A Simple Dress

For a long time, I’ve wanted to dive deep into pattern making. I’ve been dabbling for quite a while, but now I’m hoping to begin making greater progress. Earlier this year, I drafted a new set of slopers after having outgrown my old ones. I used the European method as taught by Elizabeth Allemong in her self-published book European Cut. I have had wonderful luck with this method and highly recommend it to others! Now I am beginning to apply basic pattern making techniques to create style patterns. I’ve studied pattern making in school and through independent study, but for this knowledge to become practical, I have to apply it and learn from the experience. I’ve already run into issues that have led to learning through problem-solving! My goal is to really understand the relationship between 2D patterns and 3D fit and balance; it’s like studying applied geometry. This dress is my first garment made using my new slopers, and the style is very simple. The bodice is essentially my sloper with 2″ of ease in the bust and waist. The gathered skirt has a 2.75:1 ratio at the gathered seam. Making this simple silhouette gives me a reference for how this amount of ease looks and feels through the torso, and the skirt gives me a visual reference for this amount of gathering.

The fabric is a lightweight poly-cotton broadcloth I bought about 6 years ago. (Another goal of mine is to stash bust old fabrics!) I fully lined the bodice and used an invisible zipper at the center back. The bodice has front and back waist darts, bust darts, and shoulder darts. I’ve found that the ease in the waist is very comfortable when standing and walking, but when sitting, it feels tighter. I’m going to continue to observe the fit to verify the comfort and consider improvements.

Pre-Production

ABQ Sewing Factory

Earlier this month, I attended a four-day pre-production program in Albuquerque, New Mexico, hosted by Kathleen at ABQ Fashion Incubator. Approximately 10 volunteers came to this planning and training event where we learned about what is involved in preparing for apparel production. Pre-preproduction was phase 1, and the next trip will be phase 2: production! The goal of this volunteer program is to produce children’s coats for charity.

Below I’ve listed some of the topics we learned about during the pre-production phase. I won’t go into too much detail about all I learned, but if you’re interested, I encourage you to take a look at the wealth of information on Kathleen’s blog, especially the articles under “Resources”.

Pre-Production Overview:

Discussions:
Design Constraints
Sourcing
Design Improvement Ideas
Quality Assurance vs Quality Control
Bundling
Production Capacity
Production Workflow Organization
Work Instructions

Observations:
Marker Making
Spreading Fabric & Marker Layout
Digitizing Using a Digitizing Table

Training:
Sample Cutting with Scissors
Fusing with a Gravity Iron
Operating a Computerized Industrial Lockstitch Machine
Fabric Handling and Sewing Without Pins
Using a Razor Blade to Remove Stitching
Exercise in Industrial Engineering

Not all of the above was new to me, but it was very insightful to receive this training which presented new information and methods I hadn’t seen before. I really enjoyed learning to sew without pins. This is a very practical skill and easy to apply at home!

As part of a team exercise in industrial engineering, I sewed this jacket with a little help. The exercise taught us about the assessment of standard allowable minutes and how to use this information to identify bottlenecks and estimate production capacity while also taking into consideration other constraints.


So far, this opportunity has been very educational and fun. I’m looking forward to phase 2!

I also enjoyed hiking and sight-seeing while in ABQ! I’ll be sharing some photos from the trip on my photography blog soon. :D

Marhaven Shawl

It’s been a while since I posted any new projects! Hopefully, I will start posting more often as I have plans to do some “stash-busting” this summer. I started knitting this shawl last summer and finished it in January. We’re seeing the arrival of spring and pleasant weather in Michigan, so I finally took some photos!

The yarn is sport-weight and 100% Merino Rambouillet wool, made in Michigan. The pattern is Sugar Mountain by Amy Christoffers.

I am quite happy with how the shawl turned out, although it is a bit smaller than I first expected. I followed the instructions for the largest size, and I used the recommended needle size. I assumed that I knit pretty close to average gauge, and seeing as fit isn’t vital to a shawl, I didn’t didn’t bother with knitting a gauge swatch. As it turned out, my gauge was noticeably different from the pattern! The pattern calls for a gauge of 20 stitches and 26 rows in 4″ of garter stitch. My gauge was 22 stitches and 34 rows in 4″. There was a huge difference in the row gauge! This was a lesson learned in taking gauge even for shawls and scarves and in the importance of checking row/vertical gauge! (I am occasionally lazy and sometimes only check the stitch/horizontal gauge.) After blocking, the shawl measures 60” long by 24” deep.

Tweed Cardigan

I’ve finally finished knitting this cardigan I started making an eternity ago! The pattern is Williamette by Amy Christoffers. I very much like the design, especially the slanted pockets. The pattern calls for an i-cord edging instead of a buttonband. I wanted the front panels to overlap a bit when buttoned, in order to help keep out the cold, so I omitted the i-cord and added a 2×2 rib buttonband instead. Adding the band did alter the design of the neckline/collar, and I think it looks nice this way as well! The tweed yarn is a wool blend in worsted weight.

Heidi Pullover

For years I’ve admired the designs of Anna Allen Clothing Company, and now I’m excited to see that Anna is beginning to publish sewing patterns! I sewed up a top using her Heidi Pullover pattern and a navy blue linen from my fabric collection. I’m very happy with the result! The pattern features a v-neck with neckline facing detail, a two-piece back yoke, a gathered back, and vented side seams. The diagrams and photos included in the sewing directions were helpful, although a beginner may find the instructions a little vague. The size I made fits me well with no fit modifications. However, I did modify the length of the neckline slit to be less deep. It took me a couple tries to get the length of the slit where I wanted it. It’s always an experiment getting things just right!

Tiller Hat

I recently designed and knit a hat as a gift for someone special to me. This 1×1 rib stitch was knit using Fisherman’s Rib, which uses a technique of knitting every other stitch through the round below in order to make the ribs more pronounced. The yarn is a superwash Merino wool in DK weight.

I am considering this project a prototype because there are a couple of things I would change. I have a plan for how to better stagger the crown shaping, and I would like to use a different stitch for the decreases. I will probably also use a larger yarn next time, as the DK weight was very slow to knit in Fisherman’s Rib!

Internship Designs

2017 was quite an eventful year for me! Last February I embarked on a 6 month trip to Peru, where I interned for a non-profit organization that works with indigenous artisans to help generate more income from their textile crafts. The artisan women are talented weavers, knitters, and crocheters, and they regularly produce their own designs to sell to the local tourist market. The non-profit organization, by designing a collection of fashion products that appeals to modern tastes and trends, seeks to help the women connect to markets beyond the local tourists. The products that the organization designs are skillfully crafted by the indigenous women and then sold on the non-profit’s online shop as well as at various boutiques throughout the US.


My experience with hand-knitting led to my becoming the knitwear designer while I was there. I was able to complete the designs for 7 accessories. The process included knitting the prototype samples, writing the knitting instructions, and assisting with the translation of the instructions into Spanish. The following photos are of my designs!

A lightweight hat with cables and bobbles.
A densely cabled fingerless mitten with a central motif.
A heavyweight cabled hat to pair with the matching fingerless mittens.
A wide headband with an elastic chevron design.
Fingerless mittens with chevron stitch pattern to complement the matching headband.
A simple stockinette hat made with alpaca yarn, handspun by the artisans. The challenge with this product is knitting the hat to be the correct size. Handspun yarn has a natural irregularity that makes achieving the gauge required by the pattern rather difficult even for the most experienced knitters.
A lightweight flip-top mitten with cables, loop, and button.

I returned to Michigan from Peru in mid-August, and now I’m settled back in and working full-time. My hope for 2018 is to develop a small line of knitwear patterns to publish here and on Ravelry!

New Year, New Blog!

Welcome to my new craft blog! My name is Suzanne, and I’m mainly a knitter and seamstress, although I crochet, tat, and do a few other textile crafts as well. Here I will share about my projects and try to share useful resources as well.

I’ve been crocheting since I was a child, and I learned to knit as a teenager. Around age 18 I learned to sew and tat. I worked as a seamstress in bridal alterations for a few years, which taught me an immense amount about sewing and fitting garments, and it gave me a dose of confidence. I also studied fashion at university, and I am enthusiastic to continue learning about my craft.

I also enjoy photography very much, and I am creating a separate website to feature my photographs. I’ll share the link when it’s ready! // Update: My photography website is here!