Sewing, Knitting, Dogs

Monday, December 08, 2014


Honestly - I have been sewing.  My huge, long to do list is completely overwhelming me and I sit in the living room after work and knit - which is fine because I still have a bunch of that to get done before the holidays as well.

In late October - I tested Violet for Abby of Blue Ginger Doll.  Some changes were made during the testing process and I can't actually tell you if my dress is similar to the pattern or just a complete departure.  

Color blocking is a very new thing for me and I'm not sure how or where or how much color blocking to add.  The main fabric is a chocolate brown knit with ivory and blue polka dots.  The fabric was purchased from Fabric.Com and is lovely.  It's swishy and has a great hand.  I bought a thin blue knit and used it for the yoke as well as the pockets (not in the original pattern, but since sewing Odette, I find I need pockets in everything!) - so I drafted some and added them.

While making this dress, I really, really, really tried to make friends with the coverstitch setting on my new to me serger.  I did not win.  In fact - my machine is still at the doctor, should be coming home next week.

Anyway - I highlighted all the yoke seams with blue double needle stitching.  Because I believe accents should be done in threes - I bound the sleeve hems and neckline edges with the blue knit as well.

I chose the full skirted, short sleeved options.  Short sleeves are my default these days.  

This dress goes together quickly and easily.  I'd like to try the pencil skirt version - not sure it's gonna happen in 2014 - but I will get to it.  You know, as long as I'm not distracted by the new shiny pattern.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Vogue 8944 - Again with the Catchy Title!

 Hey - I made a new dress!  

This is Vogue 8944 and the fabric is a great ponte that Kashi of Metro Textiles talked me into.  If you've been following this blog for long - then you know I don't wear a lot of solids.  For whatever reason - I feel big as a barn in solids.  Anyway - I was going to pass on this fabric, but Kashi and JB talked me into it.  

This dress had it's problems.  I cut it out according to my measurements. A straight size 22.  I did not trace all the pieces - what was I thinking?  I traced the skirt pieces - front and back because I was making it in a knit and didn't need a center back seam in the skirt and I did need to lengthen the skirt - I added 3" and put in a 1.5" hem.  The pattern calls for a 5/8" narrow hem, so I took a bigger hem than called for - but I think it suits this fabric.  I also made a sway back adjustment to the back bodice and made up a sleeve length (I cut at the lengthen/shorten line).  The sleeves are even - I'm not standing straight.

Anyway - I put this together with my serger and topstitched the seams per the instructions.  Got it all done and it was too big.  Enough that when I went to show JB even he noticed.  That was Sunday night - after spending my weekend sewing time going to Costco, doing laundry, starting the flannel pants factory, and working on the circle skirt project - I wanted to make something for me!  Something new, quick and easy.  This dress felt like it should fit the bill.  So - I hung it up and went to knit.  

On Monday - I decided to finish it so I could wear it to work today.  First - I took it in, 2" at the bust on both sides (yep - that's 4" smaller!) tapering to nothing at the hip and out to the bottom of the sleeve.  The fit is much, much better.  

Notes for next version:

    • Cut the shoulders at a size 14 width
    • Cut the sides at a size 18: width
    • Cut the center front bodice just slightly off the fold
    • Add just a bit more length to the skirt

And this is how I wore it to work - with a skinny taupe belt, a cardigan purchased at Target, and a pair of boots.  I also wore the locket that Beau bought me for Christmas last year - I love this locket!  I have to say - all in all - even with it's flaws - I really like this dress.  The skirt is flirty and feminine without being too full.  Even in the solid - I didn't feel huge.  There will be more dresses from this pattern.  
In fact - the next version will be color blocked with 2 solids and a print.  Oh - and with the leftovers of this fabric?  (Yes, I bought 5 yards of the fabric I wasn't sure I wanted.  I have recently figured out that I can get a dress and a magic pencil skirt for one [or both] of my girls from 4 yards.)  I bought the paprika patterns Jade Skirt - because of this post on the CSC.

I have big plans for the long weekend that's coming up - big plans I tell you!  Flannel pants, color blocked dress, pencil skirt, another Violet and another Odette (which is cut out).  I also have a Myrtle cut out - but I'm not loving the fabric, so who knows.       

And for Nessa - here's a posterior for posterity.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Bride's Shawl

The knitting started with a request from The Princess - she wanted a large - large round shawl.  We both trolled Ravelry trying to find a pattern and ultimately she settled on Girasole by Jared Flood.  Actually - let's back up - it all started because of that award winning shawl I knit for a bride last summer.  I honestly don't remember if The Princess was even engaged when I knit that shawl, but once engaged, once of the first things she asked for was a shawl.  Next - I reached out to my friend Gyspy Knits who is an amazing dyer, but isn't really dying yarn any longer and asked if she'd be interested in dying the yarn for the shawls.  She was and did.  We sent her a sample of the bridesmaids colors and asked for ghost colors.  GyspyKnits did an amazing job.

The Princess asked for a few things - she specified a pattern and asked that the shawl be huge.  I knit my shawl which was also round, to work out construction and bought the Elizabeth Zimmerman book to figure out Pi Shawl construction.  I also reached out to the Jared Flood team to see if there was a way to make it even bigger.  Oh and I stalked each and every girasole made on Ravelry and read the notes for everyone who made theirs bigger. 

 I knit the center exactly as written.  There really was no way to increase in the center.  I knit as many extra repeats of Chart E as I could, knit 3 repeats of Chart F, then I knit as many increases of Chart G as I could until I had to repeat again.  Then I knit 3 repeats of Chart H and honestly I was worried I was going to run out of yarn.  The Princess was home in late August and I had her choose between the edging pattern called for in the pattern, or the same edging used on all the bridesmaids' shawls.  She (of course) chose the matching edging - of course it was the more difficult and complex edging.  I think there was 1600 stitches around in the last 18 rounds.  The edging took 2 rows to bind off a single stitch.  I honestly thought I was going to the wedding nekkid because I did not start my dress until this shawl was finished!

Once the shawl was completely finished - the decision was made not to block it.  Blocking would open the lace up in the center a lot more, but as you can see when the shawl is draped over my coffee table - the sunflower in the center stands out.  The shawl is quite large without being blocked - The Princess is almost 5'11" and folded in half, the shawl stretches from finger tip to finger tip and hangs down past her knees.  What was done instead of blocking was the edging was just steamed out to open it up without really making it any bigger.  

I think The Princess liked it and it was exactly what she wanted.  I don't know how she'll use it from her on out - but I expect to someday get a photo of a baby wrapped in this shawl.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Long Time - No Post

It reaches a point when you haven't blogged in a while where you wonder - do I want to blog?  Do I start where I left off or start where I am now and just catch up or carry on?

Well - I do want to blog.  I miss being in this place.  I believe I'll just start with where I am now and maybe catch up - or maybe not.

I have been sewing - though not loads.  September and October were busy months with a visit from the kids (catch up post) and a wedding and vacation.

I made my mother of the bride dress.  I started it the first weekend in September and worked on it every moment I wasn't working the entire month.  I finished hemming it the night before we flew out.

I also knit 7 shawls - one for the bride, one for each bridesmaid and one for each of the mom's (mother of the bride, mother of the groom, and the bride's step-mom).

I did loads of things I've never done before when sewing.  I underlined the entire dress with organza, hand basting the organza to the silk dress with silk thread before cutting each piece from the silk.  I wish I had had more time, to do a test run of the techniques, because while I was comfortable in the dress, I don't think it's my best work.  And it's probably not surprising to any of you if I tell you the dress is too big for me.  I seem to consistently have issues with making a dress actually fit me.

The Musical One (Maid of Honor) with me pre-wedding
 There aren't any great photos of just me in the dress.  There are a few where you can see the dress better - but I don't like them, so you won't see them.

The dress is a Vogue Designer pattern by Kay Unger, #1392  If you click the link, you will notice my dress is different.  I fell in love with the pattern and had to make it.  I think my fabric was a bit too soft or fluid for this pattern, but I did it anyway.  The Princess (also known as the bride for this post) met up with Carolyn back in July and they went to Mood and bought silk, silk and more silk for my dress and it was mailed to me.

There are no construction photos of the dress.  I need to learn how to get them out of my phone.  Okay - I feel like this post is disjointed and bouncing all over the place - so I'll leave you with unofficial photos from the wedding.
the bride and her mom - post wedding.

JB and the Bride

my girls - The Princess and The Musical One

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Abby of Blue Ginger Doll released a new pattern, the Odette dress.  I've been waiting for this one for a long time!  It's always exciting for me when I'm asked to test sew a pattern.  I enjoy the process and hope I end up with a fabulous finished project.  In this case - I really do feel like I'm the winner!  

I worked on this dress over several weeknights while JB was in night school refreshing his emissions certification.   I also worked on some new techniques for me.  This dress includes my first hand picked zipper.  I have to tell you - I was positive the zipper was gonna just fall out the first time I wore it - but it hasn't!  I also did loads of catch stitching to finish the bodice lining.

The observant will notice that the skirt is slight too big for me.  Nope - I don't have any idea how big my hips are.  Maybe someday I'll figure it out.  In the meantime, this is wearable.  The super observant will notice that I don't have an insert in my bodice neckline.  That is totally my fault.  I messed up the button placement.  I have the insert by the sewing machine to fix it - but honestly I just wear the dress without it.  The slit is not so low as to be inappropriate for work.

This one's for Nessa - posterior for posterity

For the first time ever - I needed a forward shoulder adjustment.  I did NOT follow Heather B's lovely tutorial on adjusting the sleeve - which I will do for next time.  And there will be a next time!  I have fabric set aside for at least 2 more versions.  and speaking of Heather B - did you see her Odette Skirt hack?  As this was my first forward shoulder and a bit of a different neckline - I totally messed it up.  But I know what I did and will fix it on the next version.  The shoulder seams are very narrow.  They stay on my shoulders just fine, but you can see my bra straps.  I keep meaning to add strap keepers - but it hasn't happened yet.  Someday. . . 

I used a polished cotton with stretch.  The bodice is lined with purple batiste and so are the fronts of the pockets.  The pocket backs are fashion fabric.  As I mentioned, there are some changes I will make to the next version - make the skirt a smaller size, fix the forward shoulder adjustment that I did - the shoulder seam is in the right place, but the shoulders shouldn't be so wide/the seam so narrow, and follow Heather's tutorial for adjusting the sleeve to match.

Monday, August 04, 2014

One Trick Pony

I made another moneta.  But if you look closely - it doesn't really look like Colette's Moneta.  As designed - Moneta is a lovely dress that is flattering on everyone I've seen make it.  This is my 4th version - so it's not like I don't like it - I do.  I just find the neckline a bit high on me. 

For this version I took the Lady Skater front bodice over this one and just cut it lower.  i like it!

Per the instructions, the bodice is lined.  Well that's not exactly true, the instructions only have you line the bodice in the sleeveless version.  Until about 3 months ago, I made the majority of my dresses sleeveless and always wore a cardi.  But it's been hot!  and I want to be able to take my cardigan off and not break the dress code at work (I mean, I'm pushing it enough by having bare legs!)   So - I lined the bodice on this version.  

I decided I wanted a different skirt - so I used the skirt from McCalls 5974.  I didn't use the pleats exactly as designed for that skirt - I just measured out from center and folded the pleats back until the bodice and skirt panels lined up at the side seam. 

The fabric is a poly ITY that I bought from Fabric Mart in October 2013.  I spent just over $10 for the 3 yards and I had scraps left over.  The lining was a thin, inexpensive knit from JoAnn's that worked well with the colors.

I  added pockets - I never used to add pockets but I put them in my last dress and now I want them all the time!  Seriously - give me pockets!

Because this giant print was a bit see-through I also made slip out of the leftover yellow jersey.  As TMO told me last week when I was working on my maxi - you don't know how big your hips are do you?  Apparently I don't.  While the slip is long enough and did it's job well - it's too big!  I know this surprises none of you.  

So - all in all - another nice dress to add to the closet!  

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tulip Moneta

This dress (yep - it's a dress) is the 3rd moneta I've made.  This pattern is quick, easy and mostly flattering.  In this knit the skirt is so very, very swishy!  The bodice fabric is a heavy jersey I picked up at JoAnn Fabrics on my bonus Monday off after the July 4th holiday.  The skirt portion is a stretch jersey ITY crepe knit border print that I bought from in 2011 (according to my order history), the top of this fabric was all white.  Since I managed to spill something on the skirt today and every single time I wear white I can't keep food in my mouth - I did NOT want a white bodice.  So - I took the fabric to JoAnn's to find something to work with it.  You can't see it in the photos, but the bodice has just a tiny bit of sparkle in it.  

bonus pics of the poor maple firewood and stump!
Moneta has a slight a-line shaped, gathered skirt.  The pattern piece has a curved hem.  Honestly - I can't remember if I lengthened this or not - but I think I probably did - just because I always do.   When I cut the skirt, I placed the bottom of the center front skirt pieces an inch below the bottom of the border print.  So, I lost some of the bottom of the border in the curve of the pattern piece.  Make sense?  I did not include pockets because I am not a pocket girl.  My hips are big enough I don't need to pile stuff on top of them.

I did scoop out the front neckline a bit.  I think the front neckline on this pattern is quite high.  I did not line the bodice or use bands, I simply pressed the edge under 3/4" and topstitched it.  I also did something weird with the sleeve hems - the appear to be curved - need to straighten them out!

Honestly - I'm not sure I love the skirt portion of this pattern.  The skirt gathers to the bodice.  My issues are my own problem and creating.  Since I don't know how big my hips are or how much ease they need - I cut the skirt portion in size 3X.  However, I cut the bodice in a large (um, yea - it could be slightly bigger).  However - I left all the matching notches where they were because they large sizes aren't nested with the smaller sizes.  This time I matched side seams and notches and gathered to fit.  That means more of the gathers are on the sides rather than evenly spaced.   I do think I'll take a page from Idle Fancy's book and pleat the skirt next time - or try matching the lady skater skirt to this bodice - or maybe flora ala Heather B.