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The Selfish Seamstress loves a good sleeveless turtleneck. Is it just me or is a sleeveless turtleneck the ultimate sexy-but-elegant-and-still-casual garment?  And especially a black sleeveless turtleneck.  I’ve always got one in my wardrobe somewhere, and I don’t think I’ve been without one since college. I love the Burda 10.2005 cowl sweater I made recently, but I I decided I wanted one with more cowling around the neck and less spread around the shoulders, so I whipped up this quick one:

 [Ok, those of you have been following along know that I put myself on a S.W.A.G. diet and swore no new sewing for myself until all the S.W.A.G. projects were done.  Well, I guess that lasted all of about a week.  But really, if it weren’t for S.W.A.G. this wouldn’t have even happened. Basically, I sewed myself the teal cowl, which led me to decide that sewing some cowls for my sisters would be a good idea.  And then I sewed the green one and I liked it so much I decided that I should make a sleeveless one for myself from the remnants, but after I drafted the pattern I found I didn’t have enough fabric to make it out of the green sweater knit, so I used some leftover black double knit from the English Tutor dress, and…. well, at least I busted through some remnants and reduced the stash right?  Oh, just let me rationalize. It took less than an hour to make anyway.]

The Minimalist Cowl pattern is available for free PDF download in size XS/S.  The top is about as easy and basic as you can get with just 3 pattern pieces.  Instant sexy for you.

More S.W.A.G. progress! I finished the two cowl necked tops for my sisters this weekend:

You’ll recall that when I first purchased the fabric for these, I was disappointed that they weren’t as soft or pretty as my teal one. I was okay with the charcoal grey shade, and a little bit skeptical of the dark army green. I have to say, after a washing they have softened up quite nicely, and the dark army green one in particular is looking kind of awesome.  I started to wonder if maybe I like it better than I like the teal one I made for myself.  Naturally, I had to try it on:

Yeah, that looks good on me. And naturally I thought about keeping it.  Thought about.  The problem with that is that I would have to embark upon yet another S.W.A.G. project to replace the gift. What’s a Selfish Seamstress to do in such a situation?  The only viable solution is to give it  as a present, and then borrow it at some point in the future.  Borrow it permanently.

With two S.W.A.G. gifts down, I turn once again to the brown cotton velvet albatross that taunts me from the shelf:

Oh yes, that is a partially sewn brown cotton velvet sportcoat that I started for Dan in 2007, shortly after I began sewing in earnest.  A sportcoat with lots of fiddly details that I as an amateur seamstress in 2007 wasn’t ready for and that I as an intermediate seamstress in 2009 just don’t feel like doing for anyone other than myself (welt pockets in cotton velvet?  Come on!) 

Since I began the project, Dan has had numerous birthdays and Chanukkahs pass by for which he has been promised this jacket and instead ended up with something else.  Every once in a while I take it out thinking that this time is the last time and it WILL get done, only to put it away after some incremental progress. I have some deep forest green satin to line it, after having long ago re-appropriated the teal jacquard lining originally intended for it to line a jacket for myself.

Well, dear readers, let it be declared here that this S.W.A.G. albatross is the next project on my list and it WILL get finished for Channukah.  (Of course, I say that knowing that if I take the Selfish route and put it aside in favor of other stuff for myself, you’ll only be cheering me on. Enablers!)

A cotton velvet sportcoat.  Why would anyone take on such a complicated and challenging project in such a fussy fabric for anyone but herself?

Oh yeah, I remember now.

Has the Selfish Seamstress turned over a new leaf and learned to do things for others??

First of all, after leaving them dangling for months, I finally got around to weaving in the four little tiny yarn ends on Dan’s Ticuna scarf:

[The yarn is a local, random, heathered wine red, super soft merino worsted weight that I got at a farmer’s market in Chicago.]

But Dan is not the only member of the less-fortunate who benefitted from my skills (where “less-fortunate” is defined by inferior needlecraft skills). I bit the bullet last night.  I managed to refrain from finishing up my L’Wren Scott-inspired Simplicity 2374 and instead got started on my S.W.A.G. (Sewing With A Grudge) projects. This meant engaging in my least favorite part of sewing (cutting out the fabric pieces) for my least favorite people to sew for  (anyone but me.) Fortunately I’m making gifts for my sisters, who are among my most favorite of my least favorite people to sew for.

It’s now a matter of battling against myself and maintaining momentum.  I know if I put the projects down for too long, I will never be motivated to finish them before the holidays.  If that happens, they will sit unfinished in a heap, holidays will approach and I will hurriedly go out and buy alternate presents for the sisters, and then perhaps eventually I will return to the tops after having decided I need a couple of new tops for myself.  The Selfish Seamstress is nothing if not self-aware.

I forced myself to cut out both of the tops last night, knowing that if I cut and sewed one first, I would be too lazy to cut and sew the other. Fortunately my sisters and I are all relatively close in size and the knit is pretty stretchy so multiple sizes were not necessary.  Multiple sizes of the same garment are a surefire way of ensuring that only one will ever get sewn. (I am sewing one with slightly less seam allowance just in case.)

And, knowing that this was probably the most momentum I’d have for S.W.A.G. for the rest of the season, I decided I’d get some of the sewing done too (again both sweaters in parallel.)  Side and shoulder seams are done on both, as are sleeve and collar seams.  All that’s left is to set in the collars and sleeves, and finish all the edges with my handy new twin stretch needle. You can see the progress that I’ve made in the photo above. (I don’t know why the collar edge of the green one looks all raggedy- it’s not in real life.) I have arranged the pieces into the heartfelt poses of eternal indebtedness (left) and undying worship (right) which I fully expect my sisters to assume upon receiving the tops if they don’t want to get cut.  

What you can’t see here is that they are also on their knees in expression of their endless gratitude, but there’s NO WAY I’m going to make them pants too just so you can see that.

I managed to acquire a double needle and got around to finishing the edges of top #114 from the 10.2005 issue of Burda Modemagazin.  It bothers me that I still can’t seem to photograph the amazing color of this knit fabric accurately.  The real color has nothing to do with cerulean and everything to do with deep, intensely saturated, greenish teal.  Here’s a photo of the top taken outside with the color all wrong, and then a photo I edited that shows a somewhat more accurate color for the top, with somewhat less accurate color for the rest of me.

P1060035 P1060035_2

I don’t have a photo editing program on this computer that will let me just edit the color of the top, so I’ll just have to leave it to your imagination.

I love a good cowl neck and this top was a breeze to put together.  In fact, the most time consuming part was grading the pattern down to my size and tracing it all out. I like the skinny fit a lot and the cowl can be arranged in a lot of graceful ways.  (Though I seem to have chosen “dorky” mode for the photo.  Oh well.)

All in all, this pattern has a pretty high style to effort ratio.  And the fact that it doesn’t require accurate fitting is suggesting to me that this might be a good pattern for some holiday presents for my sisters, who are themselves neither selfish nor seamstresses, and who, to the best of my knowledge, do not read my blog and will therefore not have the surprise spoiled.

What.  Don’t look at me like that.  It’s not my fault that I’m not an only child and occasionally have to engage in some S.W.A.G. (Sewing With A Grudge).

I spent about 17 hours in transit today between flights, waiting at airports, and getting to and from the airport.  So what’s a Selfish Seamstress to do upon arriving home after a long, exhausting journey? Pull out her new Swiss fabric, a back issue of Burda (bought off of German Ebay), and get to work tracing, cutting, and stitching, of course. Here’s tonight’s progress on model 114 from the 10.2005 issue:


Sorry, Dan passed out hours ago from jet lag, so you’re getting a crappy self-taken photo. 

This is my first experience sewing with a knit with any real stretch to it. It was surprisingly easy to work with.  I don’t own a serger (boo hoo!) so I used the stretch stitch on my machine.  The knit didn’t ravel or roll much and behaved well under the needle. The fabric is super soft and I’m crazy about the color.

The pattern is ridiculously simple.  I think this is the first time I’ve ever made a garment that only has four pattern pieces.  In the past I’ve usually had a bias towards complicated patterns, but this may make a convert of me. I still have to finish the sleeve edges, hem, and collar edge, but as it turns out, I don’t own a double needle so it’ll have to wait a few days until I can go out and buy one. 

Home for five and a half hours and I almost have a whole new top to show for it.  I should probably unpack my suitcase before I go to bed. Obviously, the Selfish Seamstress knows where her priorities are.

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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