Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Leopard Levels are constant.

What a busy weekend!  But not too busy to get Hubby to snap a few photos of one of my latest makes - yet another Archer!  Have I mentioned I like making TNT patterns a million times?  Honestly, I do the same with RTW - if I find something that fits well and that I love, I buy it in all the colors I like.

This Archer is leopard-print - something I've been wanting to have in my closet for a long time.  The more I wear leopard, the more I realize the print goes with so much.  But on Saturday I went old school, with some boyfriend jeans, black ankle-strap flats, and a strand of vintage turquoise beads.

It was a little chilly!

I posted a shot of this shirt on Instagram on Saturday too, and faked some folks out.  I think some of you assumed that this is the leopard fabric I bought a couple weeks ago in New York, and that I made it up lickety-split.  But in fact, I had purchased this piece a few weeks before.  It's a super soft and filmy cotton voile that I ordered from Harts Fabric, sadly no longer available.

Now, technically I shouldn't have been buying any new fabric.  BUT:  last December, when I was making my Leopard Sequins top, I wasn't sure it would work out, so when I saw a piece of the sequin fabric on deep discount, I bought it as a back-up.   Last month, I gifted that piece to Andrea so she could make a similar top, so I figured I was justified in filling the Leopard Void I'd created.  My Leopard Levels remained the same, as did my stash numbers.

I don't think it's overkill to make two leopard-print Archers.  The two fabrics are very different in texture, color and print.  Here's a closer look at this one:

That said, I likely won't make the silk leopard Archer til closer to fall, since that fabric is so much heavier.

And now that my guests have gone, I'm going to set up my sewing space once again.  I have high hopes of getting started on an Emery dress this week!

Friday, May 23, 2014

I've been knitting . . .

Well, my solution to the Drape Top Conundrum of my last post was to put that project aside and work on some familiar, easy projects.  So over the weekend, I made another Archer and a Renfrew - two staples that I've been wanting in my closet.  I'm hoping to get some pictures this weekend for future posts.  Thanks to all who chipped in with advice on the Drape Top.  I'll be re-reading those comments when I'm ready to get back to it!

This week has been spent preparing for some visiting family who will be arriving later today.  Because our guest room has become my sewing catch-all, I had to clean the place up and put everything away so my guests would have some room to spread out.  So that meant no sewing this week.  Instead, I've been focusing on a project that's been a long time coming:  the Relax pullover by Ririko.

this color is pretty true

I first became aware of this pattern through Linda of Kettle Yarn Co.  She made this sweater last summer, just before opening her hand-dyed yarn shop.  I loved hers so much that as soon as her yarn was available, I bought enough to make my own.

The yarn in question is Islington, a fingering-weight blend of 55% wool (BFL) and 45% silk.  Now, I'll be honest - I'm not having the most fun knitting with this.  It's super soft, but because of the high silk content, it doesn't have a lot of spring.  However, the drape and sheen of the finished fabric make it worth the effort.  And just look at that color!  It took me a long time to actually start the sweater once my yarn arrived - I spent ages just gazing at it and petting it.

this washed-out photo shows the very subtle color variation produced by kettle dying

There have been some bumps in the road with this project.  When I first started it last fall, I used the recommended needle and gauge for the pattern - a 3.5mm for 23 stitches to the inch.  But I just didn't love the fabric, and ended up ripping it out.  Then I got the bright idea to work up a similar pattern with the yarn.  It took me until I'd finished 2/3 of the back before I decided I didn't like that one either.  So I ripped it out again and last month decided to give Relax another go.

This time I did several swatches until I landed on a fabric I liked.  For me this was using a 3mm needle for a gauge of 25 stitches to the inch.  The design is extremely oversized - the XS has a finished bust measurement of 55".  With my slightly smaller gauge, I should end up at about 52.5".  So no need to alter the pattern; I'm just following along with the size XS instructions.  The only thing I've changed from my first attempt is to work the whole body in the round.  I'd say I'm about 2/3 of the way to where I need to split for front and back.  Oh, and I miscounted rows on my first eyelet, so mine are spaced at 11 rows apart instead of 10.

The day before yesterday I got to the point where my first ball was almost gone, so I've been alternating with my new hank, one row each, for the last couple inches.

 The edges on this sweater are done in mock rib.  Seems to be "my" stitch this year!

As you can imagine, this one is pretty slow going.  But it's enabled me to watch a lot of TV :-)  The yarn is so gorgeous, it just makes me happy to look at it.   So I'm really in no big rush to finish this up.   If you haven't checked out Linda's shop, go on over and do that - her yarns are stunning, and she puts them all through rigorous testing.  And if you sign up for her email list, you get 10% off your first order!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Trying to get back into the swing . . . and striking out.

Do you guys ever feel like it's hard to get back into the swing of sewing after being away from it for a while?  I definitely get rusty if I don't sew for a couple weeks.

I thought I'd get back into the swing with the Maria Denmark Day-to-Night Drape Top - a pattern touted by everyone who has made it as being a quick, easy sew, and one which has been on my to-do list for well over a year.

I guess I'm the dunce in the class, because I have had nothing but problems since taping and tracing the pattern on Tuesday!

First I couldn't decide on a size: XS is too small, but S is too big.  Then there are the seam allowances, which need to be added - how large is right for me?  I finally decided to trace a size S (graded out to L at the hip, and lengthened to size L) and cut it without seam allowances - theoretically giving me a size when sewn between XS and S.

Yesterday I figured I could certainly knock out the top in the afternoon.  But I got completely waylaid by this, my nemesis:

{clear elastic, a.k.a. the devil}

I could use F.O.E., but I'm not a huge fan of that stuff either, especially on a top that's meant to be a bit dressier.

And then I realized I have no matching thread, so even if I figured out the elastic, I couldn't make the top anyway!

So I spent a good part of the afternoon making samples, trying to get that darned elastic right.  Here are just a few, and I'm not happy with any of them:

Aside from not laying flat (or evenly), they look a bit "home ec" to me . . .

So I got on Pattern Review and found a good suggestion:  serge self-fabric binding to the edges, then turn those back and do a line of edgestitching.

I didn't even get as far as the edgestitching part - this is way too bulky, and still doesn't lay flat!


Have you made this top? 
How did you attach your elastic, if you used it?
If you didn't use it, how did you treat your neck and arm openings?

I'm completely flummoxed!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sweet Home Chicago

Wow, what a trip! 

Before going, I wasn't 100% sure if I would like NYC - I'm a gal who (despite a love of architecture) generally prefers the country.  But I LOVED it!  What a varied and vibrant city!  I will say this though - having experienced Manhattan for a week made me feel like I live in a small town again!  Not a bad feeling to have!

My trip was made all the better by a whole lot of bloggy get-togethers and some very nice fabric acquisitions.  It took me a while to narrow my pictures down, but even so, this is going to be a mega-post.   Let's take things chronologically.  For the sake of brevity, I'm only mentioning the bloggy stuff!

I attended the Workroom Social Pop-Up Party!  I met so many lovely people, some of whom I "knew" and some who were new to me.  You can find a lot of great pictures on Jennifer's blog here.  They even had a table with nail art going on!  Gah!

I wore the Scout Tee I'd made the week before.  I felt sparkly and glamorous, but HOT!  It was hot in the venue, and my tee was very heavy with 2 layers of fabric.  Plus, I'm an old lady ;-)

I finally got to meet Shar!  She and her family drove in to the city from their home about 2 hours away to spend part of the day with me.  What an honor!  Of course, we used the occasion to model our brand-spanking-new Robson coats.  Shar's was SO new it didn't even have buttons on it yet, LOL!  But look how gorgeous it is!  It made me wish I'd also chosen a floral instead of a solid, although I do love mine too.

We got some funny looks from the concierge when we modeled our contrasting bias tape:

I'm also wearing a new, unblogged Hemlock tee that I made literally days before the trip.  I love my cream floral one so much, and always wished I had a similar black one.  So when I found the fabric at JoAnn's, I snapped it up.  And I'm so glad I did.

Shar presented me with a beautiful and generous gift of fabric:  two and a half yards of this amazing stretch sateen she'd ordered from Mood!

I keep going back and forth between making a floral blazer, or a dress.  Or another coat?  Gah!  Can't decide!  In the meanwhile, I just keep stroking it:

Evelyn was able to take a day off and we spent the entire day together, chatting away while she showed me her city.  We started out walking the length of the High Line park - so lovely:

Had a fantastic lunch, and then worked our way back north and into Central Park.  It was a gorgeous day - we really lucked out!

Tuesday & Wednesday:
Hubby was between meetings, so we explored the city together.  I took a LOT of pictures, but I'll spare you :-)

A rainy day, but brightened because I spent it with Sonja!   This lady knows the Garment District, so she took me around to some of her favorite shops.  We started out at Mood.  I was completely unprepared for how huge and overwhelming this place is!  I came with some ideas of what I wanted, but couldn't find what I had in mind.  So I "settled" for this beautiful piece of silk twill, which will likely become an Archer:

After that, I had the presence of mind to ask her if any of the shops carry Liberty, so she took me off to B & J.   This was my favorite of the fabric stores I visited, and not just because they sell Liberty!  It was smaller, quieter, and less of a sensory overload because everything is nicely organized.

I was astounded at the wide selection of Liberty they had in stock.  This is just a small part of the bolts:

The fabrics are cut from these bolts, but they have a very nice system of hanging samples which make it a lot easier to look through all the different prints.

I ended up with two cuts of Tana Lawn, each enough for a shirt:

At the party on Saturday, I met Carolyn and we chatted for a while.  We ended up connecting later in the week and decided to have a lunch date on Friday.   It was so nice to talk to her one on one, in a quieter venue!

On my way there, I stopped by B & J again - I just couldn't get a particular fabric out of my mind.  So I ended up buying this as well:

This is also Liberty; it's listed as "textured cotton print."  You can't really see the texture from the right side, but you can from the wrong side:

I really see this as a dress - an Emery if my muslin works out - so I bought 3 yards of it.

Hubby had a fair number of meetings in the evenings, so I took advantage of my alone time and knit up a pair of socks with the yarn I bought last month in Toronto!  You can't tell, because my camera can't handle it, but the colors are NEON!  Such a cool yarn.

So that was my week!  I had such a great trip, and as I said, it was made all the better by getting to hang out in real life with so many of my bloggy friends.  Isn't the internet swell?  These are all people I never would have met otherwise, but I'm so thankful they're in my life!

Friday, May 2, 2014

A not-so-little something.

A few months ago, just before my birthday, I came across this tutorial for an awesome zip bag made from printed fabric.  I HAD to have one, so I ordered a fat quarter of the fabric from Spoonflower as a birthday gift to myself.  I haven't had much energy or time for sewing this week, but I did manage to cut this project out on Wednesday, and sew it together yesterday.

I did a few things differently on my bag from the tutorial.  I had my fabric printed onto organic cotton sateen, which has a lovely sheen but is quite thin.  To give my bag a bit more heft, I used fusible fleece on the outer rather than regular interfacing.  The added weight also helped because I used my leftover orange lining fabric for the inside.

I used a nylon zipper because the colors are more fun and I hate metal zippers on bags - they always ding up my nails!  After I finished the bag I felt like it needed a little some thing more, so I popped on one of my tassel keyrings.

At 9" x 14", this bag is quite a bit bigger than the ones I usually make.  I think I like it though, although obviously I haven't had a chance to carry it around yet.  Doesn't it just say "Summer?!"

Because of the way the fabric was printed, the palm trees on the front are a bit taller than those on the back.

The corners on the bag are boxed:

I have a pretty sizable piece of that matte black sequin fabric left.  I'm thinking it will make a great bag, using this pattern.   But for that I probably will have to cut the sequins out of the seam allowances, so it will be a project for another time.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I finally made a Scout Tee

And it's fabulous!


This may be the only Scout out there made of sequins.  As Miss Lulu told me on Instagram:  "When you arrive late to the party, you need to make a fabulous entrance!"

This is the last piece of fabric from my Sequin Fabric Buying Binge of 2013.  I got it from JoAnn's in their Black Friday sale for $12 a yard.  It looks like it's still available too, although not at that price.

Although this was my first time using the Scout pattern, I wasn't too concerned with fitting, as this is basically a stable knit fabric.  The shoulders looked good, so I gave myself a 1/4" broad back adjustment, graded from a 2 at the bust to a 4 at the hip, and then did the "full back alteration" for the full look I wanted with this top.  I think if I do this in a woven in the future, I will have to give myself more room in the hip for the unaltered version.


I had quite enough of cutting sequins out of seam allowances back in 2013, so I decided to fully line this one.  The lining is attached at the neck and sleeve seams, and open at the hem.  I'm so glad I did this - it makes a huge difference in how comfortable this top is to wear.

I sewed the whole thing on my sewing machine using a narrow zigzag stitch.  Because I didn't cut away any sequins, I did end up breaking 3 needles in the making of this top :-(  Still - a fabulous, vintage-looking sequin top for $20 + 3 needles!  A bargain!  (The lining cost me $8 - almost as much as the outer!)

I left the bottom of the lining unhemmed:

I was looking through my jewelry and found this old necklace from Anthropologie that I think looks just great with this:

I'm really happy with how this one came out - it's exactly what I had in mind.  I do believe this will be coming to NYC with me, so I'm going to try to remember to take modeled pictures in situ :-)