9.09.2014

Peek-a-Boo Patterns Classic Sweatshirt

This is hands-down the most successful item I've sewn in a long while. How am I judging success? I'm judging it by the fact that I can't get my daughter to stop wearing this sweatshirt long enough to put it in the wash. She sleeps in the darned thing, lol.

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It's just the thing to wear when hanging out in the slightly cool fall weather.

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Or when trying to go incognito...

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I had to make one pattern alteration: the neck opening was too snug to get over the head easily. There is a note about this possibility in the instructions, but not a clear explanation of how to go about making the alteration. I just winged it. Essentially, I made a mark 1/2" lower than the center front of the neckline on my pattern and used a curved ruler to connect the new spot to the top edge of the front piece.  This, of course, made the hood's overlap slightly less, but I even think that's an improvement.

As with all of the Peek-a-Boo patterns I've purchased, the instructions are clear and each step is illustrated with a photo. The instructions didn't suggest this, but after examining my son's Gap hoodies, I decided to reinforce the shoulder seams with clear elastic. I also did some extra top stitching above the hem and the cuffs to control the seam allowance. I found this kind of top-stitching in a few store-bought sweatshirts I examined.

Speaking of top-stitching, I used a faux serger stitch on my Bernina to top-stitch the edge of the pockets and really like how it turned out.

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It nicely bound the edge on the interior. While I have a serger, I sometimes find the regular sewing machine easier to control when accuracy is needed. 


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Can I show off a little bit? Look! I matched the patterns!

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My one disappointment with this hoodie is the fabric. I bought the sweatshirt fleece from Girl Charlee. While other fleeces from the shop have been fantastic, this one pilled after its first trip through the wash. I don't expect it to look great for long. 

I had to search high and low for ribbing fabric that looked ok with the main fabric. It's hard to find!! I found some at a local shop--they carried more of it than many of the online shops I visited.

9.01.2014

Blog Hop

Recently my friend Sarah from Prairie Girl Knits asked to join in a Blog Hop. She and I met through the Outfit Along this summer, which was a lot of fun! You can read Sarah's Blog Hop Post here. Please take some time to visit her blog to see some of her marvelous creations. She has four boys who keep her on her toes, but somehow she manages to sew, knit and cook up a storm.
For this blog hop, we've each been given the same four questions. So here I go with mine! :)
1) What am I working on?
I usually sew and knit for myself, but have inexplicably become obsessed with the idea of making clothes for my kids. It didn't used to be a fun thing to do, since they are incredibly picky and have their own ideas about fashion. My skills have improved enough that I pass their picky screening most times and I'm enlisting them in choosing patterns and fabric, so they are actually excited about what I'm making for them, instead of feeling like they HAVE to placate me by wearing the garments once for photos and then stuffing them in the back of their closets to never be seen again.

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Currently on the sewing table are Peek-a-Boo Pattern hoodies for both of my children. I found some really lovely sweatshirt fleece at Girl Charee. My son's hoodie will be a brilliant red--it's one of his favorite colors. I picked out a royal blue fabric with heart-shaped peace signs for my daughter. She thinks they look like pretzels, but is ok  with the fabric regardless, lol.

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I've also been trying out jeans patterns for my daughter. The first one I tried was Peek-a-Boo Patterns Skinny Jeans. I should have known just by looking at the pattern pieces that it wasn't going to work for us, because the front is ridiculously low and there's no zipper in the fly. Ugh.

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I just traced off the Twiggy Jeans from Ottobre 6/2007 and the pattern looks far more promising. I also found some nice stretch twill in pink and aqua, which is thicker than the material I was using above. I'm confident the next pair will turn out much better.
I always have several knitting projects on the needles. Right now, I'm most focused on is a cowl by Joji Locatelli called To Infinity and Beyond. I'm using a sparkly blue fingering weight yarn I picked up at Stitches West this spring. I usually try to keep the ball band so I can tell people what brand the yarn is, but it seems to have gone missing. Still, whenever I pull out the project in public, it gets lots of comments. People, including me, are magpie and love sparkly things, lol.

To Infinity and Beyond Cowl

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I'm not a designer, so I really don't attempt to distinguish my work from others. However, I would say that I do try to infuse my personality into items by picking colors I like (usually deeply saturated jewel tones) and by focusing on little details like topstitching. I'm also incredibly picky (guess I know where the kids get that quality) and will rip and redo something until it's right.
3) Why do I create what I do?
Often times, my creations are sparked by a perceived need. For instance, I can't find jeans in stores that fit me the way I want them to, so I sew them.
Sometimes, I just like the way something looks and want to make it. I don't really need another scarf or cowl, but I like the way Joji Locatelli's To Infinity and Beyond cowl looks, so found some pretty yarn and started knitting away.
Sometimes, I feel the need to DO something and pick up something suitable. I take small knitting projects with me on trips, to the doctor's office and when I'd otherwise poke my eyes out from the boredom of sitting around doing nothing.
Sometimes, I get involved with creating things with and for my kids. My daughter loves beading, so I get out all the jewelry supplies and work on a necklace or earrings while she's making giant parakeets and penguins out of pony beads.

Finally, almost all of my projects are blessed with a little bit of cat hair.

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4) How does my creative process work?
I don't always work the same way from start to finish. I'm occasionally inspired by something I see on the internet or while commuting back and forth from work. Most often, I find some material or yarn or ingredient that speaks to me and I spend a lot of time thinking about how it could best be put to use.
Passing the baton...
My very talented friend, Erin of http://hipchickknits.blogspot.com will be posting her answers to these questions on September 8. Please do visit her site to read all about her incredible projects and creative process. If you would also like to participate, please let me know!

8.01.2014

Outfit Along - Finished!

I didn't know if it was going to pull off finishing the Outfit Along until about 8:00 last night. I'm so glad I pushed myself to finish on time, because I got to join the parade of beautiful and creative outfits over at the Untangling Knots forum on Ravelry. It's exciting and inspiring!

Unfortunately, my photographic efforts left a lot to be desired this time around. I was struggling with exhaustion (brutal soccer game last night) and challenging lighting conditions. Here are the two pieces I made for the OAL:

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The sweater pattern is Marion by Andi Sutterland and the dress is Simplicity 1803. The dress qualifies for the Summer Stash Bust Along, since I used some cotton that had been languishing in my closet for a year or two now. I loved the colors and the large roses, but couldn't figure out what to do with it since it was transparent and prone to wrinkling. It dawned on me that lining it with cotton batiste might help and it did just that. The dress is nicely opaque, and while it does wrinkle a bit during wear, it's nowhere near as bad as it would have been without the batiste.

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7.24.2014

Lady Skater Dress

I had hemmed and hawed about purchasing this pattern for a long time, concerned that it might look too juvenile on me. I have a love-hate relationship with little girl styles like Mary Jane shoes and Peter Pan collars. I'm always attracted to them, until I put them on and feel silly.

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 I think my concern was misplaced. This style isn't necessarily juvenile. It's a great basic style and can be transformed by the type of fabric you use. If I had chosen something that was pink and covered in cartoon puppies, then yes, it would have looked too young for me. The dark abstract print I chose counteracted any juvenile associations I might have with the style--making this a dress I LOVE! In fact, I'm going to whip up a couple more of these. I love the fit and it's a sleek and flattering style for me. 

 I bought this fabric about a year ago from Gorgeous Fabrics. I still love the print and the colors. I was, however, very disappointed in how it did in the wash. It now has a slight halo and has pilled a bit :( Oh well! It's better stitch up as a slightly shabby dress than as a pristine piece of flat cloth. Always look on the bright side, right?

7.02.2014

FO: Central Park Hoodie

I have no reservations about this project. I LOVE it. It turned out exactly as I had hoped. I expect I'll be wearing it a lot come fall.

Drum roll please...

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The Central Park Hoodie!


Heather Lodinsky's very popular pattern was originally published in the 2006 Knitscene, but you can now purchase a pdf pattern from Interweave for under $4. It's a bargain! I used the lovely and sadly discontinued Kathmandu Aran by Jane Ellison. It is a wonderfully soft tweed yarn that makes a great squishy fabric and nice puffy cables. The only problem with it is it "worms" a bit like chenille, so you have to boss it around a bit. Well worth the effort!

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6.27.2014

FO: Cattails Cardigan

Hello world! I have had family visiting so have been too busy to update this blog as I planned. I have a lot to share with you, including changes in my plans for the Outfit Along, a tutorial on side seam pockets, a few finished items and wardrobe sewing plans.

I'll start with the project I finished first: the Cattails Cardigan.

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A long time ago, in a small yarn shop not-so-far away, I bought a few balls of Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool. I love the rustic, lightweight nature of the yarn. I once knit a Leaf Lace Shawl with it and really enjoyed the fabric it created. I did not, however, purchase enough of the yarn to do something interesting with it, so it rusticated in one of my stash bins. Then, one fine day, I was perusing Ravelry and noticed a new pattern by Melissa Schaschwary for a striped, open front cardigan knit out of Silky Wool. It was the answer to my dilemma. All I had to do was buy a few more balls of Silky Wool in a contrasting color and I would be in business.

I am delighted with how this cardigan turned out. The fit is just right. The fabric has great drape and an interesting texture. The stitch pattern for the hem and front bands is subtle, but really pleasing.


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There's only one problem. The colors of my yarn are more subdued than everything else in my wardrobe and I'm struggling to find things to pair it with. I really need a t-shirt in a good color to wear under it. II will NOT wear it out in public with the beige top pictured above. That color makes me look ghastly and/or like I'm nude under the sweater.  The layering top issue must be worked out stat.

6.10.2014

Fabric & Yarn Decision for Outfit Along

There are so many wonderful options for dress and sweater patterns a person could choose for the Outfit Along, but sometimes, variety can be overwhelming. I'm taking the easy way out and will be using the suggested patterns for both the dress and the sweater.

As I've mentioned previously, the dress is Simplicity 1803, a pretty fit-and-flare dress with several neckline and sleeve options.

I will be making the bodice with the notch front. I'm wavering between the cap sleeves and the short sleeves. The cap sleeves might be the better choice since I'm planning on wearing a sweater over it and longer sleeves may add too much bulk. However, I love sleeves on dresses. They are few and far between in RTW, so I'm sorely tempted to put real sleeves on this dress.

I picked a pretty floral cotton from my stash. It's a little bit on the sheer side, so I'll be underlining the dress with cotton batiste.

For the sweater, I'll be knitting Andi Satterlund's new design, Myrna. it looks REALLY cute on her. My figure, however, is a bit different from hers, so I'm not sure how such a snug and cropped design will look on me.

It's a great design for trying out a new silhouette, since since it uses a worsted weight yarn and won't require an extraodinary amount of time to knit up. I could easily lengthen it, if I feel uncomfortable with the cropped length. However, I'm looking forward to trying out a new style for me.

dress2 003My favorite details is the little keyhole in the back. It's a nice surprise, which echoes the eyelets around the neckline.

I chose a pretty magenta yarn (Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran). I think it coordinates nicely with my fabric and 95% of the items in my closet. It's one of my favorite colors.




6.09.2014

Part II - Princess Seam Bust Adjustments

In between soccer games, and TV marathons, I squeezed in some sewing time this weekend and made some progress on my Simplicity 1803 dress. I sewed up a muslin of the bodice after making the alterations I described in my previous post. I'm REALLY glad I took the trouble. You see, I generally sew a size 10 for bodices in Simplicity patterns. For this pattern, the measurements were off by one size. What's usually a 10 is a size 12. Once I had that figured out, it was smooth sailing!

My muslin showed that not only did I need extra width at the bust line, I'd need to lower the bust point of the pattern about one inch.  I've used a couple of different techniques to accomplish this in the past, but here's what I did this time around:
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  1. I drew a line straight across the side front piece starting at the bottom of the arm hole and keeping it perpenidcular to the grain line. (red line)
  2. I then drew a second line parallel to the first and as far down from it as I wanted to lower the bust point. (green line)
  3. Next, I cut off a portion of the curve as shown by the blue line in the diagram above.sidefront02
  4. I moved this piece down until the red line on it matched up with the green line on the larger piece. 
  5. I taped it in place, making the front curve as smooth as possible. This did involve a little bit of scrunching of the pattern paper...not much, but a little.
It worked like a charm! I now have a bodice pattern that fits me just right.


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Unfortunately, my mannequin doesn't fill out the bodice quite like I do, but I'm not about to model this skimpy semi-transparent piece for you. You'll just have to take my word on it!

6.06.2014

Tutorial: Full Bust Adjustment on Princess-Seamed Bodice

Hi everyone! I'm really excited about a new sew/knit along I'm participating in called the "Outfit Along."  The goal is to knit one piece and to sew one piece that can be worn together. It's hosted by Andi of Untangling Knots and Lladybird. You can sew and knit whatever you wish, or you can use the suggested patterns. I'll talk about the sweater I plan on knitting later. 
Today, I'm going to talk about the dress, Simplicity 1803. It's a pretty fit-and-flare design. The bodice has flattering princess seams and several neckline variations.

Lladybird already wrote up some great advice about picking out appropriate fabric and some basics on choosing the right size. I wanted to expand on her advice a little. She notes that the Big 4 pattern companies typically build a lot of extra ease into their patterns and suggests looking at the flat pattern measurements rather than the numbers on the pattern envelope to get a better idea of how the garment might fit. That's very smart.

The amount of ease you find comfortable is a matter of personal preference. Lladybird says she prefers her garments to be very close fitting. I know I prefer a little breathing room in my clothes.

One of the best ways to figure out how much ease you like in a dress, is to put on a dress which you feel fits you well and then pull all the fabric fullness to one side and pinch it. If you can take a 1” deep pinch of fabric, then you like 2” of ease, etc. According to Fit for Real People (one of my favorite fitting books), a tailored-fit dress typically has 3-5” of ease at the bust and 2-3” at the waist/hips. A figure-hugging dress would have 0-almost 3” of ease at the bust.

  EASY enough, right? (pun intended)

Where it gets tricky for some of us is the bust area. The Big 4 Pattern companies typically design for a woman who wears a B cup. If your bust is smaller or larger than that, you may need to do a bust adjustment. I can't speak to the small bust adjustment, but I do know a little about altering patterns for a larger bust.

1. First, choose your size based on your upper bust measurement, not your full bust.

2. Next, trace out all of the bodice pieces for that size. For this pattern, you should have the side bodice, the front bodice, the back bodice and the front and back bodice facings.

3.  Start by altering the side bodice piece.

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4. Measure 1" down from the armhole and draw a line across the bodice perpendicular to the grain line. Mark this line 5/8" from the side to indicate where the seam line will be, then cut across the red line from the front center to that dot. Next, clip in the seam allowance on the side, leaving a hinge at the dot.

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5. Put a piece of scrap paper under your side bodice piece and then pivot the top part of the bodice up 1/2" for every cup size larger than B. I pivoted up 1" for a D cup.Glue or tape these pieces in place.

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6. Draw a smooth curve at the opening and then trim away the excess.

7. Now you have to alter the bodice front so that where the two pieces join is equal in length.

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8. Draw a line perpendicular to the grain line in the corresponding spot (same distance from the bottom of the front piece as where the cut was made across the side bodice).

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9.  Cut along the red line.Glue/tape this piece onto a scrap piece of paper and extend the grain line upwards.

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10. Draw a line perpendicular to the extended grainline the same distance from the top of this piece as the amount you opened up the side bodice. In this case, I drew my line one inch above the piece.

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11. Glue the top part of the bodice piece onto the scrap paper aligning it with the grain line and the line you just drew.

12. Draw a smooth curve along the side and trim away any excess paper.

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There you have it!  I hope that helps. Feel free to ask questions and I'll do my best to answer.

This method is described in Sandra Betzina's excellent book, Fast Fit. If you plan on doing a lot of sewing, I recommend picking up a copy of it!

6.04.2014

It was a Piece o' Cake!

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I'm really pleased with how my Tiramisu dress by Cake Patterns turned out! It's not too snug and it's not too loose. It's just right.

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It swings when I walk and twirls like a dream. It's going to be wonderful for the warmer days ahead!

It's hard to see the print in the (blurry) photos above, but it's a French-looking print of birds and cages.

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I like it. Kitty would like it better if the birds were real ;)

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Deer & Doe Plantain T-shirt

I'm going to cut to the chase. I LOVE this top. The fit is great for me. The subtle feminine shaping makes me feel less schlumpy than mo...