I’ve Caught It

The sewing bug!

Before I started knitting, I was always into crafty stuff – friendship bracelets, seed beads, painting, clay, some cross stitch. In middle school (grades 6-8), we had “family studies” (aka home ec) which was half cooking and half sewing. There was a big family studies room with tons of sewing machines and kitchens. It was great! We learned how to sew a pincushion, a tote bag, shorts, and a stuffed animal from a kit.

I did some sewing on my own too, at home – mostly elastic waist skirts, a few with zippers, tote bags, and one time in high school I made a bustier kind of thing with plastic boning and laces (it wasn’t very good and didn’t fit very well either). I went through another sewing jag in university too (there’s a bunch of projects in my archives!), so I guess it just comes and goes every few years.

The difference is, now I don’t have a sewing machine so I’m doing it all by hand! My mum says she has an extra machine to give me, but I haven’t picked it up yet. I do enjoy the handsewing, and it makes me feel closer to the project, somehow. I do need some new summer tops!

The other day a bunch of us on Twitter and Instagram did a photo challenge – sharing a day with photos every hour or more. I decided it would be a good day to get started on a Wiksten tank. This pattern is super popular! I cut and sewed a muslin of the dress version in a day, though I didn’t hem it. I used the same fabric as the back of my quilt – a piece of an Ikea duvet cover. It’s definitely wearable, but it turned out to be a bit big on top so I’ll size down the armholes for the next one.

Some photos of the process!

2:50pm. Shiny new shears. #adayinthelifephotochallenge

3:25pm. Seaming. #adayinthelifephotochallenge

3:51pm. French seam. #adayinthelifephotochallenge

4:28pm. Neckline binding. Fit looks good, might add bust darts. #adayinthelifephotochallenge

Wiksten dress muslin

Wiksten dress muslin

Wiksten dress muslin

Although I’ve done it off and on for years, I’ve never really been great at sewing – I’m not very good at cutting and sewing precisely! Hopefully I’ll learn some new things this time around. Now that I really understand garment construction from designing knitting patterns, I feel much more equipped to alter things to fit me. My next Wiksten will be the tank, with the pattern adjusted for a smaller size up top but graded out to a larger one below the armhole. I’m going to use this block printed, super light cotton that I bought in India a few years ago.

block printed cotton

Eventually I’ll work up to cutting this Liberty fabric that I got at the workroom last week. (Ooh, shiny new scissors too.)

new stuff

I also have a handmade dress that I really love that I’d like to duplicate the shape of, now I just need to pick up some big paper to draft a pattern! SEWING!


oops...ran out of blue.

Yardage. It’s one of those tough things when you’re a knitter – how much yarn to buy? The obvious answer is, “all of it”, but usually you’re a little more limited than that! How much fabric will this skein of yarn make? Well, that depends on what you’re knitting, the needle size, the gauge, the stitch pattern, and tons of other factors. Once you’ve followed a few patterns with yardage requirements, you can start to estimate how much yarn you need for something, or at least have a vague idea that a hat doesn’t take a lot, while a sweater usually requires multiple skeins.

When I started knitting sweaters, I quickly learned that it takes somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1000-1500 yards (900-1350ish metres) of worsted weight yarn for myself. Skinnier yarn uses up more yardage but fewer skeins, since there’s lots of yards in each. A longer, cabled, or tightly knit piece requires more yardage, while something lacy or cropped requires less.

I mostly buy yarn in sweater quantities these days, save the occasional odd bit of sock or lace yarn, and generally I’m able to do just fine with whatever the yardage is. Sometimes a limited amount even inspires my design in one direction or another. In short, I know how to work yardage. In knitting, anyway.

grey stripe

This is a roundabout way of saying, I’m a novice seamstress/dressmaker/sewist, and yardage has given me a good hard pinch on the backside. I didn’t follow a pattern, so I didn’t have any fabric requirements to follow. I drew up a quick chart of the top and calculated out how much area I would need of each fabric, but I didn’t really understand how much I could get out of a yard of cut fabric. Plus I made a few learning mistakes along the way.

So it turns out I didn’t order enough of the blue fabric to do the last row of chevrons. Boyfriend and I decided that a grey chevron on the front, in the same fabric as the backing, would work well. Then I made a crucial error. Instead of picking apart the blue/red half square triangles that I’d already cut and using them, I cut a new set of red squares to piece with the grey. Then I finished the grey chevrons and it looked great!

grey stripe

Except that the top is too short. You can’t really see it in the photo, but it’s just the top of the bed, and I really think it needs to go down over the foot of the bed to be properly useful. I decided on some additional red sashing at the top and bottom. Then I finally realized that I just didn’t have enough red fabric left.

The lesson? More planning and/or less rushing! If only I had picked apart that last row of red/blue squares instead of cutting new ones, I would’ve had enough to finish the top and I’d be quilting it now (I’m really excited for that part). I caved and ordered more red – more than I need, because it was really nice to work with. Now to stay focused on the project, I just have to twiddle my thumbs until it gets here, right?

9am. Fabrics for some summer clothes. Top one is Liberty, but I'm a bit scared of it! #adayinthelifephotochallenge


FO: Sheepcote


I finished my Sheepcote! Of course, it’s about 30C too hot to wear it, but I’m sure it’ll see lots of action in the fall. I’ve photographed it with jeans, but I’d definitely wear it over a tank dress or with a nice full skirt. I made size 37 3/4″, and used the same size needles as in the pattern.


For my version, I did a few things differently. I chose a yarn with more drape than the original Green Mountain Spinnery (which is also awesome) – I used Manos silk blend in Juniper (3043) and Nickel (3031). I love this yarn, it’s so soft and luminous! I bought all the skeins in the shop, but I was a bit short on yardage so I had to be a bit creative. I did decide to omit the waist shaping (which would have used less yarn) for a more casual body shape.


I made it a little less blouse-y in the yoke, by working the first decrease round at about half the yoke height, working even for a bit longer before the second decrease round, and working fewer short rows. I was juuuust able to get enough yoke height with the amount of Juniper that I had (I think it was 6 skeins) before starting the contrast ribbed collar.