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June 29

Gabriola Skirt: It’s lovely but…

Every spring I get on a maxi skirt kick.  I’m not sure why, but every spring I find myself hunting for the perfect long skirt pattern to make up.  This spring was no exception.

Gabriola Skirt

I actually started on this skirt pattern late last fall and the fit wasn’t quite right.  I set it aside while I worked on some other garments and let it languish.  But the spring itch for a long skirt kicked in and I figured, I might as well finish my gabriola skirt that I had started.

Gabriola Skirt

I bought this fabric from my local fabric store and its to die for.  It’s wool & silk blend, with a twill-ish style weave.  It results in the most supple but drapey fabric.  The color is just another bonus; I’m pretty sure I would have bought this fabric no matter what color it happened to be.  In real life its a purple/blue kind of fabric – it changes color based on the light.  In short – its the bees knees of fabric.

Gabriola Skirt

When I tried on my skirt this spring, it was too large.  To get it to fit, I had to majorly reduce the side seams at the waistband, which resulted in a funky angle at that side seam – instead of a nice smooth waistband.  Lucky for me, non-sewers rarely notice seam lines and no one has been the wiser.

Gabriola Skirt

The other thing I noticed was that I found I had removed too much length from the hem.  I could only serge the seam and turn it up once (1/4″ hem) and you can still see the serged stitching from the inside of the skirt. Ack!  Not sure how I managed to do that given my short stature.  I can only wear flats with this skirt now, which isn’t a huge deal…

Gabriola Skirt

I had to majorly lighten these two detail images so you can see the yoke style lines.

Front View:

Gabriola Front Yoke

Back View:

Gabriola Back Yoke

As you can see, I added in my own lapped zipper, as I really loathe invisible zips and avoid them at all costs.

Lets get to the crux of my blog title for this one: “The Gabriola skirt: It’s lovely but…”

It’s exactly that with a big “BUT” at the end of the sentence.  I love the fabric, I love the swish factor, but…. it really doesn’t feel like ME.  I’m not sure what I envisioned with this one, but the style really feels off.  I feel like I’m wearing someone else’s clothes when I put it on.

I know I have been sewing up some more modern garments as of late – but this feels like I’ve crossed the line between ME and too modern/stylish.  It’s a hard feeling to have, given I love this fabric so much.  I put a decent amount of work into this skirt in order to get it to fit right.  So this conclusion is difficult to come to at the very end of a make.  As nice as it is, it’s just not ME.

Gabriola Skirt

I wore this skirt to work once and got some nice compliments on it.  I’ll probably wear it again on my “didn’t feel like shaving” days when the weather gets cooler again.  But I have to say, I’ve only worn it the one time and its not something I gravitate towards given the option of something else in my closet.

It’s really just too bad… but it’s my own fault in the end.  I feel like I should have known better – and I’ll be counting this in the ‘learning experience’ category of my sewing projects.  Lovely fabric doesn’t make up for a design that doesn’t reflect who you are.

Has this happened to anyone else???

June 23

A Novelty Print Shirt Dress

After I finished my first McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress last year, I knew I wanted to make up some other versions.  Time got away from me, good thing it did, as I finally found the perfect fabric to use for my second version.

Novelty M6696

I bought this novelty print from Emma One Sock sometime last year (I think).  I didn’t have a pattern in mind for it at the time so it just sat around in my stash.  I love the print, but didn’t realize the print was on a taupe/flesh tone background; not such a good pairing for a my pale skin-tone.  But this spring, I didn’t seem to care anymore and knew it would be the perfect, light-weight cotton match for this pattern.

Novelty M6696

I really wish I could find a vintage shirt dress pattern that fits as well as this modern McCalls pattern does.  I’ve tried over and over again to sew vintage 50’s shirt dresses but they never seem to turn out right.  At least the novelty print gives it a more vintage flare, which feels more like me.

No shirt dress is complete without pockets.  :D

Novelty M6696

Although you can’t see it in the images… I modified the waistband piece so that it’s easier to alter and fit.

The one thing that I always disliked about this pattern is the the waistband is one continuous piece around the body.  Which means, if you ever need to take in/out at the waist, you have to disassemble the entire dress & button band in the front – which is totally NEVER going to happen!

So I made my waistband into 3 pieces: one back and two fronts – with a side seam at either side.  That way, I can easily take in/let out the side seams to re-fit this dress.

As a side note: I actually do this modification now on nearly every dress & skirt I make.  I know the waistband isn’t clean with a side seam, but practicality is always a win for me!  And I do find my garments just fit better when I have that side seam as I’m curvy with a short waist.

Novelty M6696

And guess what??  I already have taken in the side seams before the first wearing!!  Felix and I have been consciously eating better and as a result I’ve lost a bit of weight. (YAAAYYY!) What’s sad is that between the time I stitched this up to when I was adding on the buttons two weeks later, I found the waistband didn’t fit anymore.

So I unpicked the inside waistband finish, took in the side seams, restitched the inner waistband again and voila, a dress that fits once again.

 Novelty M6696

I decided my dress needed some more flair, so I added this little pocket to the right bodice front.

Novelty M6696

Dark brown vintage buttons – directly from my time at the Paris Flea market.

Novelty M6696

Last but not least – I finally have a backdrop in my own backyard for photos!  I know its just a plain old fence, but it’s a huge improvement for us!  And my empty hanging basket has already been rectified with some pretty purple petunias.

Cheers & Happy Sewing!

June 21

An Ode to Renfrew

In light of last week’s news, I thought it was about high time I share my love of the Renfrew pattern by Sewaholic.

Boatneck Renfrew

If you haven’t heard, moving forward Tasia will no longer be the woman behind the helm at Sewaholic.  She’s turning things over to the peeps at Spool of Thread.  This came as a big surprise to everyone, with the exception of Ms. Tasia herself of course.  I’m attempting to remain positive about the change – but am holding my breath till the next pattern release.

I realize this happens all the time at large companies and in the tech industry – expected even.  But I feel like this is the sewing community and correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the first change like this in the indy pattern scene??

I feel taken aback – but of course I’m happy for Tasia, as this is obviously what she wanted.  It’s just hard to let go and to accept change sometimes.

Back to Renfrew:

Boatneck Renfrew

I’ve been sewing up Renfrews tops steadily since I learned how to cut & sew with knits in a Meg-Michelle-Liz sewing day August 2014.  But one of my favorite Renfrew tops doesn’t quite look like a Renfrew.

Boatneck Renfrew

I’ve made two of these particular versions – boat neck, wide hem, along with no binding.  This one is a creamy white French terry knit and my second is a cotton/rayon blend of some sort in a heathered-grey and black polka dot.

Boatneck Renfrew

How did I make it??  I quite simply took a boat neck vintage pattern I had in my stash (for wovens) laid it on top of my Renfrew pattern, lined up the shoulders (ignoring the shoulder angle difference) & then just redrew the neckline.

Boatneck Renfrew

I could wear this particular outfit every day of the week.  This is the closest I’m going to get to an Audrey Hepburn – style outfit: flats, ankle-length trousers, and chic top.  Of course in no way, shape or form do I have the figure of Ms. Hepburn – I am me.  Being said, I feel lovely and put together in my boatneck Renfrew tops.  Tres Chic.  ;)

Boatneck Renfrew

At this point in time, I’ve sewn up at least 10 Renfrew tops.  It’s a staple in my wardrobe as an easy summer Tee with short sleeves, made in rayon/lycra jersey blend; or made for the Chicago winter made up in a wool jersey knit with long sleeves and a cowl neck.  I know there’s more T-shirt patterns out there, but why fix a pattern if it isn’t broken?!  As it is – I’m happy as a clam to continue to make up version after version of my tried & true Renfrew Top.

Thanks so much Tasia for making Sewaholic what it is today.  Cheers & Happy Adventures!

June 8

Backyard Renovations: Part 2

If you missed my latest backyard post, this is what Felix and I were starting with when we bought our house.

backyardJungle_2

Can you see me back there on the right??  heh

Last week I caught you up to 2015:

Backyard Renovation

But now it’s time to wrap up with what we’ve done so far this year in 2016.

Last year I missed out on vegetable planting for the season.  After apartment-living in the city, I’ve longed for my own vegetable garden!  This year I wanted to hit the ground running and make it happen!  What can be better than wandering in your own back yard to pick vegetables for dinner or feed some hungry bunnies?!

Early in the spring (but not early enough), I planted seeds to start plants in my basement under grow lights.

Veggie Garden Plans

All of my vegetable & herb seedlings are non-gmo, heirloom seeds from Baker Creek.

Seedlings

I have spaghetti squash, zucchini, yellow squash, tomato, bell pepper, yellow beans, green beans, cilantro, basil, parsley, and numerous types of lettuces.  (Shout-out to Michelle who told me about this company. Thanks lady!)

Seedlings

After much research – since that’s what I do before starting any new endeavor – I decided that we should build sub-irrigated, raised planter beds.

Albo-grow-Box_diagram2

Image: Courtesy of Albo Pepper – FYI I used his directions to build out my box along with this.

There’s basically a reservoir of water at the bottom of the bed that always holds water.  That way the roots go down for the water which results in a nice root system; it’s supposed to reduce weeds, rot, and other issues that may happen with watering at the top.

Felix and I started planning and then building two raised planter beds, what feels like months ago.  But we finally finished them.

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The reservoir does need to be filled about once a week, but I can go several days (like on vacation) without worrying if all my plants are going to die on me.  There’s also drain holes on the side, at the bottom, to prevent any flooding from rains.

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I have a tendency to ‘go big or go home’ with projects, so I do hope this works out for me this year.

As an FYI, Felix posted each and every time we worked on our garden boxes.  You can find many more in-depth construction blog posts here.

I intended to get these boxes finished like 2 months ago, so I missed out on some springtime peas.  But I’ll survive.  heh I have read that I can actually do peas again in the fall when the weather gets chilly.

The other large project that we worked on was a new fence!

Old Fence

The old fence was all warped and very unattractive.  I felt like I couldn’t really start to plan out my garden until a new fence was put in, since I didn’t want to plant & then remove it all for the fence install.  That and …… I was having some major territorial issues with the dog that lives next door.  It was getting to the point that I couldn’t be outside without my adrenaline rushing & having heart palpitations due to the dog.  (Happening again right just now thinking about it…) So Felix and I decided that it would be in everyone’s best interests (mainly mine) to make the fence a priority this year.

Of course, we like to save money when we can, so we did all of the leveling/grading of that fence area on our own which took us several days to do.

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Just a few bricks we found in the yard – even after things were cleared and leveled last year.

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We ran into some issues during the grading with an old tree stump that we already had ground down.  Turns out it needed much more stump grinding, so we had to call out our tree guys to get rid of it once and for all.

backyardFencePrepDay1_04

After the grading was done, we were able to just kick back and watch our fence be built by professionals.

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I now have a brand new fence and a vegetable garden in progress, in what once was basically wilderness!

Backyard Jungle

It feels like a fresh, blank slate that I can finally start building out/planting in.

gardeBoxProjectDay12_09

I have all sorts of schemes saved in my pinterest page, but I need to sit down with my mom again so we can plan on how to make it even more lovely.

Some of the top things on my list that I’d like in the backyard are:

  • Espalier Tree/s
  • Lilac Shrub
  • Fire Pit area
  • Fountain

cottonwoodLawn

Even though I may only be able to do one of the four this year, it already feels like I can breathe again in my backyard with some privacy; I can enjoy being outside once again.  It feels so good.

May 31

Back Yard Renovations: Part 1

You saw my front yard renovations last year, but prepare your self – as the back yard is a horse of a different color.

Backyard Jungle

When we bought our house it was the end of October.  The first thing we had to spend our renovation money on was tree removal.

It was both sad and hard to spend so much money right off the bat to remove some lovely, old trees but they were either in the process of dying or in the way of power lines so they all had to go.

Backyard Tree Removal

Backyard Tree Removal

We always knew the backyard needed some work, but once the following summer hit we really realized just how overgrown and awful things really were back there.

Backyard Jungle

That first summer – young and naive – I thought I could just spend a couple hours each day/week and pull everything out gradually.

Backyard Jungle

I was ohh soo wrong.   As soon as I called it quits in the fall, I would look to back where I started and the area was once again covered in small weeds.

Felix and I had a *real talk* and we decided that we’d call in some professionals to deal with the situation, as it would take me far too long working as I had been.

Fast forward to Spring 2015, 2 quotes later and after much research (and drama) we had a crew working on the yard, clearing out all of the stuff.

Backyard CrewBackyard CrewBackyard Crew Backyard Crew backyardClearingTransformDay1_24

There was a crew of around 5 guys who came in with a bobcat and boy did they get rid of everything quickly!  As soon as 30 minutes had passed – Felix and I were looking at each other saying *we made the right decision* as doing the work manually would have taken us… oh let’s say 3 years!  lol

This landscaping crew was at our place for 2 days and cleared out so much stuff.  I can see the back fence again!  heh

Backyard Crew

Yes – we’re talking Summer of 2015 still.. and you may be thinking but Liz, this is 2016!  Bear with me…

After the crew was done with the clearing of the yard, Felix and I coordinated a sod delivery and we set about installing the sod ourselves which saved some major $ but was also quite labor-intensive, back breaking work.

Sod InstallSod Install

The string/line on the left is our property line actually.  The neighbor went in on the yard renovation with us which was nice & we were able to split the cost and share on the delivery fees and whatnot.

Sod Install

Felix would carry over each sod piece and I would put it in position and join up all of the seams.

Sod Install

On the second day, my parents came over to help with the remaining pieces of sod and my mom surprised me with a load of flowers.

backyardSodInstallDay2_10 Sod Install

We got into a good rhythm and we finished the sod install in 2 days.  Our section of backyard is roughly 25 ft wide x 70 ft long.

It looks so great!  Fresh sod – all the craziness gone!

Here’s where things got complicated…

The crew didn’t grade our yard properly and when we watered we were left with a large pool of water in the middle of the yard.

Water pooling

I have VERY sandy soil and there’s no reason why water should ever pool in my yard.  They tried to tell me I must have clay… which I don’t.  I’ve dug down over a foot in my yard & even more so in my basement and never, ever, EVER have found any clay.

The crew had to come back out – add more soil – and then relay the sod.

Backyard Crew Part 2 Backyard Crew Part 2 Backyard Crew Part 2

It was a major headache and made me feel quite icky at the end of the project.  Turns out Felix and I are better at laying sod than the landscapers.  You can totally see where our sod was used vs. the contractor’s sod.  Our was so much nicer, and greener.  Till this day the backyard section of sod is better than the front areas.  I’m still a bit sore about all of that as it was a lot of yard work to lay the sod ourselves.

This was mainly the happenings of 2015 if you can believe it!  Don’t you just hate it when you have to wait to see the second part of a two-part series?!  I’m sorry to do it to you guys, but this post is already huge and I don’t want to leave out too many of the details.

You can be sure that there will be another post up soon since I don’t want to leave you hanging.

May 4

The Scissors Blouse

Before I left for my birthday drinks & dinner, I was able to hop outside really quick and take some photos of my newest make & official first make towards my 2016 Vintage Pledge.

Scissor Print Blouse

I feel so very 50’s with my blouse & hair even though I’m wearing thoroughly modern jeans.

Scissor Print Blouse

I can’t believe it’s already May and I’m only now posting up my first ‘vintage garment’ of the year.  While I did post about my 1940’s suit, it technically wasn’t made in 2016 – just blogged about – so it didn’t seem fair to add it in as an official Vintage Pledge Garment.

Scissor Print Blouse

Oh and hello Me-Made-May, I am totally participating in you too!

mmmay16final

I don’t have enough bottoms to feasibly wear more than 1 item per day – but I consider it a win if I do.   So I’ve just committed myself to wearing one me-made article each day.

Back to my blouse…

Scissor Print Blouse

I used the Spadea N-1149 pattern, I personally call it my Katharine Hepburn pattern.  It was a very happy day when I finally snagged this off ebay a couple of years ago!

Spadea

I love Katharine Hepburn and her movies.  I think she’s utterly lovely but she had a dislike of her neck so you can always spot her in fashionable, high-necked dresses, tops, or sporting a scarf.  This Charles LeMarie (aka Spadea) design is no exception.

Katharine Hepburn in Spadea

Image courtesy of Blonde at the Film  (Quick aside: I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole that is The Blonde at the Film; such a great site full of old, new-to-me movies and love all of the drool-worthy stills.)

Katharine even wore a short necklace on top of the dress to ensure the neckline stayed closed.

As you can see – I didn’t make a dress but I made up a little blouse instead.

Scissor Print Blouse

Modifications:

  • Raised the armscye up by 3/4″ – both on the bodice and the sleeves.
  • Shortened the dress into a blouse height
  • Shortened the sleeves to elbow length
  • Omitted the cummerbund/belt

Fabric & Notions Used:

  • Stretch Cotton via Emma One Sock, currently being re-ordered & in stock soon.
  • Steam a Seam for easy hemming on sleeves and bodice
  • Iron-On Interfacing for neckline/collar facing

Scissor Print Blouse

My first iteration of this was a dress in green silk shantung for Christmas.  But when I made up my muslin I made it short & loved the look of it.  I knew I had to make up this dress but as a blouse later on.  The idea ended up in that “When I have time I’ll do _______” category of makes; its not high priority but would be fun if I did.  Somehow I just decided that now was the time to make it and I’m so happy I did.

Scissor Print Blouse

Being a second make, it was supposed to be easy and effortless.

Shall I just say it was a horrible nightmare of a make and the scissor print is a pun on my mistake.  Cutting!

I decided to cut this pattern late in the evening after a full day of something-or-other.  The first piece (back bodice) was cut and then by the second (front bodice) I realized I had to cut it shorter than I intended.  But… I accidentally cut it at the longer-length and had no room for the sleeves.

All in all, my cutting mistake meant I had to piece in one sleeve in the worst way possible – right across the arm.  Ugh!

Scissor Print Blouse

It was such a stupid mistake and I was just angry with myself… I mean I know better right?!?!  But I still love this little top.  Note to self: Don’t cut anything later than 10pm!

Scissor Print Blouse

I used my scissor print on this  top b/c I actually fell out of love with it shorty after purchase.  I know….I know!

This top started off as an easy make, just something to wear around the house – gardening and whatnot since I didn’t care for the fabric anymore & I wouldn’t care if it got grubby.

Scissor Print Blouse

But… now that it’s all sewn up I luuuv it and have since fallen back in love with my fabric – despite the horrible sleeve cutting error.  (So far no one has noticed which I find both surprising and entertaining.)

Happy sewing and remember to think while you cut!  :)

April 13

A (non-Crafty) Update

So much seems to be happening in my life right now and it feels odd to not share it – even if it isn’t about sewing/knitting.

My last blog post was about my initial planning of my veggie garden – since then my little seedlings have been growing non-stop.

Seedlings

(Cilantro, Sun-Flowers, and Spaghetti Squash)

It’s so fun to watch them grow and know that they’re all doing good and are happy in my basement light set-up.  As a result, Felix and I had to get a move-on with building our raised planter boxes.

gardeBoxProjectDay2_13 gardeBoxProjectDay3_03

gardeBoxProjectDay5_11

Felix and I have been spending the last few weekends working on these boxes.  Boy are they huge!  They’re each roughly 6×4 feet and I love the way they’re turning out.

We’ve been talking about & thinking about these boxes and the construction almost non-stop for a solid 3 weeks now.

Raised Planter Boxes

I’ve been running errands to various garden stores – not an easy feat when you live in the city – and our supplies are busting at the seams.

Garden Box Supplies

I’m making a sub-irrigated type-system of planter bed.  It basically will always have a reservoir of water at the bottom and the soil has to be *just right* for the moisture to wick up to the plant roots.  I’m hoping they’ll work great for us and I’ll be able to water less over the summer and focus on other things while my veggies grow and feed us.

Other News:

My parents are moving.  My parents have been talking about moving out of the state for quite some time and all of a sudden it’s happening in less than a month from now.  This is my childhood home and I really haven’t taken the time to address my feelings about it yet.

frankfortPhotoshoot_15

applePieFrankfort2015_01

As happy as I am for my parents about this huge change, it’s going to be hard and I’m not looking forward to it.  We have a lot of memories together in this house – lots of growing has been done here and it’s hard not to associate the house with all of those good & bad times.

And one more thing:

I don’t think it comes as a shock to anyone, but I’ve gained a bit of weight; I’ve gotten a bit… shall we say… thick.  heh  My clothes do still fit – but I know once summer comes, those won’t be fitting.  Felix and I decided to bite the bullet and do something about it.

bangBangSoutBeach_2

We’ve done South Beach diet in the past and each time we see less dramatic results.  And that’s all right.  I’m just focusing on eating right and the S.B. diet really helps us on that path.  It’s a *reset* button for us/me to cut my addiction to all things sugar/chocolate and to re-train myself that protein & veggies are my friends.

And yes – we had one last indulgent meal at Bang Bang Pie Shop before S.B. day 1.

bangBangSoutBeach_1

Okay… a bit of Crafting talk:

I’m still sewing/knitting – but it just feels silly to sew something I’ll just have to possibly alter in a few weeks.  That being said – I’ve gotten creative while sewing up my garments.

I’ve been sewing my garments in a completely different way than pattern directions state.  I’ve been attaching a bodice FRONT to the skirt FRONT, bodice BACK to skirt BACK – THEN – sewing the side seams from skirt hem to the sleeve hem in one long pass.  I’m doing this so that I can super-easily alter any garments that may get too large (or small) at the side seams instead of having to unpick the whole waist seam to take out the side seams for more/less room.

Happy to share some images/how-to’s if you guys are interested.

Well… that’s about it for now.  It’s a lot to contend with and Felix and I are staying very busy.  Hopefully I’ll manage to get out this weekend and take a few photos of my recent makes – but if things go the way they’ve been going – I imagine I’ll be having garden box images to share instead.  :D

March 22

Spring Gardening Plans

I am so excited… I’m embarking on a new adventure – veggie gardening.

Veggie Garden Plans

For the first time ever, I’m now able to start a veggie garden since I now have a usable backyard (more on that later).  I’ve been waiting for this for over a year now…

I wasn’t able to get it started last year in time, so I had to wait a whole year since it just made more sense.  I’m doing a modest start – modest but huge.  heh

Veggie Garden Plans

My mom is moving and she wasn’t able to give me a lot of the herbs and flowers that she generally starts in her basement for the spring – so in addition to starting some vegetable plants inside, I’m also undertaking starting flowers for my yard.  What is a benefit of her move, is that she’s letting me use a bunch of her growing supplies: trays, cells, planter boxes, and even a grow light shelf thingie.

Veggie Garden Plans

This is my first time ever starting any kind of plants from seeds.  And to be completely honest, I’m kind of a black thumb – plants get hardy in my presence since I toughen them up with lack of water. lol  Plants generally do die in my presence, so this is all very new to me.  Complete newbie and having fun!

I’ve ordered the bulk of my vegetables from Baker Creek seed company – all non GMO and organic of course.  Thanks Michelle!  And a lot of the flower seeds come from Park Seed – thank you mom.  :D

Some of these seeds are so small!  I mean it makes sense, I just never really thought about it before.

This is a begonia seed – it comes in the mail in this capsule that you open:

Begonia Seed

The seed is then encased to make it larger:

Begonia Seed

I don’t exactly call that larger – but how small are they really is what I want to know!

I’ve already made my first rookie mistake – I didn’t pack the cells enough with seed starting mix.  In my attempts to keep things nice and loose, I didn’t add enough soil & lightly pack it down.  It’s not kept seedlings from starting (lucky me!) but I will be fixing that for next year.  Like I said – rookie mistake.  But now I know.  I imagine I’ll be making a lot of these types of mistakes – but it’s okay.

Cilantro seeds:

Veggie Garden Plans

I planted the first round of seedlings on Monday, March 14th (top shelf) & the the second round was planted on Thursday the 17th (bottom shelf).  I should have started these a couple weeks ago, but I just wasn’t ready yet.

Grow Light Shelf

And just one week later, look!

Veggie Garden Plans

The long greens is bunny-tail grass and right in front is my oh-so-happy Basil.

Yay – I didn’t kill anything, it’s actually growing!

Okay – it’s really small, but the cell in the upper section is my first little petunia coming through.

Veggie Garden Plans

Another petunia coming through in the middle cell below:

Veggie Garden Plans

Isn’t it so mini?!

As you can see I have quite the collection of plantings.

Veggie Garden Plans

What’s on the docket for Flowers:

  • Phlox (mix of colors)
  • Bunny Tails Grass
  • Begonias (reds mix)
  • Bells of Ireland (which I found out are not Irish but are from Indonesia)
  • Petunias (blue/purple mix)
  • Zinnias (pink)
  • Marigold (white)
  • Dianthus (B&W)
  • Chrysanthemum (golden ball yellow)

What’s on my veggie list:

  • Green Peas
  • Green Beans (bush variety)
  • Yellow Beans (bush variety)
  • Scallions (aka bunching onions)
  • Summer Squash & Zucchini
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Bell Pepper (red or yellow – can’t remember which off hand)
  • Herbs: Parsley, Basil, Cilantro
  • Lettuce: Butter lettuce, Beleah Rose lettuce, a romaine called Little Gem lettuce, and micro spring greens

Its a lot of stuff – but at the same time not exactly a ton of veggies.  I’m hoping that this will be my learning year – well of course it will be.  But I’m hoping to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and how to maximize space.  I’m also hoping to start supplementing my bunnies’ lettuces and herbs from what we get from the grocery store.  I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully feed them from my garden, but supplementing it at the least while eating some yummy greens myself is what I’m aiming for.

Since I’m a researcher by trade, I have a notebook going of all of my planting info for each vegetable/flower and a section for my notes.  It’s going well so far & I continue to find new information to add.  My mom just laughs at me but at the same time I think she’s excited for me that I’m doing this – as she is a mega gardener and is always happy to help me.

Where is all of this going??

Felix (and I will help) are going to make raised Sub-Irrigated Planter beds this coming weekend.

Raised Planter Bed

We settled on this design via the Family Handyman (Click on image for the source)- after extensive searching on my part.  This look and sub-irrigating design will hopefully work very nicely for us.

This is also very new for us – going to the store to build something on our very own without the assistance of Bob, my step-dad.  It will be a good challenge for us but hopefully a do-able challenge.

Yay gardening!  My new adventure is just beginning.

March 15

Warm, Winter Whites

It feels totally silly to post up my winter knits now that the weather is turning to spring here in Chicago.  But here we are, as I try to squeeze in as many of my winter garments from 2015/2016 onto the blog before it’s officially Spring.

Luckily the weather was still a bit chilly when we took these photos, as I still needed my down jacket.

Hat & Gloves Set

My hat is the Purl Knit Turban pattern and my gloves are made using All the Water pattern.

Both of these small projects, I knit during the winter of 2014/15.  Yes you’re reading that correctly.  2014/2015, as in last year; somehow I moved on to other projects before completing these two.

With the hat, I needed to finish that front gather section piece and the gloves were only waiting for me to weave in the ends.  Totally silly…

Sometimes I just drop the ball at the very end and start knitting something else and forget about the earlier projects.

Purl Knit Turban

In any case, I did finally finish these up in early 2016.  It put a little spring in my step to have a knit hat and gloves finished so quickly.  :D

The hat pattern was a pretty quick knit.  Yarn used??  I’m sorry to say have no idea.  I made this so long ago with a remnant of yarn I had in my stash that I don’t even recall it.  I know its a super wash worsted-weight wool, if that’s any help for you.  It feels very squishy soft and has lots of stretch.

Knit Purl Turban

When I make hats, I generally just keep trying them on to figure out how long to make them & figure out my decreases at the crown on the fly (referencing the pattern of course).  I often don’t even keep track of the changes as I generally only make one hat from a given pattern.

The one change I can tell you is that I knit a little band on the front instead of doing the yarn wraps that the pattern called for.  I just think mine is a bit cleaner of a look in this way – personal preference change.

Purl Knit Turban

For the cable-knit gloves, I know I used a Cascade 220, worsted-weight yarn – which was also a stash buster for me.  With my mini hands, I cast on fewer stitches than what was called for on the original Sm/Med sized glove.  I just had to do a bit of refiguring to keep the cable sections centered on the front of the gloves.

All the Water Gloves

All the Water Gloves

I made this hat and glove set in this winter white to match all of my other winter accessories.  I frequently knit a hat in say a bright purple and realize I have nothing else to match with it.  Needless to say, I have many winter accessory orphans in my closet.

In the winter I look like a crazy, color-blind gal wearing a purple hat, green & white scarf with brown gloves.  Not exactly the best look – especially from a maker of things.

All the Water Gloves

So this glove and hat set – while it can be worn together quite easily, I made them to coordinate with all of my other colored pieces. (So I don’t look too crazy…)

Hat & Gloves

Took these photos in front of an obliging fence on walk to Sunday brunch.  As such, I tried to keep these as relaxed and natural, as this is what I generally look like on a Sunday morning.  :D  I do feel like I missed an opportunity for some victory rolls in this knit turban… perhaps next time.

Happy Knitting!

March 10

A Sweater-Knit Wrap Dress

Hello.  I’m back today with a proper wrap dress – as in an actual wrap dress (not a faux wrap dress like my Wren).

I’m smitten with my classic, comfy wrap dress using Vogue 8784.

Wrap Dress

Technically this is a wrap dress for both woven & knit fabrics.  I know right?!  I have yet to make this (or a muslin) in a woven material, but you can bet its high on my spring sewing list.  I just made a muslin last night with a woven material – I was surprised that it fits very similarly to this knit version – I just need to add some wearing ease  at the waist and bust and then I think I’ll be in business.

It was a chilly, yet sunny day so I had to wear my (prescription) sunglasses throughout; hopefully its not too distracting.

Sweater Wrap Dress

I got this fabric from my local fabric store in the remnants section.  I knew I’d use it to make a dress & luckily I found two decent length pieces.  I think this dress costs a whopping $10.  It’s a mystery jersey, sweater knit fabric – probably a rayon-poly blend of some sort.

It’s not a jersey fabric per say – but has little tiny knit stitches on the face of the fabric.  Most would call it a sweater knit, but it really behaves & moves like a jersey.  I’m just trying to be as clear as possible here – as I learn more about knit fabrics myself I’m trying to help everyone else here understand what kind of fabric I’m talking about.  Think about your perfect mid weight, yet semi-drapey cardigan and that’s what this is like.

It has lovely bold flowers of cream, peach and fire-engine red on a charcoal grey background.  While the fabric already seems like its getting a worn look on the charcoal background, this thing doesn’t wrinkle!  I keep it folded on a shelf and every time I pull it out to wear it – zero wrinkles.  It’s amazing!

While I love florals – I am always very careful to avoid having the flower motifs fall on certain parts of my body.  I’ve made this mistake on prior garments – but it really only takes one ill-placed flower to learn your mistake.  I’m always pretty mindful that flowers/large motifs don’t fall on boobs/butts.

Sweater Wrap Dress

Pattern Modifications:

I made my usual alterations, but nothing crazy.  I left the shoulders a bit wider than I normally do on my garments; they’re not dropped shoulders but they do fall off the edge a bit for a more square/modern look.  I’ll just say this is my go-to dress for work now; I pair it with all colors of tights and shoes/boots for the winter.

This dress pattern called for a lining.  Being a sweater knit fabric, I really didn’t want to line this.  Instead I drafted my own neckline binding; one piece for the back neck and 2 pieces for each wrap front.  I made sure to leave the length around 2″-3″ shorter than what I needed as to help pull in the bodice wrap section to prevent gaping.

No Gape

No safety pins needed for this wrap dress!

The binding only goes as far down as the front wrap piece at the waist.  After that I just did a simple fold (twice over to encase the raw edge) and stitch on the skirt edges, utilizing my favorite knit sewing notion (steam a seam, lite), in 1/2″ width.

Hems

I love using steam-a-seam on my knit edges.  It keeps everything quite stable and even (no rolling edges) while I do the final stitching.  I accidentally bought the regular steam a seam (not lite) and I’m fighting my way through it.  The regular stuff is really too heavy for knit fabrics – it seems more for woven quilting purposes.  I used the 1/4″ width on my sleeve hems for a nice narrow finish & a zig zag stitch.

Knit Sweater Dress

I should mention… I’ve never used a dual needle top stitch finish before.  I have the needle, but I’ve found that no one ever really notices my stitching (except for me) and I’m happy living with the zig-zag stitch since it’s really so easy to do.

You can see a tiny bit of the zig-zag hem here too – along with my new, favorite shoes.

Booties

I’ve always loved the vintage snow booties, but they never come in my size.  I was totally stoked to find these calf-hair version in the kids section of Nordstrom’s this past winter.  Love them so much.  :D

Knit Sweater Dress

For this dress, I actually used the sleeves that came with the pattern.  Due to the square shoulders of the dress, the cap of the sleeve was a bit shallower than my Renfrew sleeves and they worked better for this bodice.  The sleeves on this one ended up a bit loose, but it works.  Will modify for next time, no big deal.

Back View:

Knit Sweater Dress

I love this skirt; nice and full & swingy when I walk.  The skirt is catching on my tights a bit; I have since lost my 1/2 slip to prevent the tights/dress cling.  Seriously… its like it walked out of my house, I can’t find it anywhere!  I have no idea where it would have gone…  If you see it around, please send it back home to me.

Knit Sweater Dress

That’s all I have for you guys on this.  An easy, effortless, and classic wrap dress.  I want a closet full of these, as they’re so great to pull on and go.  Hopefully my woven version will be just as effortless to make as this one has been.