Thursday, December 18, 2014

Purple Fox Goes Sledding

I've got another test knit to share with you.  This time it is from one of my all time favorite designers on ravelry, Lisa Chemery (Frogginette).  I have been favoriting her patterns since I joined ravelry (way before I even thought about starting a family).  She just designs the most darling patterns for little ones.  Recently, I happened to be looking through her group on ravlery and noticed that she was running a test knit for her newest pattern: Silverfox Beanie and Slouch.  People, I didn't even have time to breathe.  I typed my response in so fast I was hardly sure my wording made sense.  Then I spent the rest of the day with my fingers crossed, hoping Lisa would pick me to be one of her test knitters.

The next day I saw that she had picked me to be a test knitter for her!  Luckily, I had already started swatching, because I had high hopes that I might be picked.  I had really wanted to knit up the hat in my Rowan Belle Organic Aran that I had picked up at half off at my local yarn shop, unfortunately I could not get row gauge with it.  So I decided to use my only dk yarn on hand - Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk.  The color is a taupe or khaki, which is kind of blah for a little girl, so I decided to use my purple Rowan yarn for the ribbing and pom-pom to add an accent of color.

Knitting this hat was so much fun.  I had actually planned on doing the beanie version, but when I got to the part where I needed to start the decreases for the beanie, I wasn't ready to be done with the project.  Late in the night, I made the decision to stretch out the project by knitting the slouch version.  Haha, ever had that happen?  Seriously though, the cable pattern was just so interesting that I wanted to keep knitting it.

I was so excited to take pictures of the hat that immediately after attaching the pom-pom I asked my daughter if she wanted to go sledding.  Even at 16 months, I didn't have to ask her twice, I didn't even get my needle put away and she was already standing in front of my with her boots and snow pants.  This girl loves to go sledding (perhaps that is because there is no actual work involved for her, she merely enjoys sitting in the sled while mama runs up and down the hills pulling the sled).  Anyway, I was glad to see that this slouchy had was over sized enough to completely cover her ears, so we took a few more laps around the yard before I got cold and wanted to go inside.

I have to admit that all of this test knitting is doing a really good job of distracting me from the things I want to sew.  No complaints though, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting cozy on the couch with my knitting during nap time and in the evenings.  Have you been doing any knitting lately?


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Curious Waves in the Sea

“My favorite colors are the colors of the sea, blue and grey and green, depending on the weather.” Sarah, Plain and Tall(Patricia MacLachlan).

I've shared this before but I loved reading as a kid, and still remember many of my first chapter books.  I'm not sure exactly why, but something about being a mommy gets me all nostalgic about my childhood.  So, when I saw this yarn on sale and noticed the colors blue, grey and green; I immediately thought of the book Sarah, Plain and Tall and decided that they would be great for knitting a sweater for my little sweet pea.  

I set the yarn aside and waited for the perfect pattern to show up.  Well, not too long ago I decided to join two ravelry groups for patter testers (Free Pattern Testers and The Testing Pool).  I have always been curious about the testing process.  I've seen lots of test projects in the sewing world for indie pattern designers.  On ravelry I've often come across projects that were labeled as test knits.  I assumed that to be a tester you needed to be one of those people who cranked out a new sweater every other week or so, or at least a good friend of the designer.  This is not so!  The two groups I just mentioned are set up so designers share a picture of their upcoming design along with the requirements and then ask for testers.  Shortly after I joined the group, I noticed that Milja Designs had posted a request to test her Curious Baby Zig Zag Cardigan.  I thought about it for nearly two weeks - because I was nervous to offer to be a tester.  I thought I might fail and not meet the deadline.  However, the pattern was so darn cute, and I thought it would be the perfect match for ocean colored yarn - as those zig zags could just as easily be waves in the sea.

Even though she was looking for a tester who had some testing history, Milja allowed me to test her pattern.  I loved this opportunity.  Let me be honest, and confess that the first thing that drew me to testing was to get the pattern for free.  Even though knitting patterns are generally around $5.00 and very affordable, I like the idea of not having to pay for them.  However, as I continued through the test process, I decided that I loved it for so much more than the free pattern.  I loved being one of the first to try a pattern, I loved knowing that I was helping the designer, and I loved that a tight deadline got me to knit my daughter a sweater in only two weeks!

Have you ever wanted to be part of the testing process, but weren't sure how to get an "in".  If you are knitter, joining one or both of the groups I mentioned above would be a great way to get started.  Have you ever been part of the testing process for a knitting or sewing pattern?  I would love to hear about it.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

5 Pieces: 7 Outfits

Hello everyone, so this is going to be my last post related to my fall mini wardrobe plans.  I hope you aren't sick of seeing a few of these items more than once.  I know I'm not, as I have been wearing each piece a lot.  As a matter of fact, these five pieces that I made are getting more wear than anything else in my closet right now (except my favorite pair of jeans).  And here's the reason why: these pieces go with each other and just about everything else I own!

Sweater.  Skirt.  T-shirt.  I actually wore this exact outfit to church the other week.

Skirt.  T-shirt.  I love this casual, cute and comfy outfit.

 Dress.  T-shirt.  I was inspired by this Boden outfit to pair a t-shirt under a shirt dress.  I love the effect!

Sweater.  Dress.  Now that the weather is cooler, this is the perfect way to bring a fall dress into winter.

 Blouse.  Skirt.  Casual and Cute.  Maybe a bit sexy with the red heels?

Sweater.  Blouse.  Skirt.  Perfect fall outfit.

 Dress.  Okay, you've seen this outfit with my original post of this dress, but truly the dress is perfect on it's own too.

I kept the wording simple in this post, as I want the outfits to do all of the talking.  Sorry for all of the photos, just think of this as Me Made May in November (and don't worry, you won't see a repeat of this in May).  I am so happy with how my fall wardrobe turned out, and I definitely plan to do something like this again!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Inside Out

When I posted my Chocolate Shirt Dress, many of you commented on the colorful hem tape peaking out from the skirt in one of the photos.  I love using hem tape as a way to add some color, especially when a garment is made from one solid, neutral color.  I thought I would take a moment to share some things I do to liven up the inside of a garment, or at least make it pretty.

For my shirt dress, not only did I use a cranberry colored hem tape along the hem, I also inserted in two other places.  There is a pop of color along the waist line (which also acts as a way to conceal the raw edges, as french seams are too bulky at the waist).  Another pop of color is inserted where the collar is attached to the bodice.  There is no raw edge to hide here, but it just makes the inside more cheerful.  I like to use french seams where ever possible, but one place where french seams are not always possible is the side seam when a pocket is inserted.  In this case, I chose to make a bias tape out of a closely matching cranberry satin and use hong kong seams along the sides of the skirt.

 For my Colette Beignet I used french seams for the entire construction of the shell and lining pieces.  Many instructions will tell you to notch and clip curved seams, and therefore french seams are not advised.  However, I find that if you make a very narrow seam (less than 1/4"), the seam is still able to press flat.  This was my first time using a Colette pattern, and I was very impressed with how every raw edge is concealed in the construction of the skirt, it makes it easy to have a beautiful inside.  However, I am still glad I used french seams, because I can be hard on my clothes (especially with the washing machine) and I wanted my raw edges to be extra protected.

In sewing up my Belcarra Blouse, it was quite easy to use french seams just about everywhere.  The one place where french seams weren't possible was attaching the binding for the sleeves.  What I did here was fold under the raw edge (of the part that would normally be serged and visible when inside out) and sew along that line after the binding was attached.  Sorry, that is probably a horrible description and only makes sense to me.  The effect is that it looks a bit like a self-bound seam and no raw edge is exposed.

For my Renfrew I had to be a little bit less creative with the finishing.  I don't own a serger, which is typically how knits are finished, and the properties of knits make it so things like french seams and bound seams don't really work.  I sewed each seam with a special knit stitch on my sewing machine (I don't have a serger, but at least my sewing machine is a good one).  The stitch looks more like tiny lightening bolts rather than a zig zag.  To finish the seam, I used another knit stitch that somewhat resembles an overlocked stitch, but not exactly.  I am relatively new to sewing with knits and do not have any other fancy tips here, but feel free to chime in if you have something to offer here.

Lastly, I have my sweater.  So, there's not really anything you need to do to finish a knit sweater - blocking is really the only "finishing" that needs to be done.  I did however throw in one extra with the sweater and that was to reinforce the button band with petersham ribbon.  I love how this give a bit more structure and stability to the button band, while also making the inside a bit more pretty.

Those are the things I have been doing lately to finish my hand made garments.  What are some of the things that you do with your hand made clothing?  Do you like the process of taking your time to make the inside look lovely, or is it more gratifying to get a great fit and move onto something else?


Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Little More Chocolate - Colette Beignet

As I was cutting out the fabric for my recent shirt dress, I found myself wondering if it would also be possible to squeeze out another garment from the fabric - specifically the Colette Beignet.  I really wasn't 100% sold on using any of the other fabrics that I had picked out for this skirt.  Also, I hate the idea of having leftover fabric - not enough to actually make something, but enough that I feel like I wasted money on the extra yardage.  Do you ever have that happen on a project?  It is especially miserable if it is a fabric that you love, because wasting a good thing is just a pity.  

Well, I throw myself enough pity parties, so I wasn't about to allow myself to become the victim of another one.  I halted the progress on my shirt dress and started making a muslin of Beignet.  Luckily, the size I selected was a perfect fit with no alterations, so I was able to immediately begin the puzzle of stretching out two garments from my limited yardage.  It took a while to piece out, and also came at a cost.  That cost was that I did not have enough fabric to make the matching belt for my Beignet, and the belt for my shirt dress would be cut from four pieces instead of two.  How do I feel about this?  I win!

After coming out on top with my fabric cutting, I set myself up for another pity party.  My lining is hot pink silk (yay - leftover from my 1940's dress - see, I must use all leftover fabric, always).  The pockets of this skirt are made out of the lining fabric - and the hot pink poking out of the sides of my skirt drove me crazy, it was an eyesore.  That meant ripping out a bunch of progress and inserting a new set of pockets - this time a brown polyester.  I don't particularly love polyester, but I am definitely okay with using it for pockets, especially brown pockets that don't jump out of the skirt screaming "here we are!"

I seriously love how this  skirt gives me a fake pear shape.  I used to think I was pear because I never had skinny little thighs, but I am actually "boyish" with big thighs!  I have no hips to speak of, from my under bust down to my knees is pretty much a straight line.  But this lovely skirt gives me pretend hips, and makes my upper half look even smaller.  I like having pretend hips, so I think I will have to try and make another one of these skirts.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Just One More Row

I remember when I was younger and was told that it was time to get ready for bed, I usually responded that I was going to read "just one more page."  I loved reading as a kid.  Well, when it came to knitting up this sweater, I just needed to knit one more row, then I would get to such-and-such.  My poor husband probably thinks that it takes me three hours to knit one row . . .

After unraveling all of my previous progress on this sweater, I really didn't think I would be finishing this anytime soon.  Then I committed to including the sweater in my fall wardrobe plans - and I panicked.  I can't knit a sweater in a month or so, especially while sewing up a storm.  So, I found myself knitting constantly.  I knit in the car (while my husband was driving) even if it was just a short ten minute drive, I knit during nap time, I knit after putting my daughter to bed, I knit while I was eating.  Baby, all that knitting paid off, because I now have a finished sweater!

I have wanted to knit this sweater up for a long time.  I purchased this pattern before I even started my blog, meaning I have owned this pattern for four years.  I have no idea why it has taken me so long to knit this up as I love cardigans and wear them all the time in the fall and winter.  I suppose I did get sidetracked with all of my vintage sweaters (which by the way all have short sleeves!)  Can you believe this is the first time I have knit a sweater that has long sleeves?  I mean, I've always associated sweaters with warmth, and therefore long sleeves.  Why on earth has it taken me this long to actually knit a sweater with long sleeves?

I really do love the simplicity of Jane Richmond's Georgia.  With very few design details, this was the perfect sweater for some quick knitting.  Since I was able to knit this up faster than I expected, I took the time to reinforce the button band with petersham ribbon.  I really love how this added detail turned out and plan to add it to any future cardigans that I knit.

I love that this sweater goes not only with my fall sewing plans, but also the 1940's dress that I made this year.  Basically, this sweater goes with most of my wardrobe so it is going to get worn all the time. I am pretty happy with this sweater, what more can I say?


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chocolate McCalls 6891

I am so excited about my most recent make!  I've been wanting another shirtwaist dress since the one I made almost two years ago.  This time I used McCall's 6891, which is in my opinion the perfect shirtwaist dress.  I find this dress to be really flattering with the neckline and open collar as well as the a-line skirt.

This dress also has long sleeves!  I have never had a dress with long sleeves, and this is such a critical need in my wardrobe since I live in Minnesota.  I must be a real shorty because I had to shorten the sleeves by over 2 inches, and they are pretty much the perfect length now.

It's funny that in the instructions, it says that this is the perfect three hour dress.  Three hours?  This dress took me much longer than three hours to sew.  Now I did french seam just about everything, hand stitch a blind hem, use hong kong seams on the sides, and basically make the inside even more lovely than the outside.  But still, there must be some super speedy seamstresses out there.

I have had this brown cotton in my stash for four years!  Yes, shortly after I made my very first dress, I bought this fabric in the hopes of making a 1950s dress.  While I never got around to making that 1950s dress, I am delighted that I saved the fabric for this dress.

I love the fit of this dress and how easy it is to wear.  I see myself wearing this a lot this fall, especially with different color belts to add a pop of color.  A chocolate brown dress is the perfect backdrop for adding a pop of color.  What color would you pair with a chocolate brown dress like this?