Bear Print Bronte


I made up another Bronte top after my yellow one! This one is from much more recent stash than the first one; I bought these knits from Girl Charlee late in the summer of last year (it is so weird to think of 2014 as “last year”).

I only bought a yard of the bear fabric (there is also a matching moose fabric!), and I bought the black intending to use them together. I think my thought was that I’d temper the crazy with a little bit of solid colour.


I shortened the sleeves 3″, all the while thinking “Really? Do I really want to shorten them this much? I must be wrong.” Nope, 3″ was just right! I find it odd I didn’t need to shorten the body at all, if I was making such a big adjustment to the sleeves.


Even though the print on this one is arguably child-like (I LOVE PRINTS, DON’T CARE) I think the black trim and sleeves make it much less onsie-ish that an Easter-egg-yellow Bronte.

Something obvious to note – when you make a muslin, with the intent of making the pattern again in your ‘good’ fabric, make sure that they’re similar fabrics? I mean, yes, I sewed both of these out of jersey, but that’s about where the similarities end. When I first put the bear-Bronte on, I thought “uh oh, too tight”, because the jersey is a lot thicker and less stretchy. Luckily, it seems a little like a pair of jeans, in that after a bit of moving around, it eases up.


I opted for just one button each side this time, because I had these fabulous black plastic buttons with brass-reinforced holes. Yes, I made the sewing machine do them for me. Never sewing another button by hand ever again! At home at least, unless I can figure it out on the sewing machine at work.

I used a different sewing machine stitch on this one. Instead of the 3-step zig zag I’d been using before, I found something in my manual about ‘straight stretch’ stitch. The manual claims it was developed for use on stretch fabrics – basically it is a 3-step straight stitch, it goes back and forth 3 times on each stitch. The manual notes that “The stretch stitch does not actually stretch as it is being sewn, but is stitched in a forward and back motion, (sometimes called a “reverse-action” stitch) so that it will give when the fabric stretches instead of breaking.”

I haven’t noticed any difference yet in strength of seams or anything, but the main draw (for me) was that it is straight, not zigzag, so I can press the seam allowances open, rather than to one side when they’re zigzagged together.

How often do you read your machine’s manual? I’ve found all sorts of fun stuff (IT SEWS ON BUTTONS) in mine, and there’s only 40 pages!

Finished Bronte Top

So in my last post, I was talking about the Julia cardigan I had made. Hiding under the cardigan was a much more recent finish!


The Bronte top was in the same Pattern Parcel that the Julia pattern came in. I waffled a bit about it – I liked the idea of trying a different t-shirt pattern, but the neckline kept reminding me of baby shirts – you know, you the ones with handy extra buttons for babies’ giant heads? But this week the thought of something in simple jersey sounded like a good way to get back to the sewing machine after a holiday hiatus.

I had just gone through my fabric stash bin; I tipped everything out and refolded it, and reintroduced myself to the things I’d bought! This yellow jersey is the same vintage as my chainlink patterned knit, so about 7 years old!I have a lot of it, I think my plans must have involved a dress. Looking at it now, it isn’t really a colour I’m a fine of. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good mustard yellow, but this Easter-y colour reminded me of baby onesies again. But, I wanted to make a muslin, so I dove right in!


The jersey feels mostly cotton-y, but is quite thin, maybe even a tissue-weight jersey? Possibly a bit thinner than called for in the pattern, but it worked out. I made the pattern exactly as printed, and while I like the length of the body, this is how long the sleeves are on me:


It’s funny, I’m so used to sleeves like this from storebought shirts that if there isn’t bunching at my wrists, I start wondering if the sleeves are too short! Plus, the extra fabric keeps my wrists warm. I’ll probably shorten the sleeves a little before I cut it out next time though.


I dug through my button jar to find appropriate buttons. I love having a mixed-up jumble of buttons just living in a jar! I find it quite satisfying to dump the whole thing out on the coffee table and have a sort through. Every time I do that, I find a few buttons that match, so every time I string a few more together, but the jar is still a fun jumbly mess. These 6 pearl buttons were already on a string together. I was trying to chose between a couple similar pearl options, and some grey ones. I went with the pearl, because I only had two grey, one for each side.


I actually like this shirt enough for it to be a wearable muslin, which is great! I didn’t think the buttercup colour would grow on me this much. The thing I’m not sure how to fix is the shoulder seams. I am doing all this sewing with a regular sewing machine, so all my seams in knit projects are sewn with a 3-stitch zigzag (I find it easier to control than the regular zig zag). So I sewed the sleeve in, and trimmed down the seam allowance, but what is left doesn’t want to behave, and I can’t figure out how to press it. Even though I trimmed the allowance, the seams have thickness, because of the zigzagging. I tried to press the excess down towards the sleeve, but it just wants to be lumpy. This may be to do with the thinness of the jersey – it shows every lump and bump!


I do have a little gripe with the pattern. The directions were great, and it was nice and easy to sew together, it was the PDF pattern that I didn’t enjoy putting together. The PDF patterns I’ve used before usually have you trim off the bottom and right-hand margin on each sheet. Then you tape them together, overlapping the edges of the pages. I find the overlap really helps in lining things up straight. This pattern has you trim the bottom and right margins off, but I eventually realized that you’re then supposed to but the edges of the paper together, not overlap them at all. The awkward part of this was that I didn’t notice this until I got to the sleeve cap, and that was the only way the lines would meet up – on the straightaway of the sleeve and body pieces, it wasn’t immediately apparent I’d done something wrong.

For storage, I feel like the patterns that have that inch-or-so overlap between each page are a little stronger. If I know I want to make the pattern again, I tape the backs of the seams of the paper too, for stability.

Have you made this one? I’m definitely going to make more!

Finished Fantasy Renfrew Cowlneck Tee


After the triumphant feeling of sewing my first knit tee, I treated myself to a paid pattern. I’d had my eye on the Sewaholic Renfrew Tee for a while, because I had heard that their patterns were drafted for ladies with small bust measurements compared to their hips. Basically – drafted for me. And, it’s fun to support a Vancouver-based business, yay Canadians!


The fabric is from GirlCharlee, and I loved it so much I bought 6 yards! It is a fantasy doodle print, that reminds me of the covers of some editions of Tolkein’s books. There’s mountains, waves, trees, jumping fish, hills, all in a thin black line doodle on a nice heathered medium blue.


The great thing about the Renfrew pattern (well, apart from the fact that I didn’t have to grade it to 3 sizes larger for my hips) is that they use self-fabric bands to finish all the edges! No trying to keep hem edges straight! No double needle!

I’ve been using a zig zag stitch to sew all my knit seams so far, and one day I was looking through my sewing machine’s manual to try to figure out which tension knobs did what. While doing that, I found that my machine also has a 3-step zigzag, which it claimed was great for stretch fabrics. I’ve been using that stitch, and it is wonderful, and neat, if a bit slow. The difference between zigzag and the 3-step zigzag is that for a regular zigzag, each zig (or zag) is 1 stitch. With the 3-step it takes 3 stitches to zig, then 3 stitches to zag back again. I also find it much neater than the regular zigzag but that may just be because I played more to get just the right tension setting.


(I think of this photo as a Scruffy Badger face :))

I’m also really happy I bought this pattern because you get 3 sleeve lengths, and 3 neckline options to mix and match! I did the 3/4 sleeves, and cowl neck, although the sleeves are closer to elbow length on me. I cut a size 6 and it was just right. I may make the body 1/2″ to 1″ shorter next time though.

And of course, a picture of me reading my favourite copy of my favourite book:


Finished Chain Plantain


I ordered a whole shwack of knits from over the summer, because I was so inspired by all the sewing blogs I’d just started devouring, and by all the tutorials that claimed you didn’t need a serger. Then the envelope of cuddly knits arrived, and I couldn’t bear to cut in to any of them, in case I ruined something. So I dug in my stash box, and found this chainlink knit that I bought 7, yes 7 years ago, the last time I thought I’d get in to sewing.


The print is a little crazy. Crazy large! I’d seen a DVF wrap dress made out of it, and immediately wanted it. So I have a lot of this mad fabric. And it isn’t cotton, it is slinky and a little sweaty (I so rarely wear anything but mostly-natural fibres, so I may be extra sensitive to that). But I had it, and I didn’t mind cutting right in to it. I decided to use a free pattern for my first attempt at knits, so I used the Deer & Doe Plantain Tee, which is a tee with various sleeve lengths, elbow patches, and a swingy shape.

I cut out a size 38, which seem to fit just right. I had some equally slinky black knit that I used for the neck binding and elbow patches.


I used a double needle on the hem, cuffs and neckband. I fiddled with the various tension knobs on my machine and some scraps for quite a while, and finally got on with it even though I don’t think things are quite right. The stitching looks pretty even from the outside, but on the inside it is a little crazy. I think the problem is that I know where the tension knobs are on the machine, I just don’t know which controls what, and if higher means tighter, or lower does.

I’m so happy with it! Even if the print is a little cruise-tastic. I LOVE elbow patches, so that little oval is probably going to see some good use. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to figure out where to put patches on sleeves from other patterns though – these were clearly marked, and magically offset so everything ended up in just the right place. To trace the shape on to the sleeve, so I could sew the patches in the right place, I actually cut out that piece on the sleeve pattern piece, then traced around the inside with a disappearing marker, like a stencil.

This shirt was a great introduction to knits, and it really helped that I was working with a fabric I cared less about than the new ones I’d just bought. Sadly, I broke my double needle almost immediately after finishing this top. My sewing machine has the regular setting, where your needle is in the middle of the foot, and one where it is to the extreme left of the hole in the foot (this is where it goes to when it zig zags). The pictographs on the dial look very similar for straight-stitch and straight-stitch-left, so when I went to play with the tension some more, I didn’t notice that the needle was in its left position, so I snapped off half the double needle. First time I’ve broken a needle like that!


And finally, a pose more often found featuring swimsuit models under waterfalls. I just had to show off those elbow patches some more!


What are your favourite knit sewing patterns? I want to sew everything now!