Spring, Sort Of

We had a rather lovely late winter here in the Albuquerque area, with lots of days in the 60s and 70s and plenty of our trademark sunshine. We even had our first knitting group lunch of the season on the outdoor patio of a favorite local restaurant well over a month ago. So naturally I got to thinking about all the spring blouse fabric in my stash that hadn’t been made up yet.

Equally naturally here in New Mexico, by the time I had made them up, the temperatures had plummeted. It got up to a whopping 42 degrees with a howling sandstorm on the day I took the photos, and poor Mildred was plaintively begging to wear them with shawls. So it may be awhile before these tops see the light of day. (The end of next week looks promising, but I am afraid to jinx it.)

The featured photo is the dead-easy top from Butterick 5652. I went hog-wild buying rayon batiks from a vendor at the Santa Fe Quilt Show last fall, so you will be seeing a lot more of fabrics like this from me. (Isn’t it funny how your brain translates “I should make a top out of this” into “I must buy some of every fabric in this booth so that I can make an entire attic full of tops”? At least mine does.) This top is very light and floaty–perfect for the days that are so hot that you don’t even want your clothes to touch you.

I have to thank Kim of The Material Lady for turning me on to StyleArc patterns–they have so many designs that are just what I’ve been looking for. This is their Daphne top, which I was drawn to because of the shaped cocoon hem, in lightweight linen from fabrics-store.com:


I understood that these patterns were a bit unusual to work with, so I started with a very simple one, and I was glad I did.  There are quite a few differences between this line and most American pattern lines, especially the Big Four. The seam allowances are 3/8″ or 1/4″, depending, which makes them easy to serge and avoids trimming–but would require additional allowance to be added if, say, you wanted to make something in a sheer fabric and use French seams to put it together.

The instructions are as laconic as John Wayne with a hangover. There are no pattern layout directions, and the pattern markings are minimal. They don’t tell you what needs to be stay-stitched or what direction to press your seams. I wouldn’t recommend these patterns for a rank beginner, but if you’ve been around the block a few times, have your own technique bag of tricks, and know how things go together, they have some really nice designs.

And another weird thing–if you order their patterns from their website, you have to order a one-size pattern. If you order them from Amazon, you get a multi-sized pattern, which is what I did so that I could measure the pattern, decide how much ease I wanted  and decide accordingly.

And finally, the new San Diego top from Sewing Workshop:


The fabric is a cotton jacquard from Nob Hill Fabrics here in town. I bought it in a moment of pure nostalgia–I used to work a lot with cotton and linen jacquards back in the 1980s, but I hadn’t seen any fabric like this since. I was tempted to dye it, because it would be beautiful, but in the end decided to leave well enough alone.

As is often the case with Sewing Workshop patterns, the pieces looked so much like abstract art that it was hard to imagine how they would possibly go together, particularly around the neckline. Luckily their instructions were, as always, very clear, and not a bit laconic.  (The StyleArc instruction writers would have made a real pig’s breakfast out of this one!) It did turn out to be a bit longer than it looks on the pattern drawing.

I think I’m done with the spring tops for awhile–no matter how much rayon batik is aging in my stash. Next up, a couple of casual summer dresses–Style Arc’s Toni in a plum silk noil, and Iris, a pattern from Tessuti–another company that is new to me–in a blue linen.

The spring knitting is moving along, too, but since it’s a hugely oversized sweater in fingering weight linen, it’s slow going:


It’s Joji Locatelli’s pattern, Boxy, but in the lacy variation that was concocted by Pooki, using the simple lace patterns from the Cancun Lacy Boxy top by Erin Kate Archer. (Got that?) But I replaced one of stitch patterns with a simple mesh from Barbara Walker’s stitch collection. The yarn is the new Shibui Reed, a chainette linen yarn that is MUCH easier on the hands than Euroflax. Seriously, I love this stuff.

Wishing everybody a pleasant, inspired and productive (and, I hope, sandstorm-free) April!








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