Archive | February, 2013

Completed: Red Cashmerino Cowl, mmm

27 Feb

It’s been a couple weeks since my big knitting fail (which wasn’t a huge fail after all, since I got loads of great advice for future knits, not to mention ~*someone has a new sweater to love forever :) I LOVE WHEN THESE THINGS WORK OUT), and what have I done since then??

Red Cashmerino Cowl
DUH, I KNIT ANOTHER SWEATER.

Red Cashmerino Cowl
Ok ok, confession – I wasn’t expecting this to knit up quite so fast. I mean, holy shit – 2 weeks. That’s all it took. And you can disagree with me all you want, but I am not a super fast knitter, nor do I knit for super long periods of time every day – a little under an hour on my lunch break, and an extra hour on Mondays and occasionally Thursdays when I meet up with other knitters. I don’t knit on weekends, and I rarely knit when I’m lounging on the couch (Landon has this weird hang-up about me knitting while we watch TV – he thinks it means I’m not paying attention. FREAK, you know I still have ears and can listen!!). This was just a really really quick knit. I love it!

Red Cashmerino Cowl
The pattern I used is Francis, Revisited, which is a freebie on Ravelry (yay!). You’ll notice that the original pattern is actually pretty shapeless and loose-fitting – which looks pretty on the model, but I’ve learned that it is not a flattering style on me. I need waist-shaping!
Also, I just realized that my skirt basically blends into the background here, rendering me a strange floating legless lady. Sorry about that.

Red Cashmerino Cowl
Jo has a lovely fitted version of this sweater, which I was DYING over (and, truth, she’s how I discovered the pattern in the first place), so I consulted her on decreasing deets and she was very very encouraging and helpful. I did some maths, cast on for a 33″ bust, and started knitting. Since the sweater is knit in one piece, top-down (my favorite!), it was easy to check the fit by threading a length of yarn through the live stitches and pulling it on. This can definitely get to be a pain in the ass, but I think the end effect is worth it.

Red Cashmerino Cowl
I mean, check out that shaping! Yeah!

Red Cashmerino Cowl
In addition to the waist shaping, I also lengthened the sleeves to full-length – I guess I just don’t see the point in short sleeves on a cashmere sweater (with a cowl neck, no less). That being said, I have a tendency to roll the sleeves up, like, always, so maybe it was a moot point. Also, I wish I had added like two more rows of knitting, because they’re the tiiiiinest bit short. Maybe I can pull that out with another block, idk.

Red Cashmerino Cowl
The yarn I used for this was Debbie Bliss Cashmerino – merino and cashmere, and SO FREAKING SOFT. I picked it up at Haus of Yarn‘s after-Christmas sale (which, sidenote, this yarn store is like 2 miles from my house YES MA’AM INDEED). Actually, another lady grabbed it first and I followed her around, sulking, for about 2 minutes, then she put it back in the bin and I pounced on that shit like a cat on a can of tuna fish. VICTORY. It was half off, too – meaning this sweater cost me about $35 to knit. Yep. Even with cashmere blend yarn.

Red Cashmerino Cowl
Cashmere is such a dreamy way to make yourself feel better after a knitting fail, fyi.

Red Cashmerino Cowl
Crummy color shot, but here you can see the seed stitching at the sleeves and hem. I like this has a nice alternative to ribbing, and it’s very easy to do – just knit 1, purl 1, and stagger each row.

Red Cashmerino Cowl
More specific notes about my adjustments can be found on my Ravelry page (as not to bore the non-knitters here).

I love my finished sweater! It’s so cozy and warm and soft – and RED. Yeah!!

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Completed: The Minoru Jacket, Round 2

25 Feb

Hey, look, I made another Minoru Jacket! And it’s even better the second time around, yeah? :)

Orange Minoru

Ever since I made this my first go-round as a pattern tester, I’ve been dying to revisit this pattern and improve on my finished version. Not that the pattern written as-is needs improvement – it’s pretty wonderful! But there were definitely a few things I wanted to change from my original white version.

Orange Minoru
First and foremost – the size. I don’t know why I did it to begin with, but I definitely cut the wrong size on my first incarnation. It was just toooo big! I cut this one in a straight size 0, with no alterations, and I think the fit is superior.
(As a side note – I know a few of y’all use me as your ~size double~, so I think it’s important to point out that I am not the same size anymore. I don’t know if you can tell from the pictures, but I have lost quite a bit of weight over the last few months and my measurements decreased by a couple of inches. I am now 34-26-35 – just FYI! So with that in mind… the 0 fit me perfectly, and did not need a FBA.)

Orange Minoru
Second necessary change to this pattern – the FABRIC. Oh godddd, the fabric! While I really really loved the idea of white corduroy in theory, the reality was a sad floppy, blindingly white mess on me. While I have seen a few versions that do beautifully with a softer drape to the fabric, I think that in general, this jacket needs a bit of structure. As well as color :)

Orange Minoru
For this jacket, I used a fairly thick cotton twill that I picked up at Vogue while I was in Chicago. I knew I wanted something orange or yellow, for visibility. What I didn’t consider was how difficult it would be to pair up colors with this shade of orange, without looking like I was rooting for some shitty sports team. I’m pretty sure I had buyer’s remorse over this fabric almost the instant I bought it, hence why it sat on my sewing shelf for, oh… six months or so.

Orange Minoru
In the end, it was the lining that saved me. That, and a VERY unlikely fashion inspiration.

Orange Minoru
I will tell you who it is, but you have to promise you won’t make fun of me.

Orange Minoru
Orange Minoru
PROMISE?

andy2
That would be ol’ Andy Bernard from the US version of The Office.
I told you it was weird (and the ~punk rock~ 15 year old in me is weeping right now), but for real – he wears some of the most amazing preppy color combinations! Pink, navy, orange, red, yellow – it’s all sooo good. I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy, but I want my whole wardrobe to mimic his, at least as far as the colors go.

Orange Minoru
Which is exactly why my Minoru turned out awesome. Navy polka dots fix EVERYTHING.

Orange Minoru
And check it out: It matches this sweet silk scarf my mom bought me (now I need to find a way to wear it so it doesn’t look so much like a tie, hmm)

Orange Minoru
Anyway, enough about Andy & Co, back to meeeee

Orange Minoru
I only made a few changes to the pattern – the most noticeable being that I lined the hood. I think the lining is so bright and fun, I wanted it to show when I had the hood out!

Orange Minoru
I omitted the elastic cuffs at the bottom of the sleeves – I found that the original length of the sleeve was long enough without an added cuff. And anyway, I don’t care much for elastic cuffs. As a bonus, I can flip the hem of the sleeves up and show off that fun lining :)

Orange Minoru
Oh, yeah, and I added side seam pockets!
This was EASY: I used the pocket piece from my Tiramisu patttern (you can use whatev, but I love the size of this one – it’s perfect for what I need to carry) and inserted the pockets about 1.5″ below the waist markings, understitched, and then sewed up the sides as normal (no topstitching, though, I didn’t want to sew those pockets closed!). Note – when hemming, make sure you don’t grab those pockets before you topstitch the hem :) Depending on their size, they may hang low enough.

CIMG0051
The final change I made was to add lining to both pieces of the collar – the pattern only has you line the side where the zipper is inserted (for a clean finish all the way around, and yeah it’s pretty brilliant). However, when you open up the zipper and pull out the hood – you can see the “wrong side” of the collar fabric. I just basted another piece of lining on top of that; now you can see the lining when I pull the hood out.

Orange Minoru
Orange Minoru
I love the hood – it makes me feel all fancy.

Orange Minoru
I have NO IDEA what I’m doing in this picture, but I thought it was too hilarious not to share!

Orange Minoru

Orange Minoru

Orange Minoru

Orange Minoru
My only beef with this jacket is that the material is quite thick, which means the collar is all kinds of crazy huge when the hood is stuffed into it. See what I mean? This wouldn’t be nearly an issue with a lighter weight fabric. The collar isn’t even interfaced – the fabric is just, well, ~robust.

Orange Minoru
But, you know… I think it looks pretty good :)

One more secret and then I’ll stop – I couldn’t find 2″ white elastic for the life of me. I ended up having to this stuff:
Orange Minoru
Underwear elastic. So yeah, anytime you see me in this coat… that’s underwear elastic in the back.

One last thing, assuming you’re not experiencing a Lauren Overload right now (sorry sorry!)- I wanted to give a head’s up that I’m participating in Marie’s Watch This Lace group project, and my make just got posted up yesterday! Yeah!

Lace Cinnamon Slip

If you want to read more about it (and see more pictures!), hop on over and take a lurk!

Orange Minoru
Ok, that’ll be all.

Completed: Red Thurlows & McCall’s 4488

22 Feb

I know it’s only February, but try telling that to my spring fever! GAH can it go ahead and get warm here already!? Since I can’t control the weather (something I’m still waiting patiently for, as well as for my own Hoverboard and Jaws 19), I can at least get a head start on pulling my warm-weather wardrobe together, yeah?

Red & Seafoam
I said I wanted red pants… and I got my red pants! This is my second incarnation of the Thinlows, btw. Those are totally Thurlows hiding within those skinny legs.

Red & Seafoam
Since the red cotton twill I used does not have any stretch, I was very careful about how much I tapered down these legs. As much as I love the super-duper skinny legs, I think I’d need a little bit of stretch to get my foot in there!

Red & Seafoam
Thinning these down was… interesting. I scrapped my original pattern mash-up and properly retraced each pattern piece. Then, I straightened the line of the flare with a long ruler. I made a quick muslin using some thick denim I had lurking in my stash – I wanted to make sure these would be wearable, as I’ve only made Thurlows with fabric that had some give. I was also able to pin out a little more excess from the sides, and transfer that to my pattern pieces. Sewed them up, and everything fits. Yay!

Red & Seafoam
There’s a bit of pulling at the crotch, as you can see – the pants themselves feel fine (not too tight, not too loose), so I’m not sure if many this has something to do with the lack of stretch? Hm.

Red & Seafoam
The only other pattern adjustment I made was to shift the pockets about 1″ toward the side seams. I noticed in my muslin that I needed to sew inside the back extension line to prevent gappage, and this was making the pockets come close to touching. Now they sit in the right place, however, I think next time I need to shorten them. The proportions look a little off. Not that you can tell from this picture at all, but eh.

Red & Seafoam
I’ve also got a little wrinkling under the butt. Not too bad, but it’s there.

Red & Seafoam
To complete my ~come hither spring~ outfit, I used this amazing seafoam rayon jersey to make McCall’s 4488 (a pattern from the 70s). It’s hard to capture this exact color in my photos (look at the picture Mood has on the site, it’s much more accurate), but I LOVE IT. Pretty sure this shade of seafoam goes with every color I own.
Also, that top was a bitch to make. I have no idea why – I made the crop top before and it turned out fine (and BEFORE YOU SAY ANYTHING, they use the same pattern pieces up top, ok!) – but this lil shit was out to get me from the get-go. After a lot of cutting and cussing, I think I fixed it. I just have to be careful about those gathers over the boobs. If I’m not careful, things can get a bit… nipply.

Red Thurlows

Red Thurlows
Check out that floral cotton print lining! Oooh, fancy!

Red Thurlows
God, I just want to take my pants off and show everyone. The lining, I mean.

Red Thurlows
This is only slightly related, but check out the gorgeous button hole my machine makes! FUCK.

Red Thurlows
I think this might be the best-looking welt pocket I’ve ever made.

Seafoam top

Seafoam top
I really love that I got to dig into my stash of weird colors when it came time for serging everything. True happiness is having seafoam green thread, guys.

Red & Seafoam

Come on, spring!

Drape Drape Giveaway: We Have A Winner!

19 Feb

The Drape Drape Giveaway is now closed (thanks to everyone who entered!), and a winner has been drawn! Congratulations to Susan – a winner is you!

winner

Andrew WK party
dancin

YAY!!!

In case you were curious (I was!!), the most mentioned sewing books were, in no particular order:
The Colette Sewing Handbook
Gertie’s New Book For Better Sewing
Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing
Vogue Sewing

If choosing a go-to sewing bible seems like a daunting task, maybe this list of TNTs will give ya a helpful nudge! I personally love Vogue Sewing… it was the first sewing book I bought, and I read it cover to cover like, well, a book! ;)

Completed: A Striped Hoodie (by way of sacrifice)

18 Feb

Man, I love me some hoodies. I wear them year-round – even in the summer (because some people like to crank their a/c up to “frigid,” eep). I love how a well-fitted, soft hoodie can be the most comfortable piece of clothing in my closet. Here’s my sacred secret, though: my go-to hoodie was a ratty pile of SHAME. I really did wear it for everything – from cleaning the bathroom to keeping warm on a drafty airplane – and it showed. It showed in the form of faded, pilled black, bleach spots, paint stains, ratty edges, and a giant hole at the neckline (that was from a fight. Also, that’s all I’m going to say about that). I loved the way it fit, which is why I kept it long after it’s sad sorry state should have sent it to Hoodie Heaven (that’s my other sacred secret: I don’t repair my ratty clothing. That hole stayed in the neckline for OVER 6 YEARS. Yeah!!).

Sooo I ripped it up and made me a new hoodie, using the old one as a pattern!
Striped Hoodie
HA!

Striped Hoodie
It has a pocket!

Striped Hoodie
Scratch that, two pockets!!

Striped Hoodie
I’m afraid I don’t have a pattern to share, as I literally ripped up my ratty-ass hoodie and traced each piece onto paper, adding 3/8″ seam allowance. I didn’t make any changes to the pattern as I liked the way the hoodie fit pre-rip. And boy, did that hoodie want to be ripped up – the pieces were falling apart in my hands. Damn!

Striped Hoodie
You’ll notice my stripes don’t *exactly* match up – on one side, and also at the top of the zipper. That’s ok, I’m not totally heartbroken over it. This is what happens when you push yourself to finish a project long after the mojo has dried up – you get sloppy. Usually, I put everything away and try to revisit the next day with a fresh outlook. I was cold, though, and since my hoodie was laying in pieces on the cutting table… I soldiered on. At the expense of a little stripe-matching, but hey, shit happens.

Striped Hoodie
Sorry about the wayward stripe over my rear – it’s straight, promise!

Striped Hoodie
Figuring out the order of construction required a little forethought, since the length of certain areas (the neckline where the hood fits, the front where the zipper goes) need to be pretty precise. In case you are thinking about traveling down the same path of hoodie rebirth, here’s the direction I took:
1. Sew band to pockets, attach pockets to front
2. Sew front to back at shoulders
3. Insert sleeves
4. Sew up side seams
5. Sew hood seam, attach band to front
6. Sew hood to neckline
7. Attach bottom band
8. Insert zipper
9. Attach sleeve cuffs

Not too hard! It’s just like sewing a tshirt (in fact, I bet one could use the Renfrew pattern as a jumping off point, although you’d have to raise the neckline), just with an added zipper and hood :) If you are adding a hood, make sure the measurement of the bottom of the hood (where it attaches to the neckline) is the same as the measurement of the entire circumference of the neckline, minus the zipper. Otherwise, it won’t sit right!

Oh yeah, mine does have a hood!
Striped Hoodie
Striped Hoodie

Striped Hoodie
Man, you can really see my mismatched stripes here. I’m sorry.

Striped Hoodie

Striped Hoodie
The pockets have the usual knit band at the top (cut slightly shorter than the measurement, then stretched to fit), topstitched with a twin needle. I sewed the zipper in using the twin needle because I liked the way it looks – we’ll see how well that holds up, since it’s not usually the strongest seam :) Surprisingly, the zipper went in quite easily and I didn’t have to stabilize the seam like I thought I would. My knit was pretty stable, it might not work as well with really stretchy fabrics. If you are having trouble getting your zipper lump-free, sewing on a piece of ribbon or even fusing a stripe of interfacing really helps, fyi!

Striped Hoodie
Oh yeah, I reused the zipper from the old hoodie! What’s old is new again, or some shit.

Striped Hoodie
Just for fun – I stabilized the shoulders seams with neon yellow twill tape, and added a little cycling tag. Aw I miss my bike! Summer, where are youuuuu

Ok, now I’m going to show you some shots of my sorry old hoodie. Don’t you dare judge me.

Striped Hoodie
Bleach, paint, and weakened seams. You can’t tell too well in this picture, but the sleeve band was so ratty it was all split and frayed.

Striped Hoodie
The rip I never repaired. And look at how dull that black is! Yeech!

Striped Hoodie
This is so, so much better ♥

NOTE: Today is the last day for the Drape Drape Giveaway! I will be closing the entries at midnight, so get yer comment in!

Let’s Talk Sewing Machine Maintenance!

13 Feb

In the spirit of Karen’s series of True Confessions, I think most of us tend to plead guilty when it comes to maintaining our machines and keeping them in tip top sewing shape. Fess up, guys! Are you guilty of:
– Using the same needle for months at a time?
– Sewing over pins?
– Going far too long between regular tune-ups?
– Letting the lint build up to epic proportions?
– Forgetting to oil your machine?

Let me be the first to say that I definitely hit some of those categories myself. Oops! I’m very vigilant about keeping the lint to a minimum (I clean my machine with that tiny brush every time I wind my bobbin; yes, I get freaky like that), but I regularly forget to change my needle until it breaks from the sheer pressure of existing. I also didn’t realize you were supposed to oil a computerized machine. I thought that was only something you did with the manual ones. No wonder my stitches were looking like shit! Hello!!

Part of my problem is that I just never had anyone tell me what I should and shouldn’t be doing. Yes, you should refer to your owner’s manual for upkeep on your machine – but how many of us actually read that? (if you have a Featherweight and you’ve read it like a book, you’re exempt from this question. We all read our Featherweight manuals like a book, because it’s fucking fascinating and the pictures are amazing). So today, let’s talk about those little basics that should be second nature but totally are not. It’s ok, we’re all in this together, y’all.

Changing your needle
We all know to change the needle when it’s broken – you can’t sew anything otherwise :) But did you know that you actually should be changing the needle far more frequently than that? Not just when there’s an issue. It is recommended that the needle is changed after 8 hours of sewing, which comes out to every 1-2 projects (depending on the project, of course). Waiting longer to change your needle causes it to get dull and loose the sharp point, which can result in wonky or skipped stitches (and hours of hair-pulling frustration, because ARGH!). I know it can be hard to remember to change your needle out that often – hell, I forget all the time, although I’m trying to be better about it. It helps to keep a stash of needles on hand (I buy a pack every time I go to the fabric store!), so you’re not tempted to try and plow through if the needle is super old but seems “good enough” -it’s probably not. You should also be proactive and change your needle if you ever manage to sew over a pin – it may look fine at a glance, but the tip is likely bent and this can also cause stitch problems. Which brings me to my next point…

Don’t sew over pins
I really hope I’m just preaching to the choir here, but just in case someone doesn’t know any better… DON’T SEW OVER YOUR PINS. Don’t don’t don’t! I cannot stress this enough! Sewing over pins causes all kinds of problems, from bending/breaking the needle (ever thought about where that broken tip might land? How about IN YOUR EYEBALL), to completely fucking up the timing of your machine so that you have to take it to the repair center and pay $ to have it fixed. Lame! Do yourself a big huge favor and pull those pins out before the needle gets anywhere near them. Do it for the sewing machines.

Regular Tune-ups
At the risk of sounding like a big fat sewing machine snob, it makes me cringe when I hear people brag about how their machine works so well and it hasn’t had a tune-up in decades. I understand that it may not be common knowledge that sewing machines need regular maintenance, but hey – that’s not something to brag about! Think about your car (if you don’t have a car, you can think about someone else’s car ;)) – would you let that thing go so long between tune-ups? Hell no! A sewing machine must have very precise timing to function correctly; if one little beat is off, it can wreck the whole output. Getting a tune-up can be a bit of a hassle – here it costs between $50-$90 (computerized machines are on the higher end of the price spectrum), and they hold your machine hostage for 1-2 weeks, depending on how quickly they can get to it. However, it is very important to have this done at regular intervals, as the machine needs benefits from having the timing and tension adjusted back to the factory settings, as well as getting a nice deep clean in all those little nooks & crannies that you can’t get to without actually opening the thing up and taking it apart. What constitutes as a “regular interval” is really a matter of how much you use your machine – I take mine in every year, but I also sew a LOT. You may be able to get away with getting a service every 2 or even 3 years, depending on how much you use the machine.

Taking care of lint build-up
Here’s my confession: I’m a big freak about cleaning my machine. I pull the whole bobbin apart and go to town with the lint brush before every sewing project, usually while the bobbin is winding. I also do this on my serger – I mean, have you seen how linty those things get? Nothing delights me more than getting a good sized ball of lint to marvel at (I also like cleaning the lint screen on my dryer. I’m sorry, is this TMI?). So keeping the lint build-up to a minimum has never been a problem with me. I’m not saying that you need to start digging for gold every single time you have a project – but please, make it a habit to at least keep a regular cleaning schedule. You’ll be amazed at how much better you machine functions when there’s not a big build-up of lint and broken thread lurking under the throatplate.

Oiling your machine
OMG. Until I bought my new Bernina, I never realized you were supposed to oil those things! For some reason, I was under the impression that computerized machines were exempt from regular oiling. My mechanic assures me that neglecting the oil does not necessarily hurt the machine, but it can do some wonky shit to those bobbin stitches since there is too much friction going on down there. If you’re not oiling your machine, take a quick peek at the owner’s manual (or call your local sewing repair place and ask them) and see if it’s necessary to keep things running smoothly. I now oil my machine once a month – and it doesn’t take much! A little dab will do ya.

If the idea of poking around in your machine just sounds too overwhelming and terrifying – well, there’s an app for that! :)
diy
DIY Household Sewing Machine is an app for iPhone and iPad (sorry Droid users :( Maybe soon?) that guides you through three basic steps of maintaining your sewing machine – removing the bobbin case to clean and oil the bobbin area (there are instructions for both top and front-loading bobbins – yeah!), changing the needle, and cleaning the tension units (which is not something I was aware of until, uhm, last night. Eep! Don’t worry, I’ll get a-cleaning as soon as I get home :)). While you shouldn’t necessarily consider this a total replacement for a regular session with an actual sewing machine mechanic, it is a great assistant in keeping things clean and running smoothly in between tune-ups.

screenshot2

screenshot3
What’s interesting about this app is that there are three ways the information is shared – a short animation (which totally reminds me of Money For Nothing and I TOTALLY LOVE IT OMG), a text document, and live-action video. The animation is great if you just need a little refresher on how to do something (you know, for those brainfart moments. I’m not the only one who gets them all the time…?), and I love that everything is spelled out for those of us who are just too impatient to sit through a 2 minute video.

screenshot5
Speaking of the vidoes… they are actually really great. I just mentioned that I’m too impatient to watch videos (it’s true! They are always just too damn slow-moving for my fast paced brain, I guess), but the longest one is only 2.5 minutes long, so it’s not too bad. Everything presented is very easy to see and understand, and there are some good tips about what tools are best for cleaning what parts of the machine. Bonus that dude has a delightful accent. God, I love accents.

The app is not free, but it only costs 99¢ – which is pretty much pocket change as far as I’m concerned. It’s nice to have a go-to reference of the text and videos when you need a little hand-holding but don’t want to put your machine’s life in the hands of Google… and bonus, those little animations are fun to watch :) I’m so easily amused, ha!

What about you? Do you have any confessions about maintaining your machine that you’d like to get off your chest? C’mon, fess up – we’re all friends here ;)

As a side note, I know I’m a few days late to the party but LADIES HAVE YOU SEEN MADALYNNE’S NEW UNDIE PATTERN? From the technical sketch to the gorgeous finished piece – I’m in love!! Must make me some undies, stat!

~*~Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for which I received financial compensation. All opinions on this product are my own, however!

Review: Drape Drape (plus a giveaway!)

11 Feb

Drape Drape
I’ve heard a lot of buzz in the online world about these Japanese pattern books- they appear to have quite the cult following. I’ve always been curious to see what exactly they entail (and I also just really love following the pack, ok), so when the publisher contacted me and asked if I’d like a copy of Drape Drape by Hisako Sato to check out, there was no hesitation on my end between when I received the email and when I replied and said YESSS YES YES. New patterns to try! Yes!!

These books were originally published in Japanese (no duh, Lauren), but they were recently translated into English. The translation struggles a little on some points – right side is referred to as “upside,” interfacing is “interlining,” – but overall, it’s pretty easy to understand. The book starts out with general information on the pattern sizing, an explanation on the various drapes and tucks used in the book, and a small chapter on sewing knit fabrics using a standard sewing machine. Drape Drape is actually a pattern book – there are a few pattern sheets with nested pattern pieces (such as what you see with Burdastyle) in the back of the book- 17 patterns in all. It is not, as some might be led to believe, an instruction book on how to drape.

That being said, the pictures in the book are very beautiful – showcasing these gorgeous fluid, drapey designs. The kind of stuff that Vogue wishes their photoshoots would end up looking like:

Drape Drape
Drape Drape
Drape Drape
Drape Drape
Drape Drape

I personally love the line drawings. Like, I want to chop them out of the book and hang them on my wall.
Drape Drape
Drape Drape
Drape Drape
Even Hammer Pants look good as a line drawing.
Drape Drape
~easy breezy~
Drape Drape
Drape Drape
This last one STOLE MY HEART. I was bound and determined to make it up – using a slinky, drapey black rayon knit. Nevermind not having anywhere to wear it – I was gonna make it, and no one was gonna stop me.

But hold up a minute, because have you seen how these pattern instructions work?
Drape Drape

Drape Drape
If this looks easy, it is because it is the easiest pattern in the book. The V-neck dress is quite a bit more involved, with interfacing and a zipper. I spent about 2 weeks staring at the instructions and pulling hair out of my head in an attempt to understaaaaaaand, but the instructions were just too sparse for my comfort and those mountain and valley folds got the best of me. Not that I think it was a necessarily hard pattern to complete – I just need hand-holding when it comes to things like this. Lots and lots of hand-holding. I’m actually like that in pretty much every aspect of my life, so this doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

I’m not saying this to scare you – I don’t think this book is too difficult for the average sewer to comprehend. It just doesn’t work for me and the way my brain functions (plus: tracing nested pattern pieces, NOPE.). Rather than have it sit unused on my shelf, I’d much prefer to give it to someone who can use it :) So if you’ve been curious about these pattern books – here’s your chance! One caveat – this is my copy of the book, and I did mark up one of the pattern sheets (the skirt piece for the v-neck dress has been outlined in blue Sharpie. Yes, I write in my books. Sorry.). The book is in otherwise perfect condition – including the dust jacket – and the pattern sheets are still usable despite the markings.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment (with an email address where I can reach you if you win, please) and tell me your favorite sewing book. This giveaway is open worldwide – if you can receive mail, you can enter the giveaway – and I’ll close the pool a week from today, Monday 2/18/13. Good luck!

GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED.
Thanks to everyone who entered!

Completed: A Stripey Tiramisu

8 Feb

It’s no secret that I love knits – I love sewing them and I love wearing them. Sometimes when life throws you a big shit sack full of bummer, the only way to get back on the horse is with a good ol’ TNT. All knits are TNT as far as I’m concerned (so. freaking. forgiving!), but I especially love my purple Tira, because it goes the extra step of actually looking pulled together. Which is nice, especially when you just wanna feel like you’re wearing comfy pajamas.

As much as I love purple, though, it’s pretty winter and no duh I need a stripey summer Tiramisu now, right? No shame, I totally ripped off both Steph AND Penelope, because I am shameless and awesome and secretly hoping we can be twins(triplets?). Ladies, pls.

Stripey Tiramisu
Anyway, who doesn’t love stripes?! It’s like wearing a circus ON MY BODY.

Stripey Tiramisu
This fabric is from the giant sale at my local fabric store, where I totally cleaned up last month. I actually have this stuff in black/white stripes too (and I think I bought some crazy amount, like 4 yards of it haha). It’s so stripey and soft and awesome. It’s also kind of not really suitable for this kind of dress; it’s VERY stretchy, 4 ways, and super drapey. I had to make a few changes to the pattern to get it to work – which ended up ok in the end, but please heed my warning: you need something more stable for this dress, unless you want to futz with the fit all night like I did.

Stripey Tiramisu
Still, it turned out pretty cute, if I do say so myself! And it looks so good with my new shoes :D

Stripey Tiramisu
Anyway, let’s talk about the changes I made:
– I reduced the size of the bust to a C on the pattern tissue, but once I basted the top together to test the fit, it was still a bit low (as the fabric was pulling under it’s own weight. And this was before the skirt was attached!). I removed another 3/4″ from the underbust, although looking at these pictures, I could’ve stood to remove a little more.
– I reduced the waist by 3/4″ before sewing; once sewn up I had to take in the side seams another 1/2″ or so. I’m telling you – this fabric is soo stretchy!
– I shortened the neck and arm bands and stretched them to fit when I sewed them on; without stretching, they would have ended up floppy.
– I shortened the hem twice – first hacked about 3.5″ off the pattern tissue, then another 2″ when the dress was sewn up as the skirt had stretched under it’s own weight.
– I left out the pockets – I feel like they add a lot of bulk with fabric like this.

Stripey Tiramisu
I tried to match up the stripes, but I didn’t do the best job. They match up on this side…

Stripey Tiramisu
… but not the other side. This is partially because the fabric was a PAIN IN THE ASS to cut (so shifty!), and partially because I had to keep sucking in the side seams after the dress was finished, to get it to fit. Also, please note that the waistband is not cut straight. Again, shifty fuckin fabric.

Stripey Tiramisu
The shoulder seams also do not completely match up. Oh well!

Despite my problems with the fabric, the gape factor is pretty non-existent:
Stripey Tiramisu
Stripey Tiramisu
I think the key to this is shortening the bands and stretching them to fit the neckline. It kind of sucks everything in, and allows it to curve to your body.

Stripey Tiramisu
If you have your heart set on sewing this pattern with a very drapey fabric, make sure you are vigilant about pressing every seam. It really makes a huge difference, especially on the bands.

Stripey Tiramisu
Stripey Tiramisu
Sorry about all the loose threads; I had literally just finished the dress before I took the pictures :)

Stripey Tiramisu
Now then, let’s have a bit of Spring up in here, pls?

Knitting Fail: The Lauriel Cardigan

5 Feb

It was only a matter of time before I knitted something that was completely unwearable. And here it is. Woof. I’m actually surprised it took me this long to get to that point – this is my sixth sweater, ffs!

Lauriel fail
This is the Lauriel pattern by Ysolda Teague. I fell in love with the pattern after lurking Tasia’s golden version. I used Cascade 220 sport (the color in these photos is definitely off; the swatch picture on my Ravelry page is much closer to the true color) and even bought me some of them fancy flexi-cable bamboo needles. I learned two new techniques for this sweater – a super stretchy bind off (my bind offs are always soo tight, no matter how much I go up in needle size. This method is awesome!) and Magic Loop for knitting the sleeves. I actually really enjoyed knitting it, although knitting the button bands almost broke my brain. I have no idea why the instructions were so bad for that part, but they were TERRIBLE. I spent about 3 hours on just one of the bands – I know this because I watched 4 episodes of Breaking Bad during the harrowing process.

Lauriel fail
So what’s the problem? Well, it’s too fucking big! I mean – holy shit, look at that sleeve length! I can’t cuff the sleeves back. I mean, I could, but there is a lace detail right above the cuffs and it would suck to cover that. Actually, the sleeves are the least of my problem. The entire thing is just huge huge huge. It swallows me, I look like a kid playing dress-up in her mom’s clothes. I know it looks semi-ok in these pictures, but trust me on this. This sweater is way too big, and I can’t wear it.

Lauriel fail
So where did I go wrong? I knit it correctly as indicated by the pattern – knitted my little gauge swatch (actually, I knit 3, just so we’re clear here), properly blocked it, checked my gauge frequently as I knit. So my knitting itself isn’t the error.

First of all, I admit that I knit the wrong size. The pattern has you knit by your underbust measurement, so I went with the 30″ since that’s what I measured at. Unfortunately, I must have measured wrong because I was checking that shit the other day and my underbust is actually closer to 28″. FACK. Even then, this thing is too huge.

I also suspect that this pattern simply runs big. Go look at Tasia’s sweater and notice that she said the sweater ended up very loose? Uh huh. Shoulda heeded her advice right there. I’ve actually now discovered, upon actually researching, that a lot of people have reported the thing problem – specifically in the bust/shoulders area. Which, yeah, that’s exactly the issue with mine. The shoulders droop down past my shoulders, the underarms are at least a couple of inches below mine, and the bust just swallows me.

Lauriel fail
Here I am pointing my finger at where my actual underarm is. Look at how low the sweater goes! The arms are huuuge on me – and I don’t have pencil thin arms, y’all!

Lauriel fail
The back is really a shining example of this sweater being too big.

Lauriel fail

Lauriel fail
Yep.

Lauriel fail
Just for the record, this is how it is *supposed* to fit. I originally thought I might be able to just whip up the side seams with a backstitch, but the underarms are so low that I can’t do that. Wah.

Anyway, the knitting itself is really pretty:
Lauriel fail

Lauriel fail
(fuck that button band, forreal tho)

Lauriel fail

So yeah. I’m pretty bummed – I spent a little over 2 months knitting this (not to mention the money I spent on the yarn, pattern, and new needles) and I just can’t wear it. That’s the sucky part about knitting – you never really know the full extent to the fit until it’s finished and blocked. I’m afraid I can’t salvage this one.

That being said, I don’t regret knitting it. It was a fun pattern to work with, and I learned some fun new techniques. I am considering selling it for , I dunno like $50, just to recoup my costs. Anyone interested? The bust is 35″, waist is 31″ (with lots of stretch) and the length from shoulder to hem is 20″. The sleeves are also 20″ (underarm to end of cuff). I didn’t bother to sew the buttons or snaps on as I’m kind of over this sweater; I’m sure y’all understand. It has been finished and blocked, though. The sweater has found a new home! Thank you everyone for your interest :)

Lauriel fail
Sooo… what have you failed at lately? Let’s commiserate!

Completed: White Tshirts. Yes, Tshirts.

1 Feb

At the risk of really beating this dead horse to the ground- I like making solid, every day basics. Boring shit like plain pants, tshirts, solid knit dresses, and I’ve got my eye on making underwear as well. I mean, making a bunch of party dresses is super fun, don’t get me wrong – but there are only so many frilly/froofy dresses I can fill my closet with before I start pulling my hair out on Saturday morning whining that I don’t have anything to weeeear. And I, too, have read Overdressed, which basically punched me in the face the same way that Fast Food Nation punched the rest of the world in the stomach. I can’t even walk in the mall anymore now without yelling about polyester and stitch lengths. It’s insane and no one wants to go shopping with me these days… not that I do much “shopping” as it is.

So, I’m ok with sewing my own basics. I like that I make a tshirt for roughly the same cost as something from the mall, except I can control the fit as I like it and I also know the hem stitches aren’t going to fall out the first time I throw it in the wash. Maybe making tshirts is simple and the exact opposite of exciting, but sometimes I’m having a bad day and I just want to make something without thinking to much about it – and for me, that perfect something is the tshirt. Some people bake when they’re in a bad mood. I make tshirts.

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Organic Cotton Plus and asked if I would like to sample some of their organic fabrics. Yeah! I chose the white interlock knit and set to work making some basics. In organic because, yeah, I be fancy.

Organic Renfrew- V-Neck
I used my beloved Renfew pattern and made two tops. Here’s the v-neck -probably could have stood to make that v a little more, uh, v-like, but it ain’t too bad for a first attempt. The secret, I’ve learned, is to sew the neck band on a regular sewing machine first, and then serge the edges after. Otherwise, the blades of the serger will chop a big ol’ hole in the middle of your tshirt when you try to pivot (and disabling the blades just makes a huge mess, oh god). I know this because I actually tried to do the v-neck version several months ago, and it failed. Also, I realize I just lied to y’all about this being a first attempt. I’m sorry, I’ll never lie to you again~.

Organic Renfrew- V-Neck
I made no changes to the pattern (other than my initial fitting changes), except I did not add the hem band. I just hemmed the bottom with a double needle and used my walking foot.

Organic Renfrew- V-Neck

Organic Renfrew- V-Neck

Organic Renfrew - Scoop Neck
I also made a scoop neck!

Organic Renfrew - Scoop Neck
Making tshirts is FUN!

Organic Renfrew - Scoop Neck
I actually really really love this fabric. It is the *perfect* weight for a basic Renfrew – super soft, a bit of stretch (but not all slinky like jersey – which I love, but there is a time and a place for slinky jersey) with a good hefty weight. Even though it’s white, it’s actually quite opaque – the scoop-neck top has neon yellow twill tape on the shoulders. Can you see it? NOPE. I’m pretty sure I could get away with wearing a neon bra under these and on one would be the wiser.

Organic Renfrew
Plus, the fabric is less than $9 a yard. So yes, a teeny bit more expensive than F21 – but it’s also light years nicer, as well as ethically-sourced. Which I’m totally willing to pay extra for.

Organic Renfrew

Organic Renfrew

Organic Renfrew

And while we’re on the subject of paying extra for ethical fashion… didja see my new jeans?

Imogene Stretch
WELL LOOK AT THEM.
Before you get all excited and start freaking out, I didn’t make these. As much as I wish I was a jean-making-master like Taylor Tailor, I can’t make a good pair of jeans to save my life. I don’t even think it’s a matter of fit anymore – I just don’t like the denim that is currently available. As much as I love love love my Thurlow jeans, I rarely wear them because the fabric just sucks. They stretch out so much over the course of the day, they are huge and baggy by the time I take them off – and I’ve sized them down twice now. Ugh. So I give up. Jeans, you win. I will buy you from now on.

Imogene Stretch
So here’s the deal – like, I dunno, every single woman I know, standard jeans just don’t fit me right. They are too big in the waist, too tight in the thighs, and the length is always much too long (and I’m too lazy to hem my own jeans, let’s be real here). I guess I could fix the waist issue by wearing a belt, but I hate wearing belts with pants, not to mention I don’t even own any belts that fit around my hips. Plus, the denim is just shitty. I bought some GAP jeans a couple of years ago and they’re already getting holes – and I barely even wear them! So I recently got rid of all my jeans – I had almost a dozen pairs – and bought one pair. I only own one pair of jeans now, and here they are.

Imogene Stretch
These are made by Imogene and Willie, and they are the Imogene Stretch. I’m not going to sugar coat – they were fucking expensive. Actually, these jeans are the most expensive piece of clothing I have ever owned. This is also the first piece of new/non-sale clothing I’ve bought in several years (and yes, I bought them with my own money. Ha, I WISH I+W would give me free jeans!). So, why would I spend $200+ on one pair of jeans, you might ask?
– They are made here in Nashville, TN, by a small business. I like supporting small businesses. I like knowing my money is going back into my community.
– The materials are amazing. The denim is high-quality and wears beautifully (and it’s woven in the USA! Yeah!). I also get 3 free repairs, should I happen to gouge a hole in them or some shit.
– The fit is better than any pair of pants I’ve ever owned. I dunno about you, but I’d rather own one pair of well-fitting pants than a dozen pairs of ill-fitting pants. I have no waist gap, the legs fit perfectly, and the length was hemmed to my exact measurements when I bought them.
– THEY LOOK DAMN GOOD ON ME.

Also, the workmanship is just beautiful-
Imogene Stretch
The topstitching is three different colors. Can you see it?

Imogene Stretch

Imogene Stretch

Imogene Stretch

I’m not posting this because I secretly want everyone to stop shopping at fast fashion places (ok, I kinda do – in a perfect world. But that’s not really attainable right now, and not everyone has that kind of budget! ;)). I mean, I just bought a pair of Keds the other day. Whatever. But… know when to pick your battles. Know what matters to you, and what you can let slide. And personally for me – I’ll make what I can, and buy local when I can find and afford it, and not feel bad if I occasionally have to buy shoes at Macy’s. Small changes eventually equal big changes.

Organic Renfrew

Organic Renfrew

~*~Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post, although I did receive a fabric sample from Organic Cotton Plus to review & keep. All opinions on this product are my own.

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