Tag Archives: Wiksten

Learning curve

16

newgirl4

Still no finished New Girl to show you (maybe this time next week?). I noticed at the end of last week that my hands were starting to hurt. Specifically, my left thumb (which braces my left needle) and my right forefinger (which throws the yarn, since I knit English). Cassy and I were talking about it, and she says she’s having pain in the same places. There are probably a few reasons for this, but I’m sure one of them is how heavy this knitting is. The skirt is well over 300 stitches around, and even when it’s in my lap, my hands are supporting a fair bit of that weight, which is a whole lot more than a sock, or even (for me) an average sweater. So I’ve been taking it slow. I’m getting close to finishing the skirt (two more rows and then I get to the daisy stitch pattern!) and after that I think the pockets will feel very quick.

Anyway, since I wasn’t knitting much this weekend, I turned my attention to sewing. I am definitely, definitely, a beginning sewist. Ahem. I fooled around on mum’s beautiful old Singer when I was in high school, I’ve made a few project bags and last year I made my first garment, the super basic Wiksten Tank. I really want to sew more, so I decided to start early this year in the hopes of building up a somewhat me-made summer wardrobe.

I am so, so desperate for green! This fabric is Vintage Floral, Vine, from Rowan's Victoria & Albert Museum collection.

I am so, so desperate for green! This fabric is Vintage Floral, Vine, from Rowan’s Victoria & Albert Museum collection.

I decided to make the Wiksten Tank again, since I already had the pattern cut and felt like I had learned some things making the last one. For example: Last time I cut the largest size, but after trying it on decided it was huge (despite being correct for my measurements) and took it in. This tim, I cut the next size down, thinking that would be a good compromise, since I liked the idea of having a sort of over-sized, floaty tank for the very hot summer days I’m sure are coming (I say this, but it’s -8C today before windchill and yeah, it may be cold forever).

On the right, the piece of the tank; on the left, leftovers.

On the right, the piece of the tank; on the left, leftovers. Clearly there’s a bit of a green theme with my sewing tools.

I cut the fabric on Saturday and then sewed it up on Sunday. It’s actually a pretty quick sew until you get to the binding and hemming. The pattern is written for people without sergers (just as well, since I don’t have one) and to keep the seams neat there’s a lot of folding and ironing and pinning, and it’s finicky and time consuming. I got tired and annoyed by all the finishing last time and skimped on it, which I regret now. This time, I took my time and I’m really proud of my seams and bias binding. I also inserted a long box pleat in the back, because when I tried it on, I realized the neckline was sort of puffing out at the back of my neck (there’s probably a technical term for this, but suffice to say, it did not lay flat).

Ta da! There are no pictures of me wearing it (yet) because it is too friggin' cold to pose outside and I don't have the patience to pose indoors. I'll take a picture of me wearing it later.

Ta da! There are no pictures of me wearing it (yet) because it is too friggin’ cold to pose outside and I don’t have the patience to pose indoors. I’ll take a picture of me wearing it later.

Probably, that should have been the point when I assessed the fit of the rest of the tank. Turns out, I could probably have cut two sizes smaller than the one I did. I know it’s meant to have positive ease (and perhaps in a lighter fabric it would drape differently) but it is quite huge. I’m not even sure what happened, since I looked at the direction, chose a size, cut that size, sewed the seams as written, and it’s still enormous – in sewing you can’t blame wonky gauge, and deciding on the fly to change the fitting is not nearly as easy, especially since if you don’t like it there is no ripping back.

I’m not discouraged though. There’s always a learning curve, and I’m not afraid of that. Next time I think I’ll try a lighter fabric in a smaller size and see how that goes. I also plan to try making a Washi Dress this summer, but will definitely make a muslin before cutting into anything nice.

Do you sew? Do you have any tips? Are there any good sewing blogs I should be reading? When I started knitting, the world of knit blogs opened up so much possibility for me, and I feel like finding a community of sewing bloggers would help. You can learn so much just by reading about other people’s approaches or pattern modifications or fabric choices. As I said, I’m a beginner, so any advice is most appreciated!

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Something orange and something blue

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This is a new something orange, and it is the reason that I didn’t finish the first of my Willowherb socks this weekend. It’s actually entirely counter-intuitive, because this weekend was so oppressively humid I changed three times on Saturday and I wasn’t doing anything high-energy. Clearly, then, this was the weekend to cast on for Grace. I mean, who doesn’t crave wool cardigans when the humidity is hovering at 100%?

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I actually cast on twice. Once, on the needles that my gauge swatch told me were the right size, and then again, with a larger needle, when it was clear my swatch had lied. Somehow, I am now getting an even tighter gauge (!?) but rather than rip out again and start with yet another needle size, I’m chalking it up to the knit-ripped-and-reknit yarn being a little tight. It’ll block out, right?

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So that’s the orange. The blue is a bit of a surprise, at least to me. Remember all that time ago when I sewed that project bag? Well, I haven’t sewed a thing since, but last week I got it into my head that I was going to make myself some summer clothes. I don’t know what got into me, but I just decided I could do it, without any sort of evidence backing me up.

Yesterday, I went to The Workroom and picked up some fabric (twice as much as I needed, just in case the first attempt didn’t work out) and the pattern I had in mind: the ubiquitous Wiksten Tank.

I got down to business today (I had the day off) and, after five hours I have a shirt! And it even fits. This is the first piece of clothing I’ve ever made, unless you count the boxers I had to make in seventh grade Family Studies (I do not). L isn’t home yet, so proper finished shots will have to wait. In the meantime, check it out:

Ta da!

Ta da! (It’s hanging on a slight angle, it isn’t actually crooked. Promise.)

Not bad, right? I know it isn’t perfect, but most of the faults are hidden when I’m wearing it. And, that print! I love that print. I have lots left, so short of making the exact same thing again, I’m not quite sure what to with it. I’ll come up with something though.

The print is actually bicycle sprockets! I love it. It's from the Ride collection by Julia Rothman.

The print is actually bicycle sprockets! I love it. It’s from the Ride collection by Julia Rothman.

For the top, I had planned to make the XL, but after sewing the side seams I tried it on and it was a tent. I based my pattern size on my bust, but since my waist is 10 inches smaller than my chest, it can be tricky. To fix it, I took 3 inches off the width (1.5 inches per side, tapering up to 1 inch at the armpit). I also took two inches off the back neck by adding a box pleat (totally inspired by Linda). This small success has inspired me to start planning more sewing projects. Although, given how long this simple tank took, it may be a while before any of them are seen here.

Edited to add: L got home right after I hit post, so he agreed to take some impromtu shots. Not the best photos of me (I was freezing, in addition to not styling myself at all), but oh well.

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