A Ruffle Skirt and Cold Shoulder Top

IMG_3737 2If you told me a year ago that I would be sewing a ruffle wrap skirt in denim for Spring, I would have laughed out loud. Ruffles have never been my thing. But if you show me enough of a trend, I am usually happy to hop on board!

Such is the case with this skirt.  I couldn’t resist modifying a simple skirt pattern to mimic some of the ready to wear ruffled gems I’ve been seeing around town.

IMG_3751In this photo, I am noticing that my bootie is unzipped. So ridiculous (!), but I had to include this shot because the ruffles on the front of the skirt are so easy to see. Honestly, this modification was easy. I measured the front edge of the right front of the skirt. I made my ruffle 1 and a half times that length (to allow for gathering), and 6″wide. I love how a simple modification can completely change the look of a pattern.

This skirt is Simplicity 1322. It’s meant to be a mock wrap with a front and back yoke and back zipper. But I made it into a real wrap skirt be eliminating the yokes and cutting a waistband and tie instead. I used  a lightweight denim; a cotton/linen blend. It’s been in my stash for so long, I have no idea where I bought it.

IMG_3771I’m happy with this skirt, but I’m not sure about the length. I might need to shorten it a couple of inches? Opinions? I won’t wear this with tights when it warms up around here and it might look more Springy if it’s a bit shorter?

This cold shoulder top (another trend I have happily embraced) is my first Style Arc Pattern. I wanted a basic top I could wear with anything, so I chose black ponte knit with moderate stretch and lots of body. This fabric was perfect to support the shape of the cut out shoulders.

IMG_3747I’d heard that Style Arc patterns are challenging because there are very few instructions. In the case of this pattern, the instructions were sparse (less than one page), but the instructions were enough to get the job done. There aren’t any facings to deal with on this top. The neck is finished with a turned edge as are the shoulder cut outs, so there just isn’t that much to say! It fit perfectly without modification, a rarity for me, so I’m fairly impressed with this pattern!

 

I’m more comfortable wearing ruffles when they’re paired with something that is simple and not so fussy, like this top. So, I imagine I’ll wear this skirt with simple knit tops most of the time.

IMG_3741I’m pretty happy with this make, and it was a stash buster too. What do you think of the ruffle trend? Thumbs up or down? And do you have any Style Arc Tried and True’s that I should try?

I hope it’s warm and sunny where you are, because it definitely isn’t here, which is not great for my Spring Sew-Jo. Nevertheless, there is a silver lining to the weather. Rain is a perfect excuse to ignore my yard and sew…. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

Stash Buster: Simplicity 1377

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Hi all …As most of you know, one of my goals for 2017 is to reduce the size of my huge (re: out -of-control) stash. To that end, I’ve produced my own Little Black Book, a three-ring binder that holds my catalog of fabrics.

Yes, it’s a bargain basement binder, but it holds the key to my heart…a record of my glorious, but soon to be significantly reduced, supply of fabrics. My method of recording is simple…I just take a snip of the fabric, note the amount I have and whether or not the fabric is woven or stretch, and what ‘bin’ it’s located in (big plastic containers I purchased at Target). I track all fabric that is at least a yard or more. Smaller pieces make it into the notebook if they are unique (sequins, silk, feathers, LACE….!).

Some fabrics stay in their bin for a long time….the longer the stay, the more special they become! This particular fabric lived in my stash for a couple of years before my mind could find something suitable for its vibrant turquoise.

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There were two barriers to making this fabric into something special – – It’s a substantial flannel, the sort of fabric that doesn’t know what the word ‘drape’ means and — – my piece was a yard and a quarter (11/4); not enough for the usual flannel styles like a button up shirt  or a style with long sleeves. (Side note: My stash is overflowing with small pieces like this…remnants from other projects, or small pieces I picked up on sale..too little for most things, but too much to toss!)

Simplicity 1377 was the solution.

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This simple pattern is one I’ve used before. It has a front and back bodice, two neck facings, and short sleeves with drop shoulders. Because I’m only 5’4″, I don’t need much length in the bodice, so I was able to cut this top as well as a pocket and sleeve tabs from my small piece of fabric.

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Pattern Modifications (Simplicity 1377:

  • My version uses the neckline of view D and the sleeves of View E.
  • The short sleeves in view E have been lengthened by 2 inches (roll-up length).
  • I added self drafted button-up sleeve tabs.

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  • I self drafted a 5 inch square pocket to the bodice front and trimmed it with fringe from the fabric selvage.

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  • I used extra fabric to draft a tie belt.
  • I added a side vent to the hem line.

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March is a chilly month here in Oregon, and I know I’ll enjoy this warm flannel shirt with tee under it for weeks to come, and then in a few weeks (I hope) without a tee under it. Unfortunately, cozy is still an important word here, and I’ll be wearing my heavier clothes off and on for the next few months.

I love my new top!

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It’s comfy and colorful with an added bonus – – it was a Stash-Buster. I  got to pull another swatch out of my Little Black Book!

How do you manage your stash? Do you catalog it formally, or are you more relaxed about the process? And what about my fascination with collecting (hoarding) small pieces of fabric? What do you do with your one-yard wonders?

Happy Sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

McCall’s 7501: Two versions

Hi all! I’m back with two versions of a McCall’s 7501, both made with fabrics from my stash (YAY!). When I first saw this pattern, I knew it had to be mine. I love the drama of a wide collar. It has a vintage vibe I love.

 

My  first version is made from a textured sweater knit with moderate stretch. Unfortunately, I didn’t have quite enough for a dress, but this sweater knit has a loose weave that’s probably better suited for a tunic top anyway.

img_2756The collar is designed so that it fits very neatly on your shoulder, which makes this so comfortable to wear. On me, it’s a teeny bit off the shoulder, which I love! Because the sweater knit is an open weave, I’m wearing it here with a tee under it because, baby it’s cold outside. When the weather warms up though, this will be the perfect spring sweater.

Version two is a Little Black Dress, made from ponte knit. I have a special ‘dress-up’ event coming up this weekend, so I couldn’t resist making a version out of a dressy ponte knit I had in my stash. It’s really thick and yummy, embossed with a design that looks like velvet.

 

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It’s so hard to take photos of a black dress, so I hope you can see the cool design on this knit. Even though this dress is close fitting, this stretchy knit makes it comfortable to wear. If my husband wanted to dance (ha), I could! There aren’t any darts, and the sleeves are raglan, so this is an easy sew. Even though the pattern doesn’t call for lining, I did line my dress with a lightweight black stretch satin so that it won’t cling when I walk. The collar is supposed to be faced, but my knit was so thick I just turned the edges under of a single layer of fabric.

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I think the body and weight of this fabric is perfect for this dress, so I’d definitely recommend chosing a similiar ponte knit. It has nice crosswise stretch, which helps the collar to cup over the shoulder. I don’t think a ponte without some give would work as well.

I love my new top and dress. They’re both comfortable, but fitted, which is a great combination.

I’ve become such a fan of making two versions of the same pattern one right after the other. It’s such an efficient way to go, because the second time is so easy and fast. I wonder why I don’t do that all the time (?), especially when I find a pattern I love. Of course, it’s a bit of an assembly-line approach to sewing, but that didn’t seem to diminish the fun factor for me. Maybe some of you are wondering why I just came to this method because you’ve been sewing this way for years! Would love to hear any and all opinions.

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

DIY Date Night Dress

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After I made a swing dress for the Day and Night Dress Challenge, I knew there would be another in my future. What is it that makes a swing dress so fun to wear?!? For me, it’s the way the skirt moves. It’s not quite ‘twirl-worthy’, but fun just the same.

This dress is another attempt to fill in a hole in my wardrobe. The ‘dress up’ category is woefully lacking. So, now I have another ‘date night’ outfit and I used up some of my stash too! This fabric is so yummy; a black ponte knit that’s embellished with a  silvery rose lace pattern. I knew it was destined to be used in a garment that had simple lines so that the interesting fabric could take center stage.

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I do like to combine laces and patterns and textures from time to time just for the fun of it, so I enjoyed mixing and matching laces here. I used a very airy lace from my stash for the yoke and sleeves, then a silver embroaidered lace for one of the contrasting yoke bands. I also added a yoke band of solid velvet to add some contrast to all of the patterns and textures in the lace.

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This dress is a mash-up of a couple of different patterns, Vogue 8817 for the yoke and contrasting yoke bands, and Vogue 8952 (view B) for the swingy bodice. The reason I used two patterns is that I know that the bodice of Vogue 8817 has too much volume for my frame, so I used the bodice of 8952 to draft my a-line bodice.

I did a bit of the high-low thing on the hem to give it a bit more swing. I also lined the bodice with stretch satin so that it won’t cling to my legs. For even more contrast, I made very narrow velvet cuffs for the sleeves.

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I love the fun, flirty shape of this dress. It isn’t too serious, if you know what I mean. Lots of party dresses are a bit too fussy for me, but this one is simple enough to let me be free to party!

I’ll say one thing though. That yellow cat better not think he can lay on it. Those claws would absolutely destroy it.

img_2214Okay, I might be finished with swing dresses for a bit now :). My only concern with this dress is that I might have overdone it here a bit with the lace mash-up. I’ll probably wear it all the time anyway!

I’ve been eyeing my closet, and evaluating. I realize now that some of my makes from a couple of years ago aren’t getting worn enough to justify the space they take in my closet. Some of the fabrics are lovely though, so I might give refashioning a try, although I’ve very little experience doing this. Have you refashioned older makes to keep that fabric in your life? How have you gone about that?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

DIY: Philip Lim Inspired Top

 

img_2016Hi all! The inspiration for this stash-busting top was a Philip Lim creation I saw at the San Francisco Saks a couple of weeks ago. It’s so fun to wander around in that amazing store, a real treat for me since we don’t have a Saks here anymore (wah!). But when I saw this top it was instant ‘love’. The bold plaid, the color blocked side panels, the contrast trim and stitching, I wanted it all. But alas, the price tag….

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So, I set about making my own version. The good news? I used left over remnants from my recent Day Dress, and another plaid from a top I made years ago. So no new money was spent in the making of this top.

img_2040The pattern I used for this make is a tried and true: Vogue 9054.

It’s out-of-print but still available on their website and on Etsy. The design detail that makes this pattern the perfect choice for my Philip Lim top is that it has a front panel. So, that’s where I placed my cotton plaid. I used a contrasting off white knit for the side panels. Even though this pattern is designed for knits, my inspiration top combined knits and wovens, so I went out on a limb and did the same thing. I think the loose design of this top made that combination less risky than it otherwise would have been. The fit really didn’t change. I also added a contrast band to the collar and cuffs.

img_2020A detail I love on the inspiration top was the stitching on the front and back panel seams. To get that look, I top stitched those seams with a decorative stitch. I wanted to use the flat lock stitch on my serger, but alas, it just wouldn’t behave. My substitute stitch isn’t quite as stunning, but I still like it.

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I especially like the way Vogue designed the hemline of this top. There’s a bit of a high-low thing going on there that’s fun.

img_2002Well, I think my top will work as a reasonable substitute for the Philip Lim top, and wearing my DIY  version will save me from spending hundreds of dollars I don’t have. I rarely think that sewing saves money, but when it comes to designer fashions, it has a very strong edge. Thanks to Philip for the inspiration! The colors of this top make it a seasonal transition item, I think, and I feel almost Springy as we persevere through another ice storm with freezing rain. Ugh!

I’m glad I used some fabric from my stash here, because my goal this year is to reduce the size of  my stash (yes, I used bold font so I won’t forget, LOL). Lately, I’ve been feeling like I have to ‘sew to my stash’, if you know what I mean. I often buy fabric with a project in mind, but by the time I get to it, my enthusiasm for it has waned or the inspiration is gone. That means my stash is huge, and it means my sewing is often motivated by the guilt that comes with excess. It overwhelms and confuses my creative urges (yes, I’m a junkie). So, my goal is to sew some of it ASAP and give some to friends or charity so that it doesn’t weigh me down. What do you think, fellow fabric junkies? Will this strategy work? 

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

A Cardigan for Early Spring:McCalls 6802

img_1938Yes, I know the title of this post is optimistic. Sure, there are several months of cold weather between me and Spring, but I can dream, can’t I?

This knit fabric is so soft, I knew at first sight I had to make a sweater-y wrap from it. This new cardigan is a perfect seasonal transition piece: it’s as cozy as a coat, but as soft and light as a sweater. I’ve had this knit in my stash for several years (!!). You know how it goes..sometimes you love a fabric so much, you can’t bear to cut into it.I’m glad I finally settled on this cardigan though, becuase I’ve worn it constantly since I finished it.img_1876I am a big fan of any garment that has a hood. They’re so useful when battling the elements of course, but also just to keep the chill off my neck. So the fact that McCall’s 6802 had one was a big selling point for me.

m6802_aThis loose-fitting cardigan could not be easier to make! It isn’t lined and the sleeves are cut as part of the bodice. So easy! I was able to finish it in about 3 hours. I did make one modification though. The pattern is designed to have an unlined hood with the wrong side showing. Although I like both sides of this fabric, I wanted the inside of the hood to provide contrast, so I cut a duplicate  of the hood and the front band pieces to use as a facing.

img_1968Not only does the lining provide contrast, but the facing makes the hood  warmer too. The sizing on this pattern is generous.  I cut a size 8 (the smallest size), but it was still too big, so I had to take in the seams until it fit. Also, the pattern doesn’t call for a front closure and, although I love the oversized look of it when worn open, I’ll likely wear it with a belt to keep it from becoming a parachute in the wind. If that gets tiresome, I’ll probably just add a couple of buttons down the front.

img_1900Because the cardigan is unlined, I finished the seams with my serger.A note about the sleeves: I like rolling them up a bit when I wear them, and I forgot to take photos of them unrolled. So, just so you know, they are loose and about three-quarter length, cut ‘kimono’ style. img_1947My style is pretty casual these days, so I think this cardigan will be a great addition to my wardrobe. I like the weight of this knit. It’s not too heavy, but warm, so it should be great to wear outside when the weather improves just a little. This fabric is a cat hair magnet though! Hmmm, a certain feline is going to have to stay away from me when I wear it. The colors are great though – -Not only do they blend with Dustin’s fur, but the earthy tones have just a pop of warmth that makes me feel cozy when I wear them.

Even though there’s alot of cold weather ahead, I’m feeling the urge to sew with Spring fabrics…crisp cottons and linens, maybe even some silk. But do I have anything planned? Not so much. I seem to be enjoying ‘sewing on a whim’ these days, and working through my stash. When do you transition into Spring sewing? Is now the time, or am I too early?

Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Toaster Sweaters

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Hi all – – My photos were taken indoors again because of this!img_1525-2Yes, that’s about a foot of snow. In Oregon, this much snow is an event! No one tries to drive and many of my neighbors just shut themselves in. Some folks freak out, and long for it all to end. But, I love this weather. It’s perfect for skiing around the neighborhood, baking cookies and sewing Toaster Sweaters.img_1768-2The Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater pattern comes with two versions,

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Version #1 screamed color blocking to me. The sleeve bands, collar and lower band are great details that make using contrasting fabrics so simple.

img_1652 I cut the sleeves from leftover ponte from my day dress (Day and Night Dress challenge) as well as the collar and hem band. It’s my plan this year to use leftover fabric right away.The bodice was cut from a remnant I picked up at Fabric Depot, a cozy thick cotton knit.

Version #1 went together nicely. The cropped  length is just about right for me, but I’m only 5’4″. If you’re taller, you might want to add a few inches in the length. I made one modification to the pattern. I shortened the collar by 1. I’m really glad I did because otherwise, that collar would have hit me at the chin which would have annoyed me to no end.

img_1704It’s a pretty easy sew and the instructions are great. My ponte knit had very little stretch though, and the pattern calls for 20% stretch. Next time I make it (and there will be a next time…), I’ll use a knit with a bit more give. That way the bottom band won’t be quite so snug. I love this cozy look, and can imagine making it again out of a furry knit, like the one on the pattern envelope.

Version #2 went together in less than two hours…(almost) instant gratification! The sweater knit came from the Mill End Store.

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I like the boxy shape of this top, and the easy look of the high low hem. It’s pretty fitted through the shoulders and in the sleeves, so it doesn’t overwhelm my small frame like some boxy shapes do. I like how it widens gradually to the hem, giving it a swingy shape. It has a funnel neck, mitered side vents and a hi-low hem.

img_1792This is an easy sweater to sew. Honestly, you can do this while you’re binge watching Game of Thrones. The funnel neck is actually cut as part of the bodice, so there’s nothing too tricky there. One warning though; This top is the perfect length for me (a shrimp) so if you’re worried about the top being too cropped, you might want to add a few inches. Next time, I might make it a bit longer so that I can wear it over leggings.

I think this pattern is destined for tried and true status. I plan on making more – a longer version of #2 and a cozier knit for version #1. This is my first Sew House Seven pattern, and I must say, I was impressed. Have you tried their patterns before? Any recommendations?

In spite of the snow, my winter sewing is starting to taper off now, making room for Spring projects. How about you?

Happy Sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

2016: Top Five Hits

1Hi All! It’s almost time to ring in the new year, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to review my top five makes of 2016.

Looking back at my sewing projects always makes me a little nervous, because I can’t bear to face the facts. Sometimes the makes that are the most fun to finish or the most time consuming, are not the ones I love to wear (sigh). They hang in my closet, lonely and ignored. Huh. But without further analysis, here they are….my top five of 2016.

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  1. This little coat:  This topper makes it into the top five because I wore it more than any other make this year! It was so versatile, more than I expected. I wore it constantly. The sewing pattern is great too….Butterick 5927, a new favorite.

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2. The linen and lace dress – – Well, of course I love it. It’s blue, it has statement sleeves and lace trim. This dress made me a fan of clothes with simple lines. I love to wear it.img_8499

3. This coat: OMG, it’s so warm! The stretch wool…the quilted collar…love. To make things even better, when I step into Anthropologie wearing it, the girls that work there swoon, the ultimate compliment. It was supposed to inspire me to rake leaves, but that didn’t happen.

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4. This blouse: Well, because it’s blue. Need I say more?

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5. This poncho: Okay, it had to make the list because wearing it makes me so happy. Yes, fringing it was a nightmare, but the end result made this poncho such a wardrobe stand- out. I have a ‘boho’ moment every time I put it on, something I sorely need.

Honorable mentions:

I was obsessed with denim this year too, so I just have to mention these ‘makes ‘. I didn’t wear them quite as much as I expected though (not sure why?), so I won’t give them ‘top five’ status.

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1. This button up denim skirt: What fun this was to make! The top stitching, the ‘jeans’ buttons up the front…my favorite things.

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2. This denim shirt dress: I love a good shirt dress, and I felt so great when I finished this one! I also learned about snaps. They look great, and you also get to pound them in…If you haven’t tried it, do!

There were a few misses in 2016, but who wants to talk about those? Overall, I had alot of fun at my sewing machine, which is the true test of success for me. I even made my first pair of jeans.

But the best part of 2016 was meeting all of you. I love our community and our conversations. You and your makes are a constant source of inspiration and joy for me. I want to thank you for visiting here and for being a part of my life.

Here’s to an even better 2017! And thanks to Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow for encouraging us to celebrate a fabulous year with our Top Five Makes.

Happy New Year, and thanks for stopping by!

A Velvet Kimono for the holidays

img_0670Hi All – -During, the holiday season, a sewing project has to meet certain critieria to make it onto my lengthy to-do list. It must be  1. easy and quick with little chance for frustration.  2. Gorgeous fabric must be involved. 3. It must provide a healthy dose of instant gratification. This festive kimono definitely earned high marks on all fronts.

Most holiday occassions here call for ‘casual holiday’ attire; something dress-y you can wear with pants/jeans. That’s because the weather has been less than cooperative with snow and freezing rain, which has left sidewalks and parking lots difficult to navigate in high heels and dresses. Given that scenario, I decided (the day before an event, ha!) to add a fun piece to my wardrobe that I could layer to dress things up a bit. Nothing like a last minute project in the midst of the holiday craze! Luckily, I had this lovely piece of ‘burn-out’ velvet in my stash, perfect for my project.

img_0543I love this drapey and shimmery velvet. To make the fabric texture more noticeable,  I decided to use black velvet for the contrasting sleeve bands and ruffle.

If I’d chosen a pattern that I’d made before, the project would have been an easy success. But, of course, I couldn’t make things simple. I had to try a new pattern…and that’s where the trouble started. Enter Simplicity 8172.

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I was attracted to this pattern because I was in a hurry and LOVED that the  sleeves are cut as part of the main bodice…so fast and easy!

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What I didn’t notice was that there isn’t a front band to finish the opening. Instead, the pattern has you finish it with seam binding.  My drapey, flimsy velvet did not like this at all. It wanted to roll constantly. Well, I could not wear it like that so I self-drafted a 4″ front band (thank goodness I had a bit of fabric left over), and stiffened it up with fusible interfacing. Yes, this complication added quite a bit to my simple project, but now, the front opening lies as it should. I am so much happier!

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Overall, I think I like this project. The pattern is fun and easy, and, because you don’t have to set in sleeves, it’s a quick and easy sew. I like the fit on this pattern and the options for adding a flounce. However, the pattern envelope recommends silky fabrics and velvet. As is, I don’t think those fabrics are the best choice for this pattern, since it lacks a front band, relying on seam binding for finish. To me, that works best with a crisper fabric with bit of body so that the seam binding can do its job. Still, I will likely make view C of this pattern in the near future because it allows you to mix patterns and fabrics. And, I’ll make just about anything if it has a high-lo hem!

img_0689Have you sewn with velvet? Did it have a tendency to roll? What did you use to stablize it?

I hope you’re enjoying the festive season and can still find a bit of time for some sewing fun. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

McCall’s 7476 (#2) in textured wool

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Hi All – – I’m back with another cardigan, this time in a nubby sweater knit. This fabulous wool came from the remnant section of Fabric Depot, a fabric I had longed for from afar, but didn’t purchase since it was really expensive. Then, one day, Lady Luck looked my way. When I was there to buy a zipper, I perused the remnant rack and found two small pieces of this wool for 50% off! How could I resist?

Okay, there was a small problem though. My two pieces were a scant yard and a half. This is where being a small person comes in handy. No, I cannot see the dirt on the top of the refrigerator, but I can make something out of two little remnants.

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Well, it took me an about an hour and a half to figure out how to cut this sleeveless cardigan out of my little pieces of fabric (LOL). It’s a good thing I was determined because it was not easy! This cardigan is my second version of my new favorite pattern, McCalls 7476.

I made another version here. The only change I made this time was to leave off the sleeves and to raise the front opening by two inches. I also used three buttons to fasten it instead of one as the pattern suggests. I LOVE this pattern. It’s easy but stylish and you can cut and sew it in only a couple of hours, (two episodes of my new binge watching obsession, The Crown). My nubby knit is a very loose weave though so  I did use my serger to finish the seams since the fabric wanted to fray with very little encouragement. Still I love this fabric. It’s warm and the texture makes it so unusual.

I was able to find a moment when it wasn’t raining to take a quick outdoor shot. This was a true test of this wool, and it held up to the brisk temperature.

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I’d say the only thing I’m a bit worried about with this sweater knit is snagging it. Not sure what to do if that happens? I know some of you would find fixing a snag an easy challenge, so please sure any tips you have, as I’m sure it will happen.

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My winter sewing plans are in full swing. I’m finishing a velvet and lace swing dress which I will post soon, and have plans for a cape and a coat. Yes, that’s a lot to take on when I also want to bake holiday cookies and shop for presents and sing in a few holiday concerts. I’ll be fine IF I stick to easy, simple projects  with tried and true patterns that don’t add unneeded stress to life. Then sewing is fast and fun without alot of unpicking to do.

I hope your holiday sewing is progressing nicely, and that you’re enjoying the season. Happy sewing and thanks for stopping by.