Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chevron Maxi

It's been about a week and a half since I made this skirt - I actually made it on the same day I got my coverstitch machine - but I just wore it for the first time on Friday to go have coffee with Alicia.

I'd been thinking I'd skip the whole chevron trend, but when Girl Charlee stocked a larger format chevron than what they'd had previously, I just couldn't resist.  I used the tutorial over at Mad Mim to draft a maxi to my measurements, and I think the sizing worked out really well.  She has two versions, an A-line maxi and a gathered maxi; I did the A-line.

front and back

You do have to read through the entire tutorial to get all the information; the suggested yardage was listed in the comments rather in the tutorial and for me it was insufficient.  I had bought 2 yards of this fabric because you can only buy in full yard increments from Girl Charlee.  The tutorial suggested 1.5 yards of 55" wide fabric for the A-line skirt.  Even with 2 yards of this 58" fabric, I had to cut these out opposite from each other, i.e. the wide (hem) ends of the skirt were in opposite cormers of the piece, which was laid out single layer.  With this fabric it worked out OK, but with a directional print, I'd think you'd need a good half yard more, if not a yard.

Still, I'm happy with the outcome.  I like how swishy it is.  The knit maxi dresses I've made are more columnar than this skirt, so it feels a little more flouncy.  The tutorial recommends adding 8 - 10 inches to your quarter hip measurement to get the hem width.  I wasn't really sure how wide I wanted my hem to be, so I added the 8" and I think it's just right.

trying to show the A-line-ness

I ordered the fabric specifically to try out this "pattern" and was a tiny bit disappointed when it came in the mail because it felt a little thin.  But after the prewash it felt somewhat heftier so I decided to try it out.  It's probably a bit thinner than is ideal, but of course I'm wearing a slip underneath so I don't think it really matters.

As I mentioned, I wore it out to have coffee with my friend Alicia and one of the first things I did was to spill coffee on it!  Also, the skirt seemed to grow in length as the morning wore on.  When I got home I put it in the washer and dryer - next time I wear it I'll see if it shrunk or if I need to redo the hem.

And speaking of the hem - I got everything ready to the point of hemming on the day my coverstitch machine was to be delivered.  So once I had it out of the box and had tested it on some scraps I was able to finish off the bottom!

The machine I got is the Brother 2340CV.  My serger is a Brother 1034D, and this coverstitch machine is set up in a very similar way, so it was easy to figure out.  I've used it on 4 projects already and while it's a little early to give a comprehensive review, I'm really liking it so far. 

One thing that surprised me is that there's no tying off or knotting.  The manual recommends ending your stitching by overlapping with the beginning of the hem (or whatever you're working on) by an inch and a half.  That is going to take some practice!

I picked out the really wonky part!

Oh, and there's a Hubby-ism with this story.  When I put on the skirt, he said, "I like it.  But why didn't you do pattern-matching at the side seams?"  Part of me was proud that he even knew that that's a thing, but another part of me felt like Grrrrr!  Funny Hubby!

non-matched side seams

I can tell you though, I've seen a few variations of this skirt online, and my pattern matching is better than those!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Some new pages.

Over the last couple weeks, I've added two new pages up there under the header.

One is a list with links - in order - to all the posts and supplemental information from the Miette Knitalong last year.  Believe it or not, over a year later, I'm still getting questions about this pattern!  I thought it would be easier for everyone to access the information if I grouped it all together in a neat and tidy way.  Sorry it took me so long!

I also created a "Craftsy Class List of Shame" in the hopes of encouraging myself to make better use of all those classes I enrolled in.  I'll let you know if/when that works.  It hasn't yet, LOL!  I tend to be great at starting, but not as great at finishing!

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Knotting Trick

I made you guys a little video the other day while I was sewing :-)

This is a trick I use any time I want to get an overhand knot right up tight against something else, like a bead or fabric.  I use it all the time when tying off darts.

Is this something that's helpful, or have you guys already been doing it this way?  If not, how do you do it?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

My New Kim

The day after I finished my Cameo sweater, I started a new sweater - another Kim Hargreaves design, of course!  This time it's Shimmer, from her book Misty.

This is a pattern I've knit before - it's one of my favorite sweaters.  Here are a couple pictures of my old one, from three years ago:

As you can see, it's got my favorite things:  deep raglans, 3/4 length sleeves and a slouchy shape.

I decided a couple years ago that I needed a second one, preferably in blue, so when Jannette's Rare Yarns had a deal going on bags of Calmer last fall, I picked up a bag in Calm.  It's a pale greyish blue rather than a clear blue, and one of those colors that changes with the light.

a rare unblocked photo!

When I knit anything, I always make myself a shorthand instruction sheet, and I keep these in case I decide to knit the item again, as I often do.  This time I decided not to do a gauge swatch but just to follow my old notes.  Interestingly, when compared to my original sweater the lace pattern on this one is much more open - and yet the measurements are on track!  It's possible that I used a metal needle last time rather than a bamboo, but I doubt it since I very rarely use metal needles.  I think it may have more to do with the way different colors of dye affect the loft of the yarn.

Honestly, I'm not as crazy about this fabric as the one on the original, but I'm going ahead with it anyway.

The stitch pattern is mindless and a little tedious - lots of double yarnovers which are later accounted for by P2togs.  So, slow going.  That's OK though - lately I'm not feeling a drive to finish things quickly.  I'm just kind of enjoying the ride.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fundies, with a PSA

A few months ago, I made a pair of undies from some leftover t-shirt material:

from last year's orange Renfrew

I was pretty excited, because although these weren't the first undies I'd made, they were the first successful pair.  I used Cloth Habit's Rosy Ladyshorts pattern - the same one everyone uses but I linked it up for you anyway.

After I wore them once, I told my friend Andrea that I didn't think I'd be using the pattern any more, lovely and clear as it is.  I felt it didn't give me enough bum coverage, because I've been used to wearing full on boyshorts for probably 20 years.  But I loved the colors of these, so I wore them a few times more and they kind of grew on me.  And even though they feel to me like they ride up, they really don't - they stay put.  So I dug out a bunch more leftovers and cut out 5 more pairs.

And then they sat on one of the tables in the "sewing room" (it's really the guest room but even Hubby has taken to calling it the sewing room, since my sewing stuff has pretty much taken over).  Because the truth is, I don't really enjoy sewing undies.  But I like wasting fabric even less.

Having them sitting there as UFOs started to bum me out, so on Sunday I got busy sewing them up.  And I learned some things.

First off:  when you start getting skipped stitches and your zig zags stop zigging and zagging, it's time to consider using a stretch needle.  Now, I've been sewing long enough that I know the first line of defense against wonky stitches is a new needle - or the appropriate needle.  Do I take my own advice?  Rarely:

But I probably should.

Secondly:  if you're going to off-road it and try to construct an unfamiliar garment without looking at the instructions, you should probably check the alignment of your pieces after pinning and before sewing.  And especially before serging - because let's be honest:  who picks out a serged seam?  Not me:

An inside-out lining, giving me a serged seam right in my nether area.

And here's your PSA:

Poor Pattern Placement:  not just for chests any more:

This actually really cracks me up.

If you've made these, you may notice that I stitched down the front of the lining too, with a zig zag stitch.  On the first couple pairs, I couldn't get the leg elastic sewn on without keeping the lining from getting folded over, so I innovated that little trick.

Well, I got all the kinks worked out on the first two pairs.  Yes, it took me two pairs.  But now I have five fun new undies.  Or, Fundies, if you will:

from "ikat" mission maxi

from floral stripe dress

from raining dots kimono dress

from "Hawaiian" mission maxi*

from pucci swirls dress.  muahahahaha

My camera just couldn't get the color right on the Hawaiian pair without the flash, even though it was a sunny afternoon.  Here's the real color:

 And I think I'm done sewing undies for the time being.

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Jammies

Well, I'm a day late and a jammie top short, but here they are:

No, I will not be modeling these!  The slinky fabric of the bottoms is just way too revealing, and the old tee shirt I found to go with them is too tight to fit a bra under!  Which actually makes it good for sleeping - my old jammie top was so loose that it would twist around my torso in the night and I found myself constantly readjusting it.

Why the old tee shirt?  Well, I totally messed up the top and just didn't have the gumption to fix it or redo it.  The whole project just gave me trouble all the way through.  At first I was disappointed, but once I put this old top with the bottoms, I really liked how they went together.  And since one of my goals was to use up old stuff to make these, this top fit in.

Things were going pretty well with these pants until I got to the waistband.  The first problem I had  was that my buttonholer didn't want to work on this very sheer burnout knit, even though I fused two layers of tricot interfacing to the inside.  The first buttonhole went OK, but I ended up having to finish off the second one by hand.  It doesn't really show though when the bow is tied.

And then my machine just didn't want to sew the two lines of narrow zig zag I needed to create the elastic casings.  I had to pick them out three times!  But then, Hubby came to the rescue with an awesome anniversary present:

Gah!!  My very own coverstitch machine!  I'd been over at my friend Alicia's earlier last week and we played around with hers.  When I got home I told Hubby I wanted one too, and he bought it for me the very next day!  I told you he's a keeper!

I used the chain stitch to sew those casing lines - easy peasy and perfect first time:



For the center casing,  instead of elastic I used some old twill tape I had laying around that happened to match exactly with the tee shirt.  I'm pretty proud of how neat the ends are - I used that fusible web to fold back and secure twice before stitching.  That stuff has changed my life!!

Everything else was constructed on the serger, as I am wont to do:

And as in my original jammies, I finished the hem with a three-thread overlock (don't I sound all technical?!):

Normally I would think this is a cheater's finish and would go for a hem, but here I sort of like it.  It gives a little bit of contrast to that vast expanse of lavender and has a very casual feel.

I wore the new jammies last night for the first time, and they're quite comfortable.  I'm glad I finally found a use for this fabric.  I still have a little bit left and I'm thinking about making a simple tank out of it to go with these bottoms, but for now I'm happy to wear the old tee shirt.  I'm also happy that I made these almost entirely from stuff I already had.  The only thing I had to buy was the elastic!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Va bene! Va molto bene!!

I know I've mentioned a few times that I planned to purchase Elizabeth Hartman's Perfect Zip Bags pattern.  Well, I finally got to it a week or so ago, and this week I set about reading through the pattern and making myself one of the bags.

What a revelation!  If you have any interest in making zippered bags, I highly recommend this pattern.  Elizabeth goes about the construction in a way I hadn't seen anywhere else, and I think the results are just incredible.  The tutorial includes instructions for three different styles of bag, with a couple sizes for each.  Two of the bags are boxy, so dimensions are given for cutting the fabric.  The other bag has a pattern in two sizes. 

I decided to make the smaller size of the darted clutch.  The pattern is a half pattern with instructions to cut on the fold, but I chose to trace off a full pattern piece because I'm hoping that I can use this pattern with leather in the future.

You really don't need much fabric at all for this little bag.  I used scraps from the Dear Stella Va Bene collection that I've used for a few other projects:  Italy Map in White, Vespas in White, Va Bene Stripe in Red and Tuscany in Taupe. 

I followed Elizabeth's instructions to the letter, except for one thing.  She recommends a sew-in interfacing, but I used the stiff collar interfacing I'd used previously on Hubby's shirts.  I wanted to see if it would give the fabric a canvas-like quality, and it almost did.  But it also made it much harder for me to get my bag turned out nicely.  What you see above has been heavily ironed after completion, and it's still a little lumpy because of that interfacing.

I really love the covered zipper ends - this wasn't the first time I've tried them, but it was the first time I've been successful with them!

I tried to get a good picture of the lining and pocket, but I wasn't able to get the bag open enough while keeping my hand out of the way!  I fussy-cut my pocket so I'd have trees and some pots of flowers on it.

Although I'm happy with the bag, I do wish it were a little bigger.  I have such a hard time judging the finished size of anything from the pattern pieces!  Next time I'll use the larger pattern for making this bag.  Still, it fits my phone, and I could also put in some pocket tissues, a lip balm and my ID and bus card - that's all I really need!

I tied a ribbon into the zipper pull to make it easier to grab, but I feel like it's a little "too much" so I'll probably remove that.  Aside from the interfacing, the only thing I'll probably do differently next time is to shorten the loop that attaches the bag to the D-ring that holds the strap - just a personal style preference.

Have any of you used this pattern and tutorial?  Are you tempted?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

White :: Turquoise :: Coral

Here's the last outfit with my new Hazel dress, as mentioned in my last post:

Yes, I finished my Cameo sweater yesterday!  Gosh, it felt like it took forever to knit this, but according to my Ravelry page, it only took about 5 weeks.   Considering that I was using big yarn and big needles compared to what I'm used to, that seems slow.  But I wasn't able to work on this sweater for very long at any one time - the stiffness of the yarn was really hard on my hands and elbows.  Still, I love how this yarn wears - I wore one of my old sweaters knit from the same yarn every single day in San Francisco.  When I got home, I tossed it in the washer and dryer (delicate cycle on both) and it was good as new!

This is another fantastic pattern from Kim Hargreaves.  Aside from the sore hands and elbows thing, I really enjoyed working on this, and it was mostly knitting I didn't have to think about too much, so plenty of Netflix was watched during the making  of this garment.  I think the shape is amazing:  the wide sleeves are the same length as the body up to the armhole and slightly wider than the back piece, giving it a wonderful cape-like look when worn:

Here's how it looks spread out, to give an idea of the shape:

So boxy!  I love it!

I steam blocked my pieces like I always do, and then sewed the whole thing together using mattress stitch.  You can't even see the joins - it's my favorite way of joining pieces.

Here's a look from the back:

I am such a sucker for a deep raglan!  And by the way - white is very, VERY hard to photograph I discovered, so I'm sorry for the amateurish quality of these photos.  But you get the idea:  new sweater!

I'm also wearing a vintage necklace and bracelet, both plastic, both purchased a year or two ago on Etsy.  The bracelet is large on me, as you can see in the first photo, but I love it anyway.  And I've got Mac's Vegas Volt on my lips - my new favorite lipstick.

I'm thinking of wearing this outfit when we go out for dinner this weekend to celebrate our anniversary!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Hazel Pix, now with more outfits!

I decided to go ahead and grey wall it after all.  We're not going out today as Hubby has lots of work to do and I want to get started on my PJs.  But the sun came out for a little bit so I wanted to take advantage of it!

Speaking of Hubby:  he hadn't seen this dress yet, either on the hanger or on me.  When I put it on today to take pictures, he said, "WOW!  That's a great dress!  I really like the V thing in front.  You did a really professional job!"   Awwwww!!  His contract is up for renewal next week (a.k.a. our anniversary!); I think I'll sign him on for another year, don't you think? 

When I first put the dress on the other day, I was a little disappointed because it seemed like I might have to do a sway-back adjustment - I even lamented about it to a few friends.  (My reluctance to admit I need said adjustment is a topic for another day.)  But today when I put the dress on, it sat in the right place!  I have no idea what the deal is.  Anyway, here's how it looks on my body:

And here are some shots from the side and back to show the fit - pretty darn good if I do say so myself!  Although you can see that my right shoulder and shoulder blade are lower than the left.  Afraid I can't do anything about that!

And here's a closer-up shot of the bodice, again, to give a better look at the fit:

One thing I forgot to mention in my post about the SBA is that I was surprised that doing the adjustment also took care of the poofiness that was happening under the bust in the center of my stomach.  That's a problem I was having on the Peony dress before I gave up on it, so I do plan to revisit that pattern.

Before I move on to the outfits, I want to mention a few more things about the fit, just because these are things I would have loved to read about from other sewers before making the dress - but it seems that more people had to do a FBA on this one than needed the SBA.

Because Colette Patterns are designed for a very different body shape than mine, I have a hard time figuring out what size to make.  I also find that the size numbers are less in line with what I'm used to:  for instance, in Sewaholic Patterns I use a size 6, and in RTW I often need a size 4 or 6 on top.   For this pattern, my bust measurement falls under size 0, but I just couldn't bring myself to believe that was the right size for me.  I did my first muslin in a size 4, and it was too big.  Size 2 with the SBA ended up being almost right - I did have to take in a little at the side seams.  So for reference:

My measurements are:  33" bust, 28" waist, 40" low hip (my widest point)
Size 2 Colette body measurements:  34" bust, 26" waist, 37" hip
Hazel size 2 finished measurements:  35.25" bust, 26.5" waist, 42.25" hem

The skirt is straight; my hip measurement puts me in a size 10 on the envelope.  I wanted my skirt to be slightly full but not too much, so I cut a size 8 skirt with a finished hem of 45.25", giving me about 4.5" of positive ease in the low hip/high thigh.

I have not taken any measurements of my finished dress (though perhaps I ought to), but you can see that I have a nice, close fit at the bust without being constricted and the waist is not too tight - I even have some wiggle room there.  I could easily eat a nice big meal in this dress and still feel comfortable.

Also of note is the fact that I made this dress specifically to fit my most padded bra, which I've always thought takes my B-cup up to a C and which adds about an inch in circumference. 

And finally:  I really think the drawing on the envelope is misleading.  It makes the bodice look much longer in comparison to the skirt than it actually is - I say this after having looked at gazillions of finished Hazels on Flickr.  So this would be one of those patterns that you'd have to say, "No, it did not look like the envelope picture" if you were doing a Pattern Review.

OK, enough analyzing.  Now some outfits!

While I was working on the dress, I kept thinking how well it would go with my beloved Miette sweater, so I'll show you that one first.  I paired it with two different pairs of shoes:

Hazel with Miette sweater and old Boden sandals.

I like that look a lot, but here's the same thing with yellow sandals:

Hazel with Miette sweater and Frye Wanda T-Straps in Lemon.

Then I remembered I had an old Boden sweater and matching sandals that have both turquoise and yellow, in addition to purple and brown:

Hazel with Boden sweater and sandals.  And CHEVRONS!

I think I bought that sweater around 2005 or so - I remember wearing this while I was substitute teaching for a colleague who was on maternity leave.  Who knew I was so far ahead of my time?!

And finally - this surprised me by being my favorite look.  Although since I've always loved turquoise and red together, I shouldn't have been so surprised:

Hazel with Boden sweater and Frye Wanda Ankle Straps in Poppy.

Yeah, I love my Fryes!  I'm cracking myself up in that picture because I was thinking of Rachel's recent fantastic post with modeling tips, but realizing that I only have two poses:  one hand on the hip, or both hands at my sides!  Seriously, no matter what I was doing, as soon as the beeper for the camera timer starts to go off, the hand goes to the hip!  So I tried a different pose for fun:

So, after making these outfits, I'm loving the dress more.  I'm thinking of one more outfit which will involve a lovely vintage necklace and bracelet and my finished Cameo sweater - I'm so close to being done!