A shift into neutral and a grainline mystery

Every time I make some kind of pronouncement – like “Hey, I’m into sewing colorful fabrics now!” – I seem to go out of my way to defy myself. Well, it’s happened again. No sooner had I written that post did I sew a string of neutral projects.

The evidence is quite damning:

In addition to these nine (!) projects, I sewed a couple of grey pieces in March. One is a total success and the other a total failure that I could use some input on.

First up – the success! These pants are sewn up in a thick linen woven using Vogue 8909.

crabandbee.com | Vogue 8909 grey linen pants

I’ve sewn the pattern up three times before, blogged only once as part of a tiger costume.

This time, I shifted the front seams in by another inch and added 2″ of ease to the hips in the rear. I like my hip ease. I’d also shortened the rise by 1″ in an earlier iteration (and as you can see, they are by no means low-rise even after the alteration.)


I also lowered the back yoke line by 1″. These are my dream lounge pants, but nice enough (I think? I hope?) to wear to my casual-ish desk job.

And now, the fail: a longline cardigan based on McCall’s 6886.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6886 long-line cardigan pattern hack

To be clear, I think the pattern was a good choice for this project. I altered McCall’s 6886 to include a front opening and a low v-neck. I also think these photos of the cardigan look GREAT.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6886 long-line cardigan pattern hack

The fail is due to the fabric. I washed this 100% wool sweater knit on cold, and dried it in the machine. (Worth noting: I am cavalier with most fabrics. For a pre-wash, I machine wash and dry almost everything except coatings and lace. I baby my fabrics later by minimizing washings and line-drying, but I like to minimize surprises if a piece accidentally gets thrown in the wash.) No unexpected shrinkage, BUT the grainline shifted dramatically. The horizontal striations were now at a jaunty angle. After consulting with the fabric seller, I had mostly straightened it by dampening it and blocking it. So I cut and sewed it and was happy with it. As I wore it, the side seams began to skew but not so terribly that I wouldn’t wear it.

But, as time went on, the fabric relaxed, especially in the arm scye. Back it went into the washer/dryer, after which the side seams skewed dramatically to the point where the buttons now form a diagonal line across my front. Not only that, but the button band edges now form a very ripply fold.

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6886 long-line cardigan pattern hack

I’m not here to blame the seller, because I think every fabric care suggestion would tell me not to put wool sweater knit into a washer or dryer. But, I am curious – is this sweater knit intrinsically off-grain or did I make it so?

I have a yard or so left, and my thought is to sew something leaving the striations slanted and let the fabric do what it wants to do. I see quite a few RTW garments do that, so while it’s not my favorite look, I wouldn’t be conspicuous and the fabric wouldn’t go to waste.

Lastly, I shall leave you with a bonus project – the black tank I’m wearing with both of these grey projects!

crabandbee.com | McCall's 6886 black viscose tank top

It’s another McCall’s 6886 in black viscose, bringing my neutral sewing total up to twelve pieces. It’s quickly become one of my most-worn pieces as my two black RTW tanks (purchased in 2008 and 2011) disintegrate. I love the drape of the fabric.

Thanks for stopping by, and please do share any knowledge you might have about knit fabric grainlines!


Basic black

After last week’s realization that I owned a sole cardigan, I requested pattern suggestions from the Me-Made-May flickr pool. Then I remembered I already had one, Butterick 5398. I made it once in 2011 but it had since fallen out of favor. I wore it a lot when I first made it and then grew displeased with the basic cotton jersey I used. This time, I branched out into a lightweight rayon knit. It was really squirrely to sew with, but I think it looks decent!


Unfurled! You can see the texture of the fabric here.


I zig-zag stitched the seams and then trimmed and overlocked them. Basically, I’m a slow, manual serger.


The bottom and front hems are rolled and the sleeves are finished with folded bands. I strongly prefer finishing knits with bands since I don’t have a serger/coverstitch machine.

I added 3″ length to the bottom hem and took in the side seams dramatically (3/4″ from the sleeve graded to 2″ at the armpits, then 2 3/4″ at the bottom). This is after cutting the XS size (I’m pretty solidly a Medium). This pattern is huge! It’s better than too small, but it’s still an irritating waste of fabric.


This piece is really a child of Me-Made-May and the Seamless Pledge. Trying to wear my self-made sleeveless shirts for MMM revealed my lack of cardigans, and the Seamless Pledge prevented me from purchasing any. (I rarely have luck thrifting them, which would be my go-to solution.) I wouldn’t mind making another in a linen or cotton sweater knit, which seem a bit hard to find! But having doubled my cardigans this week, I’m not in a hurry.

Have you located any holes in your wardrobe recently?