Persephone Pants + Wiksten Kimono = Love

9.04.2018

Well, this summer has turned out to be much more eventful than expected (and not in all the best ways) so it's been a while since I've posted anything.  This summer has also reminded me, however, that creative pursuits are often the best therapeutic outlet in rough times.  When my dad was hospitalized for two weeks several years ago I knit constantly on a pair of socks and I'm 99% sure that those socks were solely responsible for the maintenance of my sanity.
In any case, back to somethings that I've made recently - another pair of Persephone Pants and a Wiksten Kimono.  Now this is not my first pair of Persephone Pants.  Truth be told, this is actually my fourth.  My first were made out of some Bull Denim from Joanns.  The fit was great but the fabric sags a bit after even a small amount of wear and because they're made from black denim, they're fading up a storm.  The second pair was this striped pair which I still looooove.  For the third pair, I went down a size to see if that would fit better.  Spoiler alert - it didn't and those will soon see the donation pile.  For this pair, I went back to a size 8 and made them out of some duck cloth from Big Duck Canvas.  Between the fairly stiff, thick fabric and probably going up a few pounds in the past couple of weeks, these pants are now really tight (and wedgilicious).
I really do think that the thickness of the fabric makes a huge difference because my striped pair is the same size and remains nice and fitted without being overly tight.  I'm planning on making a full length pair next for the upcoming fall and winter and I'll stay at a size 8 but I plan to use a slightly thinner fabric than recommended and hopefully that will keep the pants from trying to ride up in my nether regions.
Now on to the upper half of my body which is apparently garbed in an ever-so-wrinkled Wiksten kimono (I blame the kimono for the wrinkles because I wore it all the previous day too because I love it so much).  For this pattern I hemmed and hawed about which size to make because everyone commented that you should size down in the original pattern but the ease was reduced when it became a printed pattern so I was at a bit of a loss as to which size to make.  In the end I decided to follow the size recommendation on the pattern and I made a size small in the short length.  Now this kimono uses an ungodly amount of fabric, but that's really the only negative thing I can say about this pattern because I love everything else about it.  Truth be told, I've already made 3 (one in the medium length and two in the short length - maybe one day I'll get around to photographing them but don't hold your breathe).  The one thing that I learned in making this jacket a couple times is that I now cut the pocket lining out of the outer fabric too because I couldn't get the lining fabric to be completely invisible on the outside of the jacket and it drove me a bit crazy so now I eliminate this problem by just making the pocket and pocket lining out of the same fabric.  And I also learned how much I love when pattern matching works out.  Look at perfect collar!

And that, my friends, it basically what you'll find me wearing nowadays.  It may get a little more wrinkled because I'm never taking it off.

Mini Emerson Cropped Pants and Shorts

7.17.2018



 Garment basics - it turns out that kids need them too.  And while I love sewing dresses for the girls (and they usually love wearing them), they're not so practical for everyday wear so I was excited to try out the Mini Emerson Crop Pants/Shorts pattern by True Bias.  With summer quickly approaching, O was in need of some shorts and I wanted to sew up the cropped pant version to see if it was a style that interested her.
In fact, while she initially said that she only wanted the shorts version, I made the cropped version first because I think they're just so darn cute and because I had this striped rayon in my stash that I thought would be perfect for a pair of swingy, drapy culotte-esqe pants.  As it turned out, these short little pants are everything I could have dreamed them to be.  I love the look of the striped fabric with this pattern and while I didn't do the greatest job of stripe matching on the waistband, I'm going to cut myself some slack because they still turned out pretty darn cute.  And they must be alright because O ended up loving them and wears them often.  And every time she does I think, "man, I wish those were in my size!"

For the second version, I made the shorts out of a linen-rayon combo leftover from this project.  The fabric ended up being a great choice for these shorts (although, yes, it wrinkles easily but it's kids' clothes so I'm not gonna stress about it) and I'm equally in love with the way they turned out.
O, however, has a wee little complaint with them.  With a somewhat wide leg, apparently it's a little too easy for others to see up her shorts when she sits like her mother sits - with her legs wide open (what can I say - all those times my mom told me to "sit like a lady" fell on deaf ears).  I tried to convince her that it didn't matter because she obviously has the cutest underwear (because they're homemade!) but this is the age where someone seeing your underwear is apparently a huge deal so we'll have to see if it's a deterrent to her wearing the shorts in the future.
Hopefully not, because she sure does look cute in them!


Jessica Dress

7.15.2018


When I first started sewing garments, I almost exclusively made dresses.  Fitted dresses, flared dresses, woven dresses, knit dresses.  I tried them all and had various levels of success.  There was something thrilling about being able to make dresses as a new sewer and while I'm not somebody who naturally loves wearing dresses, I was definitely able to incorporate them into my everyday wardrobe.  Fast forward a decade, and the truth is that I rarely make dresses anymore.  My garment sewing is much more practical nowadays and filled with lots of basics.  And while I was able to wear dresses intermittently to work in the past, that's not something that I can do in my current role making them much less useful in my everyday life.  Which brings us to the fact that I haven't sewn a dress for me in long, long time (I think this Alder dress was the last dress that I made - hello, 2015).  But in scrolling through Instagram I randomly saw a version of the Jessica Dress by MimiG and my interest was piqued.  And as I did more digging, saw other versions, and found that it was a free pattern, my interest was cemented and it moved to the top of the queue.
I hit up Drygood Designs to look for some fabric and bought the last of this gorgeous blue jacquard.  Originally I was imaging a more drapey fabric for this dress (like a linen/rayon blend) but then I fell in love with this fabric.  When I brought it home, though, I had some definite hesitations about using it for this dress.  It has a more body than I would have liked in a fabric and I worried about how that would look in a gathered skirt.  Plus, I worried that the princess seams in the bodice wouldn't work well with the simplistic pattern on the fabric.  I suppose someone smarter or more patient than me could have done some amazing pattern matching to match things up on the princess seams, but while I have many life skills, pattern matching is not one of them.  In the end, despite my hesitations I decided to move forward with my initial plan.
Now this is where I mention that in making this dress, the person who almost never makes a muslin (me!) actually made a muslin of the bodice.  I ended up cutting out a straight size small but after making up the muslin I took out some width near the top of the bodice and added a wee bit of width around the waist.  I also ended up making the pockets smaller because those pockets are freaking huge!

The actual sewing went together pretty easily.  It relies on some individual customization so there's no suggestions as to how long to make the straps, where to place the buttonholes, and it has no pocket marking for the skirt.  Those things really are best made to your individual body or choices, but I imagine that for a beginner the lack of even a suggestion could be a bit frustrating.  I ended up using 1/2" buttons and placing them every 1.75-2 inches (I can't remember exactly).  I do know that I ended up placing 5 buttons on the bodice alone and 13 buttons all together (I didn't add them all the way down the skirt - this way I have a bit of a "slit" in the front).
Now here's the great and not-so-great thing about making your own garment - since finishing it, I can't help looking down at the bodice and wondering if I should have fit it more around the bust or elongated the straps.  It seems a little baggy around the bop of the bodice, but I also have a bad habit of overfitting things, ultimately making them not the most comfortable garments to wear.  Ben swears that it's not noticeable and it's probably just me being way overly critical in a way that I would never be about a store brought garment.  So today I'll endeavor to remember one of my favorite sayings - don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Mini Colfax Dress

5.26.2018


 With Me Made May quickly coming to a close, this is typically the time that people start to talk about the gaps they've found in their handmade wardrobe.  Not so over here, however, because the fact of the matter is that I have plenty - plenty of handmade clothes, plenty of store bought clothes, plenty of everything I really need.  So yes, I can think about all the things I'd still like to make for myself (because truth be told, there are many things on that list) but lately I've been thinking of all the things I'd like to make for my kids.
Back when I started this blog, that's mostly who I sewed for and I loved seeing my kids in handmade clothes.  Sending them out into the world in a handmade item was like sending them out in the world with a tangible reminder of my love for them.  But over the past couple of years, as I increased the number of things I made for myself, I greatly reduced the number of things that I made for them.  The truth is that between back-to-school shopping and being the lucky recipients of many hand-me-downs from kind relatives and friends, they're not hard up for clothes either, but I miss sewing for them and seeing how excited they are to have a new item of clothing.
And with that in mind I set out looking for a new pattern to make a dress for O.  I quickly settled on the True Bias Mini Colfax dress which just so happens to be incredibly cute.  Now I know that Kelli has said in the past that she likely won't release more kids patterns because they don't sell as well, but to that I say "noooooooo!" because her kids patterns are fantastic.

In trying to work my way through stash fabrics, I settled on this rayon which was a gift from my mother-in-law when she traveled to Indonesia.  I think it was originally meant to be a sari but sari's don't get a whole lot of use around here, so I figured that repurposing the fabric was the way to go.  With all the gold on the fabric, O of course loved it and the rayon makes for a nice, light summer dress.  
Given O's string bean status I cut out a size 7 in width and a size 8 in length (she just turned 9).  It fits her perfectly right now, but honestly I wish it were a tad bit longer to ensure that it fits her all summer.  No worries, though, because there's a younger sister waiting in the wings to steal all of O's clothes.

And now on a totally unrelated note, I present to you the one thing O and I have in common - the ability to make ridiculous faces.  I love this little stinker.

A Sandal Making Extravaganza and Some Tips On Where To Purchase Supplies

5.01.2018

About a month ago I found myself lucky worm my way into a slot in a Rachel Sees Snails sandal making class that was held in Seattle.  The class was a whirlwind hands-on experience in sandal making.  I loved the process and the fact that it doesn't require too many specialized tools to get started (having to make a huge up-front investment is always such a deterrent to diving into a new craft).  Having absolutely no experience in leather crafts, I spent the next week googling some of the basic supplies and trying to locate places to find some of the more specific ones.  Most basic leather working supplies can actually be bought on-line - either through Amazon or specialized leather stores like Tandy Leather Craft.  I headed up to MacPherson's Leather in Seattle to purchase the actual leather but in the end I ended up only buying leather for the soling there. I didn't buy any leather for the uppers because all the leather is sold in fairly large pieces - which come with a fairly large price tags - and I knew that I wouldn't want to make every pair of sandals out of the same leather.  Where's the fun in that?  I also found out that they don't sell rubber soling there unless you have a corporate account, so that required me to do some additional googling to find that product.

Etsy, of course, was a huge help and I ended up getting my rubbing soling from this store and the leather for my uppers from here.  The leather store is a bit of a pain because the leather is not organized by weight and the vast majority of the leather they sell is too thin for sandal making, so it was a slog to go through all the options to try to find the correct weight. In the end, though, it was worth the effort because I was able to buy several 12x12 pieces leather that allowed me to make a couple different pairs of sandals.
The first pair I made was for my littlest kiddo.  She had a some definite ideas in what she wanted - in particular, a diagonal strap across her foot.  Unfortunately, having such a little foot, there were some limitations as to how diagonal that diagonal strap could be but she seems to really like the way they turned out.  This is the kid that rejects about 99% of the things that I make for her, but in this case she put the sandals on right away and headed out of the house in them.  It warmed my little heart.
The second pair I made was for O and this one gave me a little more trouble.  I feel like the fit is not great and honestly, fitting sandals with kids is a bit of a pain in the butt because they are not the most patient of creatures.  She also seems a little less than enthusiastic about how these turned out but I'll give her a little more time because it's basically been raining non-stop since I finished the sandals.
And the third pair were for my most appreciative recipient - me!  I love this blue leather and knew that I wanted to make a strappy, slip-on pair of sandals with it.  Despite loving all sorts of cute sandals, I knew that they also had to be comfortable or they would just sit in my closet, unworn.  Fortunately, with all the straps, it allowed for lots of opportunity for fitting and the straps provide a lot of support around the foot (I can't wear basic flip flops because it hurts my toes too much).  To say that I love the process of sandal making would probably be a bit of an understatement but I'm beginning to realize - exactly how many sandals does someone who lives in the rainy capital of the United States need?

Now, as a disclaimer I should probably note that these sandals are not as "done" as they should be.  Technically they need a little sanding around the outside so that my imperfect cutting is not so noticeable.  Word on the street is that a Dremmel is a great tool for smoothing out the edges but with buying all the new supplies, I figured that I would be responsible with the budget and wait on purchasing yet another thing.  Being a responsible adult can be such a drag sometimes.

Persephone Pants

4.22.2018

 I don't even know where to start this post.

Do I start by talking about the hesitation I feel almost every time I consider trying out a new pants pattern because I often don't feel up to the task of dealing with fitting issues?

Or do I start by talking about how smitten I was with the Persephone Pants Pattern from the moment I first saw it?

Or do I start by talking about how pants sewing has totally stolen my heart over the past year and made getting dressed in the morning a much more enjoyable task?

Or do I just start by telling you how much I love these pants?
Yeah, I'll just start there because I do freaking love these pants.  And while I was (and am) smitten by this pattern and I did hem and haw for several days before making it because I felt exhausted by the idea of dealing with various fit issues, I am so glad that I took the plunge because these pants ended up being everything I could have hoped for.  And don't tell anybody, but I really didn't end up doing any fitting adjustments because fortunately the pattern is made for ladies with big old ten inch differences between their waist and hips and I fit perfectly into the size 8 recommendation (29" waist, 39" hip).  Really the only modification I made was to hem them a 1/2 an inch higher (I'm 5'6" for reference).

As for the actual sewing, this pattern was super-fun to make.  I realize not having an outer side seam can make fitting a bit more difficult but I loved having one less seam to sew and it really makes for a great pattern for patterned or striped fabric since you don't have that side seam to break up the visual interest.  As for using striped fabric, I should have been a little (or a lot) smarter about stripe matching but I ended up with a pretty good match on the front and a slightly less good match on the bum.  You win some, you lose some.

I did manage to match the stripes in the pockets to the pants since you can sometimes see them ever-so-slightly and I went with a bias cut on the waistband and belt loops to add a little visual interest (and to avoid pattern matching hell).
The fabric is an Italian cotton bottom weight that I bought back in November at Esther's Fabrics on Bainbridge Island.  I originally planned to make some Lander Pants with it, but now I'm thinking that I like that pattern in a fabric with a wee bit of a stretch to it.  While this fabric is a bottom weight it's definitely lighter weight than recommended for the Persephone Pants (recommended weight is 10 oz and up), but it seems to still work well with the pattern.
The turtleneck is made from the Itch to Stitch Hepburn pattern and a Pickering knit that I bought from Fancy Tiger Crafts back in 2017.  I know I've mentioned it before, but I love the Pickering Knits and while buying knits on-line can be a bit of a crap shoot, I've always been happy with every one I've gotten from them.  And as for the turtleneck pattern, this is actually the first Itch to Stitch pattern that I made.  It's a fairly simple pattern given that it's a knit turtleneck but it seems well drafted and I love having patterns for basics like this one.
And if I can throw in one last me-made item in this post that may never end - my sandals!  I took a sandal making class with the lovely Rachel Sees Snails, hosted at Drygoods Design, a couple weeks ago and these sandals were the fruits of my labor at the class.  I've been bitten by the sandal-making bug and have made a couple more pairs since that time and if I can get my butt in gear, I hope to write up a post about material sourcing sometime soon.
Alright, my friends, that's a wrap.

Making A Short Sleeved Dress In April Is A Sign of Eternal Optimism

4.15.2018

The stash busting continues - although not so much with scraps this time as I had several yards of this Art Gallery knit left over from making the kids some Alex and Anna Pajamas 2 years ago.  It's a cotton lycra blend that is incredibly comfortable and works great with the Joey Dress.  How do I know this, you ask?  Well, because I made my first Joey Dress with an Art Gallery knit 3 years ago. Ohh, look how cute O was back then (although she's still pretty cute)!
I love that the dress comes with a couple different options and this time around I opted for 3/4 length sleeves, although truth be told, they're more elbow length than 3/4 length.  I also chose the size based on O's measurements which means that I chose a size 2 sizes smaller than would be recommended based on her age and I just added some length to the bodice and skirt.
Having made this pattern before, I can't say that there were any surprises this time around except for discovering that my serger was in dire need of servicing.  I thought it was just a tension issue at first but it soon became apparent that something was seriously wrong and the serging on the inside of this dress is atrocious.  But given that most people don't go around looking at the inside of other people's clothing, we'll just keep that secret between the two of us, okay?

Turning Scraps Into a Mini Ogden Cami

3.16.2018


Now don't get me wrong, I love new fabric and patterns as much as the next person, but sometimes it feels like the act of purchasing new goods overshadows the actual creative process and that's when I find it helpful to take a break from the buying and engage in some stash busting.  Fortunately, I have two little ones to sew for which makes finding uses for leftover fabrics much easier.  While my favorite pattern for stash busting through knits will forever be the That Darn Kat undies pattern, the Mini Ogden Cami is quickly becoming my favorite pattern for stash busting through wovens.  The women's version can often be made with a yard of fabric with some creative placing and the kid's version requires even less (my favorite other pattern for stash busting wovens - the Purl Soho City Gym shorts!).
 This fabric is actually  leftover from making some some Origami Pillows from Sewing Happiness.  I now realize that I probably should have taken some photos of the pillows, but you'll just have to take my word for it that they're lovely and really fun to make.  I had about 3/4 of a yard left over and thought that cotton-linen blend would work great for an Ogden Cami (we'll just ignore the fact that it's still 40 degrees F outside).
While I wish I were a minimalist who could fully embrace the natural beauty of this fabric and the clean lines of the Ogden, I have to admit that I love little extra touches and I added some to this top with some decorative stitching on the straps and some contrast stitching along the hemline.  Nothing earth shattering, but it's nice to add your own personal touches to makes, right?
Now it's back to digging through the stash for other odds and ends to try to make something out of.

Things I've Made and Never Blogged About

3.10.2018

We shall call this post "Things I've Made and Never Blogged About" because I actually finished this sweater sometime around November.  I was in full knitting mode at that time, buoyed by the fact that knitting during my downtime is a far more productive use of time than just playing around on Instagram.  Fortunately, I'm not opposed to knitting a beloved pattern over and over (and over) again so knitting this sweater ended up being just the right mix of mindless and interesting.  On a side note, this is a completely different mindset than I had when I first started knitting.  At that time I had a list a mile long of things I wanted to make and I couldn't understand why anybody would limit themselves by making the same pattern multiple times.  Apparently, that sentiment no longer exists because this would be the fourth (1, 2, 3Bloomsbury Sweater that I've made and the truth is that I'd make it again in a heartbeat.
The yarn is Manos de Uruguay, which just so happens to be the same yarn that I used for my pink version.  I love the slight varigation of the kettle dye and it's so incredibly soft and warm.  It's also held up fairly well with wear, which isn't always the case with such soft single ply yarns.
O remains a tiny little thing so I picked the size according to her chest measurement (size 6) and just added a bunch of length to the arms and body.  The ease of doing this is why I will forever love top-down sweaters.  I was worried that I went a little overboard in the body length because I'm always afraid that she's going to grow out of things too quickly, but fortunately it seems to be a Goldilocks length - not too short, not too long.  In fact, some might say that it's just right.

Also, on a totally unrelated note - I love this little kid.

Sometimes The Sequel Isn't As Good As The Original

2.17.2018

So, as it happens, not all knitting projects turn out to be raging success stories.  In fact, some turn out to be sad disappointments.  Like this sweater.  I had high hopes for my second Tegna.  Mostly, those hopes had a lot to do with fixing some of the issues that I had in making my first Tegna - namely fixing the neckline that came out far wider than anticipated.  Instead of fixing the problem, however, it seems to be even worse in this one.  I realize that it looks okay from the front, but the view from the back shows just how ridiculously large it is (Bonus - it gives people a nice view of my big back mole which fortunately you can't see in these pics!).  And there's a good chance that this sweater could go into some 1980's off the shoulder territory with just a bit of movement.
There are few things as disappointing in knitting than finishing a sweater that took weeks to make only to realize that the size is totally off.  Especially since I was a good little knitter and even made a gauge swatch to make sure that the sizing was right.
On the upside, the yarn, Madeline Tosh Light, was lovely to work with and I love the bright green color - even if I am slightly camouflaged amongst the trees.  Also, the lace bottom is as lovely as ever, so at least there's that.  Fortunately, while resiliency may be more of a struggle in other parts of my life, I'm a resilient little knitter and already have my next project on the needles.  You can't keep a good woman down, right?