Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Baby Surprise Jacket (BSJ)

This is one of those projects that every knitter should knit at least once. I just finished my fourth for no reason other than the joy of knitting it. It is Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket, or BSJ, for short. It was "invented" by Zimmermann in 1968 and has been knitted by thousands of knitters since. On Ravelry, a wonderful social networking site for knitters (and crocheters), there are 16,589 (16,593, the number increases daily) projects from members all over the world for the BSJ. If there are that many posted on Ravelry alone, I wonder how many thousands more have been knitted!

The jacket is knitted in one piece and then seamed at the shoulders. It does not look like a jacket during the knitting process. It doesn't really look like anything until it is seamed. The pattern can be found here and here.

baby surprise jacket

baby surprise jacket
Ravelry link

baby surprise jacket

This is my first BSJ, knitted in 2008 with a hand-dyed fingering weight yarn. 

baby surprise jacket
Ravelry link

This is my second BSJ, knitted in 2008 with a hand-dyed DK weight yarn. 

baby surprise jacket
Ravelry link

And this is my third BSJ, knitted in 2008 with Jojoland Rhythm, a worsted weight yarn. The buttons are coconut. 

baby surprise jacket
Ravelry link

The pattern is the same, regardless of the weight of the yarn that you choose. The larger the yarn, the larger the jacket will be. If you like garter stitch and a little challenge, try out this pattern. There are great message boards on Ravelry to discuss this project, ask questions, and share pictures.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sewing Undies

Now this was a fun project! I have always wanted to try sewing underwear. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on patterns, fabric, and elastic only to end up with homemade, ill-fitting undies. I ran across this free pattern on indigorchid's wonderful blog. The idea is to recycle old t-shirts to make underwear.

I had rescued a few old t-shirts from my daughter's trash can a couple of weeks ago because I never really throw anything away which is remotely related to fabric, sewing, etc. She agreed to be my guinea pig for this experiment.

sewing undies

I already had underwear elastic in my stash which came from a local, well-known underwear company. Someone gave it to me because, as I said before, I stash all things related to sewing. The first pair I made with foldover elastic at the waist sewn on with my coverstitch machine. Since I was experimenting with size on this one, I got the legs just a bit tight so I finished them with a self-fabric binding sewn on with the coverstitich.

sewing ladies underwear

sewing underwear elastic

I ran across this lightweight piece of knit at the local fabric store for almost nothing and tried a different type of elastic. This is picot edge elastic which I stitched onto the edge of the legs and waist with the coverstitch machine.

sewing panties

Birgitte at indigorchid recommends Sew Sassy Fabrics in Huntsville, Alabama as a source for elastic. Their prices are great and I received an order very quickly. Now I'm on the lookout for more t-shirts in need of a recycle!

sewing underwear elastic

Once you determine the correct size and the length to cut the elastic, these are extremely quick and easy to sew up and cost less than $1.00 each!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Simplicity 2125 Wool Lined Skirt

I picked up this Simplicity pattern a few weeks ago because I really like the cardigan which is designed for knit fabrics.

I decided to make a skirt last week when it was cold and snowy but I didn't want to go to the store. I had a nice striped wool fabric which I've had for years, lining, zipper, etc. but couldn't decide which pattern to use. Since the fabric has stripes, I decided to keep it simple. I took a closer look at the the skirt which was included in 2125 and it had nice basic lines - 2 darts in front and back, back seam, back pleat. I wanted to try the construction technique described in Threads a few months ago in which the front lining is attached to the front FF at the waist, back lining is attached to the back FF at waist and then the side seams are sewn in one continuous seam from lining hem to FF hem. I sewed the darts separately in FF and lining but you can also sew those in one continuous seam after attaching lining to FF at waist. This type of construction allows for easy fitting and future alterations. I moved the zipper from the side seam to the CB seam.

The pattern did not include lining instructions but rather a twill tape band at the waist. I eliminated that and added a bias section of hair canvas to the waist for a little body and firmness at the waistline. I included this in the seam, knowing that there would be a foldover of the hair canvas which would add a little bulk but it turned out to be just exactly what I needed for a stable waistline.

waistband interfacing

This picture shows the front lining attached to the skirt front, the seam pressed
toward the lining and understitched.
waistband interfacing

Pinned and ready to stitch 1 inch side seams in one long continuous seam.
lined skirt construction

I love making these cute little thread chains to hold the skirt lining in place at the hem.
thread chain

The lining hand stitched in place to the back pleat.
kick pleat lining

Front view
Simplicity 2125

Back view
Simplicity 2125

After a few fitting adjustments to the side seams, I trimmed them to 5/8. I hope to be able to take this skirt up in the future but I don't plan to let it out!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Purse Accessories

After sewing lots of journal covers and wallets for family and friends, I decided to make myself a matching set. The journal cover is from Quilting Arts and can be found here.

Purse accessories

I use the wallet to organize my coupons from local stores. The tutorial can be found on  A Spoonful of Sugar's blog.

sewing a wallet

The business card holder was created by Craftycupboard. It is the perfect size for holding my gift cards.

sewing a business card holder

I found the buttons in my stash. I bought them about 20 years ago when J. C. Penney carried fabric and notions. They were marked down to 10 cents per card! I used ponytail elastics for the closures. They come in lots of colors and are so much more fun than plain white elastic.


What are your projects for the new year?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kwik Sew 3740 (with neckline adjustment)

I decided to make Kwik Sew 3740 again with an adjustment to the neckline. The first time I tried this pattern, I cut the neckline by the pattern and I like that top very much. This time, I wanted somewhat of a loose turtleneck/cowl which is high enough at the neckline to wear with sweater vests, cardigans, etc. and also a little bit warmer now that the temperature is in the 20's and 30's occasionally.

Kwik Sew 3740

I placed my tracing paper under my original pattern and redrew the neckline. This was somewhat of a guess as to what I thought looked right. After I completed the top, I found a discussion on Patternreview.com about drafting cowls which indicated that if you draw a line straight across the shoulders, you should drop the front neckline about 4 inches. Lucky for me, that is exactly how much I dropped mine!

Kwik Sew 3740 neckline adjustment

For the cowl neck, I cut a rectangle about 15 x 24 wide. The circumference of the cowl after seaming should match the distance around the neckline. (Actually, mine was ever so slightly smaller to help hold in the stretchy neckline) My neckline circumference is about 22 1/2. I allowed a little extra for shaping at the back seam. I first stitched a straight seam and tried on the cowl. I decided that it would be a good idea to let out the part which would be the fold on the cowl to make it a little looser and give it a little more fabric to "cowl". I tapered back to the original seamline keeping it at 22 1/2 .

Kwik Sew 3740 cowl neck

Once I had all the adjustments made, I sewed the top up very quickly with my serger and Janome coverstitch machines. If the lightweight jersey didn't roll, I could have it stitched up in about an hour. Does anyone have any tips for sewing with knits that roll?

Kwik Sew 3740

I plan to make several more of these in other colors. I have always enjoyed sewing with knits but REALLY enjoy it now that I can get professional (and stretchy) hems with the coverstitch!