Monday, October 6, 2014

Holiday Vogue Collection 2014

Vogue 1426

OK, it is just me?

I have been studying the new Vogue patterns, which came out today, and I am filled with the desire to beat myself into a stupor with bunches of invisible zippers, tied together with horsehair braid.

Vogue 1423

Yes, there are some lovely dresses, with beautiful silhouettes, unusual cut outs, and interesting inner seam lines.

Vogue 1424


I work in a company filled with women in their 20s and 30s. And, yes, some of them wear dresses. But MANY of them wear separates to work! Many many many.


In fact, MOST.

You know I love you, Vogue, but OY. I would love to see a little more balance in the offerings. I mean, even the vintage ladies and girls got dresses (which makes a certain amount of sense, especially for a holiday release).

Vogue 9072

But you missed an opportunity with the men. They got a combined vest/cumberbund/tie pattern. If you had offered a view with an attached kilt, sort of a kilt onesie, if you will, you would have accomplished an all-dresses-for-all-categories release!

Vogue 9073

(And, yes, some of these dresses would look great on my daughters, but I don't sew for my daughters, for the most part. Down that path lies misery and suffering.)

In summary: WHERE ARE THE PANTS?!??! I mean interesting pants. Pants with details. Pants with character.


OK, now that I've gotten that out of the way, let's talk.

But not about dresses.

So, this should be pretty short.

Let's start with my absolute favorite pattern of the release. And it's a bag.

Vogue 9074

I don't make many bags, but this one is gorgeous. Both of these bags are staring at me imploringly, with their little zipper mouths. Yes! Yes, I will buy you, little zipper mouth bag pattern! I will!

Marcy has three new patterns in this release, making up for the fact that she had only one last time. But not one of them is pants! [insert unhappy sniveling noises]

I love Marcy's new raincoat pattern. This photo looks a bit weird, but the line drawing drips with promise. (Though I hope that the collar won't actually funnel the rain in.)

Vogue 9070

This may be my favorite new pattern of Marcy's. A skirt! (I rarely wear a dress, but I love me a skirt!)

Vogue Vogue 9060

Marcy's final offering looks like a nice top with several views.

Vogue 9057

Sandra Betzina has two new patterns this release, also featuring zero pants. The first one (either a dress or a top) has an unusual neckline, which is a bit hard to see in this busy print, though I like the creative use of a border print. I like the line drawing very much. It's a dress I might actually make.

[ducking to avoid hurling projectiles]

Vogue 1429

Sandra's other offering is a loose, drapey top and a skirt.

Vogue 1430

On the right person, this top is chic and dramatic. On someone like me, with a "full front" with my large bust, it can be a bit much.

So, what other patterns jump out at me from this batch? Not a whole lot. Some of the remaining separates look similar to past releases. But there are a couple that I will probably pick up on sale.

Vogue 9063

I like this top, which has an Issey Miyake-like hem. It would look best in a very drapey fabric, like rayon batik. But I would wear it as styled here, with skinny pants, and not as shown in the second view, with the skirt. This could skew frumpy very fast.

I like view A of this pattern, though I'd add sleeves. (I do not care for views B or C at all, which look like maternity smocks.)

Vogue 9054

But, I am sorry to say, that this top looks all kind of wrong to me.

Vogue 9064

I don't know, maybe someone out there can make a version that proves me wrong, but it seems, to me, like it draws attention to the most problematic part of the body and creates some weird proportions.

So, that's it for me! What do you think? What did I miss?

Wool Coat with Knitted Sleeves and Collar


I've completed my second project for Britex, which you can see on the Britex blog.

Fall has arrived!

I used two yards of a striking navy and turquoise coating (90% wool and 10% poly) from Britex to make myself a winter coat. This coating has the look of a handwoven fabric and I love the mix of navy and turquoise. It is lined with teal Bemberg lining.

As the basis for the coat, I used a recently released pattern, Butterick 6107, View C. My little twist is that I knitted the collar and sleeves using a super chunky yarn, Mirasol Ushya in 1709 (navy). I selected a chunky yarn because it knits up quickly, but also chunky knits are very on trend for this fall and winter. I used just under four skeins. (If my arms weren't so short, I would have needed five skeins.)

Alterations and Modifications

I used a size Large (16-18). The pattern says it is "very loose fitting", and it is. Despite the fact that this is a fairly simple pattern, I made many changes, some for fit and some for style.

  • As I mentioned, the pattern is very loose fitting. I didn't need any additional width for my bust (very unusual), so I did a vertical-only FBA. In the end, I didn't need to sew in the dart, as the fabric is loosely woven enough that I was able to ease the dart into the side seam. I also did some easing to bring in the armscye at the bust. This is a subtle detail that improves the fit.
  • The armhole on this pattern is very large and low and the shoulder is extended. I dislike an extended shoulder, so I narrowed the shoulder by almost 2". As a result, I also raised the sleeve cap on the sleeve. I did not otherwise modify the large armhole, so pay attention if you don't like a large armhole.
  • I wanted a wider front facing, so I redrafted it.
  • The coat pattern is unlined, but I wanted to line it, so I drafted a front and back lining. I did not line the knitted sleeves.
  • Omitted fullness at the hip.
  • Omitted the collar pattern and replaced it with a single-thickness knitted collar.
  • Shortened the sleeve by 1", which is pretty typical. I could have shortened it another 1/2" - 1". I raised the sleeve cap, which was rather flat shaped, suitable for an extended sleeve. Finally, instead of a fabric sleeve, I knitted the sleeves.
  • Omitted the side seam pockets, which add a lot of bulk. I originally wanted welt pockets, but the fabric is a bit loosely woven for that, so I sewed on one very large, lined, patch pocket.
    The back of the lined pocket
  • The coat closes with a single button. Instead, I used a beautiful toggle I purchased at Britex (not available online), and two large snaps. I sewed these on with silk buttonhole twist from Japan.
    The toggle. I punched holes for sewing it on with Japanese silk buttonhole twist
  • The fabric is striped, so I cut it out single thickness, matching the stripes.
  • The fabric has a gorgeous selvedge. I wanted to feature it, so I laid out the fronts and the front facings to place the selvedge at the edge. I wanted to also put the selvedge along the armscye, but I used it up entirely on the fronts and front facings. (The selvedge along the front edges are double thickness; I slightly favored the facings so that the selvedge extends beyond the front by about 1/8". I did this to give more gravitas to the selvedge along the front edge.)

Knitting the Collar and Sleeves

For this project, I bought a super chunky yarn, Mirasol Ushya, in navy (color 1709). Using size 13 needles, I spent several evenings knitting up a multitude of samples. I wanted a stitch with some texture, but not too much texture. I wanted to use a 2x2 rib on the collar. Eventually, after many samples, I decided that also I wanted 2x2 rib at the wrist, but I didn't want the sleeve to be snug at the wrist, which looks dated to me. (So I didn't use fewer stitches at the cuff, or smaller needles and, in fact, I used a looser tension in the cuff than in the rest of the sleeve.)

At first I thought I wanted a moss or seed stitch, but these samples had too much texture. Stockinette was too bland. I also experimented with twisted rib, and garter stitch. I finally settled on a reverse stockinette stitch. (Reverse stockinette is just the other side of stockinette.)

For each stitch I sampled, I took careful notes of the gauge of that particular stitch. Having an accurate gauge is crucial when you graph out the pattern.

Knitting the collar and sleeves was not hard. The collar is just a rectangle. The sleeves are a bit trickier, but if you have an accurate gauge, they are not that difficult. You just need to do a bit of figuring. :)

Preparing for the collar: I cleanly finished the coat at the neckline, so that all raw edges were hidden inside, as if it were a collarless coat. The finished neckline, from edge to edge, was 25". (The coat overlaps at front and the collar extends all the way to each corner.)

Knitting the collar: A 2x2 rib has a 4-stitch repeat: Knit 2, Purl 2. I determined that I needed to cast on 68 stitches so that the resulting collar would fit the neckline. I knit in 2x2 rib for approximately 4-1/2", using my normal tension, which is a bit loose. I cast off and blocked the collar.

Attaching the collar to the coat:: I underlapped the knitted collar by about 1/2" to the inside of the neckline, and hand stitched it in place, sewing it twice - once from the front and once from the back. I used a whipstitch which is pretty invisible in the textured knit.

Blocking the collar

Preparing for the sleeves: I completed the entire coat and lining, cleanly finishing the armholes as if I were making a vest. I then tissue fit the sleeve pattern and determined what alterations I needed: I raised the sleeve cap by about 1-1/2" and shortened the sleeve by about 1-1/4". I then removed the seam allowances and hem from the pattern. Armed with my giant plastic ruler and my gauge information, I graphed the sleeve pattern. I wanted the sleeves to be knit more firmly than the collar, so I knitted them with a very tight tension. The final gauge was 4 stitches to the inch, and 4 rows to the inch. This even, easily divisible, number made it easy to graph out the pattern.

Knitting the sleeves: There is a left and a right sleeve, since the sleeve cap is shaped with different front and back curves, and I mimicked that when creating the knitted sleeve pattern. I cast on 40 stitches for the sleeve and knit in a 2x2 rib for 4". I then switched to reverse stockinette and finished the sleeve according to the pattern I graphed out, increasing to 50 stitches before decreasing to shape the sleeve cap. When adding stitches (increasing), I used the nearly invisible increase, which is a great technique.

Blocking the sleeve

Sewing the sleeves: The underarm seam is sewn using a mattress stitch. (This took me a few tries, as my first efforts were not good. My friend Heather made a helpful suggestion, and I watched a video on the subject again. The third try, while not perfect, was much better. Thanks, Heather!)

I then sewed the sleeves to the coat in the same manner as the collar, by underlapping them in the coat, and sewing (by hand) twice: one from the outside and once from the inside.

Closeup of sleeve and collar

And, if you don't want to knit it yourself, all is not lost! Did you know that you can BUY knit yardage?! Check out O! Jolly!, based in NYC.


I love this coat! The beauty of a style like this is that there are several ways to wear it. You can wear it with the coat fully closed. The collar is held in place with a large snap and it forms an asymmetric neckline that is quite snuggly.

You can unsnap the top snap, and create faux lapels.

Or you can wear it completely open. Thanks to the Bemberg lining, it easily slips on and off.

WHO broke the antenna off the Android!?!

WHO would do such a thing!!!

I had sooo much fun with this project! I'd been wanting to combine knitting and sewing in a project for at least two years, and this was a perfect use for it. The resulting coat is quite warm, comfy, and easily glides on and off, thanks to the Bermberg lining. I expect to get a lot of wear out of this as the weather cools. I have very little left of the yardage, but I have some fun plans for the scraps!

Thanks to Britex for providing the fabric!
Thanks to my colleague, Mary Campione, for taking these pics!

Location, Location, Location!

Maybe you are asking, "What is the deal with the seemingly random statues of desserts?!"

Good question!

This area, part of the Google Mountain View campus, is known as the Android Sculpture Garden. In a nutshell, each Android release is named after a treat, in alphabetical order. The current Android preview release is the "L release". The "L" treat has not yet been named, or unveiled. I have no inside knowledge, but I think Lollipop would be nice. Or Licorice. Or Dumbledore's favorite muggle candy, Lemon Drops. (There are no "A" or "B" statues, as those releases were called Alpha and Beta, respectively. The treat tradition started with C.

Mr Android welcomes you to his garden

The sculpture garden currently contains the following statues, in alphabetical order:




Froyo (Frozen yogurt)

Gingerbread (my favorite)


Ice cream sandwich

Jelly bean