It’s Week 2 of our Sashiko Happy Coat MAL hosted in the Scheepjes Facebook groups, and I am loving seeing Front Bodices develop! The collar embroidery takes a bit of getting used to, but the Bodice can tend to fly along and this week the goal is to finish the Bodice, block it, and get started on the Sleeves – or if you are really on fire, finish the Sleeves.
Let’s get straight down to it! Continuing on from last week's blog where we finished at the end of the Skirt Shaping Short Rows Left Front:
The Skirt Shaping Short Rows Left Back form a mirror image of those at the Left Front. Every time you crochet toward the armhole, you are adding 12 stitches, and every time you crochet toward the hemline you decrease by 1 stitch. It might seem weird at first, but trust me - it works out to those numbers.
The stumbling block for some will be adding fdc at the end of Left Back Shoulder Row 1 (RS), so I have made a little video to show adding the first 4 of these fdc. The stretched marked stitch in the video looks big now, but future edging will close that right up.
It’s a good idea to stop half way across the Back Bodice to do two things:
1. Check fit: use stitch markers to pin the shoulder seam and check fit around the armhole, bearing in mind the blocked armhole will stretch 2-3 cm, and that the blocked hemline will sit approximately 9 cm lower than it does right now.
2. Weigh the half-Bodice so you can check yarn usage to see if we need to source any top up yarn (a possible risk if we made custom increase changes). Apart from 2 half-Bodices and 2 Sleeves, you will need a bit extra for seaming the pieces together - maybe 60-80g.
To provide a guide to what your Sleeves might weigh (assuming gauge is correct), I have weighed my Small Our Tribe Sleeve at 88g, rounded up to 90g, and then extrapolated an estimate of how much each size of Sleeve would weigh (at the length described by the pattern):
If you DO need top up yarn, I would recommend making the Sleeves with the yarn you have while waiting for your delivery, then using the top-up yarn into the Bodice so it can blend into the garment most effectively.
Place a Marker in the last stitch of the last Back Neckline Increase Rows, as this will help you identify the last end row stitch to be included when you sew the Shoulder Seam later.
The rest of the Bodice is pretty routine. Once finished, sew in tails, wet block it, and while its drying, start on the Sleeves.
Which brings us to... Wet Blocking:
Pop your Bodice into a large sink of water along with your surfactant wetting agent of choice – Eucalan, gentle laundry liquid or dissolved lux flakes or whatever. The water should be just warm to the hand, not hot. Approximately 30 degrees-ish. Immerse the bodice and gently hold it under water until it's covered and then comes the most important part... Walk away.
I soak mine to allow full water penetration for around 30-40 mins or so. When it's fibres are full of water the fabric will all be dark and no longer have blotches of lighter colour. I don’t think it needs to soak overnight or anything, just enough time to saturate the yarn properly and do the most important part of blocking: having a hot beverage and a baked treat while you wait! Celebrate your Bodice completion!! Whoo hooooo!
Now, Lay it Out:
Never allow your wet fabric to stretch or hang. You must bunch it up and support the ball of fabric underneath as you rinse, lightly squeeze (do NOT wring), and lift out of the sink on to your first couple of towels. Shuffle bits around until you have kind of made it flat along the length of a couple of absorbent towels (beach towels are good for this), and then roll up the fabric and press to get rid of excess moisture. You can then unroll, bunch it and move it to a second set of towels and do it again. Then lay it out.
I have made a video of me laying out my Stonewashed/Whirlette coat Bodice to show exactly what I mean for people to do. I have sped it up for viewing or it's a bit like watching paint dry otherwise... Lol. So I kind of end up looking a bit silly but maybe that adds to the entertainment value?
You will notice that the only measuring stick I use is a 10cm/4 inch rule, and I don’t even check how big the piece is. That’s because you lay it out to gauge. Full stop. If that goes to plan for each piece, it should all work out fine, even if your coat piece measures a couple of cm bigger or smaller than the pattern supplement.
The Coat Piece Sizes Supplement:
I did not include coat piece sizes in the original pattern because I didn’t want people so focussed on exact measures. The pieces change dimensions with hanging versus lying flat, heat versus cold, the amount of moisture in the air – it’s just so variable. Gauge rules the kingdom. If you make everything with consistent gauge, it should all come out fine at the end within a cm or two of the schematic dimensions.
I DID eventually add the supplement because I received quite a few messages from makers who were panicked about the coat Bodice seeming too small. They kind of reached the end of the Front Left Bodice and then were worried it wouldn’t fit, so I produced the supplement as a GUIDE to indicate trends of how the pieces change – NOT as a “it must be this measurement” rule book. Those general trends being – when measured as lying flat, the Our Tribe Bodice length is likely to increase by approx. 9cm with blocking, and the overall Bodice bust across all three pieces is likely to increase by approx. 18-22cm.... ish. Trust your gauge.
In the above video I fiddle quite a bit with the hemline shape until I am happy with it producing a little bit of a curve, so it smooths out the bump created by the skirt shaping rows, which means it will hang more evenly. This is your chance to shape it this way, so definitely do that now. If you feel you want to pin the edge – then feel free, but don’t stretch it a heap to do that – brush out the fabric so the gauge is even and just secure the edge. The whole thing is going to get a bit longer with wear anyway (good old gravity cannot be avoided), so don’t go nuts stretching this out.
This photo shows how I left the bodice piece to dry (four hours on this 34 degree day – Yay for sunny Perth). As made, then Bodice hemline is three straight lines with bends at the bottom of the skirt shaping short rows, and here you can see the hemline is slightly curved. In the background are the towels I had used to roll out the excess moisture before laying it out to dry. Nothing fancy to see here folks....
Experimental Coat – before and After Blocking:
Given the pattern supplement is there to provide a guideline on how things generally are expected to change during blocking, here is my journal entry for my Stonewashed/Whirlette Bodice to show before and after.
Essentially, as laid flat: the overall length grew by approximately 3cm, the Armhole deepened by approx 1.5 cm, and the across the entire Bodice the bust increased by approx. 6 cm. This is a very small amount of change compared to the Our Tribe version.
Consider for a moment the image below of both the Stonewashed/Whirlette and Our Tribe Front Pieces side by side, pre-blocked. They will both come out to a similar length (a smidge longer than the black one), but they start out looking like quite different.
By now, you are all over fdc, increasing methods and short rows. Fab! The difficulty with the Sleeves can be keeping track of which rows are in each section. I recommend placing stitch markers between rows at RS of the Sleeve cap end to divide them into the sections that match those of Schematic 5. Note that the fdc forms Row 1, then all the rows indicated along the Sleeve cap end are additional to (not including) that row, then the Final Row is the row that balances out Row 1.
Once both Sleeves are complete, I recommend wet-blocking them at the same time so you can make sure they are laid out to the same size.
Once your blocked Bodice is thoroughly dry, sew the shoulder seams as described in Assembly Step 1. I sew using a double path of ladder stitch back and forth between the aligned end-shoulder rows. This makes the edges of the fabric butt up against each other and not fold inwards.
Next step is the slip-stitch embroidery for all pieces. I will talk a bit on that next week but if you feel confident – go ahead! Just start from key landmarks, take your time and wander around until all stitch paths are complete. I know the embroidery looks a little intimidating at first, but I have been so happy to read some people in the groups say it's easier than they thought, or that after an initial struggle that it suddenly "clicked" and was fine.
The main focus of next week’s blog will be on the edging technique to make all those stretched stitch-holes disappear. Then we seam the Collar to the Bodice and finish the edging around the coat opening – exciting times!!
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