Thursday, October 22, 2020


It is always such fun for me to open and make up a new pattern. I so enjoy the puzzle. The Bristol top (or dress) is not a new pattern from the Sewing Workshop, as it has a 2015 copyright but it is new to me. It took me a while to warm up to it.  

This is an interesting knits-only shirt pattern with a yoke that extends across the shoulders into the sleeve area. The sleeves are made much like raglan sleeves. There are deep cuffs. There are no side seams as the front piece wraps around to the back. The back is narrow at the bottom which can be flattering, I think. Then there are bands attached to the angled front hemline. So this is definitely a little different from an ordinary tee shirt pattern.

It has mixed reviews over on Pattern Review. And I was uncertain about the fact that the back hem is higher than the front. Ultimately I decided it would be a good layering piece, and I always need those. And, as I said, I do love digging into a new pattern.

The mixed reviews on PR are more about the shoulders. They may droop a bit unless the shoulder fit is spot-on. In fact, mine are not perfect. You can see in the line drawing that the yoke hem is to curve down in the front/back and up at the shoulders. This is hard to achieve with a very soft and drapey knit fabric. 

My selected fabric is one of those Alabama Chanin organic cotton knits. It is a stable knit and firm, with not a lot of stretch. The pattern does not include a stretch guide and so I was actually a bit lucky that it did not end up too small. A few pounds ago, it would have been a wadder, for sure.

So I traced the pattern tissue and cut out the shirt. Then it just sat on my cutting table. After months and months, we are still waiting for our bathroom make-over to be finished. I don't like to work in my sewing room when workers are here because we share the guest bath in my room. And I was wanting more hand-work. 

One day I pulled out an older tank I had made in AC knit to wear and noticed how droopy the neckline looked. It looked like an old sweat shirt to me. The neckline was constructed following TSW instructions for knits, with a slightly smaller circle of fabric attached to the neck opening, and then top-stitched to hold the SA under. This works really well on most knits.

I searched my stash for some kind of woven fabric to use to replace the neckline. My idea was to cut it on the bias and attach a bias binding to draw the neck in a bit. I found a few possible pieces but nothing that I loved. As I unstitched the band, I decided I might like it better if I just reattached the original band using an old Stretch-And-Sew technique. This technique involves sewing one layer of the band to the neckline and then wrapping it around the SA and stitching in the ditch. Do you remember that?

I hand-stitched it in the *ditch* using a beautiful variegated pearl cotton. Then I added feather stitch to the surface. I'm think that, because the pearl cotton shrinks a bit in the wash, this will draw it up even more as I use it. In any case, it was satisfying to add this stitch. Sewing zen, for me.

So that motivated me to finish the Bristol, just so that I would have another opportunity to add the feather stitch. And I was lucky to find another variegated pearl cotton to match this gorgeous burnt orange knit. 

I think the fit is pretty good. I was surprised at how long the sleeves were though. My arms are not short, relative to my body. Then I noticed that in all the pictures online, and on the front of the pattern envelope, the cuffs are rolled up. I like the deep cuffs showing. So I removed the cuffs and cut off an inch. They are still pretty long, but they feel cozy when the mornings are chilly here.

I was going to make this up again in a rayon knit from stash, but after noting the problems people have with droopy shoulders, I've decided against that. I really think this pattern works best in a very stable knit fabric. All in all, I count this as a success and recommend it.

On another note, I recently came across a reference to ball-pointed pins. For me, ball-pointed needles are essential to sewing knits like this, and sometimes, it's hard to push pins through knits so I thought these might be helpful. 

They are not, at least not with this project. My ordinary pins are easier to use because they are longer and they are sharper and slide into the fabric much more easily. 

Go figure!

Sunday, October 18, 2020


(drum roll, please) I have finally finished hand-quilting a quilt for my niece and her new husband. I started it about 2-3 weeks before their wedding on August 21 and finished it last night. I haven't worked on it continuously, of course, but it has been a fairly constant companion.

It's now in the wash, so fingers crossed, it doesn't turn into a massive wad.

It started with this inspiration board on her pinterest page. It is so charming, I think. I did not mimic it particularly but did use the same colors. For me, it is hard to capture the difference textures, shapes and finishes. I am particularly drawn to those little smooth shiny turquoise tiles.

But I came close enough. I hope. I see now that my color choices are more blue and hers are more green.

The design and the size evolved based on my desire to make a bunch of appliqued circles. After I grew tired of appliqued circles, I left many squares blank, knowing I could pick up the theme with the quilting. It finished at about 65" x 65". This is why I can never follow a quilt pattern. I get bored too easily.

Piecing the top and a back was not fast, as I hand appliqued each of the circles to the front, and the interlocking circles on the back. But then I decided to hand-quilt it. And, really, I'm glad I did. It was so satisfying.

I am not an exquisite hand-quilter like some I know. Their tiny stitches are so precise it's hard to believe it is done by hand. My style is sashiko, or big stitch, and I'm totally fine with the inconsistencies and wonky stitches. I used number 12 pearl cotton for the whole thing. It required 2 plus balls of it!

So, now, many hours, many podcasts, many newscasts later, I am done. Last night I added a little hand-stitched label to a back corner

I'm going to miss this companion. So what next? Maybe some clothes for me, though of course, there is no place to wear them during these covid times. So maybe more hand-stitching, like this sketch book cover and pin cushion from an online class with India Flint.

Happy sewing to you!