Completed: The Aiken Sweater

19 Sep

Yay for finished knitting projects!

Aiken Sweater

This is the Aiken pullover from Andi Satterlund (aka my faaaavorite knit designer, to whom I should probably just establish a direct deposit of a portion of my paychecks, because, YES). Aiken is everything I love in a knit project – seamless, top down construction, knit in the round on worsted weight yarn, with just a little bit of lace to keep things interesting.

Aiken Sweater

Aiken Sweater

I knit the XS (size range goes up to 3X, whoop whoop), using my normal size 6 needles and this delightfully soft and squishy Debbie Bliss Rialto yarn (oh shit, I just realized this is 100% Merino and here I’ve been telling everyone who will listen that it’s Cashmerino… I’m a lying piece of shit, you guys. But really, it is SOFT). By the way, I LOVE these Debbie Bliss yarns. This is the second sweater I’ve knit up with ‘em (the first one being my Cashmerino cowl neck sweater, well, I reckon there’s where I was assuming this one also involved cashmere, ha), and they’re just so lovely and soft with the most beautiful saturated colors.

The Debbie Bliss yarns are kind of expensive, though – around $10+ for a 100 yd skein (compared to Cascade 220, which I think I pay around $11 for a 220 yd skein at my local yarn store) (yes, I know it’s a little cheaper online, but I want to keep my LYS in business, thanks, bye). With that being said – my favorite yarn shop – Haus of Yarn – has an awesome sale at the end of every year where they mark a big chunk of the yarns at half off – and there’s always some Debbie Bliss lurking in the piles. So these skeins were $5 a pop, which made this sweater cost me a very affordable $30. Can’t beat that with a stick!

Aiken Sweater

This pattern is relatively plain – the body and arms are plain stockinette, with 1×1 ribbing at the edges. The neckline is a very simple slash – it’s not finished with ribbing, so it has a soft roll, which I think is very pretty! And then there’s the lace inset, which is mirrored for both the front and back. As far as lace goes, this one is preeetty simple. It’s not super mindless lace like the Myrna – there’s a little more stitchcraft involved. I did have to unpick a couple of rows when I missed a yarn over and thus messed up my count, but it’s not so bad. The good news is that you start at the top, so you get the longest part done first and then progress to less lace knitting as you go down to the tip of the V. Then you combine the whole thing into a tube and knit in endless circles for the rest of the way.

THEN, because there’s no neckline finishing or button bands to contend with – you just block it and wear it! SO gratifying! OMG I love knitting pullovers!

Aiken Sweater

My sweater is worn with about 1″-2″ of negative ease, which is why it’s a little more fitted than the version in Andi’s shop. The lacework surprisingly doesn’t dip as far as I thought it would – I’m not wearing anything under the sweater (well, I mean other than a bra haha), and there’s absolutely no danger of cleavage flashing. That being said, I don’t have much cleavage to begin with sooo that might also have a lot to do with it :) I really like to way it looks with my polka dot trousers, though! I imagine it’ll also look pretty ace with a collared shirt underneath it. And it’s the perfect length for wearing with high-waisted skirts.

Aiken Sweater

(not sure why I basically took the same picture twice. Deal with it?)

Aiken Sweater

Love the back! ♥

Aiken Sweater

Aiken Sweater

It took me a little over 2 months to knit this – which is slow for me, but has also become my new normal, if that makes sense (gone are the days of my luxurious one hour knitting break at the office – I still have an hour to knit, yes, but I’m usually home and DAMMIT I’d rather sew! :)). It was a relatively easy knit, and I think would make a great first sweater pattern if you’re somewhat comfortable with knitting lace.

Full Ravelry notes are here.

Aiken Sweater

That’s all, folks! Right now I’m working on my first pair of socks (I haven’t gotten to turning the heel yet, so I’m going to refrain from commenting on whether or not they’re easy until I get to that point! But so far, the cuff has been easy :) HAHA) – but I’m still dreaming of sweaters! What should I knit next? Would love to do another pullover; I’m a little cardigan’d out at this point :) Looking at Berwick, Ease, Cloudy Sunday (maybe lengthen those sleeves, tho), or Praline – what would you choose? Alternately – what’s on your needles right now?

(Psst! Not a knitter but want some handmade cardigans nonetheless? Don’t forget to enter the Jenna Cardi Giveaway for a chance to win an awesome cardigan sewing pattern PDF! Giveaway ends on Monday morning ;) )

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Announcing the Vogue 1419 Sewalong!

17 Sep

Hey guys and gals! Remember this coat we all made fun of?

V1419

Then remember when I tried it on and realized it was actually amazing?

"Yeah, like the girl in the $10,000 coat is gonna hold the elevator for the guy who doesn't make that in four months." #COMEON #gobbluth #ralphrucci #thisreallyisa10kdollarcoat #voguepatterns #latergram

YAY $10K DESIGNER COAT!!

Well, here’s the thing. I want this dang Ralph Rucci coat for my very own – and I want to make it. After chatting with The McCall Pattern Company – and realizing that a lot of y’all are hankering for your own Ralph Rucci Dream Coat – we’ve decided to partner up together and host a sewalong for Vogue 1419! LET’S ALL MAKE FANCY DESIGNER COATS, Y’ALL!

Vogue Patterns V1419 Ralph Rucci coat pattern sewalong

The sewalong officially kicks off on 9/29, which gives you plenty of time to buy your pattern and begin sourcing fabrics. Don’t worry – the first couple of weeks will be nice and slow, with tips on fabric selection (and yes, I’m working on snagging y’all a sweet discount!), muslin-making, and prepping all your pieces so we can dive straight into sewing in mid-October. We will finish our coats on 11/10, with a finished coat parade on 11/17. The sewalong posts will alternate weekly between here and on The McCall Pattern Blog, so make sure you’re following both!

Keep in mind that while this is a coat pattern – it’s not a traditional tailored coat, so there will be no scary pad stitching or lining (although I will be underlining my version, so we’ll have some tips on that as well :) ). While I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to a true beginner, I think a super adventurous/advanced beginner could probably swing this – just make a muslin, take your time and aim for accuracy! We’ll be photographing every step, which will make construction easier (and of course, the posts will be up indefinitely if you decide that you need to revisit your couture coat dreams at a later date :) ). The McCall Pattern Company has lots of interior shots of the coat in this Pinterest board if you want to see more of the deets. It’s a really beautiful coat that lends itself to lots of fun customization!

Here’s the full schedule of events:
9/22/2014 Social media: official hashtags, Flickr group, Pinterest board & blog badges
9/29/2014 Selecting your fabric
10/6/2014 Making your muslin
10/13/2014 Prep week: cutting your fabric; marking your pattern pieces; underlining (if applicable); creating bias binding; reinforcing and staystitching (Steps 1-3 and step 35)
10/20/2014 Attaching the gusset, binding, belt & side seams (steps 4-22)
10/27/2014 Sewing the sleeves & back (steps 23-50)
11/3/2014 Assembling the pockets (steps 51-63)
11/10/2014 Finishing: Facing, button holes, buttons, and hem (steps 64-86)
11/17/2014 Parade of coats

I know that sounds like a lot of work for each week, but keep in mind that most of the steps involved are instructing you to sew bias binding. Those of us who have made unlined bias bound coats before know that once you get into a groove, it’s not so bad :) Plus, I don’t want this to drag on forever! I want to take my coat to London, dangit! :)

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Ready to join in the coat-making fun? AWESOME! Don’t forget to buy your pattern – there’s a sale going on right now through 9/19, yay! – and make sure to follow The McCall Pattern Blog if you’re not already doing so. Next week, we’ll have all the official badges and hashtags so you can pretty up your blogs :)

In the meantime… who’s in? What’s your dream Ralph Rucci coat look like? I’m currently manhandling some of the most gorgeous red wool coatings, can’t wait to make this baby up! :)

Completed: The Jenna Cardi (+GIVEAWAY)

15 Sep

In my wardrobe, I have a very small selection of RTW clothing that is quickly dwindling to nothing. Out of those pieces, the majority of them are lightweight knit cardigans. You know the kind I’m talking about – sewn, rather than knitted, lightweight enough to throw in a purse, wearable for all seasons (I dunno about y’all, but I wear my cardigans throughout the summer – air conditioning is tooooo cold for me!). As I’m quickly replacing all my clothes with handmades, the one major hole – other than undergarments (which I’m working on!) – has been those damn cardigans. I love knitting cardigans, don’t get me wrong – but those take loads of time, not to mention even the lightest fingering weight yarn can’t compete with how lightweight a knit fabric is, you know?

I’ve been on the lookout for a good cardigan pattern – not even really for the pattern itself, but rather, the instructions. Y’all, the one time I tried to sew button holes on a knit, it ended up being slightly traumatizing. Then there was that time recently that I tried to use an old RTW cardigan to copy into a handmade one (cutting it apart to use as a pattern – same concept as how I made my striped hoodie). Spoiler alert: it didn’t work out at all. Clearly I can’t hack this on my own. I need someone else to do it for me.

20121202-210149

Also, that cardigan I chopped up? As much as it wasn’t really my favorite – it was the one grey cardigan that went with basically everything. And here it was, chopped up into little bits and, uh, I kinda needed it back.

Jenna Cardi

Anyway, all that being said – right about the time I realized I was making a huge mistake (chopped up cardigan and all), Kat emailed me, saying she’d just launched her new pattern company, Muse Patterns, and would I like to try and review the Jenna Cardi?

UM. YES.

Jenna Cardi

HI GUYS, LOOK, DREAM CARDI PATTERN RIGHT OVER HERE.

Jenna Cardi

The Jenna Cardi comes with a few different options, so you mix and match to create the cardigan of your dreams (I’m not the only one who dreams about cardigans, am I?). You can choose a cropped or waist length version, sleeves ranging from full, to three quarter, to short, and then there’s also an option to include a beautiful curved yoke detail.

I’m a boring person with no imagination when it comes to wardrobe basics, so I chose something plain and simple for my first hurrah – cropped length, long sleeves. The thing about this cardigan that makes it so special, though (I mean, other than the fact that I SEWED IT MYSELF yaaaay for not buying RTW!), is the fabric I used! HOMEGIRL GOT HER HANDS ON SOME MERINO WOOL.

Jenna Cardi

Are we all still freaking out about merino wool or has that ship sailed? Whatever, *I’m* still freaking out over it! Ever since Katie started pushing it on me like an extraordinarily effective drug, I have been trying in vain to locate a US source. That stuff isn’t cheap, even in the best of times – and to ship it all the way from NZ obviously adds some dollarz to the cost.

So where did I find this golden merino ticket, you might ask? Surprise – Organic Cotton Plus, of all places! They are starting to branch out to include other natural fibers than just cotton, which is all kinds of awesome. When they asked me if I’d like to try a little piece of whatever caught my fancy from the website, I stumbled across the merino wool and, forreal you guys, my heart stopped for a nanosecond. There aren’t a whole lot of options on the site at the moment – just the black I have here, as well as a natural colorway (which I almost got, but then the idea of dying that shit seemed too overwhelming. Plus, black is so useful! Even if it photographs like crap). At $33 a yard, it is not cheap – but it’s worth it. That black merino is a whopping 61″ wide, plus, IT’S MACHINE WASHABLE WOOL. Oh, and you don’t pay NZ shipping prices! Win win!

Jenna Cardi

Having used both merino wool from Organic Cotton Plus, as well as the stuff straight from New Zealand – I can confidently say that this is pretty good stuff. It’s soft and lightweight without being see-through, it has a nice stretch and drape to it, and it cuts and sews like a dream. Wait till you see the topstitching on this baby – it’s ridiculously beautiful. Ahh I just love this fabric.

Jenna Cardi

The only downside I can think of is that it does wrinkle up a bit, as you can see in these photos (it’s not nearly as noticeable in real life – otherwise, I would’ve steamed things up before taking photos. Womp whomp, deal with it). Kind of the same thing as linen – just natural wear wrinkles. If that bothers you, you’ll want to stick to something with a poly blend. For me, though, wrinkles are an ok trade-off for natural fibers!

Jenna Cardi

Anyway, I loved my Jenna cardigan so much – I immediately made a second one!

This one is pretty boringly similar to the black merino one, except it’s longer. It’s not quite the longer version – I cropped some off for my proportions – but it does look better with the shirt I’m wearing underneath it, ha :) Instead of using merino wool, I used some wool knit that I picked up at Mood Fabrics when I was recently in the store. This stuff is less drapey than the merino – it’s almost like sweatshirting, except without a fleecy side. It’s also not machine washable, so there’s that. I’ll have to handwash it like I do all my hand knits, oh well.

Jenna Cardi

Sewing both of these was ridiculously easy, by the way. My second version took me all of 2 hours – not bad! I made the bust 32″ and took in the sleeves a bit because they were a little wide. I also had to shorten the sleeves by a couple of inches.

As I mentioned, I was pretty apprehensive about the button bands – but surprisingly enough, the button holes were way less problematic than I was anticipating! I made some test button holes – experimenting with interfacing, tear-away stabilizer, no interfacing – but ultimately went with the instructions, as I figure Kat knows more than I do when it comes to knit button holes :) The button band is stabilized with woven fusible interfacing, and it’s sewn on with a 1:1 ratio (meaning it’s not stretched at all). This gives the knit fabric enough heft to tolerate a button hole stitch without getting eaten into the bobbin area (my former experience with this sort of thing). For the black merino cardi, I also used tear-away stabilizer in addition to the interfacing. For the grey cardi, I skipped the tear-away stablizer and just kept things purely interfaced. Both worked out splendidly!

Jenna Cardi

Another thing I’ll point out is that, while these cardigans are somewhat fitted, there’s just enough ease included to keep the button bands from gaping open. Always a plus in my book!

Jenna Cardi

Jenna Cardi

I’m thrilled that they both look just as good unbuttoned as they do buttoned – which is important to me, as a cardigan-wearer. I usually button things up, but it’s nice to have unbutton options:)

Jenna Cardi

Jenna Cardi

Here are some ~extreme~ close-ups of the merino wool cardigan. Check out that topstitching! Ughhh it’s so beautiful! I did add a little more topstitching than called for in the pattern – I wanted to tie in the topstitched button bands and button holes, so I included it at the shoulder seams and along the bottom band. Plus, it’s just beautiful. Seriously.

Also, how bout them buttons? These are also from Organic Cotton Plus. I know black and brown is generally frowned upon as a color combination, but I like it :)

Jenna Cardi

Grey cardigan close-up :) Boring buttons are from my boring stash.

So what do you think – are you team sew-your-own-cardi yet? I hope so, because Muse Patterns has hooked me up with an extra pattern to giveaway! :D

Jenna Cardi

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
To enter to win your very own Jenna Cardi, just leave a comment on this post and tell me what you plan on makin’! Which view? Any particular fabric? Do you have a wild card up your (cardigan)sleeve? Inquiring minds want to know! :) This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the comments a week from today, on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2014 7:00 AM CST. Good luck, y’all!
GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

**Some disclosures now – I was given the Jenna cardi pattern from the patternmaker herself, for free, to try and review. I was *also* given the organic merino wool fabric & butons from Organic Cotton Plus, again, for free to try and review. The grey wool knit was purchased at Mood Fabrics NYC out of my own pocket. No one paid me for this post – I’m just doing it for the freebs! As always, all opinions are my own :)

Completed: The Sureau Dress

8 Sep

You know what rules? When you have a brilliant strike of inspiration that comes together perfectly – from fabric, to pattern, to completed project.

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

AKA this dress.

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

I’ve been holding onto this silk cotton voile from Mood Fabrics since the beginning of this year (it’s sadly long gone from the site now, but they have lots of other options – including this gorgeousness. Ok, that doesn’t have silk, but it belongs in my fabric stash nonetheless). I had originally planned to make an Aubepine dress with it – but changed my mind at the last minute and ordered the Sureau instead, also from Deer & Doe (I still have the Aubepine & still plan to make it, but I’m thinking I would like it better in a dark/solid color, possibly even a lightweight knit. We’ll see!)

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

I LOVED sewing this dress! Too bad the pictures are kind of shitty. I promise it’s much prettier in real life – the voile is floaty, slightly sheer, and fucking ethereal. The colors are amazing and very fall-like, but the lightweight fabric keeps things from getting too sweaty.

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

You’ll notice that my version differs quite a bit from Deer & Doe’s – I had to make a few changes – both fitting and design – to get the look I wanted.

For fitting changes, I made a muslin and made the following adjustments:
– The front neckline was slightly gaping, so I removed a 3/8″ wedge (similar to this method)
– The upper back was a little loose, so I removed about 3/8″ from the center back, starting at the top and tapering to nothing at the bottom.
– Shortened the shoulders 1/2″
– Added 1/4″ to the side seams

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

I also made a couple of major design changes! The main one was that I lengthened the sleeves to be full length, and added a cuff and placket (stolen from Archer pattern). Unfortunately, I didn’t correctly measure the sleeve length – which seems to be a common mistake that I ALWAYS ALWAYS make, argh! – so they’re a tiny bit on the short side :( Bummer! Fortunately, the sleeve placket means I can roll them up, so there’s that.

The other ridiculously hilarious issue with the sleeves is that they are sewn on backwards – and I did that shit on purpose! Let me back up a little. When I altered the sleeve pattern to include the placket, I used my Grainline pattern as a guide. I didn’t think to make sure that I was tracing the placket to the correct side of the sleeve, so – you guessed it – the placket ended up on the front of the sleeve. Didn’t realize this until I’d already attached the cuffs and everything, derp (and didn’t have enough fabric to recut because, come on, that would make too much sense). I weighed out the options, and decided that a backwards sleeve cap was easier to forgive than a placket in the wrong place, so the back of the sleeve is now at the front, and vice versa. Fortunately, the sleeves are fairly loose & the cap is slightly gathered, so it’s not obvious that I inserted them incorrectly, and I still have plenty of room for movement. That being said, y’all all know my secret now. Don’t tell anyone.

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

The other design change was adding that cute little half collar! I used this tutorial to draft my little collar, and interfaced one layer of the fabric before sewing them together. I hemmed and hawwed over whether or not to include it – but ultimately, Landon & I both agreed that the dress looked weirdly unfinished without the collar at the neckline, at least with this particular fabric.

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

Because the fabric is so lightweight, I took extra care with the construction. All seams – including the waistline and sleeves – are sewn with a French seam, for a durable and elegant finish. The facings are finished with pinking – any other finishing would result in showing through the fabric. The instructions don’t have you interface any part of the dress, but I added interfacing to the facings, sleeve cuff, collar, and both front placket pieces (both the front and the placket facing). Again, the fabric is super lightweight, so it needed a little more support from the interfacing. Specifically, I used the Pro Sheer Elegance Couture fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. I like that is gives a little needed support, but it doesn’t actually change the drape of the fabric. I had black on hand, which was perfect for my emerald fabric as white would have slightly shown through.

Also, ugh, guys, I know it’s REALLY short. Wasn’t planning on that! My fabric shortages meant that I couldn’t lengthen anything, and once I got the dress sewn up – I realized it would look way better with a deep 2″ hem. Which means the dress is now rill short (again, didn’t have enough fabric left to face the hem, which is how I would have normally solved that issue), but I plan on mostly wearing it with tights and/or boots sooo it’s not too bad.

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

Pretty much everything to do with this dress – other than my frantic last-minute pattern ordering – came out of my stash! Fabric, buttons, interfacing, even the thread – I love it when that happens!

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

There’s a cute little lapped zipper in the side of the dress :)

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

And that damn deep hem! Ha! I topstitched it because, I figured the rest of the dress has lots of topstitching, so it woudn’t look out of place :)

Deer & Doe Sureau dress

And that’s it! I like to wear the dress with a belt – I’m still not sold on how I look with gathered skirts (even slightly gathered, like this one), but I think the belt breaks things up nicely :) I also wear it with the sleeves rolled up, because, again – they are too short (even if they look ok in the photos, trust me, once I start moving around, it’s evident that they are too short)(maybe someday I’ll have sleeves the right length. Sigh.). It’s pretty short, but not so short that I flash cheek when I bend over (as several people have been kind enough to observe and report on).

I’ll count this one as a success! :) Next question – whyyy have I not been sewing Deer & Doe patterns? They are SO GOOD. I actually just ordered the Bruyere and am anxiously awaiting it’s arrival (as is apparently most of the sewing world :P). I have plaid flannel dreams for that bad boy. Man, I love sewing ♥

Completed: Butterick 4066

5 Sep

Ummmm so this may or may not be the third garment I’ve posted this week that is made of rayon challis.

Butterick 4066

No shame.

Butterick 4066

These pictures are also horrifyingly bad and blown out, but… meh. We all know y’all don’t come here for the ~dazzling photography. Again: No shame.

Butterick 4066

I picked up this copy of Butterick 4066 while I was last at the flea market in July. The cover art is a little outdated (and not in a cool vintage way, but rather, I feel like I can probably smell my Mamaw’s house if I lean in too close. Wait, just kidding, my Mamaw’s house smells great. That shit probably smells like someone else’s Mamaw’s house, maybe), but the line drawings looked promising enough – almost like the Kelly skirt and Hollyburn skirt had a secret affair that ended up with a little love child.

Butterick 4066

It’s hard to see, thanks to my terrible photos, but the skirt has pockets, a smooth A-line shape with no darts or tucks, and buttons down the front. I used this shameless 90s black floral rayon challis from Fashion Fabrics Club, as I knew the shape would look great with a drapey fabric (just like my Crazy Paisley Hollburn).

Butterick 4066

My skirt pattern was just a smidge too big (not the fault of the pattern itself – my copy is a size too big, since we don’t normally get to be choosy when it comes to buying vintage patterns!), but that was easily fixed by taking in the side seams before attaching the waistband. The big challenge was cutting off length – a LOT of length. Even after I’d shortened the shortest version of the pattern tissue by a good 6″, I had to go back after making the skirt and hack off another 4″! Shortening the length did wonders for the overall look of the finished skirt – before, it was pretty dowdy and outdated looking (mostly due to fabric choice, I mean – we are talking about the 90s here), but I think it looks pretty cute now! Shorter skirts FTW!

Butterick 4066
Butterick 4066

I finished the seams with my serger and used these pretty black and gold buttons that I had lurking in my stash.

Butterick 4066

I love how the finished skirt turned out – and I think it’ll transition really nicely for our “fall”**, since it’s so cool and lightweight, but still has those nice dark fall/winter colors. That being said, it’ll look great with tights and a sweater, too :) (maybe with a silk slip, though! It’s not very warm!) I’m interested to try pairing this print with black and white stripes – I can imagine it in my head, but until I start sewing up the striped knits I got while I was in Mood last month, your guess is as good as mine.

** Tennessee Fall: Beyond gorgeously colorful (visiting Tennessee in the fall should be on every single one of y’alls bucket lists), but still blazing hot and, yes, we absolutely make fun of those dumbasses who insist on wearing wool caps and jeans tucked into tall boots while marinating in giant pools of sweat. I mean, COME ON LADY, it’s 90* outside FFS! You aren’t fooling anyone!

One last thing – Giveaway Winner! Lucky number is…

winner1

winner2

Congratulations, Sue Martin! I love your method of sneaky inspiration by way of shop dressing rooms – something I’m too chicken to do myself (I got major stink-eye once while manhandling a rack of dresses in Buckle and I’m kind of traumatized now haha). As far as adding hours in the day – well, let me know when you figure it out! :) haha!

Thanks to everyone to entered the giveaway – and thanks to Laurence King for providing us with a copy to giveaway! Friends, if you’d like to buy your own copy of Casual Sweet Clothes, use the code LLADYBIRD35 to get 35% off! The code is good through 10/1/14 :)

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