Hey, look, I actually finished something! (And some MMM stuff)

I haven’t had a chance to write in the last few days, so I’m going to do days 9-12 all at once. But slightly out of order, because day 10 features my latest project, and we all know that’s the most interesting thing I have to talk about, right? Right. So now that that’s out of the way, here’s….

Day 10:
Top: Me-made, blogged below!
Jeans: Express, via thrift store
Shoes: J.Renee
Necklace/earrings: Me-made, blogged below. 

I made this top from the blouse pattern in the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook–the first project I’ve made from there since the coat I made for the publication. Aside from re-drafting the sleeves and leaving off the ribbon trim, I made this pretty much as is, though I had to taper down the sides an extra 5/8″ to where the waist seam split. (I’m mainly writing that so I remember to alter the pattern.) Finishing this off took me more or less literally all day on Wednesday. My plan was to finish this and then watch part 3 of the Jean-ius course so I could move forward on my jeans, but after I tallied it all up, this took me about 7 hours to finish up. I’m not sure how–it’s not like I was goofing off! Must have been all that seam finishing. And the sleeve hems took me awhile to figure out, including some unpicking.

 And another gratuitous shot–though I know the sun makes this not the best view of the shirt, or the most flattering view of my face, you can see the necklace a bit better here. And look how red my hair looks! (Ok, I’ll admit it, that’s my main reasoning for posting this one. I like pictures where my hair looks really, really red!)

Things I learned from this project:

  1. My pattern-altering skills need work. I was going for more of a flutter sleeve and I wanted a non-gathered sleeve, but I think I didn’t take enough off the top to smooth the cap out, and I didn’t add enough flare to the bottom. Plus it’s way too long to have worked as that style. I think the bell kind of works fine, but still not what I’d originally pictured.
  2. When adding seam allowances myself, I should probably read ahead in the directions first to see where I might need to allow more. The waist drawstring casing would have worked so much better if I hadn’t had to make it so narrow.
  3. Partially bias-cut peplums are HARD to hem flat! I had to occasionally take a tiny tuck in the hem to get rid of the extra fabric. It was fine since it’s polyester, but if I’d made this out of cotton, I’d be worried about it showing through the front after pressing.
  4. Even though I feel like this shirt took me much longer than it should have, I’m really glad I took the time to finish each seam. This fabric frayed like crazy, and it probably would fall apart within a few washes if I hadn’t. Actually, I’m still a bit concerned about it, to be honest.
  5. Sewing the sleeves in flat is good. But I still should have hemmed them with the bias strip in the round, because I would have saved myself a lot of trouble and they would have matched up better in the end. (One edge was slightly longer than the other, and I didn’t know until the bias strip was already sewed on, aka too late.
  6. I should probably also make the slit a little longer next time. I don’t know if I have an exceptionally large head or what, but this was just a liiiiiiiittle bit hard to pull over!  (See above, since I can’t get the pictures to cooperate.)

All in all, though there are things that could have gone better, I think this blouse was a great learning experience. And since the entire point of the book is altering and manipulating patterns to make the design really your own, I think it was a successful step in that direction for me. Now I just need to come up with a good name for this, since I’m a dork like that–I’m a bit torn, since the print looks kind of vine-like when close up, but from a distance, it makes me think of a computer matrix. I’m currently leaning towards the latter, since the whole “zeroes and ones” thing makes me think of an Andrew Bird song by that title.

And before I leave day 10 completely, here’s a closer-up view of the jewelry:

I think this one also pre-dated the blog. I somehow got my hands on these purpleish freshwater pearl beads, and in playing with those oblong ones, came up with this flower pendant. So I ran with it.

Now for a little skipping back and forth in time!

Day 9:
Top: Me-reconstructed–a thrifted dress that I chopped into a top, along with some altering at the shoulders
Shrug: Me-reconstructed, blogged here
Trouser Jeans: Worthington, I think from JCPenney’s
Shoes: Array
Earrings: See below

This was my sewing marathon day, so I wanted a top that was fitted enough that I could easily throw the blouse over top to check the fit. This fit the bill well. Not my best shot expression-wise, but it shows the outfit the best, so let’s just pretend this is my model shot, ok? I also discovered that these pants are not too short for me when worn with flats–they just look terrible with my boots.

And the earrings–another craft fair leftover, but with the two-tone effect that makes them not sure if they’re blue or green, depending on the lighting (as illustrated here), they worked pretty well with this top!

Day 11:
Top: The “Doolittle” blouse, blogged here
Pants: Apt.9, and the only store-bought pants I have that still fit and flatter like a dream.
Shoes: Hotter
Earrings: See below

I was strongly considering changing into jeans after teaching lessons, but didn’t. In retrospect, I probably should have, since my boyfriend and I were hanging out at his place, and these pants didn’t fare too well against the fur of two golden retrievers! But the truth is that I really only have two pairs of jeans that are ok for outside-of-work wearing right now, since my best-fitting pair are out of commission until I finish the next step or two of the Jean-ius class and can take all of that hand-basting out. I wore the one pair the day before, and skinny jeans with a top this fitted is not my thing. So I stuck with this again.

The earrings were something a bit different for me. Usually, I try to match my jewelry colors to the colors in my outfit. I decided to play around with contrasting. Once again, these earrings are craft fair leftovers–actually, one of the few things that came back to me after I’d let my mom, my sis-in-law, and several of my friends at the stash. Poor, unloved earrings. And if blue and gold is good enough for my old university, it should work, right? I think this would have worked a bit better if I’d had another yellow accessory to go with it, like a bracelet or a pair of shoes or something, but it was kind of fun to go outside the box.

And finally, yesterday:

Day 12:
Top: The Sorbetto formerly known as Azalea, blogged here
Jeans: The same ratty thrifted Old Navy ones I wore to work
Sandals: J.Renee
Earrings: I forgot to take a close-up pic, but they’re me-made with light blue swirly beads.

I didn’t have a lot of time to throw an outfit together, since I ended up with a spontaneous family outing shortly after I got home from work, and then spent the evening hanging out with two of my really good friends. I grabbed this one on a whim, since it was warmer today and I hadn’t actually worn it in public yet, despite making it months and months ago–I figured I needed to give it a shot! And looking at this picture, I’m warming up a bit to the Sorbetto pattern– I’d thought it would be horribly unflattering on me, since it’s not fitted at the waist like I usually go for, but it doesn’t look too bad in this shot. (Still needs to be a little longer on me though, I think. Just enough that I can raise my arms without flashing midriff. And I’ll probably ditch the pleat if I make it again.) It was really comfortable to wear, though, which is great for a weekend top!

I’ll do today’s outfit in another post– truthfully, I haven’t even put on any accessories yet, since catching up on outfit pics was a higher priority for now, so I’ll have to get that picture later!

    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.

    Fall Essentials Sew-Along!

    I was excited to see this announcement over at Rhinestones & Telephones today–I was curious to see what the categories would be this time! Of course I’m participating–even though I didn’t quite get through my entire list by the end of August (though I at least started everything by then!), I love the flexibility of getting to choose my own patterns. And this one especially seems rather conducive to allowing for knitting to be part of my wardrobe scheme. So, in almost no particular order, here’s what I’m hoping to be up to for the next couple of months. The sew-along information is copied from Sarah’s blog, with the rest of it being my own plans. (Lots of pics ahead!)

    Fall is often a very busy season for many of us, filled with activities that often have us running hither and yon. Making your items should be a form of relaxation; a time to slow down and enjoy the creative process.

    The goal: Stock your wardrobe with quality pieces that you will wear again and again.

    The benefit: A group of creative people who will encourage and inspire you, not to mention talk you off the ledge when you need it!

    Well, she’s got that right….fall is almost always really busy for me, and it looks like this one will be no exception. Since I’m still having no luck in the job-hunting department, though, I should at least be able to find some time to sew during the weeks, even if it seems like almost every weekend between now and the end of October has something going on!

    Fashionable Foundations for Frosty Weather
    Trousers, skirts, legwarmers and more! Anything that keeps your lower portion fashionably cozy fits perfectly here! The chilly weather necessitates the donning of bifurcated bottoms and sassy skirts!

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– I’m determined that this will be the fall that I finally conquer The Jeans. So I’ll be revisiting my latest muslin from the twice-taken PR Jeans class, which I set aside once the LBD plans started happening, and hopefully using this denim to make a fabulously fitting pair!

    There will also be some skirt action happening, though I’m not entirely sure how much. I do have one currently in the works that I started last night in an attempt to participate in the latest Refashion Co-Op weekly challenge. If all goes according to plan, it’ll fill a long-standing hole in my wardrobe…but more on that in a later post. I did also pull out these couple of things so I could have some quick projects if needed in the midst of the more complicated plans I have for the fall. (Though I wonder how quick they’d actually be, seeing as how those prints mean that both skirts would be lined…)

    Also, on a random note, I love that they used the word “bifurcated”.

    Chic Chemises for Cool Climates
    Blouses, tops, vests, cardigans, and sweaters! These wardrobe essentials can carry you from day to night, not to mention provide necessary layering to keep out the chill. 

    Blouse #1, which I mentioned in my last post, is already in action! But again, more on that later. I’ve also pulled out this knit…

    I’m not sure what pattern I’m actually going to use for it yet, but this was one of my fabrics I got from Mood last year. And while this is a bit of a departure fabric for me, I think it would go fabulously with that red skirt if I get to it. I looked through my patterns a bit today, and came up with these four possibilities:

    From left to right, I’m thinking either the 3/4 print top, the reddish twist-front top, the white basic top, or that stripey drapey v-neck top. I know you’re normally not supposed to break up large prints with patterns that involve a lot of seams, but at the moment I’m leaning towards either the twist-front top or the drapey-front top. Seems to me that smaller pattern pieces in front might make it easier to avoid unfortunate print placement, given all of those circles!

    Also, there is that sweater knitalong that’s going to be happening very soon. And another refashion idea I’ve had bouncing around in my head for awhile, which again may be a quicker thing.

    Fabulous Frocks
    Dresses of all styles; mini, short, or long! Keep yourself warm in your modish designs, layering with tights and boots!

    Two words (actually a word and a number): Vogue 1253. Which I will be making out of these: The jersey, which I’ve had for a couple of years, is on top, and this is the tricot lining and organza I recently picked up to go along with it. (It’s ok to buy fabric to help me bust stash fabric, right?)

    This will most likely be the next thing after the blouse and the recon skirt–since it’s sleeveless, I need to finish it while I still have a shot at being able to wear it.


    Underneath It All
    When you’re spending months covered from the neck down, a glamorous underpinning of your choice adds a secret, luxurious touch that chases the cold away!

    No plans for this category currently.

    Tender Tootsies
    Let’s not forget your frosty feet! Socks, slippers and the like are the order of the day. Keep those tootsies warm and dry! 

    I did cast on a new knitting project the other day that actually fits this category! Which I’m only 7 or 8 rows into, so it still counts. But again, more on that later.

    Those Cozy Nights
    Is there anything better than snuggling up in a cozy pair of pajamas with a hot drink and a book whilst Jack Frost works his magic outside? I think not! Sleepwear of all types are the way to go here!

    You know, I think I’m actually good on cooler-weather PJs for now! So again, no current plans for this category.

    Baby It’s Cold Outside
    Coats, hats, and mittens donned to keep the cold at bay, especially when out enjoying the spectacular fall colours!

    I have hopes of being able to work in a knitted hat, in this (the yarn I got at my inaugural visit to the local yarn store):

    And, well, Gorgeous Fabrics lured me in with their current sale….which includes that raincoat fabric I wanted. So I bought 4 yards of that, and it arrived in the mail today. I think it’ll be lovely to sew with–more taffeta-like and less vinyl-like than I expected! (And I did flick some water on it to see–it does repel!) Given that I have other things I need to get done sooner, this may not actually be part of the sew-along. I’m just going to say I’d like to have it done by around Decemberish.

    But I do also have this pulled out, to make another brown coat. This one more for layering purposes. Isn’t the lining fun? And I love the look of this jacket (from the 11/09 Burda magazine)–it reminds me of those 70’s jackets of my mom’s that I used to wear all the time as a teenager, before they got worn out/too small for me. (I’m a bit taller than she is, so they were always a bit snug across my back and such.)

    I realize that this is a lot of stuff, and the chances of me actually getting through all of this are pretty slim. But it’ll be fun to try!

    Fall is in the air…

    First off, thanks for the well-wishes about Irene. I actually ended up with a best-case scenario–no loss of power, no flooding, basically just a lazy weekend of staying inside to avoid the wind and rain. We did have a tornado warning at one point, which was kind of scary, but if there was one, it got nowhere near me. Guess I could have sewed this weekend after all, lol! But I did get some knitting done, so that’s something. (No pics yet, because it’s not going to take me that long to finish this project. I just need to sit down and do it. So I’ll hold off on that.)

    Secondly, thanks for all of the suggestions so far for what to do with that floral fabric. There’s a couple of suggestions I found particularly intriguing, so I’m thinking through it. And by all means, if you have any other ideas, keep them coming!

    I think the hurricane may have blown in some early fall weather–usually around here in August, it’s still really hot and sticky. But it’s actually really nice out today–sunny and only 75 degrees. The perfect day for taking my new knitted top out for a test drive, really. (Paired it with my sunflower skirt, since this is basically my last chance to wear it if I follow that silly “no white after Labor Day” rule.) Since I’ve still had no luck in the job-hunting department and therefore didn’t have work this morning, I took the opportunity to kick-start my fall sewing as well.

    This was actually the last thing on my “summer essentials” list, but I’m going to use it to ease myself into sewing for cooler weather again. I saw a blouse kind of similar to this around last year at a store–pretty simple cut, but it had some nice details with the sleeves and especially the buttons. That’s going to be the tricky part to figure out– I remember they were sewn on there in groups of 3, with a sort of loop closure. So while my fabric is rather sheer and I’ll always have to wear it over top of something anyway, and therefore wardrobe malfunctions won’t be an issue, I’m still hoping I can figure out a way to do that middle part so it’s not gapping open all the time.

    So my strategy for replicating this was to make a mash-up pattern based on my favorite blouse pattern, and the Burda pattern I used for the Ayden shirt. It’s mostly straightforward– I’m using the sleeves from view D and the sort of mandarin-style collar from view E (the yellow blouse, kind of cut off in this pic) out of the New Look as is. And it’s basically the front and back of the Burda pattern, though I retraced the back so that I could add a little more width and alter the armholes to match the New Look. The upper front was where it gets the most complicated, so I took a couple of pictures.

    The shoulder widths and angles line up perfectly! The armholes on the Burda do cut a little higher, so when I retraced it, I did go with the New Look armhole (the newsprinty-looking section– this was my piece that I traced out and altered for the Chevron blouse.) As you can see, the widths are a bit different, and the angles at the neckline. Since I knew I wanted to use the New Look collar, I’d have to fix that.

    So here’s kind of where it ended up– the neck angle of the New Look, and the bottom shaping of the Burda. The final piece ended up looking even a little different than that, because I realized that with the way the front should end up working and the sheerness of the fabric, there’s really no good way to do a facing in this. So I trimmed the seam allowance off there a bit and I’m just going to do a bias strip binding instead. Hopefully it’ll work out ok…I’ve never done a closure like this before and I have a feeling that winging will be involved. But it is all cut out now, except for interfacing. (Which will probably be more of the never-ending piece of silk organza, just because that would work better with the sheerness.)

    Another reconstruction!

    I did finish that shirt after posting yesterday’s blog, but didn’t get the pics until today. This is the before picture of the blouse. I found it at a thrift store awhile back. And, well, it had some issues. It was kind of big and baggy, but with sleeves that were this really weird length. (Kind of like it was supposed to be long sleeves and shrank in the wash.) And the buttons didn’t really go with the shirt at all, IMO. But the fabric was really nice– a 100% silk woven of some type. And the color is gorgeous; it kind of shifts between turquoise and violet depending on the lighting. So I thought it was worth salvaging.

    Here’s the after….a much better fit (even though a crappy picture, since I’m terrible at taking pictures of myself wearing things.)

    It was a more involved reconstruction, since I basically had to take almost the entire blouse apart. And it was a case of winging it as I went, for the most part. The back is almost as it was, other than losing some of the width in the back. But I removed the collar (leaving just the stand so it has that mandarin look), and cut the sleeves to just above my elbow. One of the things I’ve learned in this cooler spring is that I needed some brighter colored transitional clothing. Nearly all that I had looks like fall! And obviously, I made some more drastic changes to the front…

    I cut the front down the center to give it more of an empire waist (I know it looks low, and maybe the seam is just a little lower than it should have been, but it does fit better than a lot of that style seems to be for me.) Did a little gathering to make it smaller, and a little box pleat on the lower part to do the same. I also ended up deciding that I didn’t want it to be completely a button-down shirt, so I took the side the buttons had been on, laid that on top, and topstitched it down so the bottom half is one solid piece. There’s a zipper in the side now so I can easily get it on and off. And then I swapped out the buttons with ones that match much, much better. Whew! So I’m pleased overall with how this one turned out….now I just need to figure out a fun name for it so I can stick it in the sidebar list.

    So there you have it! I’m hoping to work in a quick refashion or two this week for Refashion Co-Op’s Around the World in 80 Dresses challenge. Aside from that, now that I’ve done a couple of relatively quick sewing projects, I think I’m ready to tackle my next Big Challenge: The Anthropologie pants!!

    A day of small things. (And some rather oversized ones.)

    Because I don’t really have anything finished to show. Things have been kind of busy lately, since I had to work almost all day on Saturday, I was out on Friday night, and had way too much going on between church activities and flute choir on Sunday to do much. But I’ve been working on a couple of different things as I’ve been able to since the last post, so here’s what’s been going on in my crafty world:

    I’ve been refashioning a shirt– a 100% silk blouse that I thrifted some time ago. I skipped rock climbing on Monday to stay home and sew, since I got done teaching too late anyway, and made some nice progress on this. It’s close to being done, I just have to deal with the sleeves. But here’s a teaser shot.

    This is one of the things I really like about refashioning–they’re the perfect sewing project in a pinch for when I just don’t have time to lay out a pattern and cut something out.

    I knitted a gauge swatch for one of the tank tops I’m hoping to make soon. I think it’s ok….the width was absolutely spot-on, but the number of rows left me about half an inch short of what the book said. So I’m guessing I just make this a little longer if need be. I hope it’s ok, anyway, since I stopped at Joann’s on Monday to pick up a couple of things I needed for said refashion, and already bought the circular needle that I need. (I’m excited about this yarn. Not only is it a very pretty blue, but it’s sparkly! And it’s cotton!)

    I had stopped in Goodwill earlier this week too, in order to pick up something for another refashion where I didn’t have anything good on hand to add to what I do have. While I was there, I saw a sweater with a low wool content, and almost got it. But I didn’t. And then I went back today before I went to my band teaching job, and ended up getting 3 sweaters with low animal-fiber contents. As you can see, they’re all kind of ugly, so my plan is to unravel them for the yarn and use them as test subjects to see how my skin handles them. So here’s what I’ve got:

    1. A bit too long for a tunic, a bit too short for a sweater dress. And a ridiculously oversized cowl that makes it look way too 80s for anyone’s good. The blend is 55% cotton, 20% viscose, 20% acrylic and 5% rabbit hair. (I guess that would also be known as angora? Or does it have to be a certain type of rabbit for that?) I’m guessing worsted weight.

    2. The original sweater I spotted and didn’t buy. I’m not seeing how this sweater would possibly be flattering on anyone, really. Especially with that bubble turtleneck thing. It makes me think of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Come on, Express, you should know better. Anyway, this one is 45% acrylic, 44% polyester, and 11% wool. Definitely a bulky yarn.

    3. The best one of the three stylewise by far, and if it wasn’t so huge, I’d be potentially tempted to just keep it as is. I do love a long cardi. And it’s super-soft. You can’t really tell from the picture, but the yarn is really pretty– it’s kind of a blend of a mossy green, grey, a greyish blue, and something that looks kind of yellowish-green. This one’s 74% polyester, 11% mohair, 7% acrylic and 8% wool. It also looks like a worsted-weight.

    None of these seemed to really set me off when handling them in the store or trying them on for the photos, so maybe that means I’ll be ok? I’m most definitely going to wash these first, since they do have that kind of musty thrift-store smell, and then I guess I’ll start dissecting them and see how much yarn I end up with. Either way, 3 sweaters’ worth of yarn for $10.50 is definitely not a bad way to start my experimentation!

    edit, later this evening: So after looking at some tutorials on how to unravel the sweaters for maximum yarn yield, I decided to go ahead and work on dissecting the Stay-Puft Marshmallow sweater. (I’d already thrown the other two in the washer before reading that wool should be unraveled first, then washed. Hopefully the cardi is ok. I didn’t put them in the dryer, and I wash everything on cold…) So far, it seems that I was able to work with the yarn for about 2 1/2 hours before my palms started feeling a little funny. The downside is, I think this sweater is also partially felted! The strands are definitely clinging together a bit much, to the point where I have to use my thread clippers to chop those extra fuzzies apart on a fairly regular basis. For those of you who have more experience with yarn than me–is this still usable?

    Operation Salvage = success?

    Well, the blouse is done as of this afternoon. In order to get a picture of the fit, had to try it on myself….so please excuse my pasty, banged-up legs, messy room and the horrible lighting. I think overall, I managed to salvage it pretty well, though I had to make some changes from my original plan (namely making it a sleeveless blouse, rather than a short-sleeved one), and some kind of oddball adjustments.

    Here’s the gist of it, without my hair in the way.

    And here’s my oddball salvage job. No, that’s not a shadow– that’s a fake princess seam intersecting with a dart. I think I can safely say that the full bust adjustment attempt was a complete failure, and this was the only way I could get it even close to well-fitting around my chest in the end. And yes, I realize that the seam is puckered. I’m pretending that those gathers, as well as the dart that makes it look like I pieced together the side, were intentional design features. I made it work. Eat your heart out, Tim Gunn.

    I guess it’ll be ok that it’s sleeveless, in the end– I think the silhouette is such that I could possibly use it as a layering blouse if needed. And I still like the fabric, I think I did a nice job with the underlining, the silk organza worked out nicely as the interfacing, and I think I managed some cute buttons on this too. (Black probably would have stood out better, but I couldn’t pass up the almost glittery-looking embossed design on these.) So overall, even though this means I still have a looooong way to go in my quest to perfect fitting, I think I can consider this a success.

    Another exciting development around here is that I’ve finished the wrap, mostly. The knitting is done, and I wove in the ends yesterday.

    This is what it’s looking like right now–there’s a row or two where I’m not sure what the heck happened because there’s some odd line of holes (on the backrest of the chair).

    But seeing as how this was considered to be a lace pattern, at least according to the designer (albeit a super-easy one), I think I did pretty well for a newbie.

    I still need to block this. Once I figure out exactly how to do it. The pattern recommended basically soaking it and then rolling it up in towels or something.

    I liked working with this yarn overall–it’s Lion Brand Nature’s Choice organic cotton. It’s super-soft, and I hope it stays that way after blocking. It did have a tendency to shed a bit (especially when I knit part of this while on an exercise bike–then it was like my orange tabby cat on black), but I didn’t have any trouble with knitting it on bamboo needles, even with my tendency to knit tightly. I have a little bit over one ball left, out of the six that I bought for this–the yarn was labeled as worsted weight but I think it’s thicker, so I didn’t need as much as anticipated. So I think I’m going to use the rest to make a pair of handwarmers sometime. I’ve been joking for years that I need a pair of skin-toned fingerless gloves to wear at church when I’m playing flute on worship team, because it tends to be so cold in there. And I don’t think I’d find anything much closer to my skin tone!

    In the meantime, I’ve started both a dishcloth and a second pair of the Constellation gloves, this time for a friend. And also tearing up something for my next refashion. Not much progress yet on any of those three things, but I’m chipping away at them..

    I hope this isn’t a craft fail in progress.

    I started sewing my black and white blouse today–seemed like a good way to spend an afternoon that I did not have to be teaching band. (Reaping the benefits of standardized testing, ohhhhhhh yeah!) I’d had visions in my head of this coming together super-fast and having almost an entire new shirt to show for this afternoon. But no…it’s being complicated.

    First, there’s this. I must have screwed up somewhere along the line with the FBA I did, because while I had a nice amount of room there, the dart ended up being rather low. (I’m not sure why, since things seemed all right when I was tissue-fitting the pattern.) It looks fine here, but there’s a reason for that….you see how small the armhole is?

    This is how wide I had to make the shoulder seams to get those darts in the right place–an entire inch beyond the seam allowance! I also had to take the sides in somewhere in the 1/4″-3/4″ range (most at the waist, least at the top and bottom.).

    And then chop these bits out of the neckline and armhole to make it functional again.

    So then the mandarin-style collar was too long, so I ended up cutting this much off of that to make it work….only to remember after I cut it that I’d completely forgotten to factor seam allowances into that measurement. So I stitched the sides with a 1/4″ seam allowance to compensate as much as I could. Guess I’m going to be trimming the neckline even more to compensate for the rest.

    I’m going to have to see what’s up with the facings after all of this–I haven’t touched those yet. Hopefully I trimmed the armholes down enough for the cap sleeves to still work–though I have a bit of an advantage on that part, at least, since I picked the view that has just a cap rather than a full-circle sleeve.

    If this blouse turns out well after all of this winging it I’ve had to do, I’ll be shocked. And if I ever use this pattern again after all of this, I’m moving the bust dart up at least an inch before I cut a thing.

    I really like this fabric, and I was so excited about trying the underlining technique in a more casual project now that I actually know how to do it right. So this is all kind of bumming me out. I don’t want to end this post on a downer, so here’s some happier things in my crafty world:

    #1: The knitted wrap is almost done! At least as far as the knitting goes. I estimate that about 10 more rows should do it as far as using up sufficient yarn goes, while still leaving enough in the ball to do the last two all-knit rows. We’ll see how my estimation goes. I’m going to try to finish it tonight, rather than beat myself over the head with this blouse some more.

    #2: New magazines! I stopped at the bookstore on my way home from teaching last night to see if the April BurdaStyle was something I wanted to acquire. (It wasn’t. Absolutely nothing jumped out at me when looking at the line drawings. There was one jacket that was ok, but I already have more jacket patterns than I’ll probably ever sew.) So instead, I picked up the spring SewStylish and the summer Knitscene. Which just may contain my first attempt at a real sweater, once I finish the two summery tanks I have in the queue, because this cardigan is cute and it doesn’t look terribly difficult. So it might be a good first attempt at sleeves. And, knowing how easily I get cold, layering options might also be the best way for me to go!

    While I’m on the subject of knitting, I have to give a shoutout to Brinn, who very kindly commented on my last post to tell me how to raise the neckline on the tank top she designed that I want to knit. Very sweet of her!

    #3: New fabric! And new yarn! Yes, my Fabric.com order came in.

    So these are my apron fabrics, all washed up and ready to go. The flower print is actually much larger than I anticipated, so it’s a good thing I was going for a more funky, colorful aesthetic! (To give you a sense of scale, the coin on there is an American quarter.)

    And the bird fabric I picked up for the Crescent skirt (also a larger scale than anticipated–did I just not read the description or something?), along with the linen/acrylic blend yarn I got to go with it. Now that I see them in person, I’m not as convinced that the two things will go together–the greens in the fabric are a bit more of a yellow shade than I thought, and the yarn is more of a blue-toned green. But who knows–maybe they’ll still work. If nothing else, I checked the yarn against my sunflower skirt, now that it’s out from its winter hiding place under the bed, and it goes quite well with that. And if all else fails with this skirt, I can always pull out my basic white t-shirt.

    I’m baaaack…

    ….and I survived the crazy busy week. Even got some unexpected time to recuperate yesterday–I was originally scheduled to work at my retail job, but the weather was horrible yesterday and I was scheduled for the outdoor register, so I got a call telling me to stay home since they weren’t expecting enough business for 2 cashiers. So instead, my best friend came over, we watched Tangled and a whole lot of The Big Bang Theory, and she crocheted while I knitted.

    (No pictures in this post, since I’m writing it spur-of-the-moment and it’s too dark to get any decent pics. But I have lots of links.)

    Still working on that wrap. It looks like it’s about 47″ long now, which is actually what the pattern calls for. I’m debating whether I want to make it a bit longer, since I’ve still got something like 1 2/3 balls of the yarn left. (Apparently I quite overestimated how much I would need. Except it looks like it’s a lot longer in the picture. This one just barely wraps around me.) But then, it’s rather tempting to just knit the 3 rows I’d need to finish it off so I can move on to something else! It’ll get a little longer when I block it, right?

    I also started my next sewing project today, which is going to be view C of New Look 6967. I had to do some fitting modifications to the front of the pattern, which hopefully will work out all right. And I got everything cut out this time–impressive for me, since I usually get lazy by the time I get to interfacing and don’t actually cut it out until I need it to complete that step. I’m making it a little more complicated for myself by almost completely underlining it–mostly so I won’t have to deal with the lack of opacity issues that white fabric tends to have. The only things I’m not underlining are the facings and one half of the collar, since they’ll be interfaced instead. And I’m actually using a piece of the silk organza for the interfacing, as an experiment. So far, I’ve got the basting done on about half the pieces–I’m actually doing a blend of hand- and machine-basting for that. (Hand-basted the sleeves, the organza to the facings, and the darts on the back, but I machine-basted the outer edges of the back.) I still have to do the front and the front facings. I don’t think this will take very long to sew together once all of the prepwork is done, though. Especially since I’ll probably just serge the seams to finish them.

    And now it’s stashbusting confession booth time. Though I’m subtracting about 2 yards with this blouse (not counting the underlining fabric, which I did not add the total in and I used up all but scraps so it evens out), I’ll be adding something like 5 1/2 yards once my Fabric.com order comes in. It’s all Nicole’s fault, really. She had the idea that it would be fun to make some Anthropologie-inspired aprons, and asked me if I wanted to get together to sew some. Which sounded fun, as well as practical since I tend to be messy when I cook. I did look in the stash first, and didn’t see anything that would really work for such a project. So I think I’m excused on those two pieces. But the blame lies solely on me for the 2 1/2 yards of cotton print that I spotted that would make a really fun Crescent Skirt. Then, to make matters worse, I made the mistake of looking in the 65% off clearance section of the yarn portion of their website, and found a linen-acrylic blend that perfectly went with said skirt fabric. So of course I just had to buy it. I’m thinking a less low-cut (if I can figure out how to make it so) version of this.

    So not only am I canceling out something like the last 3 projects I did for this fabric purchase, I now seem to be acquiring a yarn stash. I’ve got yarn for all 6 of the things in my Ravelry queue, and even if I do make the wrap long enough to finish out the current ball, I’ll still have one left. Plus I still have yarn left from the beret, too. Drat. At least I’ll end up using the apron fabrics almost right away.

    Making plans, and a sneak preview

    It’s finally supposed to start getting decently warm around here– 60s tomorrow, and I hear it’s even supposed to get up to 70 on Friday! I’m so excited! And also so ready to start thinking about some warm-weather clothes! I’m currently making a dress for my mom to wear to a cousin’s upcoming wedding, and I still need to make myself a wrap to wear on top of my own dress. 
    So here’s a preview, somewhat, of Mom’s dress. I took this picture on my phone, so the colors aren’t entirely accurate–the flowers are straight-up silver, and here they look rather tarnished! And it’s really more of a navy than this twilight blue. But this is a look at the skirt, in all its unpressed glory.  So far, I’ve gotten that sewn together, some sheer overlay bits of the bodice, and the actual bodice and lining. I was planning on finishing the bodice up to the zipper tonight, but hit a bit of a snag– brocade is apparently one of the worst fabrics ever to try and make spaghetti straps out of, and I completely messed up both pieces trying to get it to work. So I need to cut some new, wider straps. Thus the reason I sewed the skirt instead. I’m trying to get this done as quickly as possible, as my seasonal retail job is starting up again on Friday and I’ll have less time.
    I had a little time to kill between at-home lessons this afternoon, and couldn’t resist pulling a few things out of my stash that I’ve been thinking about. All of these, save one, have been in my stash for years, and I’ve finally got the inspiration I need. So, in no particular order, here’s what I want to get started on as soon as I can…

    I picked up this paisley cotton several years ago, with the thought of making one of those dirndl-looking dresses with the kind of Asian name (for the life of me, I can’t remember now what those were called!) that were so popular. I never got around to making it, which was probably a good thing. As soon as I saw this really interesting-looking Project Runway pattern, I knew it would be a perfect match. The top is almost corset-looking due to the pleats, and it looks like it’ll be fairly quick to sew. Plus I already have matching fabric that can be turned into the piping trim! I may be considering this for an Easter dress this year, since I actually do have a cardigan that I could wear over top. If I have time to do so.

    This one is a new acquisition to my stash, although I got it for free! I’m being highly unoriginal here and making the cap sleeve view–you know, the one that looks like it’s made from the exact same fabric in the sketch. But I’m strongly considering adding some black piping to this one as well to make it look a little sharper. And I’m also planning on fully underlining it, except for perhaps the sleeves. It is a bit see-through.

     Another one that’s been in my stash for years. At least since college. I don’t have a pattern to show for this one, because I’ve got a design in mind based on a blouse I saw last spring or summer. So I’m going to Frankenstein a couple of patterns I’ve already played with before for this one. It’s very sheer, but also very neutral, so I think it’ll be a good layering piece.

    And then there’s this one, which I’ve shown before. I’ve literally had this one in my queue for at least a year and a half now, but it kept getting pushed aside for other, more needed projects. Well, I’m determined to have this skirt in my closet by the end of spring, because I still really like the mental picture of this fabric and pattern combination. Plus I’ve also been meaning to do a test of the skirt sloper pattern I made in one of those Pattern Review classes a few years ago, and this skirt is just straight enough that I think, between this and my new fitting books, it might be the perfect test.

    After I get through these 4 things, it’s time to tackle those Anthropologie pants. The fabric is in, but no pictures because it’s in my laundry, waiting to be washed. And I have a plan of attack in mind. So I’m trying not to load up my sewing queue for this season too much–other than making piping, I don’t think any of these patterns will be overly taxing, and I’d still like to get some refashioning in there, since being a contributor at the Refashion Co-Op has been a lot of fun so far and I’d like to continue to do so.