Saturday, June 29, 2019

That Time When I was Suddenly Quilting

With the back and front of my "bright stars on black" quilt pieced and having a batting I could use, it was possible to move on to basting it together.

With travel and company coming, I didn't think I'd have time to actually quilt it but I figured I could at least get it basted. (It's not the best practice to have a quilt sit around folded after being basted, but I was willing to take a chance.)

I brought everything I needed to baste it together at church a couple weeks ago. I work there once a week, so I went in early and took advantage of the large tables. Three of them side by side is the same size as the quilt top.

Well, I brought everything except the big clips I use to keep the backing in place. (These are the clips I had to go out and buy last time I basted a quilt there. Maybe I should make a list?) I took a chance, and tried to keep the backing smooth without the clips.

It almost worked. I ended up with a fold in the middle (on the back) and had to undo and redo half of the quilt. I didn't take pictures, but hundreds of pins were used. But - importantly - not all of my pins were used. I didn't have to go out and buy more this time!!

The quilt sat in a basket for a while, but one evening I decided to pull it out. (I think the goal was to empty the supplies out of the basket and use it for laundry again, but one thing leads to another...) The only idea I had for quilting this quilt was black lines between the stars. Wavy, undulating lines or something to suggest motion.

But suddenly I was quilting around the stars -- big stitch quilting with coloured embroidery floss.
After outlining the star, I decided to echo the shape inside the star as well.
I made a paper template at the medium size, pinned it to the quilt and stitched around it (right next to the paper). The star shape is easy to make as it's two squares centered on top of each other, with one rotated 45°. Having four seams in the middle of the block makes it really easy to line up and centre the star.

Stitching around the paper was tedious and inaccurate as it kept shifting, so by the time I made the smaller paper template, I realized I could trace around it with chalk and sew on the line without the paper in the way. That is how I proceeded and it is working well. I mark each star as I start to work on it. If I did them all at once, I think the chalk would wear off of the stars by the time I got to them all.

After stitching the second star, I decided it needed something more in the middle, so I repeated the same star shape in the centre. Each leg of the star is only one stitch so it's a solid line instead of the dashed running stitch of the larger stars.
By the next day I had four stars done. Here is a picture of the back:
I love that the stitching lines are square with the lines of the triangles. It's easy to not line up the back and front perfectly when you're layering everything, but I'm happy it worked out! (I'm sure having a table top where I could see everything at once helped!)

The floss colours match the stars so the back will also have an ombre rainbow effect. Or it would if you could see the colours very well. The lines aren't thick enough to be distinguishable against the black in that much detail.

I am also pleased that I found a way to deal with the knots so that the running stitch is continuous on the back and the front. Ways I have done it before always left a gap or an extra long stitch on the back.

By last night, I had seven stars done: the blue one, the green ones, and three yellow ones.
I was thinking that was out of 16 stars total, but when I spread out the whole quilt I realized there are 18 stars in all. So I'm closer to a third done than half. (But it's still going quicker than I would have thought.)

It's a good thing I tolerate being warm (and generally seek it out) because having a wool quilt on your lap on a hot summer day isn't for everyone!! :)

I still don't know how I'm going to quilt between the stars; might be black lines, might echo the star shapes some more. I have some time to think about it. I also am contemplating the border. I may find myself "suddenly" big stitch quilting around those smaller stars too. A quilt wants what a quilt wants. Who am I to deny it?

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Then and Now: Vogue Vintage Flashback

This here
is a picture of woman pretty pleased with herself. And the blouse she's wearing.

You may recall, this was a "flashback" pattern from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 1984. (Original pattern from 1948.)  I was inspired to make it as part of a then-and-now knit-along in the Ravelry Vogue Knitters group.
In mid May, I (finally) had all of the pieces knit. I blocked them all before seaming.
I usually don't bother and just block everything afterwards. But the experts say that you get the best results blocking the pieces first and I decided to listen to them. The edges of the pieces were very curly and I wanted to make the seaming easier. It also helped to fold over the hems on the cuffs and collars so they wanted to stay in place while I sewed them down.

You can see I didn't work in any of the ends before blocking either. I decided to wait to take care of them until after it was sewn together. It turned out to be a very good decision. I had kept all of the ends to the edges, and it was simple to work them into the seam allowances after the seams were sewn. I was worried about being able to anchor the slippery white silk but it wasn't an issue at all working them into the seam allowances.

The first seam was to sew the back and front sections to the yoke.
Since I was sewing the ends of one piece to the sides of the other, I couldn't just match stitch for stitch. Despite having to adjust the gauge and stitch count, the length of the pieces I was sewing together were the same. (Yay!) I used safety pins to match centers and quarters and added a few more.
I made sure the yoke began and ended so that a garter ridge ran right along the top of the front and back pieces, making it consistent with the rest of the stitch pattern. (Each tan stripe is edged with a garter ridge.) You can see I also  matched up the white stripe from the front and from the sleeve. (The pattern planned for that so that's not all me, but it is nice when it works!)

The next seam was the long underarm and side seam, done in one shot. I normally sew with the same yarn that the piece is knit with, but for this one I used thread instead. I wanted to minimize bulk. It didn't feel right to use regular sewing thread, though, so I used top stitching thread which is thicker.

Next was the hem around the bottom:
It's so neat and simple!
The pattern said to fold over four stitches, but I just curled a little bit that seamed to naturally want to roll, closer to two stitches. I sewed it down with the thread, just making sure that it stayed even and straight all the way around.

Next the cuffs. The reworking of the pattern in 1984 changed the cuffs so the stripe pattern was different from the original. I modified the cuffs and from what I can see on the picture, it matches the original. It just seemed a lot more balanced and in tune with the rest of the sweater to arrange them as shown.
The sleeves are gathered into the cuffs quite a bit, so I ran a length of the tan yarn around the sleeve bottom. I used it to gather the sleeve width to match the length of the cuff and tied a knot to keep it there. I intended to pull it out after I sewed on the cuff, but it wouldn't come out when I tried. Apparently I sewed through it in places. That's alright, it will just help keep it from stretching out.
The cuffs had a knitted hem. The pattern had the hem the same width as the cuff, but I followed Elizabeth Zimmermann's formula of making the part you turn under about 10% smaller. I sewed it down just above the white stripe. Putting all the extra bulk under the white stripe camouflages the extra thickness of the hem.
Next was the collar. I modified the hem so I could knit it in one piece.
Under side of the collar.
The pattern had you knit the hem for the long edge, cast off, and then pick up stitches on the short sides to knit the hem there. I picked up the stitches before starting the hem and knit the long side and short sides all at once. I decreased stitches at the corners so it would lie flat.
I really wondered how to sew it to the body. I didn't want to do a regular seam where you put right sides together and the flip it inside right--too much bulk in the seam and I didn't think the collar would fold over neatly.

Then I noticed that the top edge of the collar (the cast on edge) was neat enough to show to the outside. So I laid the collar on the body in position and just sewed the top edges together on the back side. I made sure the collar rode a little higher than the body and kept all the stitches on the back.
And it turns out that once it was on, the weight of the blouse pulled the collar to the inside and produced a nice folded edge. (Except at the front and back center, as you'll see.)
The back includes a slit finished with buttons. The pattern called for the entire back seam to be open and fastened with three buttons. This seemed very open to me, so I sewed the seam shut from the bottom to half way, and put the buttons on the top half.
The ends of the opening are finished with crocheted slip stitch, including crocheted loops for the buttons. The buttons were from my button jars and definitely do not look brand new. Let's call that a design choice to reinforce the vintage look of the garment. :)
It looks like the back of the collar isn't quite centered after the buttons were fastened. We'll see if I think that's worth fixing. (I doubt it.)

And finally, here's the entire piece:
It came out exactly as I wanted. It's comfortable to wear and I love the fit.
There's flexibility in the fit of the shoulders since there is no set shoulder seam. Despite the all-in-one construction of the yoke and sleeves, there is shaping in the underarm so that it's not just blocks of rectangles put together. (Always a recipe for weird bulk under the arms.) I was happy to have a pattern to tell me how to do it because there was some unusual geometry going on.

The waist shaping worked out well too. It was hard to know for sure when the pieces were knit side to side, but again, the pattern did not steer me wrong.

To cap off this wonderful finish, I found two brown pants at Goodwill in the last couple of weeks that will match!

Project Stats
: 15 Mar '19
Finished: 20 May '19
Pattern: #42 Close-Fitting, Striped Pullover with 3/4-Length Sleeves & Collar from Vogue Knitting (Spring/Summer 1984)
Materials: Raveled Linen/Rayon from Coldwater Creek shrug; ColourMart Silk 36/120nm DK wt.
Ravelry project page: Striped blouse with collar

May I suggest?

I Say! or at least I did once...