My boyfriend jacket is a vintage 70’s pattern and came one size too small for me. I could make the case that I could just go online and try to purchase one in my size, however, when you have patterns given to you like I did, for free, no strings attached its hard to justify getting the same pattern in a different size and paying money for it. Wouldn’t you agree? I know. And what could be more fun that grading a pattern? I know, not that much. Maybe a giant root canal.

As I’m typing this, I’m currently grading Simplicity 5250. Can you believe that I’m nuts enough to actually grade the jacket here and not the pants? Me neither. But I am. I thought that it would be a good chance to practice grading. I needed just one size bigger. This is a 32 1/2 inch bust and I needed a 34 1/2 (or 35, but I went with 34 1/2 to make it easier) inch. So I thought I would do a post on grading. I’ve found this article on Threads to be most helpful and it goes into great detail about how to grade. I’m just filling you in on my experience.

Here I’ve done something that you probably shouldn’t do but I did anyway. Alter the original pattern. If this had been an older pattern, predating the 70’s and not a jacket with so many pieces I would have considered tracing the pattern and then using that to alter with. But I’m sticking to my guns on this one. I altered the original pattern, so there. You may not want to do this. That’s up to you. And don’t let anyone tell you different. It’s your pattern.

Onto the grade. I started with the back lining piece as it most closely resembles one of the 5 main slopers on the chart from the Thread’s article. I drew the lines in (accented here in red) and then figured the amount I needed to grade each line. The Thread’s article will help you with that too. The graph in the article goes up to two inches, however, if you need to do a bigger grade, multiply the graph. I did a two inch grade here. But if I were to do a four inch grade, I would take the numbers given in the graph for a two inch grade and double them. Make sense?

To get a good and even grade, I drew the grading lines in the same places of origin. For example, the horizontal grade line in the middle of the armscye should match the grade line of the sleeve head and the front lining piece. You with me? Good. I did this part by laying the pattern pieces over each other, matching them all up. For example, as I graded my back lining piece, I also put the lines in for the yoke, the back pleated section, the belt, the peplum, the collar and the sleeve. All the pattern pieces must grade at the same points for the grade to work. In other words, you can’t just pick random lines for grading, I’ve done that one before and its a real pain to figure out where you went wrong. Everything gets all wonky. Have the grade lines all originate from the same points.

Next I spliced and separated the pattern pieces one at a time. Added in the tissue and used my ruler to determine the amount of extra tissue I needed. If you are grading down, you obviously won’t need the tissue. You’ll be overlapping the pattern pieces instead. In the end, my piece looked graded, ha ha ha (A for effort, right?). Where needed, I neatened or blended the edges of the grading areas with my straight ruler or french curve. After that I went through all the pieces and matched them up again, laid them over each other, etc and made sure that the notches matched each other (otherwise, I remarked them) and that there wasn’t a piece longer or shorter than each other. I find it easier to sew the garment if the notches and seams all match up. Who doesn’t, right? Ha.

A few things to keep in mind. When grading a top or a dress, stick with your bust measurement. With bottoms, stick with your waist or hip measurement depending on which is bigger or harder to fit. Once you are finished grading a pattern, its a good idea to make a muslin, just to make sure that the grading worked and you don’t have one piece longer or shorter than the other or something somewhere doesn’t quite match up. That’s up next, for me. Also, I wouldn’t bother grading a pattern if you’re only 1 to 1 1/2 inches off from the pattern. Instead I would make a muslin and fit from there. If you are 2 or more inches off, you’ll need to grade.

Hopefully this makes sense. How do you normally grade a pattern? Any tips or tricks you’ve come by that helps?

  • Tasia - Nice work! It looks easy once it’s all graded and finished doesn’t it? What a cute jacket pattern!
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  • zoe - Thanks for sharing this and I wish you all the best with your project. The pattern is gorgeous, I’m sure you’ll make an awesome job. I’ll looking forward to following your next steps…
    xxx
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  • Ashley - Thanks for the great post! My next project is a vintage pattern that I have to grade. It will be my first time grading so I’m a bit nervous about it, but I guess that’s what muslins are for. :)
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  • Liz - My mom, who sewed all the time in the 60’s etc. told me I just need to add more fabric to the side seams to make it larger/smaller. I wasn’t sure if I agreed with her statment. Do you know the pros/cons with adding to the side seams to make a garment larger vs. grading?
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  • Jill - Thank you SO much for this tutorial and the links. I just bought a vintage pattern on line that I’m in love with, but it’s a bit small. I figured I either need to lose fifteen pounds or learn how to grade. The former might be the best idea, but I think the latter is more likely given the fast approach of baggy sweater weather!
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  • Sheri - OMG! I made this jacket in 1974! I made it in mauve pinwale cordoroy. I used vintage gold buttons and made bound buttonholes. I loved that jacket! I made it again for a friend at my sister’s office. I still have this pattern, also a size 10, somewhere in storage. Thanks for bringing back fond memories.
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  • nicole - Great post, cant wait to see the complete project. Pattern grading can be quite daunting so it’s great to have it explained so well :-)
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  • Ana - Thanks for this (and the Threads link). I have several patterns that I love but no longer fit so I shall definitely be giving grading a go.
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  • Eco Chic - Thank u very much for sharing this and I wish you great success with your project…. The pattern is gorgeous, I’m sure you’ll make an awesome job. I’ll looking forward to following your upcoming steps…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th7hEvqX7CU Very Usefull!!!!
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  • The Cupcake Goddess - Hi Liz,
    You bring up a very good point and one that when I did my first grading project I thought would be fine. OK here’s the problem with just adding or decreasing inches to the side seam. The side seam can be let in or out depending on if the garment is too big in the bodice, but let’s think about what this affects. If you localize the grade to this area you’re only going to have more or less room to move your arm around in and more or less room in the bodice. The underarm will be thrown terribly off if you decide you need a 4 inch grade and only grade the side seams. And what about the sleeve? It will probably be too small for the armhole at that point. Also, what about the bust, shoulder and shoulder blades? Adding or subtracting inches to the side seam won’t do anything for those areas. Does this make sense? Especially if you’re doing a really big grade, you won’t want to add inches just to the side seam, you’ll want the piece to grade in all places. Think about when you buy a multisized pattern. If you notice, the pattern pieces tend to get larger or smaller in the same areas. That’s what I’m trying to do here. Hopefully this makes some sense and gives you a better idea of why its important to grade in all areas and not just one. Thanks for a really great question!
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You’ve probably been wondering if I will ever sew a garment again. I haven’t come out with a garment since….ahem, I can’t even remember. I’ve actually been working on several garments and just haven’t finished them or had time to go and grab the necessary finishing detail and such. I know. Lazy. That rotten little four letter word.

Well, in an effort to actually finish something, I hereby declare that I’m officially working on a boyfriend’s jacket. I’ve been following along with Gertie’s Lady Grey Sew-A-Long and though I’m not making that coat (as I’ve already made it, and am not quite ready to make it again), I am following her tailoring technique tutorials. Even bought that book about tailoring that she mentioned. Very very worthy investment, if I do say so myself.

So you might be wondering exactly what a boyfriend’s jacket is. I’ve wanted a new one for awhile. My mom had the sweet velveteen number above that I wore all through high school and my first years in college. I loved that jacket. A real genuine 70’s boyfriend jacket. My mom told me that my dad actually bought it for her when they were still….boyfriend and girlfriend. So it’s the real deal. And unfortunately it doesn’t fit. It never did fit real well, what with those football shoulders I’ve got. Could never bring my darn arms foward. Bowling was definitely out of the question. But back to my original point. A boyfriend’s jacket is a jacket made for a woman that looks like a men’s jacket. It’s supposed to give you that look of actually looking like a boyfriend’s jacket, like you know, your boyfriend gave to you. That sort of ring around the neck thing and all.

A couple of weeks ago, this lady at work brought me a box of patterns she didn’t want anymore. (PS, it’s a very good idea to tell older women you work with that you sew and that you love vintage patterns, because they will bring your their old patterns and let you have them. This is my 4th box!) I was sorting through them rather quickly, having a glance and what to my wondering eyes – Simplicity 5250. A rather feminine detailed boyfriend’s jacket. Loved. It. Had to have it. I dropped everything and ran, not walked, home. I had the navy velveteen and the blue polka dot silk lining at the ready for this very occasion. Hip Hip Hooray! I’m such a lucky girl. You have no idea.

Needless to say, I’ve made a good start on the jacket. And I will finish it, don’t you worry. It will be tailored, am waiting on hair canvas to arrive as I type. Had to grade the pattern up one size. Will show you more on that later this week. Made the muslin, and had slight but easily fixed fitting problems. And there you have it.

And you do realize what this means, right? Pretty much, I have nothing to go with this jacket. Ha ha ha. And I’ve commited myself not to make onesies anymore, so I’ll just have to base an entire outfit around this jacket. Oh what fun! Yay!

Thoughts anyone? Did you ever have a boyfriend’s jacket? I want to know, really I do. And I want to know what boyfriend gave it to you.

PS ~ You guys, seriously, are THE BEST! Thank you so much for guiding me in the right direction for a beggining knitter. I’m very excited to get started. Have bought two books, just need to pick a project and get some needles, yarn and other odd supplies. Couldn’t be happier with all of your fabulous advice! THANK YOU! You really know how to reach out and make a girl feel welcome!

  • Tasia - Ooh this project is going to be fabulous! When I wore boyfriends’ jackets they were usually cotton hoodies, not quite as cool as your mother’s boyfriend’s jacket! Love the fabric and lining combo, look forward to seeing it come together!
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  • Carlotta - Ooooh… are you sure it wouldn’t at the very list match with you Bella pants (my favorite hand-sewn pece of clothing of yours)?
    I just purchased a Betsy Johnson for Buttreick pattern that looks roughly the same as your jacket : big collar, even if it’s a shawl collar, same length and puffy sleeves, and I’d love to see what you’ll do with this pattern!!
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  • Carlotta - Oops, I meant “at the very least”, sorry about that!
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  • Laura - I was thinking Sunni’s pattern was totally Betsey Johnson too!
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  • Jill - Love it! The great thing about a boyfriend jacket is that you can wear it with anything — isn’t it supposed to look like your gentlemanly boyfriend threw it over your shoulders on a brisk fall day?
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  • Laura - I didn’t have a “Boyfriend Jacket” per se, but I did start buying vintage men’s tailored jackets at thrift stores as soon as I realized having all those pockets inside would let me carry everything without a purse!
    I love the look of your pattern, and think it would be adorable with your self-stitched jeans and with maybe either your ice cream top or the bosenberry blouse to tie in the great polka-dotted lining.. Of course, a pea green twill a-line skirt would be adorable paired with that bright navy as well. Come to think of it, pairing it with the “Summer in Italy” skirt might work too, especially with a magenta or purple top..See? Because you’re drawn to colors and silhouettes that you love, they inevitably go with other items in your wardrobe, and might not be the onesies you think they are…
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  • Seemane (aka Claire) - Back in the mid-90’s a bought loads of second-hand men’s suit jackets from charity-shops for like £2 / £3 each. They were all worn slouchy style with the sleeves rolled-up LOL!
    Re: your not wanting this to be a “onesie” – I agree with the above this will so look lovely with your Bella trousers. Also, how about a more casual style pencil skirt (we know you know how to make those 😉 ). Or… the Colette Beignet skirt in the same fabric + some contrasting buttons maybe? I can also see you wearing the jacket with a lovely 3/4 sleeve bow/tie-neck blouse in white swiss dot-cotton!!
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  • Alexandra Mason - I love the look of that Simplicity jacket and your material is so gorgeous! I have a boyfriend jacket from the carboot not from my man because he is about 2 times wider than me :)
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  • A Sewn Wardrobe - You could so wear this jacket w/ jeans and a simple T! I cannot wait to see the finished version (and any tutorials in between!!).
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  • Wanett - Oooooooh! I love velvet blazers! I had one once from Old Navy….I have no clue what happened to it. Around junior high school age, my aunt took me and my cousin to a used clothing warehouse in Brooklyn. There I bought this huge (I was about 90 lbs soaking wet then) suit jacket that I wore with the sleeves rolled up for years. I wish I could find pictures wearing it. I’m sure I looked a sight, lol! Though, I’m thinking I should go see about getting one now.
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  • lsaspacey - You must make the pants too, what a great shape. Of course, they don’t have to be in the navy cord but how about a coordinating herringbone or nubby flecked wool that picks up some other colors too? I’ve been in love with that pattern too but I think I’m too lazy now to make a fitted jacket. Can’t wait to see yours finished!
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  • Mrs. Lyons - Can’t wait to see the jacket! I love blazers, and that pattern you’re using is super cute!! I’ve got line-backer shoulders too, stuck on a small person’s body, lol!
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  • Angela - Ooo… I love the pattern!! Hehe.. can’t wait to see your progress on the boyfriend jacket!!
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  • Emily - Delicious fabric choices! Can’t wait to see it and the outfits you create with it.
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  • Becky - I’m a sucker for a good jacket–a love affair that also started in my teens, thanks to a couple of vintage-looking blazers I found in my very first shopping trip to Goodwill in jr. high and a couple of my mom’s 70s hand-me-downs. She had this one jacket that I absolutely loved. It looked kind of like a tweed, in a brownish-tannish shade with random bits of orange and turquoise, of all things, mixed in. And it definitely had a bit of a menswear look to it, though I know it wasn’t a genuine boyfriend jacket because my mom actually sewed it when she was a teenager. That was such a great jacket–the only reason I eventually gave it up was because I’m a bit taller, and definitely broader in the shoulders, than my mom. And so it was always a little too tight across the back. Not to mention the sleeves were too short for my monkey arms. Oh, and it was some kind of wool or wool blend, which I’m highly sensitive to and can’t really wear without breaking out. But part of me wishes I’d kept it anyway, because I’ve never found a lighter brown jacket that was quite that awesome since.
    Your pattern looks really great–looking forward to seeing the finished product! (And I’m laughing because Gertie’s tailoring series is inspiring me too– I don’t need a new outerwear coat, but I do have plans for a corduroy jacket later this fall and just might use her series as reference. Because I’m always up for learning a new technique, and who says corduroy can’t be tailored?)
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  • Julie - I smiled when I read about letting the older women you work with know that you sew. I just gave away a lot of 70’s patterns that are too small for me. After looking at your article and the article in Threads maybe I should have kept them and graded them up! This boyfriend jacket is cute. I hate the boxy crap that all you can find now. I’ve started working with repro Victorian patterns to get away from that.ReplyCancel

As I mentioned last week, I made a serious haul on vintage patterns. Most are in the shop as I type, a few yet still to upload. And that was very hard for me, because I loved them all and wanted to keep them all. I limited myself to keeping two. That’s some serious restraint if I ever knew it. Serious.

Funny enough, I kept this little number. I liked the dress well enough. It’s cute and stylish, but I’ve never seen a sewing pattern that came with a knitted number and instructions for how to knit it. I’m fairly new to vintage patterns, so saying I’ve never seen this before may not hold alot of weight. Still, I’ve never seen this in my my sewing experience period. But I looooove it! I especially the pea green color on the model here. And I really want it. But I don’t know how to knit….

So, for all of you knitters out there, where would you start? I am by no means saying that this sweater should be one of my very first projects. Ha ha ha. I’m saying as someone who’s never knitted a single knot, what do I do first? Any book recommendations? What sort of project should I start out with? What kind of needles do I get? How many needles do I get? Do I start with chunky, medium or thin yarn?

I’ve heard of Ravelry. It’s an overwhelmingly beautiful site, but I’m looking for something more direct. A book that says, you’ll need this and this to get started. This is the first stitch to learn. Blah, blah, blah. Tell me too, where did you learn to knit? What is the best part about knitting? What should I anticipate? Is it hard? And why is knitting so great?

Input please. I’m in dire need. Someday, I WILL make this sweater. In pea green yarn, no less.

  • Corvus - I would start with a hat, personally. Scarves take forever, particularly for new knitters, and knitting in the round is really not difficult. Find a pattern you like that appears simple (Ravelry is good for that), buy yarn whose ball band says it reaches the gauge given in the pattern (or yarn where the weight/yardage ratio is the same as the yarn called for in the pattern), and go. Use knittinghelp.com to look up stitches- I’ve owned many books, but nothing has been more helpful than the videos on that webpage.
    You could even design your own hat. My boyfriend did for his first ever knitting project, and he didn’t have any garment-making background. He did have me, but then, you do to, via internet. 😉
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  • Sara - I would start with worsted weight wool, like patons classic wool or cascade 220 and a pair of #8 circular needles (i started on straights but only use circs now–you can knit back and forth on circs, but you can’t knit in the round on straights).
    the stitch n bitch books are decent starter books with lots of fun patterns for beginners. i was definitely more excited about knitting when there was stuff i actually wanted to make.
    and give ravelry a try–it’s really very helpful and full of inspiration.
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  • Amy - Sunni, I wished we lived in the same place! i taught a knitting class last year and I really enjoy helping others discover knitting!
    Corvus is right, scarves can be a pain for new knitters and knitting a hat in the round isn’t all that difficult but it can be a little confusing with out someone to help you figure out where you went wrong if you mess it up or find the instructions confusing.
    Since most vintage sweaters are actually knit flat and not in the round i would suggest mastering that first. you don’t have to knit a scarf, one of my students knit coasters that she gave away as presents and her first “learn to knit” bit became a planter cozy. I suggest working with a mid weight yarn, known as DK or worsted weight, and size 7 or 8 needles. I also suggest getting decent yarn that feels nice in your hands rather than cheap acrylic. A good place for less expensive but nicer yarn is knitpicks.com and they have really nice wooden needles. I like the stitch n’ bitch books. The diagrams are really good and they have little tips and tricks all along the way.
    And also like Corvus, you have me via internet, so feel free to email me if you need help!
    ps. i love the turquoise and pea green combo and I think it would be so gorgeous on you!
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  • Emma - My advice is to find someone to teach you how to knit. Better yet, take a class. I have been knitting forever, but always wanted to learn how to crochet and could never make sense of it from books. I took a class this summer and am now halfway through crocheting an afghan. I found it really, really helpful to work with a live person.
    But, if you go the book route, I would also recommend the Stitch and Bitch books. There are also a bajillion (free!) videos on YouTube for you to try.
    Good luck! Let us know how it goes!
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  • Amanda S. - Ditto what Emma wrote. When I wanted to learn to knit, I took a class at a local yarn shop. I just couldn’t “get it” by looking at a book, I had to be shown. Plus they teach you other helpful stuff like how to take out your stitches and fix mistakes. Good luck! It is really a fun hobby to get into.
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  • Tonya - I am a hardcore knitter, and I taught myself several years ago using the book Stitch ‘n’ Bitch by Debbie Stoller. I’d also recommend finding a local yarn store; they probably do lessons and are usually super nice and helpful.
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  • Madelaine - Make sure you pick a light yarn to start too. It’s impossible to see stitches in black yarn at first. I’d go with white or a sunny yellow… Good luck! You’ll love it.
    I actually learned to knit when Germaine Koh came to the Art Gallery of Ontario to do Knitwork, and they had a bunch of elderly ladies teaching people to knit back in 1999. I was fourteen and thought it was the coolest thing ever. You can see a bit on the project here: http://www.germainekoh.com/ma/projects_detail.cfm?pg=projects&projectID=87
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  • Laura - I think the first Stitch and Bitch book has the best illustration/explanation for casting on from a book. I agree with others who have said knitting in the round is great to begin with, and starting with a hat will be a relatively quick and easy project. I’ll admit, I’m extremely result oriented when it comes to my sewing projects, but when I knit I just enjoy the process, and don’t mind at all if I end up starting over etc. It’s very much about the meditative tactile experience for me. Beware though, because beautiful yarn is just as addictive as fabric and you can find yourself with a stash in no time..
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  • Jen - Sunni,
    I started knitting just a few years ago as a way to relax me before bedtime, and I learned pretty much all of my basics through Debbie Stoller’s Stitch’nBitch book (I think the cuteness of her patterns is what initially motivated me to learn, and then I went on from there). Video tutorials are helpful too, and like Corvus, I frequent the knittinghelp website for tips when I need a visual aid.
    Also, I think I started off my practicing with a thicker yarn (easier to see/ work with) and some straight bamboo needles. I like the Takumi brand and I usually wait to grab some with my JoAnns coupon :) My first project was just a basic garter-stitch scarf (probably from the SNB book), and then I moved on to hats, sweaters, etc. Ravelry has helped me a lot too, especially when I want a pattern review, or see what I can do with a certain type of yarn. Hope some of this info is helpul -happy knitting ! :)
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  • Patty - Sunni – I’m with the girls who suggest size 7 needles and worsted weight wool. And I do mean wool (or cotton, or bamboo!!) Acrylic yarn is just not that nice to touch!
    Also, bamboo needles are the cool ones now, but I have to say, I love my grandma’s collection of aluminum ones – they’re pointy and not as slippery as the bamboo ones.
    You’ll probably build your needle collection bit by bit – pick a project and get what you need for that. The only other stuff that I use that’s helpful is a crochet hook for picking up dropped stitches (they slide off your needle sometimes) and safety pins to mark your knitting. Also, it’s helpful to have soemthing to count rows/stitches. A piece of paper and pen, a pile of M&Ms (10 rows? 10 M&Ms, eat one at end of each row, never lose track. unless the boy comes into the room and gobbles) or there are a bunch of iphone apps that have stitch counters, when you’re ready for that.
    I learned to knit using The Knit Stitch – a pretty good book with good photos. The best part of this book (and the following book, the Purl stitch) is that the author really focuses on learning to be intuitive while you knit – basically, learning how to look at what you’re doing and figure out how to fix mistakes rather than be stuck to the pattern. Also, the patterns in the books are good and basic – there’s a whole bunch of stuff to do with just mastering the knit stitch! the sock pattern is still my favorite, and there’s a pattern for a baby sweater and ‘gauntlets’ (elbow length, fingerless gloves) I’ve made a bunch of times. (I’m pjungwirth on ravelry – you can see the cute baby coat in my projects! Also, an awesome loopy shawl that was crazy easy to make!)
    Here’s the URL for the first book. http://www.amazon.com/Knitting-Experience-Book-Inspiration-Instruction/dp/1893762130
    I’m a learn-from-book type (although you tube is helpful for seeing it in action). I think it’s important to know if you are a learn from book or class type. I personally probably would not have started knitting if I had tried a class route! And I’ve tried to teach a few friends, not a good situation. I am not a patient teacher.
    You’ve already mentioned ravelry, which I like for the same reason I like patternreview.com – see projects on real people. Also, if you have a iphone/ipod – the vogue knitting app is nice, it has lots of how-to’s and definitions in it.
    hope that’s helpful! Knitting is soothing, but not as instant gratification as sewing! But there are so many great yarns, you can make a ‘masterpiece’ by just knitting a scarf! Which yes, does take forever, but you really need to just practice for your first project, right?
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  • Patty - just wanted to clarify – socks and gauntlets are patterns in the Purl stitch – they use both knit AND purl!
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  • frk.bustad - That’s so cool, because I was just going to recommend you the Stitch ‘n’ Bitch book, and see that everyone else does too! Well, I learned to stitch when I was a kid, so that’s just one of those things I just know how to do. Like running a bike. So I cannot give you any advice on how to start. Where to start though: I would recommend a very small project, like a baby’s cap. The good thing with this one, is that you learn some of the basics (knit/purl etc), and it’s small enough to keep your patience. See http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/norwegian-sweet-baby-cap—djevellue Don’t find me on Ravelry… you’ll only see half-finished projects there… I am a seamstress, but I do knit. Just not that much. And I’m not very good with finishing stuff…
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  • Trixie Rocket - I originally learned to knit from the stitch ‘n bitch books too, which are brilliant but after I started to knit I found a book called ‘Domiknitrix’ by Jennifer Stafford which I think has even better instructions (but perhaps a very specific style). The two books are complete opposites really – Stitch ‘n Bitch books are far more focused on knitting for the fun of it, while Domiknitrix focuses more on making your knitting look as perfect as possible. I would probably recommend Stitch ‘n Bitch as a first stepping stone as it is very clear, accessible, not at all intimidating and has some pretty easy patterns in it, but personally I’m very glad I have both. I think it’s also a great idea to join a knitting group, so you have people to support you and help you while you learn – plus it’s fun! You can find one near you on the Stitch ‘n Bitch site.
    Here are the websites for the two books (which are both good websites in their own right):
    http://www.domiknitrix.com/
    http://stitchnbitch.org/
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  • Trixie Rocket - Oops – just in case anyone clicks on my name and I get into trouble, that’s not my blog. I mistyped. Sorry.
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  • Jessica - Exciting! I say buy some cheap-o Red Heart acrylic yarn (everybody says they hate acrylic yard, but it’s clean and easy to work with – wool and other natural fibers tend to get fuzzy or pull apart or be otherwise confusing – and it’s cheap!) worsted or light worsted or DK (that’s the thickness of the yarn), and a pair of size-7 straight needles (DO NOT be afraid of round needles!! But straight makes it easier to begin – easier to count your stitches and see what you’re doing). Then get the original Stitch N Bitch book. It’s what I taught myself from. VERY easy, clear, simple, straightforward directions. The projects go perfectly through, from the “learn your very first stitch” handkerchief to sweaters that are classic enough they won’t look ugly in two years (which I think is a problem with a lot of knitting books).
    Good luck!
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  • Ana - Learning from a book is good, but if you can find someone to teach you or a local knitting circle, you’ll get help when things go wonky. I would go for thick yarn and big needles to start with (the band around the ball will give you an idea of what size needles to buy).
    Hats and scarves are all very well but once you’ve made a couple of these, have a look at the patterns that Rowan (http://www.knitrowan.com/) do for their extra thick yarns (eg. Drift or Big Wool). The patterns are very simple, the stitches very big and you’ll get something ‘proper’ like a jumper or cardigan in quick enough time so that you don’t get bored.
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  • lsaspacey - I actually learned from the Knitting for Dummies book, which is as simple as you can get. Good luck, it’s been ages since I’ve knitted anything myself.
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  • paisleyapron - Knitting is the best thing that I have learned…ever. I cannot tell you how relaxing and fulfilling it is. I taught myself to knit by reading every book I could get my hands on from the library and using the website http://www.knittinghelp.com. It is a fantastic site and you can watch the videos again and again. I first made lots and lots of washcloths out of cheap kitchen cotton yarn (Peaches and Cream). That was kind of hard on my hands after awhile and the switch to wool was wonderful. LOL. Definitely join Ravelry and join a few groups that can help answer questions as you have them. Ravelry increased my knitting knowledge exponentially. Oh, the best beginner book I found? “Knitting Without Tears” by Elizabeth Zimmerman. Good luck!
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  • Farah - Wow, I can’t believe how many of us learned form ‘Stitch n Bitch’. That book, along with some videos from you tube was all i needed to learn to knit, even complicated cable patterns and lace. Keep practicing till you get your tension right, it’s really not hard to teach yourself.
    That sweater doesn’t look too difficult but i would start simpler for your first project, start with a washcloth or a hat.
    Very cute pattern. have never seen anything like it.
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  • Karen - Here’s some more local advice–I learned from a class at Black Sheep Wool Co. on South Temple and E Street, but my new favorite yarn store is Blazing Needles, 1365 South 1100 East.
    Blazing Needles offers a free Saturday beginning knitting class (as long as you buy your yarn and needles there) and they’re all really nice. Lovely yarn selection, too.
    Check it out! http://www.blazing-needles.com/classes.html
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  • Liz - Ravelry is the best! :) To start, I’d look into the stitch n’bitch series (pardon my english). They have great images in there for beginners. You Tube is actually how I taught myself. But I learnt how to crochet first then learnt how to knit. I think it’s easier that way, but it’s a long ways off from making your knitted sweater.
    My first project was a kitchen dishcloth. :)
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  • TakiJ - I just learned how to knit last week. The lady at the local knitting shop was more than happy to sit there and show me. I am making a scarf and yes it is taking forever. No instant gratification but lots of practice mastering that stitch. I can’t wait until I am done though. Hopefully she will help me with a hat next. Good luck with it. I am looking forward to hearing about your progress.
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  • Bethany - It is indeed a lovely pattern .. so adorable! As for knitting recommendations: I recommend starting with a smooth, light colored, woolen yarn, with aluminum needles. The yarn is important because you want to be able to see your stitches easily, and you don’t want a yarn that is going to split all the time when you try to put your needles through the stitches. Wool has a really nice hand for learning, I think, because it is not too heavy (your hands won’t get tired too fast), the wool sticks to itself the right amount to facilitate an even tension, but will slide nicely along the aluminum needles.
    Scarves are boring and take a long time, so don’t start with a scarf. I’d say just start with a swatch and stop when you feel like you’ve got the hang of it and move on to something more interesting. Then if you know any babies go for some baby items: kids will look adorable in most anything you knit, and they are great confidence boosters because they go super fast, so you can start out with a few easy wins. Of course, if it winds up your swatch is as long as a scarf, by the time you feel confident enough to move on, that’s cool too! Scarves are great accessories, I guess I’m just advocating that you don’t get tied to making a whole scarf and then get bored and feel like you’ve failed at knitting just because you didn’t finish it.
    Elizabeth Zimmermann is incredibly charming in her writing, but depending on your learning style you might find her patterns a little daunting at first. Then again she is great reading even without knitting her patterns, and her whole knitting philosophy is a lovely place to start.
    Love the blog! Glad to give a wee bit back on the subject of knitting 😉
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  • Bethany - I disagree about acrylic: it is cheap, but you can get some pretty cheap wool yarn too. Acrylic is a little too sticky for very first learning I think. I think it lends itself to knitting much too tightly, because the fibers are grabbing onto each other too much. And the other thing I’ve found with acrylic yarns is they don’t seem to be quite as elastic as wool and consequently they don’t hold their twist as well, resulting in more split stitches, which can be immensely frustrating to deal with when you’re trying to figure out the mechanics of holding the yarn and all that.
    If you’re looking for economy, maybe get some peruvian wool from Knitpicks.com, or Elann.com Though even cascade 220 is pretty economical, which you should be able to get for under $9.
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  • Angela - Hmm.. I’m a self-taught knitter and I learned to knit from mainly here… http://learntoknit.lionbrand.com/?learnToKnit=1
    There’s a ton of online resources and videos are super helpful. Good luck!
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  • Jeni - If there is a stitch n bitch group near you, they usually welcome newbies and will teach you what you need to know. Check http://stitchnbitch.org/
    If you want to learn yourself, you could also check out the Vogue Knitting book (http://www.amazon.com/Vogue-Knitting-Ultimate-Book/dp/193154316X) which has lovely explanations of the whole process, including a bit about designing (more than you want now, but a good reference later on)
    There are also tons of good tutorials on YouTube.
    Of course, the suggestions from others (Ravelry and the Stitch n Bitch books) are also great!
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  • Laurel - I love green! and I love that pattern. I think I have seen one other vintage pattern like that, but just the one. Can’t recall if I bought it, or left it at DI for the next lucky seamstress.
    I learned to knit when I was in grade-school, so I don’t even remember if it was hard at the time or not. I guess not, or I wouldn’t still be doing it, right?
    Mom and I taught kindergarten kids how to knit for years. For that age, they recommend using size 6 needles and worsted weight yarn, because they are easy to work with. I like Vanna’s Choice for a good, soft acrylic yarn, if you don’t want to invest in the nice stuff yet. Although, yarn for one hat or one scarf isn’t much, so you could get the nice stuff.
    Personally, I’d start with a scarf, just to get the techniques securely in my head. All that repetition is good when you’re learning.
    I like SnB, but back in the day, I used (and still refer to) the Readers Digest Complete Book of Needlework. Very good photos and how-to’s for all kinds of needlework. It’s still in print, but you can pick up used copies cheap ($2).
    Piper’s Quilts & Comforts in SLC, has knitting classes, if you want to get some personal instruction. They carry some nice yarns and needles, but it’s a pricey little shop.
    Or, you could sit in with a knitting group. SnB’s website has a listing of local knitting groups, including the one I attend every Thurs, 7pm, at B&N on the Parkway in Orem. I know there are plenty in SLC area, though. Find one, and all the gals there will give you all kinds of help and advice, for free!
    I LOVE knitting. It’s addictive. And useful. And more portable than your sewing machine. I knit just about anywhere and everywhere, all the time.
    Local Yarn Shops are about as plentiful as non-quilting fabric stores in UT, so be prepared to shop online for good deals on good yarns. I especially love Alpaca Direct
    Nothing so soft and warm as alpaca.
    (sorry – that was kinda a lot for a comment)
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  • makingtime - Definitely go with wool (knitpicks wool of the Andes is a good basic yarn) and I’d say wooden needles – they give you more friction, which means more control/less fear of dropping a stitch as you’re working it. You tube is amazing for knitting, I just discovered! Craftsanity’s demo of the continental method was life changing for me – learn that way first and you’ll be on the fast track 😉
    I love knitting. A little obsessed, really. Start reading The Yarn Harlot blog for inspriration and humor – I think even nonknitters would like it :)
    and ravelry is definitely worth your while, at least once you’ve gotten the first two or three things down.
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  • haruna - wooo both the dress and the sweater are so beautiful!
    I finally learned how to knit last winter after many discouraging failure attempts.(stories here at my blog http://netfet.blogspot.com/search/label/knitting)
    I am still not a serious knitter like some people who knit all year around, but this year I picked up on a project early. I already made a pair of knitted/felted slippers, and now working on a hat. I had to re-familiarize myself with all the knitting terms again, as well. this site(http://www.knittinghelp.com/videos/knitting-glossary) is really good for the basic terminology and it even has lots of demo videos!
    good luck on your knitting adventure!
    look forward to seeing your knitting creations here soon :)
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  • Tasia - Oh yay, look at all the helpful suggestions! I’ve been curious about knitting myself for a while now, look forward to reading about your beginner-knitting adventures!
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  • Tasia - Oh and, very cool that the dress pattern comes with the sweater pattern too! I’ve never seen that either :)
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  • Belinda-JustSewTall - I learnt using Patons Learn to Knit & help from my mum. I would find a book or website with good pictures and then take a class or go along to a knitting group where people can help beginners. Good luck with it!
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  • mariadenmark - I learned as a child, but I always recommend http://garnstudio.com/index_lang.php for beginners. They have videos that show you to cast on,knit, purl and bind off. Plus a lot of other techniques.
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  • Michelle - Basically you need to like the yarn you are working with, you need to like the pattern you are making and you need to like the needles you are working with. But that is no easy feat when you’ve never done it before. Also – keep it small. Scarves are not small (and blankets aren’t harder -they just are humongous scarves). And ideally make that first project something where fit is not a big deal. But do make sure the yarn is light in color because it is much much easier to see your stitches.
    Personally knitting did not click for me until I started using bamboo circs and wool yarn. And needles and yarn and pattern taste end up being personal. Also needles need to match yarn just like in sewing; except there is no guide, it is subjective – personally I think bamboo is more grippy/less slippy than aluminum; and generally don’t like any sort of metal needle, but there are exceptions to this. But honestly my favorites are Bryspun circs (they are a brand of plastic needle; but I hated Lion Brand plastic needles).
    I used a combination of the original Stitch n Bitch book and the videos on Knittinghelp.com (I also had Knitting without Tears, but that didn’t really click until I had a couple projects under my belt). Find a good local yarn store (LYS) because 9 times out of 10 they are infinitely more helpful than any big box (and beware big box “luxury yarns” they often are not much cheaper, if at all, than a nice LYS yarn). Make use of your library – they generally carry a good number of knitting books, you just have to request them because they are often checked out and not on the shelf. Keep borrowing “how-to” books until you find one that clicks for you.
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  • Haylee - I am obsessed with your Etsy shop. Seriously I want every single pattern. As soon as I figure out which one I like best, I’m purchasing pronto!
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It’s been quite some time since I’ve had a guest over here on the blog. Ms. Chie of Vivat Veritas contacted me last week and so sweetly agreed to do a guest post over here. As many you are probably aware, this stellar designer came up with that infamous backless dress on Burda Style I saw awhile back. I’ve seen so many versions of this idea since then. And isn’t it just to DIE for? Yeah, it is. So without further adieu, I present to you Chie of Vivat Veritas and her beautifully inspired world:

Hi! My name is Chie Duncan of the Vivat Veritas Clothing Line. I am so honored to be a guest blogger at one of my favorite sewing blogs, the Cupcake Goddess.

I love sewing. It all started when my close friend from college, lent me her sewing machine. I first used her sewing machine to remake an old hippy looking maternity dress I bought from flea market.  I liked the fabric but not the style so I thought it would be fun to turn it into something a little more appropriate for my age and time in life. I immediately starting cutting and sewing but had no real plan in mind. The whole process was fun but, unfortunately when I finished the project, I couldn’t fit into the dress. I didn’t realize that the fabric had no stretch, and I didn’t think to add zippers or buttons. After this I realized that I had some learning to do before I tried to remake anything else.  So I started researching about sewing and patterns and the steps required to make something which would actually be wearable.

From that point on I slowly taught myself how to sew women’s clothing.  I used online resources, such as BurdaStyle and other video tutorials. When I first began this process it would take me three days to complete one project, but slowly, I got better at sewing:)

I usually get inspiration for new sewing projects from blogs and other BurdaStyle member’s projects. My favorite fashion blogs are The Glamorai, The Cherry Blossom Girl, Late Afternoon, Karla’s Closet, Natalie Off Duty….just to name a few. I subscribe to many more fashion, sewing and design blogs, and reading their new posts is one of my morning routines.

I have a folder on my desktop, called “inspiration” where I save some pictures which I revisit often. When I fall into sewers block, I go there and use those resources to get my juices flowing again.

I love going to any and every fabric store I find. Visiting fabric stores has almost become a hobby in and of itself. I usually don’t have a shopping list when I go to a store because I always end up buying something different than what was on my original list.  Because of this I decided to just go and buy whatever strikes me at the time. I like
fabrics that are comfortable to wear, such as jersey and cotton. I am more prone to use prints than solid color. My usual M.O. is fabric first design second.  If I like the fabric, I usually buy a couple of meters and then begin to think of the best use for it.

My favorite garment at the moment is the dress pictured. It is a modification of the JJ blouse from BurdaStyle. I always come up with new ideas for garments while I am sewing.  I first sewed the JJ blouse without any modification but over time thought of my own modifications. For this JJ, I shortened the blouse, added a waist band, and square gathered the skirt and added a side zipper.

So, I’m curious, do most of you start with a plan in mind or make things up as you go along? For me the freedom “to see what comes next” is half the fun.

  • Mimi O - I usually start with a plan but if something isn’t looking right or not coming out as I had anticipated I’ll make changes accordingly or just plain old “bag-it” and start from scratch with the new design idea!
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  • abbyroad1@hotmail.com - I love your backless dress! Such a fresh and creative idea. You have made it so beautiful with your fabric choice also. No wonder it has been so eye catching on Burdastyle! I’ll be watching your upcoming ideas!
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Ms. Chie of Vivat Veritas let me do a guest post on her sweet blog. Go over, have a look and definitely check out her gorgeous Etsy shop!

And that pincushion that I made above, ummm….that’s a giveaway over on the Blue Gardenia. Wait, wait, it gets even better. See that Vogue Sewing book, yeah that’s going to be given away with this pincushion. Go. Enter. Now.

  • Emily - I read your lovely interview earlier today. Awesome stuff!
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