Mamarlo

This is the third of the gift items I made recently, and the one that really confirmed I don’t like sewing garments for people who aren’t within hollering distance. I have a little mother – one of those teacup mamas, high energy and very small – and I wanted to sew her a True Bias Marlo for mother’s day. This wasn’t a surprise gift (I had her choose the color) but I couldn’t get her to slow down long enough to send me her measurements, so I crossed my fingers and relied on our 35 years’ acquaintance and my wobbly ability to estimate sizes. I spent the whole prepping, cutting, and sewing time alternately convinced this sweater was too big or too small.

No modeled shots, since my family doesn’t know I have a blog (and my blog doesn’t know I have a family!), but it fits okay. The width is good, but I think the length is still a little much for her petite frame. I reprinted the pattern and cut view B in a size 6. I shortened the sleeves 1” and the body 1.5” on the lengthen/shorten lines, but I wish I had shortened the sleeves 1.5” and the body 2”. Ideally I would also have raised the neckline point, probably by using the view A neckline. This might have called for a 5th button, but that’s fine by me, because I am still into making my own and not sick of lasers yet!

I designed this set of homemade buttons with my mom in mind. These are 1” wide, and unlike my first batch, they actually have holes that an average sewing needle can fit through. Progress! I like how the laser engraving shows the warmth inside of the maple wood. You can also see the ‘dithered’ texture here; engraving is accomplished similarly to printing the comics section of a newspaper, lots of little dot-dot-dots. But with FIRE* (*mainly light, occasionally very small spurts of fire).     

Otherwise I sewed this up exactly as my most recent Marlo, except I used this waffle knit in Rose from The Fabric Snob instead of iseefabric for a change! They’re definitely not identical, so I cut a 4” square from each of my scraps and did a little side-by-side for the interested shopper. Neither is cheap, so if you’re considering ordering one or the other, hopefully this will be helpful.

Iseefabric’s square is ‘Pistachio’; Fabric Snob is ‘Rose’. My mini cutting mat is ‘unfortunate yellow’.

First, price (in USD). Iseefabric costs $17.50/yard; the Fabric Snob costs $19.37/meter (about 3 more inches). However, you can order half-meters from the Fabric Snob, so my ideal order of around 1.5 yards costs $29.06 from the Fabric Snob, and $35 from iseefabrics, since I have to round up to 2 yards there. I haven’t accounted for shipping, but it’s about even to my location.

For some reason I thought iseefabric’s waffle knit was pre-laundered, which I don’t actually see written anywhere; so while I had assumed it was zero, I’m actually not sure of their shrinkage. I did measure the 1.5 meters I ordered from the Fabric Snob after washing and the yardage was slightly over, so either the fabric grew in the washer or they cut generously! Fabric Snob waffle is 57” wide; iseefabric waffle is 51” wide.

Both waffle knits are certified organic cotton. Iseefabric is 95% cotton/5% spandex. Fabric Snob is 100% cotton. They’re both available in multiple colors with coordinating rib knits; iseefabric skews pale/beachy, and Fabric Snob has some brighter colors and good dark basics.

From my first fabric impression, iseefabric is loftier, warmer, and more relaxed, while Fabric Snob is brighter and springier. Iseefabric has 8 ‘ribs’ (waffle rows?) to the inch, Fabric Snob has 12. I folded each square to make four layers, and could compress each folded piece easily to 3/16” thick.

These are the selvedges – the iseefabric looks like it has two layers joined together, and the Fabric Snob looks like one. Neither fabric rolls at all, which is lovely for marking and cutting.

The iseefabric square showed 50% stretch parallel to the selvedge (widthwise), and slightly less than 50% perpendicular to the selvedge (lengthwise).

The Fabric Snob square showed more like 40% stretch parallel to the selvedge (widthwise), and functionally none perpendicular to the selvedge (lengthwise).

The iseefabrics waffle, which stretched more easily, also had better recovery. It grew lengthwise by less than 1/8” (less than 3%). The Fabric Snob waffle grew ¼” in width, and likewise shrunk ¼” in length (6.25%).

That said, there’s no bad choices here! I’d be happy ordering from either shop again; they both regularly have sales, so it’ll probably depend on which is cheaper when I next need a waffle knit. I ended up with 18” of this Rose leftover due to the wee-ness of my gift recipient, so I still haven’t broken the extra-half-yard-waffle curse. I have a feeling I’m going to end up with some mighty warm tank tops.

This sweater pattern continues to carry a rating of GOOD BUY, in my opinion. At some point I want to try cramming the sleeves and body of view A of the Marlo onto 1 yard of fabric, and if I can, then maybe I’ll spring for a coordinating waffle + rib knit combo. Or theoretically I could make a Marlo sweater out of non-waffle fabric. But I mean. Will I?

She won’t.

All the best!

Pattern: True Bias Marlo sweater

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 6; shortened sleeve 1″; shortened body 1.5″

Supplies: 1 1/2 meters of Organic Cotton Waffle in Rose, The Fabric Snob, $35.60; thread, Sewfisticated; tailor’s tape, Gather Here, $3.49

Total time: 3.75 hours

Total cost: $39.09

#2 Toaster #2

I recently ordered fabric while chilly.

I’m henceforth going to make all my shopping decisions while chilly. I’m not saying the cold makes my brain work better, just that 4 yards of Kaufman Trainers French Terry Fleece was EXACTLY what I wanted to sew with in January. I got two lengths, one for a sweater and one for sweats. This first one is called Woodrose. After 4 years, it finally kicked my butt into gear to make another Toaster #2 sweater!

I sewed my original 2017 Toaster from soft, drapey modal French terry. While it didn’t exactly work, I could see it had potential. By the way, Sew House Seven is steadily + reliably updating their catalogue to add sizes up to 34, and I believe the Toaster will be included soon.

When browsing cold-weather fabrics, I saw Kaufman does a French terry now. I picked this color to go with the skirt I made recently. I’m trying to add more variety/warmth/elegance/overall oomph to my winter wardrobe, but even so my clicking-finger hovered over my typical Sienna for a while; maybe next time!

Hawthorne Supply Co. sells fabric by the 1/8 yard, which is terrific, because the pattern calls for 1 5/8 yards; half-yard cuts would have left me with an awkward amount leftover, guaranteed. I shortened the body of the sweater 1.5”, and I have 6” extra selvedge-to-selvedge. I like the finished length, so next time I can order 1.5 yards. Climb back into my pocket, sweet little $1.70! You’re safe now.

I haven’t been working on anything madly complicated lately but this still seemed like a luxuriously tiny number of pattern pieces. Front, back, sleeve, badda-boom. I compared the front and back armscyes, and they are shaped differently as I hoped/expected, but the sleeve itself is vertically symmetrical. What’s that about? It doesn’t affect comfort, so maybe it’s a knit thing.

When I make another Toaster #2, I’ll extend the width of the grown-on neck facing to reach the shoulder seam. It’s like an inch away anyway, max; may as well anchor it there. Missed opportunity. The split mitered hem is a quick, clear, fun part to sew, though! I added a sassy little triangular fold before topstitching the top of the vent allowances.

Construction went quickly, but I spent a solid hour or more at the end of the process just futzing. The front funnel neck looked odd. There seemed to be too much fabric above the bust, or maybe too much width? Maybe some combination of those? I did my usual ‘tug tests’ – pulling the fabric tighter, looser, forward, back, etc., and have concluded that I don’t know much about history biology what a slide rule is for fitting the upper bust, but I know how to show a sweater a good time.

I tried stitching in the ditch to keep the neck facing in place, by hand and by machine; topstitching along the long front and back edge of the facings; making the front neck deeper and shallower; pressing in a crisp edge, pressing it out again; and finally, topstitching a few random sigils to keep everything in place in the best arrangement I could manage.

After a day of wearing, I realized moving my head around an average amount crushes the front funnel neck anyway, and the fit wrinkles either hide inside of the use wrinkles or merge into mega-wrinkles. It’s moot.

Somewhere there’s a fabric with enough body to stand up at the neck and enough drape to move gracefully across the mysterious hinterland of my upper chest, but is it 95% cotton, fleece-lined, and $13.50/yard? Probably not. Weird neck aside, I loved sewing this fabric. It was so cooperative and just beefy enough (also, beefiness will never not hit me as the most hilarious sewing qualifier). I used a stretch stitch on the shoulders, sides, and cuffs, and a straight stitch on the hem, and it was fine with both.

The fabric is quite malleable, but it has a low recovery. This pattern actually calls for 5/8” seams throughout, but I used ¼” seam allowances on the sleeve and side seams, so my S bust graded to a M waist might be more like an M graded to L when all is said and done. I like the balance of the width and the length and I really appreciate that it has a set-in sleeve, as I’m feeling distinctly cool towards drop shoulders lately. I asked Professor Boyfriend what era he thought it was referencing and he Zoidberg-scuttled away because he thought it was a trap, but it’s an honest question. I definitely feel a bit past-y, but I’m not sure when!

I’d love to learn how to read and fix these wrinkles before I make another Toaster #2, but I still like this one. It’s fuzzy inside, actually warm, and the color is different enough from the rest of my wardrobe that it goes with practically anything. You’ll probably see it again in a week or two!

In the meantime, I might go use my actual toaster and make some hot buttered toast. Mmm. Always a good idea!

Pattern: Sew House Seven Toaster #2 sweater

Pattern cost: NA

Size: S bust, M waist, with ¼” sleeve and side seams

Supplies: 1 5/8 yards Kaufman Trainers French Terry Fleece in Woodrose, Hawthorne Supply Co., $24.92; thread from stash

Total time: 3.75 hours

Total cost: $24.92

Something Unexpected

So, I knit a sweater.

Did I knit it particularly well? No. But did I knit it *quickly*?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I cast on in early November 2020, mindful that we might be going into another lockdown (we didn’t, but I tucked away a couple hobby-acorns for quarantine winter just in case) and I finished it last month, late November 2021. Most of the sweater took me that first year (extremely non-continuously); the sleeves took me the last two weeks. By then, I was VERY ready to be done. I spent 54 weeks as an auto-hostage, but now I am freeee and I’ve learned a lot! These were my starting assets:

Your brains I could knit and purl (in the simplest sense)

Fezzik’s strength YouTube, baby

My steel Access to skilled knitters

Particularly Eloise Narrigan – will it surprise you to hear that in addition to being the toppest-notch illustrator and a brilliant friend, she’s also a meticulous and amazing knitter? I picked the No Frills Sweater pattern for my first project after running it by her. She mentioned that the short rows on the back neck were a promising sign that the pattern would be solid, and I immediately formed a religion around that casual comment and now judge all sweaters by whether or not there’s short rows, and nothing else. Actually, the part of the directions that challenged me the most were those about shaping the short rows, but she did some invaluable translating from knitting pattern to plain English and it turns out it was a simple idea expressed in a way I found confusing (basically, make each row longer than the one before).

I was frightened of reading the knitting pattern, but it was okay. The hardest part was working out which yarn to buy. After lots of back-and-forth math between grams and yards I decided that instead of using two strands of madly expensive yarn, I could use one strand of nice in-budget DK yarn, and I bought 8 skeins of Cloudborn Highland DK (100% wool) in Ocean from Webs. I knit a size M and I have a full skein leftover.

I very nearly bought cute stitch markers, too, but I stifled the urge. In the meantime I used jewelry jump rings. My first, shockingly basic piece of learning: the marker goes on the knitting needle, not the stitch. So that’s roughly the level of ability I started at.  

I want to talk quickly about the two kinds of skills I used during this process, ‘learned’ skills and ‘loaned’ skills. The skills I actually, thoroughly learned while working on this sweater include: the magic loop method. How to join yarn. The inscrutable K2tog tbl. How to weave in ends. How to block a sweater. How to get your boyfriend to help you wind yarn into a ball by telling him it’s what a courtly gentleman would do.

My loaned skills, skills I could perform after (or while) watching a YouTube video, but not on a permanent basis, were a cabled cast-on, joining in the round, left- and right-leaning raglan stitches, German short rows, a backwards loop cast-on (I honestly don’t remember what this one was for), a tubular bind-off, and what ‘pick up and knit’ meant. All those linked videos are novice-recommended – clear, performed slowly, not too chatty.

My missing skills, which are still missing, not available in video format, and pretty fundamental, are: reading knitting. As in, looking at a loop on the needle and understanding whether it’s a knit or a purl stitch, and any other information contained there. And possibly more importantly, ripping out mistakes without going all the way back to the beginning. I can just about pick up a dropped stitch, but that’s it. Often I found my mistakes by knitting past them, then looking at the formed fabric and realizing “that’s a funny spot”, at which point it was already too late for my butterfingers to fumble back. This is why I have one lumpy learner’s sleeve and one pretty good sleeve.

It took me ages to realize I was getting yarn caught on the needle while magic-looping and then knitting the decoy stitches as though they were real ones. Definitely a rookie mistake. On the other hand, knitting anything was going to be a challenge, and I’d rather sail out of a challenge with a lumpy sweater than a lumpy scarf.

Here is my not-so-good armpit! Here’s my better one! Capital ‘I’ for Improving, Lia!

Maybe some wiser eyes can help solve some lingering knitting mysteries. For example: why do the short rows have this feathery texture, and the body of the sweater doesn’t? Knitting is knitting, surely?

Also, how did I manage to switch the ‘right’ side and ‘wrong’ side of the collar halfway through, and how is that a k1/p1 rib HAS a right side and a wrong side? Shouldn’t they be the same? Yet I have tight braids on one side and open braids on the other. I prefer the look of the ‘wrong’ side, unfortunately. Actually I find this k1/p1 rib to be a bit thready and wimpy looking but I’m definitely not at the stage where I can change a pattern. HAHA no no no.

Mysteries or not, it’s done! Finishing was a rush (and also about damn time). I thought weaving in ends was going to be a pain, but I realized triumphantly ‘this is just sewing!’ and it felt quick to me. This sweater had no seams to sew, so once I was done, I was done – except for the 48 hours of cold wet sweater taking up my table, but you’re s’posed to, so I did.

So, like, do I knit now? Um…this is comfy, this is warm, this took me a year and much woe and it made my brain and my fingers creak and it’s a ridiculous way to form a garment and it takes far too long and I’m free now and oh yes I bought more yarn. So, I guess, sort of.

Look for another in about a year!

Pattern: No Frills Sweater pattern

Pattern cost: $6.61  

Size: M

Supplies: 8 skeins of Cloudborn Highland DK in Ocean, $35.71; needles (US 3 16″ + 40” circular, US 6 16″ + 40” circular), $27.52, WEBS

Total time: 11/12/2020 – 11/27/2021 (no way I recorded hours)

Total cost: $69.84

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

Slash-neck Astoria

For sheer relentlessness, you can’t beat Seamwork. I pretty quickly realized that I couldn’t keep up with the deluge of new patterns, but I still have a few from way back when. Of those, one of the ones I most wanted to sew again was the Astoria sweater.

I was inspired by the relaxed Astoria I saw over on I Think I Can Sew It; my first version of this sweater (never blogged) has a tighter, preppier, sweater-bunny kind of fit. It doesn’t layer over things and it tends to creep up. I didn’t want to recreate that look, so I sewed a size L, slightly up from my measurements. And as you can see I altered the neckline to be a slash neck!

I don’t have any patterns with that particular feature, but I thought I could figure it out, and it seems to have worked. This polyester sweater knit was perfect for proof of concept (that’s my diplomatic way of saying “cheap”). I had to buy the end of bolt so I have a strange amount left over, but it was still a bargain.

Steps are below – next time I would use a more generous belly-up curve for the line that bridges the neckline, instead of cutting it almost level, but this worked well enough for a trial run! The most important thing to remember is that you need to finish the edges of your neckline fabric separately, if you decide they need finishing, and not together.

And here’s how it went!

The front is okay, but my stitching is decidedly wobbly on the back neck! It’s a) basically impossible to photograph and b) not a fabric that was particularly happy to be stitch picked, so I’m living with it. I’m mostly jazzed with the fit I got by sizing up, but next time I’d remove a wedge from the center back neck, as it’s not only wobbly, it’s gaping. I suppose it’s due to a nascent dowager’s hump (now if only I had a nascent dower house).  

I felt best using a zig-zag stitch for my topstitching, but of course a double needle is always an option, and you could possibly get away with a straight stitch if you have a wide enough neckline (or a small enough walnut).

The size L sleeves were a little long; I could have trimmed them but in the end I just folded the wide sleeve hems over twice, because I thought sleeves that were slightly too short would be better than sleeves that were slightly too long, especially in cream fabric. It turns out I shove them up to my elbows either way, but they are neater looking inside as a result!

I finished my neckline edges with a serger and sewed my sleeves in flat. I avoid serging in the round whenever possible, so instead of constructing the shirt and the shirt band as two units and joining at the waist, I sewed each unfolded band to each shirt piece, then sewed the side seams from sleeve end to the far edge of the band, making sure the shirt/band seams were pressed down. After folding the band in half I topstitched from the right side to trap the second, inner edge of the band, which I left raw. I could have sewn them as two units, joined them, and then left all the seam allowances raw since I’m so leary of serging in a circle, but that literally just occurred to me now. Oops!  

There’s excess fabric in the armpits but that’s the style now, grandpa! Or actually, that’s not something I feel is a problem comfort-wise, nor a fit issue I notice on other people, and it doesn’t bother me here. Loose-ish = extra-ish fabric, that’s just the deal.   

I had to reprint my Astoria pattern (I lost my last copy), and the Illustrator file wasn’t locked, which I love. Not only was I able to select just the lines for my preferred size, I could also arrange the pattern pieces in a new document to print as efficiently as possible, and I fit the whole shebang onto 12 8.5”x11” sheets of paper. I don’t expect pattern companies to supply individual ultra-efficient print layouts for each size, but I’m really happy when the files are editable and I can do it myself.

I like this sweater more than I expected to. I’m not troubled by high necks, so I just feel very cozy! Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the fabric will age ungracefully. If I make another, with higher-quality fabric, I might do away with the separate band altogether and just integrate it into the shirt front/back. It’s not impossible to tuck it in as-is – my high-waisted bottoms are generally high enough to cover that seam – but it could be better.

I’ll probably stick this in a drawer for the next few months – we went for a weekend away in the Berkshires, where we took these pictures, and it was 45 and raining the whole time (it was amazing, actually, I read a book and ate scones and watched Midsomer Murders), but one week later it’s about to be 90 forever. Blergh. Holler at me if you find more pattern gold in that swift-flowing Seamwork river!

Pattern: Seamwork Astoria sweater

Pattern cost: NA

Size: L

Supplies: 1.75 yards of polyester sweater knit in Cream, Sewfisticated, $8.73; thread from stash

Total time: 2.5 hours

Total cost: $8.73

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

Stripes

I’m back with two more knit tops. Can you tell I recently placed a Girl Charlee order? This is my second half, but unlike the two mitigated successes of my last post, these two makes are mitigated flops. The first because I forgot to reckon vertical stretch. And the second because I forgot again!

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I first sewed another Jarrah sweatshirt. It’s mostly fine, ‘flop’ is a strong word. I’ve made a Jarrah before and it’s a great project for beginners – relaxed fit, mostly straight lines, and no hemming if you choose the view with a banded finish, which I did. My first Jarrah was also striped, and I wished I had switched stretch direction more, so my bands here are all cut parallel to the selvage.   

I like to sew one shoulder seam and stretch the neckband to fit as I sew, then trim any extra. This time I had no extra. I was short! Vertical streeetch! *shaking fist at the sky* I could have unpicked, but I simply didn’t wanna. I pieced on a few extra inches, while most of the neckband was already attached to the shirt body, to cover the gap (it’s in front, of course).   

Which, oops, I did upside down!

The lack of vertical stretch kind of bit me on the sleeve cuffs, too. My sewing was a little crooked because I had to really pull to match the length of the cuff and sleeve end, so I serged off a little extra and then a leetle more, until the cuffs were pretty narrow, but hey, mostly straight! The shirt is a smidge pucker-y where it meets the waistband, too, but not fatally.

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Overall my simple sew took more time and effort than I anticipated. It’s not obvious in the finished shirt, but I’ll still be taking a minute off from the Jarrah. Two is enough for now!

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I mean, it’s not a smash hit, but I’ll wear it.

Plus, I had plenty of leftover fabric for a Nettie bodysuit. Plenty of fabric – but no forethought! This French terry had less horizontal stretch than my usual Robert Kaufman jersey and no vertical stretch at all. Did this factor into my planning or sewing? Did I learn a lesson from sewing the sweatshirt? It did not, and I did not. This isn’t the pattern’s fault – it calls for four-way stretch and has one of those “must stretch to here” guides that I cheerfully ignored. Girl!   

Even while cutting this Nettie I thought “These pieces look tiny!”, but I blamed that on negative ease. Also, I have several Netties that I wear regularly and they’re comfortable, and if anything a little long in the body. And I was enjoying the process of sewing it; after my unexpected problems with the Jarrah, I felt like I was really in the zone, everything was going smoothly, and my brain felt really calm. And the finished Nettie (I toot my own horn) is well-made! It looks nice!

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And it feels…WELL. Wearing this is like trying to make a queen bed with a twin fitted sheet. It’s 5 pounds of sugar in a 2 pound bag. It’s shapewear for a not-me shape. It’s NOT GONNA HAPPEN.

I can wiggle into it, actually. “It’s got a firm hold,” I thought. “But cute! Firm but cute.” And then, oh, the snapping. Again: I can get the front and back crotch straps to meet and snap, much in the same way Hannibal crossed the Alps – with effort – but unlike Hannibal, instead of waging war directly on the Roman Republic, I just feel nervous about sitting down.

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I considered my options. A) cut off the crotch straps, and hem this like a tee-shirt. Pro: easy; con: it’s tight enough that I thought, as a shirt, it might just crawl up my torso and start a new life as an infinity scarf. B) add some sort of crotch extenders that snap to both sides, like on a postpartum girdle. Pro: adds length; con: so many snaps in my back forty, practically a whole percussion section. C) wear it as-is with the crotch straps all loose and willy-nilly inside my jeans. Pro: don’t have to do anything; con: willy-nilly crotch straps.

I decided to wear this on a weekend day before making any tough calls. And I discovered that all roads lead to C), because the bodysuit unsnaps itself if I have the temerity to bend more than 15°. But it’s also irrelevant, because after running a brief errand while vacuum sealed into a striped leotard I could not peel it off fast enough! I have no intention of ever losing weight. It was my birthday a few days ago and for breakfast I had an éclair the size of a tube sock. This Nettie is a giveaway.

This flop counts as mitigated because I’m pleased with my handiwork. I wish a smaller-bodied person much joy of it! And now this post is over because I want to go home and put on something that fits. And write “check the stretch” fifty times on the blackboard.

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OOF!

Pattern: MN Jarrah

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 10

Supplies: 1 yard Yellow Coral Stripes on Dusty Aqua French Terry Blend Knit Fabric, $8.64, Girl Charlee; thread from stash

Total time: 2.25 hours

Total cost: $8.64

Pattern: Closet Case Nettie

Pattern cost: N/A

Size: 10 at bust, graded to 12 at hip; shortened about 1.5” at waist

Supplies: 1 yard Yellow Coral Stripes on Dusty Aqua French Terry Blend Knit Fabric, $8.64, Girl Charlee; thread, snaps from stash

Total time: 2.5 hours

Total cost: $8.64