Granger Book Bag

Four years ago now, when Daughter No1 had finished her last year at University, walked away with a First in Surface Pattern Design, she gave me permission to use the pieces she designed for her Final Major Project, as well as countless sample pieces.  I had no idea what to do with them at the time, cushions, bags…  So they sat, folded in the stash.  Then last year I found Helen’s Closet and her free pattern, the Granger Book Bag.  I figured one of Daughter No1’s pieces would do just nicely if contrasted with a plain fabric.

So I started cutting out and then, for some reason, stopped and popped it all back in the stash.  Something more interesting or pressing must have come up and I forgot all about it.  It was rediscovered just before Christmas when I needed to clear that cupboard out so guests using the guest room had somewhere to put their clothes.  I decided I’d finish that project this year.  This month!

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The Granger Book Bag from Helen’s Closet

 

I finished cutting out, just needed the contrast pieces and the linings, so it didn’t take long.  And the interfacing.  Although Daughter no1’s fabric is a robust cotton, I wanted the bag to have more body, be slightly stiff.  I dug out some of the sew-in canvas I have from the tailoring packs I buy, not needing nearly as much of that for a coat as all the rest of the interfacings!

In hindsight, I needn’t have used it on quite so many pieces, it made for a lot of bulk wneh folding and sewing layers together!  I also wouldn’t have cut all the pieces from Daughter No1’s fabric as I did, as at least two of the pieces you will actually never see unless the bag is open.  That’s because I chose to make view B with the flap.

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Basically the pieces are all large square-ish rectangles and the construction should be quite simple, but I found myself constantly thinking, “there must be a better way of doing this” while I was working.  The tabs are huge, and you basically fold half of the fabric all away, so they could be smaller to start and way less bulky to finish.  Thank goodness I have a metal workhorse of a sewing machine, because it got real bulky!

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There’s also a lot of measuring from sides, tops and bottoms to place things, like the pockets and bag flap.  I’d have preferred to have had those marked on the pattern and I’d just tailor tack the placement lines.  Also, this pattern is only in Imperial, so get out your conversion websites if, like me, you’re Metric.  The fractions are not simplified, so there were a few cries of, 6/8ths??  How the hell do I measure 6/8ths – or 4/8ths?  Until I engaged brain and realised that 6/8 was three quarters, and that I could measure!  I’ve marked all measurements in the instructions in metric now, should I ever decide to make this again, along with suggestions of where and what to interface, and what sort of interfacing to use!

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The bag is also rather deep, with a very long strap!  On a shorty like me it’s going to look funny!  I’ll reduce the depth next time and shorten the strap.  Oh – the strap!!  I didn’t have any metal sliders in my bag making stash that were the right width, so raided my vintage buckle box.  I have 3 different buckles on this bag!  I figure it works because of the print of the fabric, I really don’t think anyone will notice ordinarily unless they’re looking really closely.  I had to go to the saddlers in town to get the strap finished, my machine drew the line at the thickness of all the layers to sew together, even with a 110 denim needle.  So I got to break 2 needles with an industrial machine at the saddlers instead!  Fun!  Even they said it was really thick, and that’s after whacking it with a hammer!  But at least I got it finished.

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I’ve already filled the bag with my seed catalogues!

I’ll be using this to carry my stuff to the allotment this year.  It’ll be filled with waterbottles and snacks and be a proper place to stash my keys, phone and sunnies when I’m working.  That’s because I still don’t have a shed to hide it all in, but – one thing at a time, right?  Now I need to decide what to use the other pieces for – not so sure I’ll be making this bag again in a rush!!

Work in Progress Wednesday 1/19

Helloo & welcome back to another Work in Progress Wednesday!  I haven’t had much of a chance to do any of these posts for a while, too busy getting on with things!  Anyhow, I needed to get rid of some excess fabrics quickly, so decided to do that today and take a few photos while I was at it.

I had hauled out 4 pairs of trousers at the end of the summer that I wasn’t wearing anymore, either I didn’t like them, didn’t fit them, or had done something to them that made them unwearable.  Like catch a nail on the trouser leg on the allotment and rip a nice big hole…  I had intended to do some visible mending, afterall, they are just allotment trousers, but they are a little too big, have no pockets and really – I wasn’t in the mood.  But the rest of the fabric was fine, so what to do?

Make items that need less fabric – kid’s clothes!!  I have a friend in New Zealand with two ankle biters who is always happy for me to make clothes for them.  So on Tuesday I dug out some patterns I’d traced from a couple of Burda magazines and started unpicking trouser seams, ironing everything nice and flat and cutting out.  I managed to cut a pair of kid’s shorts from the ripped pants and a pinafore style dress from a pair of beige linen trousers that the calories have shrunk in the loft over the years.  I also had a piece of Irish Linen left over after making a little boy’s shirt about 4 years ago.  That has become another little dress!

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Girl’s Bermuda shorts

The shorts are from a khaki coloured linen, the fabric was still in really good condition, apart from the huge rip I got in it at the allotment last summer.  I decided to use up some of my handcut bias strips today, and sewed some onto the opening edge of the hip yoke pocket.  It helps to break up the khaki and brighten it up a little.  I cut the 5 year old size, so there’ll be growing room.  The little girl will be 3 in May this year, and I’ve made stuff upto that age already, so I’m growing her future wardrobe!

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Linen pinafore style dress

Next to be chopped up was a pair of stiffer linen trousers that haven’t fitted me properly for about 5 years – at least.  I keep them because, you know, I’ll loose the weight…  Yeah.  Pull the other one!  Because I had no fold to cut on, the front of the dress has a centre front seam which I decided to topstitch to make it more of a feature.  I also added pockets.  Pockets are important for everyone!  My daughter’s pockets would often contain a variety of coloured or interestingly shaped stones, bits of pottery they’d found in the garden and Lego.  So I’ve no doubt similar treasures will find their way into these pocketses.  Because the colour is a bit bland (all the better to add funky tees underneath), I thought I could use up some other things from my stash!  I’ve had these fusible applique flowers for years, so long I cannot even remember where and when I bought them!  If I even did.  They may have come from my mum!

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To keep the bulk down, I used strips of Liberty lawn left over after making a top for my Mum 3 years ago, and cutting an Ogden Cami for Daughter No2 on Sunday!  It adds a bit of colour.  Lacking the width of fabric to make the back the way the pattern is written, I inserted an invisible zip in place of the button band and facings.  I like patterns like this dress, I remember my girls living in them.  In the summer if it’s a bit chilly, add a tee, in the winter add a long sleeve tee and tights.  No worrying about fitting, it just hangs from the shoulders.  So, of course, I had to make another one, didn’t I!?

The same pattern, but the smaller size – this time the 4 year old size.  I had enough fabric left over after making a vintage shirt pattern to make the pattern properly.  And I added pockets again!  I cut them on the bias to add a little interest and decoration to the front.  The bias strips for the armhole and neckline look great, such a shame they’re on the insides!

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I even managed good mitres on the pocket corners!

I’ve had fun making these today, and I’ve got another 3 dresses cut out ready to sew up tomorrow!  I’m determined to do better at clearing out my scrap boxes this year, whether it’s making kid’s clothes or bags, pouches, bunting or even using for beeswax wraps.  I need those boxes to be empty by the end of the year – how’s that for a challenge??

 

Sewing Japapese in January – Part 3

 

On a roll here!!  This time I’m using the Clean & Natural book and making the puffed sleeve pullover, pattern S.  It’s a loose fitting top with boat-neck(ish) that finishes mid hip and has a yummy, puffed sleeve.  The fullness in the sleeve is at the hem, rather than the sleeve head.  This book has a handy size table and the pattern sizes are S to LL.  I graded the LL up two sizes, going by the body measurements and the finished measurements of the top.  Remember, I don’t like too baggy…

 

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I toiled the pattern in some remnant cotton sheeting and made the following conclusions.  I needed more ease across the bust and length of about 2-3cm.  I also wanted the top to finish at the length it was un-hemmed.  So I needed an FBA of 3cm and to lengthen the top 3cm.  The sleeves are ok, finished at the right place and weren’t tight at the hem.  On creating the dart and FBA, I rotated it all out and am left with a no-dart top, just like the original.

Fabric is newly in the stash, after being bought last year at the NEC in March/April.  To be fair, I’d sort of allocated it to this top from the beginning, I just never got round to the grading and tracing and toiling last year.  The cotton is a woven gingham check, black and white.  I thought it would look pretty good with all the linen trousers in my summer wardrobe, and now I’m thinking it might be worn in the winter with a long sleeve layering tee underneath too…

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Construction is fairly straightforward, I overlocked everything first, and used ordinary seams.  The seam and hem allowances have to be added, by the way.  The facings are interfaced with fine sheer fusible.  The sleeve is pretty big, and only just fitted on the width of the fabric!  You gather the long curved of the oversleeve onto a pleated straight undersleeve.  This is what creates and holds the puff.  That’s the only time consuming part, gathering and evenly spreading all the gathers!

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I like how the back looks here, as if I’ve used a contrast neckband.  Maybe that’s the answer.

I had a quick try-on before hemming and decided it was too long!  I’m blaming the fabric here, the pattern.  It blinded me…  So I duly chopped off the 3cm I’d added to the length and turned up a 3cm hem.  Then I popped it back on over my head and – whoa!  I shouldn’t have done that…  I probably didn’t need to remove the whole 3cm.

I also had a problem with the neckline.  On the toile I didn’t add the facings and I was happy with where it sat.  On this garment, with facings added, it was too high!  I don’t like feeling crowded against my neck, and the other issue was all that pattern!  I think I could have done with less.  So I decided to change the shape of the neckline in the front, put the toile back on and drew a scoop to the depth I wanted and transferred that to the gingham.  I added seam allowance and chopped again.  Then I realised I didn’t have enough fabric to cut new facings.  Not going well, right?  Anyway, I cut bias strips and sewed them together and made a bias trim for the neck.  I actually like this better than the original facings anyway.

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I think there’s just tooo much patterned fabric here for me.

As it’s ever so slightly chilly here in the UK this week, I decided to wear it today with a long sleeve scoop neck tee, and I rather like it like this.  I think it would also look good with a rounder neck tee, or even a floppy poloneck.  I also think it needs slim fitting pants, looks good with the Birkin Flares, not so pretty with pleated, fuller trousers.  It’s the second Japanese pattern that hasn’t turned out quite the way I had imagined in my head.  I know I’m not the same shape and size, but I thought I was picking patterns that are similar to those I like in the Burdas, so I was hoping they’d come out the same too.  Guess I’ll be sticking to the trouser patterns! 😀

 

Sewing Japanese in January – Part 2

As far as the resolution “take it slower this year” goes, I’m not doing that well…  I’ve made three garments and two toiles, mended/fixed/altered a bag full and I’ve got a LIST for the month that really should be quartered.  Ah well, if I can’t have fun in January, when can I have it??

So, the next garment in the sewing from Japanese sewing books saga is another pair of Kana’s Standard trousers from the first book.  I had intended to use the wide leg pattern from the second book, I graded up two sizes, toiled and fitted (it worked perfectly!) but when it came to laying the pattern on the fabric, I didn’t have enough.

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Kana’s Standard trousers B-a

The fabric I wanted to use has been lurking in the stash for a long time.  I’d bought it from Fred Winter in Stratford on Avon years ago in the remnant bin.  It was 1.8m, pinstripe navy English wool, but with a problem.  It was labelled as a second, and I found the flaw straight away, running the full width of the fabric about 15cm in from the one cut end.  I figured I could deal with that, depending on what I was making and bought it anyway.  Then followed various attempts at fitting various patterns onto the fabric, which, it turned out, had more flaws than the one I’d seen in the shop.  There was another flaw running the full width about 30cm from the first one, as well as two holes about 10cm in from the selvedge on the opposite end of the fabric.  So nothing fitted, even though I tried.  I thought I could get this pattern to fit, heaven knows why, it’s a wide leg pattern, needs length!!

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But I was determined, this time the fabric was getting used!  So I pulled out the pattern for  trousers B-a from the first book and did a little tetris around the flaws.  I had to shorten them by 2cm to their original length to fit the legs into the area between the end and the first flaw, and cut really close to the fold, shifting the pants pieces as far from the selvedge as possible to avoid the holes, but I managed it!  The pockets fitted into the 30cm between the two flaws, as well as one of the waistband pieces, and the other waistband piece fitted between the first flaw and the end of the fabric.  DONE!

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I overlocked all the pieces before starting to sew, and then it was easy.  The pattern instructions are easy to follow from the diagrams, I’d already added the required 1cm seam allowances & 4cm hems when I traced the pattern.  So on Sunday, while hubby was working checking drawings, I was happily making a new pair of trousers.  Now, if you remember, the corduroy pair I made last seemed a little too roomy.  So to combat that, I decided to increase the seam allowance to 1.5cm on the inside leg seam and from the base of the pocket to the hem on the outside seam.  This wool is not as stiff as the cord, but I like the more streamlined look.  Makes me wonder why I graded up two sizes! 🙂

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But that takes you into the realms of fitting, and what you personally like.  The pants are supposed to be baggy, and not necessarily sewn in a stiff fabric like corduroy.  The thing is, I don’t want them too baggy on me, so I slim them down.  I have the same issue with the tops in these books.  If I actually graded up to the right size and proportions, I’d feel like I was wearing a massive tent, I just don’t like that amount of baggy.  Even though it looks great on other people, and in the books.  I can do baggy, just not tent.  That’s why I never use the Burda Plus patterns.  They’re just too big, too long and too “cover everything over”.

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Anyway, I digress.  This is my third version of this pants pattern, I might venture in to the shorter versions and maybe the jumpsuit version in the summer.  It might be nice for wearing on the allotment with a Basic Instinct Tee underneath.  Even the “dungaree” version might have legs 😉  So – so far, the purchase of the book has been vindicated by the use.  Especially if the toile for the gathered sleeve blouse works!!

Sewing Japanese in January -Part 1

So, by the title, I am hoping (planning) on there being more than one post of a Japanese pattern this month.  I had a little re-think of one of the tops I posted about last time, the viscose for the Sailor Top in the Simply Sewn book.  I think it’s going to be too drapey, so I’ll be re-thinking and digging though the stash to see what else I can find for that.  I also just may have found fabric for the wide, cropped pants from Kana’s Standard.  Just need to be sure the pattern fits on the fabric!

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Gown/Jacket E-a from Kana’s Standard

But – I have made the first item!  Woo!  I started with the Gown/Jacket E from Kana’s Standard.  Why that one?  Because I had planned on making it last year, the fabric’s been hanging around since 2016 and it looked quick and easy. What else could you want for a sewing day on New Year’s Day??

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Gown E-a in reversible double gauze

It turned out to be very easy to make, and relatively quick.  I didn’t rush it, there is an awful lot of double turning of long hems and edges to keep it all neat and tidy.  That’s because you really do see the insides while you’re wearing it, so it’s got to be done properly.

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Spotty, inside and out! Decent sized pockets too.

The instructions are all in Japanese, but the diagrams are pretty clear.  Once all the pieces are traced – main body, sleeve and pocket, you need to add seam and hem allowances.  So that’s 1cm for seams and 4 for hems and edges.  The main body is one size, with an option of size 9 or 13 for the sleeve and armhole.  I went for the 13.  Now, in hindsight, I could/should probably have added 2-3cm on the fold to the centre back.  I think it would have helped to have had extra room in the back portion of the jacket.  I’ve made that note on the pattern pieces for the next time.

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The “how to make” part in the book.

Order of construction is simple, make the sleeves, make the pockets, sew the pockets on at the marked placements, sew the sleeves into the armhole and hem everything.  Done! 🙂  I’d love to make this again in a soft, washed linen.  I found this shop on Etsy with lovely looking linen.  And Daughter no2 has looked accquisitorially at it already!  It used just under 3m of the double gauze I had in the stash.  It came from Organic Cotton Plus as part of a prize package.  I have a bit leftover which I think I’ll use for a kid’s outfit of some sort, there’s not enough for a grown-up!

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I like the look of this jacket, I had in mind for it to be a light covering in late spring and the summer, especially when sitting in my garden and the breeze gets a little nippy.  But it would also make a lovely dressing gown, and at least it has pockets for your phone and morning biscotti!  I just can’t quite get comfortable wearing it.  Because it’s basically a rectangle with armholes and sleeves, it doesn’t sit on the shoulders nicely.  I end up with it wither hangind down the back or having to haul more of it up around my neck.  If anyone else has made this, please let me know how you manage to wear it comfortably!

 

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I thought, maybe it’s just because I’m wider than the pattern is meant for, so I tried it on Daughter No 2.  It does look better on her (in my opinion) but she has the same issue with getting it to sit and stay!  I have a feeling I’m going to need to make a couple of darts in the neck edge to give it some shape.  In a jersey or fabric that has more give, I think it would eventually form a shape over the shoulders, but this just isn’t.  And it’s such a shame, because we both love the gown/jacket.  It’s just not nice to wear!  And we both have a problem with the armhole, it feels like it’s in the wrong place, either too low or not low enough!

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But I have a feeling this garment will be going home with Daughter No2, although I like it – I just don’t think it’s me…

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Book Review – Kana’s Standard

 

I thought it might be helpful, if you’re inspired by some of the garments seen in the #sewjapaneseinjanuary hashtag, to go through the books I have and will hopefully be using using this month.  One thing this community sew-along has shown me is that there are loads of good books out there that I had no idea about!  I’d love to have access to a bricks and mortar shop so I can browse these offerings properly.  And do some serious shopping….   I’ll start with Kana’s Standard, the first book, as that’s what I’ve been using first!

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Kana’s Standard

The patterns are drawn to Japanese sizes 7, 9, 11 & 13.  There is NO size chart in this book!  Each pattern does have, however, a list of finished measurements for each of the sizes, so I combined that with the size chart in the Clean & Natural book, and checked online to figure out where I fitted (or didn’t fit…).  I worked out that I needed to be a 15-17, depending on how much ease I wanted.  And there is a lot of ease, especially in the tops!  You also have to thing about height – or length.  The patterns are generally drafted for a height of 1.6m, so if you’re taller, you’ll need length.

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All the styles overview

There are 5 groups of patterns, with variations.  Section A has two basic tops, on of which is on the front cover, and 4 dresses, which are variations of the tops.  B is pants, including a pair of shorts, dungarees and a jumpsuit.  There are 6 patterns in that section.  Skirts are in section C, there are 7 – the waistband needs to to be fitted to the measurement of the waist, but the skirts are full/gathered so all you need worry about after that is length.  Section D is camisole, you get a top and a dress there.  The last section is E, gown or jacket.  There are 3 patterns in this section, making a grand total of 24 patterns.  Not bad for £15.

So far I’ve made the pants B-a and the gown/jacket E-a.  I’m not a skirt person, especially a full, gathered skirt, so that section will be largely ignored by me.  But the tops interest me, the gathered frill on the sleeve on the cover pattern is such a simple addition, yet makes it more desireable.  Here are some of the photos of the contents.  If you decide you need more technical info, please pop over to this site.  It’s full of interesting info, help to translate the instructions, etc.  For buying Japanese books, I use this Etsy shop (no affiliate links!!!) because she has loads to choose from, is so quick to post out and is reasonable in her charges too.  I’d look in her shop before checking anywhere else.

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All the tops & dresses in Section A
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Pants – Long, cropped, shorts and a jumpsuit & dungaree version
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Skirt styles, including a reversable skirt and a wrap version (bottom left images)
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Cami dress & 3 versions of the gown

At the end of each section there are some “action shots” of the author and model styling the garments in different ways.

 

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Styling the tops & dresses
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Styling the pants
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Styling the skirts
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Stying the cami dress & top and the gowns

A Little Unselfish Sewing – Xmas Presents

 

I know it’s the new year and all, but I have a little catching up to do!  In 2017 I made quite a few Christmas presents, but this time I limited myself just a little bit.  I made two black tees for Daughter No1 who wanted some tee shirts that weren’t too fitted, and I went for black because you can always wear a black tee!  And because I already happened to have 3m of black viscose jersey in the stash…

 

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Renfrew Tee by Sewaholic

I chose to make a long sleeved, scoop neck Renfrew by Sewaholic first.  This pattern has been adjusted with a swayback adjustment already, and this is her favourite neckline on a tee.  The long sleeves are the perfect length with the cuffs on, and she likes the way it makes the tee feel a little like a sweatshirt.  I leave the hemband off this pattern when making for Daughter No1, the length is fine without it and she prefers it that way.

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The second pattern I used is the Uvita Top, the free pattern on offer from Itch to Stitch.  I’ve made a few for myself so thought it would be perfect for her too.  Overall, it got the approving nod, but with a few requests for next time. (At least there will be a next time!)  I need to narrow the sleeves a fair bit and flare the side seams out a bit over the hips.  Not too long a list!  🙂

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Uvita Top from Itch to Stitch

 

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I also ran up a couple of Toaster Sweaters.  I know how much both girls like them, so made them one each using the fleece blankets from Asda, again.  I had bought two two-packs earlier in December, I needed the mustard colour for backing some quilted fabric I bought from a charity shop to make throws.  So I was left with two grey and white chevron blankets – perfect Toaster fabric!

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Toaster Sweater by Sew House 7

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Unfortunately, I did not check the direction of stretch…..  It ran (runs) perpendicular to the chevron pattern.  Now that’s something I didn’t even consider!  So I had already made Daughter No1’s Toaster with the chevrons running around the body, and against the stretch before realising.  Daughter No2’s chevrons run up and down, and the stretch is in the right direction.  Oh dear…  Nevermind, they still work.

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I ran out of time to make a tee for Daughter No2 out of the rest of the black jersey.  She was after a raglan tee.  I found one in a Burda magazine and will get that done this month – hopefully!