Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Hubby's birthday present to me is a mini-vacation to a warmer, sunnier local. Hurray!  Of course, one of the big tasks in getting ready to take a trip, no matter how small, is figuring out what knitting to bring along.  My Karanfil cardigan is nearing completion, and thus getting rather unwieldy.  And for me, it's not really suitable for travel anyway - the larger needles and yarn mean I'd have to bring a fair few balls with me.

So today I started the Winnie cardigan from Rowan 51, the new spring magazine. And because I've knit so many sweaters in this yarn, and always get gauge with a 2.75mm needle, I didn't do a swatch - I just dove right in:

Winnie is the only spring project I have on deck that isn't using stash yarn.  This is Rowan Siena, in the aptly named Tamari and palest pink Aurora.  This yarn has replaced my beloved 4 Ply Cotton - it's the same thing, really, just significantly less yardage (at the same price).

My plan is to finish the ribbing before we leave this weekend so that I only have to take one needle and the two balls.  We'll only be gone a few days, and I don't expect to spend a whole lot of time knitting, but it's always better to have it with me than not!

Monday, February 27, 2012

An Enlightening Exercise, and a Grand Plan

Because it was my birthday, I was able to corral Hubby into doing my bidding yesterday and had him help me make a Body Map.  It was a Very Interesting Exercise.

For the last week, I've been spending the majority of my sewing energy reading up on fit, in preparation for a plan I have for the end of March.  Hubby has to go to a meeting for several days, so I decided that I'm going to use that space of time to try to conquer the Peony dress.  It finally occurred to me that knowing how to do various alterations is no help if I don't have a good grip on the alterations needed for my body.  Thus, I've been reading both the book my mom gave me for my birthday, as well as Fit for Real People, which I bought a few months ago.  The other day I got to the part about making a Body map, and decided I wanted to try it out.

The book has step-by-step instructions on how to do it.  You are really just transferring major points on your body to a large piece of paper and then tracing around your body (hence the need for a helper).  It's not very clear because we did it in pencil, but here's my full map:

The only big paper I had was gift wrap!

I have to admit that there was a part of me that thought his exercise was kind of hokey.  And yet, it both confirmed some ideas I had about my body, and pointed out other things of which I wasn't aware.  The gist of the exercise is that you are comparing your body to the ideal proportions of a body - not measurements, but proportions based on height.  The reason why the paper is folded is that the proportions are based on dividing your body in eighths, so you fold your outline in half from your feet to the top of your head, and then fold both those in half again.

So here's what I found out:

1)  my legs are short
2)  my head is small
3)  my shoulders are a tiny bit broad
4)  my hips at their widest point are the same width as my shoulders

1)  My waist is exactly half way between the top of my head the the bottom of my feet - the ideal proportion!  I've always assumed I'm long-waisted because when I knit sweaters, I generally have to add an inch or two in length at the bottom.  (And this opens up a whole other topic that's been on my mind lately:  the difference between getting the right fit with hand knits and getting the right fit with sewn garments.)

2)  My right shoulder is about 3/8" lower than my right shoulder.  Which explains why my right bra strap is constantly falling down!

3)  Although my legs are short for my height (which these ladies said is most common for women under 5'6") my lower legs are long.

4)  My left hip is fuller than my right hip, which explains why I often feel some bagginess in the right hip on pants.  I really thought I was just imagining it!

5)  Because my shoulders and full hip are the same width, I have an hourglass figure (how glamorous!).  Until yesterday, I've always believed I was a triangle.

6)  My left hip is lower than my right (interestingly, by the same amount that my right shoulder is lower than the left).  I'm wondering if this has anything to do with the bursitis I have in my left hip . . . 

7)  Although my shoulders don't slope enough to be considered "sloping," my armpits are slightly higher than the norm, which may explain whey I often feel that the shoulders are too high in garments.

right shoulder

right shoulder 

At least something is where it's supposed to be!

This isn't the whole story, but it does provide me with some initial clues that I'm hoping will help me find the fit I'm looking for in fitted garments like the Peony dress.


Have any of you ever done this exercise?  Did you find it valuable?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eye Candy

The weather is pretty dreary in these parts today, and Hubby just delivered the news that we're expecting 6" of snow overnight.  So I thought I'd pretty things up with some images from the spring Phildar knitting magazines I got last week.

I grabbed all these images from the Phildar website, and I order my magazines from there as well.  I've been ordering directly from France for several years; it used to be a hit-or-miss proposition, but about a year and a half ago, Phildar totally revamped their website, and now the delivery is really swift - I usually have my magazines within the week!

The two new women's magazines for spring are No. 69 and No. 70.  Here are my favorites from No. 69:

This looks so French to me!

You can always count on Phildar for navy and white
(or black and white) for spring!

Crochet on top, knit on bottom!

You can't see it here, but the stripes are textured.

And here are my faves from No. 70.  Actually, now that I think about it, No. 70 also has men's patterns.  Nice ones, too.  But I'm only showing the women's designs today.

Happy stripes!

So sweet, and practical.

Gah!  I love this!

It's entirely possible that I'm drawn to this one just because
it's orange.

Because it's Self Indulgent Birthday Week, I'm spending the afternoon watching movies and knitting.  I've finished the back and one front of my Karanfil cardi, and should be able to finish the second front today.  Here's a pic of the back I snapped a couple days ago:

Do any of you knitters use Phildar patterns?  I've made several, but it's been a couple years since my last one.  Doesn't stop me from buying the magazines though!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Loot! And gratitude!

Thanks again to everyone who left comments and suggestions on my skirt yesterday. I really do appreciate the input!

I spent most of yesterday working on a muslin for the Lisette Market Blouse (the short sleeved one).  After I cut out the fabric, I serged all the way around each piece.  Way fun!  I don't know if that's the approved way to do things, but I think it's pretty darn cool to have all the seams finished before I even start to sew the blouse! And while I had the serger going, I serged the hem of the skirt too.  So now I'll just have to do a little gathering and press it back, then sew it down.  Fingers crossed!

No more fraying!

muslin - I changed all my threads to white

So even though my birthday isn't until Sunday, I've managed to acquire some loot! Last Saturday, I received a package from my mom.  I was going to save it to open on my birthday, but I really needed a pick-me-up on Monday, so I tore in.  Look what she sent me:

Fitting and Pattern Alteration - it looks like this is going to be an invaluable resource.  I was really blown away.  My mom is the best (for a whole lot of reasons)! Thanks,  Mom!

Then yesterday while I was serging away, my mail lady rang my bell.  She had two treats for me.  First up was the giveaway I won last week from Melizza at Pincushion Treats - two goodies!  First off, an adorable pincushion that she made herself:

I love it that she roams around London (one of my favorite cities in the world!) looking for sweet little bits and bobs to make her pincushions.  I feel honored to own this treasure!  And as if this wasn't enough, she also included a belt buckle she picked up at Liberty of London!

I have big plans for this little buckle, which I'll elaborate on another time.  Thanks, Melizza!

The other treat I got in the mail yesterday was a handmade card and some goodies from my lovely friend Andrea at Stitch Parade:

If you read Andrea's blog, then you know she made her own undies after taking a class a few weeks ago.  She sent me some of the very same stretch lace she used!

the loopy black one

and yellow - my favorite color!

So now of course, I'm going to have to try my hand at making undies too!  Thanks again, Andrea - I'm so touched by your gift!

A little later in the afternoon, I was taking the garbage out and I heard the UPS truck.  The rest of my "serger bundle" arrived.  After flipping through the books, I'm glad I got them:

They have lots of tips and creative ideas for using the machine.  Which, by the way, I've decided to name Sergio.  My sewing machine is a Kenmore, and it never had a name before, but now that I've named the serger, I'm going to call the sewing machine Ken.

Ken and Sergio.  I loves them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pouty Face :-(

So, I did finish my Madeleine Skirt (except for the hem) on Sunday.  And it ain't pretty.  Well, actually, it's quite pretty, just not on my body.  And although it embarrasses me to say so, I'm going to admit that I've been in a pouty funk ever since.

Not so bad if I keep my hands in the pockets.

My first thought was to toss it immediately into the Goodwill pile.  But I love this color; I spent some time on Saturday (pre-doom) mentally going through my closet and noting all the many blouses and sweaters I have that will go with it.  And after I had some time to simmer down, I started to think about ways I could fix it.

The main problem is that the fabric doesn't have as much drape as it should.  The pattern calls for medium weight fabric, and the sample is made in denim (although I'm not sure what weight of denim).  My fabric was listed as medium weight on Fabric.com, and I did pre-wash it.  But the enormous pockets are getting in the way of the skirt panels draping the way they want to.  And that's creating some unsightly buckling and making me look a lot heavier than I actually am.

Maybe it's not as visible in these photos - the light has left us again.  When I see the photos, it doesn't look as terrible as I initially thought it was.  But I will say that there's a big difference between how it hangs with a slip and without.  (Better with.)  And I feel like I shouldn't have to wear a slip with a heavy skirt!  (Unless I'm wearing tights, which is a different matter altogether.)

It's also a smidge too big.  Maybe I should have made the size 4.  I went with the size 6, with a waist measurement 1/2 inch larger than mine.  The size 4 is based on a waist measurement 1 inch smaller than mine.  My finished skirt sits just slightly below my natural waist, but it is meant to sit higher.  I could take out at least an inch:

So how to fix it?  Taking off the pockets would probably fix the whole situation, but I don't think that's really an option:  remember all that groovy triple-stitching? Those pockets are on there good.

My second thought was to wash and dry it at warmer temperatures than I usually do, to see if I can shrink and soften it a little.  It's in the dryer now, so I'll know in a while if that works!

If it doesn't, it looks like I'll have to remove the waistband (also triple-stitched all the way around - gah!) and zipper and then take it in at the back seam.

I did have a little trouble with the instructions for the zipper and the waistband; somehow they just didn't make sense to me, so I did them the way I'm used to.  And my waistband also ended up being a couple inches too short - it was supposed to have a much longer underlap for the button.  But there's a good chance that one was due to user error.

Today I'm going to start a new project, which will be a muslin for a blouse on which I'll also try out the serger.  More on that another time!

Meanwhile, any other ideas out there for a fix?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Oh, Brother (1034D) !!

Incredible!  Hubby ordered my serger Saturday afternoon, and it arrived this morning at 10:30 - two days ahead of the estimated arrival!  I had to wait until the afternoon to take pictures though, because my camera had run out of battery.

I know some of you are interested in purchasing a serger, and in this machine specifically, so I've taken lots of pictures to show you what you can expect if you buy this one.

I got the Brother 1034D.  We ordered it from Amazon, and the list price is $199, which includes free shipping - pretty sweet deal, in my opinion.  I actually got the bundle which includes two books on serging, for a total of $220; but now that I've got the serger with its manuals and DVDs, I'm wondering if the books will be overkill.  Because guess what?  It's not that hard!

The machine comes pre-threaded, and all the threads are color coded.  So the first thing I did was take a good look at the paths the threads take.  It's very easy to follow, because the machine itself has pictures and numbers showing the threading paths.



with the cover open, showing the threading paths

Included with the machine you get lots of goodies:  

instruction manual
techniques booklet
instructional DVD
techniques DVD
dust cover

tray to catch fabric trimmings
bag of accessories, shown closer below
(MacBook not included!)

gathering foot
rolled hem foot
hex wrench
lint brush
spool cones
extra needles - normal sewing machine needles!
4 "yarn bras"

It honestly took me longer to watch the DVD (I only watched the instructional one) than it did to unthread and rethread the machine, and I had to do it twice because one of the threads got caught on something the first time.  The instructions on the DVD are very clear,  made up of about ten mini movies ranging from 2 to 15 minutes each.  When I inserted the disk into my computer and opened it, the topics were in random order, so it took me a while to figure out which order to watch them in.   That was another reason it took me a while to watch it!  But the information given is solid.

Once I'd learned about the threading sequence, I took another good look at what was already in the machine:

the knives of doom - not so scary after all!

Then turned it on and tried it out, and immediately broke one of the looper threads! That's a good thing though - it forced me to rethread the machine on my own, and truly, it's no big deal!  It really makes sense.

Then I went upstairs and got some scrap fabric, and did my very first rows of stitching:

baby's first serging

I'm inordinately proud of myself!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Is this anything?

Yes, it is.  It's CND Ivory Coast - three coats of it, in fact.

You can also see the trauma to my index finger cuticle.
That was some mean slaw.

I had a run-in last night with my 8" chef, and the knife won.  I mangled two nails on my left hand, so they all had to get cut down.  Turns out making Alabama Hot Slaw on almost no sleep can be a dangerous undertaking.  When my nails are super short like this, I prefer to wear very sheer polishes like this one.

Because I was so tired yesterday I couldn't think straight, I decided not to work on my skirt; I'm at the stage of installing the zipper.  I was even too tired to do any knitting!

But what I wasn't too tired for was researching sergers.  I spent some time figuring out what I want, and Hubby ordered it for me!  Should be here on Wednesday - happy birthday to ME!

I'm planning on installing the zipper and waistband of the skirt today, but I've decided to wait on the hem until I've got the serger.  Because the fabric is so thick (denim weight) I'd like to serge the edge and then fold it back only once rather than twice.

I'm so excited - I've wanted a serger for many years but always held off because I wasn't sure I would stick with sewing.  But over the last 9 months, there have been so many times I've wished I had one, I decided to just go for it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My skirt so far:

Yesterday I got the fabric cut out, but decided not to start sewing.  I knew that I was almost tired, and that I'd be more likely to make mistakes.  So I spent some time knitting instead.  I'm close to being finished with the back of my new cardigan!

Today I got started on the sewing, in between loads of laundry.  I've gotten about 2/3 done, I'd say.  All that's left is the zipper, waistband, buttonhole and hem.

The pockets on this one are a fair amount of work, and they took me even longer because I decided to use my machine's triple stitch for all the topstitching.  It takes three times as long - but I think I benefited by having to go slower.

I really like the jeans styling on this pattern.  Here's a shot of the side seam; the seam allowance is pressed toward the back and topstitched down.

I used a medium blue chambray for the pocket lining.  The heavier stitching is the topstitching in triple stitch, and the finer one is understitching the seam allowance to the pocket lining.  I have a hard time with understitching.  I'm not sure why it's so hard for me, but this is the best understitching I've ever done, so I'm happy about that.

For those who wonder:  polish is China Glaze Lemon Fizz,
with some Sally Hansen Glass Slipper on top.

One of the things I like about PDF patterns is that I can load the instructions on my iPad rather than print them out.  So another reason I knew it was time to stop for today is that the iPad ran out of juice!

I love the enormous pockets, and I keep thinking about all the things I can keep in there!

Anybody else going to make up this pattern?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Victory is mine!

I finally finished my taxes yesterday, so I'm giving myself a sewing day today!  Yay!

I'm starting the Victory Patterns Madeleine skirt.  I'll be doing this without the suspenders, but with the pockets.  Pockets!  Big ones!  Hurray!

I printed out my pattern on Tuesday, and this morning I trimmed all the pages while watching an old episode of Dragnet on Netflix:  it had three vintage commercials too!  Two for cigarettes (!) and one for Grape Nuts.  Yummy.  (The Grape Nuts, not the cigarettes.)

While that was going on, I washed and dried the red cotton twill I'll be using.  And now I'm putting the pages together:

I'm hoping to get my fabric cut out today, and then I'll have to go to the fabric store for a zipper.  I'm very excited.  I've been wanting a red full skirt for quite some time.  I think this one will have just the right amount of fullness for me - I find circle skirts make me look poufy in my tummy.  Because I am!

And I did stamp my nails yesterday.  They didn't look as great as they did in my mind:

Zoya Cassi
stamped with China Glaze Millennium
and Konad plate m66

And I got significant shrinkage because I used Seche Vite topcoat.  I've found that Zoya polishes can take a coat of Seche Vite on the second day without shrinking, but if I use it on the first day, it's just asking for trouble.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I haven't done many nail posts this year, mostly because it seems that any time I have a mani worth showing, I don't have enough light to take a picture!  But this morning I put on a new color that I love, AND there was sunshine!

Zoya Cassi

Until recently, I was pretty opposed to the color peach (and its sister, apricot).  I think mostly because it always calls to mind a particularly horrific sweater I knit when I was a teenager.  Imagine this:  a sweater in the best early 1980's faux-1880s style, done in peach acrylic sport weight yarn.  The body of the sweater is fan and feather stitch to just above the bust, where it becomes stockinette, transitioning into a high neck with keyhole opening at the back, closing with faux pearl buttons. Now, here's where it really gets bad. Leg-o-mutton sleeves:  fitted stockinette up to the elbow, poufing out in fan and feather and gathered at the shoulder.

I'll pause while you shudder and reach for the mind bleach.

So it's taken over 30 years for me to come back around to this color, but suddenly I can't get enough of it.  The only color I was interested in from the spring Essie collection was the peach.  I went to Walgreen's every day for half a week until they finally put it on the shelf.  And I got this polish when I ordered Zoya's spring collection, to put me in free shipping territory.

I don't think it's the best color on my skin tone, but I do really like it.  It has a subtle silver shimmer that doesn't go away when it dries, like some of the Zoya shimmers. It did take me three coats to get the color and opacity I like, but since I'm procrastinating about starting on my taxes, I didn't mind spending the extra time.

I'm thinking that later I may do some silver stamping over this.  Will report back.