Saturday, July 26, 2014

Summer Stashbust 2014: Lime Lounge Pants!

Friends, I love being comfortable when I'm home and have nowhere to go. It can be really great to have those completely unplanned lazy days pop up in my schedule every once in a while, and to celebrate these days, I wanted some brighter than bright lime lounge pants.

(I don't know why precisely I wanted lime lounge pants, but I've been aching for a pair for months now, so I thought it was high time to do something about it.)


I wasn't sure what pattern to use until the lovely Lisette left Simplicity 2224 in my care. I decided to make view C, the long version, as some nights it can get chilly around here.


The pattern has these fabulous wrap around pockets which go over the center front seam and get sewn into the side seam. I love how they look, and they are large enough to hold my phone and possibly a cup of tea (but that could get messy). 


The waist is 100% encased elastic - do not be fooled by the bow! The pattern calls for two button holes and a small bit of ribbon to give the idea of drawstring waistline, but it's all an illusion.  I don't mind the elastic waist, as these are purely indoor pants.


I like the fabric - a poly/cotton blend that feels more like linen than poly/cotton. I also love the color. I've been attracted to more and more greens lately, so more of those might be pulled out of the stash sooner rather than later. 

(The Jasmine blouse I made with the leftover fabric can be seen here)


This last photo is especially dear to me.  Last week at work, a woman poked me in the stomach when I was talking about working out. I came home and cried, because WHO DOES THAT. I'm over it now, and as you can see from the above, no more f*cks will be given.

Friends, have a fabulous week, and may you always have amazing lounge clothes in your closet :)

XOXO,
Meg

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Stashbust 2014: Sleeveless Jasmine Blouses!


Friends, summer in Chicago can be brutal. It can be extremely hot and humid during the day, only to get steamier at night from evening thunderstorms. While on my quest to make more separates for my closet, I decided to combine my love for bow blouses with my desire to keep as cool as possible.  Voila!  Sleeveless Jasmine blouses:


I busted 1 1/2 yards of butter yellow cotton and lime green poly cotton blend (each) for these blouses, and I've loved every minute of wearing them!  I bound the arm openings with bias tape, so they look lovely inside.  Also, I've been using the serger to finish the insides, which speeds up the process considerably! 


The lime green was leftover from a pair of lounge pants that I had made as part of the stashbusting challenge, but alas, I have not had time to photograph them!  

I have more sleeveless blouses in the works, and even more skirts to pair them with :) 

Stay cool where you are, friends!

XOXO,
Meg

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Stashbust 2014: A Men's Shirt Refashion


Friends, my sewing mojo has returned with a vengeance. I think I must be sewing every day, and it feels pretty glorious to be cleaning out the bags of fabric, bias tape, zippers, and other random notions.  While cleaning out a box in my fabric closet, I stumbled across a shirt of Papa Grand's that he had passed on to me:


I would normally avoid pale pink like the plague, but the soft cotton of the shirt appealed to my idea that I could use more cotton blouses in my closet.  The humidity can get quite intense here, after all.

I looked up men's shirts refashions on Google, and found one that had been made into a peasant blouse. I tried following links, but alas, there was no credit for the photo and no tutorial. I decided to try my hand at using Butterick 4685.


I am quite pleased with how it came out! I tend to avoid flowy blouses because I think they do nothing for my figure, but I've come to realize that this is exactly the type of blouse I need to combat the heat. The air flow is MAGNIFICENT.



I didn't stitch the placket down, so technically the buttons are functional, but since the top is hemmed at the top and the bottom, it's not coming fully off that way. I left the pocket on so I didn't have to deal with the possibility of holes from the pocket stitching.


I used elastic from my stash, which wasn't the width the pattern called for, but I don't mind - it works perfectly the way it is.  I've worn it several times, and the comfort level is definitely a ten out of a ten.  I found myself wishing I had more men's shirts in my stash!

Now that the refashion is out of the way, I've got lots more blouses (from scratch) to come. I've developed quite a love for sleeveless Jasmine blouses in summery colors :)

Happy Stashbusting, all!

XOXO,
Meg

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Stashbust 2014!

Friends, my stash is out of control. I have an entire closet dedicated to my sewing, and yet, everything still ends up on the floor and draped over random pieces of furniture in the apartment. I find that I can't part with many pieces - I have a specific idea for almost every piece in my stash.  The only problem is that I cannot seem to find enough time to make everything!  This is a common issue among us sewists, I think. So, in an effort to effectively use my time and to whittle down my stash, I am joining the lovely Sally (of Quirky Peach fame) in her fabulous Summer Stashbust 2014 adventure!

I decided that this challenge would be a great way to get over my fear of serging once and for all.  While I have a lovely, brand new serger (Brother 1034-D), I had developed a fear towards it. I think it was the idea of threading it. I used one way back in the day when I worked in a costume shop, but I also new how to fix copiers when I was the print girl at an office supply store, and I don't remember much of that skill either.  

Enter the lovely Lisette, who, while living with me for a month, sat down with the serger and let me peer over her shoulder while she threaded it. Sure enough, I was able to re-thread it yesterday when the thread snapped unexpectedly. I felt like a champ :)


I decided a great project for practicing my serging skills would be the Jamie Christina Mission Maxi dress. I've made two versions of this pattern before, one for my sister, Kitty, and I wanted another for myself.

I had some fantastic knit from Girl Charlee left in my stash from my Rose Hip Tights:


and I thought this fabric would be perfect for a Tropical Tiki Maxi:


I'm not going to lie, friends: this took me less than two hours to cut and make with the serger.  AMAZING. I am now planning two more maxi dresses, though it's unlikely that they will have both flowers and volcanoes on them.


My face looks a bit unsure, but do not be fooled - I am crazy about the fit of this dress! I am calling this a stashbusting success :)

Friends, are you participating in Sally's stashbust? Check it out and sign up here


XOXO,
Meg

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Channel Cardigan

Friends!  Darling friends!  It's been ages since we chatted last.  Forgive me, I've been knitting my heart out.  The past month  has been spent on finishing the Channel Cardigan by Jared Flood.  Every free minute I had went towards completing this eighteen page behemoth pattern. EIGHTEEN PAGES.  


Not to say it wasn't a lovely pattern, because I think the results are quite stunning.  I just wish it had been a bit more ... condensed.


This was my first foray into cardigans, and I got the opportunity to learn buttonholes, raglan sleeve shaping, English Rib, and creating chevrons. I also had a great opportunity to polish my seaming skills.  


The pattern has you knit the two sleeves first, followed by the body, the two collar pieces, the belt, and then the belt loops.  As you can see, I made it as far as the belt.  I was knitting this baby down to the wire - until 2:30am, and we shot these photos 6 hours later.


I won't lie - knitting the first sleeve took me a month. Having to recheck the pattern every single row took up so much time, and I just felt myself falling behind. Also, I have really long arms, and I like even longer sleeves.  The pattern calls for 17 inches before starting the sleeve cap, and I worked until I had 22 inches before starting my sleeve cap.  Eventually, I put the first sleeve on hold after I reached the 22 inch mark and started the body.  Truly, I wish I had started the body first because once I had memorized the pattern, I finished the body in about seven days, and then the second sleeve in two. 


*I just want to pause here and say how much I love this back view photo because the white streak in my hair is totally badass.  I wish it were thicker so I could look more like Rogue from the X-Men, but hopefully the thickness will improve over time.*


I knit this monster up in Cascade 220, as did Liz. Oh, yes, didn't I mention that?  I totally rocked out this pattern with three knitting buddies by my side :)


Liz, Michelle, Mari, and I all knit up the Channel Cardigan together. I love this photo - all of the sweaters turned out beautifully!



Liz had some interesting tension issues happening while she knit hers up, and it was strange, considering I am also (normally) a loose knitter and we used the same yarn.  I was even under gauge at points, meaning my fit was a bit more snug than I would have imagined.  I blame my extreme tension on fiscal year end business at work. #knittingmystressout


After much adjusting, Liz's turned out perfectly, and she even added pockets!  So so smart.  Pockets are next on my list of things to learn, and I definitely think I'll be coming to Liz to learn those :)


The color of Michelle's sweater is divine, and has the most delightful flecks of contrast color in the yarn.  I kept wanting to pet her because her cardigan was so soft.  I didn't, however, because the temperature was climbing steadily and we were all starting to feel a bit hot under the collar.


(Seriously, though - I love this jewel tone on Michelle and think I may need a similar color sweater in my wardrobe soon...)


Mari made hers in a lovely red-orange shade, and made the body of hers a bit shorter.  I like the shorter style very much!  She's able to rock hers perfectly without a belt, and the buttons are a perfect finishing touch.


Well, everyone else posed with the tree ... and then you have me:


After three sweater KALs, I don't know how to take normal pictures anymore...



but apparently I am not the only one (hehe!)


Many thanks to Mike and Felix for taking our photos.  So greatly appreciated, guys!


XOXO and keep cool out there, kids!

Meg

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Knitting Fail: The Bridge Jumper

Friends, sometimes I get overly ambitious.  Sometimes, I like to imagine myself strutting around in color-work sweaters and feeling oh-so-cozy until the warm weather returns to my part of the world.  Sometimes, I fail spectacularly.  

Way back in the autumn of last year, I persuaded Michelle and Liz to join me in Knitting for Victory.  The Bridge Jumper was in my queue, and I could see myself making it with a black background and white and red hearts/clubs/diamonds/spades. In my mind, it was going to be something amazing. Something like these:


I had even planned to make a cardigan version with Michelle and try my hand at steeking, because why not? I'm trying to challenge myself with every sweater I make, and this would have incorporated multiple colors for stranding, as well as steeking, and even grading up a vintage pattern.  Like I said, sometimes I am overly ambitious.

This is what my sweater turned out like:


I haven't even had the heart to frog it completely.  What you see here took me DAYS to accomplish.  At one point, I was having a bit of a panic attack and asked Josh to time me while I did one row.  Once an hour had passed and I'd only gone halfway around, I knew I was in trouble.  


My issues came from the yarn.  I should have held out to find the perfect black wool fingering weight for my main color, but I didn't - I got desperate in my search after going to three yarn stores in Chicago and finding nothing in that weight or color.  Finally, I settled on Cascade superwash.  Now, I'm sure under normal circumstances, the white, red, and black superwash yarns are very lovely.  However, the combination of these, as well as the fact that the white was thinner than the others, soon left me in tears.  

It was a bitter disappointment.  I had planned outfits with this cardigan (the Annie Savoy skirt, my red McCall's blouse), and wanted to join the other girls in making theirs and the photo shoot.  Eventually, I had to get over it, finish my Christmas gifts, and move onto the Vitamin D.  The yarn still haunts me though, and Liz and Michelle still tease me about leaving them hanging with this monster of a sweater.

When they said they were going to be shooting the sweater over Memorial Day weekend, I was bummed that I couldn't join in.  The night before our gathering, Liz cryptically texted me to bring a black cardigan with me, which I guessed was to emphasize my shame of having not finished the sweater.

I was so, so wrong :)

The fabulous Liz cut out all the color-work designs in felt and pinned them to my cardigan when I was outside.  When she suddenly appeared, I completely howled with laughter - I got to be included in the photos after all!!


These girls are my favorite.  I love knitting with them, even when I've persuaded them to do a project that I can't finish.  Eventually they will forgive me for all the madness this pattern put them through, and I have agreed to shelve my project suggestions for a year to make up for it :)


I will say that I think both of their sweaters turned out beautifully, in spite of all the major issues that were had.  Liz's red background is so vibrant and fun, and the fit is magnificent...


and I aspire to be as wonderful in color-work as Michelle someday, and learn the art of steeking from her in the near future.  


In the meantime, though, I'll continue plotting out my own Bridge Jumper, which I will probably make in the next year with a thicker yarn (and a thicker skin!).


XOXO,
Meg

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Vitamin D-idn't Turn Out So Bad!

Friends, please pardon my long delay in posting.  I have been knitting my heart out!  Several months ago (according to Ravelry, in February, to be exact), I started the Vitamin D sweater.  My awesome friend Kelly recommended it to me highly, and even though I wasn't sure about the cut of it, I decided to give it a go.  I was mostly worried about the hem falling and hiding my waistline, but after perusing the other projects on Ravelry, it looked like the draping wasn't a problem.  Awesome!  Now, just needed to wrangle some friends to do this with me... :)


I grabbed Liz and Michelle, of course, and also my friends Elizabeth and Bailey from book club.  Since Liz, Michelle, and I all finished around the same time, we decided to go ahead and do a photo shoot at the lily pond at Lincoln Park. 



Liz, that saucy minx, made hers up in a nautical theme.  IT'S SO PRETTY.  The pictures don't do it justice, but it's soft and colorful and made of dreams and wonderfulness.


And my dear Michelle made hers up in the most lovely shade of coral. I didn't know I needed coral in my wardrobe until now, because that cardigan is amazing!  I wanted to steal it from her badly, but I decided not to, as it coordinated with her dress perfectly.  And her shoes. I loved her shoes. 


As for mine...well...


I am SO SO LUCKY that this sweater is wearable.  So lucky.  


My problems started when I unknowingly picked a fingering weight yarn for this sport weight cardigan AND DIDN'T REALIZE IT. All I needed to do was read the label, and since I love to read labels, I have no idea how I missed this very important piece of information.  I can't even offer any excuses.  I am totally flabbergasted.  It's Berroco Ultra Fine Alpaca, so the drape is lovely, but OMG, Meg - read the label and save yourself the heartache.


As I was working on the short rows, I noticed my cardigan looked a little on the smaller side.  I was concerned.  I put it on waste yarn and tried it on.  The sleeves were a little tighter than I had anticipated (making me glad I left off the last decrease), but other than that, I wasn't noticing any real issues.  Of course, it's also hard to tell before blocking if this was draping properly.


Once I noticed how close I was to the end, and how NOT long my cardigan was, I went into full on panic mode.  This is when I realized that my yarn was the wrong weight. In desperation, I added two more repeats of the radial increases, hoping to make the cardigan reach it's basic measurements for the M2 size, if maybe a little longer.  It reaches the basic measurements, and blocked out well, and so I consider it a miracle that this sweater fits on my body and can be worn in public.


I should have listened to Liz much earlier in the process when she said my yarn looked like fingering, but alas, I was determined in my folly.  Also, I was meeting gauge when I cast on, but then mysteriously ended under gauge as the progress continued.  I'm normally a very loose knitter, or I was, but my stitches have become much tighter on this and my next cardigan that I am working on.  I think my goal of using knitting as stress relief is helping, but also causing me to grip those needles a bit tighter.  


Thankfully, a great stress reliever in my life is the knitting meet ups I share with these two ladies.  We laugh. A lot.  



 In the course of knitting this cardigan and our Ingenue sweaters, we've become close and I consider them friends in real life, not just my knitting buddies.  We share lots of sass and stories.
 

Serious shout out to our photographers!  Mike and Felix are the best.  Super patient (especially with me not wanting to stand still or do serious faces - ever), and work to make us look as fantastic as possible in our me made creations.  


Now that our cardigans are done, I find myself experimenting with how many ways to style it.  I love how Liz and Michelle paired theirs with skirts, so I've paired mine with a skirt and a dress over the last two days.  I think I underestimated how versatile this piece would be!


 My wardrobe definitely got a bright pick me up in time for Spring weather to FINALLY arrive in Chicago, and I got to spend lots of time with two of my favorite ladies.  Can't wait to see what we come up with next!


XOXO,
Meg