Lightning Sweater

I’ve been using the Seamwork Astoria sweater pattern (with a slightly lengthened bodice) as my knit sloper for a while now. It fits well in the shoulders and bust, and is easy to manipulate. I’ve used it to make a few sweaters and a tee.

I’ve been dreaming of using some leftover French Terry scraps in a color-blocked sweater. Originally, I planned a simple diagonal seam from shoulder to waist (across the front) but the sketch of it was a snoozefest!

After a few more sketches, I landed on this idea. A lightning bolt. Lightning bolts are awesome  (i.e. Bowie’s iconic Aladdin Sane cover…’arry Potter’s scar…FF13’s Lightning… Real Actual Lightning).

The key to making this sweater work without wanting to throw my machine out the window is a center front seam. Usually, I’m not a fan of CF seams; I don’t like the look of them. I feel like they are a shortcut/cop-out (particularly in regards to necklines) but they do result in crisp seam lines…

I made a copy of the pattern front and traced out my cutting lines. Then I cut the new pieces out and added seam allowance where necessary, using a standard 5/8″ allowance.

After I planned out the color blocking, I sewed each side of the front bodice together first, then joined them at the CF seam, and pressed. After that, the construction process was like any other sweater.

I really love how it turned out. I have some more scraps in blue and green that will be the next sweater. My thoughts are now on adapting this concept to make an Aladdin Sane Dress with a big Bowie lightning bolt cutting through it.



In which two blouses become one.

It’s ALIIIIIVE!!! Ahem – I mean, I finally got around to making a Bleuet blouse.

I bought this soft chambray at Loom Morningside to make a Zinnia skirt. After cutting the skirt, I had a tantalizing yard-ish of fabric left.

Sometimes I get an idea in my head and become obsessed with seeing if I can make it happen. I wanted a blouse from these scraps. Real bad.

I surveyed this scant yard with a steely gaze. Could I eek out a blouse from this? Fervently, I raided my patterns, laying out bodice pieces and sleeves to no avail but for one: the Bleuet.

Its princess seamed bodice pieces were skinny enough to finagle into fitting onto the scrap. I had barely enough for the sleeves and 1 of the 2 requisite collar pieces. I cut the underside collar from gray voile scraps but decided to leave out the collar stand.

It’s worth noting that I graded the pattern from a size 38 to a 42 from the armscye and up, to make room for my football player shoulders.

I breezed through the bodice construction and sewed up the gathered sleeves, French seams and all.

The sleeves were terrible. The gathers stood tall and high, like those of a starchy pilgrim on a Sunday afternoon . They had to go.

Bad nasty bad gathers
Bad nasty bad gathers


**seam ripping montage**

I don’t much like gathered sleeves to begin with and resolved to make regular sleeves from the salvaged pieces. This is where Aierelle came in.

I used the short version of the Aierelle sleeve to replace the Bleuet’s poofy ones. The new sleeve fit well over the curved parts of the armscye, but the ends need to be lengthened by about 1/4 inch each to fit properly.

Next I attached the collar to the neckline. It worked, but it really needs the collar stand. I used a French seam to attach it and top stitched under the collar to secure it. To create the placket, I folded the placket first to the wrong side, then to the right side and stitched across the top, making sure to cover the raw edge of the collar’s French seam.

Aah that’s better!

Buttons and hems and a monster is born. It’s a little bit wonky, I admit, but for a fevered experiment, it came out alright. I love wearing it and will definitely make another. However, I would make it longer and use the proper collar stand next time around.
Rippers up!

Astoria Shirt Hack

In which a sweater becomes a shirt.

My scraps stash is out of control. What once fit neatly into my storage cabinet now tumbles out onto the floor, dangling sad tendrils of leftover fabric for the cat’s amusement. It’s time to de-stash and get creative.

I had a good bit of knit leftover from a dress and decided to make a shirt. (Here’s what I used: Nerdy tangent – these lightning bolts remind me of Harry Potter, so I think of this project as the Scraps Who Lived.

I love the Astoria sweater from Seamwork magazine. Its quick, functional and cute. And for this purpose, the bodice is simple and easy to manipulate.

Astoria is a cropped sweater, so I lengthened it considerably, gradually flaring the new side line out towards the new hem by roughly an inch. There was no need for the waistband anymore so I left that out.

I also made the collar deeper by cutting the neckline at the adjacent lower size, then lengthened the neck band to match. The sleeves I obviously just cropped to a shorter length.

I ended up cutting the sleeves on what I thought was a bias, which I figured would look cool, and inadvertently matched one sleeve to the bodice perfectly. Happy accidents!

Matching bolts

It was an easy project and very fast – maybe an hour since the pattern was already cut. I’ll definitely keep it in mind for future scraps.


The Embarrassing Blouse

In which a blouse unearths some internal misogyny.

I was excitedly impatient to make a new blouse, so I pulled out a light-weight voile with bright little flowers over a blue-gray background, that was originally purchased to make a camisole. A camisole nobody would see. 

The pattern, Aierelle, is from one of my favorite designers – Deer and Doe. Their patterns have a marvelous touch of whimsy and fit me really well. Recently, they added a “hack” to create short sleeves to the Airelle blouse and I knew I had to make it! So I pulled out the flowery voile and some solid pink voile I used to make my Mother a nightdress. Together, I had enough to craft a blouse that had a contrasting pink yoke with the brunt of the blouse being flowery.

Airelle is a relatively easy blouse to sew – the hardest part is gathering the sleeves to fit within the sleeve cuffs. I had a relaxing time of it and expected to be thoroughly pleased with the final product. And I was.

Until I tried it on.

Looking in the mirror at my flower-and-pink blouse with it’s little Peter Pan collar and gathered sleeves, I suddenly got really embarrassed. All I could think was, “it’s so…girly. How will anyone take me seriously in this?”. So I pulled it off, hung it in the closet and sulked to bed.

Just because something is generally deemed feminine or girly doesn’t mean it’s embarrassing. It’s such a crucial tenant of feminism – that being a woman, being femme, is OK.

Even knowing that, believing that, I felt self-conscious.

It’s strange how certain ideas creep so deeply into our minds, subverting what we believe, cutting the legs out from under independent thought.

So I wore it to work the next day. And guess what? I didn’t feel embarrassed at all. Once the blouse was on my body, once I started moving though my day, once I had filled it with my energy, I didn’t care that it was girly. I didn’t care that I’m NOT girly. I became one with the shirt. The shirt became one with me.

It’s difficult to shake the deeply seated notion that girly things are shameful. In the end, you have to wear what you like (and isn’t that what sewing is all about?). You have to assert your true being. For me, that’s a mix of the masculine and feminine. It’s wearing a pink-and-flowers blouse with confidence and pride. We can conquer our own insecurities -if only one blouse at a time.