I may have a problem. I’ve become rather obsessed with the Tessuti Ruby pattern. Now, I’m not usually one of those people who make the same pattern over and over again. I mean, I have some wardrobe staples, like the Thurlow and my beloved cowl neck S1716, but those are just basics that I find useful but not interesting. And I’ve made a million Kirstens, but they’ve all been hacked or modified differently. This is the first time I’ve been just really obsessed with a pattern as it is. When I look in my closet all I want are Rubys. I have three and yet all I want to make is more Rubys. It’s kind of weirding me out.

My interest was first piqued by Ms. McCall’s version, which I later had the opportunity to try on in person so I knew what size to make (a straight 10, by the way, the bust measurement is the only thing that matters). My first Ruby was made from a Cotton+Steel rayon that is one of my favorite fabrics ever. It’s so light and flowy but drapey and just fun to wear.

rayon ruby

After this I immediately wanted another one. I wanted to try it in a knit, so I pulled a random piece of coral mystery knit from my stash – it’s fairly heavy and drapey with a smooth hand, maybe it’s a cotton rayon mix? Anyway, the knit totally worked too, and this version is the perfect dress-up-or-down day-to-evening top.

knit ruby

Then I knew I had to try the dress version. I bought this length of beautiful mod print silk jersey forever ago at Michael Levine, but I didn’t realize at the time that the fabric was only 45″ wide, so I’ve spent the last like four years trying to fit various dress patterns onto it and failing. But apparently it was just waiting for the Ruby, because I had literally exactly enough fabric to fit the dress version (just a half inch shorter than drafted) and the bias strips, and had only little scraps remaining. Perfect!

ruby dress

So, let me talk about the neckline and armhole finishes (because, honestly, that’s by far most of the sewing on this project). The pattern calls for cutting three 2-inch wide self bias strips that are 27 inches long. I cut excess off all my strips, and in fact, on the silk jersey dress version, my bias strips were only about 22-23 inches long due to fabric shortage and that was still long enough (barely). The instructions have you fold the strips lengthwise, sew the strips to the right side of the neck/arm edge, then fold the strips around the seam allowances and stitch in the ditch to secure. This is what I did on the first version, and because the rayon pressed so well, it worked out perfectly. On the knit version I still cut two inch wide strips, on the cross grain not the bias because knit, but once I sewed them to the edges I just left them. I topstitched to secure the seam allowances down, t-shirt style. As a knit finish this works well, but if I do it again I’d make the strips a little narrower because the wider strip on the neck is a little wavy on the folded edge. For the silk jersey I did cut bias strips because it wasn’t that stretchy, and I used the fold-over technique. I accidentally took too wide a seam allowance on the neck, though, and didn’t have enough width left to fold over and catch in the ditch, so I hand stitched the neckline binding on the inside. The armholes I did leave enough to fold over and stitch in the ditch.

ruby dress binding

The pattern includes pieces shaped like neck/armhole facings that you’re supposed to cut out of something called Vilene, which I’ve gathered from Burda is a European interfacing of some kind that we can’t get in the US, and sew it onto the arm and neckline edges before sewing on the binding. As far as I can tell, this serves two purposes: to prevent the curved edges from stretching out as you sew, and to make the raw edges a bit stiffer to make folding the binding around them easier. Lacking Vilene, and also because I really wanted to keep this a three-piece pattern, I didn’t use the interfacing pattern pieces at all. On the rayon version I staystitched the curved edges to prevent stretching, and I didn’t have a problem folding over the binding because the fabric pressed so well. The knit top was not reinforced at all, and it’s pretty much fine with just the binding. The armholes do grow a bit throughout the day, but not enough to be a problem. On the silk jersey version, I actually zigzagged 1/4 inch clear elastic onto the seam allowances of the armholes to help support the weight of the dress and to give a hard edge to fold the binding around, and that worked great.

rayon ruby back

On all of the versions I did interface the back cutout facing as instructed, but I just serged the edge of the facing rather than folding it under. I also topstitched around the slit on all the versions to keep it secure. I should have sewn a little further from the cut line on the first version, though, because after the first wash a little section of the seam came apart and is fraying. I coated it in fray-check and we’ll see how it wears. The rayon version has a functional button and thread loop, but the two knit versions fit over my head without undoing the button, so I just sewed the top edges together on those and added a decorative button.

knit ruby back

So, yeah, I really love this pattern. It’s pretty much the perfect summer pattern, and I love that it works in a woven and a knit just as well. I may well try to make a fourth version before the end of summer here (which, since our coastal weather means summer just started about three weeks ago and temps will be in the 80s for at least another month, is not such a stretch). I do think the top pattern is a little more versatile than the dress – I love the swingy mod mini dress, but I probably only need one. But I think the top can be very distinct depending on the fabric choice, and I feel like I can safely have several in my wardrobe. What more can I say? Make a Ruby!

ruby dress swing

I kind of love making dresses to wear to weddings. I like considering the taste and style of the people getting married and trying to create something that is like a merging of my style and theirs… Is that totally crazy? Does it make me a weird wedding stalker? Well, I might be okay with that. I love weddings. I especially love weddings that are a true reflection of the couple being married (and sadly, so many aren’t – the marriage industrial complex is homogenizing weddings everywhere…), so I felt so glad to be included at the wedding of two great friends and just generally awesome and stylish people in Northern California (by which I mean the actual northern part of California, not the Bay Area, which technically speaking is in the middle of the state – just sayin’) a couple weeks ago, which was so beautiful and just so very them.

Only thing, I almost didn’t have anything right to wear. I’d been thinking about making a dress for this wedding all year – I bought fabric in New York for it, then when I wasn’t sure about that, I bought different fabric online in May for something else, but I still wasn’t feeling it. Then, about a week before I left for the wedding, Ms. McCall randomly passed on some stash navy lace that as soon as I saw it I knew was the right fabric for this wedding. It has a great vaguely 70s crochet vibe that I wanted to highlight by backing it in a contrast color. I laid it over practically all the solids in my stash, and it became clear that mustard/gold would be just the right color, but the only solid mustard fabric I had was a cotton-lycra jersey, which isn’t exactly the most luxe formal dress fabric… but because I had less than a week and my “local fabric stores” (you know, the two stores we have within 40 miles) didn’t have any even almost yellow broadcloth or poplin, the jersey it was. And actually, it turned out to be kind of perfect. I mean, a stealth pajama dress is perfect for a wedding with a whole table of different desserts!

Vogue 8469Once I had my fabric settled, I hunted for a perfect pattern. I wanted a simple shape, sleeveless with a waistband and a full skirt, no crazy design lines to suck up my time or distract from the lace. I kept coming back to Vogue 8469, a pattern I’ve had forever but had never used due to some less than favorable reviews. It had everything I wanted, though, so I went for it. According to the measurements it has significantly less ease than the usual Big 5 offerings, so I cut the top size in my envelope, 12, for the bodice and fudge-graded out in the waistband to around a 14 or more. I was going on the premise that my lace wasn’t stretch, but actually it turned out to have a lot of give and stretched with the jersey, so in the end I took in the side seams by at least as much as I added, if not more.

Vogue 8469 2

I decided to treat the lace and the jersey as one throughout, both as a time saver and to hide the lace seams. It was almost stupidly easy with the jersey underlining – for the neckline and armholes I literally just folded under the edges together and coverstitched – the stitching lines are nicely disguised by the lace pattern. I omitted the zipper, obviously, and sewed up the side seams last for fitting. I did add pockets (pockets are very useful at a wedding, actually), which meant I had to treat the skirt as one also and not hem the lace and jersey separately. Again I just turned and coverstitched, and hemming as one gave the skirt a lot more body than if the fabrics had been separate, which I think I like. The pockets peek out a little because they’re solid jersey, but worth it – pockets.

Vogue 8469 back

Had I muslined the pattern first (ha! like I would do that), I would have made the neckline a little lower and narrower, and shortened either the back bodice or back waistband, since the back waist droops lower than the front. I also should have added belt carriers on the side, as I was pulling my belt down all day (but I actually had a perfectly matched belt in my drawer, remarkably). I omitted the giant ties – it just wasn’t the style I was going for.

It’s always nice when a super last-minute item turns out better than you could have planned it. I was sure until the final stitch that this dress would turn out to be unwearable, but when it was finished I absolutely loved it and couldn’t have imagined wearing anything else to the wedding.

Apparently I’m working backwards through my backlog of completed projects, so here is the second-most recent big thing I made and didn’t blog at the time – a dress to wear to a wedding in May. I bought this beautiful Italian polyester when I was in New York and I knew then that it would have to become my dress for this wedding. This is seriously the nicest poly I’ve ever touched. It’s soft and flowy like silk, but doesn’t feel delicate. It’s also amazingly stable, unlike basically any poly woven I’ve ever touched. It’s fairly opaque, and I thought I might be able to get away with not lining it, but just to be safe I bought a generic ivory poly chiffon at the Michael Levine Loft (where fabric is sold by the pound, so chiffon costs basically nothing) to line it, which of course is not as nice against the skin as the Italian fabric. Ah well.

The only problem was that this fabric took a long time to tell me what kind of dress to make out of it. Some fabric is totally unambivalent about what pattern I should make it into, but this one wouldn’t decide. (Or maybe I couldn’t decide, who knows.) I thought about doing some kind of deep v-neck crossover bodice, or a traditional halter v-neck with a back tie, but finally the fabric suggested a gathered neck halter (one of my favorite styles) and I knew that was right. But then I waffled between Vogue 8380 and Simplicity 2281 for a while. In the end I decided on the Simplicity, sans wing sleeve things, because I reasoned that the fixed neck binding would be dressier than the casing/tie neckline of the Vogue. I think it was the right call.

Simplicity 2281 halter

I had made this pattern up before, but with long sleeves and in a knit, so not much fitting guidance there. I wound up making one size bigger than my knit version in the bodice and two sizes bigger in the waistband, which worked out pretty well. When I installed the side zipper I fine tuned the fit by varying the seam allowance along the zip- I had a little extra room at the top of the waistband and barely enough at the bottom/waist seam, but overall pretty close. I did try to cheat and not cut the neckband on the bias (although I don’t remember the pattern actually calling for a bias band, it must have, right?), but I should have used bias because the straight grain neckband pulls funny and doesn’t look like it wants to wrap around my neck.

S2281 close

Based on the fit of my knit version, I shortened the waistband by about a half inch to make it less gigantically tall, and I flared out the skirt because I thought a fuller skirt would suit the fabric more than the slight tulip shape of the pattern. I had a hard time deciding on a length for the skirt – it was a garden wedding, so I wore these flat sandals, but I didn’t want to shorten it so much that it wouldn’t make sense with heels for future uses. I will say that I think the length I wound up with does look better with heels than flats, but the only matching heels I have would have gotten stuck in the grass, so I went with the flats for the wedding anyway.

Also, I love my machine but it does not like making blind hems. I can’t figure out why, but the one thing my cheapo old Sears Singer did better than my fancy Bernina is blind hem. This hem looks like crap, and I pressed it for, like, hours.

S2281 back

This dress came together easily, because the fabric really behaved itself the whole time. I gotta find some more Italian polyesters, I guess! On the plus side, this fabric was a bolt-end and they made me buy the remaining 3 yards (at a discount, thankfully, I think I paid $30 for 3 yards), so I still have plenty of fabric for a top or something. Which is good, because I love this pixel print more every time I look at it.

I just returned from a vacation in Seattle, and before I left I actually sewed a buttload of new summer things to bring on the trip, but none of them managed to get photographed while I was there, of course. Sorry, no new photo backgrounds for you, but hopefully some summer clothes at some point. I also made a purse based on a friend’s RTW bag that I have coveted every time I’ve seen it, so tutorial coming… eventually!

As the weather warms up I’ve felt a hankering to make some sleeveless knit dresses. I am making a slight effort to use fabric I already own, which is basically all the fabric in the world at this point, so I pulled out a couple pieces that I’d earmarked for summer dresses last year and then ran out of summer before I got to them.

The first is a length of striped bamboo knit from when I discovered that bamboo knits are my favorite fabric ever and I bought basically all the bamboo print knits in stock at like three online stores. I think this green stripe is from Hart’s (which has a fantastic bamboo knit selection – or they did until I had at it anyway). I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with it last year, but when I unearthed it from the closet this week I thought it would make a great crossover bodice dress. I pulled out McCall’s 6073, which I’ve had for a while but hadn’t tried yet.

McCall's 6073

Believe it or not, I basically made up the pattern as-is, no hacking or mashing involved. I even made an attempt to follow the instructions regarding the neckline binding. The back neckline is a cut-in v with no center back seam for some reason, and so I thought I’d forego my usual clear elastic binding technique and give the self-binding from the instructions a try. But I could make neither heads nor tails of the instructions for the back center v (it seemed like it would work if it were an exposed binding, but not for a turned under binding?), so I gave up and did my own thing. I couldn’t figure out how deal with the back v with my folded-under elastic though, so I wound up taking a small dart in the back, stitching together the elastic at the apex of the v. I should have just added a tiny center back seam. Meh. If I make this again I’ll just do a regular high neck in back I think.

McCall's 6073 back

I do really like the front bodice, though. As I usually do with a crossover neckline, I pinched a wedge out of the neckline before cutting – only a half inch in this case. The underbust gathers are a little far to the outside for me, but otherwise it’s a pretty good fit. I really like the gathered shoulders. I am not a huge fan of only having a waistband in the front but not the back, though. I remember originally looking at the pattern and thinking I would add a back waistband when I made it, but of course I forgot about that until I had already mostly cut it out and didn’t want to bother. I also tossed aside the instructions after the neckline incident, so I didn’t realize that there’s supposed to be an elastic waist inside a casing made from the skirt/bodice seam until I’d already attached the skirts to the bodices separately and sewed the side seams in one. The front is fine, but the back waistline sags a bit, so I may go back and zigzag some clear elastic to the back waist seam and see if that helps.

McCall's 6073 2

But overall I really like this pattern. I can see how it would be indecently low on people who have cleavage, but no danger of that here! It’s a better fit for me than Simplicity 3503, which I made forever ago and is actually too low in front (which is saying something). It’s also a more straightforward fit than the Tiramisu bodice, and I prefer the narrower shoulders of this pattern. I could see myself going back to this for my future surplice bodice needs.

•     •     •

My second stash dress is a frankenpattern/hack knock-off, so, back to business as usual. I grabbed a screenshot of this Anthropologie dress forever ago (long enough ago that their website still displayed different views of the items side-by-side, making it particularly easy to do an all-in-one inspiration screen grab). I even earmarked this Girl Charlee yellow striped knit for this dress last year sometime, but never got around to it.

stripe anthro knockoff

I knew I would need a generic, highish necked, sleeveless bodice from somewhere, so I dug out McCall’s 5927, which seemed to fit the bill. (I have yet to actually make this pattern up as-is, but I have used both the skirt and the bodice for various separate projects, so all in all worth the $1.99 I probably paid – apparently a long time ago, because it seems to be very, very out of print now.) I made the seamline for the sideways front yoke at around the front sleeve notch, for reference. I also wanted to incorporate the bias striped neck and armhole bindings of the inspiration, so I trimmed about a half inch off the neck and armscyes, and attached the binding with a 1/4 inch seam so I wouldn’t raise the neckline etc too much. One thing I do need to remember about this bodice pattern is that it gapes at the back neck on me. I ended up making two little half inch darts in the back neck after it was all done. The bodice also seems to be a bit long on the sides, or something – it’s bunching up funny on the sides above the waist anyway.

stripe anthro knockoff back

For the skirt I used that same traced off skirt from Simplicity 1810 (which actually isn’t even a skirt piece – it’s a one piece dress pattern that I just traced the bottom half of and now apparently I use it for all my frankenpattern skirt needs). This time I made 8 one inch pleats in the front and back to fit it to the bodice pieces.

stripe anthro knockoff 2

This was a quick and slapdash knock-off for sure, but it actually turned out pretty well. It’s kind of delightfully summery and nautical – I feel like I should be wearing it on my yacht or something, but I’ll have to settle for wearing it to work during a totally inexplicable rain storm, as I did right after I took these pictures. Hmmm, maybe if we all make more sleeveless dresses from stash fabric we can cause enough rain to end the drought! Because that seems way more likely than me actually ever sewing up all my stash.

Well hello there.

So believe it or not, I have been sewing a little. More to the point, I have a huge backlog of finished objects that I have persisted in not blogging for anywhere from a few weeks to several months… but of course, rather than dig into the backlog I am sharing the item I finished yesterday.

I’ve been in kind of a mojo slump lately, so for inspiration I’ve been trolling the usual RTW sites for knock-offable garments. This one came from Anthropologie – I love Anthropologie because I often find things there that have a design detail that I wouldn’t have thought up on my own, but that I can see exactly how to make. This was one of those “duh!” designs – four open darts to provide waist shaping in a simple kimono shift. I liked the colorblocking on the shoulders too, but I decided to test out the dart idea on its own first.

darted kirsten dress

I knew my starting point would be – obviously – the Kirsten Kimono tee pattern. (Sick of that yet? I’m not!) I knew I wanted it to be a dress rather than a tunic, and I reasoned that I would want it to have roughly the same ease above and below the dart “waistband” as my gathered bodice Kirsten dress, so I pulled out the modified bodice pattern from that piece and the gathered skirt piece from my other Kirsten dress hack (which is originally from Simplicity 1810). Magically, the waistline of the bodice and the skirt were exactly the same, so I just laid them out on the fabric barely touching at the waist and cut around the whole thing, making one long piece for front and back.

darted dress pattern piecesI finished the neckline as I usually do with a band (but because it’s kind of boatnecky I always attach the neckband to the front and back necks separately before sewing the shoulder seams, rather than trying to stretch the band around the tight corner at the shoulder). I then sewed the shoulders and side seams and tried it on, marking my waistline at the side seams with pins. I laid the dress out flat, set my long clear ruler across at the waistline, and made marks for the pleats starting 3 inches on either side of center. My pleats are 1 1/4 inches each, because measurement-wise I wanted to remove around 10 inches in total from the waist circumference. I made each pleat about 2 1/4 inches long, and the sets are spaced about 1 1/2 inches apart.

darted kirsten dress close

I did wind up going back in and taking in the side seams an additional 1/4 inch on each side at the waist, so I could’ve made my pleats a little bigger. I also left a fair bit of ease in the waist, so the front between the pleats would stay flat and not pull. I think the inspiration tunic doesn’t have pleats on the back, but I really need waist shaping in back, so I made the same series of pleats on the back as on the front.

darted kirsten dress back

The fabric is one of the Girl Charlee cute-print-but-no-stretch jerseys. It took me a while to figure out how to use these knits, but this is the right sort of project – the pleats need structure rather than drape, and it’s a fairly stiff knit. This line of fabrics is also on the thin side, so I’ve learned to buy dark solid prints so I can use them for unlined dresses.

darted kirsten dress 2

I was pretty sure this dress wouldn’t work out, so although I cut it out a month ago it just sat around until I finally buckled down and sewed it up. It literally took me one episode of the Slate Culture Gabfest to complete, so I don’t know why I stalled starting it for so long. I was very pleasantly surprised when I tried it on after sewing the darts and it actually looked good. Nothing like a small victory to goose the mojo!

So my goal for this summer is to sort through my stash and find projects for fabrics I’ve had forever and forgotten about. So we’ll see how well I do with that. It’s finally warming up and feeling more like summer here, so I’ve got a weird hankering to make dozens of tank tops. In the meantime I’ll try to post some of the backlog items – some of them are summer things I made in the fall that I’ve stalled so long on sharing that they’re coming back into season again!

So, I guess it’s May. (How did that happen?) I know because people are excited about Me-Made-May – which, don’t get me wrong, is totally awesome. I love the idea, I loved participating in it, and I want people to be excited by it and learn from the experience for years to come, like I did. I will say though, that because mine has become basically a me-made-lifestyle, that the only thing a MMM commitment would add to my month is pressure to take photos (which I hate) or to finally upgrade my phone so I can join instagram (which I would love to do, but I can’t bear to lose my beloved original iOS design – I will cling desperately to my yellow notepad notes and 3D text bubbles and original google maps for as long as my iPhone 4 is functional). So let me just say that I will be participating in Me-Made-May like I do basically every month (after its last purge, my closet has only a handful of RTW items left in it anyway), but what I will try to do this month is MAKE. For ME.

Andrea got to it before me, but I was thinking about making a similar pledge before I read her post. I used to be inspired by contests and occasions and other “required” sewing, but now I just really want to make whatever I want, whenever I want. Which is why I made this top. (Okay, I made it back in March, but it represents the spirit of what I want to do more of in the future.) Totally inexplicably I have wanted to get back to working with wovens lately (I know, who are you and what have you done with me?), so I grabbed this lovely Joel Dewberry rayon that I ordered on a whim a few months ago and made a top.

M7094The pattern is McCall’s 7094, which I bought for 99 cents or whatever a while ago, when the first tiny voices whispering “you might want to sew something other than jersey sometime” started to appear in my head. I’ve become quite bored with the knit pattern catalogues of the Big 5, but their woven patterns are basically novel to me, probably because I’ve totally ignored them for years. I realized that this was potentially one of their giant tent shirt patterns, but flowy tunics are everywhere right now, and I reasoned that the rayon had the right drape and weight to tame the tent tendencies. I did make a straight size small, when I would more usually make a small on top grading to a medium in the waist/hip, because obviously this would be more than big enough. And I think tent was avoided, for the most part.

I will admit this was fiddly to construct in the collar area, but that’s probably because after so long making easy stretchy things I have NO patience for the slightest challenging construction detail. I did not slipstitch most of the collar down on the inside – for the most part I secured it with stitching in the ditch, with a little hand stitching at the corners to catch what I missed.

M7094 frontI was able to figure out a way to totally clean line the yokes with no hand stitching whatsoever, though! I will go through that now for those that have this pattern and want to try it (I think the technique would apply to the sleeveless version only), but it probably won’t make sense to anyone else, sorry. So I started by sewing the side seams of the body pieces and finishing their half armscyes with bias strips. Then for the yoke, I stitched the armholes of the yoke first, wrong sides together, then trimmed, turned, and understitched. Then I turned the yoke inside out again and placed the gathered back piece inside the yoke, lining up the top edge of the back with the bottom edges of the yoke, adjusted the gathers to fit exactly, and stitched. Trimmed corners and turned right side out again, voila, enclosed back yoke seam merged with finished armscye seam. For the front seams, I made the pleats in the front pieces, then wrapped the yoke around the front piece with the stitched armhole seam butted up to the finished bottom armhole and lining up the top/bottom edges again. Stitched that and turned and hooray, totally enclosed yoke with no hand stitching! Mind you, this only works because you add the collar later, so the collar is still open for you to turn the yokes out through. I borrowed this technique from a couple Burda patterns I’d seen, and it was also inspired by the way you sew the shoulder seams of any cut-on cowl top ever (and I’ve made a lot of those). The instructions of course would have you fold under the SA and hand stitch all the yoke linings – no thank you. I’ve heard the instructions in this pattern are actually rife with real errors, not just dumb techniques like usual, but the sleeveless version’s steps were mistake-free (if not dumb technique free).

I did find that the armholes were a smidge too high, which is an issue I often have. I should always preemptively make a Low Armpit Adjustment (I wish that was a real thing), but instead, when I tried it on after sewing the yoke but before adding the collar, I went back in and re-sewed the back yoke seam with a smaller seam allowance to give me a little more room.

The only other odd thing about the pattern is the pleats under the placket – it’s not a true box pleat but rather two little pleats that try as I might I cannot get to lay right. That whole area at the bottom of the collar is kind of a mess, because I’m really bad with clipping corners and getting right angles to actually be right angles, but what’r’ya gonna do? I can’t decide if the placket would be easier/look better without the pleats under it or not…

M7094 sideI am also a little undecided if I like the mullet back of this pattern. I like the idea, but I think I generally go for a more subtle hi-lo hem. This thing is like a butt cape. I’m tempted to cut off most of it and re-hem it to a mere inch or three curve, but I do feel like I’m seeing this long butt tunic thing everywhere, and also I’m lazy. Thoughts? Butt capes good or bad?

M7094 backAll in all I’m pretty pleased with this top, though. I’ve avoided rayon for a long time because I hate rayon knits so much (pilling!), but rayon challis is really nice. I washed and dried it in the machine as usual (though now that it’s sewn I will try to pull it out of the dryer early so it doesn’t shrink any more, just in case). It’s soft and pretty and nice to wear, and now I’ll be looking for it when I’m fabric shopping… great, a new fabric to buy. But hey, whatever gets the mojo going, right? Happy May!

It seems possible that even those regions that have been unfairly smothered in winter for ages are starting to see small signs of spring, so I thought I’d throw out these winter accessories I made for my trip to New York before they’re totally obsolete.

Now, I have a ton of scarves. A simple jersey infinity scarf is my favorite thing to do with a leftover half yard of fabric, and as a frequent nighttime bike commuter in a coastal area, I get a lot of use out of my lightweight jersey scarves. But for real winter I thought I would need something more substantial, like with wool. I am by no means a speedy or skilled enough knitter to knit a scarf in the time I had, so I was at a loss for what to do until an opportunity presented itself in the form of an 18 inch width of leftover gray merino french terry from a cowl sweater I whipped up.

The idea of the infamous lululemon snap scarf (called the Vinyasa scarf, of course) has been bouncing around in my head for a while, and while I didn’t have enough fabric for a double-layer version, I liked both sides of my fabric so I decided to make a single layer scarf. Extensive googling gave me lots of pictures of the scarf in various snapped and unsnapped states, and I improvised some finishing that I’m really happy with. So here’s a sort of mini-tutorial for my single layer version of the Vinyasa scarf:

vinyasa scarf knock off 1

I started with a roughly 18 inch by 60 inch rectangle of my french terry. I think this would work with any thickish fabric that you like both sides of – one of those reversible double-knits would be really cool. Luckily my fabric pressed well, so I was able to press a narrow hem along the long sides of the rectangle. I just did a single fold because I didn’t mind seeing the raw edge, but you could do a double fold narrow hem if desired. I used a wide zigzag stitch to hem the long edges, just barely catching the raw edge in the edge of the zigzag. I reasoned that this would be a nice sturdy and decorative edge for the scarf. (There’s a lot of decorative zigzag stitching on the lululemon clothes I’ve seen, perhaps it’s not the becky-home-ecky stitch I always thought it was.)

For the snap ends, I wanted to add a pop of color with ribbon a la some of the inspiration scarves, so I went hunting for a yellow grosgrain or petersham ribbon. What I found instead was yellow twill tape, which ended up being even better than ribbon. I found this great yellow color twill tape at a local fabric store, but I imagine you could also dye white twill tape your desired color. My tape was 3/4 inch wide, which was about perfect.

scarf tutorial edge     scarf tutorial tape

I also didn’t want the darker side of the fabric to show under the snaps on the non-tape sides, so I folded a slightly less than 3/4 inch hem toward  the right side of the fabric and laid the tape over it, folding the ends of the tape under. I stitched the tape on first with a zigzag stitch, then I edgestitched it as close as possible to the edges to really seal it down. (I used yellow thread in the needle and gray in the bobbin to match the respective sides.)

Finally, the snaps. I used the regular pound-in snaps, because I liked the ring that shows on the opposite side of the functional part. For my scarf width, 7 snaps made the most sense to me. I spaced them one inch from each end and one and a half inches between snaps. Hammer ’em in and snap ’em and you’ve got a scarf!

vinyasa knock off snaps

The appeal of this scarf is obviously all the ways to wear it (there’s even a video about it), but I found that I mostly wore it fully snapped and double wrapped, or double wrapped and half-unsnapped. I love the twisted two-color look from the contrasting sides of the fabric, and the little pop of yellow from the tape. Plus it didn’t cost me $50!

vinyasa scarf knock off cowled

The hat I’m wearing is the first ever hat I’ve ever knit. I learned to knit a couple years ago, but it never really took hold – I think I don’t have the attention span required for knitting. Nevertheless, I was determined to knit a hat for this trip. Fortuitously the perfect pattern presented itself in my blog reader in the form of Ginger Makes’ version of the Mock Rib Watch Cap. (That horse sweater, by the way, is totally amazing and a great example of something I would never ever have the patience to knit.) The lovely owner of my local yarn shop pointed me to an appropriate-weight charcoal colored yarn that is so soft and actually pretty warm. (It’s SimpliNatural by HiKoo in Slate Gray, alpaca/merino/silk, for those who are interested in those kind of details.) I used the recommended needle size and my gauge swatch was pretty close, but I found the finished hat to be a little big, if still wearable. I suspect I’m a rather loose knitter and my band is really stretchy. I’m not much of a hat-wearer generally, but I wore the heck out of this hat in the frigid New York weather.

scarf and hat

So about my New York City experience – just a couple things. First off, I absolutely loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. If you’re a theatre person at all, and you have the chance, go see it. The things they do with the ensemble creating the world of the main character are just really innovative and exciting.

Second, yes, I did do some fabric shopping. I hit up Mood, Metro Textiles, and Paron (everything was an extra 40% off when I was there, so that was cool). I also popped into Spandex House (or was it World? one of them) which was impressive but I didn’t need any more swimsuit fabric. Here’s my haul:

NY fabric haul

Top to bottom: from Metro, a super soft poly jersey that feels like cotton, a nice gray ponte, a gray herringbone stretch denim for pants of some kind, and a spotty poly charmeuse; from Paron, a crazy blue pinecone print stretch twill for awesome shorts, a lovely poly crepe de chine print from Italy (which they made me buy the remainder of the bolt, 3 yards, but I think I’ll use it all for something), and a dotty stretch poplin for more awesome shorts; and from Mood, a fantastic Anna Sui silk that I couldn’t pass up. Not a bad pile, and worth cramming in my suitcase, I think, but overall I didn’t think I found anything crazy special or super different from what I might find in LA. The feeling of the Garment District is totally, totally different from the LA Fashion District, though, and way less intimidating, even though I did have to take elevators to two of the shops. The one store I did want to import to the west coast, though, was Pacific Trimming. That place has everything you might need for any number of projects, but is absolutely the kind of place you visit with a particular project in mind, not just to randomly shop. I’m sure over the next year I will wish I could drop in there for some specific item, but as it was I tried to pre-buy for some theoretical projects:

NY trim haul

Two lengths of high quality strapping and some accompanying hardware, some white cotton rope and some gray faux leather rope for bag handles, and a couple random buckles and clips. The store was so well organized, and while I know all this stuff must exist in LA, it’s much more of a pain to locate.

So I guess I did enjoy a little taste of real winter, but all the same I’m glad to be back in California, where spring cannot be denied. It was fun to make winter clothes, but now it’s time to pull out all the sleeveless top patterns!


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