Tag Archive | beret

Empire peacoat and beret for cool Spring days

Spring is definitely here, but it’s not always as warm as we might expect for the time of year.  Today Shona is prepared for any cool Spring breezes in her Empire-line peacoat with a matching beret.

 

Even in May a girl still needs a smart jacket

Even in May a girl still needs a smart jacket

(As with all photos on this site, you can click on any one to view a full-size image)

The peacoat pattern comes from Heritage Doll Fashions and is available from Liberty Jane’s Pixie Faire pattern shop.  It is sized for American Girl, so fits similar-sized dolls like Gotz Precious Day and Madame Alexander Favorite Friends like Shona.  I’ve made it up in a glowing wine-red which my camera insists on seeing as a dark orangey-red.  The material was provided by my friend Helen who kindly raided her stash for me when I visited her in Edinburgh last summer.  It is quite a substantial material, rather inclined to fray, which certainly added a complication I hadn’t expected.  I half-lined the jacket with a stripy poplin, and picked some striking buttons as they are such a strong design feature.  To complete the outfit I introduced some French chic with a beret made using Vanina’s tutorial.

The Peacoat

As always with Liberty Jane patterns, the Empire Peacoat pattern comes with a very clear instruction book. The front cover optimistically describes it as ‘Easy and fun to sew!’ but the website rates it ‘Intermediate’ which is much more realistic.  This is quite a fiddly little jacket to make up.

The first challenge was setting in the collar between the jacket yoke and yoke lining.  I had to stitch through three layers of substantial jacket material plus one lining layer, with all three jacket/collar layers fraying like mad.  After this experience I bought myself a bottle of Fray Check and treated the edges of the jacket pieces as well as zig-zag neatening them in the usual way.

The sleeves were set in next.  Again, bulky, fraying seams were the main problem, but I knew what to expect and all was well.   Then the jacket skirt had to be gathered at the front and stitched to the yoke and lining.  The last step was to top-stitch around the edges of the jacket yoke and under the collar.   So far so good.  It looked great!

But then came the bit I was really worrying about as it had the potential to sabotage all my work so far.  I had to attach four buttons and make four button-holes.  The buttons and button-holes had to line up perfectly, they had to be placed so that they were properly centred on the jacket overlap.  I started with the button-holes and puzzled for some time about how I could ensure they were both vertically and horizontally aligned.  I got out the button-hole foot and reminded myself how it worked (it usually takes me by surprise) and tried out a few experimental button-holes on spare fabric.  Then I looked at the jacket front and experimented with marking the tops and bottoms of the button-holes with pins.  That didn’t work so well.  Finally I tacked in vertical markers to show exactly where the button-holes had to go, with horizontal tacks marking their top and bottom edges.  Then I stitched the four button-holes and to my relief they were amazingly successful!  After that it was relatively easy to sew on the buttons in the right positions and the jacket was finally finished.  What a relief!

Nice stripey lining! I wish that seam was enclosed though...

Nice stripy lining!

The Beret

Now on to the beret.  This meant I had to grapple with some maths that I’d not had to worry about since I was at Grammar school (that dates me!).  Luckily Vanina spells it out for us (in French…) and here’s my English translation of what she says to do to make a beret to fit any sized doll.  You’ll need some paper and a pair of compasses (back to school again).  Do look at Vanina’s method as her illustrations are very helpful even if you can’t read French.

  1. Measure around the doll’s head in centimetres.  Divide this number by 6.28.  This will give you the radius of the circle you need to draw to fit your doll’s head.   Shona’s head measures 30.5 cm.  So my calculation was 30.5 ÷ 6.28 = 4.85 cm.  So I set my compasses to just under 5 cm and drew my first circle on the paper.
  2. Now reset the compasses to double the radius setting and draw a second circle using the same centre point.  I reset mine to 9.7 cm.
  3. Finally reduce the original compass radius setting by 5 mm and draw another circle inside the first one, using the same centre point.  This is your seam allowance (approx ¼”).
  4. Now you can cut out your pattern, taking care to cut out the centre following the third circle you drew, thus preserving your seam allowance.  You end up with a pattern looking like a ring doughnut.
  5. Using the pattern on your main material doubled, cut out a complete circle (but do not cut out the centre). This will be the top of the beret and its lining.
  6. Then using your contrast material doubled, cut out a complete circle and this time also cut out the centre.  This will be the underside of the beret and its lining, incorporating the hole which fits over the doll’s head.
  7. Take the two underside pieces, right sides together, and stitch around the inner hole.  Clip the curved seam, turn right-side out and iron.  (Look at Vanina’s instructions point 4)
  8. Take the two top pieces, wrong sides together.  Place the bottom piece exactly on top and stitch completely around the outer edge 5 mm from the edge.  Overcast or zig-zag the raw edges together.  (Look at Vanina’s instructions point 5)
  9. Turn the beret inside-out so that the seam is hidden inside, and decorate with a flourish of your own devising.  (Look at Vanina’s instructions point 6).
Matching beret with an almost Scottish cockade decoration

Matching beret with Scottish cockade decoration

To decorate Shona’s beret I used some broderie anglaise lace ruffled around a black button.  Quite by coincidence, this looks rather Scottish, which is nice given that the jacket material came from Edinburgh.

This was quite a challenging project, made more tricky by my choice of rather temperamental material.  The results are worth it, though, and Shona is very pleased with her very stylish emsemble, which she has teamed with her Liberty Jane jeans and some gorgeous Ewe boots from our favourite doll shop.

Ready for a walk in the woods

Are you coming for a walk?

Here she is all ready to go out.  She’s just off to the bluebell woods to appreciate one of the finest sights of an English spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Variations in pink

Pemberton Capelet and Sinclair Jacket

Pemberton Capelet and Sinclair Jacket
Click to enlarge

Shona and new girl Meili model two more Debonair Designs, as interpreted by Kit’s Couture.  Originally I intended the Sinclair Jacket for Shona, as the pink Jarol yarn was best suited to her cool Winter colouring.  But for reasons I shall explain below, Meili ended up with the jacket, and Shona got to peacock about in a striking cabled cape instead.

Both patterns are available on Ravelry (and Craftsy too?), and both are in Deb Denair’s book Seasonal hand knitted designs for 18″ dolls.  The patterns are designed for worsted wools available in the USA, but Deb helpfully tells us that this is equivalent to UK double knitting.  She also gives UK needle sizes as well as the US ones.  I used shade 109 ‘Pink’ from Jarol Heritage, a wool-rich DK yarn which comes in a good range of rich colours, and for the textured yarn I used Sirdar Freya ‘soft & brushed Winter cotton’, in shade 853 ‘Dusk’.  I’d used the Jarol Heritage double knitting with great success with Deb’s gansey patterns, so I was pretty confident with that.  The Sirdar Freya was an unknown quantity, but it seemed to knit to about the right tension so I bought a ball and hoped!

Sinclair Jacket

Sinclair jacket

Click to enlarge

This unusual jacket, we’re told, was inspired by the popular Sherpa jackets… I have to admit I’d not heard of Sherpa jackets so I was none the wiser.  But to me this looks like a knitted version of the kind of sheepskin jacket which is made up of pieces of sheepskin stitched together.  The textured yarn seems to me to be imitating the fleecy side of the sheepskin, and the single rows of texture are the joins.

The pattern calls for UK needles sizes 10 and 9.  I checked the tension with the size 10s and it seemed fine, so I made a start.  I found this a fairly challenging pattern, in spite of the fact that it’s just in plain stocking stitch.  The textured yarn additions meant that I was having to change yarn fairly regularly, and the collar revere sections were a little tricky.  Plus I soon began to have doubts about the sizing.  I was constantly trying the pieces against Shona and wondering if they were big enough.  Shona is a little slimmer than American Girl and Gotz Precious Day, so I told myself it must be fine, and carried on until all the parts were complete and I was at the making up stage.

As I sewed up the jacket my worries about sizing grew.  As soon as I could try it on Shona (without sleeves), it was clear that it was too small for her.  The neckline in particular was very tight.  For a brief moment I wondered about unpicking everything and starting again, but then I realised that what wouldn’t fit the sturdy sized 18″ doll would certainly fit the slim type.

So I turned to one of my newer models, Meili, my Gotz Hannah.  She is a tall 19″ girl whose arms and legs are similar in size to the sturdy 18″ dolls like American Girl and Favorite Friends.  But her body is slim, closer to the Kidz ‘n’ Cats in size.  I tried the jacket on her, and it fit perfectly.  The sleeves were barely long enough – she has long arms – but not disastrously so.  The colour wasn’t ideal for her, as it was a Winter pink, but the textured yarn had a brownish tint making it similar to Rosewood, the Autumn pink.  So I decided in the circumstances that I needed a model for the garment and we could get away with it.

Sinclair beret

Goodbye newsboy cap, hello beret
Click to enlarge

Then I turned my attention to the hat.  The Sinclair hat is styled to look like a newsboy’s cap with a peak, and looks great with the jacket.  I knit up the pattern as given, tried it on Meili’s head, and found that it was a bit tight.  I thought about this carefully, did a bit of optimistic stretching of the band, and tried it again.  OK, it would just about fit, but without the relaxed slouchy look of Deb’s examples in her book.  At that point I decided to abandon the newsboy cap attempt and turn the hat into a beret.

I had another button to match, so I sewed that on top and it finished off the beret very nicely.  Meili wears it pulled to one side in the authentically French manner!

I still had plenty of the pink wool left, but probably not enough to make another full jacket for Shona.  So I searched the book for something perhaps less demanding of yarn, and found myself contemplating the Pemberton Capelet.

Pemberton Capelet, Tam and Fingerless Mitts

Pemberton Capelet

After my experience with the Sinclair jacket, I was doubly careful about tension and dutifully worked a full square in stocking stitch.  The pattern called for 6 stitches and 8 rows with size 9 needles over the lattice cable stitch, but how could I cable  a tension square?  I had six stitches and 8 rows to an inch over stocking stitch.  It had to be fine, didn’t it?  Of course it did.  Ahem.

It had been a long time since I’d done any cabling, but Deb’s pattern was as usual crystal-clear and with my trusty row counter to help me I had no problems at all.  I’d made life easier for myself by not using the textured yarn for the button bands, just for the ribbing at the hem and the collar.  I was glad of this as having to cope with changing wool at each end of every row, as well as doing the cabling, would have been a step too far!

It all went quite smoothly and gradually a the cape took shape.  When it was finished I tried it on Shona – and it did fit.  Just.  I have to say I’d have liked it to be a tiny bit more roomy – there’s hint of gape where the front edges join – and a little longer wouldn’t have hurt either.  But it still looks great.  Three contrasting mauve buttons and three crocheted loops later, and it had style.

Now – did I have enough yarn left to make the hat?  It was worth a try.

Impressive cabling

Impressive cabling…
Click to enlarge

The Tam comes in several variants: I chose the one with the ridge, which I thought gave it more structure.  I followed the pattern carefully, using the smaller size needles (10) for the band and changing to the large needles (9) with the main colour.

After I’d done the main body of the hat up to the ridge, I stopped, puzzled.  This was a tall hat!  In fact, it was far too tall.  And trying it around Shona’s head, it was also too tight.  Bother.

So I went back to the pattern, did a few calculations, and enlarged it by 8 stitches to make it fit around Shona’s head.  This meant that I had to adjust the 5th row – the increase row – to ensure that I still ended up with 90 stitches.  I did two increases over every three stitches, and all was well.  I also reduced the height of the hat by 6 rows, and once the crown was finished I found that this time it fit very well indeed.  It just needed a pink flower button topped with another mauve button to finish it off.

And I still had some yarn left!  Time for the fingerless mitts.  These took no time at all, and very little yarn.  In fact I extended the ribbing section by a couple of rows to make them a little longer.  No problems with sizing here, they fit perfectly and are the perfect accessories for this slightly Victorian retro ensemble.

Thoughts on tension

So why did I have such problems with tension?  Thinking about it, I think with the Sinclair jacket I should have gone up at least one needle size – possibly even two – and taken more care to get the tension exactly right.  These little garments don’t have a lot of margin for error and one or two stitches either way do mean the difference between a good fit or too tight a fit.

The tension of the Pemberton Capelet was I think affected by my cabling technique.  I did notice as I was knitting it the stitches seemed a bit tight on the needles.  Usually I knit very evenly, not too tight, not too loose, but I think the complexity of the cabling meant that without realising it I pulled the yarn too tight.  And of course I never checked the tension over the cabling…

But the real puzzle is the hat.  I can understand the band being too tight, just like the newsboy cap, and I put that down to the Freya yarn not being a good match for the textured yarn originally used in the pattern.  But how was it that the hat was so much too tall when on every other occasion the Jarol yarn knit up to size or even slightly too small?  It’s a mystery.

Pemberton

Variation in pink 2: Pemberton
Click to enlarge

Sinclair

Variation in pink 1: Sinclair
Click to enlarge

Vintage knitwear for a 1960s girl

Susan in Bellmans 1031My first doll clothes creations began at New Year 2013 with knitting for Susan, the doll my mum gave me when I was – well – so young I can’t actually remember when she gave her to me.  Here’s a neat little skirt, jumper and beret outfit in double knitting yarn.  The skirt is ribbed and figure-hugging, while the jumper is much easier-fitting.   To complete her snazzy (vintage adjective!) outfit Susan wears white socks and her Mary Janes.  The rich autumn shades of the yarn complement her warm skin tone and enhance the colour of her amber eyes.  Standing here on the windowsill in the natural light of an English January afternoon, she glows with colour and looks very pleased with her neat little suit.

To make this outfit I used two vintage patterns from the Vintage Knitting Lady: Bellman 1031, a 1969 design,  for the skirt and jumper; and the beret pattern comes from Sirdar 7750, an early 1960s design.

Both patterns are for double knitting, but of course the yarns specified have long gone out of production, so I had to find a good substitute.  I chose Jarol Heritage double knitting, a wool rich blend, in shades 132 (rust) and 140 (gold), two wonderful warm autumn colours.  I bought two 100g balls of each and, as you’ll see in future Susan posts, I had ample to make several outfits

The Bellman pattern was for a 16″ doll, so I followed it exactly and the results fit well.

Back of beret Sirdar 7750The Sirdar beret pattern is for a 14″ doll so I had to enlarge it a little to fit Susan’s head. The 14″ doll pattern was designed to fit a head circumference of 11 inches.  Susan’s head plus all that hair actually measures 14″, so I had to increase it by three inches which meant adding 21 extra stitches.  This had a knock-on effect in that the shape of the hat turned out less flat – more a beany hat and less a beret – but I wanted it to pull down well on her head and frame her face, so I was happy with the result.

To finish off the beret, I searched YouTube for guidance and then dug out my crochet hooks and made a little crochet button – another trip down memory lane as I had not crocheted since the 1970s.  I couldn’t even remember the crochet stitches and had to scrabble around again on the internet for guidance on how to form them.  It all came flooding back, however, and I soon had a pretty little softly-padded button to top off the beret, which seen from the back and above seems quite a work of art.