Pattern Hack: How to turn Moneta into a vintage-style cropped sweater

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Remember this cute little cropped sweater?

For our photo shoot, we needed a top to pair with the Mabel skirt. As a knitter, I love the way short sweaters with a deep waistband look. It’s a style that was very popular for knitwear from the 1930s all the way through the 1950s, and is incredibly flattering on a range of body types.

Kristen and I had the idea of combining some techniques from The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits (namely, the banded hem and ribbed cuffs) with the Moneta dress to make a light sweater top.

The result was just lovely. It’s just like those cute little vintage sweaters I love to knit, except I can make it in an hour or two!

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Use a sweater knit for the main body of the sweater and a tight, stretchy rib for the cuffs and waistband. Make sure the rib has good stretch and recovery.

Look at the cuffs and bands on sweaters and sweatshirts you already have to get an idea of what to look for. Your fabric store might have ribbed fabric made exclusively for this purpose, so if you’re not sure, ask them.

You can also use any of the free collar variations that come with Moneta. Because the sweater knit we chose has a ribbed pattern, we went with a simple rolled collar so that the stripes of the rib would look more natural. I’ll go over how to do that here, but if you aren’t using a fabric with a pronounced ribbed texture, just use one of the collar patterns.

You’ll Need:

  • Sweater knit fabric for the main body
  • Tight rib knit for the cuff and waistband
  • Matching thread
  • Clear 1/4″ elastic

Continue reading to learn how to make the sweater

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Weekend Reading: The medium chill, moodboards, and American textiles

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Look at what kind and generous reader Kelly sent us to celebrate our anniversary! It’s a set of the Time Life Art of Sewing books! I’ve been having so much fun flipping through them this week and admiring the beautiful covers.

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Kenn and I are headed to Austin for a quick weekend getaway today. Here are some links I think you might enjoy this weekend:

  • Designer Wendy Mullin has a new line called Soft Rock and I love it. Totally my colors from my Wardrobe Architect capsule wardrobe this season too.
  • How to make a moodboard. Though this is geared toward designers, this could be helpful for those of you creating moodboards and palettes for sewing. She even has a recommendation for a color picking app, which some of you have asked about before.
  • Gorgeous photos show the beauty inside America’s textile industry. Stunning images!
  • I’m fascinated by people’s attitudes towards money. This article from a former Wall Street hotshot explores what it’s like to be consumed by greed.
  • What does it mean to be “pinterest perfect“?
  • 10 simple words every girl should know: “Men interrupt women, speak over them, and discount their contributions to a discussion with surprising regularity. Here’s how women should respond.” I’ve found that most men are well intentioned and have no clue that they do this, or that it’s a larger pattern of behavior.
  • Want to be more creative? Take a walk. I’m a big believer in using your body to help you think better.
  • This is the best thing I’ve read all week: The Medium Chill. The author explores the disconnect between what consumer culture tells us about happiness (buy! acquire! work!) and what social psychology tells us actually makes for lasting happiness. And I love the conclusion, that the solution is helping people be more genuinely happy, not guilting them out of materialism.

[images above via our instagram feed. Follow me there!]

Come to our 5th Anniversary and book launch party!

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We’re having a party!

Portland friends (or those elsewhere in the PNW):

Alyson and I are throwing a big party to celebrate both Colette Patterns’ 5th anniversary, and the launch of the new knits book! Come hang out!

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(Photos from some of our previous parties: first book launch, boston, new york, and portland)

Meet & Greet at Modern Domestic

The fun starts Saturday, May 31 from 5-7PM at Modern Domestic on Alberta.

The lovely ladies of MoDo will have sweets and wine, and we’ll be schmoozing and talking fabric. Meet the lovely Alyson, bring your books for her to sign, and and get our fabric recommendations from the lovely selection of knits.

Meet & Greet
Modern Domestic
1408 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR
5-7PM

After party at Radio Room

At 7PM, we’ll head just 3 blocks away to Radio Room for more socializing, a sewing-themed cocktail menu, and lots of fun photo ops.

After Party
Radio Room
Upstairs patio
21+
1101 NE Alberta St (just 3 blocks away!)
7PM

Wear your Mabel or Moneta (bonus: it’s an instant conversation starter).

If you’re planning to come, RSVP here so we can get a general headcount:



   
   
   

Why polyester isn’t always the wrong choice (plus, some really awesome underwear)

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Recently, I received some adorable new underwear courtesy of the lovely folks over at Dear Kate. And these undies kind of blew my mind.

What’s so interesting about Dear Kate underwear (other than the fact that they’re pretty damn cute)? Allow me to talk about monthly lady times for a moment.

You see, these are designed specifically to be worn during your period and contain a special liner to draw fluids away from your body and repel stains.

Now, I’m a lover of nice underthings. But I also have a lot of b-listers (and c-listers, honestly) hiding in the back that I wear during that time of the month. They are ugly. They are stretched out, faded, and frankly sort of pathetic. I don’t feel great when I wear them, but I always considered it a necessary precaution, especially during the first couple of days.

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Having actual nice, pretty underwear that I don’t have to worry about ruining has totally changed my outlook when I get dressed. I had one less reason to feel miserable and gross. I particularly like the new Vera hipster they recently released (I have the orchid color), and want to buy a couple more.

Aside from the great concept and pretty designs, there’s one other thing that interested me about these. It’s such an innovative use of technical fabric, namely polyester.

Dear Kate was developed by Julie, whose background is in chemical engineering. She realized that so may women deal with the problems of heavy periods and overflow, and that new technology in textiles could help.

Julie did the R&D sewing herself, and is still the fit model for the brand. They’re also still manufactured in the US. I love stories like this: a woman sees a problem and how she can address it, and builds her company from there.

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This is Julie sewing in the very beginning of the company.

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This is Li Ping, one of the sewing operators who currently makes the garments in New York.

So why did Julie choose polyester to make her super absorbent gussets? Isn’t polyester just that cheap synthetic from the 70s? Isn’t it always horribly unbreathable?

For the answer to that, let’s first look at what makes a fabric breathable.

From fiber purist to poly stretch pants

Before I became a runner, I was a fiber purist. I only ever wanted to wear natural fibers and believed them to be objectively superior to anything synthetic.

In day-to-day life, I still wear natural fibers almost exclusively (perhaps with the occasional synthetic blended in, like spandex in pants, or nylon in socks). Generally, natural fibers are more breathable and feel great against the skin.

But when I began running longer distances, cotton no longer cut it. In the winter, I’d have to wear many layers of clothing when I headed out. After running for a while, my cotton leggings and t-shirts would become wet with perspiration, which is dangerous in very cold conditions. In extreme cases, it can lead to hypothermia.

In the summer, I’d sweat even more, and the moisture and salt would rub and grate against my skin, causing chafing. Let me tell you, there are few things less pleasant than being rubbed raw when you are on mile 17 on a hot day. So much pain coming at you at once.

So I began buying workout clothing in moisture wicking fabrics. I noticed that these fabrics were usually entirely synthetic, and I was confused. Aren’t synthetics supposed to be less breathable than natural fibers?

Are natural fibers really more breathable?

It’s true. In general, natural fibers are more breathable.

What does “breathable” really mean, though?

In essence, breathability refers to a fabric’s ability to maintain the equilibrium between the moisture contained in the fabric itself and the air around it. Fabrics that are constantly absorbing moisture and releasing moisture are more breathable than fabrics that don’t.

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In practice, what this means is that when there is moisture released from your skin, it doesn’t become trapped in the air between your skin and the fabric.

Take linen, for example. This fiber has been used for centuries in hot climates to keep people cool in even extreme temperatures.

Wool is also very effective at maintaining that equilibrium, especially in thin layers. That’s why merino wool socks can keep your feet cool and dry, even in warm conditions (weird, huh?). Wool is a great all-weather fiber.

Cotton can also be very cool, especially when worn in very thin layers. Cotton is also quite good at absorbing moisture. You probably wear a lot of cotton in the summer for this reason.

Contrast this with a synthetic fiber like polyester. Everyday polyester doesn’t breathe in the same way, leaving heat and dampness trapped on your skin. Yuck.

Cotton will absorb about 7% of moisture, but polyester only about 0.4%. That’s a huge difference. When you buy a cheap polyester dress at Forever 21 and wear it in the heat of summer, you’ll feel that.

So why synthetics?

If all this is true, why choose synthetic fibers at all when moisture is a concern?

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Put simply, not all synthetic fabrics are the same, even when they’re made out of the same fiber. Polyester fabrics are not all created equally.

Yes, natural fibers are breathable and lovely in everyday life. But where they are less successful is dealing with very high levels of moisture.

Natural fibers tend to absorb a lot of the fluid, holding onto it instead of releasing it all back into the outside air, away from the body. If you’re sweating a lot (or have a heavy period), the fabric becomes saturated. Not good in either of those situations.

This is where technology steps in, and why moisture-wicking fabrics are often referred to as a category of “technical fabrics.”

These wicking fabrics are made from blends of polyester. Remember what I said above about polyester only holding about 0.4% of moisture? In cheap polyester fabrics, this is very bad for staying dry.

But wicking polyester is woven differently. The weave is extremely permeable, meaning that moisture can pass through easily. The weave is designed so that the bits of moisture are pulled into the small holes in the weave and towards the outside of the fabric, where they can evaporate. Sometimes, additional chemical treatments assist this process (though not always).

So back to the panties.

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Because they’re made with wicking fabric, moisture is pulled away from your body, and into the absorbent, thin lining within. They are extremely comfortable and, yes, breathable!

So next time you’re looking at a content tag and think about turning up your nose at polyester, consider whether it’s your everyday polyester or one of these modern fabrics. While you may still prefer natural fibers in everyday clothing (I do), when you have special concerns about moisture, technical fabrics might be the way to go.

It’s science!

PS: You can buy Dear Kate panties over here. They sent me some undies to check out, but they did not pay for this post or anything. I really love what they’re doing with these innovative fabrics!

Now hiring: Sewalong writer and instructor

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The time has come to get a little more help with creating and writing our sewalongs. Are you a skilled sewist who wants to help us design, write, photograph, and teach our sewalongs at sewalongs.com?

Part of our goal here is to provide the most detailed and insanely helpful sewing instruction we can. Our sewalongs are a big part of that, which is why we’re looking to expand them. But we need more help to do it!

If you too are passionate about sewing and care deeply about the sewing community, if you love writing and thinking about sewing, if you are eager to teach your skills to others, consider pitching in with us!

For more information on what the position entails and how to apply, visit our jobs page.

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