Fashion · Needlework

Embroidered Floral Sweater


I think this little project started because I was still working on the hand basting for my coat and wanted to make something easy that I could enjoy finishing.

Is procrasti-make a word?

I had the floral knit in my stash and a tested pattern ready to go.* Finally all of that pattern prep (and shopping) was going to pay dividends!

At the same time, my January 2019 issue of Threads Magazine arrived. I devoured the article Luscious Sweater Knits by knitwear designer Olgalyn Jolly.**

Under “Flat Hems” on page 37, she writes:

If hemming, don’t sew a knit with poor recovery directly to itself; the hem tends to flare out. Instead, apply a fine stretch mesh or lingerie elastic along the hem allowance to ensure good recovery at the hem.

What a great idea at the perfect time! I quickly added her technique to my plan.

* See Giant Stripes Two Ways

** Threads gives online access to their issues through paid subscriptions, so unfortunately, I can’t provide a link.

Swedish pattern paper pieces on the sweater knit

The pattern is the Hallå Slim Dolman pattern for women. I chose the tunic length, long sleeve option with hems instead of bands. I had to iron my pattern pieces from last time, but other than that, I just had to take them out of the envelope. In this case, there was no need to even pin the pattern to fabric. The swedish tracing paper clung to the sweater knit, which behaved well while cutting.

Delighted with how well everything was going, I never noticed that I forgot to cut a collar band. By the time I got to it, I didn’t have any material left. We’ll get back to that issue in a minute.

I noticed right away that I would need to keep handling to a minimum, as the edges raveled very easily. Time to put my sweater-knit tricks new and old into practice!

Trick 1: Stabilize shoulder seams

This is a good idea with most knits, but especially where the fabric may not be strong enough to support the weight of the garment. The last time I used (2-way) fusible knit interfacing, I gathered up the scraps and cut them into strips. I fused them in place on all four shoulder edges.

Trick 2: Stretchy stabilized hems

Using the Threads article as a general guide, I put together some really stable and flat hems. I didn’t have lingerie elastic or lightweight mesh on hand, so I cut strips from a piece of power mesh. If you are not familiar with power mesh, you would recognize it as the mesh often used in ready-to-wear bras and shapewear. The only color I had was a hot pink, but since there was pink in the sweater, I figured any show-through would look intentional. I made a little slide show detailing how the hems came together.

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Trick 3: Baste with Wonder Tape

Remember how I forgot to cut a neckband? When I figured out what I did, I looked around for some fabric that would work as a stand-in, but nothing grabbed me. Then I tried it on without the band. The neck opening is very wide, but I kind of liked it. I figured that if I added bra-strap carriers, it would be pretty easy to wear.

I applied wash-away wonder tape to the edge of the neckband for two reasons. First, it served to stabilize the fragile curve and prevent raveling. Second, I could use it as a guide to turn a precise 1/4 in. hem.

Neatly basted 1/4 in neck opening
Trick 4: Stabilize neckline with strong and decorative embroidered edge

At this point, I could have stitched the neck in place and called it a day. I just thought the top needed a little something extra. Why not use embroidery to highlight it? At the same time, the hand stitching would secure the hem in place.

Using some plain embroidery floss I had on hand, I stitched a simple cross stitch pattern around the entire neck. It’s now a very secure hem, but gives the neck a unique embellishment. My work is not quite as precise as I would like, but that is more than made up for by how happy I am with the color and pattern.

Even with all of the embroidery and extra steps, this was a quick project. I would definitely do another one – just maybe with a neckband next time.

Look familiar? The Super Quick Stash-Buster Scarf was actually made from the scraps left over from cutting this top.

Fashion Show

I reviewed the Slim Dolman on Click here to view.

Happy sewing!




Lazy Winter 2: Cowl-neck Pullover

My first version of V9055

I wanted to do another easy project for the top to my lazy winter outfit. I really enjoyed making the Burgundy Cowl-Neck Tunic (Vogue V9055 View C), and I wear it all the time. What could be easier than making a pattern I have already tried and know to work?

Yet again, I have fabric that I bought without a plan. This time the fabric was from a mystery box of knits from Sincerely Rylee. It was full of all kinds of goodies, but as soon as I took the thin, drapey hacci knit out of the box I knew it was meant to be my second cowl-neck.

It was obvious after test-sewing a swatch that the new fabric would be tricky to sew. The knit had a much lighter, more open weave than the one I used before. I couldn’t seem to get either the serger or the regular sewing machine to to grab on to make a stitch.

At first the two fabrics seem very similar.


Looking closely, you can see that the second fabric has thinner yarn and larger stitches.

What ended up working was pinning strips of water-soluble stabilizer under all of the seams before sewing. I lightened the presser-foot pressure a little bit and that did the trick. The knit was so floppy that I took extra precautions around the neckline as well. Instead of just stay-stitching, I stitched stay-tape around the entire opening.

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Note to self: look for a good fusible or sticky back dissolvable alternative. That pinning took a while!

I noticed that the zig-zag stitch I used to sew my label on was just about invisible from the outside. So I made it easy on myself and did the hems with a simple zig-zag on my regular machine.

Adding all of that stabilizer meant that I had to re-wash everything before I could wear it. But it worked. All of the stabilizer just disappeared!

The finished top is just as comfortable and flattering as the first one I made. I think that this one might get a little more use because the lighter weight will be comfortable in Spring and Fall as well.

Here’s my final lazy-day look. Now, excuse me while I take a snooze.



Burgundy Cowl-Neck Tunic

Cover art for V9055 View C

This is one of those projects where the fabric dictated what it wanted to be. As soon as I saw the gorgeous heathered burgundy hacci fabric, I knew it was meant to be a loose cowl-neck pull-over. And it would be mine. I guess if pressed, I would deny that the fabric literally spoke to me, but fellow sewists will recognize that subtle whisper.

I love cowl neck garments in the cooler months. Now that there are so many lovely lightweight knits on the market, sweaters can use bulkier design elements like cowls, gathers, and draping. With that in mind, I landed on Vogue 9055. One of the views was exactly what I had in mind. View C is a cowl-neck raglan tunic with a high-low hem and a kangaroo pocket (which I omitted). Although I had recently done a raglan tee and copied out a good version of the pattern, I chose to start fresh with this one since I was looking for a garment with more ease.

The sleeve pieces fit together so the outside wraps around the inside. In other words, you have a seam on each side of your wrist, not one down the middle.

Vogue 9055 is a “Very Easy” pattern, and this time I agree. I spent more time preparing the pattern and cutting out the pieces than I did assembling everything. I even made it a bit more complicated by finishing all of the raw edges and it still was only about two hours of actual sewing.

This pattern was unusual in that it featured a two-part sleeve. I was a little concerned that the sleeve seams would be prominent and distracting in the finished garment, but my fears were unfounded. I’m intrigued and hope to learn more about them and how they can best be used.

I was surprised that the neckline was so deep. It’s clearly shown on the illustrations, but somehow I didn’t notice. I think if I were to make this with the regular scoop neckline, I would make the neckline a little higher. I would also try omitting the darts, especially if I was going for a sportier look.

Once again, I used serger thread only for the serger’s loopers and used “regular” thread for the serger needle. It would have been nice to match all of the thread, but when the garment is on, the black looper threads don’t show at all.

Next time, a short detour into activewear again. What are you making for fall?




Vogue 8854 Black Pullover Hoodie

View C Art from V8854

I have been trying to give a little more thought to my wardrobe these days.  I have a bad habit of accumulating dressy things that I rarely wear and wearing out boring casual items. My new plan is to focus on making easy care & love-to-wear everyday clothes.

Some of the worst offenders in my casual attire are sweatshirts and casual jackets.  I grabbed this pattern as soon as it came out because I knew if/when I made it, it would become a staple.

This is a Very Easy Vogue pattern.  I was curious to see if it lived up to its billing.

I used a mystery fabric I picked up on a bargain table.  It looks like a 100% cotton french terry in solid black.  I washed it in warm and machine dried it on medium.  So far so good.  It looked the same – only a little smaller and with apparently a lot less fluffy fuzz.  It is soft, lighter weight than it looks, and surprisingly drapeable.

Halfway through, checking out the size on my duct-tape double.

I’m not convinced that the high-low silhouette will stand the test of time, so I altered the pattern to have a single level bottom.  I also added the optional kangaroo pocket.  Never pass up the opportunity to add pockets!  Adding pockets is one of the great benefits of sewing for yourself.

The unusual neck opening closes with snaps and a single 1 1/2 inch button.  This is a great opportunity to use something special as a focal point. Unfortunately, it’s a difficult size to find.  Instead I went with a slightly smaller loop and a button I have been wanting to use.

That full lint trap in the dryer was a sign of things to come.  Five minutes in, my whole sewing area was covered with black fuzz.  I took a second look at the pattern instructions and made sure that all raw edges would be secured inside a seam or an overlock stitch.

View of back with hood down. A stiffer fabric would make the hood too bulky.

The pattern calls for double lines of stitching on most seams.  I changed all of these to serged overlock seams.  Leaving any raw edges would lead to fraying, decreasing the life of the garment.  I’m pretty sure it would also decorate any future load of laundry with tons of black cotton lint specks.  Taking a few extra steps here saves a lot of headaches later! I made notes on the pattern instructions so that I don’t have to rethink my modifications later.

There is only a tiny bit of interfacing in this – just on the right side of the placket.  To keep it nice and soft, I used this fusible made specifically for knits.  It adds some structure, but leaves the fabric soft and stretchy.

Even Feeding Trick
Sewing the kangaroo pocket in place. Tip: Place a few layers of fabric under the presser foot wherever there is a large difference in thickness. This will help move the fabric through the machine evenly.

Construction was straightforward.  For a Vogue pattern, this was very easy.  There is no lining, no buttonhole and no fussy fitting.  However, I would not recommend it to a complete novice.  Some of the recommended fabrics, such as sweater knits, can be tricky to work with.  You will need to be proficient enough to work with varying thicknesses, stretchy fabrics, fraying, etc. and make your own changes if needed.  I would say it was appropriate for an advanced beginner or intermediate level sewer.

For some reason, the pattern did not specify any edge finish for the inside of the plackets, leaving them raw.  This could work with some knits, such as a heavier sweatshirt or fleece.  I definitely needed to add in a narrow hem, binding, or overcast edge for my loosely woven terry.

As you can see in the pictures, it comes out as loosely fitting as the illustration.  The sleeve length was too long for me, but I kind of like that in a loose pullover.  If that gets old, I can always scrunch them up.

The interesting neck opening shows off a focal point button.

If I make this again, I think I might use the nicely centered rectangular placket as a ground for embroidery.  Can you imagine this with boho-style redwork or maybe a row of simple repeated shapes in a complementary color?  If I embroider, I would omit the button and loop and just do hidden snaps all of the way up.

I do have a way of making things harder than they need to be.  If you make this in a more stable material that didn’t need any special care, you could make one up in a couple of hours.  Maybe I’ll do that.  Maybe I won’t.  For now, it’s time to clean up the lint and start something new!

Hood up! You can see how big and loose this hood is. Spooky or glamorous? You decide!