Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Finishing up December

I had plans for three things in December, and I ended up crossing one thing off the list, changing the pattern for the second, and made the last one exactly as planned. Pretty typical for me and my advance plans! At least the thing I took off the list was for a happy reason. I thought I needed another knit tunic because I somehow misplaced one of my existing ones. I put it in my sewing room in order to do a small repair to it and then, poof, it vanished! I turned the room upside down looking for it to no avail and convinced myself I must have accidentally put it in my fabric recycling bag and lost it forever. However, it eventually turned up again (in a very obvious place, idk how I missed it when I was searching) and has now been repaired and put back in my wardrobe. So the knit tunic has been struck from the list for now as I have enough.

That left me with a cardigan and a tunic length woven top to make.

1. Cardigan: McCall's 6844 view C, in purple ponte knit

McCall's 6844 pattern envelope and the version I made, view C
I've owned this pattern since it came out in 2013, but I've been mired in indecision about making it ever since it arrived in the post. McCall's patterns are often divided up at exactly the wrong place for me and they don't always overlap the sizes the way some other brands do. This pattern was divided up between XS-M and L-XXL, and I, of course, would very much like to choose or blend between M and L. When I originally bought this, for some reason I decided that the Medium was the better starting point. Ever since then I've second guessed myself and thought I should have bought the envelope with Large in it, and this sapped any enthusiasm I had for actually making it.

My version, in purple ponte

This month, having made and discarded multiple different cardigan plans, I finally bit the bullet and cut out a straight size medium in the hopes I might get at least a wearable muslin out of it. I made no changes to the pattern except to omit the interfacing from the collar. My ponte knit was already quite firm and when I tested it I didn't like how the fabric felt with the interfacing attached.

Irrespective of my particular outcome, it was very evident from making this that it is a great, easy, and well-designed pattern. I mean, no kidding, right? That's why everyone and her mother has made it repeatedly since 2013 and there are eleventy billion positive reviews of it on PR. Still, it's worth saying again, I suppose: it went together really smoothly, I love the overall shape and the way the shawl collar looks. I normally don't wear the whole peplum/butt ruffle thing but I kind of love it on this cardigan.

However, this particular version, more or less straight off the pattern sheet, is not a great fit on me. Funnily enough, the thing I worried about (enough fabric at the bust) isn't an issue at all, even though a Medium is notionally far too small for me. Instead, the biggest problem is that the sleeves are quite narrow, so I don't have much room around my biceps. Since my ponte knit doesn't have a great deal of stretch it only just fits. A second fairly major problem is that the waist is too high -- at least 2cm above my actual waist. I'll fix these and also some smaller fit problems if I make the pattern again. I am not sure I need a second peplum version, but I like the idea of view A/B without a waist seam.

2. Woven tunic 1: New Look 6527 view A (mostly), in dotty black viscose

I made this top specifically to wear over the holiday period for dinner with family.

New Look 6527 views and technical drawings
I was actually, strangely, tempted to make view C or D, with the full bell sleeves, because the one other review of this pattern that is online used that sleeve and it looks great. Then I decided that the bell sleeve was too trendy and I wasn't going to wear it often enough before that went out of style. Also, I thought that I would probably only like the full sleeves right up until the moment I tried to fit the extra fabric down a cardigan sleeve or dipped the entire thing in gravy by mistake. So I went back to my original plan, which was view A, except without the front/back overlay because I didn't have enough fabric.

According to the New Look measurement chart, I am closest to a size 18 bust, size 16 hip. Based on recent experiences, I ended up cutting the neck and shoulder at size 14 and then the armscye, sleeve and rest of the bodice is an 18. I did some other typical adjustments as well for square shoulder and high round back. I wondered, when I first looked at the pattern, where that seam on the front bodice was supposed to fall. On me at least, it curves up well above the bust, and actually produces quite a nice shape. Not that you can see the seam, or any other detail, on a black top with a random dot print!
New Look 6527 in block dotty viscose. As you can see I used the hi-lo hem variant

Astonishingly, given that the size adjustment I made is more or less fudged rather than a classic FBA, this actually fits remarkably well. Most encouragingly, this is probably the best shoulder fit I've ever got from an envelope pattern. It's not quite perfect, and I might have been better off either cutting a 12 at the neckline or doing a small narrow shoulder adjustment as well. However this is a HUGE improvement on the inches of excess length falling down my bicep that I have ended up with in the past

As modelled by me
Other than that, I really REALLY love this pattern. The shape through the waist and hip is the perfect amount of flare for me, and this drapey, floaty viscose moves beautifully. I can definitely see myself making this pattern again. The only problem is finding a fabric that has a nice "wrong side" as it is very visible with the hi-lo hem at the back. The wrong side of this particular fabric is only very slightly different from the right side (don't ask me about the time I spent unpicking the front bodice....) so it was a very good choice for the top.
Details: terrible cuffs, but decent work on the neckline
The only negatives are problems with the sleeves, and they were all entirely created by me. First, I accidentally cut the sleeve pattern to a size 14 (like the neckline) instead of an 18. When I adjusted the sleeve so that it would actually fit my arm, I didn't do it the way I normally do, and as a result I lost the shape of the sleeve in the pattern (which is rather nice) and ended up with something much more rectangular and also, weirdly, a bit shorter than the original sleeve.

Then, when I was actually working on the sewing, I kept pushing to finish this top even though I was tired and starting to make mistakes. As a result, the cuffs are just awful. Awful, awful, awful. The gathering into the cuffs didn't stay even while I was sewing it, the actual cuffs themselves aren't at all well finished or well shaped, and overall they look crappy and hand-made in the bad way. Unfortunately, by the time all the little problems had started to mount up into a big mess, it was too late to fix anything because I'd trimmed off the seam allowances and understitched a lot of construction seams. Trying to make it better would probably have made it worse, once all the unpicking was done, and I didn't have enough fabric to recut even the cuffs let alone the sleeves.  So frustrating, because I actually do know better and there was absolutely no need to rush to finish!

I wore it as seen in the photos for a day, but the sleeves/cuffs are annoying -- the bad sewing doesn't bother me too much in wear but the shortened length of the sleeve is very irritating. I might cut them off to the short sleeve length as per view B in order to make the top less annoying to wear.

Nope! I could get this pattern on the fabric, but I couldn't match the print
My last plan was a always more of a maybe. I did try to make another woven top, using a vintage Vogue pattern. I did all my pattern alterations and everything, but in the end I was stymied by the fabric I'd picked for it. I could just about squeeze the pattern on the fabric but I couldn't match the print no matter how much pattern tetris I played. The most important was obviously the centre front seam match, which needed to match both horizontally and vertically, but if I got that to work then either the side seam or the sleeve/bodice match was going to be miles out. I think I may have to come back to this pattern with a plain or more randomly patterned fabric.

We're not quite at the end of December, but I think that I'm more or less done for this year. I'm going to use any remaining sewing time left over these last few days of 2017 to make a gift for a January birthday and also trace a pattern and make a muslin of the coat I'll be sewing early in the New Year. :D

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