11.13.2016

One Row At A Time


With school starting up again, life is just as crazy as it ever was and I don't think I've touched my sewing machine since the end of September.  Which is fine except that I signed up to have some family pictures taken later this month and sometime between now and then I need to whip up a new dress for O.  When exactly I'll have time for that, I have no idea, so I'm not crossing out the possibility of a last-minute trip to the store to buy a dress.  There's no shame in knowing the limits on your sanity.


In any case, despite a hectic schedule for the past month and a half, I did manage to squeeze out another sweater for O.  Don't be too impressed because the gauge is pretty big on this sweater (I think around 4.5 sts/inch and I knit it on size 10.5 needles) so it actually knit up really fast.  The only part that was a little slow-going was the first part of the bodice because the increases were different than a regular top-down sweater and I was worried the whole time that I was doing it wrong.  Once I got a couple inches down, though, I could see the pattern clearly and was more comfortable jamming along in the knitting.


The pattern is the Bloomsbury Kids pattern by Svetlana Volkova (I liked her Maya pattern so much, that I went with another one of her patterns!).  The yarn is Amherst, a merino wool yarn made by Webs, and it seems to be a great yarn - not too scratchy, not too expensive.  The color options are a bit limited (especially compared to something like Cascade 220), but it was easy enough to find a color that both of us could agree on.


Knitting has definitely wormed its way back into my heart, with its portability and the fact that it can be done one row at a time.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that that's the perfect motto for my life right now - one row at a time.

10.10.2016

My Stop Along the Berlin Coat Blog Tour

If you've been reading this blog for any period of time, you know that I have a special place in my heart for Straight Grain patterns.  Up until this point in time though, I've only made her dress patterns so I was incredibly excited to try one of her latest patterns - a coat!  It'll come as no surprise then that I immediately said "yes" when she asked me to participate in the Berlin Coat pattern tour.  


Now, one of the great things about the Berlin Coat pattern is that it comes with several design options but I knew that there were two things that were essential for any coat that I was going to make - a hood and pockets.  The first is a tribute to the never-ending fall rain in the Pacific Northwest and the second is just because you never know when you're going to need to shove something in a pocket. Because of this I chose to make the option with a simple front with patch pockets and a hood.


I should point out that there is some definite prep work in putting this pattern together.  Because of the options that I chose I had to print out the entire PDF and trace and cut all the pattern pieces.  Then once everything is cut out, you have to quilt certain lining pieces in order to incorporate batting into the fabric (although, to be fair I kind of love quilting pattern pieces).  Once the prep work is done, though, the coat comes to together incredibly easily.  The only part that had me scratching my head was the incorporation of the hood facing because I've never sewn a hood with a facing before.  Once I figured it out, though, I was pretty excited about having such a cool design feature on the coat.  The coat definitely has a bunch of extra little touches that I've never used before - like real coat facings.  Look at these beauties!


Oh and as always be sure to pick your sizing based on the measurements of your kiddo and not their age (about once a year I have to re-learn this lesson the hard way).  O is a skinny little kid and actually measures in the size 5 range, but I made a size 6 based on the assumption that she'll eventually grow.


As for the fabric, the outer fabric is chartreuse Linen Mochi by MoMo.  It's definitely heavier than a typical woven cotton but not really winter coat material, making this coat more appropriate for fall or spring.  The lining fabric is a really beautiful cotton lawn from Les Fleurs (City Toile).  It's peach and gold with little scenes from different countries printed all over the fabric and I may just be in love with it.  Both were purchased at DryGoods Design but I don't see either available on their website. right now.  The batting is just quilt batting leftover from the days when I actually used to quilt.  Quilting clothing is absolutely the best way to use up all those random quilt batting pieces and you guys know how I love to use up scraps.


O and I worked together at the fabric store to come to an agreement on fabrics that we both loved.  The buttons, however, were a bit more of a struggle.  I wanted gold buttons to play off of the gold on the lining fabric.  O wanted cheesy little dog buttons all over the fabric.  In the end we came to a compromise - I got my gold buttons on the front and on the sleeves and O got the dog button of her choice for the back vent.


It's diplomacy at work.  And it resulted in one satisfied kiddo.

Now be sure to check out the other fabulous stops on the Berlin Blog tour!

10.02.2016

And Now One For Me


Shortly after finishing O's Maya Sweater I cast on for one in my size and then knit and knit and knit and knit in an attempt to finish it before my school started once again.  Fortunately, I finished it with 2 days to spare and about 2 feet left of the yarn, which was a very big deal because I was using discontinued Jaeger merino yarn that I bought probably 9 years ago and there was no way that I was going to find extra.  I bought a bunch when I found out that it was being discontinued, used a couple skeins to knit up this sweater, and then started another sweater that sat unfinished in a bag for several years.  This meant that in order to make this sweater I had to spend my time unraveling the half-knit sweater, soaking, and re-hanging the used yarn to get the crimp out.  It's entirely possible that my family is sick of me asking them to help rewind balls of yarn.


As for the knitting, after making the kid's version I knew exactly what I was getting into and this one came together incredibly easily.  For the most part I followed the pattern but I think I added another row or two to make the armpits a bit deeper and I based the length of the sweater and sleeves on my own personal preferences rather than what was listed in the pattern.  The sweater definitely grew in length after blocking, but I much prefer a too-long sweater to a too-short sweater so I'm A-okay with the length.


The weather has definitely turned towards fall around here with an obvious nip in the air so I've already worn it several times and I give it two thumbs up when it comes to wearability.  I'm sure it'll be getting a lot of use in the next couple of months as I try to survive a wet and cold winter.


Now, I'm already eyeing my next knitting project.  The only thing I'll have to decide is whether to be a nice mom and make another sweater for my kids or to induldge the selfish knitter that I am deep-down inside.

9.12.2016

A Fall Sweater Made On Summer Vacation


Right after my summer quarter ended we headed out of town for the most wonderful and needed vacation.  Part of it was camping up in the San Juan Islands and part of it was hanging around Tofino over on Vancouver Island.  Both parts were breathtakingly beautiful and fun but I also knew that the trip would involve a fair amount of driving, ferry rides, and hopefully some leisurely mornings and evenings which, of course, meant that I needed a knitting project to keep me busy.

Now, I should probably point out that the last sweater I made was back in 2013 and I really haven't  given much thought to knitting since that time, so I started the whole process by digging through Ravelry patterns to see what piqued my interest.  I knew that I wanted top-down construction and something with some interest, but nothing that would be too difficult.  In the end I settled on the Maya Swater pattern by Svetlana Volkova and I have to say that it was a great choice.  Yes, there was a point that I had to pick back four rows (Grrrr!) but other than that it was smooth knitting.


But even more than the actual knitting, I just love how the sweater came out.  The fit is right on (I added some length in the sleeves and body - really easy to do with a top-down sweater) and the yarn is incredibly soft.  The yarn is a merino/cashmere blend from Knit Picks and I'm really happy with it. We don't have a yarn store near our house and with finals I didn't have time to go find one, so this was a great option and I'm really happy with the product.  O's pretty impressed with it too because as soon as she put it on she exclaimed "it's not even scratchy!"


Also exciting is the fact that the pattern includes adult sizes and about two days after finishing O's sweater, I casted on for one in my size.  If it turns out half as nice as hers, I'll be thrilled.

What can I say - knitting may have found its way back into my heart.

9.08.2016

New School Year...New Undies


Well, it's that time of a year when the kids head back to school and we all show off the handmade outfits that we've made for them for their first day back.  This is also the time of year when I hang my head in shame because I never got around to making a first day of school dress for either of my kids.  In my defense, things have been crazy around here.  Good and fun and lovely and I wouldn't change a thing, but crazy nonetheless.


I did, however, manage to make one back-to-school item - underwear!  No where near as glamorous as a back-to-school dress, but I can guarantee you that they'll get more wear.  O was still wearing the same undies that I made for her over two years ago and they were looking pretty ratty.  And who wants to wear ratty underwear, right?


Even though the underwear were falling apart they still fit her so I sewed up a new bunch of size six undies using the That Darn Kat pattern (again!).  Amazingly, I'm still using some of the fabric I bought for the first time that I made underwear using this pattern.  And I was also able to use some scraps leftover from other knit projects.  In fact, I didn't buy one new piece of fabric to make all these undies.  That is possibly the best part of making children's underwear.  Stash busting at its best!


8.08.2016

A Perfectly Imperfect Bowline Sweater



I'm generally a pretty practical person when it comes to deciding what to sew, but every once in a while I see something that I just know that I need want to make.  That's exactly how I felt when I first saw the Bowline Sweater from Papercut Patterns.  It was such a unique design, but it also seemed to be something that I would actually wear a lot.  After deciding that this pattern was next up in my queue I went on a search for the perfect jersey and ended up finding this one at Drygoods Design (with juuuust enough left on the roll to make this top).


I'd forgotten, however, how much I hate laying out jersey fabric so I ended up having to cut out some pieces more than once since I couldn't get the grain right.  Then, once I sewed up 90% of the shirt, I had a minor freak out moment thinking that I had totally screwed up the grainline when I saw that half of the stripes on the front of the shirt were running diagonal  Fortunately, I was able to look at other folk's finished products to see that this is because of the design and not because of my utter impatience when laying out jersey.


I was actually pretty pleased with how everything came together...until the very last step of sewing down the front pleat.  For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what they were telling me to do and I'm 99 percent sure that I ended up doing it wrong, but I like to tell myself that it's such an abstract top that it doesn't matter all that much.

It's perfectly imperfect.

8.01.2016

A Whole Lotta Fabric Around My Bottom Half



We've had some beautiful weather around here lately which means that it was time to put away the long pants and break out something a little more warm-weather appropriate.  Unformately, this summer I discovered that most of my lighter and shorter cropped pants are, well, way too small on me now.  I like to think of it like a little kid who outgrew their summer wardrobe.  Except that I'm not a little kid and I'm pretty sure that I didn't outgrow my clothes through some sort of vertical growth spurt.


In any case, this was the motivation that I needed to go looking for some new patterns that might fill this new hole in my wardrobe.  I loved my Vogue 9075 jumpsuit so much that I thought that some culottes might be a great addition and I ended up deciding on making Vogue 9091 (view B).


The mustard fabric is a linen/rayon blend from Joann Fabrics and, honestly, it feels a bit scratchier than I would prefer, but I'm hoping that it will soften with up time and more washings (I've only washed the fabric once so far).  As for sizing, I cut out a size 14 since that's what I had graded the jumpsuit pattern out to and it seemed to fit well.  I'm always worried about fit when making bottoms though, so I sewed up the world's shoddiest muslin just to make sure that the culottes would fit and that the crotch wasn't too low or too high.  The muslin  turned out fine so I went ahead in making the culottes without making any alterations to the pattern.

The pattern sewed up fairly easily although I struggled moving around so much fabric since linen/rayon fabric tends to be on the heavier side.  I remember having this same issue when sewing up the jumpsuit as well.  On a happier note, I had no problems putting in the zipper this time so that was a pleasant surprise.  It was also a pleasant surprise to finish the waistband and find that the fit was right on.  It was a less pleasant surprise, though, when I put the almost finished product on, stood in front of a mirror, and said to myself, "Wow.  Those are pretty ugly."


It was just so much fabric and the length hit at some weird spot between my ankle and my calf.  In an attempt to salvage them, I cut several inches off of the bottom and that seems to have been a good fix although I'm still getting used to the massive amount of fabric involved in these culottes.  I'm hoping that I can learn to love them because they're incredibly comfortable and the color is pretty fun to wear (and like nothing else that I own).  I haven't totally given up on the idea of culottes, though, because I just bought Kelli's new Emerson cropped pants pattern which is kind of culotte-ish and I'm excited to try a pattern that has a slimmer leg.


On a totally unrelated side note, if there is some weird horizontal wrinkle in front of the dart in these pictures, it's only because I tried to be a good blogger and do a quick ironing job before taking these pictures and I think I accidentally ironed that wrinkle into the fabric.  I guess I could have re-ironed them and then re-taken the photos, but the likelihood of that actually happening was approximately 0.01 percent, so take what you can get, people.

7.25.2016

Shorts On The Line. Shorts On My Kids.


In honor of this week's Shorts On The Line, let's talk about one of my all-favorites shorts patterns - the City Gym Shorts pattern from Purl Soho.


What is there not to love?  It's free.  It comes in both kid's and adult sizes.  It uses the tiniest bit of fabric imaginable.  It's super-wearable and pretty adorable (if I don't say so myself).  The only issue I see with this pattern is that without a modification to lengthen the pattern, it does make a pretty short pair of shorts, which may be an issue for some people (although there is a lengthen line on the pattern so you could easily lengthen it if you wanted).

Because this pattern only requires small amounts of fabric, I love using it as the perfect opportunity to dig through my leftovers and see what I can make with them.  In this case, the main fabric is leftover from this top and the binding fabric is leftover from this dress.  Win-win!


The shorts came together incredibly easily (as they always do) and there is in fact a bonus to them being this short because O is really into wearing shorts under her dresses nowadays, and she often reaches for these ones since they can't be seen under dresses.  It's not exactly what I had in mind when I made these shorts, but I'll just be happy with the fact that she's wearing them.

Which brings me to this other pair of shorts that I made.  Once again, they're made from leftovers (from this dress).  I sewed them up a couple months ago and was so darn pleased with how they came out.  I mean - they're gold shorts!  What kid wouldn't want gold shorts?  As it turns out, C doesn't want gold shorts and she has refused to wear them.  I managed to bribe her to get this one picture taken, but I don't think these shorts will ever get worn by this child again.


She's a stubborn little thing and in those moments when I think that her strong-willed nature will be the death of me, I just repeat under my breath "Future CEO.  Future CEO."

7.17.2016

The One In Which I Take The Advice Of Some Very Wise Women


As I was stuffing dresses into C's closet the other day, I came to the realization that that kid has enough dresses to last her a lifetime and I should really focus more on sewing for O, who has grown out of nearly half of her clothes lately.  I haven't been paying much attention to kid's patterns lately because I've been wholly absorbed with my selfish sewing, but when I saw Rachel's post the other day, I knew that I was going to make a Hummingbird Dress for O.


First though, I just have to say how amazing the sewing community is because without the tips that Erin first passed on to Rachel and Rachel passed on to us, and without the added tips in this post, this dress would not have been as much of a success as it turned out to be.  Thanks to everyone who has ever taken the time to post tips and tricks to make all of our end-products that much better!


So, as for the modifications, I followed the advice of the wise women who went before me and cut out the bodice according to O's chest measurement and then added about two inches to the back bodice piece so that there was a bit more flexibility with the sizing.  I also raised the neckline a bit since several people mentioned that it seemed to hit low on the chest.  Lastly, I followed these instructions for finishing the inside in order to have a dress as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside.


As for the fabric, I picked up some lovely gray Japanese double-gauze the other day at Stiches.  Ben tried to convince me that the fabric was boring and that the kids wouldn't like it, but I had a vision of what I wanted to make and nobody was going to come between me and my vision!  My vision, of course, involved making a gorgeous, flowing summer dress with a lace over-lined bodice and I just so happened to have this lace begging to be made into something since it's been sitting on my shelf for over a year.


Now, I don't want to say "I told you so" or anything, but Ben was definitely wrong when he said that the kids would't be interested in a gray dress because this was C's face when she found out that the dress wasn't for her.


I suppose I'll be making another Hummingbird Dress sometime soon.



7.10.2016

Pants. Yet Another Thing I Told Myself That I Would Never Sew.


So, given that this post is about what I did during my spring break and it's now almost the middle of July, this post may be just a tad bit overdue.  But, I made pants (!) so we're just going to ignore the three month delay and celebrate this accomplishment.  

In any case, want to know what spring break looks like when you're a thirty-something mother of two?  It involved the following very exciting to-do list.

1.  Do taxes.
2.  Stop drinking caffeine.
3.  Learn how to sew a pair of pants.

I know - you're super-jealous of my exciting life.  There is in fact good news, however.

1.  We got a tax refund.
2.  I stopped drinking caffeine and I'm still somewhat functioning.
3.  I sewed a pair of pants!

Part of me can't believe that I've gone this long without sewing a real pair of pants.  The other part of me, however, can believe it because the idea of dealing with fit issues was enough to make me go "oh, forget it!"  But then I bought a pair of high waisted flare jeans at an after Christmas sale, fell in love with them, and knew that I needed to reproduce them.  Lucky for me, the Birkin flare pattern matches up almost perfectly to my beloved jeans.  In fact, being able to match up the measurements between the pants and the Birkin pattern was one of the things that convinced me to take the plunge into pants making.


Okay, on to the actual making.  Before cutting out the pants, I shortened the inseam by 1 inch and I slimmed out of the flare by about 1 inch, which perhaps makes these patterns more of a bootcut now.   In any case, from there I simply followed the instructions which were pretty self-explanatory until it came to the fly insertion which made me scratch me head a bit, although it ended up being just fine in the end (that is - after I sewed the fly shut during my first attempt.  Doh!).  I used a combo of the pattern instructions and the Ginger jeans sewalong for a little extra hand holding during the sewing process and both were really helpful.  I debated whether to add rivets, but in the end I added them since the pants are  fairly tight and can probably use every little bit of added strength in the seams.  I used the instructions from Ginger jeans sewalong and this tutorial to address the issue of the rivets being slightly too long.  Also, I bought my button and rivets from TaylorTailor and they arrived super-fast (way faster than the original place that I ordered from that never actually sent what I ordered).


As for the fabric, I opted for a black cotton twill with 2% spandex.  The fabric is actually a sateen, but I didn't want such a shiny fabric so I used the wrong side as my right side.  The only downside to this is that I'm concerned that lint (and everything else) sticks to this fabric a little too easily.  I suppose it's time to find where my lint roller is.  They also tend to show off every little wrinkle throughout the day (as evidenced by these photos that show off every little wrinkle).


Oh, and I just have to say that these pants were sewn on the simplest of simple sewing machines and it survived to live another day.  Yes, there were some times when I found myself talking to it and saying "You can do it.  I believe in you" but it was all very doable.


And that's about it folks.  I made pants!  Oh, and I also made this shirt which is yet another Archer made from some lovely organic cotton that I bought at Bolt many moons ago.  I was so excited to make it, but a little underwhelmed with the end-product as I thought it came out, well, a little boring.  As it turns out, though, I'm apparently a super-boring person because this is now one of my favorite shirts to wear.  It's funny how things work out sometimes.

Also, that's not our cat.  Much to my kids' chagrin, I'm allergic and we won't be getting a cat, which makes them that much more excited when the neighbor's cat hops our fence and pays us a visit.
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