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Fall is in the Air

October 1, 2015

Red Knits_PSL FeverIt’s finally starting to feel like fall around here, and I’m thrilled.

I have been all about the knitting lately after few years of reduced mojo. That’s partially because of the changing seasons, but also because I’ve found a whole new knitting community through podcasts and videocasts. It used to be that my blog reader was full of inspirational knitting, but it seems like a lot of those bloggers aren’t posting anymore. My dear friend K, who I get to see in person this weekend, was nice enough to send me a list of her favorite podcasts, and I’m hooked!

I’ve also rediscovered the Harry Potter Knitting and Crochet House Cup, and I’m playing along for my first time as a not-quite-first-year. It’s so much fun to gamify knitting and be part of another enthusiastic community of makers. I don’t typically make little projects, but I was inspired to make the pumpkin spice coffee cozy you see above and turn it in for a September class.

Speaking of coffee cozies, I wanted to thank you for knitting up my Twisted Coffee Cozy pattern over the years. I get lots of hits on that post, so I know people are checking it out, which feels good even though I have no higher design aspirations at this point. Red Knits_Mama VertebraeOctober promises to be an exciting knitting month. Just this afternoon, I cast on for a Mama Vertebrae for my friend J. I don’t typically knit full sweaters for friends, but I’m making a special exception here because J is a close friend, she’s expecting her first baby, and, get this, she has never had anything handmade. I have to fix this. She braved the LYS with me yesterday and picked out some Berroco Vintage in a lovely shade of red that will look great on her and mix well with her maternity wardrobe.

If there’s a baby on the way, you’d better believe I’m going to knit for it! We’re throwing J a baby shower at the end of the month, and I’d like to do a small layette with a cardigan, hat or bonnet, and booties. I haven’t chosen any of those patterns yet, and I’m hoping to pick out yarn this weekend at my former LYS, so suggestions are very much welcome!

Henry, PhD (with a twist)

September 14, 2015

Red Knits_Henry PhD ScarfAnother dear friend now has a few extra letters behind his name. J has been giving me unsolicited advice about life, the universe, grad school, and everything since I first began my PhD program. He’s not had the easiest path, but he graduated this summer, headed south for a tenure-track Assistant Professorship at what sounds like a lovely college, and recently came back to present his dissertation research. The department, grad program, and writing group just aren’t the same without him, and I wanted to make him a little something by way of congratulations. Red Knits_Henry PhD ScarfI was really excited to use this pattern for J because he has such great taste in menswear, but I can’t say I recommend it. The stitch pattern is lovely (though it could do with a chart). However, the edging just is not working. The slipped stitch pattern pulls the fabric inwards, so there’s quite a bit of rippling on the edges. The designer has attempted to remedy this with a complex provisional caston and tubular bindoff, but from the looks of things on ravelry, that’s not really working. I just did a regular caston and bindoff in a smaller needle size because that had worked for some, but there’s still a lot of rippling here. I also did a garter edging on the short edges with slipped stitches at the beginning of each row, and that also rippled. I think the problem was actually exacerbated by my blocking wires, and I probably should have just patted it down flat to dry. I don’t think it’s quite as noticeable in real life as it is in the image above, so hopefully J likes it.
Red Knits_Henry PhD ScarfThose shots of electric blue aren’t included in the pattern. J tends to wear really bright socks with his slim-cut trousers and dress shoes, so I wanted to add a bit of fun and quirk to an otherwise fairly traditional scarf. He loved this detail when I pointed it out to him and immediately showed me the socks he wore for his presentation. They were awesome.

Pattern: Henry by Marieke Sattler in Knitty Fall 2007
Yarn: 1.5 skeins Berroco Vintage DK in 2107 Cracked Pepper and scrap yarn for contrast
Needles: US 5 & 6 Addi Lace
Made for: J
Timeline: 4-30 August 2015
Modifications: modified for DK weight yarn and adjusted edging
Worst Part: the edging. the slogging through long rows. not my favorite knit
Best Part: giving J a little something to remember us by

What I Knit on my Summer Vacation

August 19, 2015

I’ve never been one to pack light [family members reading this are snorting right now], but I may have gone a bit overboard when packing my knitting for this most recent trip to Minnesota. Between the travel, layovers, more in-state travel, and lazy afternoons on the boat, I wanted to make sure I had plenty to keep me occupied. I brought along a sleeve from my mom’s Dale of Norway sweater and three shiny new projects.
Henry WIPI wasn’t able to knit on the bus to the airport because I was hanging onto my suitcase, but as soon as we arrived at our departure gate I cast on for Henry. This seemingly simple slipped stitch, herringbone pattern has a whole lot of negative comments on people’s ravelry entries that I’ll get into when I post the finished project. For now, I’ll say that the scarf is moving slowly despite bumping up to a dk weight yarn. I’m knitting this for a friend’s graduation and want to give it to him after his public dissertation presentation, so I’m trying to tackle one 4-row repeat of 452 sts/R each night. K tells me that long, skinny scarves are “in,” so perhaps I can get away with cutting this project a bit short to make my deadline.
Paper Moon WIPOn layover in Chicago, while eating popcorn and watching Muppets Most Wanted on Steve’s laptop, I cast on for my first Paper Moon sock. Toe-up sock knitting is not normally my thing. The weekend before we left for our trip, I decided I wanted to add a sock into the mix, and I had matched this pattern from my queue to this yarn (a gift from a few years back) from my stash. I didn’t realize that the sock was toe-up until I had already printed it, and by then I had so many other things to do that I didn’t want to bother with flipping it to a cuff-down design. A little variety is good for me, right? I love how this is knitting up, but there are some problems with this pattern, too, which I’ll discuss in the finished project post.
Lavaliere WIPWhile spending a glorious afternoon knitting and chatting with my dear friend K, I cast on for Lavaliere. I purchased this yarn, Sirdar Baby Bamboo, with a completely different sweater in mind when I was still working at my LYS. When I pulled out the supplies for this trip, thinking that it would be a nice vacation knit and early fall semester cardigan, I realized that the style wasn’t something I would actually get much wear out of. I dug through my ravelry queue and came up with two sweaters that would work with the yardage I have, ultimately settling on this open cardigan with a plan to modify for 3/4 length sleeves.

Even though the Henry scarf is the project with a deadline, this sweater is what my fingers really want to knit right now. I’m already a few inches below the underarm divide, and the lack of closures means that the finishing on this sweater is very minimal. I could use some new work clothes this semester, so I hope to keep cruising along on this cardi.

My First Watson Set

August 17, 2015

Red Knits_Watson SetI’m back from my vacation to visit family in Minnesota, and I’m happy to report that not only did I finish my Watson set in time for the trip, but it is now officially travel approved. Totally comfortable for a day of buses, airplanes, and layovers with no underwires to set off a metal detector. This is my first attempt at sewing lingerie, and I am pretty stinkin’ proud of it.
Red Knits_Watson BraRather than use the sizing instructions on the pattern, I chose to go with my RTW bra size. With my shape, it doesn’t seem like the upper bust is a useful measurement, but obviously I’m a novice bramaker and could be very mistaken. I had fingers crossed the entire time I was making this bra that it would fit me when all was said and done, and it does! I’ll make some adjustments for the next one because the cup seams are not centered on me, but this first try is perfectly wearable.
Red Knits_Watson BraSince I was nervous about sourcing materials and didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, I chose to start with a Watson kit from Grey’s Fabrics that I snapped up during a sale. For the most part, I was pleased with the kit, but I do have some critiques. The first is that the findings were not labelled, so I had to measure the yardage of the elastics to make sure that I was putting them in the right place. Since this kit is marketed towards those who aren’t ready to source their materials (or simply don’t want to), it would have been nice to have labels on each of the elastics. The picot elastic that runs along the top of the bra and all around the panties is very cute, but it did mean that I needed to shave some fabric off the top of the bra cups to get them to meet in the center properly. Had I not read the sewalong for this pattern, I (again, as a new bramaker), wouldn’t have known any better and would have messed that one up.
Red Knits_Watson BraThe more substantial problem that I had with this kit is that it does not include the tricot lining or fusible knit interfacing that the pattern calls for and does not account for this omission. The materials slip included with the kit makes suggestions for dealing with the band in the mesh kits, but I purchased the milliskin kit and wasn’t sure what to do. I believe the mesh kits were the first ones sold, so my guess is that the slip was not updated to match the new milliskin kits.  Since I wanted as much support as I could get from a soft bra, I went with the longline band and added both fusible knit interfacting and a self lining to the cradle, which seems to have worked.

This wasn’t my only problem with the cradle. I printed all of my pattern pieces at once, but for some reason the scaling was terribly off for the cradle piece. I didn’t realize until I went to stitch the side seams that the cradle I had cut was huge. Luckily, the amount of fabric in this kit was generous enough to allow me to cut a second cradle, but if I hadn’t made this error I probably could have gotten another pair of panties out of the fabric.
Red Knits_Watson BraI don’t like to leave my seam allowances raw, so I finished them with a zigzag in matching thread. Since I lined the cradle, I was also able to clean finish the side seams. It bothers me a bit to see the blue stitching on the back of the white elastic–I wonder if I should have put white thread in my bobbin.
Red Knits_Watson BikiniI made the matching bikini style panties, and I don’t have a whole lot to say about them–after making the bra, they were pretty simple and gave me additional practice tensioning my elastic. I’m really glad that I took a look at the sewalong for these since there’s a method for clean finishing both the front and back end of the crotch lining that looks very nice. Speaking of the sewalong, I referenced it throughout this project and found it very helpful, but I was surprised at how frequently it strayed from the written instructions, especially when it came to zigzag stitch length and width. My assumption was that the sewalong was the most recent information, so I went with that over the written instructions when they differed.
Red Knits_Watson BraThis was a really satisfying project, and now I really do feel like I can make anything. Between knitting and sewing, the only thing I wear that I don’t know how to make is my shoes. I’d say I’ll never make those, but I’ve proven myself wrong before!


Grainline Morris Blazer in Basic Black

July 25, 2015

Red Knits_Morris BlazerFor the past two years, I’ve had a Tuesday/Thursday teaching schedule, which means I’ve only had to dress up to teach two days a week. This fall, I’m in for a big change: I’ll be on campus five days a week for the first time since my first semester of my doctorate, and I’ll be in the classroom every day. It’s not quite the schedule I was imagining for my fourth year and the beginning of writing my dissertation, but I’m looking forward to teaching a new class, TAing a survey course, and having a better chance of making it to the group fitness classes on campus.

More time in the classroom also means more of a workout for my professional wardrobe, so I am really happy to have finished my Grainline Morris blazer in a very wearable and versatile black rayon stretch twill. Red Knits_Morris BlazerI have become such a muslin convert in recent years, and whipping up a muslin for this pattern really drove home how inappropriate boxy styles are for my figure. After starting with a size 6, I added some dramatic curves to the side seams and center back seam to account for my hourglass figure, and the shape suits me so much better now. I do have some tightness across my shoulders–an area I did not alter–when I reach up, though. I noticed this in the muslin and thought the stretch of my fashion fabric would make up for it, but unfortunately it didn’t this time.
Red Knits_Morris BlazerThere have been some complaints about the fronts of this pattern drooping, and I wish I had followed the advice in the sewalong to fuse interfacing to the front pieces in order to prevent that drooping. By the time I found that piece of advice, it was too late to add the interfacing, and I thought that I would be all right since I used a stretch woven rather than a knit. It’s not clear in these photos (sorry…it’s black fabric…), but I do have some puckering at the bottom of the fronts that could have been avoided. Next time. Red Knits_Morris BlazerSince this blazer is unlined, I decided to have a bit of fun and bind the seam allowances. My technique–if you can call it that–is somewhere between a Hong Kong finish and a bias bound finish because I edgestitched down my binding rather than stitching in the ditch. This was my first attempt at binding seam allowances, so I went for an easy quilting cotton with polka dots. I bought a 1/2 yard for the binding and used just about all of it. This touch slowed me down, but I love how sharp the insides look!
Red Knits_Morris BlazerToday, I wore my Morris with a me-made striped dress and wedge sandals. This is sure to be one of the most versatile garments in my wardrobe. I look forward to tossing it on over just about anything, and maybe making a few more.


July 20, 2015

Red Knits_MissoniesqueIt’s about time we chat about some knitting here at Red Knits, don’t you think? I continue to knit away, but I do spend more time at the sewing machine these days. The finished garments that I sew are the ones I need for my lifestyle lately, so the knitting doesn’t move along as quickly as it used to. Red Knits_MissoniesqueI bought a skein of Noro Silk Garden Sock back when I was still working at the yarn shop and the Missoni for Target line was a big deal. Yeah, it’s been a while. I had chevrons on my mind, and I planned to use my skein of Noro to knit up a La Parisienne beret for myself.

A few years later and an inch or two into this hat, when I was probably somewhere above the Midwest on my way home after finishing my exams, I realized that I wasn’t knitting my hat. It turns out that this hat was really meant for one of my friends here in Pittsburgh, a woman I hadn’t even met when I first dreamed up this project. This hat is much better suited to her, both in style and in sizing, so please forgive the photos because it’s a little big on me.
Red Knits_MissoniesqueStitch patterns like these are so much fun to knit because they are so easy to work but look impressive, especially to non-knitters. This one was even easier because I didn’t have to choose two complementary colorways: I just worked from either end of my Noro, letting it do its thing.

This pattern is a freebie (link below), and it’s overall pretty good. Just watch out for the “slip 2, k1, p2sso.” In order to get a nice center line, you need to slip those first two stitches together as one and pass them over the knit stitch as one. If not, you won’t have a clear line going down the middle of the chevron.Red Knits_MissoniesquePattern: La Parisienne by Caroline Hegwer (free on her blog)
Yarn: just over 1/2 skein Noro Silk Garden Sock S211
Needles: US 2 & 3 Susan Bates 16″ circs and dpns
Made for: B
Timeline: April 1-23 2015
Modifications: I think I added about an inch to the body of the hat, so it may have some extra slouch
Worst Part: that I didn’t have quite enough yarn to make a second hat
Best Part: watching the color progression unfold

Bramaking Babysteps

July 16, 2015

There’s a little something I’ve had tucked away for a special treat. Now that my wonderful, but also stressful conference is done and I’ve been eliminated from the Super Online Sewing Match, I think now is the time to pull it out!
Red Knits_Watson Bra KitIt seems like everyone in the sewing blogosphere has already rehashed their reasons for giving bramaking a try ad nauseum, and my reasons aren’t much different. I finally got around to figuring out my proper bra size last fall, and once I learned how pricey my size is–not to mention how difficult to find in brick-and-mortar stores–making my own bras suddenly became a much more attractive idea.

I’ve decided to start with the Watson bra for a few reasons. I’m feeling a bit nervous about getting a good fit on handmade bras given my full on the bottom shape, and I hope that a soft bra style might be a little easier to fit than a structured underwire. This is a little silly, but I also have some airplane travel coming up, and I live in fear of getting patted down by TSA agents. I have a cheapy non-underwire bra that I wear when flying, and I absolutely hate it! I love the longline style of the Watson, and I’m hoping it offers enough support for me, at least when I’m just hanging out at home or sitting in an airport.

For a little more hand holding, I’m going to begin with this milliskin kit from Grey’s Fabrics, purchased during a sale last winter. I also purchased some fabric and trims for a second bra in pink last time I was in Minnesota, so hopefully it won’t take much more sourcing to get what I need for a second bra.

Since it’s Lingerie Sewing Month for the Sewcialists, I bet there are other first-timers out there. Anyone else finally jumping into bramaking this month?

SOSM Round 2: Christine Haynes Marianne Dress

July 12, 2015

Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressOfficially, Super Online Sewing Match contestants had ten days to sew Christine Haynes’ Marianne dress for Round 2. Practically speaking, I only had about 4 1/2 days to complete this challenge because I spent most of the last week in Montreal for the major international book history conference. Needless to say, I spent last Friday morning keeping a close eye on my email to find out whether I had made it to the second round and what we would be sewing. I was thrilled to learn that it was the Marianne dress, and, after spending a little while brainstorming potential design options, I headed to my local Jo-Ann to see what I could find. Fabricworm generously sponsored this round, but I had no time to spare waiting for fabric to ship–I’ll have to check them out another time. Red Knits_SOSM Marianne Dress Fabric MacroI hope this photo doesn’t make you cross-eyed! I used my macro lens to show that my main fabric is, indeed, a knit. It’s one of those denim-look fabrics that I imagine are meant to be used for jeggings. I came across it in the clearance section, and I decided to make a Marianne dress inspired by the classic combination of jeans and a t-shirt.
Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressWith fabric in hand, I got to work making a muslin. This was actually my first time using one of Christine’s patterns, though I’ve admired her work for a long time, so I definitely needed to check the fit. I was optimistic when I saw that my measurements fit neatly into a size 8, but the finished muslin was too big and looked frumpy on me. I got out the pins and made quite a few adjustments for a flattering fit. First, I went down to a size 6 all over. The most important thing that this did was raise that front yoke seam to the top of my bra cups, which immediately made for a nicer fit. I also nipped in the side seams significantly at the waist to avoid drag lines from the bust. Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressThere was even more work to be done in the back. I nipped in the side seams at the waist here as well, but I also removed 1 1/4″ total from the center back and did a 1″ swayback adjustment. Finally, I added 1″ in length to the dress along the lengthen/shorten lines because I never wear dresses that feel too short. Although my pattern pieces look fairly different from the originals, I think I’ve stayed true to Christine’s design lines while making this pattern work for my body.
Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressSince I had removed some width from the center back, I had to do the same for the neck binding. This means that I have a slightly smaller neck opening than other Marianne dresses, but my head still fits through! In future versions, I may open up that neckline a bit to compensate and allow me to edgestitch down the seam allowance. Red Knits_SOSM Marianne Dress
I am lucky enough to own a serger, but I almost never use it for the construction of a garment. I prefer to use the 3-step stretch stitch (also known as a lightning bolt stitch) for the seams, and finish with serging as I would on any other project so that I know the seams are nice and secure. In order to keep my seams from ruffling, I just adjust the differential setting on the serger.
Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressThis pattern calls for the shoulder seam to be reinforced with clear elastic, which I find really important for any dress or top made from knit fabric. However, rather than center the elastic on the seam line as the pattern calls for, I prefer to butt the elastic up to the seam, zig-zagging it within the seam allowance. This reduces the bulk in the seam, allowing it to be pressed nicely, but still provides plenty of support. Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressI’ve been using a serger for a long tiem now, but it was only recently that I learned I could get a tidy finish on serging in the round such as this seam where the cuff attaches to the bottom of the sleeve. I used to have a little blip where I had come back to the beginning of the round, but now I’m able to maintain a pretty even seam allowance by serging just a few stitches past it and then pulling the seam out from under the presser foot just as I do when sewing. Much nicer!
Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressThe short sleeved view of Marianne would feel pretty good here in the heat of summer, but I decided to go with the long sleeved version instead. I have a decent collection of short-sleeved knit dresses from my sewing in the past year or so, and I just loved these cuffs too much to pass them up! I may have to wait a little while to wear it, but I think this version will make a nice three-season dress. Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressWhen I started thinking through my jeans-and-a-tee-shirt concept, I considered all sorts of options I could incorporate into my dress to really drive the idea home: pockets, lots of extra topstitching…you get the idea. In the end, I chose to keep it simple. The buttons on my cuffs remind me of the buttons and rivets on jeans, and I did some double-needle topstitching on the hem. To make that topstitching pop, I used a silvery, slightly metallic rayon thread intended for machine embroidery.

It can be difficult to get a nice hem on knit fabrics, so I combine several techniques for a nice finish. I first serge the raw edge to clean it up and lend it some stability. Then I press up my hem allowance using Wonder Tape rather than pins to keep things perfectly intact until I can get to the sewing machine. I stitch with a double needle and a longer stitch length to allow for some stretch. To prevent tunneling, I drop down the tension as far as I can and use Wooly Nylon in my bobbin.
Red Knits_SOSM Marianne DressOne last photo: my husband/photographer/artistic director decided that since my inspiration was “all American,” I should toss a football around in the photos. I do not know how to interact with any kind of sports balls, so that didn’t work out so well.

I’m just thrilled with how this dress turned out. I can’t wait to get some use out of it when the weather cools down, and I may have to make some short sleeved versions before then. If you’re looking to try sewing knits for the first time, this pattern would be a great start.

Shirtmaking Lately: McCall’s 6613 and Vogue 8772

July 3, 2015

Red Knits_Light Chambray ShirtI’ve had quite the little shirtmaking operation going this summer. I’ve already posted about my bicycle birthday blouse, and today I have two more shirts to share: one for me, and one for Steve.
Red Knits_Light Chambray ShirtIt took a long time to find the perfect fit for Steve’s shirt, but once we finally did, it was completely perfect. I haven’t made a single change to McCall’s 6613 since the first version I made last fall. This time, Steve chose a lightweight Robert Kaufman chambray for summer which, as you can see in the top photo, wrinkles very easily–those wrinkles are just from him bending down to tie his shoe! Luckily, that’s about as bad as it gets because the shirt didn’t seem be any worse off when he came home from work.
Red Knits_Light Chambray ShirtFor this version, Steve asked for a rounded corner pocket with a button but no flap. I guess he likes to have a button on his pocket even if he doesn’t use it.
Red Knits_Light Chambray ShirtSpeaking of buttons, Steve loves button down collars and always asks for buttons not only on the front collar points, but also in the middle of the back. Apparently these buttons are key for keeping one’s bow tie in place–who knew?
Red Knits_Light Chambray ShirtAlthough I’m not doing much that’s new on these shirts, I am slowly but surely getting better at shirtmaking. My technique is getting more precise, and they are taking a little less time to sew each time.
Red Knits_Light Chambray ShirtI plan to sew up at least one more shirt for Steve this summer, and hopefully I’ll be able to assemble it before our trip to visit my parents. Much as I love my sewing machine, its 3-step buttonholes aren’t much fun. I’d love to zip through them on Mom’s machine.
Red Knits_Polka Dot BlouseI’m afraid the blouse I made for myself looks way better in person than it does in these photos. Sorry!

This is another version–my third, actually–of Vogue 8772. For these new versions, I made a few adjustments based on last year’s wearable muslin. I took a small full bust adjustment to keep the button band from gaping, and I shortened the sleeves by 1″. I think I could actually stand to lose a little more length on the sleeves, so I may give that a try next time.
Red Knits_Polka Dot BlouseIn the back, I took a swayback adjustment. This is becoming my most important standard adjustment by far, and I’m learning to make it on all sorts of different backs.
Red Knits_Polka Dot Blouse
Since I’ve been working on my shirtmaking skills, I’ve been dissatisfied with my collar and stand insertion. I just didn’t feel like I could get a professional finish in this area despite trying many different techniques. Well, I think I’ve found The One. Tasia recently posted a series of photo tutorials on Sewaholic based on the techniques in David Coffin’s Shirtmaking, and this presentation seems to have worked for me better than the illustrations in the original book. My collar stands aren’t perfect yet, but they are so much better than they were. A few more shirts, and I think I’ll have it down!

Thank you all so much for your kind words on my Sutton Blouse. I’m excited to advance to Round 2 of the Super Online Sewing Match–we’re making Christine Haynes’ Marianne dress!

SOSM Round 1: True Bias Sutton Blouse

June 30, 2015

Red Knits_SOSM Sutton BlouseWhen the organizers announced that the Super Online Sewing Match Round 1 challenge was going to be the True Bias Sutton Blouse, I felt as though they had chosen the pattern especially to help me fill a gap in my wardrobe! I posted in my professional summer wardrobe boost plans that I could use some summer blouses that can be dressed up for work, but didn’t think I would get around to making one before my upcoming academic conference. This was partially because I had some other sewing planned, but also because I was secretly hoping that I would be chosen for SOSM. Lucky me–I get to be a contestant and get a new summer blouse! I doubt that I would have selected this pattern on my own because it is so much looser than my usual makes, but it turns out that this blouse is exactly what I was looking for.
Red Knits_SOSM Sutton BlousePerhaps the most challenging part of this project was choosing fabric. Harts Fabric was kind enough to sponsor this round of the contest, and I took advantage of their gift certificate to try out a new-to-me fabric supplier. Since I want to wear this blouse to my upcoming conference, I needed to be a bit conservative in my fabric selection: much as I love them, lace and sheers were out. Luckily, bright, bold florals are totally acceptable! I settled upon this Joel Dewberry rayon challis and then headed to the solids section to choose a contrast for my yoke. It might have been nice to pull out a pink or yellow, but I didn’t trust my monitor to give me an accurate color match to the print. Instead, I went with a gray rayon twill that I knew would look great whether or not it was an exact match, tone down the color a bit, and coordinate nicely with a neutral dress pant or skirt.
Red Knits_SOSM Sutton BlouseWhile I waited for my fabric to arrive, I made up a full muslin in a straight size 8 to both check the fit and make sure I had all of the techniques down. And let me tell you, done up in an unbleached muslin, this style is more Orange is the New Black than breezy summer chic! You really need a fabric with some drape to let this design shine. All of my alterations were standard for me, but I did pull out my trusty Fit for Real People since I hadn’t done them on a kimono style top before. In the front, I did a 1/2″ full bust adjustment because my side seams were unbalanced, causing the front to tent.
Red Knits_SOSM Sutton BlouseIn the back, I did a 1/2″ narrow back adjustment and 1 1/2″ swayback adjustment. I wasn’t sure that these alterations would be necessary when I first looked at the pattern, but the hem line of my muslin curved down around my bum–an alteration was definitely necessary. A good reason to make a muslin, especially for a new-to-me designer.
Red Knits_SOSM Sutton BlouseI wasn’t initially going to bother with matching this shifty fabric with a complex print, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to give it a try! With the help of this Sewaholic tutorial, a nice cup of coffee, and some patience, I managed to disguise the center front seam and preserve this beautiful print.
Red Knits_SOSM Sutton BlouseThe instructions for this pattern call for French seams, which are exactly what I would have used with any light, fluid fabric like this one. This attention to seam finishes along with the unstructured nature of the blouse makes me think this would be a great pattern for those who are interested in working with more challenging fabrics like some of those called for in the pattern for the first time.

The neckline is meant to be finished with a self bias binding, but I was concerned that using either one of my fashion fabrics would allow for the binding to show through to the right side of the garment in the lighter areas of my print. Instead, I used an off white piece from my stash–it’s actually an old sheet–for my bias binding, and it worked perfectly.
Red Knits_SOSM Sutton BlouseBecause of the split hem on this design, there’s no tidy way to do French side seams, so the instructions call for hemmed seam allowances. The edges are first finished off in your preferred method to prevent fraying–I serged in a light gray thread–and then turned under and stitched. This provides a clean finish consistent with the rest of the blouse.
Red Knits_SOSM Sutton BlouseSpeaking of the split hem, this is not a style that I typically wear. In fact, I can’t stand those high/low dresses that go from above the knee down to the ankle. But I don’t have anything like this in my wardrobe and thought I would give it a try. As it turns out, I quite like it! And I can always tuck the blouse into a skirt for a dressier look.

I used gray thread to topstitch the hem and the rest of the top, including some edgestitching along the yokes to lend them a bit more stability. Although the instructions call for backstitching, I only backstitch when reinforcement is needed, so rarely do when topstitching. Instead, I tie knots everywhere in my sewing for a cleaner finish. I also added a bit of handstitching for reinforcement at the top of the slit in the form of a triangle from one of my technique books.
Red Knits_SOSM Sutton BlouseMy aim in most of the garments I make is versatility, and I think I’ve really gotten that with this top. I’m looking forward to wearing it all summer long, not only with jeans as I did here, but also with skirts, dress pants, and maybe even my pink Maritime shorts.

Many thanks to my husband, Steven, for taking these photos at the Pittsburgh Botanical Gardens before the rain came!


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