It looks like a distraction, but really isn't

Last year  I was shopping in the fabric district with some of my sewing buddies. Between the three of us, we bought a lot of fabric.At the cash register there was a bin of remnants.  For sewers, this is akin to putting candy bars near the checkout line. Impulse purchase!!!!When nifty fabrics are so inexpensive,it's easy to have a "why not" attitude about buying. Mis-dyed purple stretch lace? Why not?  Orange oil cloth? Why not? Quilted midnight blue patent leather? Why not? A few yard of soiled white novelty knit?? Why not?

One of my "why not"s was a black cotton blend pointelle sweater knit with a lurex thread. It had some damage to it but it looked like there was enough to make a sweater. The shop owner might have just thrown it in as a freebie because of the damage. I can't for the moment remember exactly how little I paid for the piece, but it cost less than getting to and from the garment district.

I kept pulling it out every couple of weeks and tried to decide how best to use it. Sometimes  tasks seem daunting. At some point, the fog clears and I know exactly what I need to do. I had just re-cut sleeves for a sweater whose sleeves I had cut the wrong way last winter. Pattern Review ( is doing a cardigan sew-along. I had just finished a pesky chunk of work and needed a tension relieving sewing activity. ( A way of keeping busy while am avoiding a different temporarily daunting task)

I have realized that the best way for me to get large projects done, is not as one might expect, to just plug away on the project, hour after hour, but to set up short distraction projects and work on those in between working on the big looming project. This way of working, gets me pumped up creatively and lets me return to the big looming project all energised and with the problem that had gotten me stuck, solved.

My mother used to tell me that she did her best problem solving while she vacuumed. This is the sewing equivalent of  my mother's problem solving method.
Being temporarily stuck on the parochet ( big and looming for the moment) I looked at the sweater knit and I suddenly realized exactly how I needed to cut it to create a cardigan. I used the sweater I was wearing as my guide. I cut out the fronts and the back. I sewed together the shoulder seam and then used the shoulder curve as my guide for cutting out the sleeves. I even remembered to have the stretch going the right way.

I stitched up the sweater seam, and then the armscye ( armhole for you non-sewers) to the waist seam on the sweater, dropped the sleeve into the armscye, lined up the seams and then sewed the armscye seam into place.It feels like magic. From cutting to sewing, it took about 12 minutes. The sweater knit had a ribbed bottom, so I used that as the bottom hems on both the waist and cuffs. I did a quick and dirty edge for the neck and front . I may do a more elegant edging later.

Learning how to cut sleeves had seemed like a great mystery of the sewing world. Very little that is actually easily understandable, is written about how to draft a sleeve. My hippie sewing book Hassle Free Sewing suggests using a store bought pattern for drafting sleeves int self drafted clothing. This, to me, makes no sense. Despite this one quibble, I found the book to be life changing. I have the early 1970's edition, as well as the follow up, Son of Hassle-free Sewing.  I haven't seen the new edition.  With the older edition, you need to make allowances for groovy language. 

I will have to see if I can apply what I learned about sleeve drafting to a woven, rather than to a stretch.

I'm not in love with the facing/finish I put on the sweater It's a little boring and applied in a not so lovely manner. I'm thinking of it as a place holder until I think of something better.

Right now I'm jazzed to finish the lettering on the parochet.


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