Blue Like the Sky in Spring

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After finishing the body on which I alternated skeins of yarn, the first sleeve that was knit using only one skein took no time at all, and now I’m halfway through the second sleeve. I’m really happy with the way it’s turning out, but it also feels like a bit of a tease because it’s a spring sweater and our fake early spring weather seems to have gone away. I’m excited to get it done, but I don’t think it’s going to get worn a lot once it’s off my needles.

A New Back-Burner Project

Back in December, I went to Imitation Game with a group of my friends, and our favorite thing about the movie was the knits, more specifically the sweater vests. We decided that we should all knit our own sweater vests, but I didn’t quite know what to knit. Colorwork? Texture? Vintage? My own design? Then Erin said she was going to knit A Knitted Waistcoat from A Stitch in Time, and I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate than a 40s sweater vest, so I decided to knit myself one, too. It seemed like the perfect choice because I no longer have a back-burner project, one without deadlines or urgency that requires very little thought from me.

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This isn’t going to be a totally mindless project, though. After knitting a few swatches, I realized that I was never going to get gauge. The gauge is pretty crazy for this pattern, so I’m not too surprised. I’m going to go with the needle size that gives me the right row gauge. With that I have a stitch gauge that’s too big, but I’ve run the numbers, and it works out so I can knit a size smaller and have my vest come out the right width. I’ll use the smaller size for the horizontal instructions and my normal size for the vertical stuff, and that should give me a vest that fits. It’s a vest so I don’t have to be super precise about the armhole shaping or anything like that, and that’s what is going to allow me to do a lazy modification like this for gauge.

How to Make a Full-Length Sweater from a Cropped Pattern

How to make a cropped sweater pattern fulllength

Cropped sweaters don’t fit easily into everyone’s wardrobes, so it’s not surprising that a lot of people choose to modify them and make them into full length sweaters. There are a few different options for doing that. One method is to take the distinctive elements of the cropped sweater and combine them with a well-fitting, basic, full-length sweater pattern. A few of my friends are fond of using patterns generated through Amy Herzog’s Custom Fit software as their basic pattern, and then they combine them with the distinctive design elements of another pattern. It’s a great way to do things because a lot of the confusing parts like ease have been figured out for you, and all you need to do is adjust for the distinctive elements. The other best option is to calculate the changes to the body yourself! Here’s how to do that.

+ Take your waist and hip circumference measurements and your total length and waist to high hip measurements.

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+ Plan the ease for your waist and hips. Odds are good that the waist shaping will need to be recalculated because the kind of extreme waist shaping that can be accomplished on a cropped sweater may leave you with too many hip increases to work in a short space. Rapid shaping at the hip can distort the straight line of the bottom of a sweater, and it can cause hip “wings” on a open cardigan where the cardigan stands away from the body at the hips instead of falling with the body. This can also be prevented by adequately distributing the shaping using additional darts, but the easiest way to avoid this problem is incorporate more ease through the waist so less shaping is required. When calculating waist shaping for full-length sweaters, it sometimes works best to figure out how much hip shaping can be easily incorporated and then work backwards to get the sweater’s waist circumference. If you want the sweater to fit with negative ease through the hips, subtract from the hip measurement. If you want the sweater to fit with positive ease through the hips, add to the hip measurement. If you want the sweater to fit with zero ease, keep the hip measurement as it is.
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+ Multiply the waist and hip circumference by your stitch gauge to get your target number of stitches. If the pattern has a design element or a stitch pattern that will affect the gauge, you’ll need to incorporate that into your target number of stitches. To double check, use the bust circumference as a point of comparison. If the number of stitches at the widest point of the bust sweater pattern doesn’t match the stitch gauge multiplied by bust circumference on the schematic, that’s a good clue that something will need to be adjusted. Add or subtract the difference if there is one to get what will be your final stitch count at the hips.
+ Multiply your waist to high hip measurement and total length measurement by your row gauge. You will also want to make a note of how many rows make up the waist shaping in the original pattern. The number rows for the old waist shaping is the number of rows you’ll want to distribute your new waist shaping rate over, and your waist to high hip measurement multiplied by your row gauge will give you the number of rows you’ll have to distribute your new hip shaping. You’ll use the total length to figure out how many additional rows you’ll need to work after the hip shaping by subtracting all the rows worked from the shoulder through the hip shaping from it. Note that your total length may need to be adjusted to accommodate for stitch pattern repeat lengths, so make sure that any stitch pattern repeats will fit nicely before moving beyond the planning stage.
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+ Calculate your ideal shaping rates for the waist and hips. Find the difference between the bust stitches and waist stitches and divide by four to get the number of increase or decrease sets you’ll need to work, assuming that you will be working pairs of increase and decreases at each side or four darts. Divide the section length by the number of decrease or increase sets and round to nearest whole number to get your increase or decrease rate for your waist. Figure out your hip shaping using the same calculations. If you’re using paired decreases at the sides and you hip shaping rate requires you to increase or decrease more frequently than every three or four rows, you may wish to go back and add a little more ease through the waist so fewer increases or decreases are needed at the hip. Shaping that is that rapid near the bottom edge of the sweater can cause the distortion issues I mentioned.
+ Combine your customization with the pattern when you knit. For a top down cropped pattern, knit the sweater as written, substituting your custom waist shaping for the shaping in the pattern. Knit about an inch or two of knitting at the waist without any shaping, and then knit the hip shaping. After that, you can knit until the sweater is your desired length.
+ Don’t be afraid to try things and rip back! Unless there’s steeking involved, you can always unravel and try something new if you don’t like the results.

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If you want to learn about calculating sweaters, you can buy my Guide to Seamless Set-In Sleeves, in which body shaping for full-length sweaters and more is covered in detail, but this post should give you everything you need to know to customize the length of your sweater! The hardest part is taking the plunge and getting started, but once you get going, I think you’ll find that pattern modifications aren’t that scary.

Strawberry Print Butterick 5748

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The first of the Vintage Pledge sewing projects I have planned is done! It’s Butterick 5748, a 1960s reprint, in a strawberry print cotton from my stash. I’m really pleased with it for the most part, and I think it’s the best dress I’ve sewn so far. It also goes really well with a bunch of my sweaters, including my green Hetty.

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As I mentioned before, I own a version of this dress in a size 12 that my mom made in a blue floral print, but it’s gotten a little snug after the holidays. I decided to try making the size 14 to see if it would be a better fit. Right now the size 12 fits me with somewhere between zero and half an inch of ease if I had to guess, and it’s not uncomfortable to wear, but it’s also not my first choice if I’m planning to eat or drink a lot. The 14 has a lot more ease, and I think it might be too much. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad fit, but it’s roomier than I like, and I have a feeling that it will be way too big by the time summer rolls around. The neckline and shoulders also don’t stay in place or fit as well compared to the size 12. I suspect that my ideal size is somewhere in between a 12 and a 14 or perhaps a size 12 with the side seams let out.

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I didn’t do any modifications to the bodice pieces, but I had to alter the skirt because I was working with only three yards of fabric. I took the skirt length up three inches which makes it hit just above my knees, and then I had to cut out the back of the skirt upside down. I had to stare pretty intensely at the fabric to figure out which direction the strawberry print was running, so I don’t think anyone is going to notice that the front and back aren’t the same. I also moved the zipper to the center back because I prefer back zips.

P.S. There’s one detail on the lining that I forgot to photograph but was really excited about. I used my rolled hem foot to hem the lining of the skirt. I bought the foot last summer hoping to use it like that, and although my technique is far from perfect, it worked! My hem on the lining only took me about 20 minutes, which is the quickest circle skirt hem I’ve ever done. I usually dread hemming circle skirt linings, and I’m so excited about having a better way to do them.

My Pink Chuck

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It’s all done! I finished my Chuck by the deadline for the Selfish Sweater KAL, but it was still damp from being washed and blocked, so modeled pictures had to wait.

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I knit the pattern exactly as written using the recommended yarn, so I don’t have a ton to say about it. I’m really happy to have such a bright, cheerful sweater to add to my wardrobe. This pullover is going to fit in perfectly with my sweater collection. I wear my orange Chuck all the time, and I expect that this one will get worn just as much.

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