Friday, April 24, 2015

More Jacket Adventures

I'm working on another jacket - yes, another one! This time, it's for my husband. His favourite twill jacket is falling apart and so I'm doing my best to copy it.

I did a quick search for men's jacket patterns that were similar enough to his existing jacket and found nothing. So, I had to make a pattern by copying the jacket. I was able to trace and measure a lot of it on brown packing paper. However, the sleeves were much more difficult. What mostly worked for me was to pin Swedish tracing paper to the sleeve as best I could and then trace the seams.

It's been a lot of work to create a rub-off version of the existing jacket. It would have been easier if I could have cut up the existing jacket, but my hubby does not want to part with it (sigh...).

The acutal sewing has been a lot more fun. My hubby chose grey and orange cotton twill. I used orange on the side panels for some interesting contrast.

There's a lot more to do, but I'm making some good progress. I'm definitely using a lot of my skills from sewing previous jackets and shirts (since there is no lining) to put it all together.

Hopefully, I will finish it in a few days and will have some better pictures to share.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Body Shaping in the Spiffy Raglan Sweater Calculator

This is a quick tutorial on how the Spiffy Raglan Sweater Calculator handles body shaping. The Calculator was set up with an hourglass shape as the standard, which is typical for most women's sweater patterns. This means that when knitting from the bust to the waist there are decreases and then there are increases from the waist to the hip area.

If you are this shape, the pattern will have instructions like this for between the bust and waist:

I have updated the Calculator to better handle other types of shaping, too. For example, if you have no difference between your bust and waist measurements, the pattern will now show something like this:

And if you have a larger waist than bust, the pattern will tell you to increase. For example:

[Note: earlier versions of the Calculator may show errors if you don't use the standard shaping. Please email me if you need the most up-to-date version.]

Now, the pattern is easier to use for men and women, children and adults.

Other Shaping Notes

You may notice that there are typically two sets of increases or decreases in the pattern. For example, "Decrease every 7 rows 1 times. Then, decrease every 8 rows 4 times". The Calculator uses the 'Magic Formula' in order to evenly spread the decreases and not cause rounding. I wanted the final sweater to be as close to the target measurements as possible.

If you have a very large bra cup size, consider moving some of the back body sts to the front (about an inch or two worth of sts) when dividing stitches along the neckline.

The pattern body shaping is placed along the sides. If you made the above bust adjustment and/or want to try a different method of body shaping, consider moving the front increases/decreases to 1/4 of the way in from the sides and the back increases/decreases to 1/3 of the way from sides.

That's it! I hope this results in some very nicely fitting sweaters out there!

If you want to download the Calculator, you can find it here.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Spiffy DIY Dog Bed

I made a new bed and crate liner for my new puppy. It turned out pretty well, so I though I would share what I did with everyone.

Above is the finished bed. Recognize the fabric? It was the fabric I bought for my Spring Minoru and ended up not using. One good thing about projects like these, is that you can often use things you find in your stash.

My puppies current bed is too small for him. When he is sprawled out, only half of his body is actually on the bed. So, a new bed was a must.

I measured his crate (which is where he sleeps at night) and the floor was 11" x 20". I also knew that I wanted the sides to come up about 5". I used a 1/2" seam allowance and cut the following pieces:

  • 12" x 21" out of the inside (flannel) and outside (cotton twill) fabric
  • Two 6" x 21" side pieces out of the outside fabric and two 6.75" x 21" of the lining fabric (the inside pieces are made 3/4" taller)
  • One 3" x 12" front piece out of the outside fabric and one 3.75" x 12" of the lining
  • One 6" x 12" back piece out of the outside fabric and one 6.75" x 12" of the lining

This is what the side, front, and back pieces look like:

I sewed the seams of the outside side pieces all together, but left one seam open (seen in the picture above). This allowed my to use it as a template to cut out some quilt batting. I also used one of the bottom pieces to do the same. I cut two layers of batting for the bottom to make it extra comfy.

Once you have cut your batting, you can go back to your side pieces and sew all the seams together. You should end up with two loops of fabric - one for the inside and one for the outside.

I didn't take a picture of it, but next you would sew the top seam of the two loops and the batting together. Then, you can stitch in the ditch along the corner seams to make defined corners. Make sure the bottom edges are even as you do this.

You should now have something that looks like a loop with four pockets. Add some batting - enough to make nice side pillows, but not so much that the next few steps become too hard.

Baste the bottom edges together. You should now have something that looks like a dog bed without a bottom.

Pin and then baste the outside bottom piece to the sides.

With the pillow side up, sew the bottom lining piece to the bed. Make sure to leave an opening that you can pull everything through. Below is my bed pinned together before sewing.

Before you flip it right-side out, baste the batting to the bed. If everything is now too thick for you to do this, you can add the batting after, you just might not be able to get it in the corners as easily.

Trim the excess seam allowance and flip right-side out. All you have left to do now is sew up the hole. I hand stitched mine closed.

That's it! You should now have a dog bed. Here is the bed in the crate. (And, yes, in case you are wondering - I was crazy enough to pattern match my plaid. Like my dog would notice...).

This make a bed with soft pillowy sides. To make one with sturdier sides, you might have to use more layers of batting or even some foam. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Tracking Pattern Calculator Updates

I've made a few updates to my Spiffy Raglan Sweater Calculator and realized I didn't include version information for people to see what the latest version is. So, starting from now on, the Calculator has a version date on the top right of the first tab (the Introduction Tab).

The most recent version date will be posted in my shop listing and on the Ravelry entry.

I will continue to improve the Calculator as I get feedback from other knitters. So, if you have the Calculator and want to know if you have the most recent version, check there. If your version is out of date, just contact me and I'll provide you with the spiffiest version.

I plan on making some new calculators soon and they will be for sewing - stay tuned!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

My Spring Minoru Jacket

I finally finished my new Minoru jacket. I made several improvements over my old Minoru jacket, including adding a quilted lining in Liberty Tana Lawn.


  • Nylon Supplex (in True Blue from Rockywoods)
  • Liberty Tana Lawn (Mauverina B)
  • Polyester batting
  • Lining Fabric (unknown fibre - possibly acetate)
  • Zippers
  • 2" elastic
  • Interfacing
  • Thread

I really liked the Supplex for this project. I would put the difficulty level for using Supplex at moderate. It is easier than the Ultrex I used for the winter jackets I made. Unlike the Ultrex, it gathers easily and you can undo stitching (this leaves holes in the Ultrex). It is not as wind or water proof as the Ultrex, but it still repels water and is good for a spring jacket. It is slightly challenging to work with in that it can be slippery. I would recommend using a walking foot.


Sewaholic Minoru

This is a stylish outdoor jacket that is easy to personalize.


I made a size 8 going down to a size 6 in the hips. I shortened the jacket by 1.75". I only wanted to shorten it by 1", but another 0.75" was lost when attaching the plackets - the plackets and jacket fronts were not fed evenly (even with a walking foot), causing the plackets to turn out shorter than intended.

I did a swayback alteration by scooping out the back neckline 0.5". I increased the sleeve width (I basically just used the size 10 sleeve, with some changes to get it to fit the bodice seams). I should have probably increased it a bit more, as it is a bit tight when wearing a thicker sweater underneath. I shortened the sleeves by 2", which is perfect.

I also added a zipper facing to the main zipper. This will help block some of the wind.

Another one of the changes I made was to add zipper pockets in the front. I added them with a slight slant, since I like to stick my hands in my pockets when it is chilly.

I made quite a few changes to the hood and collar. Many other sewers have complained that the hood is too large. I altered the hood by pivoting my Swedish tracing paper copy on top of the original pattern piece and removing about 1" in height. You can see the new lower line on the pattern piece below.

I also came up with the idea of adding another lining piece to the collar to hide the ugly seams when the hood is out. I attached a second lining piece to the collar after adding the first lining piece, the zipper, and the hood.

I then basted around the outside edge being careful not to catch my hood. You can see in the picture below that I can hide away my hood and I haven't sewed the inside jacket to the outside yet.

Now, when my hood is open, there are no ugly seam allowances sticking out. (You might also notice that I used a french seam to finish the center hood seam allowance - this was really quick way to end up without any bulky seam).

Here's what my first jacket is like. The seam allowances show when the hood is open and it is getting messier with time.

The hood fits well with my changes. I also shortened the collar by about 1", since it was too big (it's still big, just not that big).

Another fun alteration was to put only one inner pocket and to pattern match it. I also adjusted the size to better fit my phone. It's now a little secret compartment for my phone.

I love the blue of my jacket. I think this is the best jacket I've made yet.

I would have been finished a bit sooner, but there was a little thing getting in the way.

The little thing is my newest family member, a chihuahua/mini-pincher/some-other-terrior mix. He loves my Liberty lining, too!

This little guy is only 6 months old and is quite the handful. So, it took me awhile to finish the jacket, but I'm glad it's done. Soon, it will be too warm to wear it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Calling on Crafty Knitters

The David Suzuki Foundation is looking for Canadians to help. You can help the survival of Monarch butterflies by knitting!

Watch the video below for details.