Archive | January, 2012

Completed: Dotted Swiss Colette Violet Blouse

31 Jan

Swiss dot or dotted swiss? I’ve heard it both ways. Which one do YOU use?

I’m going to apologize in advance for 2 things – 1. These pictures are terrible (when am I going to figure out that white photographs like doo-doo?) and, 2. This isn’t even how the shirt looks now, and no I won’t be taking more pictures (see fig. 1).

Ok, now that that’s off my chest…

Violet - front

Here be the Colette Violet blouse in pretty dotted swiss! Let’s talk about the good stuff first.

I barely – barely squeezed this out of 7/8 yard. The under collar is actually cut on the bias and pieced in the middle. The bias part actually makes it roll quite nicely at the seam, so bonus mistake turned into a ~design element, yeah? My dotted swiss was extremely sheer, so I hand-underlined the whole thing with equally sheer cotton batiste – you can still kind of see the seams through the fabric, no biggie. I was originally going to leave the sleeves underlined, by a practically unanimous vote, but when it came down to it… leaving the sleeves sheer just looked like I had run out of underlining fabric. They didn’t go with the rest of the blouse at all, sadly. Instead of interfacing, I used a slightly heavier bleached muslin to stabilize the collar & facings. I wanted the entire shirt to be cotton/white/breezy – perfect for a summer bike ride 🙂

The fit was… interesting. I wanted this version to be more fitted, like Joanne’s fitted Violets, so I put some giant (like 1″) vertical darts down the front. If you’re curious how I did it – ehh, I sewed the entire shirt up, minus the hem, put it on inside-out and properly buttoned, and then just pinched away until it fit the way I like. Then I basted my darts, checked the fit right-side out, and sewed them down forreal. Easy! I think fitted looks much better on me and now I don’t have to tuck it in if I don’t feel like it 🙂

Violet - front

I sewed this up in a size 4, but cut the back down to a 0 at the side seams to make it a little less blousey. In the future, I will probably cut this to a 2 and add a FBA because my darts were all kinds of in the wrong place! You can’t really tell in the pictures – partially because I’m standing still so it stays in place, and partially because the pictures are total shit, but trust me. I wore this thing all day yesterday and every now and then I’d look down and notice the side darts were hanging out on the tops of my lady lumps. It would appear the shoulders were too big, which would cause the shirt to ride up every time I moved. I had originally moved the darts up when making my first Violet blouse, and they look fine where they are, so I’m not sure why these were such a pain. Maybe because this version is more fitted? Ehh.

Violet - back

Of course, the entire shirt is serged within an inch of it’s life, so any normal person would probably either deal or wad, but I REALLY NEED A DOTTED SWISS PETER PAN COLLAR BLOUSE TO WEAR WHILE RIDING MY BICYCLE THIS SUMMER. So I ripped up all the seams last night & spent an hour pinning, fiddling, basting, tucking, and pressing until I moved the darts into a more respectable position and shortened as much of the shoulder seams as I dared.

Violet - side

Violet flat
Flat – the buttons are from the flea market! Love it when stuff like that just appears for me 😀

Violet flat
Inside – underlining, serged seams, oh and yes, my tag 🙂

Violet waist dart
Nevermind the dart creeping upward, here is a vertical dart for waist fitting.

Anyway, I am quite happy with my shirt now 🙂 It fits nicely & the darts are in the correct places. And isn’t it perfect for a summer bike ride? Hm I need to sew me up some plaid shorts asap 🙂

Violet - front


Completed: Giant Plaid Circle Skirt

30 Jan

plaid circle skirt

This is a pretty giant plaid, huh? I originally bought this fabric from Denver Fabrics, anticipating a cute little plaid dress (view A of Vogue 8667, to be precise), but once I actually got the fabric in my greedy little hands I realized I was not in the mood to match that enormous repeat. So the fabric went into my stash – for a year (or has it been two?) When I went through my big fabric reorganization effort, I pulled out the plaid yet again and wondered what the heck I could do with it.

Make a circle skirt, duh!

I’ll keep this recap simple: I used my self-drafted circle skirt pattern, courtesy of Casey’s sew-along. My plaid was big enough where I didn’t have to cut any seams – it’s just a circle with a little circle in the middle! I lined it in bright yellow Bemberg rayon – also no seams, yaaaay – and sewed 3″ horsehair braid at the bottom for a nice floof. The waistband is interfaced with horsehair interfacing (lots of horsies went into the making of this skirt, it would seem…), which I opted to top-stitch down to keep it from stretching out (something my previous circle skirt has been slowly doing, sadly, despite stay-stitching and everything). The back is closed with a button. Besides letting the thing hang for 48 hours, this was a really quick project!

plaid circle skirt

plaid circle skirt - lining!
Some yellow lining for your troubles

plaid circle skirt - open
In all it’s circular glory

lol I tried to take a twirl shot… it sort of worked out…

plaid circle skirt

plaid circle skirt - waistband
I guess you want to see it without the belt, huh? I cut the waistband on the bias to avoid doing any plaid-matching.

plaid circle skirt - back
Here’s the back. That bright yellow line is actually the bright yellow zipper – if I’d known it was going to stand out so much, I would have made a better attempt to hide it in the plaid design. O well.

plaid circle skirt - lining!

plaid circle skirt - button

I finished this up on Friday night & wore it to the Flea Market on Saturday… these pictures were taken post-Flea (hence my frazzled hair). I went onward with two things in mind – buttons for the Violet blouse, and yellow lace for this skirt. And look – the gods of the Flea Market were smiling down on me!

plaid circle skirt - lace
No pictures of me wearing it all lacy-like, though. SORRY.

Speaking of the Flea Market, ahem…

flea market haul
Check out my haul trolololol

I’m not going to post every single thing I picked up, but here are my two favorite patterns-
Simplicity 3766

Butterick 7557

flea market haul - notions & trims
All kinds of notions & buttons! I am the most excited about the bound buttonhole maker – I’ve been looking for one of these babies for a few months now! I don’t even know how much I paid for it because it was in a giant bag of stuff for $4. Also excited about those little flower buttons on the bottom – there are several in that container, although they are dirty as hell so they will definitely be getting a good cleaning soon.

Well I think I just ran out of things to say so I’m just going to end this here.

plaid circle skirt


4 Things to Remember When Knitting Your First Sweater (Guest Post)

27 Jan

I’ve got a treat for y’all today 🙂 Mika (our wise & patient knit-along cohost) graciously agreed to write up a guest post with regards to knitting a first sweater. Whether or not you are joining us in the Agatha/First Sweater Knit-Along, this is really great information straight from the mouth (fingers?) of a seasoned pro.

Ok, enough blab – I’ll let Mika take it from here –

Knitting your first sweater is incredibly exciting, and also pretty nerve-wracking. What if you spend all of these hours knitting something, and then put it on and there are holes where there shouldn’t be and it doesn’t fit? (No, of course I’m not speaking from personal experience! There is definitely not a mangled sweater sitting in my old room at my parents’ house.) Here are my top 4 things to keep in mind when knitting your first sweater, things that I wish someone had told me before I made mine. Obviously picking your pattern and yarn are very important and I don’t discuss them here, but if you’re looking for tips on these issues, check out my blog – I’ll be posting my favorite sweater patterns for beginners, with yarn recommendations, sometime during the next week.

1. Size: Picking your size to knit can be confusing. Sweater sizes are generally by your full bust measurement, not your bra band size! The sizes listed by the pattern reflect the finished measurements. Think about ease as well – some sweaters are meant to be worn with negative ease (like the Agatha cardi), meaning the finished garment size should be smaller than your bust measurement. Others should have positive ease. Others should have zero ease. If you’re not sure, check out the Ravelry project page for your pattern – has someone written about the ease in their sweater? Do you prefer those that are more fitted, or loose? If you’re in between sizes and considering ease doesn’t change that, in my opinion its best to size down. Blocking (see below) can work wonders on adding width, but it really doesn’t help much with making anything smaller.

Don’t let this happen to you! [Image Source]

2. Swatching & Gauge: Swatch! Especially for your first sweater. Once they’ve been knitting a while, many people skip this step, depending on the pattern. For sweaters that are meant to be fairly fitted, however, swatching is crucial. Swatching is also a great way to figure out a complex lace pattern and make sure you understand it. Swatches are also helpful for testing the durability of your yarn. Does it say superwash? Soak it, lay it out to dry, and measure your gauge so that you don’t have to knit another swatch. Then chuck it in the washing machine and the dryer. If it comes out a felted, pilled mess, at least you know not to do that to your whole sweater.

Knit your swatch to at least 4″ wide. Then, block it (see #4). Once it’s dry, measure and compare your gauge to what’s stated in the pattern. Is it the same? Great! You can start knitting now. If it isn’t, try again with a different needle size. Even if the 1/4″ extra width in your 4″ swatch doesn’t seem like a lot to you now, the difference will turn a 34″ bust into a 36″ bust – which can make a big difference in how your sweater fits.

[Image Source]

3. Blocking: Blocking is the queen of knitting. If you plan to wash your sweater at all (and I hope you do!) you have to wash and block your swatch – gauge can change dramatically once a swatch has been blocked. If you’re knitting lace, use blocking pins to expand your swatch and open up the pattern. For ribbing and stockinette, lay your swatches flat on a towel, yoga mat, etc. Once you’re done knitting, block in pieces (if it’s a seamed sweater) by soaking the pieces, gently lifting them out of the water, squeezing (not wringing!) out the excess water, rolling them up in a towel, and then laying them flat according to the pattern measurements. Blocking is invaluable if, despite your best efforts, the pieces come out a little bit too short or too narrow.

4. Perfection: Even if you do everything you can, your sweater may not be perfect. My first sweater looked ok in pieces, and then I seamed it and there were holes in the seams because of my loose tension at the edges of my knitting (and some bad seaming). And then I machine washed and dried it (I used a superwash yarn, so why not, right? Wrong.) and it partially felted and shrank. And never saw the light of day again. But it was a learning experience. If it hadn’t felted and shrunk, I would have worn it anyway. Under a coat. 🙂 The only way to get better at knitting is with practice – some people make perfect sweaters on their first try, and I hope some of these tips help you get there. And even if the final result isn’t perfect, a) you made a sweater!! With string and sticks!! and b) your next one will be better.

Thanks again, Mika, for this guest post – very very helpful!
Does anyone have sweater-knittin’ questions for Mika? Ask away in the comments 🙂

New Projects!

26 Jan

Since my coat will not be ready for it’s unveiling this week, I embroidered a little L tag to make me feel better:
Coat tag
I just love putting these tags in my garments (and making them, too!). I think they really pull the piece together and give it a nice little personalized touch – you know, since sewing/hand-tailoring/fitting the damn thing wasn’t personalized enough. (this is where I roll my eyes)

Also, I love embroidery! I don’t get to do it enough, but I just find it so relaxing & free-flowing. This particular monogram is from Hoop Love Vintage Transfers – I use transfer paper to draw the design directly onto muslin, and then fill it with pretty embroidery stitches 🙂 This piece has satin stitch, back stitch around the satin stitch, and split stitch swirlies. Yay! I DO feel better, thanks for asking!

During coat downtime, I’ve been cooking up some sewing schemes to keep my occupied ’till then.
next sewing project
A croquis for your viewing pleasure. Also, shoe fail.

sheer white dotted swiss
I will be making the Colette Violet out of some nice sheer white dotted swiss – I barely had enough to cut my pattern out (the under collar is actually pieced – whoops), but I managed 🙂 This fabric is SUPER sheer, though, so the body is underlined with cotton batiste, and I replaced the interfacing with a sturdy muslin (collar, facings). Debating on whether or not to underline the sleeves – what do you think? The fabric is still pretty sheer even with the underlining. Mostly I don’t feel like hand-basting anymore but I’ll totally take one for the team if need be. Opinions, please!

next project
The skirt fabric – some poly blend plaid that I picked up at Denver Fabrics a year or so ago. I love how bright it is, but yeesh that plaid repeat is GIANT! I think it translates nicely into a circle skirt. I let myself buy a couple yards of bright yellow rayon lining… and a piece of matching petersham ribbon to stabilize the waistband. That creepy black blob in the corner is 3″ horsehair braid for the hem. Oh yuck, I just noticed that you can see part of a broken button in that picture too. Ew quit haunting my dreams.

These are all cut out and ready to be sewn up – the skirt has been hanging for about 2 days now, and I just finished basting all the underlining for the shirt. First non-coat of 2012, yo!

What have y’all been working on?

Join Us For A Knit-Along!

24 Jan

Remember when I said I was going to knit me up an Agatha sweater as my first big project? Turns out Mika is also knitting the same sweater, and suggested we do a lil’ knit-along for anyone else who wants to join! You don’t have to knit the Agatha sweater if you aren’t feelin’ it (although the pattern is only $6.50 on Ravelry!) – first sweaters are welcome too! I don’t know about y’all but I am needing a lot of hand-holding during this process 🙂 And here’s the fun part – unlike me, Mika is not a knitting n00b, and she has graciously offered to answer any questions you may have about knitting your first sweater.

If you want to join us, we’d love your company! Join the Flickr Group and stick the badge on your blog! If you just want to watch this ’round, that’s ok too 🙂 This is a pretty informal/flexible knit-along – I personally don’t plan to be completed for at least a couple of months.

Speaking of sweaters – I have more swatches! Ahh I am so sick of swatching! I think I finally got gauge, though 🙂
knit swatch, finally got gauge!
Lace swatch

another swatch
Ribbing swatch

So yay! Thanks again for all your help with my first batch of swatches – I had to go down to a 5 to get gauge. Now I’m ready to knit 🙂

In coat news – I finished the lining last night, yay! Started to sew the buttons on and every single one of them broke, boo! Cheap ass covered buttons, guh. I did, however, find a local source that will cover my buttons for me with a machine… the only drawback is there is at least a week processing time. So we are pushing back the coat unveiling and I would say I’m sorry but I’m really not because I demand perfect buttons.

In the meantime, Amelia seems to think my coat is a suitable cat bed:
She knows what she is doing is wrong. You can see the guilt in her eyes.

Coat: The Final Countdown

23 Jan

Yep. I’ve had this song stuck in my head all week.

Guys! I’m almost done with my coat! 😀 😀 😀 We are entering FINAL COUNTDOWN phase – all the pattern pieces have been removed from their respective fabrics, folded & replaced back in the envelope, and my cutting table is (mostly)clean. I just have a bit more hand-sewing to do and then it’s time for a coat fashion show! Yay!

Here are some in progress pictures to get you pumped & ready…
steaming the undercollar
Steaming the undercollar – I wrapped it around my seam roll & propped it up against my clapper. Doesn’t it look so smug & satisfied in that picture? How can a seam roll look smug, anyway?

catch-stitch at the seams
Part of what has taken me so long with this coat is all the hand-sewing involved – there is a LOT. I pressed every seam open and catch-stitched down both sides. This really helps eliminate bulk, which is really necessary with fabric as thick as mine. I also beat the shit out of every seam with my clapper. That was fun.

Ever wondered what the inside of a tailored coat looks like?
tailored inside of coat
Here ya go! I already sewed on the facing pieces, so no pretty padstitching pictures for youuu – but you can see how the front is interfaced with hair canvas. I told you – lots of handstitching! And look at my cute sleeve heads 🙂 I used Gertie’s tutorial for setting in tailored sleeves – I have done this before with my Lady Grey (and much success!). It is my favorite method for setting in sleeves and it makes everything easy easy! Got it right the first time, yeah!

back stay
Here’s the coat back – not much to see here, just a back stay. Boring!

collar - no topstitching
Collar is looking good, thanks to all that padstitching.

coat with topstitching
And then topstitching. I was a little apprehensive about doing this – I think topstitching can really make or break the look of a garment. Usually the latter – sometimes it looks kind of cheap. But I like the way it looks on the coat, which is good! Don’t wanna rip all those stitches out, el oh el.

So that’s where we are as of today! I actually dropped the lining in the coat yesterday afternoon, although you can’t see it from the pictures – all I have left is more hand-stitching. And sewing on the buttons. And then I’m going to throw a hissy fit because this whole week is going to be a balmy 60*. Lovely, but coat-wearing weather it is not.

One last thing…
Look who is coming home with me today 🙂

she's coming home with me today :)

A Knitted Lacy Collar

20 Jan

I swear this is a sewing blog… I’ve just been bitten by the Love Bug. I can’t stop knitting! We’re still in the honeymoon phase, where everything is fresh & new & super sweet. So forgive me while I gush about another knitting project (or two)!

knitted lace collar
This is the Lacy Collar – it’s from the book Knitting Vintage, which I swiped from my library last week (Sidenote: our local library RULES. Not only do they have practically anything I could want, but you can use their website to request books that are shelved at any of the branches and have them delivered to your local branch. Awesome awesome awesome!). I used yarn left over from my Bunny Slippers, and a button from my stash. Basically – free lace collar! Woohoo! I was inspired by these little autum collars from Casey – I love the idea of a removable peter pan collar, but I didn’t want to spend my precious sewing time making one. Instead I spent a WEEK of precious knitting time on one! No, I don’t get it either.

I only made one change to the pattern, and it was unintentional – I left out a couple of rows by the bottom lace edge. So my collar is a little smaller than the one modeled. Oh well! I learned how to pick up knit stitches with this project, and the lacework is a little more advanced than what I had previously done. I wish it had blocked a little flatter, but whatever – it’s lace, I’ll deal. Isn’t it pretty, though?

lace collar front

lace collar back

knitted lace collar
I am really pleased with how the lace work turned out! And it was such an easy project!

knitted lace collar

Ok, here’s a question for all you knitters – I need some swatch hand-holding!
I had to make two swatches for my knitted cardigan – ribbing and a lace panel. I actually made 4 because it looks like my gauge is a little loose. In both pictures, the left was knitted with size 7 needles (as per the pattern’s suggestion), and the right was knitted with size 6 needles. All swatches have been blocked & dried.
ribbing swatches
The ribbing swatches should measure 2″x2″. As you can see, thanks to my handy-dandy 1″ gridded cutting mat, one measures 2″x3″ and the other is 2″x2.5″. So they are both still a little big! Does it really matter if they are long, though? Or is the width the only thing I should worry about?

lace swatches
Here are the lace swatches. These should be 2″x3″, and the size 6 looks like it baaarely sticks outside of the 2″ margin. 7 is more like 2.5″, so obviously that’s too big!

So I guess my question is, I should use the size 6 needles, yes? Or do I need to go down another size & make another swatch (eeep!)? Help meeeeee!

For your patience, here are some pictures of the current coat progress:
padstitching the undercollar
I started padstitching the undercollar last night, but as you can see I got a little antsy in my pantsy & decided to stop after one row. The undercollar is lightly padstitched (1/2″ stiches spaced 1/2″ apart); there is no need for a fall since the coat has a collar band. At least, I hope that’s the case lol.

coat as of 1/20 - i'm a slacker :(
And here’s where I am so far! Kinda looks like a (sleeveless)coat, eh?

A randumnb news story to brighten your Friday – Dolly Parton & Gaylord just annouced that they will be opening an amusement park in Nashville. Nashville has been mourning the loss of our beloved Opryland for over 10 years now (they replaced it with a shitty mall. Ew!), but it looks like we’re gonna get it back! Yay! Just another reason to love Dolly 🙂