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October 3

Unselfish Sewing: Mom’s Pajama Set(s)

My poor mom… Let it be known that I can’t be trusted to turn over sewing gifts in any timely way.  :|  I know… I’m bad.  I don’t mean to be, but it just happens.  Once it feels like *work* I just can’t bring myself to do it.

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It’s been quite some time since I’ve worked on my mom’s silk charmeuse pajama set.  But (yes, there is a but here) I had good reason not to finish them.  Besides all of the moving houses and whatnot, my mom’s size had changed since I first took her measurements and we both knew the silk camisole top wasn’t going to fit anyhow.  So I didn’t feel like I had to rush on this.  The shorts had been primarily done, save the waistband.

As I’ve picked up my sewing pace this summer, I wanted to dedicate some real, quality time to finishing up her pajama set and get this project off my plate.  I just hate it when I have projects lingering over my head, don’t you?

Silk Charmeuse PJ Set

Since this has been a long time coming, how about a recap on this old project.

Tap Shorts:

I constructed the tap shorts pattern myself, with the help of Sew Vera Venus’s drafting directions.  I made some fit adjustments and also modified the waist to be an elasticized waistband since I think they’re more comfortable for lounging.  Additionally, there are no side seams.  Fancy huh?!

I hand stitched most of the lace motif and did some fancy lace seaming work (aka applique seam) to achieve the curve, pointed at by the pencil below.

Tap Pants Side Lace

 

 

Thanks Meg for this lace trim – you gave it to me in a swap ages ago.  You can see I put it to good use.

Fully Finished Shorts with tiny rolled hems & lace at the side seam.

Tap Shorts

 

I would like to say here that yes, I did indeed use my rolled hem foot on silk charmeuse!  It was evil and crazy, but I totally told this fabric who’s boss.  heh

 

Lace Detail:

Tap Shorts_Lace Detail

Isn’t this color wonderful?  It’s a pinky-orange coral (changes in different lighting) that really goes well with my mom’s skin tone.

All seams are french seams to prevent any unraveling of the silk charmeuse, on both the bodice and the shorts.  I added that silk-satin ribbon to the back so she knows which is the front and which is the back.  I bought 1/8″ yard of this silk ribbon for like $2.  Can you imagine what the cost of a full  yard (or yardage) would be?!  I really didn’t want her to feel any scratchy ribbon next to the skin so I splurged on the good stuff.

French Seamed Shorts

I created a casing for the elastic, as I didn’t think an exposed elastic waistband would be the most glamorous, given all of my hand stitching on this lace section.

I had my mom close her eyes to try on the shorts to test the correct fit of the elastic waistband so she wouldn’t spoil the surprise of the finished project.  :)

Cinnamon Camisole:

Since my mom has a much larger chest than I do, sewing this camisole was all new for me.  FBA whaaaat???

Silk Camisole

In addition to changing the size of the cups, I also had to ensure that the camisole stays put and more importantly, the girls stay put.  I came up with a creative solution of layers of silk organza coupled with seam tape to stabilize the underbust band.

Upper Waistband_Partially basted

The silk charmeuse is so delicate that I didn’t want to risk stressing the fabric out or *shudder* tearing at any of the seams.

Bodice Seam Tape

Then I finished all of the seams with an additional layer of silk charmeuse & more hand stitching.  I believe there may be a whopping four layers of silk in this under-bust band – not to mention all of the seam allowances.  I trimmed it when I could but left a lot as it lent itself to more support.

I finished every seam off either with french seams or by hand stitching under the seam allowances.

Yes, this is the inside of the camisole, not the outside.  I wanted the insides to be just as pretty and finished as the exterior.

Interior of Camisole

I wanted to construct a lovely, timeless piece of lingerie for my mom.  She’s often complained that since she’s well endowed she can never find a camisole to cover appropriately, have an underbust line land under her bust (not across like most do) and actually look attractive while doing so.  I really hope this camisole is a *win* for her in all three categories.

Really hard to take decent photos on my 34″ bust for a >40″ bust gal, but I tried.  It might be hard to notice, but on the V-shaped underbust band, I used the matte side of the silk charmeuse to give the bodice a bit more interest.  I just love how this turned out.

Silk PJ Set

So… due to the fact that I feared that this silk camisole might not quite fit her yet I went and made her a second one of a luscious eggplant purple knit fabric, too.

Second Pajama Set:

Purple knit pj set

Perhaps I went knit fabric shopping the very next day after I made my Renfrew with Meg & Michelle, my first fabric expedition specifically for knit fabric.  I found lots of remnants that were all wonderful and reasonably priced.  After finding a few remnants of the same fabric I knew I could combine them for a knit set for my mom.  I snagged this purple and also a baby bluish-mint color.

Sneaky & stealthy, I went to my mom’s to prewash my fabric.  She was downstairs at the time and commented on how pretty the purple was.  Not knowing my ulterior motive, besides clean clothes, she had unwittingly picked out her own fabric for her pajama set.

I have no idea what kind of fabric knit this is, terry maybe?  It looks like jersey on the right side but has lots of small loopy loops on the wrong side.

I used exactly the same pattern for the camisole and tap shorts with just a few mods.

On the camisole underbust seam, I added clear elastic for light seam stabilization.  I finished all of the hems with steam-a-seam to hold it all in place, then I went and did a zig-zag top stitching finish.  And I finished all of the seam allowances with serging even though the fabric wasn’t fray prone, I wanted it to look nice and ‘finished’.

Inside of Knit Camisole

*Sorry they’re so dark*

On this knit version, the bust cups were gaping at the top sides, so I had to go back and take in that area by 1″ on both sides.

For the shorts, I used a 1″ wide cotton elastic for comfort and I created a separate waistband piece for the casing, instead of folding down the short top waist and loosing length.

This is a closer picture of the true color of the PJ purple knit set.  This is a tiny bit brighter than in real life, but it’s closer than the dark images from above.

Purple Knit Camisole

 

I really tried to set the set up on my dress form, but you can see it looks really frumpy.  :(

Mom's Knit PJ Set

But, it fits my mom perfectly, hugging in all of the right places.  :)

My mom unfortunately did end up seeing these pre-fininshed, since I had to have her try on the camisoles once more to test the strap length and also the shorts for the elastic waistband sizing.  I got this set done just in time for a trip to California my mom is currently on.

Perhaps I should have mentioned this in the beginning… But this whole project precipitated from the fact that large-bust gals (namely, my mom) have a really hard time finding pretty camisoles that actually fit like they’re supposed to.  She was bemoaning this fact one time too many- and I’m like hey, I sew…  So this became the perfect mother’s day gift idea.

It took some doing as this was the first time I’ve actually sewn for another other than myself.  I’m a standard 34b, so I never have to do a sba or fba.  (Don’t envy me yet, since I do have a whole host of other fit adjustments I regularly make).  My mom is NOT a 34b, but more in the 38-40 realm with a DD or DDD.  So yeah, I have NO experience with that.  I had to adjust the fit quite a lot, but I just worked the way I normally do with making a muslin first then assessing.  I didn’t do any research but tried to come up with my own creative way to address the “support” structure of a camisole that is not supposed to have any support.  I think I did okay, but only time will tell with the silk charmeuse version.  The knit version I’m not worried about at all since it is very forgiving, being a knit fabric.  (I just stuck to a more structured knit for hers to provide a bit more support.)

All I can say is, my mom was very excited and happy to receive her finished, well fitting sets of pajamas in time for her vacation.  :)  I bet she’ll be asking for a new set of these every birthday & Christmas & Mother’s day from now on, too.  heh

October 1

Cambies & Cardi’s

It’s no secret that Meg, Michelle, and I have been hanging out and knitting.  As we do, we get time to chat about a lot of things – most popular topics of course is sewing and knitting.  As a result, we often find projects that we all want to make but just haven’t.  Enter the Cambie Dress.

TONS of gal seamstresses/bloggers have made the Cambie dress and love it.  I’ve seen so many lovely versions online, but I just never got around to sewing it up myself.  Michelle was in the same boat as me, she never made it either but wanted to.  Meg, on the other hand has made oodles of them and loves it.  It was only natural that Meg insisted we make it too and we could also make cardigans to go with – each of us picking our own cardigan pattern that we liked of course.  We set a deadline and off we went making up our respective Cambie dresses and cardigans to coordinate.

Cambies & Cardies

Before I start chatting away about my Cambie dress… It’s come up recently that cliques are forming in the online sewing community.

I’d like to be the first one to say that the last thing I want to be is in a *clique* of any type.  I’m actually quite an introvert and get really quiet when I’m in a large group.  Growing up, I gravitated towards the non-mainstream group of folks, namely the punk, emo, and ska folks in high school.  We were just on the same wavelength and I could be myself.  This whole community of sewing peeps is wonderful and I am happy as a clam to write to you all & chat & geek out about sewing and knitting.  I can be me.

But, the more I hang out with the same group of people (in person) the more I am myself – and these two gals just make it easy to be me.  We have so many common interests that we enjoy each other’s company and do talk about work, bf’s and various other fun topics naturally.  But… we like other people too.  :D  So while there’s going to naturally be more group projects with these gals since we have similar likes & interests, I just don’t want to give the impression that we’re exclusive and cliquish in any way.  We’re just all happy to knit & sew together that it’s natural we blog about it.  Ya know?

Back to Cardies & Cambies:

Or should it be Cardis, Cardi’s? Hmmm…. whatever.

The idea came up a few months back that it would be fun to make Cambie dresses with coordinating cardigans.  We each picked out our own cardigan pattern and got to work.  I have really been wanting a open lace type cardigan, something that would be summer-appropriate when I wanted some coverage but not the warmth that comes from wool.

I found this perfect shade of purple that would coordinate perfectly with my Cambie dress fabric.  Let me tell you… It’s quite challenging to find fingering weight non-wool blends- in person at a brick & mortar shop.  I was totally lucky to score this perfect purple to coordinate – little did I know it was going to be one of my biggest knitting challenges to date.

Cambies & Cardies

Pattern: Vintage Lace Cardigan, by (vintage) Vogue, 1950’s.  (Got the knitting issue off of Etsy in my hunt for the perfect lace cardigan.)  Still LOVE this pattern.

Yarn: Rowan Panama, Jacaranda colorway.

Size: With my crazy gauge, I used the stitch count for the XS fonts and S for the back bodice, sleeves drafted by yours truly.

I’ve come from a wool knit background (or wool blends of course), never knitting with 100% cotton or the like in garments.  I wanted to change that with this summer cardigan.  The makeup of my yarn was 55% rayon, 33% cotton and 12% linen.  So the bulk of the content is drapey rayon.  (Too bad I didn’t think about that fact before starting this cardigan).

I worked up the bodice of the cardigan as I would with any other knit project – I used my normal waist to armhole measurements & armhole to shoulder measurements and got knitting.  Well…. being drapey this thing grows!  I did not account for that at all – and had to frog my bodice & re-knit more than once since I’m not used to this with knits – at all.

The deadline was pushed back 2 weeks, just for me, so I could finish my cardigan.  I worked hard on finishing it, but found myself awake up until 4am the day before the new deadline, and still not finished.  :(  I went to bed at 4:20am, and during the car ride to the photo shoot I was frantically stitching down my facings and putting on my buttons.

Cambies & Cardies

When I arrived at the photoshoot location, I had never even tried on my cardigan to see if it fully fit with the buttons and all.  Yes…. it was totally stressful and the cardigan you see took me like 2+ months of work.  (Leisure pace at the beginning, frantic at the end).  I’m just happy that it fits and looks decent.

Cambies & Cardies

The one aspect I’m not happy about is the collar wierdness at the buttonhole (see first image of me with it buttoned up).  I’m hoping that some additional blocking will help that, otherwise I can restitch it down.  Again, due to my tricky yarn, the cardigan still is growing and my sleeve length is not where it was supposed to be.  But I do have to say, it’s such a perfect match for my cambie dress and I LOVE the style of it all.

Cambies & Cardies

I’m quite tempted to actually make a second version of this cardigan but in a wool blend.  I bet it would behave much nicer and fit a bit better.

As for my Cambie dress…  It went together in a cinch and I spend 1 week working on it and was done.

Cambies & Cardies

I guess it makes up for the craziness that was my cardigan.  heh

The fabric is really neat.  First, it actually came from Michelle who, in turn, got it at an estate sale and I snagged it at our last Chicago meetup/swap.  Secondly, if you look, the fabric looks like it’s on the bias as the plaid pattern is diagonal and not horizontal across my body.

Cambies & Cardies

BUT… The fabric is 100% on grain and not on the bias – the plaid pattern is just printed so that it looks like it’s on the bias.  Neat, no?  There’s a ton of yardage that I still have at least 4 more yards of it to make something else  (I’m thinking of a fun blouse…)

I made just one muslin of the Cambie bodice, made a few minimal changes & got stitching.

I love how feminine the sweetheart neckline is, but I had to stitch down some twill tape to prevent gaping.  I still think mine gapes a tiny bit, but it lays flat against my skin when I’m upright.

Cambies & Cardies

I’ll most likely take a bit more fabric out at the neckline for the next version – and YES there will be more.  I’d love to make one for the winter in some wool fabric.

I also increased the height of the center of the bodice by 5/8’s inch (wanted it modest so I could wear it to work), and tapered it to the original height at the outer edges of the straps so it matched the back bodice.

The inside finishing is really nice, but it takes soo much time, especially given I made the full-skirted version.  It’s a nice detail and I actually needed to either line or underline my plaid fabric as it is a sheer cotton.  I used a basic white cotton batiste for the lining for the most breathable summer dress possible.

Cambies & Cardies

I’m not a fan of invisible zips, so I went and changed things up so I could put in a center back lapped zipper.  As soon as I learnt just how to put these in, I rarely sew in any other kind.  (Sorry forgot to snag a pic of my zipper.)

I did a narrow hem on the exterior of the skirt.  But what I did very different was to hem the lining with 1″ horsehair braid to give the dress even more fluff at the bottom without wearing a crinoline.  I fully encased my horsehair braid as there’s nothing worse than having the braid cut-edge scratching at you when you’re sitting down or walking.

Cambies & Cardies_Hem

I think my favorite pictures of my dress are in the group shots.  Since I’ve chatted enough, I’m just going to dump in my favorites so you can browse through.  (Full set of photos are on my flickr page).

Group Photos & Silliness:

Cambies & Cardies

Roller- coaster image once again; it’s always a great idea.  Being in front, I’m always gripping on for dear life.  LOL

Cambies & Cardies

Cambies & Cardies

I love this photo (below), looks like Meg and I have a secret from Michelle.  heh

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Cambies & Cardies

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Cambie & Cardies

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Meg’s Cambie-Cardie Combo:

Cambies & Cardies Meg

I looove Meg’s cardigan so much.  I tried it on several times.  It’s such a great layering cardigan and was soo thick and toasty warm with the yarn that she choose.  It’s just wonderful & a great knit.  Turned out flawless, too.  Meg has become such a great knitter.

I’ve lost count on how many Cambie dresses Meg has made, but this is her newest one and it just screams *Autumn*, especially paired with her cardigan.  It’s a great transition dress – just perfect for October & November here in Chicago.

Michelle’s Cambie-Cardie Combo:

Cambies & Cardies Michelle

I love that my favorite pics of both Meg & Michelle are in the same exact pose.  heh

I just love the fabric Michelle used for her Cambie.  It’s a lighter weight wool (or wool blend), and it’s looks so chic and tailored.  I mean seriously, we ate breakfast beforehand and there’s not a crease in sight on her dress!  It fits her so well and the pocket, waistband combo just looks so clean.

I was really admiring the stitch pattern on her cardigan too.  While that style isn’t something I’d wear, it looks great on her – The color and stitch pattern I can totally get on board with.  :)

 

One thing that always surprises me is no matter how many times we make the same project, they always turn out so very different from one another.  Michelle was saying to me, that she thought it amazing that I turned such a modern dress into something very vintage looking.  *yay* It’s such a great compliment to hear since well… I’m all about the 40’s and 50’s.  I do think the 50’s cardigan does help some though… not to mention using vintage fabric.

What’s up next??

There’s been talk of trousers, the Bruyere top, Archer,  as well as cabled knit sweaters & socks.  All of these are on my fall planning list which is perfect.  I’m really not sure what’s coming next but something is, you can bet on it.  :D

September 30

NYC Day Trip

Hey guys!  Guess who’s going to NYC this Saturday for a shopping trip???

NYC Fashion District

 

About a month back, Michelle of Tres Bien Ensemble mentioned she had a free flight to use and was thinking about going to NYC for a fabric trip.  Envious as I was, I was excited for her.

Then… she mentioned it on Twitter, and my name was mentioned that I should be going too.  I also thought so, but then was like “Why don’t I go???”  What’s holding me back??

I’ve been focusing so much on my house as of late, that I didn’t think it really rational/feasible that I go too.  I mentioned it to Felix who was all about me going if I wanted to.

Not 10 minutes later I went and purchased my airfare for the day trip.  It was a pretty easy decision to make after all.  And this will be my FIRST trip to NYC as an adult & for a fabric expedition.  Sooo terribly excited, I’ve waited too long to go.

So, I’ll be in NYC this Saturday (October 4th) for a quick shopping excursion, lunch, and mini meet-up.  If any NYC gals are wanting to meet-up be sure to send me a message so I can include you in on the email chain we’ve got going of our schedule.

*Yay*  So excited!!

 

September 12

Fall Sewing & Knitting Plans

It feels so wrong to be starting to think about fall sewing & knitting plans right now.  Chicago summer has been pretty chilly on the whole this year.  Don’t get me wrong – I’ve LOVED it.

But I also feel like I haven’t quite spent my summer doing “summery” things.  As fall is approaching, I’m still only wanting to sew up summer frocks in hopes that it will extend our summer more.  Dilusional thinking? Yes.  I probably do the same thing ever year without even realizing it too.

Maybe I can trick myself and sew up “summer pieces” in like… wool or something.  heh

Getting back to reality, I do have a fall wish list of sorts to share.

What’s fall & winter without new knits?!

I reorganized my Ravelry Queue and these four pretties surfaced up to the top.

A Stitch in Time’s Tri-Cable Stitch Jumper:

TriCable_small2

Tasha’s refashioned Cable Pullover No. 3298:

cablepullover4_small2

My Stitchcraft freebie Cable Knit Jumper:

Cable_Knit_Jumper_small2

As you can see… I have a hankering for a chic cable knit sweater or cardigan this year.  I’ve been lusting over the green cardigan (first image) for quite some time, so that had to be shifted up in my queue.  Not to mention, Tasha’s refashioned cable knit jumper is high on my list.

You see, I purchased the same kind of yarn, dk weight from Wollmeise that Tasha used (different color though) and it NEEDS to be a cable knit jumper.  It’s just begging to be made into it.  So it’ll either be made up as Tasha’s Cable knit jumper or the Stitchcraft cable knit jumper.  They’re both wonderful patterns, I’ll have to see where the yarn takes me when the time comes.

Last but not least, A Stitch in Time’s Fair Isle Yoke Jumper:

FairIsleAcrossTheYoke_full1_small2

Now that I’m not nearly as scared about fair isle as I once was… this little short sleeved number is up in the my queue also.  But… sadly I think that one will have to hold off, as short sleeves in the winter is really not a smart idea.  If only I’d started knitting it a month ago.

But…. the first knit I’ll be working on this fall is this little cardigan, the Wallis Pleated Cardigan:

Wallis Pleated Cardigan

I started knitting this up last year, but I never got around to completing it.  I have the sleeves to knit plus finishing, and then I’ll be all set to wear it.  So that will be my first knit of the fall, as much as I want to start something new instead.

On the Sewing Front:

As I said, all I can think about is summer sewing still.  To appease myself, I think I may just convert some of the patterns I want to make this past summer but didn’t get to is to make them in more suitable fabrics for the winter transition.

Hollyburn Skirt:

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I finally made up a summery Hollyburn skirt and I’m in love (yet to be blogged).  It’s such a great, pretty pattern.  I was planning on making a second for summer, but instead I think I’ll make a wool tweed version for the fall/winter & pair it with some fun tights instead.  Summer with live on through my bright legs.  lol

Renfrew Top:

1201_Sewaholic_Renfrew_Envelope_Front__96572.1405347942.1280.1280

Again, I was planning on making some short sleeved Renfrews for summer, but instead I’ll switch them out to be fall & winter versions.  I love a good cowl neck top & only have 1 in my closet at the moment and it’s not even work friendly.  So I’ll be making a 3/4 length cowl neck version next – fabric is still a mystery on this one.  It depends what I can find.

Trousers:

I always wish I had more wearable pants in my closet for when the weather turns chilly, but I just don’t.  I think I have all of 2 wearable pants in my closet at the moment and one of them is slowly dying.  So… depending if I can fit my caboose this year without too many wrinkles/sags, I’ll be making up a new pair of trousers.  Pattern still undecided on.  But probably the Thurlow trousers as those are the closest to fitting me currently.

Archer Button-Up Top:

11004ViewAFront_Archer

I have yet to make an Archer.  It seems like the most basic wardrobe staple and I need it.

On the subject of tops… Deer & Doe just came out with a new button up shirt pattern, the Bruyere shirt, translates to Heather in English.

bruyere-shirt

As soon as I saw it, I bought it immediately.  No hesitation at all!  I have yet to make any patterns by Deer & Doe, but I’ve seen some lovelies by you guys on the interwebs using their patterns.  While this shirt isn’t my normal 40’s or 50’s look… I love it just the same.  I have no idea how I’ll be wearing this top too since I don’t own (or wear) leggings of any sort (and no, no skinny pants either).  heh  I’m sure I’ll figure out something by the time I make this up.

Last but not least is the Jenna Cardigan:

Jenna Cardi

This is a brand new pattern from Muse Patterns.  It’s just the perfect cardigan that I’d love to knit up – but it’s sewn up instead.  Now isn’t that a lovely idea?!  This pattern has appeared at the perfect time for me as I’m delving into knit patterns.  I do feel like this pattern is a great addition to the indy sewing pattern community, as I haven’t seen anything like this yet out there.  Can’t wait to try this one out when I find some proper sweater knit fabrics.

And that’s really it so far.  I’m sure there will be some new lovely patterns coming out by peeps, not to mention raiding my own vintage sewing pattern stash for some fall dresses that I’ll be wanting to stitch up.

Clothes Mantra of this Year:

Less is More (maybe…).  You see, with my house being all sorts of crazy I can’t have too many garments in rotation.  I’m still living out of my suitcase and boxes & will be for the foreseeable future.  I have a teeny tiny closet to store things in (think 1-2 weeks worth of clothes space – tops).  This means I can only have so many pieces ‘out’ and in rotation.  I’ll be needing to make some versatile tops/bottoms to get me through.  Heaven knows where my winter clothes even are at this point.

Hats & Gloves???  Where could you possibly be?!

This is where *stuff* is in our house:

Office Storage

I think this picture puts things in better perspective, no?!  heh

As much as I want to sew up an army of pretty new fall clothes, I do kinda have to keep things simple & versatile – but hopefully still fun.  :D  Plus I have all that housework to get done too…  Ack.

Any must-make patterns you guys are stitching up this fall/winter?

September 10

A Floral & Striped Knit Dress

Here it is… my first(ish) knit dress, Vogue 8728.

Floral & Stripes Knit Dress

I absolutely love this dress and it’s fabric oohh soo much.

Floral & Striped Knit Dress

I snagged this floral & stripe fabric from Emma One Sock a couple months ago for a pretty penny.  I shudder to tell you that I spent $54 on this fabric… imported from Italy.  Luckily, I am such a shortie and I didn’t need too much yardage – but still….It’s a lot of $$$.  It’s a rayon/spandex blend fabric – very light weight but opaque so I don’t need a lining or slip with it.

As much as I wanted to sew up the Vogue 8728 dress right away, I decided to be smart about it and cut a red cotton/poly/spandex blend version first to test the fit.  Well… I wore it for all of like 5 minutes, deemed it fine and cut this floral/striped version.

The only unfortunate issue of my proceeding so fast is that I should have put in some darts at the back of the neckline.  Not really wanting to unpick the neckline, I just left it.  It’s not too terrible anyhow and it doesn’t make me love the dress any less.

Floral & Striped Knit Dress

I could probably add a black belt with this, but I really didn’t see the need with all of the horizontal strips running across the bodice.  Maybe I’ll add a belt come winter when I layer it up with a cardigan and tights.

Floral & Striped Knit Dress

I gathered the skirt like instructed, but I went and added clear elastic to the whole inner waist, using a zig zag stitch, when I attached the bodice to the skirt piece.  I think this adds plenty of stabilization here for this full, drapey skirt.  I also added the clear elastic to the shoulders – because I read you should do that with knits.

Check out this mad stripe matching at the side seams!

Floral & Striped Knit Dress

This dress was my first time using stitch witchery to glue down the hems before stitching them up.  This dress wanted to curl a tiny bit at the edges, but not terribly.  I thought using it would give me a nice clean finish at the hemmed areas – which it did.  I don’t have any wonky or twisted hems – everything lies perfectly flat.

I also went and used my walking foot on nearly this whole dress.  I had found on my first red version that I couldn’t sew the gathered yoke section to the waist without raising the presser foot every two stitches without the fabric bunching.  That seam took ages!

This is one of the first dresses I own that I feel like I can throw it on & go in a vintage style, albeit a modern print.

Floral & Striped Knit Dress

I went and broke my own rule and wore this dress out before I blogged about it.  I feel so feminine yet comfortable in this dress, both while at work and while running errands over the weekend.

While the fabric was expensive, I have no regrets about it.  I’ve always loved the juxtaposition of flirty florals against the harsher backdrop of B&W stripes (or polka dots).  Sadly there is no more of this fabric for you guys.  :(  Plus, I wish I could get myself some more for a top.

There seems to be a similar version of the fabric up on Gorgeous Fabrics.  Before you get excited, it’s listed as Out of Stock… but perhaps she’s left this fabric up online since she could be getting more in. (As it’s been in the “out of stock” status for a couple weeks now instead of being removed.)  If it does come back in stock, I’m very tempted to buy this one too.

Striped Floral Dress

This print just makes me so happy.  I’m 100% happy that I decided to splurge on this fabric (on pay day) – zero regrets.

Now… I just have to make like 5 more versions of the dress and I’ll be satisfied.  So far I’m loving sewing with knits.  :)

September 8

A Feminine Kimono-Styled Robe

I have a *thing* where if I don’t take pictures for the blog – then I can’t wear my completed garment.  It’s silly, but it’s supposed to be my motivation to take final pictures of my makes.  Sadly, I made this kimono robe at the beginning of the summer and it has yet to be worn – since no blog updates yet.  Me and my silly rules.  heh

Kimono Style Bathrobe

I looove this kimono styled robe.

Kimono Style Bathrobe

I started with the Kimono Robe by AtelierJoy via craftsy then via etsy.  This is a one size fits most pattern so I then just hacked it a lot to make my current version.

Before I get ahead of myself talking about the robe…

I was on a sewing hiatus from like November 2013 to April/May ish in 2014 while I did all sorts of house stuff.  I didn’t anticipate not sewing (silly me.)  As a result, I felt like my sewing prowess had gotten a bit rusty.  I wanted to make an easy pattern with minimal fitting as I got my feet wet (and back into the deep end of sewing).  This pattern was perfect for that as it was a bunch of squares, typical of a kimono-like robe.

Kimono Style Bathrobe

So… Pears and kimono robes don’t really go hand in hand, not in my opinion anyway.  I need extra width at the hem to balance out my hippy hips.  I hacked the pattern to make it much wider at the hem, curve at the waist and more petite on the upper half.  As a result – it still looks like a kimono styled robe.  LOL

Kimono Style Bathrobe

Apparently, I needed to add even more width at the hem (ie more flare) to make it more swishy.  Ahh well, I still love it.

Kimono Style Bathrobe

I didn’t really follow the instructions fully, but I did make all of the seams french seams.  When it came to the facings, I prefer to have them finished on the insides rather than on the outsides – so I hacked that part too.  (This will make sense if you go to make this pattern for yourself.)

Facing Detail

Let’s talk fabric.

This is my very first time sewing up a garment from a synthetic material, in this case it was polyester.  You see, I really do prefer wool, cottons, silks, and any blends of these three.  (Rayon is not included in this since it’s technically a natural fiber.  But I even sew minimally with rayon – more now so as I’m delving into knits.)  This does lead to an expensive fabric habit – but I’d rather have 1 yard of lovely silk crepe than 3 yards of well… anything else.  heh

I say all of this because that is how much I love this fabric.  I loved it so much I didn’t care it was a poly.  It’s a light aqua color, with digital looking squares of white all over, combined with this slightly pixelated looking floral pattern.

Fabric

I found that sewing with 100% poly is very different than sewing with a natural fiber.  There was no stretch whatsoever and any small blips during sewing couldn’t be pressed or steamed out at the iron.  Everything had to be very precise as I came to learn while sewing up this robe.  Good thing there wasn’t too many curves to sew beyond the waist.

Kimono Style Bathrobe

Sewing a robe has always been on my to-do list, ever since I started sewing (pajamas too).  But it always took a backseat to other projects – namely those that will be worn out of the house and seen by others.  I think there’s nothing better than walking out of the house in a handmade project and frolicking out and about in it.  But as we bought our house, I’ve come to sing a different tune.  I now can’t think of anything better than swishing about my (completed) house in silk charmeuse like Phryne Fisher does.  This feminine kimono robe gets me one step closer to that reality even if my house won’t be completed for some years to come.

Kimono Style Robe

I now want to dig out my 1950’s bathrobe pattern and make that up.  It has the 100% full skirted swish factor that is lacing in this kimono robe.

*Hint of what’s to come*

While it’s been months since I finished this kimono robe, guess who is now in the midst of sewing up her very own set of 1940’s silk pajamas in the most loud, geometric print?!  I can’t wait to sew them up and swish some more.  (As of today, the muslin work is all done and I’m now cutting out my silk charmesue.)

September 5

Homeowner Adventures: August in Review

Honestly, not that much has been accomplished on the house front in August.  But we’re fine with that.  It’s given us a bit of a reprieve, me to sew in the evenings and Felix is working on his own projects.  Plus with the bunnies back home, we’re happy to spend more quality time with them as they explore their new surroundings.

What we have done…

Kitchen:

We’ve begin laying down the sub-floor in the kitchen, using plywood.  And by “we” I mean Felix and my dad.  :)

plywoodKitchenFloor_3

Basement:

We removed all sorts of gross, rotten wood boards that were used as a paneling in the back of the basement, which is going to be our laundry room.

Before:

backBasementWalls_1

After-ish:

backBasementWalls_3

There’s still a tiny bit more wood to remove and some cleanup with the shopvac.  But we’re on our way to a mega deep clean of the basement and pouring back concrete from where we removed it for the plumbing.

Outside:

I’ve decided to refocus some efforts on clearing out the crazy backyard of the wilderness it’s become.

backyardPath

I trenched through and made a pathway to expose more day lilies.

Once Felix chipped in to help we got a bit further along:

backyard_august

Another weekend Felix and I tried to whittle down that pile of concrete we have stored in the yard, and filled up yet another bagster bag.  It didn’t even seem like we’d made a dent in the pile.

bagsterDebris-5

Concrete was below, all the old wood paneling from the basement was on top, with old kitchen cabinets in the middle.  Poor kitchen cabinets, how I wish I could have saved you.  :(

One bonus to August, we got a grill!

newOldGrill_2

It’s not a new grill, but it’s a nice one.  My friend Jake just moved to Colorado and he didn’t want to haul his grill, so he gave it to us instead.  I spent hours (5+ hours) on cleaning out this grill and all it’s crustiness.  (Jake was a daily grill user.)  But it’s now spic and span and looking like new again.  We’ve made a few meals on it so far, nothing to complex yet since we’re grilling newbies.  But it’s so nice having a gas grill instead of dealing with charcoal for the easy whip-it-up meal on the grill.

And really, that’s about it.  We do have so much to do before the coming winter, but it’s been nice to have a bit of a breather month at the end of summer.  Hope to get the rest of the subfloor laid next and work on the basement some more – so I can get a washer & drier.  Wouldn’t that be a lovely thought… doing laundry in the house you live in?!  heh  This is a luxury we have yet to experience and we can’t wait.

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.