Finally, a new FESA project!

I meant to post this yesterday, but I didn’t have time to take any pics until well after dark, and I just could not get an un-blurred one of the skirt as a whole. So Monday it is. I’m wearing this right now. This probably isn’t the best top to be pairing it with, but I usually tend to wear things un-tucked and I wanted the fun waistband details to actually show. I’m also wearing this with my black military-style jacket, since it’s kind of cold now, but obviously then you can’t see the skirt so well.

Since the weather here completely unseasonably sucked on Saturday, effectively cancelling any potential plans I had, I stayed indoors and sewed all day. And finally finished this skirt. (Though I really wasn’t expecting it to take as much of the day as it did!)So here’s my quick n’ dirty review of Burda 4/09 #101: I’m a little disappointed in the fit of it– I pin-basted the skirt when I was working on it last week and marked where it fit perfectly, but I guess the fabric stretched, because after it was all sewn together, it ended up a little loose. I think it would be more comfortable if it sat just a little higher on my hips, but I can deal. Now that I think about it, it might help if I tack the very top above the buttons. That doesn’t have to be functional since it has a side zipper, and I’m thinking that when I had it pinned, I must have had that part pinned a little more snugly because the buttonholes weren’t cut yet.

I do love the color of it, and the suede-like texture. And the pockets, though I wish they’d press a little flatter at the top. I’ll keep trying. (They are rather useful in that they’re the perfect size to fit my phone!) I like the style of it too. And I think I would use this pattern again, though with some definite tweaking in the fit. I’ll just have to find things to tuck into it to show off the waist details. Maybe my Sorbetto? I wish I had a shorter grey cardigan to throw on with it…

I probably would have gotten this together a lot faster, except I lined it and that added quite a bit more time to what otherwise would have been a fairly simple skirt. For one thing, I drafted the lining myself. And, well, when I draft things, it never goes right. All I did for this one was to overlap the pattern pieces to take out the seam allowances, trace, and then take a facing-sized-minus-seam-allowance chunk out of the top. Even so, the lining ended up too big and I had to chop about 2″ out of each piece. I’m glad I finally got it working in the end, because I think it makes the skirt so much nicer to wear. And perhaps easier, given that the fabric seems clingy. Plus solid-colored things are more fun with print linings, IMO.

In knitting news, I’ve hit a bit of a snag on my Cadence sweater…


I was working on the last row of the chart last night, and most of the pattern looks like this. (Which, as far as I know, is what it’s supposed to look like.)

But then I discovered that two of the diamonds look like this. Which, at least to my eye, is pretty obviously wonky.

I have this great book called Knit Fix (or something along those lines) that taught me how to fix a mistake in the pattern vertically, that has already saved me frustration on several occasions. Unfortunately, the concept doesn’t seem to work quite as well for fixing things with decreases. I think I made this one worse.

So I’m waiting to hear back from Kristin (the “Knitter” for Newbie and the Knitter) on if there’s a good way to fix this….but I may have to just unravel this. It’s kind of discouraging, and something that’s a little difficult to reconcile myself to to from my seamstress perspective. Yes, I mess up my sewing, but there’s usually a way to, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, “make it work”. It’s very rare that I have to just toss the whole thing and start from scratch, you know?

I’m honestly thinking that it might be easier to just unravel the whole thing and start over, rather than unknit stitch by stitch to whatever row in the chart I started screwing up here. I’m assuming the chart may go faster now that I’ve knit my way through it once, and unpicking this will take hours. I’m not even sure it’s possible to do it and get the right stitch count, with all of those yarnovers and knit 2 togethers and stuff…. I’m too new at this.

So, while I wait for that, happier sewing thoughts instead. Today’s non-work projects (other than my continued hunt for a new part-time job with more hours–thus the reason I’m posting during the day so much lately) include switching out the last of my more summery clothes, because I’ve been digging something out from under my bed every day lately just to find something long-sleeved to wear. But if I have time, I’m hoping to make some refashion progress. And I’m thinking the next thing on the sewing table is going to be that knit print I pulled out for my FESA. Though I probably won’t be able to touch that until Wednesday.

a bag for a friend

I finally got a decent amount of sewing time in yesterday. It had been awhile, since the last week has been mostly making preparations/driving around for/recovering from another whirlwind weekend trip. This one was much further away and not the sort that I could bring anything crafty with me, either. Fortunately, since I’d already gotten all of the quilting in last week and found about an hour to assemble the strap on Tuesday night, this bag came together really quickly. (Which is good, because I’m getting really anxious to make some progress on my Fall Essentials list again!)

So this is the bag I made for Jolene. It’s out of the same pattern as my “Autumn in Asia” bag, though a little bigger since I accidentally skipped the part about trimming the overall size down after quilting the fabric…oops. Picking out the fabric was a bit of a fun process–she told me what sort of colors and prints she likes, I took a bunch of pictures on my phone of every print I thought might fit those ideals while I was at Joann’s one day, and showed them to her the next time I saw her at church. So the main fabric of this bag is the one she liked best, and then I chose the red and green to match. (She’d specifically mentioned a red interior with this fabric, and I think the overal brownish tone helps to keep it from looking too Christmas-y!)

Here’s the back, with a patch pocket….

…and an inside shot.

So that’s that. I’m perfectly happy to go back to selfish sewing for awhile, and have already traced out the Burda pattern for the teal skirt. I also attempted to draft a lining pattern for it, so we’ll see how that goes. Pattern drafting is definitely not my strong point!

I’ve also been plugging away a bit at the chart section of the Cadence sweater. I think I’m about a third of the way through. So far so good, though I haven’t gotten to the decreases yet.

And I’ve been thinking that it might be fun to start showing my me-made items in real life more often, since I tend to lose the willpower for daily outfit photos really quick during the Me-Made or Self-Stitched challenge months. But I still love the concept behind them. So since it gives a more accurate sense of the yarn colors anyway, here’s a shot of my Counterpoint Hat from the weekend:

All along, I’d envisioned having this done in time for this particular road trip, since I was planning on taking a more scenic route home via Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. I didn’t have time to go through as much of the park since I’d hoped since I got there later than expected and the sun was going down. When I entered the park, I was just wearing it for fun, but by the time I got to here, I was glad that I had a hat. It was getting kind of windy and making it much colder!

I’ll blog about sewing again soon, I promise.

I just need to actually have something to show. I did at least start quilting the fabric for the bag my friend is paying me to make. (Two pieces down, one to go.) And I did go to Joann’s today to take advantage of their Columbus Day sale and pick up some underlining for my raincoat/some buttons for the teal skirt. (Nothing on hand at home. I checked.)

But in the meantime, I did finish up two of my FESA knitting projects over the weekend!

#1, the Counterpoint hat.

An easy finish, as all I had left to do was put the brim in and stitch the hat closed at the top of the ribbing.

The brim is pretty subtle, so I had to take a profile shot so you can actually see it. And I like the quasi-tweedy but still really colorful effect of the yarn. Even though it makes me want to walk around with a magnifying glass and say things like, “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

The other thing I finished was my cable slippers. Not the most flattering shot ever, as they look like deformed socks this way, but this is what you get at 12:30 in the morning in someone else’s residence. I’m glad these are only meant to be lightweight slippers, since they feel kind of like they’re going to fall off when I wear them. It probably would have helped if I’d stitched them up more, like the originals were, but I was literally sewing the first one of these around my foot and this was as far as I could stretch it. Mental note to self: Whenever I attempt socks, I might need to add a few stitches in that just-below-my-toe area to compensate for the extra width there.

Since I had both of these finished by Saturday night, I spent our tv-watching time on Sunday working on that scarf I’m making from the hat leftovers. It’s currently about 15″ long. The nice thing is that it’s complicated enough of a pattern that I still have to look at the pattern for pretty much every single line, but not so complicated that I couldn’t watch tv or chat with my friends.

I did think about picking up my Cadence sweater, but I looked at the directions and the very next row starts the chart. Which I’m still not entirely sure I read right before, and I think that’s something I’m going to have to hole up in my room away from people and give full concentration to. Which means this is a great time to sidetrack myself from it completely by sewing, right?

Moving on…

The dress is fixed! I hope. I ended up doing the elastic thing, since I figured the dress is ruched enough that it would somewhat blend in. So I used the facing to make a casing, sewed one folded-under-and-stitched end of the elastic to the zipper (less likely to pull than the knit fabric)…

…tacked it again at the end of the facing, and then just to give it a little extra support, cut the elastic across the front and secured that in the middle where the knot is. I figure it should be stretchy enough that having what basically amounts to a chest stay (as opposed to waist) shouldn’t be uncomfortable to wear. The sides do seem to fit me much better now, so here’s hoping that’s the end of the green dress saga!

So, other than this little repair job, I haven’t sewn a thing in a week. Except for this.

This is a piece of plastic canvas edged in bias tape. Otherwise known as the brim for my “Counterpoint Hat.”The pattern specifically called for plastic canvas, and I happened to have some on hand from trying to get my earrings somewhat organized. But I didn’t want little plastic nubs poking through the yarn or into my head.

Though I haven’t been sewing, I have been knitting some. So here’s the updates on that:

1. Like I said, I’m done knitting the hat. I just don’t have pictures yet since it’s kind of wet from my attempt to block it yesterday. Not sure the blocking quite solved the issue of the stitches looking stretched next to the cables, but I was able to stretch it out to fit my apparently big head a little better. Once I add the brim, that’s done.

2. My yarn estimation skills are lacking. I had over an entire skein of that yarn left over! So I’m making a scarf just for the heck of it. It’s a bit hard to see the pattern, but it’s got kind of a dragon-scale look to it. The pattern is called Guardian’s Tail. It’s got something like a 10-row repeat, and it’s complicated enough to keep me from getting bored. I think this is about 50 rows in, so this is going to take awhile! Especially since my plan is to basically knit until I run out of yarn.

And I’ve made some progress on the scarf I’m making for Shantelle to use up the yarn from her handwarmers–this is pretty much all from keeping my hands busy while we have mini Project Runway marathons. I did use up the first half-ball that was left. Can you see what I did three stripes in from the right, though? The end of the second ball was the right color to add it on, and I couldn’t find the other end, so I just went with it. And it’s now reversing the colors! Which I kind of like. I’m afraid this isn’t going to end up being a very long scarf, probably more of a neckwarmer than anything else. So I’m going to try to do some kind of keyhole to slide the other end of the scarf through. Hopefully I can figure out how to do that.

I’m getting kind of antsy to start sewing again. Next up on my list is a bag I’m making for my friend Jolene. (She is rather generously paying me to make it for her.) I’m hoping to get that cut out today. I’m also making a slight amendment in my FESA plan. Instead of the straight skirt I’d planned for my teal suedecloth, I decided that would be better off as some kind of A-line. So after digging around in my pattern stash yesterday, I came up with this. I think it’ll look nice with the patches and topstitching with the somewhat textured fabric, and will keep a solid color more interesting for me. I also found a second skirt in a different Burda that will actually be perfect for the red twill–I wanted a more or less pencil skirt with some kind of pleat or godet in the back, and that pretty much does it for me. With lining and everything! I’ll need to draft a lining for the teal, but I think it’ll be fairly simple. But if I want to have any hope of getting on that soon, I’d better get to work!

Maybe it’s not quite as done as I thought…

Figured since I had some pics of it, I should show how the dress works in real life! This was at a friend’s wedding I attended today, along with three of my long-time friends. I think it looks pretty good in the pics, and I did get several compliments on the dress. But I did discover that there’s a bit of an issue with it, that I need to figure out how to fix. Preferably without having to disassemble the entire thing.

So here’s the deal: since the fabric is a 2-way knit (which the pattern did specifically call for), despite the fact that it fit on Wednesday when I finish it and it has just been sitting rather securely on Donna with her textured fabric-grabbing blue coating until this morning, the dress got a bit stretched out on the top again. I guess the somewhat fortunate thing is that I noticed it before I left the house, and was able to make it work for today by pinning it to my bra in several places. (The very front is fine, but it’s sagging out a bit under the arms again, and the weight of the skirt pulls it down in the back so that the bra shows when it’s unpinned.) I should probably get some pictures of that, but didn’t think too before I changed after getting home earlier this evening. I’d like to make this a little more easy to wear, so I don’t have to go using a half-dozen safety pins every time I want to put it on. So here’s what I’m thinking my options are:

a. Use the scraps to construct a kind of half-camisole sort of thing to wear underneath, and leave the dress alone.

b. Sew some elastic into the sides and back to create a sort of “waist stay” effect, which would hopefully still be comfortable but keep it from sagging.

c. Deconstruct the bodice and take the sides in more. Since this would involve removing topstitching/ facings/a lining/the elastic it took me about 3 attempts to get in/possibly part of the skirt, re-gathering, and re-stay taping, obviously I’d like to avoid this if possible. It would probably honestly be easier to just remake the dress entirely.

So I figured I’d tap into the collective genius of the sewing blog community and see if maybe there’s some other options I’ve missed, or anyone who’s had a situation like this with an idea for how to fix it. I’d definitely appreciate any help you can give me, because I am so ready to really be done with this project!