Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Shirt & Blouse

Here's the finished shirt for Pearle. He picked out the buttons, and I made the buttonholes last night, pulled all thread ends to the back, tied them and hid the ends, applied Fray-Check, then allowed it to dry overnight, and sewed the buttons on today. I'm quite pleased with this shirt, and I will take it to the fair next week. You can see more photos here, including a close-up of the placket and cuff.

This is my test version of Marfy 1101, one of the free patterns included with the Fall 2006/07 Marfy catalog. I used a fabric I don't particularly care for, but it has no give in any direction, so it's nice to test things. I didn't use any interfacing, but this gives me a good idea of what I'll get with a different version. I think this would be nice in a chiffon actually, or probably any blouse fabric. I will make a couple of changes for the next version, including using smaller buttons. There are very small shoulder pads in this blouse, and I quite like
the fact that some padding in shoulders is making a comeback. I don't think I want to go clear to the huge proportions we left in the '80's, but a little is nice. There's a close-up of the cuff here.

You can see the pattern drawing below, and I did a very silly thing when I was tracing the pattern. It was quite late Sunday night, and for some reason, I traced a size 44 first. Of course, that's not the size I need, but if someone would like my tracing of it, let me know. First come, first served!

Size 44 translates to Bust 92cm/36.25", Waist 72cm/28.3", Hip 96cm/37.8".

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Just Looking for Buttons

Here's the shirt I'm taking to the fair this year. It's all done except the buttonholes and buttons, as I don't have any I like. I'm going to go look for some tomorrow. I'm actually done over a week early! This is practically unprecedented. Please forgive the wrinkly appearance. I thought I wouldn't bother to give it a final press until after I've taken it to the fabric store to look for buttons, and sewn them on, etc. It's such a fine, silky cotton that it seems to gather wrinkles as it sits there.

I tried something new on this shirt. I did a chevroned yoke, thanks Ann Rowley! I think it turned out beautifully, and it's a really nice design detail, and perfect with the tiny stripe in this fabric. I was quite sure that the stripe was white, but apparently it's gray, as I tried white threads and they were just overpowering, so finally went to a light-medium gray, which seems to match the stripe perfectly, and actually reads as white. I'm thinking dark blue buttons might be nice. Here's the collar and the yoke.

If you want to see the entire shirt, you'll have to look here, as the stripes don't read well in a small photo.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Shoe Covering

I'd been thinking about doing some shoes again, and when the shoe issue came up with the Matka jacket, organza blouse and print skirt, I decided now was the time.

I went through all the satin dyeable shoes I had on hand, which are what I have used for covering in the past. I used to buy the mis-dyed ones on the semi-annual sale at a local shoe store, and so I have several pairs in reserve. They're pretty classic pumps, and although I could wish for a higher heel, these are actually really comfortable.

I've been asked for photos of the process in the past, and I had planned to take photos the next time I did a pair. I decided that this subject needed a lot of photos to illustrate it, and I have posted a series in a gallery called Shoe Covering on my photo site at Pbase. There are instructional captions as well. If anything is unclear, just ask. It's not particularly hard, you just have to be meticulous, and careful.

These are covered in the same Seafoam Silk Matka I used for the Marfy jacket, and the heels are covered with a crocodile print faux leather. I have not done heels this way before, although I have covered them with cloth, or even left them the original dyed color of the shoe. I also bleached and redyed one pair before covering the heels only. It just becomes very fun to dream up color and decoration schemes, and I really wonder why it's been at least 10 years since I did a pair.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tropical Colors

I just had to share the very tropical (and a little wild, for me anyway) outfit I came up with just so that I could wear the darling polka dot shoes. I thought they were great with the pants, but didn't have anything else that was quite right, or at least right and also appropriate for a casual summer dinner. I realized that this camp shirt that I made almost exactly a year ago is the perfect color. I think the ensemble is great for a day that's in the 90's with high (99%) humidity. We finally got rain yesterday, so we're not complaining about the humidity. It's just fine!

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Well, I finished the Elsebeth Lavold tank "Audrey" on Thursday, and I'm just not really happy with it. It's just plain too long. I've tried it belted, unbelted, any way I could think of, and there's just nothing for it except to shorten it. I think I can take out length in the middle and re-attach the two halves after I'm done. I really do not want to practically knit the whole thing over again. I've never had quite this big an error before, but these things happen, I guess.

It doesn't look terribly long in this photo, but the angle it's taken from makes it look a little foreshortened.

I also finally got to the point in the Schachenmayr cardigan where you divide for the arm shaping, etc. and realized that the pattern has a mistake. It's written in metric of course, as it's a German pattern, and they put the wrong figure in the pattern for the length when you divide. It says 18 1/2" and it should be 13 1/2", so that entailed ripping back to the correct length too, although not nearly as big a deal as the Lavold would be.

I did get some good work done on the Katia shell I'm making. I finished the back last night, and have begun on the front. It's such interesting yarn that it's fun to work on, even with a not very interesting to knit pattern.

Anyway, I feel like I'm taking one step forward and two steps backward today. Maybe the weirdness will stop soon. I hope so.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Star Calculations

Several people expressed interest in the star calculation method at PatternReview. I will give you what I think is an easier-to-understand explanation.

There are 3 components of your "score".

  1. Number of Reviews written. (This includes tips, and reviews in all categories; patterns, books, websites, stores, etc.) The breakpoints are 1, 26, 51, 76, 101, 126, 151, 175.
  2. Number of people who "favor" you. The breakpoints here are 1, 11, 21, 31, etc. up to 90.
  3. 25% of the average rating on all your reviews. This is the tricky one.

    As you know, you can rate other people's reviews. Here are the 4 ratings, and the points each represents.
  • Very Helpful +2
  • Helpful +1
  • Needs More Info +0
  • Off-Topic -1

You must make a chart or something (Excel is handy) with all your reviews and go through and write down how many helpfuls, very helpfuls, etc. you have on each review. Then add the number of points for each review individually, divide by the number of ratings on that particular review and that's the average for that review. Add up all the averages, divide by the total number of reviews, and then take 25% of that number, and that's the third part of the score.


  • 3Very Helpful, 2 Helpful on a review would give you a total of 8, divided by 5 raters = 1.6.
  • If you had another review with 15 Very Helpfuls and 1 Helpful, 31 divided by 16 = 1.9375.
  • One more with 2 Very Helpfuls only would be 4 divided by 2 = 2
  • Total averages: 5.5375 divided by 3 reviews = 1.84583
  • Multiply by .25 = 0.4614

You can see from this method that 2 is the highest average you can get on any particular review, and if anyone even gives you one Helpful rather than a Very Helpful, that drags you down quite a lot. I was really surprised to find out that Helpful is bad, apparently.

When you add the three parts of your score, you must then divide by 3, and that is your Star Rating Number. They're all recalculated every Monday morning, although I think that once you have a star, you keep it, no matter how many people unwittingly may deem you Helpful!

So, taking this example, your components would be:

  • 0.25 for a total of 3 reviews
  • 0.2 for 6 people who favor you
  • 0.4614 for ratings on your reviews
  • Divide by 3
  • Total is 0.3038 for 1 Star.

You must have at least 0.3 to get 1 Star, 0.6 for 2 Stars, 0.8 for 3 stars, 1.1 for 4 stars, and over 1.5 for 5 stars. The easiest thing to raise is number of reviews, as you control that. Next easiest is number of persons who favor you, and hardest is your review rating, as you're likely to get Helpfuls as well as Very Helpfuls on your reviews, and you may have reviews with no ratings at all, which of course will draw your average down as well. No matter how many Very Helpfuls you have though, 0.5 is the most that you can get in the rating category.

All this militates toward members writing many reviews, which of course is the main purpose of the site, so this formula gives the edge to quantity.

Thanks to Irina for her Very Helpful help!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Lime Pants & Apple Top

Apparently, it's Fruit Day, and here we thought it was Independence Day.

As you can see, I finally got photos taken of the lime pants and apple print georgette top. The pants are nicely cool and a little loose, which is okay for summer, but actually, after wearing them this afternoon and evening, I think they're "growing" as I wear them. This seems to happen to some fabrics, especially rayons, and I can't decide exactly what to do. I'm thinking of washing them to make sure they won't actually shrink up again, and then recutting, etc. I hate to redo them immediately, but that may be what it takes. Now that I think about it, the fabric shrank up some and definitely got beefier after prewashing, and I probably should have ironed it back to its pre-laundering dimensions before cutting, but I rather liked the slightly crinkly look, and I didn't want to have to iron the pants back to size every time I washed them, and in all my previous experience, once they shrink, they stay shrunk. Maybe another washing is just the ticket to analyze what's really happening, and what needs to be done.

On to the top, which I quite like. It's Vogue 2683. I am glad I did a bias top, as I realized that rows of apples striding across my front was not going to be too charming, and I like the print on the bias much better than on the straight. But it was time-consuming and fiddly to sew, as each thing had to be done, then tried on again, adjusted, etc. I have made this pattern before too, and it went rather well, so I didn't anticipate this degree of fiddling around. That was a completely different fabric, however, and as we all know, the fabric is really almost the whole story. Ah well, it's done now, and I like wearing it. I think the lime silk duppioni binding works very well, although I must say I prefer facings in general. The top appears to be done changing shape and size, too. I hope. There are a few more photos here.

It's a fun, summer outfit, and I'd like to make a couple more tops that will go with the pants as well as some other things, but probably not bias for awhile anyway. The color of these pants is great with the floral Burda jacket I made, although it absolutely screams Spring so I am hoping that by next spring this color won't be hopelessy "last year". Of course, around here, last year is often somewhat avant garde, although more in styles than colors. Anyway, a neutral Little Blouse would be just the thing to finish the outfit, I think, and would be handy to have in general, as well, so I may go ahead and make that. I'm thinking small pleats or pintucks in the front, but I'm not sure yet. I often like the plainest things the best, so I should think it over.

Bias Apple Print Top is Done

It seems like the last couple days have just been overrun with "things having nothing to do with sewing or knitting." Just what I didn't want. So, I've been working when I could on the bias top to go with the lime pants I finished. It turned out to be kind of tricky. It's a rayon georgette, and very "schlimpsy" as we used to say, meaning it goes in every direction and has no body. Most of my problems were "own fault". I should have looked in my favorite sewing book "Sew the French Way" to see what she had to say about bias, because I think her method would have been great. She recommends cutting the pieces with 2"-3" seam allowances, and then either tacking them to a vertical surface with pins at the top of the piece and letting them hang out for 3-4 days, or steaming and ironing in the lengthwise direction of the pieces. Either way, the next thing you do is recut the pieces. It would have been a good idea to do this, as the fabric just seemed to keep stretching. The staystitching at the seams was semi-helpful, but of course the rest of the piece was still lengthening. It took quite a bit of fiddling to get the side-front seams fairly smooth. Hand basting was definitely my friend! Even the hem was tricky, as I decided a plain turned up hem was what I would do. I basted it about 1/2" above the fold, and cut it down to a 1 1/4" hem. I just used a supported catchstitch, taking one thread of the face fabric, but the weave was so open that I had to really watch that it didn't just pull a hole in it. It's finally all done, and looks pretty spiffy, I think.

The pattern calls for bias binding on the neckline and armholes, and I decided to be tricky and use a contrast fabric. I have some lime duppioni from a FabricMart silk bundle, which I washed a couple times so that it became somewhat matte, and that's what I used. It's pretty striking, but I think it turned out well. I have enough of the duppioni to make a skirt or something too. I'm thinking skirt, as I really don't need a bright lime jacket. Maybe a wrap would be nice, and different too. Well, it's not next on the list, so I have time to think.

It's much too late to take photos tonight, so I hope tomorrow will be a good picture day.

It's A Three Star Day!

Yes, I did get my third star on PatternReview today, thanks to all of you who helped. If anyone wants a simpler explanation of the "star-figuring" method they use, let me know. For now, I'll just say that the strangest thing about it is that giving someone anything other than a Very Helpful rating on a review will actually hurt them. I never dreamed that rating someone Helpful was not a nice thing to do. Oh well, live and learn. Now that I have 3 stars, what will I do with them? I have no idea, but it's nice, just the same. Again, thank you all, I couldn't have done it without you, and I really didn't mean to whine and beg (well, not much anyhow!)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pants, But No Top Yet

I finished the pants I've been working on, and I like them a lot. They're a chartreusey color, more like Green Chartreuse than Yellow, and are a semi-crinkly rayon. I added 2 1/2" to the length, and they're quite long enough to wear with heels. I had planned a drawstring waist, as they're very springy/summery in color, but I decided that a Hollywood Waist, aka The Comfy Waistband, was going to be nicer. I am now working on a top from the Apple Print Georgette that I bought as a coordinate. I thought I was all decided on a Little Blouse, but I've thought of using the print on the bias since I got it, and I finally decided that the print really would be much nicer on the bias, and so I began on Vogue 2683 tonight. I shortened it about 4" from the original, which I think is a better length both for me, and to wear with the pants. Now I'm wondering if I can use facings instead of bias binding on a bias top. Otherwise, I may bind with a contrasting fabric. I'm not sure the rayon would be very good as binding, as it's kind of beefy, and the georgette is very thin. I have a couple things that might work well, including some lime duppioni. Anyway, when I get the top done, I'll post a photo of it and the pants. I found that the pants are very cute with the Floral Marfy Jacket too, but extremely springy looking, so I think it's almost too late in the year to wear them together. I hope this color of green isn't going to be a short-lived trend, as I really like it, and I'm hoping to wear it for another year at least.