Shopping with Cashmerette and SoCal Sewists

Curvy So Cal Sewists and Cashmerette invade The Fabric Store LA and Mood LA!

On Cashmerette Pattern’s Facebook group, Jenny Rushmore the creatrix behind Cashmerette put the word out that she was planning an escape of the frozen tundra in Boston and heading to sunny Los Angeles on a buying and defrosting trip. She would graciously share her work vacation time with any So Cal sewing ladies wanting to join in a retail shopping excursion to The Fabric Store LA and Mood LA.

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My lovelies from The Fabric Store LA

I don’t know about anyone else but sewing keeps me away from the outside world, and most times it’s a good meditative practice, so I don’t mind. However my immediate family doesn’t understand the excitement of a well threaded double needle or the reason behind the “WOOHOO” I yell out when the finished stash busting shirt fits well.

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A table with an array of fabrics in a pink color way and in the background the Merino wools!

So the call to join for an afternoon, with others who know the joys and trials of sewing for a bodacious body, I was in.

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Oh you know just some silks in a rainbow display 

If you have never been to Los Angeles, it’s big, like takes 30 – 45 min to get anywhere big. I live in what could be called the suburbs or “the Valley” if you are old enough to remember those movies from the 80’s. Really it could be a city of it’s own hovering at about 1.8 million people (Los Angeles counts that 1.8 in the over all 3.8 million people in the county and city). We came together from surrounding counties some driving an hour to meet up.

It was a great time, swapping stories of pattern makes, alterations and just ohhing and ahhing over all the fun things we were running our hands over.

I highly recommend finding an in-person group to sew or shop with, I know this won’t be my last.

My Wardrobe the Phinney Ridge Cardigan

I was given this pattern at a tester for free all opinions are my own.

Phinney Ridge Cardigan by Straight Stitch Design is a classic cuff and waist banded boyfriend or letterman cardigan with many variation possibilities. I agreed to test the size 24 with the hopes that this would be a nice layering piece for my wardrobe. Kimberly of Straight Stitch Designs has created some great garment patterns with classic flair. Ruffle hem? Yes, Viewridge Tank, Zipper back detail Yup the Ravenna Top, Box pleats? Sure.

All of her patterns seem to have some design options which I love, I used to buy patterns from the “big four” based on how many garment pieces were in an envelop. A strategy I have now found to be not the best way to buy my patterns.

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My Phinney Ridge Cardigan, EasyT and Costco cords, because sometimes you buy cloths with your bulk groceries.

A few weeks ago I was able to meet up with some SoCal sewists, Jenny Rushmore of Cashmerette and Carie McGowan for a shopping trip to The Fabric Store-LA and Mood. The afternoon did not disappoint. While at The Fabric Store I purchased some glittery lovelies and some Merino wool jersey in basic black and jewel tone fuchsia. I can’t get enough of fuchsia aparently. The black wool jersey was perfect for my SoCal weather and I had plenty for the cardigan pattern.

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My black merino wool version of the Straight Stitch Designs, Phinney Ridge Cardigan sewing pattern.

The Phinney Ridge Cardigan is a great staple and good experienced beginner pattern that will give you quite a confidence boost. You can add buttons, snaps or not at all, there is also the option to lengthen, shorten or add elbow patches.

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The pattern size range is from a size 0 -24 (not vanity sized, based on the measurements of your body, and nested for easy grading between sizes) and takes under two yards varying in how wide your fabric is. The instructions are clear and easy to execute, you could try the “ham/hot” cuff method here for the wrist cuffs but either directions work well.

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My version in black merino wool jersey is without buttons or snaps as I didn’t have any that went with the light weight jersey, but I did interface it for future button add ons. I sewed it exactly as is without any lengthening or shortening. I could have stood for a shortening in the sleeves and body as I am a bit on the shorter side and the cuffs and band hit about two inches past where they should. With that minor alteration aside I still wear the heck out of it, I mean comfortable wool in classic black, how very Audrey Hepburn of me. I guess you could say, I really like mine, I have worn out cardigans like this and haven’t found RTW replacements. Now I don’t need to, I just need to go back and pick up more wool jersey. The Phinney Ridge Cardigan pattern is on sale till Friday February 24th so there is no reason not to grab one.

 

My wardrobe the EasyT

I received this online class free as a pattern tester prior to launch, but my opinions are my own.

Before this class I had only drafted clothing with the old fold and trace method. Where you lay your favorite tee or lounge pants on top of your fabric and trace around (including seam allowance) and cross your fingers. For knit pants or lounge wear it turned out ok, in most cases, but was hit or miss. I now know the joy of drafting to my measurements and it has opened up a whole new confidence in wardrobe.

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EasyT in a sheer woven poly in one of my favorite colors

If I have a bad day and need a confidence boost, I can pull out this pattern and whip up a new tee or tee dress in about the same amount of time it would take me to get to the mall and park. I can stay in my pajamas at home, and at the end I have something that fits!!

When this tee drafting class launched there was some fun talk about how it’s designed to be an easy to wear garment for your every day life. Like taking out the garbage,emptying the dishwasher, or setting your instapot for today’s dinner.

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Everyday life EasyT dress, I could live in this garment.

The class is sold by SewHere.com and The Self Sewn Wardrobe’s Mallory Donahue. She and her mother Zede host a podcast Sew Here and Mallory hosts a Facebook group called the Self Sewn Wardrobe with a podcast of her live broadcasts from the group. Both have an enormous volume of garment sewing know how, and the content is very informative and entertaining.

My EasyT starts with an online class that is broken up section by section, so you can stop and start as your life dictates. Mallory covers how to measure yourself, and fill in the worksheet that helps you add up your individual drafting numbers. I confess math is not my strong suit and I had to watch this segment two times because I needed to check my work, I tend to transpose numbers. After entering my numbers and following along with the video to calculate my pattern drafting points I was all set to chart some lines. The class also includes some bonus material, and new to me techniques.

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The first EasyT in tissue weight jersey knit

I used Pellon tracing paper as that is what I had on hand, I like Swedish tracing paper because it’s a bit less slippery under my pen but almost any wide paper will do. I was able to watch and re-watch the initial drafting video multiple times since each chapter or segment is it’s own video. This was super helpful because I was interrupted more than once by “mom life” events. I used an acid green poly something I bought by the pound at The Loft and it shifted all the time. I was still able to finish it in less than an hour.

The EasyT class covers how to draft your own tee in woven with a few inches of ease so the shirt comes on and off easily and drapes nicely (depending on the type of woven you use, and Mallory covers material choice in one of the videos). I learned enough from the videos on the ease and drafting that by the end of the class I was able to make two more EasyT’s in tissue weight jersey and sweater knit, and then I thought “what about a tee dress” and BAM! an hour later I have my favorite house dress and it’s boring grey twin. I still have plans to draft one for my pre-pre-teen as she is getting harder to shop for and with this pattern I would be able to sew her a shirt for every day of the week on a good weekend.

Give it a try! I hear there are more video’s coming and the pod casts are full of useful info, and fun mother daughter banter.

Knit fabrics and forgiving fibers

Knit fabrics can be a very forgiving fabric to sew with.  The degree of stretch (how much the fabric can be pulled out and recover from) make fitting a garment to your individual shape a bit easier. I have a knit twill skirt that has box pleats and low recovery, it was a bad choice but the print was so much fun I went against my better judgment. When I wear this skirt, at the end of the day it’s pleats are a bit saggy and the garment is heavy. However it has vintage Bakelite buttons and pockets so in the closet rotation it stays. Stretch and recovery vary from fabric to fabric but the overall  structure of knit (the loops and chains instead of the x and y-axis of woven fabrics) help reduce fraying and makes the wearing ease flexible and a useful material to master.

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Knit fabrics can seem scary to sew with but to wear they can be quite forgiving. Giving this versatile fabric a try might be a bit easier with these tools and tips. http://www.laurendurrdesign.com

The patterns that call for knit fabric usually have negative ease calculated into the pattern measurements unlike with woven you have an average ease of an added 3-4 inches for your measurements. Sometimes when you cut out your size (that you have measured your body for, don’t use your store size, please) the paper may seem a bit small, that is negative ease. Your chosen fabric will stretch on your form, unlike woven fabric which must be fit to your form with seams, darts and design lines.

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Just a few of my knits, a brown textured jersey, grey/black sweatshirt, pink waffle, print jersey and red interlock.

Knits also come in many different substrates (the base fabric that is printed on, dyed or knit) and some of the names may be regional. Tee shirts are often sewn in an interlock, jersey or tissue weight jersey. Some of the more stable knits that are stretchy but not as much as interlock are ponte de roma, sweatshirt knit, sweatshirt terry, fleece, and scuba knit. Then there are the knits we use in lingerie and athletic sewing like power mesh, tulle Leonardo, swimwear lining, swimwear lycra, dance lycra (which might have more foils and shiny treatments than swim), nude mesh and some nylon tricots (pronounced tree coat, tricot has a bit of mechanical stretch but not much recovery).

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Some of my nylon tricots, black in front and pinks and corals in back

There are some wovens that behave like a medium weight knit because they have added into the weave fibers like lycra, spandex or polyester. Some of these would be called stretch denim, stretch twill, stretch shirting, and stretch velvet. These substrates do have some fraying tendencies so treating your seam allowance is necessary.

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Swimwear knit can be shiny and sparkly like the black and navy or more matte lithe the print and light orange. It also comes in different weights or thickness.

When sewing knit fabrics on your machine there are needles you need to use called ballpoint or stretch needles. They have different numbered sizes for light to heavy weight fabrics. They are a necessity because the tip of the needle is rounded and will push though the loops and chains instead of cutting them. If you forget to use the right needle you will notice your seams begin to wear out and tear at the stitched thread line.

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Some of the tools I use when stitching knit fabrics are my twin needles to give it that professional cover stitch finish, and my walking foot.

Machine wise you don’t have to have a serger, a straight stitch lengthened or a zigzag stitch will work well. Many of my projects are made on my sewing machine with a zigzag. One tool for your machine that is very helpful with sewing knits is the accessory foot called a walking foot. When your fabric is fed through the machine it is lightly gripped by feed dogs, those grippy teeth like things below the foot. The walking foot has  extra feed dogs on the foot so that both the top and bottom fabric are fed equally. Another way to reduce the drag from the presser foot is to reduce it’s downward pressure. Each machine is different and may or may not allow this, look in your manual or online for tips.

Knit clothing items are some of the most forgiving of all the sewing garments, I think because the fiber stretches giving you up to an inch or more of wiggle room. Understanding the proper tools and tips will get you started with this versatile substrate. The forgiving fibers in knits stretch around your form, fitting you and giving room to breath. Some give and recover their shape very quickly and easily, these usually have more spandex and lycra content (the end of the bolt of fabric will sometimes tell you the percentage). When you make a pair of underwear for instance you want enough spandex or lycra that while you wear them throughout the day they don’t sag down your bum (trust me I have made this mistake).