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August 27

Sewing With Knits: Patterns I’m Drooling Over

After just making 1 Renfrew top & learning how to sew with knits, I’m totally pumped up to beef up my wardrobe with a whole slew of comfy knit dresses, tops, and skirts.

I have a whole swirl of ideas in my head – so I figured, why not share them up here?!  Get my thoughts out on ‘paper’ in a way.  So below is my ‘wish list’ of sorts in what I hope to get made up in the coming months.

I’ve already started to cut out and assemble Vogue 8728.  I’ve cut and sewn 1, loved it so much I went made a second already.

V8728

It feels like everyone has sewn up this little beauty & I’ve had this pattern in my stash for quite some time too.  This is my twice failed knit dress.  The first was going to be a wearable muslin – but that failed as I had a late night accident with the serger and the waist seam.  The second, well… the fabric was a bust as it ended up looking like I was wearing a wetsuit like material and the soft drapes were like really big and puffy.  Not attractive at all.

Then!!! I snagged this gorgeous fabric from EmmaOneSock to make it in (sorry, sold out).

Striped Knit

I have a weakness for floral & stripes combined.  But I hope the dress doesn’t get too busy with this loud print.  If it does… then I guess I’ll just have to make a second one in a solid.  win-win

So… this happened.  heh

Circle Skirt:

No pattern for this per say, but I have come to realize I don’t actually own any circle skirts, only 1/2 circle skirts.  This was a *duh* moment of mine.

I need to remedy this with making a knit (& woven one).  I have some great classic red knit fabric, drapey cottonish feeling to me (see image above).  I have like 3-4 yards of this fabric.  I have no idea when I bought it or why… but I’m now glad I have so much in my stash to use.

More Renfrews:

I’d love to make up a few more Renfrew tops for the upcoming fall & winter in all versions.  I even have some ‘hack’ ideas floating around in my head.

Pajamas:

I’ve had it in my head that I want to make the Colette Cinnamon camisole but as a knit version.

cami-knickers-front

Of course I need some shorts to match… so I’d likely draft up some tap pants also to coordinate.

I have some pretty pale blue cotton-ish knit I just bought for this very purpose in the remnants section of my fabric store.  I got two different remnants which would be enough for the top & shorts.

Banksia Top:

Banksia Top

I’ve had this pattern in my stash for quite a while, but I haven’t made it up yet.  All I can see when I look at the line drawing is a cute knit top – so that’s what it has to be.  No fabric as of yet for this.  So far I’m envisioning color contrast between the collar/bands vs the top.

Bronte Knit Top:

Bronte Top Pattern

This is a new knit top by Jennifer Lauren & it looks really cute.  I’m always up for some vintage inspired clothing – especially knit ones now.  :D  Again, I don’t have any fabric in my stash for this one, but a girl can dream yea?

Lastly, the Nettie Top by Closet Case Files:

NETTIE-SQUARE-PROMO

It’s not exactly my style, but I just can’t help loving it the more I see it.  Perhaps it’s the sweet low back of it…  But I also snagged some fabric that would be perfect as a Nettie (providing I have enough yardage).  It just has to be done, ya know?!

Birds via EmmaOneSock again.

Birds

I couldn’t really justify the $17 a yard price on this… but then I found some as a roll end on clearance (after much stalking) and then I popped on it.  I was such a happy camper when it arrived not even 2 days later!  Super duper fast shipping on this one, by fluke.

Well, that’s all I have for now.  Be SURE to send me your favorite knit patterns in the comments.  I could use more inspiration & great pattern suggestions, especially cute knit dresses (vintage or modern).

Cheers & happy sewing.

August 25

Sewing With Knits

A couple weekends ago, Tres Bien Michelle & I got together with Professor Meg the Grand to get over our fear of sewing with knits.

Renfrew Tops

My sewing & knitting fears are dwindling fast peeps!

My scaredy-cat list:

  • Colorwork
  • Sock Knitting
  • Sewing with Knits
  • Using Power Tools – primarily saws & blades of any sort

All  that’s now left on my immediate list is using power tools.  heh  Not too shabby & I’ve knocked them all out this summer to boot.  I’m feeling pumped!  :D  (Not quite pumped enough for power tools… but soon).

 

Meg and I trucked it out to Michelle’s house in the burbs for our sewing class.  Michelle has such a lovely sewing space, it was large enough for all of us to cut out and sew our respective Renfrew tops without toppling over each other. I brought my sewing machine & Meg borrowed one from Michelle.

I can now add that the Renfrew is a perfect pattern for a beginner & fits great out of the package for pears.

1201_Sewaholic_Renfrew_Envelope_Front__96572.1405347942.1280.1280

The only alterations I made was to remove some length from the waist & grade from an 8 to a 10 at the hips.

Workspace

So truth time…

I’ve actually sewn with knits twice (for the same dress) last summer.  Both dresses were a fail for various reasons & I felt I was always missing something.  I also attempted to sew up a Renfrew last spring, but the knit fabric was being such pain – I left the project with tears and haven’t attempted it since.  Hence my fear of knits.

For me, I wasn’t as worried about sewing the actual garment as much as I was cutting it out.  You see… I’m really, really detail oriented and know “the rules” of wovens.  Knits are more loosey-goosey when it comes to ‘cutting on grain’ and it just feels wrong.

Hard at Work

I bombarded Meg with so many questions and mini freak-outs over cutting the bodice on the fold & on-grain, I think she wanted to run away and hide in a closet.  She stuck with me though while I calmed down and cut out my bodice.  I just had to let go and assume it was going to work out – and it did!

Michelle

Michelle, I believe was more nervous about the actual sewing of knits.  I can’t speak for her, but from what I could tell – she did great & was confident by the end of the Renfrew class session.  Her floral knit top is so pretty.

Michelle's WIP

I decided to use a thicker, cotton knit in navy – as this is the fabric that was making me cry last year.  The selvage was all wavy and funky that I just couldn’t find the grainline to cut & had no idea how to even begin.  But with Meg’s guidance – it was a no brainer (when I finally told my brain to calm down & go with the flow).

Neckline

Alterations for next time (Yes, there will be a next time!!):

My top is pulling a bit around the neckline/ladies.  I’ll probably size up for just the front bodice piece as I’m too petite for a fba.

So I happened to try it on again the other day… I can pull the top down and it fits great with the ladies.  So I may add a bit of length to the shoulders instead, in the bodice front (only), like 1/2″ at most.

My top is a bit longer than I’d like, despite my waist shortening by 1″.  I didn’t realize the bands add so much length – so I’ll alter that for next time also.

My sleeve bands & hip bands are a bit too tight, despite cutting 1 size larger for them in the first place.  I’ll just add some width to them for more ease.

After 1 washing, my armbands loosened up a bit.  Weird right?  But the hip band is still too snug.

All of these adjustments are easy peasy & the top fits pretty well anyhow, even if I don’t feel like making these adjustments.

Thank you, Meg soo much for all your help as our teacher.

Meg, being the silly teacher she is:

Silly Meg

I’m totally pumped up to make all of the pretty knit patterns now!  I got so much sewing mojo to last me till 2015.  heh

And thank you Michelle for the yummy eats & opening up your home to us.  So wonderful of you.

Renfrews

August 21

My First Pair of Socks (and then some)

Tackling one of my (knitting) fears, socks, has been so easy!  After knitting my first sock up – and really, after casting on for the toe, I still don’t know what the big deal is.

Sure, there is a new cast on technique I used, but it wasn’t hard.  And yeah, I had to work some short rows on the heel, but I’ve done short rows loads of times.  Beyond these two techniques, nothing was new or hard to knitting up my first pair of socks.  I’m stoked to have some cute, fancy new socks that I knit and can’t wait to make more.

First Socks

Since these are my first pair, I didn’t want to go all fancy & purchase new yarn.  Instead, I found I had just one skein of this Cascade Heritage yarn, como blue colorway, in my stash.  I used these socks as the perfect opportunity to stash bust a bit. Win-win.

Heritage_5655 Como Blue

True to form, my gauge remains looser than the pattern gauge dictates so I had to drop down to a US size 0 knitting needle.  I’m a loose knitter, apparently.  LoL

I happened to be chatting with my knitting coworker friend, Maria, that I was going to knit some socks soon.  She came in the following day with a sock-knitting book for me to browse through.  She’s the best!

Toe Up Socks

Of course I ended up picking a pattern out of it.  I made the Rosebud sock pattern by Wendy Johnson from the book Toe-Up socks for Everybody.  The red ones featured on the cover, no less.

Socks

These pair of socks only came in one size.  I got gauge using my size 0 needle, and had the same foot circumference as the pattern stated, so I cast on and got to work knitting.  I got to the base of the toes and realized it was way too large for my foot somehow.  Ack!

The pattern called for a total of 66 stitches (at the widest part of the foot) & I ended up reducing down to 52 stitches, a 1.75″ reduction in circumference – kinda a lot, imo.

Yeah… we have to talk about feet:

I had to get a bit fancy altering the pattern since I have such short feet (8″ in length) and I also had to reduce the lace-pattern stitch-count without altering the pattern too much.  Instead of a 33-33 split between the top foot and bottom foot, I had a 31 top – 21 bottom, split.  This kept the lace pattern pretty much intact while the stockinette-stitch feet base was minimized.  (The lace pattern wraps more around the sides of my foot than the pattern dictates it should, is all.)

I have short, kid feet but in a normal, adult width.  I ended up casting on a few stitches more than the toe called for (34 vs the pattern’s 30).  My toes are more round than pointy so increasing this gave me a more rounded (ie wide) toe.  Doing so also removes some increase rows; I reduced my toe area by 4 rows, to give me that rounder, shorter sock-toe section.

Sock Toe

I doubt you can see any difference between mine and the original pattern.  It just looks like it fits is all.  :D

I worked the heel just as the pattern stated, but… Since I only had 21 stitches to start with instead of the 33 recommended, I had to get a bit fancy here with my short rows.  Really, it just took a bit of math and guesswork.  I stuck to the same proportion of increases as the pattern did – I just reduced it down given my smaller stitch counts.  (Just leave comments if you want more details on how I did this…)

I put in a life line in case I had to frog my work back- It ended up perfect the first time around.  *Woot*

Sock Heel

I’m really happy with my socks, but of course I always have more tweaks I’d do for the second pair.

Speaking of second pairs… The reason why I decided to push myself and knit up some socks is that I really wanted to knit up a pair as a birthday gift for Felix’s grandmother, Phoebe.  She’s turning 103 next weekend a few weekends ago (yes 103!!) & I wanted to make her something special, something that a 103 year old could use.  :)

Rosebud Socks #2

As soon as I finished up my pair, I delved in making grandma Phoebe a pair of her own!

Phoebe Socks

You’d think I’d have the lace pattern memorized by this point but I didn’t.  heh  I think I finally memorized it by sock #4.

Phoebe has very similar feet as I do.  She also has an 8″ length foot just like me, but she has substantially wider feet than I do.  My foot is 3″ wide at the widest part whereas hers are 4″ wide at the widest part.

Using Dream in Color‘s Everlasting Sock yarn (poppy colorway), I had the same gauge using US size 0 needles as my turquoise pair, so it was easy to just add 2 inches to the circumference of her feet.  (But really I only added 1 3/4″ since I’d rather have her wearing stretchy socks than socks that may be too wide).  I  didn’t have her foot circumference, just the measurement of her foot at the widest part.  So it’s hard to say if she has flat feet or high-arched feet (like I do).  I just kinda split the difference.

Phoebe Socks

Since she has the same length foot as I do, it was pretty easy to know when to stop knitting the length of her foot.  I proceeded with the heel & heel gusset nearly the same as mine, just with more stitches this time – but still less than the pattern calls for.

Phoebe Socks

I can actually, sorta, fit into these socks too.  They are looser on me and the heel is more substantial/pronounced than my heel since there are more stitches here for width & for her thicker ankles.

Socks really are stretchy and can fit various shaped feet quite easily.  Just cross your toes for me that they fit Phoebe perfectly.  :D

The red yarn I used for Phoebe’s is really to tie for.  I love the semi-solid nature of this yarn.

Phoebe Socks

The one thing to note is that hers are made using a 100% superwash merino wool (while my turquoise ones are 75% superwash merino + 25% nylon).  The nylon content that is in yarn, specifically sock yarn, is in there to provide durability which is key – especially when walking around & with the rubbing from your shoes/socks/feet.  Just a note when you’re shopping around for yarn to make socks.  You want some nylon in them – not just pure wool unless you’re not going to wear them often.

I’m not terribly concerned about Phoebe wearing out these socks.  At 103, she’s really not walking around that much so she won’t be wearing out her socks like you or I would.  I’m just envisioning her kicking back in her bed wearing some pretty, warm & cozy socks for the upcoming winter months.

Her birthday was last weekend and she seemed pleased.  I didn’t make her try them on, so I do hope they fit alright.

Me and Phoebe

So much red!

While I’d love to continue to make more socks for myself right away, I need to give my hands a break from using such small knitting needles.  US 0′s feel (& look) like I’m knitting with toothpicks.

My hands are aching.  I’m not sure if it’s from knitting or if it’s from working so hard on my house with tools (shovels & hammers) lately.  Either way my hands need a break.

So…. I’m now knitting with US size 2′s on a new cardigan.  LOL  I have slowed down my knitting pace & did give myself a 3-day break while I was focusing on weaving in the ends of this colorwork vest. (It’s all done now!)  But it’s so hard NOT to knit while I have a 1 hour commute to work 2x a day, while I’m staying with my parents in the burbs – you know while I have some plumbing work done on the house…

Socks are such easy little projects to tote around in purses.  If you’re afraid of socks – please don’t be.  They’re not hard & they knit up really quickly (1-2 weeks).  You’re cold feet will be really pleased with you, if you make some up in time for fall/winter.

August 11

Happy Feet

I remember back in 2012 when So, Zo (aka Zoe) made sandals.  She took the whole sewing blogger community by storm with that post and floored us all, yea?!  I know I was floored and immediately said “Wow I wish I could make my own sandals, too.  But that’ll never happen.”

Well… you can now call me a liar b/c guess what I did?!  I made a pair of sandals!  Wooot.

Sandals

You may have spotted my footwear in this post the other day, but thought nothing of it.  heh

Sandals

Myself,  Meg the Grand and Tres Bien Michelle joined forces (with the Chicago School of Shoemaking) and made something wonderful together (along with 2 other gals as the class accommodates up to 6 peeps.)

Group Shot

As of now, I haven’t worn them out and about.  I will…  I’m just nervous since I don’t want to wreck them in any way.  But they are fully functional, wearable sandals made by me.  :D

Construction & Thoughts:

Well… oh boy.  Where do I start?!  This was 8 hrs of steps and they gradually came together in that time.

First things first for me was inspiration.  I created a pinterest board of all the sandals I found so far and loved.  Many were not suitable for sandal making for beginners so I settled on a design – pending leather color availability of course.

Inspiration & Template

We traced out our foot twice to create a template.  Once was our foot outline and the second, inner line was where our foot actually touches the ground (think instep, etc.)  I have very high arches and very small feet.  I had to modify my design so that it would fit my toe box adequately.  The challenge I had is that one of the toe straps ended at the same place my ankle strap had to begin – due to angles and such.  Tricky business this shoemaking.  heh I was glad to have a teacher there to help me through this process.

Having such small feet, I never realized that certain styles just will never work for me.  I don’t have enough real estate on my foot to pull it off.  Makes sense… just never had to think about it like that before.

From there we traced our base onto the actual leather footbed and marked where our straps will go into the upper sole.  (Michelle has the pics for these steps).  I got very busy to take photos during, like always.

Basically we were making a unique pattern/design for our feet and coping that onto our leather shoe base.

Somewhere around here, we dyed our bases to the color we wanted. You can also stamp in some emblems on your base if you want.  I didn’t plan to… but why not?

Stars at Heels

All the other little dots are the lines where the straps will go.

We cut our soles out also (so there’s the leather upper sole, then the lower rubber sole).

Sole cutting

Michelle, cutting out her sole.  Lighting by Meg.

After this, things get serious.  We had to cut 1/2″ length holes in our leather base to accommodate the straps.  One wrong move and you’d be starting all over again.  Eeek.  I was a bit nervous at this point.

Somewhere after this step, I got behind from the other gals.  I happened to be the last one to get my straps fitted from the instructor – as we were all waiting in line to get inspected.  Instead of letting me catch up, she kept moving the group farther and farther ahead of me.  This only resulted in me getting further behind since I’d then miss all of the ‘next steps’ after what I was currently working on.  This is when I got flustered & it was the low point in the class for me.  I was not happy.  I had to keep asking all of my classmates what the next step was.  (This whole unpleasantness went on for like 2 hrs of the afternoon.)

Michelle was right next to me, and I know she sensed I was off and having some difficulty.  She was quite sweet and was offering to assist as was the other gal, Deborah, to my right.

Then somehow… I got caught up.  It felt like I was running through some of the steps though.

Steps I flew through with little-to-no photos:

Skiving the ends of the straps – basically you thin the leather at the ends with a fatty blade so it can curve around the sole of the shoe.

The straps get glued to the underside of the shoe with some leather glue.

Once glued down, they get nailed in place for more security:

Nailing Straps down

Image courtesy of Michelle.

The bases get glued then placed in an exhaust fan so we don’t get headaches:

Gluing Bases

Gluing Vent Hood

The two soles get joined together & hammered to ensure a tight join.

Then came all of the finishing steps – trimming the exterior soles to our feet, adjusting straps, adding buckles, rivets & such, and dying the outer soles at the end.

Rivets Hammering

Classmate Deborah creating a hole in her side strap for a rivet.

We were extremely pooped at this point as we’d been hard at work for 8 hrs now.  But look at those fab shoes!

Pooped Buddies

Michelle’s were nearly exactly the look she wanted and had some fancy strapwork on the sides of hers.  Meg chose to vary her initial design after seeing a sandal sample.  We saw some samples at the beginning of the class.  Seeing them (not on feet) I was underwhelmed since they were so ‘basic’.  But once I saw them on a foot I thought “ooo pretty”.   Meg I think kept hers nice and simple (with some pizazz) and they’re quite lovely as a result. (Whomp Whomp, Meg.)  LOL

Mine ended up as a slight variation on my original, and I think they’re great and very me.

Sandal

Kinda mehh looking when they’re not on feet.

Much better on my feet, no?!  :D

Sandals

I’m so proud of these buckles – don’t they look so professional and like “real” sandals.

Buckles

So… besides my total frustration in the afternoon portion of the class, I’m still really happy with them and how they turned out.  The teacher was very nice and you can tell she was very skilled with her 40+ years of experience.  And it wasn’t so bad in the end… since I’ve signed up to take another course.  heh  (Leather) Purse making will be in my future!  :D  I can’t wait.  Plus, I doubt I’ll be left behind in that once since I already do know the basics of sewing and garment construction.  heh

Sandals

Happy Feet.

I think the other 4 gals in the course had a great experience and I can recommend the class to others – just don’t fall behind.

What’s really exciting is that the Chicago School of Shoemaking will be opening up a ‘shop’ inside their studio and also offering up lab time (for a fee of course).  You can use all of their tools & space with some intermittent help from the instructor.  Sounds lovely, no?!  I have a hunch, once I make one bag, I’ll want to make more.  And what better than to be able to have a space with all the tools on hand to make it in?!  Can’t wait to learn more about shoes & purses & belts.

August 7

A Perfect 1940′s Dress

Perfect – as in the perfect design.  Not that my dress is perfect… not yet anyways.

Recently, I bought Hollywood Pattern 1103.

Hollywood 1103

It’s everything I want in an easy, breasy summer dress: cut on sleeves, tie waist, swingy skirt, shoulder gathers (no darts) & a matching bolero to boot!  What’s not to love?!

I just happened to be at the fabric store one day when I found a silk crepe I’d had my eye on for over a year that was marked down.  You bet I snagged that puppy up.  I bought a whopping 4 yards since at the time I wasn’t sure what I’d make with it.  Then I bought Hollywood 1103 and it was a match made in heaven.

But… that fabric is for the next post.  Not wanting to use my lovely silk for a first-time dress, I went and made it up with another lovely fabric, a pinky red linen-rayon blend.

Hollywood 1103 Dress

These pictures turned out really bright.  The fabric is indeed bright, but not quite neon & glowing like it appears.

Linen-rayon blends are now in my top 5 favorite fabrics of all time.  The rayon content helps the linen stay a bit wrinkle free & gives such lovely drape & movement to any garment.  (If you’re in Chicago, you can find this red at Vogue on Roosevelt Rd. in the Summer Specials section.)  I should know… I made a skirt with it first.  Then went back for more of it for this dress.  (I may even still have a bit more in my stash… it’s that good!  How I wish they had more colors.)

Hollywood 1103 Dress

While I like this dress, it’s not 100% perfect yet.  There is much to much ease in the bodice at the waist.  I thought the belt (or tie belt) would be sufficient but it borderlines on the frumpy to me.

Hollywood 1103 Dress

I think this design/and my narrow shoulders would be much benefited by some small shoulder pads also.  I really don’t care for shoulder pads, but with the cut on sleeves – I feel like my shoulders look really rounded.  (Either that or I shorten up the sleeves a bit more.)

All this doesn’t stop me from wearing this dress, as I’ve worn it 3 times in the last 2 weeks.

Hollywood 1103 Dress

I just feels so lovely on.  Unfortunately, its now in the hamper and I can’t wear it till it’s clean again.

After much consideration, after I wash it up (pending shrinkage), I think I’m going to take it in at the side seams.  The top is a bit too billowy and I’ve been adjusting my belt like crazy every time I wear this.

Hollywood 1103 Dress

I paired my dress with my new bunny belt and my flea-market necklace find.  It was only $1 – doesn’t get better than that for a vintage glass beaded necklaces.

Normally I’d be pairing this dress with white instead of black accessories – but it’s what I had on hand.  My wardrobe & accessories are quite limited at the moment since most of my items are still packed up in boxes.  It’s a good exercise in making do.  :D

Guess what?  I think this may be the first sewing project I’ve posted all year!  Can you believe it?!  While this isn’t the first sewing project I’ve completed this year – it’s just the first one  I managed to get photographed.

I’ve been doing a ton of knitting since it’s much easier (and less dusty) than me working in my sewing room.  But I’ve been sewing much more lately and have even written up myself a fall/late summer sewing plan.  I’m stoked to get started on it.

Stay tuned for the wonderfulness that will be version #2 in silk crepe.  (It just needs it hem and photographs now.)  Woot!

Who else has worked with linen-rayon blends?  Love them too, yes???  :D

August 4

Homeowner Adventures: July in Review

Plumbing has been the name of the game in July.

Late June, Felix and I started preliminary preparation for the plumber.  Little did we know, we had such a far way to go to fully prepare for having a plumber come to our house.

The Good:  Besides having some duct work put in our house (by my licensed sheet metal worker pro dad), this is the first of the ‘trades’ we’ve had come in the house that we’re paying for.  Very exciting to be moving forward with building infrastructure on our house.  I’m looking forward to having to never (really) worry about major issues in the near future since everything will be all new.

So yes – every single pipe in our house has been replaced.  All of them!  We’ve had a complete system overhaul done by a licensed pro.

The Bad: Since we have a subcontractor coming in, we’re trying to save mega $$ by doing all of the demo work ourselves.

The Ugly: Doing the demo work ourselves.  I had no idea how gross this was going to be.  I should have put it together… you know waste lines in a house that are very old…. but I just didn’t.

Felix and I (with the mega help of my dad), set out digging out our basement wherever the waste lines were and also digging up the old lead water service lines.

Can I just deviate for a sec and say: I never thought I’d be so interested in house codes and all of this stuff… but here I am.  

Seriously, all of this stuff is really cool – to see how a house is put together and functions.  I bet many of you don’t even know how you’re getting decent water pressure in your shower.  I didn’t… there are so many factors to take into account – I just had no idea.  These tradesmen are really knowledgeable, ya know?!  They know so much about stuff that I’ve been clueless about.  I’ve always rented and I guess I just took stuff for granted since I never had to think about it.

Now I got that out of my system…  Here’s what Felix and I have been doing in July.

The Basement:

Digging the sand out & re-stacking it in a pile in the middle of the basement.  (Look I’m not wearing my Rt. 66 shirt – you know that blue one. heh)

basementDigging2_01_7_5_2014

A bit of progress being made to expose the clay tile waste pipe.

basementDigging2_03_7_5_2014

We also had to dig out near the back of the house (laundry room) to redo the old water lines.

basementDemo3_07_7_6_2014

Exposed waste pipe – but we still had more to dig even after this…

basementDigging2_04_7_5_2014

Resulted in this massive pile of sand/soil:

basementDemo3_10_7_6_2014

Next came the demo of the pipe.  :(

My dad, Bob, busted out this whole, hunking cast iron waste pipe:

basementDemo3_01_7_6_2014

He then busted up the clay tile waste pipe that I’m attempting to haul out.

basementDemo3_03_7_6_2014

This is the ugly…. I got really grumpy, really quickly here.  I’m a complete sweat ball & it was smelly & awful work.  I’ll just leave it at that.

I really want to tell you all about how dreadful this was, too.  But I just can’t bring myself to.

Post demo, nice new pit for the new plumbing lines & a bathroom to go in.  This is about 18″ to 24″ below the concrete.  Depth perception is hard here…

basementDemo3_08_7_6_2014

I forgot to mention…. While we were busting up the concrete for a new waste and plumbing lines, we decided to have a bathroom installed in the basement.  We just figured, why not since we’re already here doing it?!  So part of this space above will be a 3/4 sized bathroom.

A week later, Felix then went about cutting out all of our pipes that feed the upstairs bathroom (all overhead).

cuttingPipes1_7_13_2014

Again, I’m not sure why we didn’t think about it… but this was an unpleasant job also.  Very smelly & dirty as we were dealing with the overhead waste lines from the tub and sink, as well as the water lines.  Very glad to be done with this part of the project.

Back to the good:  The plumber was here!

New waste line on the left forefront and down the length of the right along with stubbed in bathroom stuff (farther back on the left).

basementNewPlumbing_5_7_11_2014

This is the back laundry area & utility sink lines:

basementFill1_04_7_12_2014

Bathroom, under the sink:

Bathroom Plumbing

Kitchen:

Kitchen Plumbing

Now that the lines are down, guess who had to add back all of the sand, once more.  Doh!
I feel like I’ve spent 2 whole weekends now shifting about sand/soil in my basement.  Many hands hurt, just from gripping tools.

It doesn’t look like much… but this is the fill we added back into the pit of our basement.  The point here is that you really can’t see the plumbing lines anymore.

basementFill1_02_7_12_2014

What this has all meant for my daily life this past month:

I haven’t been actually living in my house since I have no working toilets or available water.  Luckily, my mom lives about an hour outside the city, so we’ve been staying with them.  I’ve been out of my house from July 3rd to July 22nd, nearly the whole month.

I’m thankful I have them so close; I can always count on them.  But I’m ready to be living back at my house, being on my own routine.

The Yard:

Not a terrible amount of progress here.  I got outside with my mom & started pulling out the remaining section of day lilies from my front yard – the parkway, more precisely.

Pre-removal:

lawnTransformation_07

The section I dug up was that whole mess of day lilies behind my mom and myself.  As much as we pulled out of the front yard, the parkway was worse.  It was much denser an area of day-lilies and I filled at least 7-8 large yard waste bags full of them.  I lost count.

Parkway

We found a whole mess of bricks buried in the ground.  There was once two walkways to the street here that were since buried by decaying leaves & day lily overgrowth – like years and years of it.  While it’s hard work, this task remains a treasure hunt.  I continue to find lots of neat things buried in my yard.

I wish I had a grand plan of what to plant in the front yard.  But it’s already past the official planting season & I’m just looking for quick and easy at this point.  I don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to garden maintenance while the inside of my house remains very much a wip.  So I’ll most likely put some sod down and call it a day.

The reason why I don’t have sod down at this point is I’m waiting to get a hose and water line set in so I can water the sod when it goes in.  Once I have water, I can lay the sod.

My mom and I just decided to plant a perennial garden instead.  I’m excited and I think this will end up looking much cuter and less like an area for dogs to do their business in, ie sod.  Sometimes sod/grass in the city can be a negative thing….

The Kitchen:

Little progress was made this month on the kitchen.  The plumbing work & pre/post prep work for the plumbing took up our month’s free time.

Kitchen Planning:

I officially picked my kitchen floors out!  But you may already know about this via instagram.

Aqua Tile

I found commercially available (awesome quality) vinyl flooring in the (a nearly) perfect shade of aqua and a white with gold flecks that will be going in the kitchen in a diagonal check-board pattern.

It’s the closet match I could find to my aqua dishes.  You’d think there’d be more fun, teal colored floor tiles out there, but they’re really aren’t.  BUT, please alert me if you see some more out there I can check out.  (There’s a great dark purple vinyl floor color that would be awesome set in my laundry room in the basement! – click on this link to see all the colors.  FYI: they send out free samples too & are an eco friendly company.)

The floor isn’t going in any time soon, but I had to pick them out now, so that we could build up the floor to the correct level.  Reminds me… I should get this aqua ordered in case it is discontinued by the time I go to install it.

Again more info than you need… but if at any point in the future I want to take out the aqua vinyl and put in ceramic tile (thicker) we can do so easily without ripping out the subfloor & re-leveling everything.  I’m really trying to think ahead many years in case I or the next owners want to change something around.

I’m planing on keeping my kitchen nice and white: white cabinets & appliances & a lt. grey marble counter top.  But what was nagging in the back of my mind is that it’s going to be too plain without any fun colors.  So I am jumping on the color bandwagon and adding in my pop’s of aqua whenever I can – as courage allows.

One neat detail I saw is painting the insides of your cabinets a color for fun pops.  I’m hoping to do this also in mine – that or adding in some colorful wallpaper to the backs of them.

Colorful cabinet back

This is a bathroom cabinet, but you get the idea.

I want a very clean, looking kitchen, but I also want it vintagey-cute.  So that means color – color – color.  :D  I’m hoping to incorporate teal with some pinkie corals and some mute grass greens.

Something similar to this (minus the peach & slightly darker or lighter green):
pleasedtomeetyou
via Rottencupcakes

Doesn’t that look like a cheery place you’d want to be with those colors?  :D

I’ve also been waffling around about 2 separate ovens and a cooktop.  That idea has gone by the wayside and I’m now debating this little beauty by AGA:

legacy-44-cathedral-door-vintage-white-large

 

It’s a bit more “country” looking than I initially wanted, but I love the knobs and the fact that it has 2 ovens + a separate broiler and a small storage drawer also.  (I really don’t need all of these burners up top… it’s a bit excessive for me. I just need my double oven space.)

It also comes in 1 size smaller which is also an intriguing thought:

36_df_all_white_cathedral_doors_large

This one has the same size oven + broiler + 2nd long oven on the right.  Isn’t that kinda neat?!  And I really like this burner configuration too.

Basically, I need to check out these puppies in person and see if the oven is large enough for me to use for all of my macaron baking & such.  This will be a day trip, sometime in August.

Last but not least….

The buns are back!

Bunnies

The buns have been at my bunsitter’s place since I moved in at the end of March – too much dust & debris for their delicate lungs.  But as demo has been non-existent in our house for a while, it was time to get them back from the sitter.

Bunnies

I’ve had to go without my favorite fuzzy friends, Quincy & Phineas’ company for a whopping 4 months.  You can imagine I’m so happy to have them back once again.  Expect many vine videos and instagram photos of their shenanigans in the new house.

What’s Upcoming:

I’m not quite certain, actually.  My dad’s been spending too much of his time helping on my house, when he has his own house to work on still.  I’m thinking our pace will slow down in August/September.  

What I do know that’s next on our list is electrical work, insulation installation, & pouring concrete in the basement to continue to finish the plumbing job off, among other things.

Perhaps my dad (non-step dad, dad) will have some free time to come up from Georgia to help us on putting up some fresh drywall in the kitchen or something?  He’s been wanting to come up and help Felix and I do work on our house – which is lovely!  I just haven’t known what task to give him…

July 23

Dreaming of Nightgowns & Loungewear

Since I’m off living at my mom’s (since July 3rd), I have no access to my sewing machine.  This means I get to dream of what could be… namely swishing around my finished house in 1940′s styled, silk beach pajamas.  Doesn’t that sound just lovely?!

In my efforts to build up my vintage wardrobe, one area where I am purely lacking is my lounge wear and nightgowns, so this has been at the forefront of my mind as of late.  

It’s kinda silly of me, but I long to walk about my new house in silk charmeuse, head to toe.  I may even have bought two new patterns to supply my dreams.  :)

Note: I did NOT pay $75 for this pattern.  But this is now mine!  *hip hip*

 

I fell instantly in love with this 30′s pajama pattern – primarily for the open back in view A-1.  It reminded me so much of this pajama ensemble from the movie: Cheerful Weather for the Wedding.

I think the movie, in itself, is a bit depressing – although a good story.  But I love Felicity Jones & the fashions are just wonderful.

Another pattern I snagged back in March, just before I moved, is New York Patterns 1028:

This is the first pajama pattern I’ve ever bought.  It’s going to look wonderful and will be super comfy as I hang out around the house in next spring in a voile or silk or even with a wool flannel for the winter.

Not my patterns but equally dreamy:

Vogue 8062:

 McCall’s 1387:

I love smocking details but I’ve yet to try my hand with it.  On the yoke of a bed jacket would be a great first step to trying out this technique.

Hollywood 631:

Hollywood 544:

 Dubarry 1609B:

Butterick 2294:

 

Do you guys feel the same way about pajamas and lounge wear?  I just want have loads at my disposal so I can change out of my work clothes and sew/knit in style in the evenings.

July 15

Homeowner Adventures: June in Review

I can’t seem to keep up with all of my house projects adventures as well as my husband, Felix does on a daily basis.  For me, I think it’s much more manageable to give big recaps instead of many small snippets.  Hence me starting a ‘review’ of the month’s activities for you all.

State of my house as of June 31st, 2014

The Attic:

Late Spring, Felix took the hit decided he was going to start cleaning out all of our insulation from the attic.  The previous owners had been something of hoarders and they threw many empty boxes full of packing peanuts in the attic.  You may recall my mom and I went up there once, but we vowed never again.  Felix graciously offered to go work up there instead, which I continue to be thankful for. atticCleaning_8_4_19_2014

Packing peanuts on top of gross, old insulation.

atticCleaning_3_4_19_2014

We ran out of Tyvek protection suits.  Luckily, I’d saved an old Halloween costume of Felix’s and he went in the attic dressed like this.  Good thing he didn’t venture outside…  The neighbors might have gotten a bit suspicious.

atticCleaning_2_4_19_2014

We have active squirrels in our attic, unfortunately.  They’ve made a mess of things.  All insulation is being removed and once we lock them out, we’ll replace it with nice, warm & fresh insulation.

atticCleaning_6_4_19_2014

This is the only light we have in the attic.  Poor Felix… This is a bad job to have.  He was a trooper throughout it.

atticCleaningPart2_05_4_29_2014

The Kitchen:

You may remember this picture from when we first bought the house; how I loved my cute little 40′s kitchen cabinets.

Blackstone Kitchen

After finding a leak in the wall, 2 ceilings (one on top of the other) improperly put in, icky floors, rotten ceiling joist from water damage and plywood cabinet bases not worth keeping – everything just had to go.  While I did save all of the cabinet doors, I probably will just start from scratch as my dad will be building me a set of new cabinets in this very style.  All is not lost…

My kitchen now.  This is looking into the right corner, in the pre-image above.

kitchenDemoCeilingCont_2_4_23_2014

Everything has been removed down to the joist spaces.

kitchenDemoCeilingCont_1_4_23_2014

During demolition:

sundayVisit_2_5_25_2014

Finally cleaned of all nails and debris:

fridayKitchen_2_5_2_2014

Random things I found in the walls during one of my demo sessions.

atticCleaningPart2_07_4_29_2014

Old tile, pipe, shard of light bulb glass, saws-all blade, and the coolest… old leather bathroom tile.  Yes, you heard me right leather!  Did you know back in the day, people used leather as tile?  Ours has a hunter green and mustard-ish color scheme.

Felix and I are demo pros at this point.  But this kitchen… it took us a whole whopping month to demo it.  There was just so much crap in the walls & ceiling and everwhere.  It was a beast.  But we’re now starting fresh in this room and it feels great.  Instead of demoing more out of the kitchen it will soon be the time of building it back up again!  :D

The Basement:

Our house was built pre-plumbing, in 1885.  This means that all plumbing in the house was installed after the house was built (even on top of old plaster walls as we found in the second floor).  And much of the waste lines are original.  (This is all getting removed) and has been our July project so far.

Prepping for the plumbing work that is now, on-going; we had to remove all of the old waste lines that are buried underneath the concrete floor.  Jack-hammering & shoveling sand has been the name of the game.

Looking thru the kitchen floor to the basement below:

lizCleaningBasement_1_5_28_2014

Trying my hand at jack hammering (aka demo hammer since it’s smaller than a true jackhammer):

basementJackhammer_06_6_28_2014

Removing the busted up concrete in buckets (carted up & dumped outside in our backyard):

basementJackhammer_05_6_28_2014

Then digging out the sand/soil about 18″ down to expose all of the pipes underneath the floor.

basementDigging_15_6_14_2014

Having some fun in the midst of work:

basementJackhammer_03_6_28_2014

My Route 66 shirt has been my trusty work shirt throughout all of this work.  I actually stitched up a cute 40′s work shirt that I’m supposed to be wearing.  But it’s so cute I don’t want to wreck it.  LoL

The Yard:

As the weather has been getting lovely, I’ve been less inclined to be indoors (stripping woodwork) and have ventured outside to do some yard work instead.

Early in the Spring, we had to have various trees removed from our backyard.  Many were in the way of power lines & the one mega tree was getting ill and was going to eventually fall on our neighbor’s condo building.  So that had to go…  :(

backyardTreeRemoval04_4_4_2014

My yard has quickly gone from this:

birdbath_4_12_2014

To this:

oldBirdbathNewYard_5_6_2014

To this:

backyardOvergrown_1_5_20_2014

And this:

backyardWilderness_6_24_2014

You can barely see where that bird bath is anymore.

In the backyard, I’ve been slowly hacking away at the day lilies & ferns.  I don’t really have a ‘plan’ yet for the back or the front.  So far, I’m just going to put sod down to clean it up and then will get fancy with the plants as I’m able to next year or so.

My mom and I did go to town removing the day lilies from our front yard and cleaned it up a bit.

lawnTransformation_01_6_8_2014

At the end of the day we got to this:

lawnTransformation_10_6_8_2014

It’s just refreshing to see dark soil instead of overgrown/crazy day lilies.

We had to haul away lots of dirt from the front yard (dumped it in a pile in the back).  All of the decomposition of plants & leaves over the years had left us with very rich, but mounding soil.  It’s a good problem to have, technically.  Just more work to dig and haul out one’s soil.

 

That’s kinda it, in a nutshell.  Lots of activity & the weekends have been leaving Felix and I pretty pooped out come Monday morning.  I’m hoping to schedule a weekend or two away from the house for mini vacations in the next few months.  We need some recharging time, obviously.

What’s happening now:

Plumbing!  Lots of plumbing.

I’ll do another recap at the end of each month – in part to not bombard you all with my crazy house project, but I also don’t have a computer set up at my house yet.  It was the compromise I had to make so that I have a sewing space instead.  I’m sure you all would agree that was the right decision.  :D

P.S.  All images courtesy of Felix.  Isn’t he so nice to share?!  :)

July 1

The Augur App

I generally don’t post up about non-sewing/knitting/house adventures, but I can’t keep this to myself any longer.

My husband, Felix, just launched is very first iPhone app last week, and I couldn’t be more stoked for him.

It’s called The Augur.

augurItunes

Stealing Borrowing from the about page of Augur, this is what it is in a nutshell:

Part oracle, part drunk advice columnist, the Augur iPhone app uses Twitter to tell the future.

Through real-time Twitter searches and anonymized data, the app distills the ramblings of the world at large into a kind of crude, advice-dispensing, fortune-telling machine.

The Augur app is your way to tap into the collective insight and counsel of millions of Twitter users (and probably only a very small number of those people are actually psychopaths).

What better wisdom is there, than the wisdom of the Internet at large?

It’s a silly app.  It has no practical purpose but to entertain – and it does a great job at that.  To me it’s like having a whole bunch of fortune cookie fortunes at my disposal to read.

Part of the fun is you never know what you’re gonna get next, as you tap your screen.  Some are gold, and some are just plain crazy.  heh

It’s perfect to read as you’re waiting in line, on the train during your commute, or reading material over your morning tea/coffee.  I tried to be his first supporter to purchase the app (for $1), but several people beat me to it which I’m not happy about.  :|

Check it out – spread the word and enjoy for yourselves.  :D

Disclaimer:

In no way have I been paid to support this app – although I probably will get a hug or two for doing so or maybe even ice cream.  (Felix my fav ice cream is chocolate chip cookie dough or cookies & cream).

This is an independent review – but I am biased b/c I love my hubby and think he’s great.  :)

June 26

Getting over Sewing/Knitting Fears

This idea for a blog post has been ruminating in my brain for quite some time – not to mention coming up as a frequent topic when chatting with other bloggers.  It’s time to peel back the layers and have an honest chat about what we’re so afraid of.

Why are there certain things we’re all scared to do?!  How did this happen?  What made us scared in the first place?  And ultimately, how do we get over our fears?

My scaredy-cat list includes:

  • Colorwork
  • Sock Knitting
  • Sewing with Knits
  • Using Power Tools – primarily saws & blades of any sort

I’ve been working on getting over my fear of colorwork by starting with Tasha’s Victory Beret and then working as a group to knit up my Bridge Jumper.

But when I first started knitting (4 years ago at least), I wasn’t afraid of fair isle knitting.  In fact, after knitting for only about 9 months or a year I began a fair isle sweater vest with great success.  I never read any tutorials online or followed any blogs, so I didn’t know color work was hard.  I had a small bit of guidance from a coworker of mine on how to wrap my stitches and deal with floats and off I went knitting up my little vest.

I ended up stopping about half way through since it wasn’t fitting right and I didn’t have the knowledge to fix it at the time.

Fair Isle

Since reading people’s blogs, being on Ravelry, and becoming more aware – I started getting scared and too worked up to try my hand at color work designs again.  I knew I had done it before in the past, but that was before I knew how hard it was to knit it properly – how you’re supposed to do it.  So it grew in my mind to become something for more advanced people than myself, something other people can do.  But not me – not yet.

As a result, I avoided colorwork like the plague.  I went and tackled all manner of knitting techniques instead: lacy designs, cables, vintage fingering weight jumpers, and much more.

All in all – The more I learnt about how challenging a technique can be – the less I wanted to do it & the more scared I became to do it without some serious hand holding.

Tasha – with her extensive knitting help online (and in person chats & also via emails) pushed me to try out her fair isle victory beret.  The result: It was fine!  I finished it in like 10 days.  heh  (My beret got lost in the move, but I’ll take photos when I find it again.)

Then I got scared again!! to do the Bridge Jumper. “It was different” I told myself.  There were 3 colors in a row and not fair isle per say.  The scaredy-cat in me came out once again.  Ugh!  So with Michelle (and kinda Meg) working on the same project, holding my hand, I was able to tackle it.

Bridge Jumper

As I’ve now come full circle, as I’m working on completing that first, fair isle sweater vest.  I’m thinking to myself “What was the big deal in the first place?!”  How did I get so scared of doing something, when I generally feel like I’m up for a challenge.  In truth, I love to learning new things/techniques all the time.  I often try new techniques only after reading them in books – with no hand-holding needed.

Then it hit me.

Somewhere along the line, on some blog (or on many blogs) I read that it was hard – too hard for a beginner or intermediate knitter/sewer.  It was something for *later*.  The more I read, this idea sunk in more and more.

The same goes with my other two fears: Sock knitting & Sewing with knits.

What’s gotten pounded in my head is that:  Sewing with knits is “different” ie more challenging – something for *later*.  Later, when I become good enough, more skilled, when I know more, on and on the list goes.

Technically I’ve also already sewn a test project with knit fabric – like last year.  But yet, I feel like I’m missing something.  “I thought it was supposed to be hard, so I must not be doing it right” Goes off in my head.  So my test project never became an actual finished project.  I feel like I need someone to hold my hand so I can do it “right”, someone more experiences, someone better than me.

Getting Over it All

In talking with Felix, I’ve come to figure out this all stems from the Dunning-Kruger Effect, aka the impostor syndrome.  Basically, it means one fails to recognize their own ability (most likely when they see someone else they think is highly competent, or it has been so for me.)  You basically minimize your own skill set or knowledge and think you’re not capable.  (FYI: This swings both ways too.  Unskilled peeps can inflate themselves to thinking their experts, too.)

Felix and I both seem to suffer from this same thing – but luckily we always seem to encourage the other to push further and tell each other it like it really is.  :)

What I think is the funniest thing is that in 2 of the 3 situations, I’ve already done the technique/project before I knew to be afraid of it.  Yet, that hasn’t stopped me from feeling this way.

As I cast on for knitting my first sock ever I’m hit by a surge of energy.  Just 6 rows 50 rows in from the toe cast on, I’m thinking ‘What was the big deal about socks again?’

If this is supposed to be hard, what was I so afraid of?!  Perhaps the heel gusset/turn will make me think twice (LoL), but right now I’m ready to make myself a whole set for next winter – and how about a fair isle pattern to boot!  :D

Basically the only way I seem to get over these irrational fears, and yes they are 100% irrational, is just by doing them.  

In two of the two new things I’ve tried (colorwork & sock knitting), I’ve come to question why I thought it was so challenging in the first place just as soon as I start the project.  So the best way to get over it is to just do it.  You’ll soon realize its no big deal & continue to forge ahead on sorting out your next fear.

So let me be the first (or gazillionth) person to tell you:

  • These fears are irrational, but I know where you’re coming from.  I understand.
  • You’re totally good enough – right NOW to do it.
  • You can do it!  Just give it a go – what’s the worst thing that can happen?!

Start with a small project, a test garment, or use some scrap fabric/yarn you got laying around.  Try whatever it is that you’re afraid of & on something that doesn’t matter.  I promise you, you’ll be happy you did.  And you’ll be much more motivated to get over the next fear on your list.

So I have to ask, what are your sewing/knitting fears?  Are they the same as mine?