Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pocket Stays

The summer edition of Interweave Knits has two sewing patterns in it, so I feel a little better about having "knitter" in my name, but some sewing on my blog.

Warning: The rest of this post may make you want to sew your jeans. And your shorts.

Yes, I'm so excited about the pants I made, that I'm showing you my tummy. Check Instagram for the rear view.

There is a key phrase missing from a lot of sewing patterns, even when the pattern has the feature: "pocket stay." I'm thinking that designers don't talk about it because they figure most people don't know what it is or how awesome a feature it is.

At a minimum, pockets really should come up to the waist. In Making Trousers for Men & Women, David Page Coffin writes, "I recommend extending your pocket bags to reach whatever waist finish you’ve chosen. This way, you can support the bag from the waist rather than only from the pocket mouth."

When I say, "pocket stay" in jeans, I mean a front pocket that comes all of the way from the zipper to the outside leg seam. It's also caught in the waistband (but, I think, all jeans-style pockets would be, anyway). In a way, the pocket becomes a kind of mini-lining that does two things. 1) Your pockets can't flip out. I don't know if I'm the only person annoyed by having to tuck my pockets back in when they come out, but it really bothers me. 2) Any tension on the front of your pants has a little extra support, which keeps the front of your jeans from stretching out as your day goes on.

For some people, this feature could act as a "tummy control" panel, but I don't think of it that way. I definitely notice, now, when I wear jeans that don't have a pocket stay, that the front tends to stretch out. But really, the not-untucked pockets is my favorite part of having a pocket stay.

Up until about a year ago, I wouldn't have known that this feature even existed in jeans. But I happened to try on a pair of Not Your Daughter's Jeans at Macy's. Even on sale, they were the most expensive pair of jeans I'd ever worn, but they felt awesome and looked great, so I bought them.

I felt much better about my splurge when I found an almost identical pair at Goodwill a few weeks later and only paid $5 for them. When I average the two, it bring the cost below my usual $40/pair budget. Coincidentally, that's what my jeans fabric cost when I bought it, too.

Killer feature in both of these jeans? Pocket stays.

Now I look out for them, or ask the designer about them, before I buy any pattern for a pair of pants.

So far, I've made J. Stern Designs' The Ponte Knit Jeans (My first sewn zipper fly! My first pants!) in ponte knit and, after Jennifer chatted with me on Instagram, in stretch denim. I  bought her misses' Jeans that have the same feature, with a different fit, but I haven't tried them, yet. My first two pairs fit so well that I might not branch out, though.

I own Stretch and Sew 716 - which has pocket stays, but doesn't call them that. Instead, it says, "The front pockets extend into the zipper stitching, creating a smooth, stabilized front." I haven't made any, yet, but I'm super-curious about how they will fit. Those chicks from 1980 look pretty pleased with themselves.

You can draft your own pocket stays to go with any pattern, of course. There is more than one tutorial for that out there, including this one.

Go forth and stay those pockets! Ask your friendly independent designer if their pants/shorts include that feature. Then buy them.

I find it amusing that my paypal account has basically become a way for me to turn my Ravelry and Craftsy pattern sales into sewing patterns.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sip Study Knit Knitting Guild - June 18

See, I still knit. Although this isn't for class. Oops.

It's been quiet on the blog (and podcast), I know! There are two main reasons:

1) Sewing.
Yes, I know. I'm starting to calm down a little bit, but whenever I have a stretch of free time, I pounce on my sewing machine. Knitting will always be my first, and truest, love, but I'm really enjoying learning something from scratch.

2) Teaching.
I was chatting with a friend a few months ago and this phrase came out of my mouth:

"I love teaching. I really love it. More than almost anything."

You know how, sometimes, you realize, after you said something, that it's really, really true?

So, I've been building more teaching into my life. I know the podcast and, really, this blog, feed that need, too. But, there's no substitute for hands-on teaching.

I'm putting the finishing touches on two classes that I will present in the Chicago Area in a little over a month. Swatching and writing worksheets takes a lot of time! Here are the details, ripped off of the flyer the guild made:


Coming To The Sip Study Knit Knitting Guild In Hoffman Estates, IL
Come join us Saturday June 18, 2016
Two 2 - three-hour workshops

9am - 12pm - Socks for SSK
Lara will inspire us into the world of knitting the most unique, wonderful, and awesome socks of your life. Lara will start our customized class with an overview of why certain heels and toes fit different feet. Then, we can go through each step of making a toe-up gusseted heel as time permits.  Bring your favorite needles for working in the round and yarn to match.$50 members / $75 non-members

1pm - 4pm - Color Work for the Cowardly
Do you want to add more color to your knitting, but are sick of seams and tired of puckers? Join Lara for an afternoon of tips, techniques and a few tricks up her sleeve to make you fall in love with multiple-strand knitting and even intarsia (really!) Bring an open mind, small amounts of worsted-weight yarn in at least two colors and your favorite needles for working in the round. $50 members / $75 non members

Contact Emma at SipStudyKnit (at)    -    Or check out our Ravelry Group Sip Study Knit

Sip Study Knit is a Knitting Guild located in the Chicago Suburbs Focusing on providing an educational experience for the intermediate to advanced knitter.


I'm pretty sure there are still open spots in both classes, so check it out if you are in the area!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

V-neck Accomplished!

It's a slippery, slinky knit fabric, so it wasn't easy to sew, but it feels WONDERFUL on and I love the drape! It's the perfect background piece for a smashing knit wrap.

Yes, very pro photo - nothing like the lady's room.

I hacked the v-neck from this pattern onto the t-shirt I've made a few times. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Party Like It's 1984

With Many, Many Apologies to Shakespeare

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury the 1980s, not to praise them.
The evil that shoulderpads do lives after them;
The good is oft interrèd with their bones.
So let it be with the '80s. The noble Brutus
Hath told you that decade was ambitious.
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath hair gel answered it.


Ok, all goofiness aside, sewing has spawned, for me, an interest that is...unusual. In the course of the last few months, I've become an enthusiast and collector of patterns from Stretch & Sew, a company that no longer exists!

It was founded by Ann Person, and you can learn a lot more about here here.

I was born in 1979, so I'm not especially wild about 1980s style. It's easier for me to be nostalgic about the 1970s and see the punk-rock side of all of the decades after that as fun. This could be because of my body shape. Those shoulder pads and big hair did very little for my ten-year-old, but already wide-shoulder sporting frame.

However, I pick up Stretch & Sew patterns wherever I find them, no matter the vintage or style. (I've had great luck at Goodwill and, lately, at the Textile Center Garage Sale.) I'm very unlikely to ever want a Dolman Sleeve dress. But, I DO want a good way to sew a v-neck, with awesomely clear instructions. So, this is going to be hacked onto another top pattern that I like, as a test.

I have to admit that those boots are pretty cute, though. That front view uses snap tape, which is pretty much restricted to children's clothes, now. It might look super-cute with a zipper, instead. Hm.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Craftsy's Cloudborn Yarn

When I heard about Craftsy's new yarn line, Cloudborn, I was curious. I mean, they already sell some of my favorite yarns. So, they should know a lot about what goes into a "good" yarn. But, knowing and doing are two different things. How would their yarns stack up? 

My sample package arrived and I love the way the colors go together!

First, the sock yarn. My sample of Cloudborn Superwash Merino Sock Twist is a hand paint called Slightly Serious. 100 grams of it (one hank) would be plenty to create a pair of socks. It's 80% Superwash Merino and 20% Polyamide. After a little googling, I'm 90% sure that Polyamide is what most people would call Nylon. It has several plies and seems well-spun. 

My Checked and Square socks would pair well with this yarn, I think. I may have to try it!

It should be hard-wearing even though it is very, very soft. And, I mean very. I think if you didn't want to make socks with it, it would also make a great Sockhead Slouch Hat (free pattern!) or an Autumn Dreams baby sweater. 

The Cloudborn Baby Alpaca Bulky is the softest of the soft. Don't expect it to be tough - 100% baby alpaca isn't going to be, but it is lofty, the color is even and even has a slight sheen. It would be darling as a Wee Speedy (free pattern!)

Last but not least in my sample pack is the Cloudborn Merino Alpaca Sport. 80% Superwash Merino and 20% Baby Alpaca. It's not a superwash yarn, even though the wool is superwash. The color I have has a heathered appearance - this is probably because the alpaca and the merino take up dye slightly differently. The alpaca will probably bloom with wear, so a complex stitch pattern may not show up well. But, these little RONA Wrist Cuffs (free pattern)? Divine.

This post contains affiliate links. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

I Love a Black Dress

I used this free pattern from Sew So Easy and made it a bit longer and used a neckband at the neck instead of a facing.

I love it! Sewing with knits isn't as hard as a lot of people think it is. You just have to adjust your technique a little bit. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

On REALLY Not Fitting

I made these knit shorts and I meant for them to be roomy - but not as large as they turned out. I was doing dishes at the sink on the first Saturday that I wore them, when I started to feel a bit of a draft. They, literally, were falling off! For those of you who know me in person, you'll know they have to be pretty darn big. It was a first-time event for me, I'll tell you that!

So, maybe I should have hedged my bets with a drawstring. Live and learn!