Ok, so I’ll go ahead and do that knitting update now.

I probably won’t have time over the weekend anyway….I’m entering the part where my next 3 weekends are booked completely solid!

Anyway, here’s what’s been on the sticks lately.

#1: I started a scarf for my friend Shantelle to go with the handwarmers I made her (which she loved), for the dual purpose of using up the yarn and to give me something brainless to keep my hands busy while we have our Project Runway marathons. Just a basic k4, p4 ribbing, so I really don’t have to think about it.

#2: The knitalong sweater! So far, she’s just had us do the neckline ribbing, so this has been waiting for the next step to go up. So far, the hardest part has been just casting it on, which I had to do about 4 or 5 times for various reasons (cast on too tightly, ran out of yarn on the tail, etc.) I’ll be glad to get to the increase section, since so far this is reeeeeeally stretched out on the circular needle and I’ve been afraid it’ll stay that way from letting it sit!

#3, my “Counterpoint Hat”. This is what I’ve been working on the most–the ribbing is done, and I’m about 5 rows away from starting the decreases. I’m hoping to get this one done by about the middle of October, since it seems like fall weather may actually be arriving soon and I think this will go really well with this vintage 70s leather jacket I have that my mom passed down to me. Plus I’m taking a little solo road trip to visit my best friend from high school for a weekend around then, I’m hoping to come home via Shenandoah National Park, and I think it would be fun to have a cute fallish hat to wear in any of those at-arm’s-length self portraits I might be inspired to take on Skyline Drive.

And here’s a closeup of the squiggly little mini-cables. I think I’m going to have to figure out a way to block this when it’s done, since I seem to keep ending up with a bit of a pull right after the cable, despite my tendency towards super-tight knitting tension. But hopefully that’ll even things out. If I can figure out how to block something knitted in the round….

If I had $1000000, I’d buy you a green dress…

“….but not a real green dress, that’s cruel…”

Yeah, I had that song stuck in my head quite a bit while working on this project! Which, in typical fashion for me when sewing anything that might get worn to a wedding, ended up being much more difficult than I’d anticipated. I’ve spent hours and hours working on it this week, and it’s definitely got its issues. But the one and only dress I’d listed for the Fall Essentials Sew-Along is now done.

Last weekend, I was originally supposed to go camping with the friend I made the Anthropologie-esque aprons with. But we had to make a last-minute change of plans due to nasty weather forecasts–neither of us felt like camping in the rain and mud. So instead, she came here for a sewing day. The funny thing was, without planning it, we both ended up using the exact same fabric for our projects! We’d actually each bought some yardage of the same knit a couple of years ago when shopping at a Joann’s together, and neither of us had figured out what to do with it until now. So she copied a dress she’d borrowed from a friend, and I worked on this. It’s probably a good thing, too, because there’s no way I would have finished the dress before this Saturday’s wedding otherwise. I’m going to go ahead and do a full pattern review for this one, in hopes that it might help someone else down the line. (Especially since, as of when I wrote this review, this was the first one for this pattern on PR.)

Pattern Description: From the envelope: Lined, close-fitting dress has side front inseam pockets and attached petticoat with ruffles.

Pattern Sizing: 6-18. I (stupidly) made the 14.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Mostly.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were very well laid-out. The only confusion I had was finishing off the end of the zipper.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the style, and the clear directions. I did not like the sizing–the whole thing seemed to run very large, and it caused me quite a few issues.

Fabric Used: I used a 2-way stretch knit that I’m pretty sure is a rayon for the majority (it’s been in the stash for awhile),  plus a tricot lining and polyester organza for the petticoat.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I ended up having to make quite a few fitting changes. I didn’t make a muslin for this since I figured knits would be easier to tweak as I went. (Besides the aforementioned on-the-fly small-bust-adjustment that I NEVER have to make….) I also had to take about 4″ total out of the back, at least a good 2-3″ out of the back shoulder strap, and I spent several hours yesterday ripping out the side/back facings I’d sewed in earlier in the week so I could stay-tape those edges and hand-sew the facings back in. I didn’t know until I tried it on to double-check where I’d pinned up the hem that adding that facing stretched the sides out an extra 3″ each (!), and it was sagging out horribly under my arms. (See picture for how much I had to pin it in to get it to fit after machine-sewing the facings on!)

I also ended up having to gather up the fabric and tack it under the knot at the bustline, because the gathers were not falling right around the waistline. (It’s still sagging there, as you can see, but it’s definitely better than it was.) I also hand-picked the zipper topstitching, because I didn’t think my machine would be too happy about all of the layers around the waist between the fabric, the lining, and the elastic.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I would not sew it again, since this is a rather unique style and I don’t need two of these in my wardrobe. I would recommend it for more advanced seamstresses, with the caveat that you should probably take it down at least a full size from your usual pattern size. Possibly two. I’d also strongly recommend adding stay tape or interfacing before adding the back facings so it doesn’t distort as badly as mine did the first time.

Conclusion: I think it looks ok overall, and I’m certainly going to wear this since it was the pattern I’ve been most excited about sewing this fall. I’m thinking that if I add a belt, it’ll hide the slight wonkiness that is still around the waist seam. But I wish I’d gone with the thought I’d had about perhaps sewing size 12 instead. There’s a LOT of fabric in this dress, and it makes it somewhat heavy for a knit dress, and everything gets stretched. 

Other notes: The elastic was a pain in the neck to get into this dress. I actually ended up having to rip a hole in the lining with my seam ripper so I could better distribute the elastic within the casing. Also, pressing the petticoat section is kind of helpful–it was too poofy under the skirt at first, but after I flattened it out, it seemed to lay better. Even though that put creases in the organza that probably shouldn’t have been there. (The petticoat is still pretty poofy, but it is laying better now.)

I also kind of wish I’d hand-sewn in the entire zipper, because it isn’t entirely lined up at the waist. Though it doesn’t look that bad in this picture, to be honest–it seemed much more off to me in real life. And I couldn’t do anything to fix it because by the time I’d noticed it, I’d already trimmed the seams, and this is what’s holding the elastic “waist stay” in place.

So it’s done, and just in time for the wedding….though apparently we have a cold front coming in later today or tomorrow, and it’ll actually be feeling fallish on Saturday. So I hope I don’t get cold in this basically sleeveless dress!

This is the other thing I’ve been working on this week– I realized late last week that I didn’t really have any shoes to wear to this or the second wedding I’ll be attending in October. I’ll be wearing the little black dress for the second since I’m also on musician duty for that one, but for Saturday’s wedding in particular, I didn’t want to go too casual for the shoes since it’s basically a big ruched-up t-shirt of a dress. One rather frustrating trip to two different shoe stores later where absolutely nothing was even close to fitting and I learned that the trend for this season is 4″ stiletto heels that I would undoubtedly break an ankle if I try to do anything resembling walking in, I decided to just do a non-permanent refashion to the basic heels I already have. So, with the help of some clip-on earrings and some pre-made flowers I found at Joann’s, this is what I did to my brown shoe. (Singular, because I still have to do the second shoe, and that is on the agenda for today.) I did this at the beginning of the week, and I made a little tutorial for it over at Refashion Co-Op. And since the little flowers just clip on, I can easily go back to my basic brown shoe after. (If I want to. I actually like them much better with the flowers!) I’ll be doing a second pair of clips later in the month for my black shoes, since it’s a formal evening wedding and my shoes are, again, not quite fancy enough.

But first, once clip #2 is done, I think I am actually going to take a few days off from sewing. This dress left me feeling like I need a break before I dive into my next project, so I think the rest of my crafty free time this week will be taken up by knitting instead! (I do have things to show there, though none of them are finished, so I’ll try to do an update for that in a day or so.)

Giveaway winner!

First off, it was really fun to read the responses to what you’re all making this season! Lots of knitting and dress-making and cozy home dec stuff going on. I also learned about several blogs that I hadn’t seen before, so just wanted to say hi to the people who commented who are new to me!

And now, on to the giveaway. In the interest of full disclosure, even though there were 15 comments altogether, I set it between 1 and 13– one person opted out, and a second person commented twice to add in what she’s most excited about making for the fall. I don’t know if Random.org changed their page setup or what, but I could NOT find the code to post the widget on here after drawing the number! So I had to do this whole screencap/save as picture thing, and hopefully it will work.

And the winner is…

Gail! She chose the BMV pattern club site. Gail, I’ll be in touch with you shortly, and congratulations!

Thanks to everyone who played along!

Never thought I’d have to make THAT adjustment…

When I started this dress, I’d figured I’d just adjust as I go since knits are more forgiving than wovens. I was debating between sizes 12 and 14, and finally decided to go with the 14 because it looked pretty fitted–I didn’t want it to be too tight up top.

So instead, when I pinned in the zipper and tried it on, the bust part was super-saggy. Like 80-year-old-woman saggy! So I had to wing something I never thought I’d have to do– a small(er) bust adjustment! (And here I haven’t even mastered the FBA that I usually have to go for…)

I didn’t want to take the sides apart since it was already topstitched and stay-taped and everything. So I ended up taking a pretty huge chunk out of the front seams–well over an inch–and tapering it towards the side and center twist. I also took about an inch off of each side in the center back.

I think it fits much better now! Still a bit slouchy across the front, but it’s supposed to look gathered, so it’s ok.

And the back, which still needs adjusting for the back shoulder bit, but I’ll do that later after the skirt’s on and I have a bit of a better idea of how much that’s going to weigh things down.

Moral of the story: Next time I make something out of a two-way stretch knit, I should probably go with the smaller size, huh?

p.s. I’m drawing the giveaway winner tomorrow–you’ve still got a few more hours if you want to enter!

green stuff

Not the most creative title, but that’s what I’ve been working on this weekend.

This was last night’s project. I have yet another wedding to go to later this fall, and the shower is next Friday. I wasn’t going to be able to go at first due to a mixup in the invitations that meant I didn’t get it before I made other plans, but since the shower was originally supposed to be the same day that Hurricane Irene came through here, it got rescheduled. I ended up buying most of her gift but I wanted to give her something handmade as well (especially since she’s from the same group of friends as the bride-to-be that the cherry apron was for!) Didn’t have the time or funds for a whole apron, but I did make her these potholders from a pattern that my mom had on hand and some fabrics left over from my quilt. I actually really liked how these potholders turn out–this might become the go-to pattern the next time I need to make a shower gift!

I spent the majority of today starting off my Vogue dress, and got the bodice pretty much sewn together. So here’s the front so far…. (sitting a little lopsided on the dummy, now that I look at the picture, but hopefully I can fix that when it’s on myself!)

And here’s the back, though not quite how it’ll end up (since the seam is  pinned to the outside.) I think I’ll have to tweak the back shoulder part a bit, maybe shorten it up, but it’s only basted on right now so that will be easy enough to fix. The zipper is supposed to separate the back a bit more, so I may need to take some of the length out there, too. Guess I’ll have to actually try it on to see, but I’m all sewed out for today!

The surprising thing is that it looks like I’m going to end up doing this entirely on the machine instead of the serger, which I haven’t done on a knit project in awhile! But there’s so many places where you have to stop sewing at a certain place or sew on stay tape and that sort of stuff. I’ve been using the walking foot on my machine and it’s helped quite a bit.

I’m ready to kick back now….maybe I’ll see if I can get some work done on that second swatch for the knitalong.

The Frankenblouse, and other craftiness

Well, here we are–the big 600! I wanted to wait to post it until I actually had a finished project to show. And since I’ve been working on other stuff in the meantime, this one’s going to be a bit pic-heavy. Also, just as a reminder, there’s still time to enter my 5-year/600 post giveaway, which is open through Monday! And now, on with the show…

This is the blouse I finished today (about half an hour ago, to be precise.) It has the distinction of being on both my Summer and my Fall Essentials Sew-Along lists, and was kind of a transition between the two. It was also a mash-up between two patterns and my own improvisation. And, well, like the literary monster it’s named for, the results are a bit less than pretty. I’m hoping it looks less lopsided on me than it does on Donna! But I did have some issues with this, probably due to the pattern merges I made.

Namely that it ended up huge on me. I had to chop this much off of the sides just to get it anywhere remotely close to fitting! And it still doesn’t quite have the look I was hoping for. So this probably would have worked better if I’d worked with two patterns from the same company. Or maybe a more fitted lower half. Oh well…you live and learn.

I’m not entirely convinced about the back either, due to the two lines from the stitched-down pleat. But it’ll probably work better when I’m wearing it, because unlike Donna, I’m not blue-skinned.

And there are details I like. Like the button closure, which was the detail from the original RTW blouse that inspired me to do this. It could be a bit neater, and probably would be with skinnier button loops, but it seems like it’ll hold the front closed pretty well.

I’m also pleased with the sleeve, which is pretty much straight off of the New Look pattern. Except I cut the band/tie longer so I could actually make a bow out of it, since I’d learned before that it’s not long enough to do so otherwise.

So I wouldn’t say this is a complete failure, and I’m still planning on wearing it. And it did bust a piece of stash fabric that I’ve had for well over five years, so that’s certainly a good thing.

(While I’m at it, the update on that: I added in about 4 yards for the raincoat fabric, and it probably should have been a bit more for the things I got for the Vogue dress. But since I’m planning on using those up next, I didn’t bother to add them in. I did completely use up this metallic stripey fabric, so that leaves me at about 253.5 yards, down from 275 at the beginning of the year. Only about 150 yards to go to reach my target….this is going to take awhile!)

It hasn’t been all sewing around here by a long shot. I whipped up a quick necklace last Saturday:

Super-easy, since all I had to do was put a clasp on it, and link the pendant to the pre-made chain.

I just couldn’t resist this pendant when I saw it on a more recent Joann’s shopping trip, because it’s my favorite painting by my favorite artist. There were actually two pendants in the pack, the other one being a small circular one with the moon from this same painting. But I gave that to my sister-in-law (who also loves Van Gogh and this painting in particular), so no picture of that.

And I’ve been doing a good bit of knitting, too. Back on Labor Day, I finished this:

It’s the first of the cable slipper pattern that I found. I had to leave a bigger foot opening than it called for (I was literally sewing it shut while it was on my foot, and well, my feet are wide so I couldn’t take it as far), so hopefully they’ll stay on all right.

I think the cables turned out really nicely, though, and this really was a perfect beginner cable project.

Though the second one is started, I haven’t worked on it since Labor Day, though. Mainly because I’m getting sidetracked….

I finished the first of my two swatches for the Newbie and the Knitter knitalong. As it turns out, since I knit rather tightly, I had to take this up a full two needle sizes from what the pattern called for! This is the pre-blocked swatch…

And here’s the post-blocked one. This is going to be a much more open knit than I thought, so I think this one will be another one I’m going to have to wear camisoles under! But it does knit up lovely, very soft and drapey. And the alpaca isn’t causing me any allergy-esque trouble except for a slight tingling in my hands when I’ve been working with it for awhile straight. Since I won’t be handling it that long when I’m actually wearing it, I think this means I’ll be ok.

I also went ahead and started the hat I want to make for the fall, because the yarn was just demanding to be played with. I have to say, I love this yarn so far–it’s a dream to work with on the bamboo needles, with no splitting or shedding. Hands-down the nicest 100% cotton yarn I’ve worked with so far. (Probably because it’s also the most expensive 100% cotton yarn I’ve worked with so far.) And the color scheme makes me think of a sunset–it’s been fun to see how the colors change and blend together as it goes. I’ve gotten about 2″ done so far, and need to knit another 3″ of the rib before I get into the main pattern of the hat.

1 shirt, 6 ways

I’ve long admired Carolyn’s posts where she takes a garment she’s made and wears it six different ways. I tend to sometimes get stuck in a box with my handmade clothes, where I’ll only wear them one, maybe two different ways. So since I had a little extra time this morning due to a last-minute lesson cancellation, I decided to play around with this idea myself. (Think of this as my shortened homage to Self-Stitched September, since I’m not playing this time.)

So without further ado, my French Vanilla top, 6 different ways.

Darn you, Picasa, why do you always cut the numbers even when I save it? Anyway…. I wanted to see if I could take this summery top into the fall. And since I live in the mid-Atlantic, our weather is seriously unpredictable this time of year. Like yesterday, it was in the low 60s and raining all day, and I was in pants and long sleeves all day. Today, it’s still overcast, but up in the 80s again. So here’s how I played it out:

Top row, L-R:
1. As basic as it gets, with the top paired with a pair of purchased cargo capri pants (I liked them because they claimed to be recycled cotton), sandals, and one of my favorite summer necklaces. (Not me-made, but Mom-made, with bone beads and a shell pendant.)

2. This time, I paired it with the skirt it was originally intended to go with, as part of the summer mini-wardrobe. Which I don’t think it goes with that well, but you live and learn, right? (I tried to get a full shot of the skirt, but the family dog insisted on “helping” with this particular outfit, and I couldn’t get a shot without her!) I also mixed up the jewelry this time to the “Earth” Elements necklace/earrings.

3. I’m undecided on this look. I like it in the picture, but I wonder if it’s too neutral in real life, given that the top covers up the main splash of color in the skirt. (Pic is from last year’s SSS, since the skirt predates the blog.) They got a bit cut off, but this time I wore my blingy silver gladiator sandals and some simpler metal jewelry that I did not make.

Bottom row, L-R:
4. The first of my fallish looks! Same brown sandals as before, but this time I paired it with my one and only pair of skinny jeans (like new, fits me perfectly, DKNY, $11 at Goodwill! Ok, done squealing now), a thrifted lacey cardigan, and a beaded necklace and earrings that I made way back in college. I don’t look so happy with it since I was trying to do the pouty model thing, but I actually really like this outfit and will be pulling it out for sure once it cools down again slightly.

5. This is the sort of thing I’d be likely to wear for teaching. Paired with my basic brown pants (purchased), my wear-all-the-time brown boots, and my Eva jacket. For this one and the next one, I wrapped the ties to cinch it in the back instead of tying the bow in the front.

6. Since I enjoy making skirts, I’m trying to come up with some ways to make them doable for easily-chilled me in the cooler weather. So this is with the refashioned denim skirt that I just made last week, another thrifted cardigan (which is not quite as neon as it seems here…but it is pretty bright), the same brown boots, and brown tights. I’m not entirely convinced about the tights, at least in this color, but I don’t really have a lot of them so it was pretty much the only option for now. Other than black, which would be rather Halloween-ish.

So what do you think? Any favorites/suggestions of other things to pair this shirt with?

Of course, none of these are what I’m wearing today, though it is still partially self-stitched…

I’m back in the cargo pants and sandals from #!, but this is with my silk  “spiced chai” shirt that I reconstructed earlier in the summer, and the lacy cardigan and headband that I did more recently in its debut outfit appearance. After wearing all of those sweaters and pants, I needed to cool down again!

5 years and 598 posts later…

Yeah, that’s right, it’s my blog’s birthday! I started this thing 5 years ago today. I still can’t believe I’ve kept it running this long….less that people actually take the time to read it and comment on the stuff I make! That’s pretty amazing, and I really am grateful for that. The online sewing community is a really nice place to hang out, isn’t it?

The other big milestone-ish thing coming up is that I’m almost at 600 posts! (I tried really hard to work it so that today would be both, but I didn’t quite make it. Oh well.) So since this is basically a double big thing, I figured this would be a good time to do a long-overdue giveaway! When I asked earlier in the summer what people would be interested in for that, the couple of responses I got were some kind of crafting supply, and something that could be sent overseas. (I seem to run into a lot of people from England and Australia through this!) I also want to make this fair to the knitters that have started showing up around here since the beginning of the year, so here’s what I’m going to do:

Whoever wins the giveaway will get one $30 gift certificate (US dollars) to the sewing or knitting-related shop to their choice. (It can be a major retailer, indie shop, Etsy–as long as I can get a gift certificate for it online!) So to enter, you need to answer two questions:

1. What shop would you pick?
2. What project are you most excited to make this fall?

No anonymous comments, please– I need to have some way of contacting you! I’m going to give you until midnight EST on September 19.

Edit, 9/20: This giveaway is now CLOSED. I’ll be drawing the winner later today.

What’s on the needles…

I started this one last week, and it’s going along fairly quickly! This is the first of a pair of slippers (second pattern down on this page). I’m knitting two yarns together, which is the first time I’ve tried this–the Lion Brand Recycled Cotton in Seagrass,  and Caron Spa in Green Sheen. I’m  hoping that I’ll get the best of both worlds–the cotton seems more durable, but the bamboo is much softer. I like the mottled effect that I’m getting from doing the two together–the cotton was already two-tone, and the bamboo adds a nice brighter shade to the green.

A close-up of the cables. This is my first time doing it, and it’s not nearly as scary as I thought it would be! Granted, this is probably a really easy cable, because it’s the same pattern repeating over and over on a flat rectangle, and only four stitches affected every six rows. So I’m thinking this was probably an ideal project to try it out on.

Maybe, just maybe, I can finish the first slipper (at least the knitting, not the sewing) by the end of the long weekend….tomorrow’s plans are another movie marathon/hangout/yarncrafting day with my best friend, so I’ll get quite a bit of time to work on it!

Practically dollar-store clothes!

And my first Fall Essential! I knew what I wanted to make for this week’s Refashion Co-Op challenge, but didn’t have the raw materials for it. So while I was running errands earlier this week, I picked up these jeans. They just happened to be the 50% off color of the day, so these were only $2! I guess technically they would fall under the category of “jeggings”– they were rather stretchy, with this awful elastic waist, and no fly front like jeans normally have.

So I undid the elastic (as well as the majority of the rest of it), trimmed off the legs a bit….

….did a little pinning and shaping in the front and back, added some darts and that zipper I showed in my last post…

And after adding a strip to function as the waistband (perpendicular grain so it wouldn’t stretch), I had this!

And here’s the back, with the exposed zipper. I think it worked out pretty nicely!

I’ll have to come back and add an action shot later, since I wore this today…it’s just that none of the pictures that actually show the skirt ended up on my camera, so I’ll have to wait and see if they end up on Facebook.

But not bad for $2 and an on-hand zipper!

Edit: Since I rarely have the opportunity to get a decent (read: not me doing stupid things with self-timers and bad backgrounds) shot of me actually wearing the things I made, this is what the skirt looks like on. A little shorter than the skirts I usually make, but nothing ridiculous. So I think this will be a great one to carry me through the fall, especially once I get some boots involved!