Friday, January 1, 2010

Hot Patterns Slinky Shrug & Sewing Your Own Ribbing

I made the Hot Patterns Slinky Shrug (free download) out of teal blue wool knit. I made the matching ribbing from the same fabric.

Pattern instructions clearly tell you to choose a drapey knit or woven. And I did. This choice of fabric was a labor of love. I absolutely adore this color. The fabric was waiting for the perfect sweater to sew for me. However, I saw this shrug, and I saw it in this fabric, and I saw it for my mom. Thus the fabric was given away as a Christmas present. Maybe that's the best way to use the best fabrics. Indeed when my mom opened the gift, my sister exclaimed, "mom that's your color!" So it was meant to be.

Here's mom wearing her Hot Patterns Slinky Shrug:

I also made the necklace to go with the shrug. Necklace detail:

Most necklace supplies were from JoAnn, although the teal pearl strand was from Fire Mountain Gems and the locket is made by Extasia, purchased from Cambria Cove. It's hidden here, but there is a big gold decorative fastener that's set to be visible on the side instead of the usual back. I probably should have placed it lower, closer to the locket. But I also didn't account for wearing the necklace over a turtleneck, which pulls everything up higher. The seed beads and the pearls are actually two separate necklaces, designed to be worn together, but can be worn separate when my mom doesn't want this much "look."

Pattern Review (

Pattern Description: Shrug made from knit or woven. Instructions recommend using drapey fabric.

Pattern Sizing: Many sizes come on the downloadable PDF. Please don't make me look at all those 8.5x11 pages again! But I do remember it went up to a size 26. I made a size 16. There were numerous sizes smaller than this.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Mine did. But if you follow the pattern, your ribbing may be wider than the pattern envelope.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, but I referred to them only briefly for order of construction. I didn't follow them closely letter-to-letter.

I depended heavily on The Sewing Divas blog to sew this, following the tips there for:

Printing the downloadable PDF pattern. I was careful to print 100%, no scaling, but the thing that can't be overcome is you lose page numbers/placement markings at the very edges of the paper. Future patterns would well serve users if Hot Patterns allowed for a 1/2" blank margin. So assembling this pattern was a frustrating puzzle. For me, the floor layout photos in The Sewing Divas post were critical to understanding how the pages fit together.

Sewing your own ribbing fabric. I knew that no way would I find ribbing to match this teal wool close enough for my satisfaction. While I have black and gray ribbing, I didn't want contrast. The Sewing Divas provide good directions. The post also mentions Connie Long's Sewing With Knits book, which I have, but wouldn't have thought to look for ribbing fabric directions there. So, thanks Sewing Divas.

Also, Hot Patterns size chart. The instructions don't include sizing.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked how easy it was to assemble this, and all the pieces fit together well.

But I caution -- the ribbing pattern pieces produce ribbing much wider than the envelope drawing. I like the proportion of the envelope drawing, so I was planning to modify the ribbing pieces. As it turned out, I was forced to make the ribbing smaller anyway, because I had barely enough fabric to piece together enough ribbing. More on that below under "sewing ribbing."

I might prefer to pay to print a pattern at my local copy shop on big paper, rather than crawl around on the floor piecing small papers together. And at the same time, battling two sewing assistants who want to "help." (I would never think to banish my assistants from the room, no!) I reached a hopeless point before finding The Sewing Divas post which helped me find the right layout.

Fabric Used: A drapey wool knit. Substantial in feel, but still lighter-weight. Soft, no scratchiness. The perfect wool knit for tops. I don't remember where I got it, maybe Haberman's in Royal Oak, Michigan because most of my wool knits are from there. Sewing the fabric into a ribbing does increase the weight of the fabric significantly, though. So consider that if you plan to make your own ribbing.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made the ribbing thinner, not as wide as the pattern piece.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, I'd like to make one for me to throw on over a longer top for a less formal look at work than a jacket. This is a great gift pattern because when you don't know someone's exact size, you can err on a larger size and it is just seen as all the more warmer and cozier.

Sewing Ribbing

Ribbing detail:

It was hard to photograph the detail. In the photo, you can barely see the thread from the stitching. If you use well-matched thread, the thread nearly disappears into the fabric.

It took a long long loooooooong while to create the long length of ribbing. I used woolly nylon in the bobbin and a tight bobbin setting to make the ribbing stand up more, as described in Connie Long's Sewing With Knits book. I used the presser foot edge as a spacing guide. I would prefer closer ribbing, but this was the easiest quickest way to measure, and I had a lot of straight lines to sew, and also barely enough fabric.

Sewing ribbing consumed a great deal of thread. I eventually had to make two trips to JoAnn just for one more spool of thread. The ribbing took four smaller spools of Gutermann thread and my ribbing is smaller than the pattern pieces.

Not only does making ribbing chew up thread, it consumes fabric too. I wound up piecing together ribbing from all salvageable areas of remnant fabric. It was hairy-scary for awhile, but I squeezed out enough ribbing. So be forewarned.

The shrug was very easy to sew together. Could be an extremely quick project ...

1) IF you don't make your own ribbing, and

2) IF you don't decide to use vintage silk kimono fabric for a hong kong finish on the inside ribbing seams. The contrast of the two fabrics was gorgeous. But it produced a disaster!! I didn't know a beautiful disaster is possible, but it is. Even though I graded the the seams, especially because the ribbing resulted in thick fabric, the silk layers made the seams way too bulky. It looked horrible. Imagine drapey knit colliding with a thick ropey seam. Ugh. And there was no ripping out stitches -- I had secured the hong kong finish well and stitches sunk into the knit. So, I cut. I cut the hong kong finish off and had to cut really darn close to the stitching so there is only a barely-there seam there. I was so nervous before trying it on again to see how it hung. But although there's some waviness where the ribbing meets the body fabric, it looked OK. Whew. Next time I will test such ideas before implementing them on a garment I put so much time into.


Sunnysewsit said...

I am making this slinky shrug for mother-in-law. You are SO right about the ribbing width. (I'm also ordering Connie Long's book). I am having trouble with the fronts being 1 1/2" - 2" shorter than the backs when stitching them together. Did you find this, too? Do I stretch the fronts to meet (lots of stretching). Pattern instr. say nothing about this!

Unique Cameo Necklaces said...

Love the Blue aqua color of the blouse your Mom has on. Looks very sleek and comfortable.

Kat said...

What a great shrug!!! I remember a while back when either HP or highlighted this pattern and my comment on those websites was to include the fabric and matching ribbing sources. You are SO right! It would be Q&E if one didn't have to stitch their own ribbing. You're shrug looks fabulous, though. Well worth the time and effort! Thanks for including those links.

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