket takes time, especially when I follow the instructions from an old Time-Life series book that gives all the inside secrets for suit jacket construction. I didn't go the whole route, which includes wool interfacing, haircloth over that in the front, and a flannel cover over the haircloth, all held together with rows of padding stitch, which is a loose herringbone stitch. I did tack the wool interfacing to the fabric with padding stitch to give the drapey fabric some body.

What's next: finish sewing the body lining, attach the upper collar, sew and line the sleeves, then attach the sleeves to the jacket.

Piece of cake. ::faint::

On the needles: Kimono Vest in Souffle yarn

What's currently on the needles? Um... quite a number of things, actually, if I dig through old copper wash boiler where I keep works in progress. What I'm currently actively working on is a shorter version of the Kimono Long Vest, a free pattern from Crystal Palace Yarns. I'm making it fingertip length and doing it up in Souffle, a nubby, slightly glossy cotton and rayon yarn from Knit One, Crochet Too that I got from the bargain racks on a stash-enhancing excursion to Woodland Wool Works in Carlton, Oregon. It's working up as a loose openwork on size 9 needles, and by a mistake of my own in reading the instructions, I've modified the stitch to this:
For back, cast on 100 stitches.
Knit the first row.
Row 2 and all rows thereafter, K1, *K 2 tog, yo* to last stitch, K 1

For the fronts, I've cast on 34 stitches. After working those up, I'll sew up the shoulder seams, then do the ribbing at the neck and fronts, and the ribbing at the armholes, then sew up the side seams.

Isn't that typical of a knitting addict? "I've got this pattern, and I'm doing it in a different yarn in a different gauge, on larger needles, and with a different stitch, and I'm making it shorter, but isn't it a great pattern?"

First Post!

What's a hissy stitch? It's what you pitch when your knitting, sewing, or other needlecraft goes all wrong and you hurl it against the wall (or think very hard about doing so). It's what we've all pitched a time or two. It's also my new blog about all things stitchy that I do, mostly knitting and sewing, but occasionally crochet, embroidery, and cross stitch. Beads might show up here, too. Cats certainly will. Come join the fun.

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