Bits and Pieces – with fabric pics, Elephant, and a Gillian who is not me!

I’m not sewing much these days – bordering on nothing, in truth. This is turning out to be a particularly demanding year at work, so mostly I just collapse on the couch and fall asleep early! That’s ok though, and I’m not going to apologise for blogging rarely… because we are all busy, right?๐Ÿ™‚

Since I don’t have anything new to show you, I thought I’d post about some random stuff I’ve been considering lately…

1. Sweater Knits: Why aren’t they sold more widely, and why is the quality so often poor? My Fabricland doesn’t carry sweater knitsย at all, except strange glittery ones in the remnant bins. I gave in and ordered some online from Fashion Fabrics Club, and they arrived today… and while they are workable, not one is what I expected from reading the descriptions! What’s the secret, people? Is there any way to buy medium-weight sweater knits online and reply on the quality without paying $20/m?image_1

Here are my purchases: The pink and colbalt are quite thin, the turquoise is more like a velour/fleece, and the double-faced black and grey is fleece-ish too. But at least I stuck to my colour palette, right?๐Ÿ˜‰

2. Ponte: What is it best for? I also bought a bunch of floral ponte, and picked up some plaid ponte locally… but then I realise, “What am I going to do with it?” It’s a bit too stable for a sweatshirt style… I didn’t love the lack of drape on my recent plaid ponte shift dress… so would I be better off with more fitted Lady Skater-esque style? Or would there not be enough stretch? I’m open to suggestions!

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My floral pontes… and one floral sweater knit in the top right, which I’ll use for a scarf.

3. Colette Dahlia: How can I imitateย it? There are some aspects of the design I like, but it seems to need a lot of fitting work… and since I’d like to make a knit version, there really seems no point in starting with the actual pattern. Also, I remember the nightmare of taping Myrtle all too well! I like the wide waistband, and gathering below the bust and at the centre of the neckline (Although I keep wondering if it’s weird to have gathering in all three places on just one bodice…) Do you think I should start with my Jalie raglan top TNT, or go for a classic sleeve design like Nettie?ย ย image

Here’s the ponte I bought locally… I’d like to make a cosy Dahlia-ish Christmas dress!

4. Remember Hallowe’en?ย Here’s the last thing I sewed myself: an “Elephant” dress, based on Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie series. It’s an Olivia Oversized Tee, made extra oversized and worn with some bamboo leggings I never blogged!

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5. I won a Gillian dress pattern! A big huge thank you to Andie at Sew Pretty in Pink! She made a fab version of her own, and put 2 versions up for grabs… and I won one! I haven’t had time to work on it yet, but I do feel pretty wrapped in Sewcialist bliss when I consider sewing up an indie with my name on it! (I’m not the Gillian who is the inspiration, but I can ignore that! I’m just thanking my lucky stars “Gillian” is a knit dress pattern, and not a fancy coat I’d never sew!๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks again, Andie!

That’s all for now – thanks for reading my ramblings!

To recap: Where’s the good sweater knit? What sews up well in ponte? And what pattern should I use as a base to imitate Dahlia?


58 thoughts on “Bits and Pieces – with fabric pics, Elephant, and a Gillian who is not me!

  1. I hear you about the sweater knits… if you find an answer please do share!

    I like the print of that plaid! Looks like a great Christmassy fabric! The raglan top would be easy to add width to center front for the gathers but the raglan sleeves might make it less dressy? If you don’t care that the sleeves are different the Nettie sounds like a good plan because it looks like the finished bodice is fitted like Nettie so you’d just have to add the gathers where you wanted them. If you wanted to keep the kimono sleeve use one of Sewing Cake’s patterns. Do you have Red Velvet? That would be an easy bodice to hack (I’ve added pleats to mine) and the wide waistband is already included.
    I can’t wait to see what you come up with though! It should be lovely!

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    1. Those are all good suggestions! I don’t need anything dressy – this is more for lounging on Christmas day than any fancy parties – so maybe the raglan would be a good method? My number on pet peeve with ponte is the neckline stretching out while stitching it, so a raglan might give me a few more seams to snug it back in. Hmmmm…

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  2. I am with you on those sweater knits. I find Fabricland is lacking in a lot of knit fabrics. I wanted to get some t-shirt knits and my Fabricland (plus another I stopped at) only had bizarre patterns I didn’t want. I did manage to find ONE t-shirt knit pattern I liked in 2 whole stores!

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    1. The knit selection at Fabricland is totally off and on! A few years back they used to carry bamboo jersey, which meant you could always get a solid colour with nice drape… but now it’s nothing but polyester ITY and double knits! I do still find decent options there from time to time, but certainly nothing reliable. Come on, Fabricland! Play nice!

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    1. Yeah.๐Ÿ˜ฆ is exactly right. Plus shipping to Canada… then what if I’m not in love? I just can’t bring myself to shell out the big bucks!

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  3. I have no suggestions. I’m just stopping by to say I love your floral fabrics and I look forward to seeing what you do with the Dahlia/Gillian dress situation๐Ÿ™‚
    I’m digging the Dahlia too, but really thinking about, maybe I’m more drawn to the fabric.๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Which version of the Dahlia are you loving the fabric on? I’m definitely suckered in by the plaid one… but then every year I dream of a plaid dress!๐Ÿ˜‰

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      1. Definately the plaid one. Also looking at it now the green one is pretty cute too. I’m not loving the sleeveless version tbh, in the pictures it kinda looks like some kind of monoboob thing is happening.

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  4. Sweater knits vary so much! I end up getting sweatshirt when I want more sweater or a loosely woven sweater when I expected a fuzzy velour. It’s all so tricky and I keep telling myself to order swatches but I never listen to myself.๐Ÿ™‚

    Depending in the thickness of the ponte you could do many things! I love knit skirts from ponte, like the tiramisu skirt shape. Or hoodies, or renfrews! Ponte holds it’s shape well, so more fitted tops with darts and zippers would be awesome too.

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    1. Swatches, man – those are for people with more time! My fabric took 2 weeks to arrive as is… I’d be waiting a month total if I ordered swatches!
      I’ve been thinking of trying a Tiramisu 1/2 circle skirt in one of these florals… as part of a dress, be I hate matching tops to skirts! I kinda fell out of love with that skirt for a while, and it made me feel frumpy… but I think maybe a shorter version would be fun with leggings. Then again, maybe I’d show my tush every time I bent over. What do you think?

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      1. I tried to make it shorter, and went to short. I would need a lumpy circle with a longer hem in back just to make it look even from the front. =) I think the ponte would make a great skirt, but you have a better eye for color matching so I can see how that would be hard for you. I justwear lots of grey and black and call it good. =)

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  5. In the uk any decent knits seem to be hard to come by and you never quite know what you are going to get. Buying online, the cheaper ones pill like crazy and you have no idea if the pricy ones are worth it!

    I have made tiramisu out of ponte and also a red velvet, and a new look 6000. Are any thick enough to make jackets like the carmine? Or did you give up on that one?

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    1. Buying any knit online is definitely tough. I thought I’d gotten better at decoding the key words and descriptions, but I was way off with these sweater knits. Oh well. Live and learn, right?
      You’ve got such a good memory! I did try Carmine out and was mightily disappointed. I actually went back and added to my post about it after kinda sorta fixing it… didn’t have the guts to completely bash a pattern online in a new post, but I was fairly blunt in my edits to the original! I figure that way if someone searches for a review they’ll find it. Maybe it’s me not the pattern… or maybe it’s just an odd design! ;P

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  6. Uggggh, sweater knits are so hard! I was actually pretty disappointed the last time I ordered one online–it looked like a fairly tight knit in the picture, but it’s a very open knit, and so I have no idea what to do with it. It’s further complicated for me by my wool allergy, so all the nice (expensive) ones with merino and such are a no-go. I actually bought one of those sweater machines at Joann’s several years ago when it was on sale, thinking I could just knit up my own fabric to sew with, but it dropped so many stitches and was so irritating to set up that I ended up giving up on that, and actually gave the machine to a friend who was taking some online fashion design classes and needed to do some knit designing. So the only thing left to do was teach myself to actually knit…at least that works, even though I’ve been working on the same sweater for well over a year!

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    1. What a saga! Maybe your friend can use the machine to make you something once she has the hang of it?
      Most of my cardigans are thrifted, which is probably more cost effective than sewing, especially given how often online purchases are disappointing! But the idea of sewing a sweater is just so appealing! I’ll let you know if I come up with any good uses for light sweater knit!

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  7. I just ordered a bunch of denim from Fashion Fabrics Club since they were having a $4/yd. sale, and I hope it’s at least decent quality when I get it! It’s really just for muslins for the Ginger Jeans pattern, but I’d like them to be wearable if possible.

    I LOVE those pontes! I’ve always heard you can use ponte in place of a woven, so I don’t see why you couldn’t get the Dahlia and give it a shot to save yourself all that drafting work (I might actually do this myself now that I’ve though of it)? Or I’ve also always wanted to do the Nettie/circle skirt mash-up that Sallie Oh did with a striped ponte. Looks pretty and comfortable! I think it would look fantastic in the florals and the plaid.

    Also, that elephant costume is GREAT. I would totally wear it all the time.

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    1. I’m curious to hear how your denim is when it arrives! It’s hard to turn down a good sale.
      There were some pretty amazing Nettie mashups over the summer – I should go back and look for some inspiration!

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  8. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m in love with those floral pontes. In love! Until this past summer, I was never a floral print person, but now I must have all the florals.๐Ÿ˜€

    I can’t wait to see your Gillian wrap dress. It was fate that you won that.๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Thank you again for the pattern! I need to get some fabric to sew it up in – I always buy 2m cuts, and it calls for 3, right? Hmmm. I need a Fabricland sale!

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  9. Elephant dress!!!!! How cute! I like ponte for blazers or little jackets you can throw over your outfit. I’ve made pants with ponte a few times, but they’re not my favorite thing to wear.

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  10. I’ve been sewing a lot with sweater fabric lately, and I agree that it’s really hard to predict what you get. The heavy ones with a brushed backside are my favourite, but they often only come in plain colours (recently found a striped one, hurray!). I tend to look if they list the weight in gr/m2 or something like that. And once I have a good source I stick with it. I’ve ordered from a couple of French online stores and I really like the quality and weight. I’m sorry that’s not very helpful. But I’d get samples from different places and stick with the most reliable one.

    Ponte is kind of a strange fabric, isn’t it? I’ve only really used it for tight skirts. And leggings but it has to have good stretch. I also don’t like how shiny some of them are.

    And I think it could be a good idea to start with a close fitting pattern for the Dahlia, one you’ve made up before so you know what to expect.

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    1. Ah, the lure of fabric shopping abroad! It’s always greener on the other side, right – I’m forever thinking that if I was elsewhere I’d be buying fabulous fabric for cheap!๐Ÿ˜‰ what have you been sewing with your sweater knit?

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  11. I’ve had the same issue with ponte myself! I bought a bunch of it because people rave about it, now it just sits on the shelf because I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t like it for daily T’s (too thick) and I don’t really wear stretch pants or blazers or dresses… so yea, I’m excited to see what you do with yours! The floral is really pretty BTW๐Ÿ™‚ Wanderlust?

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    1. No, it’s fromFashion Fabrics Club. I did put in an order with wanderlust recently, but I cancelled because I was thrown off by how brusque and unfriendly the owner is in her emails! I ignored it for my first order in the summer, but for some reason it really threw me off this time. It’s not that hard to say hi, thanks, goodbye – or sorry when they are out of a fabric! In truth, I have a. Really hard time with any store that won’t tell me the shipping up front – when actually includes fashion fabrics club and wanderlust, but at least FFC’s shipping isn’t he same price as the fabric!

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  12. Oh, my! Where did you find that divine rose print ponte knit? I want!! I love a good ponte and prefer the Lady Skater dress for this fabric. I find that over the last year, the number of patterns I sew with has decreased but my output and overall satisfaction has definitely increased.

    I know what you mean about sweater knits! My Fabricland has utterly hideous ones to choose from – ick!

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    1. The print pontes are from Fashion Fabrics Club. They were cheap but it’s pure poly so it probably won’t last too well. But pretty!

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    1. Yes, they are a bamboo knit for fabric.com. They wear well and don’t get baggy! I always use the Cake espresso leggings pattern – it’s a brilliant design!

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  13. fashion fabrics club is particularly bad at fabric descriptions! i put in a big order once when they had a good sale, and hardly anything was what i expected. a “cotton lawn” was actually a stretch poplin, a “jersey” was actually french terry… i could go on! sweater knits are so hit and miss anyways… maybe try Mood?

    and i haven’t sewn with much ponte other than a blazer and a pencil skirt. i’ve always wanted ponte pants (somewhere in between skinny pants and leggings), as a dress, i think it works best with more structured designs or some type of sheath or shift dress. you’ll probably need a zip though, since stretch is minimal!

    p.s. i LOVE the elephant dress so, so much!

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    1. Are they bad at descriptions? It my first order.. Not sure if I’d order from them again. I do think I’ll use everything I got though, so that’s good.
      Ponte pants do sound lovely… But a RTW pair I own are actually kinda strange to wear. Bulky, and kinda stiff? Maybe they just aren’t the right fit or the right kind of ponte though.

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  14. I’ve had trouble with sweater knits, too. I’ve used a couple I thought were good ones and they didn’t make it past a few washes. So I have no good insight there. I love your elephant costume! Awesome idea.

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  15. When I saw the Colette Dahlia, I immediately was reminded of V8685, it’s got raglan sleeves, under bust gathering, a wide midriff and skirt option, but it’s designed for knits. The thing that would be hardest to adapt about it to make it look like Dahlia (but not that hard) would be to combine the skirt and yoke into one piece – or you could just use the bodice/midriff combined with a different skirt. I’ve made it with a ponte that has some stretch, but I had to size up quite a bit.

    I love the look of the plaid Dahlia with the midriff on the bias, and I’m totally jealous of your plaid ponte!

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    1. That’s a nice-looking pattern! I’ve never sewn a Vogue pattern – which is no reason not to try! I”ll take a look at some reviews and think about it. Thanks for the suggestion!

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      1. Ha, this would be my recommendation too! I actually made a V8685 with a different skirt not too long ago (although I ran into some weird side pulling that a clever commenter suggested was caused by a slightly curved waistband matched with a flat-top skirt, so watch out for that).
        I love pontes for fitted-bodice/wide-waistband/gathered-skirt dresses, and I’ve sucessfully knitified several patterns for woven dresses. Ponte is like the magic formula to make a traditional woven dress without needing a zipper!
        Stay away from rayon mix pontes, though, they pill like crazy. It helps if you dry them flat rather than in the dryer, but they still pill eventually, boo.

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  16. I have made three Lady Skaters in ponte with differing results. My polka dot one is perfect and lovely and wearable (although pilled a little), my red one is tight and squashes my boobs (you can see on my blog) and my pink one is great but for some reason I never wear it, and I have never blogged it. Ponte is also great for blazers if they suit your lifestyle.
    I have now resolved not to buy ponte online – too risky with some not stretching at all and some pilling.
    PS – question for you – are you Gillian with a hard or soft ‘G’?

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    1. Ponte and piling, man… such a hard thing to avoid! My cheap poly ponte is already looking a bit fluffy after the prewash, which is unsurprising but a shame! Since I’ve got 2 different pieces, i might try one as a Lady Skater (with some extra room) and one as a cardigan/jackety thing… we’ll see! (My cat keeps trying to try to you by head-butting my hands and walking across the keyboard!)
      Oh, and I’m a Jill-ian, like Jill or jump, not like a fish’s gills!๐Ÿ˜‰

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  17. Ooh fun! Buying sweater knits is a pain, right? I don’t even quite know what type of fabric it should mean. The fabric a cardi is made out of (a.k.a something that could maybe be handknit or made on a knitting machine)? The fabric a hoodie/pullover is made out of (a.k.a. something like jersey, with a wrong and a right side, but thicker)? Anyway, the colour palette is lovely.๐Ÿ™‚ I think you could totally make your own knit Dahlia knock-off. I think the pattern has raglan sleeves, so stick to those and maybe the Tiramisu waistband pulus gathers under the bust?

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  18. Hi Gillian! I think your ‘Lady-Skater-esque’ idea works great for ponte-especially as I know you love to pattern hack!! I am pretty smitten with SBCC 312 (skater-like dress) because it fits me (as a true petite of 5’2) better than the Kitschy Coo Lady Skater-the proportions are just perfect. I love a hack when a pattern is a perfect fit so I have made a grand total of 6 different 312s, all with different length sleeves, different neck treatments (cowls, boat necks, Vs, low back high front…) and ponte makes a really great every day dress or special occasion (I found a black flocked ponte at my local Fabricland that I am especially pleased with-takes the same old dress pattern to a totally different level!). (If you are interested in the pattern, I took out the centre seams in both the bodice and skirt pieces.) I honestly think the pattern works really well with those light poly knits, too. As a fellow teacher who physically moves around a LOT during classes, I find those poly knits are good work wear but I always get so many compliments from the dresses (it’s like cheating-wearing a T-shirt but disguising it in a really beautiful print).

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