Stashbusting update, and answering some comments

See this?

This, my friends, is almost 33 yards of fabric. Most of it was given to me for free– people from my church have this habit of donating fabric to my mom, and then she passes on the stuff that wouldn’t make good quilts to me. In fact, I think I only purchased two pieces of fabric in this pile.  One is a rather large remnant of leftovers from covering my ottoman, and I purchased some basketweave polyester stuff with the intention of making some throw pillows during the bedroom renovation, but ended up not doing that. And now I don’t need to, because I have the much nicer silk velvet pillows instead. I realized that, realistically, I’m not going to use this fabric. I mean, why do I need 4+ yards of sweatshirt knit when I hardly ever wear sweatshirts (minus the occasional hoodie, and I’d rather sew those out of regular knits so they’d look nicer)? Or weird scratchy twills in ugly shades of brownish taupe that are good for nothing except a pants muslin (and possibly not even that)? So I’m going to post it on Freecycle, and hope that someone out there can find a good use for it. Except for that palm tree batik on top, because my mom has already claimed it. For all I know, it originally came from her own stash, anyway… I’m honestly not sure how it got there.

What this means for my stashbusting efforts is that I’m down to about 210 yards. I started off this year with about 275– so, even though I’ve had to add a few things in for projects like the Anthropologie pants and the upcoming raincoat, that means I’ve gone down 65 yards in 11 months! (Granted, half of it is in that pile there, but still. A net of 32 yards in 11 months sewn up isn’t too shabby either.) I’ve also managed to consolidate from 7 bins to 6 now. Almost 5. That last bin may fill up a bit more if I get any fabric for Christmas (a likely scenario), but that’s still pretty good.

And none too soon on that empty bin…. I may have ordered a crapload of yarn to make that afghan I posted the other day. (I did go for that Red Heart Eco-cotton, in the Denim colorway. Not very tree-like, but I do like blue, and denim goes with almost everything, right? I wanted something that would be a versatile color long-term and still show all of the cable goodness. And I have to admit that the whole recycled fiber thing appealed to me.

And now, I wanted to go ahead and reply to a few of the comments from the last couple of posts, since I don’t have the option to reply directly. (Oh Blogger powers-that-be, if you’re listening, that would be a wonderful feature to add!)

Cheesepirate– Testing some things on cheap acrylic first is definitely the plan! I’m actually thinking of changing up the middle segment to this tree pattern— that was my first thought when I saw it anyway, using a different tree pattern in the middle, and then I saw a gorgeous afghan on Ravelry where someone had done basically exactly that. I think this might actually make it easier, since that entire center portion is knit in the round and the sweater is just a rectangle that I don’t have to remember to do 4 times. I just have to figure out the math on how to get a 130-ish row pattern to work when the center portion of the original ends up with something like 92 stitches per side. Ugh. Hopefully I can just do an extra border repeat or two and be done with it.

Alessa– I’d thought of the dyelot thing too, but it might be a moot point anyway….I had to get something like 28 skeins of the yarn, and I’m not sure they’d have that quantity in the same dyelot to begin with. Especially given the recycled nature of the fiber. So I figure if I get a few different ones, I’ll just mix it up and chalk it up to “natural variations.” Plus then I get extra insurance if I underestimated how much yarn I’d need. At least the yarn was pretty inexpensive. Also, good luck on finding the Bemberg! It really is yummy. I’m surprised Joann’s had it, to be honest. They tend to favor polyester in a big way for apparel fabric.

Karin– it’s actually more of a forest/hunter green. Though emerald would be gorgeous too, wouldn’t it?

Christina– I’m going to have to go with my standard Mary-Jane black heels. (Which I just realized I never actually posted the shoe clips I made for them on here– I forgot after posting them on Refashion Co-Op.) Given my big, extra-wide feet, vintage shoes are definitely not an option! But I think these will be ok.

Mary & Gail– thanks for the lovely comments! And Gail, I think you’ll enjoy the book. After sewing this up, I think all of the Colette love around the sewing blogosphere is fully justified. Even the fitting alterations were made easy!

The Licorice dress!

A little later than I wanted to post it….but I got the belt kit in earlier this week, and since my retail job is currently so slow that I got sent home early, I made that this afternoon. So now I can post the whole thing at once.

The dress came together really quickly. I altered the pattern and cut it out on Wednesday, and basically sewed it together over the course of the next three days between bouts of having to work and family gatherings. By mid-afternoon on Saturday, all I had left to do was the outer hem (which I decided to handsew since it would look nicer) and adding that hook and eye that I always procrastinate on, so I took some time off for knitting instead. (Well, that and Thanksgiving Dinner #2 with my mom’s family.) And this was even with me adding some extra steps, like making sure that I finished all of the seams and underlining the sleeves. So I did the hem on Sunday, and as already stated, I just finished the belt. I wasn’t sure how it would work with the satin, because it seemed to be a bit heavier than what the Colette book recommended, but I think it turned out well!

A few details….

Here’s a closeup of the neckline and collar. Since I’m generally not a solids girl (if you’ve been reading this for any length of time, you probably figured that out on your own!) I’m really glad it has the contrast of texture to break up the monochromaticism.

Incidentally, I wish I’d had this pattern a few years ago when I was making that horrible dress to wear to my brother’s wedding. Because if you take the collar and sleeves off, this is essentially the dress I was trying to make! And this one was soooooooo much easier to fit!

Since the lining was the one thing I had to buy, and I knew I wanted to use the nicer Bemberg rayon lining so I could also underline the sleeves to soften them up, I had to improvise a bit. Joann’s didn’t have anything remotely close to the green, so I went with the ivory and added the lace at the bottom to make it look kind of like a slip. I also used the lace hem tape on this, so I could avoid folding the satin over for the hem and having the extra bulk showing outside when I pressed it. I may have to spring for the nice lining every time I make a dress now–I definitely saw a difference between this and the polyester stuff!

And here’s this afternoon’s work. I’m glad this is a purely decorative and not so much a functional belt. Though the instructions on the package were very clear, my execution wasn’t so great. It probably doesn’t help that the brocade has a tendency to fray like crazy. And I didn’t have quite the right tools to set the eyelets, so I winged it as best as I could with what I have, and I just hope the eyelets stay in and don’t snag on the dress. I am proud of how I lined the brocade pattern up on the belt, though. And I’m also glad I had the opportunity to practice this before I attempt the one I want to make for the raincoat that will be coming up.

I’ll see what I can do about getting an action shot at the party–it’ll be more effective that way anyway. Hopefully I can figure out how to get my late 60s-70s-esque straight, long hair into something more late 50s-early 60s style! This pretty much confirms to me that the Colette Handbook was a good buy. To be honest, this was the style I figured I’d be least likely to sew when I got it. Oh, the irony.

And on a completely different note, here’s the progress on my Cadence sweater. The sleeves are separated now, I’ve knit a few rows down from that, and it’s actually starting to look like something resembling a garment!

I must be nuts.

Because I stumbled across this recently, and I really, really want to make it. It’s easily the coolest afghan I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

This is the Yggdrasil Afghan, which is a shockingly free pattern from Knitting Daily. If those Celtic knot and leafy borders weren’t amazing enough, look at the center…

I mean, seriously! How cool is that? I like this one even better than the tree of life afghan I’ve been obsessing over since I first discovered Ravelry. So much so that I actually spent a rather significant chunk of the evening trying to figure out good options for a yarn which would allow me to make this in an affordable fashion, preferably without having to resort to those huge balls of super-cheap acrylic. (So far, the front-runner is this.) Surprisingly, I can actually use the called-for yarn, which is the same stuff I used for that wrap I made over the summer. But in order to make the size I want (which of course is the biggest one so I can have as much epic Celtic knotting as possible), I’d have to buy nearly $300 worth of yarn! I’ve never even spent close to that much on fabric for formalwear! Or pretty much all of the fabric I bought for my last bedroom makeover, including the curtains and the quilt!

But, of course, this is labeled specifically as a difficult pattern. I’ve only been knitting for 11 months now. And I’ve done maybe two projects involving cable needles so far, and they were both something like 1-2 stitch cables. Plus the finished product is huge. So this thing would probably take me at least 5 years to finish, especially since I’d most certainly be working on other projects in the meantime on both the knitting and the sewing fronts. That, and I have to learn how to do at least half of the various techniques involved. So am I completely insane for even considering this?

The good news is, I’ve finally managed to get my Cadence sweater to the point where the sleeves are separated off and I’m actually working on the body by itself. So progress! Also, I finished my dress for the Mad Men party about 45 minutes ago, save the belt (for which the kit has not yet arrived) and pressing the hem. I’ll take some pictures of both of those things tomorrow when I have a better shot at decent lighting.

On a random note, have any of you other Blogger users been having trouble with the front page of your blog? For the last couple of weeks, I’ve only been able to see the most recent post, and have to click on the “Older Posts” to see anything further. Other than sidebar-type stuff, which is still working fine. I know it’s not my settings, because I’ve checked that and I should be able to see at least 5 posts here…odd. (Edit: And of course as soon as I post this, I can see the first two most recent posts…)

The days of small things

I finally finished this little keyhole scarf today, to go along with the handwarmers I made for my friend Shantelle. It completely used up the rest of the yarn, which is nice. And I like how having to go with two half-skeins of the self-striping yarn enabled me to make the stripes symmetrical here, too.  It’s nice to get this done.

The Cadence is coming along. I’ve got about 10 rows left to knit before the sleeve increases are done and I can be on the current knitalong step. (Hopefully I can catch up before Kristin posts the next one!)

I’ve also been making some progress on my little mending binge. So here’s what I’ve done so far:

I shortened this skirt from this weird lower-calf length to this much nicer around-the-knee one.

I stitched down the facings on this top so they’d stop popping out and being generally annoying.

I sewed along the topstitching above the buttons on the teal skirt I recently made so it would fit a little better, and finally added the hook-and-eye.

I resized a skirt that a friend recently gave me because she couldn’t wear it (pics to come), and fixed a little bit of trim that was coming unstitched from a random knit top.

I added some topstitching to fix the zipper that was tearing out of my weekender bag, and sewed a button back onto my self-stitched jeans jacket.

The repair that made me the saddest so far: that laptop bag that I only made, oh, 3 1/2 months ago and have only actually carried around about twice. (It generally hangs out next to my bed to house my laptop, since my primary computer is still my desktop with the much greater photo/music storage capacity.) I have no idea how it happened, because I stitched the heck out of this, but one side of the webbing pretty much frayed into oblivion and the D-ring was literally hanging by a thread. So I had to buy an entirely new piece of webbing, and I was very careful to seal up both cut ends before sewing it this time. I’m also a little sad that I had to stitch it through the facing and lining, because it doesn’t look nearly as nice…. I just hope it holds this time.

It’s finally here!

Look what I got in the mail today!

I’ve been seeing a lot about this book lately in the blogosphere (particularly this week’s theme at The Sew Weekly), and have been anxiously awaiting my own copy. So I was really excited to see the big box with my name on it! I haven’t had a chance to read through the entire thing yet, but I really do like the look of the three patterns I hadn’t seen yet! (I only saw the bag and coat, since those were the ones they chose for my sketch submissions.) And you can bet I’ll be reading this one cover to cover.

The other thing I was really excited to get back in the mail was my jacket! If you have the book, you can see it on the bottom right-hand corner of page 168. But I thought it would be fun to show some of the details that didn’t make it into the book. (I hope that’s ok, BurdaStyle! I know I’m about a year behind on actually posting my projects to your site, but I promise I’ll start catching up on that soon!)

I really like the way the sleeve pleats turned out. I added a couple extra to distribute the fullness, because the suedecloth was NOT a gather-friendly fabric. It’s a little hard to see in both here and the book, but there’s actually a self-fabric trim over the princess seam– two parallel bias-type strips.  And of course, fabric-covered buttons!

(Please ignore the freaky orange alien hand.) The buttons are basically just a detail to cover the snap closure– just like with my floral fantasy jacket, this fabric wasn’t really conducive to buttonholes either.

I kind of really love the lining fabric. The fabric is right on the cusp of both blue and grey, and somehow, the background of this brocade goes with it perfectly. (And the blue swirls are just fun….you know how I feel about solid pieces and print linings!)

Overall, and particularly due to the color, this jacket feels kind of like a modern Alice in Wonderland to me— as in Alice in the more recent Johnny Depp adaptation, when she’s back in the “real world” and her somewhat Victorian style.  Like this coat. I’m excited that I’ll finally have a chance to wear this jacket… and if I end up having to make the skirt or dress pattern from this book to go with it, since this is also a bit out of my usual color scheme, well, so be it. Oh, darn.

Thanks again for allowing me to be a part of this, BurdaStyle–it was truly an honor!

Not sew interesting, but…

Based on other blogs I’ve read, I know I’m not the only one who feels this way: Sewing is a hobby. Mending is a chore. But I guess sometimes it’s necessary to actually fix the stuff I have rather than sew something entirely new.

See this? This is my mending pile. And it’s not even quite accurate anymore, because I discovered while I was out today that the jacket I was wearing had a button in the pocket, which had apparently fallen off the front months ago and I never bothered to sew it back on.

Actually, this wasn’t entirely accurate to begin with. One of the things I did over the weekend was to go through all of my clothes that are actually out to see what needed to be fixed, and how. So this is actually just all of my colder weather stuff that needs mending. Which means there’s probably a bunch of other stuff under my bed that needs it, too.

So this is going to be my project for the next week and a half or so. I’m quasi-unemployed right now– every November, the retail job I have basically shuts down for a couple of weeks, just like it does over the winter. So I’m trying to use the extra time wisely and knock some things off of my to-do list that have been here for awhile. Some of these fixes are really small, like a little tear in the side seam. And some of these are going to take a little longer– like this shirt that I drafted a little too big to begin with, and all of the interfacing washed out of the diagonal seams and it sags a lot, so it basically needs to be entirely reconstructed. Or this skirt (plus another me-made that predates the blog, so I don’t think I have a pic on here) that is bias-cut and so the waist just seems to grow every single year. I want to get it stabilized once and for all! I have a thrifted jacket (that pretty green thing on top) where I have to replace 13 buttons, because one of them is broken and there were no spares in there, and the buttons are a little weird looking with it anyway. (Oh, and I have to fabric-coat my own buttons, because Joann’s didn’t have 13 of anything that was large enough, let alone remotely went with it!) And so on. I don’t know if I’ll share everything, but since some of these will involve some extent of reconstruction, I’ll probably at least share those.

Also, in the spirit of getting things done, I made these yesterday:

Just some very simple sachets, cut from old test muslins and stuffed with herbs, for things like the bottom of my laundry bin and the little bins that hold my socks and sweaters and such. They’re certainly not quality craftsmanship. The fabric is off-grain, the stitching is totally wonky, and you know what? I don’t care. Because these are buried underneath my clothes and no one will see them, except for me and anyone who’s actually reading this post. Once they stop smelling nice, I’m probably just going to toss them in the compost bin. And I’ve had those bags of herbs sitting in my room for a year, waiting for me to actually sit down and do it. I just wanted it off the list. So there!

One last thing– thanks for all of the encouragement on the sweater in the last post! And for the comments on the shirt, too. I don’t know if this necessarily means that red and mustard is going to be something I start incorporating into my wardrobe more…after all, my hair has a tendency to go red, and I like to encourage that, and wearing red makes it look brown. The update on the sweater is that I knocked a few more rows out last night, and may do a few tonight. It’s all knit all the time right now, so theoretically, I should be pretty much good to go until I get to where the sleeves need to split off. (At least, once I got past the first row– between that lifeline I added and how tightly I knit, getting that first row knit was sooooooo hard! The needle would hardly even go into the stitches!)

"Moving Target" shirt, and Cadence update

#1: I finished this shirt last night. I went ahead and used Butterick 5084 (the same one I used for this shirt), and I think it went better this time. Probably helped that I didn’t have the embroidered insert that added basically 3 extra layers of fabric at the under-bust seam, between the fold and the interfacing. I still had to take it in at the sides some, and lengthen the sleeves a bit, but otherwise, I’m really happy with the fit. I changed up the neckline a bit by replacing the facing with a strip of fabric, sewn on the seamline, folded under, and stitched double. I also stay-taped it so it wouldn’t sag and gap with repeated wearings, and so far, so good. It came together really quickly– I cut it out on Monday, and sewed it together in two sittings. Would have been faster without the stay-taping, but I think it’ll be worth it.

This color scheme is pretty different for me– I hardly wear red, and I don’t think I even owned anything in mustard until now. But what’s the point of sewing if you can’t have fun getting out of your self-imposed boxes? Also, I tried really hard to avoid awkward print placement on the top, and I think I did a pretty good job! The fabric is a cotton jersey (rather thin, as you can see from the tank top lines) from Mood. Which I think I bought 2 years ago. So, since it took me this long to get to it, another FESA project down! Thank you, Mood!
I’m also rather excited about this. See that? That’s the lace chart on my Cadence sweater, which is now DONE. Third time’s the charm. And that lime green bit of string at the bottom? I wove that in, in case I mess up the rows leading up to splitting the sleeves off. I shouldn’t, because it’s basically all knit all the time for 20 rows. But I’m not taking any chances! (I’ll take it out when the sweater’s done.)

Also, I think that taking the neckline down a needle size worked well. The overall knit looks much better than my first attempt, and the neckline doesn’t look like anything from an 80s dance movie anymore. Yay!

So why did I start knitting again?

Another pictureless post. I just need to rant.

I thought this sweater was going better this time. I spent basically every free hour I’ve had this week re-knitting everything I did since this knitalong started about a month and a half ago. And then tonight, I got to the decreases. And for some reason, the second body and sleeve section has way more stitches than the first. So I have to rip things out. Again. I’ve taken it back 3 1/2 rows so far and it’s still wrong. And my yarn is starting to get all fuzzy and stick together, and I can barely get the needle in there to undo the stitches because I knit so tightly. And if I have to rip this out and start it a third time, I’m going to be REALLY upset.

I’m honestly beginning to think that maybe I wasn’t ready for something as big as a sweater.

So why did I decide to give knitting another go?

Oh, yeah. I wanted sweaters.