Wear Your Greens

I made another True Bias Marlo sweater, pretty much the same as my first True Bias Marlo! Iseefabric was running a 20% sale for some American holiday (I’m not being coyly European, I just forget which) and I picked up 2 more yards of their lovely squashy waffle knit.

This color is called ‘Pistachio’, and on least on my screen it’s accurately pictured, a grey/blue/green rather than a straight sage or what-have-you. Pistachio was my second choice, but Oatmeal sold out. It’s a little more romantic than I generally like. Like, this sweater would go great with a broderie anglaise sundress and a flower crown, while my aesthetic is more thick socks and a tuna fish sandwich. That said, according to the economic theory of revealed preference, I DO like this color, because I wear the sweater all the dang time. It’s the time of year when the inside of my apartment is reliably freezing even on warm sunny days and I’m generally to be found inside a Marlo.

I tend to wear this one open, though, and I’m not sure why; some tiny quirk of button placement, maybe?

Speaking of: I recently became a nihilist *just* long enough to spend too much money on buttons, including these. They’re beautiful engraved shell buttons I ordered from this Etsy shop. They really are lovely but from any reasonable distance they read as solid white.

Continuing my pattern of using whatever elastic is nearest when I need elastic, this time I stabilized the shoulder seams with plush-backed bra strap elastic. I had the perfect amount and those shoulders are going NOWHERE. My only meaningful change from my first long Marlo was to serge the seam allowance edge of the neckband + body. First I hand-stitched the cuffs, but that reminded me that I got these seam allowance berms from turning under. I actually like the serged finish better from the outside even if it’s less pristine on the inside.

Unexpected bonus: the neckband is actually hugging my neck! I must have stretched a bit more vigorously this time.

This is a useful and functional piece, but I didn’t really enjoy sewing it because I rushed through the process. I didn’t make sloppy mistakes or anything – it looks the same as it would if I sewed it mInDfUlLy, probably – but instead of the process making my brain feel like it took a warm bath, it felt like a cold shower. And I hurried for such a foolish reason, too; because I was more excited to use my serger on the next thing, with black thread, but my serger was already threaded with white, so I banged this out so I could avoid switching the thread one time. Rethreading isn’t even hard once you’re used to it. The whole process takes about a minute and a half. So, to save 90 seconds, I made two hours less pleasant. Kind of a dingaling move.

But the thing I wanted to use my serger + black thread on? These pants!

They’re the MN Dawns I posted about a month or so ago. I had a wild hair to reshape the leg. I pinned the outseam, tried them on, and decided why not. First I cut a freehand curve from about knee height to the hem, then I unpicked the hem, serged the new fresh seam allowance, and finally refolded the hem along its original creases. I couldn’t squeeze any more length out of the legs because the missing corner I’m hiding in the deep hem is on the inseam side!

Since I didn’t adjust the inseam, the balance of the leg changed. Now it has this kind of bow-legged banana shape which I really kinda dig.

I really like balloon/banana trousers. The silhouette looks fresh to my eye. Plus, when picking a shirt, it’s easier to balance than a straight-sided wide leg pant. I might want to play with more extreme versions of the shape, too. Also in foot news I finally got the pair of combat boots I’ve been thinking about for ages! It’s not NOT because of this music video. I love ‘em. Other shoes feel like socks now. Anyway, I’m done poking at these pants now! Finito!

Ultimately this Marlo ended up pricey, but I glanced at my spreadsheet and I’ve still spent less than usual by this time of year, so I’m not going to sweat it. The Fabric Snob recently added waffle knits in some deep, rich colors (iseefabrics tends to focus on light beach-culty hues) so who knows what will happen next!

But hopefully something cozy. Happy Halloween, all!

Pattern: True Bias Marlo sweater

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10 bust, 14 hip

Supplies: 2 yards organic cotton thermal waffle knit in Pistachio, iseefabric, $35.60; Agoya shell buttons, Etsy, $12.44; thread from stash

Total time: 3.25 hours

Total cost: $48.04

Short Marlo

First, go check out Heather’s Overall This 2020 Nonsense dungarees – aren’t they terrific?! Unfortunately she can’t totally endorse the pattern (unfortunately for me, mainly, because her finished pair is beautiful and beautifully made, and now I want some too). Anyway, go feast your eyes, and enjoy her detailed review!

Okay now look at me again. ; ) Like a sweater-y Lady Macbeth, I didn’t let “I dare not” wait upon “I would” and here’s my second Marlo already.

This True Bias Marlo is the cropped view, size 10, in Pacific French terry from iseefabric. It’s the second half of my fabric splurge and I had some trouble choosing which shade of blue I wanted. Eventually I just sort of squeezed my eyes shut and picked one, and when it arrived the color didn’t match the one shown on my monitor, but I’m happier this way. It’s the perfect dark teal I always hope to find. It’s not madly warm (the waffle knit is cozier); I often assume French terry is warmer than it is, I need to break that habit. It’s more like wearing a soft and sexy sexy towel.

Last time I talked mostly about the finished sweater and less about the Marlo pattern itself, so I wanted to mention that it’s simple but great. When a pattern is uncomplicated I really expect everything to line up perfectly and this one does that, with ample notches. I was initially surprised by the soft, gradual shape of the seam where the bottom of the armscye meets the side, but for a big sweater with big sleeves it doesn’t feel like too much fabric ends up in my armpits, thanks I think to that transition. Also it’s easy to serge because it doesn’t create a sharp inside corner.

I’d like to find a better way of marking notches; I usually cut them outwards, but because so many of these pattern pieces are straight-edged, you can butt them right up against each other to save fabric. But, then I can’t cut my notches pointing out. I used a white charcoal pencil to trace pattern pieces (leftover either from the days when I was forced to draw with charcoal, or from the days when I forced my students to draw with charcoal) and it tends to rub off. I might need a better tool.     

Sewing this was pretty straightforward, especially with the directions fresh in my mind, but I tried a tweak. Instead of adding the cuff in the round, as directed, I tried to keep it flat for as long as possible, like so…

I’m not sure that it made that much difference to the overall difficulty. I still ended up hand-sewing the inner edge of the cuff. It might have felt easier if I had actually sewn the cuff to the sleeve on the first try! Instead I sewed (and serged the seam, luckily with the knife off) one cuff to the bottom edge of the left front. I had to really stretch the bejeezus out of the cuff to get them to match, too! Unpicking loop-back French terry is not my all-time favorite.

I managed to snag the back of the fabric this time too, same as my last Marlo. Only this time I made a hole, but it was with the edge of my fingernail so what am I sposed to do, not have fingernails? It’s on the inside of the cuff and I ironed a little piece of interfacing to the back. I could have re-cut the piece but I didn’t notice the hole until I had attached it and I couldn’t face unpicking this one cuff anymore.

Once again I used the low-stretch band, and it’s a little sloppy at the back neck, though not critically. Since I’m never going to wear the cropped Marlo unbuttoned, I serged and topstitched the inner edge, and it went fine. French terry seems to like a bit of topstitching, IMO. I topstitched the shoulder seams too – this fabric is a bit springy, and the grosgrain ribbon I used in those seams doesn’t match, and I didn’t want it to peek out (I’d be the only one who’d see it, but I’m “I”! I care!).

These aren’t the buttons I thought I wanted – I was hoping to find something largish in light wood – but I couldn’t find that locally, and I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy these expensive washable ceramic buttons for uhhh a while. I didn’t sew buttonholes, just attached the buttons through both layers. This was lucky, because I guessed at placement again; initially I had sewn a fourth, higher button, but when I tried on the top I was getting intense drag lines, so I removed it. My breastbone resembles an uninhabited steppe from my collarbone to my bra band, and lowering a neckline a couple inches makes no significant difference to the look/my comfort otherwise, so it was all to the good.

I might switch them someday, because I think the weight of the buttons throws off the balance of the sweater. Or equally I might not; I like the color and the card of five buttons cost eight American dollars!!! That’s sandwich money!

After having sewn both views, I can confidently say this pattern is a keeper. And if you buy your fabric by the fractional yard, the cropped view in size 10 only takes 1.5 yards, not 2 as listed. I could only buy whole yards so now I have .5 yards of luxurious organic French terry kicking around. I’m thinking of making my hot water bottle a coordinating sweater (its name is Hot Walter, and it deserves the best). Wishing you the best, too!

croppe–

Pattern: True Bias Marlo sweater, cropped

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10

Supplies: 2 yards of organic French terry knit in Pacific, iseefabric, $31.90; thread from stash; buttons, Gather Here, $8.00

Total time: 3.75 hours

Total cost: $39.90

Stroopwafel Marlo

I’m not tempted by some luxuries – like, as far as I can tell, a luxury hotel room is still a stuffy bland box and a luxury car is still a roll-y box that goes beep. And then some seem totally worth it – tea and chocolate, haircuts with good-smelling shampoo, the Petit Trianon. Happily my recent splurge showed me that nice knit fabrics fall into the second category. I got myself 2 2-yard cuts from iseefabric for my birthday, hoping to fill in some holes in my homemade wardrobe. The colors are beautiful, they’re squishy and warm, and they showed up as two wonderful fat rolls snuggled in a box. Budget-wise this is going to be a Sometimes Food, but I have no regrets!

This is the first of them, a waffle knit in the color maple. It’s quite possibly the power of suggestion that led me to pick this color (maple + waffle! Delicious!) but it’s a closet pal and gets along with most other colors. It was really fun to work with – satisfying to handle and sew, it even held a press well, thanks to 95% The Fabric of Our Lives (also 5% The Spandex of Our Lives). The drape is heavy. It’s warm. It’s soft. Basically, I love it.

Speaking of loving it, this is the Marlo sweater by True Bias, and uh…I love it also. This was the other part of my birthday gift to me. Basically I bought this sweater pattern and used it to blackmail myself into buying fancy fabric (“If you don’t buy fancy fabric you’ll be wasting $14 and untold cents of toner!”). And I used the fancy fabric to make myself buy the pattern (“If you don’t lay out the pattern and calculate the amount of fabric you need yourself, you might buy the wrong amount!”). It worked like a charm, I never saw it coming.

My size – 10 bust, graded to a 14 hip – called for 2.2 yards of 54” wide fabric, but I found 2 yards to be more than sufficient (this is mainly important when ordering online, especially since iseefabric only sells whole-yard cuts). Mine doesn’t have pockets, but I did cut the pocket pieces out, interface them, hem the tops and everything, only to discover I couldn’t turn or attach the rounded corners to my own satisfaction. I stitched one on before deciding that the stretch of the fabric + texture of the fabric + asymmetrical corners weren’t going to fly. Unpicking went almost flawlessly, but then I snagged one little thread on the back of the sweater front. It doesn’t seem to have run, so I’m hopeful!

I do have enough scrap fabric to recut the pockets as squares. I might. I feel the lack of them, but I’m not confident I can sew them as neatly as I’d like.

The fabric has a very relaxed recovery so this sweater definitely grew in the making. It will probably shrink back again someday (Spandex), but I don’t know when! I added grosgrain ribbon to the shoulder seams as suggested, which is attractive and functional (as opposed to clear elastic, which is just functional), but it’s attached to the back so you can’t see it anyway.

Because of the fabric’s lack of springiness/recovery, I cut the longer band, even though it stretched more than 40%. That’s probably why it kind of slumps at the center back.

Because I didn’t stretch the band much, though, I was able to hand-sew the inner edge. That’s right, I used the ‘fancy finishing’ method on the bands and cuffs, only more so. I felt mildly goofy hand-sewing on a knit but I didn’t think I could machine stitch perfectly on the first try, and I didn’t want to risk unpicking again! Also, I don’t have matching serger thread (I have two colors – black and white).

I was forewarned by Beck’s post that the last 10 pages of the print-at-home PDF were just the button placement guides for each size. I decided to print none of them, to avoid waste, so my buttons ended up sCanDoloUsLY low.

The buttons, by the way, are vintage leather from my never-ending flea market bag and are also arguably waffle-esque, which I enjoy. I like the brown tones together a lot (alternative color family name, “caramel macchiato”).

The elements of this project were expensive but the final sweater does feel truly luxurious, and luckily not like a sad beige bag. And I’m definitely going to make another Marlo! I want to try the cropped view next. think the success of this piece is due partly to a solid pattern, but a lot to the fanciness of the fabric. Now that I’ve had a taste of the good stuff, I want more grade-A maple syrup every day!   

Pattern: True Bias Marlo sweater, long view

Pattern cost: $14.00

Size: 10 bust, 14 hips

Supplies: 2 yards of organic cotton thermal waffle knit in Maple, iseefabric, $31.90; thread, buttons from stash

Total time: 6.25 hours

Total cost: $45.90