Monday, December 9, 2013

In Triplicate!

Friends, what could possibly be better than one completed Ingenue sweater?  Why, three completed Ingenues, of course!

Liz, Michelle, and I have been quite busy the last few weeks with these sweaters.  Our regular meetings in an Argo Tea downtown allowed us time to swap ideas on sleeves (no increases for any of us), while catching up on the events in each other's lives.  

We each chose a different yarn for our sweaters, and the results are stunning.  I worked with Highlander's Alpaca with a Twist in Eggplant, and I could not be more pleased!
(As I look at my sewing queue, I'm definitely seeing a purple theme. Could this be my signature color for this winter? Gasp!)

This sweater pattern was SUPER EASY compared to my last monster.  I love that it took half the time and I can throw it over my head without worrying about which side is front (because they are exactly the same).

The pattern called for princess decreases for the waist at a relatively early point, which meant that the decreases would've started at the apex of my bust.  I added two inches of stockinette to bring the decreases to under my bust, as well as added rows in between the decreases as Michelle advised since I am "a tall glass of water." The waist increases I kept the same, and what do you know? It fits around my hips perfectly.  Whew! 

(Jazz hands for Felix - I don't take serious pictures well)

Since I'm a relatively loose knitter (bah dum chee), I cast on the collar on size 8 needles, and then switched to size 7s for the rest of the sweater.  This allowed me to have a more snug fit (like I wanted), instead of having a boxier sweater.  I am not a fan of boxy.

I did make one mistake that might haunt my brain.  I accidentally skipped a decrease in the first sleeve I made, and in order to make the sleeves symmetrical, I did the same in the second sleeve.  It's only disappointing because I wanted the sleeves to be a bit more snug, but I think it worked out well just the same. 

The best part of this sweater is the ladies who were with me as I knit it.

Michelle and Liz are amazing, and I learned so much about renovations and knitting during our conversations.  Liz keeps amazing notes, and Michelle can easily decipher the errors I've made in any of my stitches.  Both are wonderful teachers.

I do have to give MAJOR CREDIT at this point in time to Mike and Felix, the husbands of Michelle and Liz, for taking such amazing photos.  We had the best time at the Lincoln Park Conservatory, which was a tropical paradise compared to the frozen tundra outside.

I'm trying to pick patterns where I'll learn new skills, and this sweater gave me the chance to make a pullover, sew down a collar, swatch and adjust for a better fit, as well as add rows in order to customize the decreases and increases.

Overall, a marvelous experience with these lovely ladies, and one that I will remember fondly every time I wear this pullover.  Liz and Michelle - YOU ARE THE BEST.

This dance is for you..  XOXO!
Have a lovely day, my friends!  And stay warm out there!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Doctor Who Sew Along: The Impossible Girl

Friends, while I've been knitting the time away these last few weeks, I stole a few moments to put together a dress fit for a 50th anniversary party :)

Several years ago, I came across this fantastic polyester plaid that has quite a bit of stretch in it.  I only managed to grab a little over two yards, and it has sat in my closet ever since.  Several months ago, the lovely Michelle gave me some patterns in my bust size, and I immediately fell in love with Butterick 4712.  Add into this lovely mix the marvelous Tempest Devyne's Doctor Who Sew Along, and you've got the right mixture for a proper time travel outfit!

Of course, while my favorite companion is Donna Noble for her sass and heart, I can not deny the fashion awesomeness of Clara Oswald.  The girl definitely knows how to rock plaid!

This dress was fairly simple to put together, though I did make some adjustments and added under bust and back darts to make the bodice a bit more fitted.  I tried on the dress prior to adding the darts, and didn't like the sack like shape that was emerging.  I think it's much more wearable now!

I got very lucky that the collar and dress plaids matched up so well.  I did run out of fabric for the under collar, so I just used a bright red to add a bit of contrast.  If you're going to run out of fabric, might as well make it a fashion choice, right?  Right!

While taking these photos prior to attending a Doctor Who viewing party was entertaining, it was also 24 degrees Fahrenheit!  Definitely too cold for a short dress with short sleeves, so I'll be adding some woolen tights and a sweater if I plan on wearing this out before Spring.

Many thanks to the Man Candy for allowing me to wear his hat on the way back home so my ears could warm up :)

And many MANY thanks to all of you for your wonderful comments on my last post!!  I am very pleased to say that I have worn the sweater almost every day, and I can't wait to show you what I've been working on lately.  I've become quite the sweater knitting fiend!

Hugs and kisses to all of you, and I hope my fellow Whovians had a marvelous 50th!


Monday, November 4, 2013

Matchy Matchy with Michelle!

I have had three great achievements in my life so far: 1. Getting a Masters Degree.  2. Running a Marathon.  3. Knitting my first sweater

But let's be 1,000% clear here, folks. I could NOT have done this on my own.


The amazing Michelle (who I count among my dearest of friends in the universe now) was my partner in crime. Together, we tackled this pattern (The Drops Catherine Jacket), bit by bit, week by week. 
It all came about because I realized I wanted two knit by me sweaters before the new year rolled in.  As I was looking at patterns on Ravelry (a delicious candy store of wonderful knit goods), I settled on this pattern for my first time. A color work sweater.  That's really a jacket.  And is like 8 feet long. 
Holy Cannoli.

Michelle was fearless and SO SO PATIENT.

She didn't hesitate to join me in this endeavor, and her encouragement is what made this a success.  My random texts to her when I forgot how to seam, or I had more stitches on one side of the sweater than another, or when I fudged up my colorwork something awful - she guided me through it all.

Looking back, though the pattern was completely advanced and I am a beginner in every sense of the word, I am so glad I chose it.

The skills I learned are so essential to all of the sweaters I tackle in the future.  Increasing (oh hey, knit forward and back), decreasing, seaming (Michelle is a seaming master, you guys.  I was sweating bullets at this part.), COLOR WORK, picking up stitches, altering a pattern for my measurements (super long arms here)...
the list goes on and on.

Truly, I could not be more pleased!

The pattern calls for two colors of contrast, but Michelle and I each chose one.  I like the overall look of it, and I am counting on this sweater as being a huge part of my winter wardrobe.

I may even make another, with green being the base color and grey for the contrast.  Who knows? I'm a wild and crazy guy now.  WOOL SWEATERS FOR LIFE.

Many, many thanks to Michelle's awesome husband, Mike, for taking these fantastic photos, and even bigger thanks to Michelle for helping complete this beginning knitter's dream.  I love you like whoa. 
Friends, I've missed you, but hopefully you've forgiven me upon seeing this monster that I've completed.  Much love and many hugs to you all :)
PS and here's to our next KAL with the wonderful Liz - be prepared for more photo shoot fun in the next few months!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Geektastic Knitting

Friends, as the warm weather disappears and we settle into Autumn, I've started focusing on my knitting plans for the colder months.  I thought it was only proper to make something for my handsome fellow/roommate/Man Candy, Josh.

Of course, it had to be a Tardis Beanie.

It's a rather appropriate cap, considering we met at a Doctor Who event May 4th  and drew a Tardis picture together (oh yeah, I totally blogged about it at the time)

Josh said the hat filled his two hearts with joy (#adorkable).  He's even slept in it (which is a sign of success, right?)

I used Spud and Chloe sweater yarn, which worked out well and has enough stretch to to be comfortable for Josh.  The colorwork also makes it incredibly warm around his ears - perfect for cycling in the Chicago wind.

I knit it while on the bus and train, so as to surprise him once it was done. It was a rather easy pattern, aside from anchoring the working yarn and making sure there was enough stretch for the blue and grey between colorwork sections.  I find that since starting on the Catherine jacket, I am really enjoying colorwork and I see myself rocking some Fair Isle in a few years.

In the meantime, though, I'll be content to work on geektastic gifts.  After all, there is a Dalek hat pattern out there... :)

Have a marvelous evening, all!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sewing for My Sister, Kitty Grand

Friends, I present to you my sister, Kitty Grand.

Kitty can be seen here modeling the Mission Maxi pattern by Jamie Christina, created in the Heather Emerald Cotton Jersey via Girl Charlee.

I made View C because I LOVE the godet in the back.  Love it.  Kitty is tall, and tends to wear fabulous wedges, so I wanted her dress to have a little bit of drama.  She picked the fabric out, and calls this dress "Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds."

I only had one issue with this fabric, and that appeared after making an error in attaching the godet.  The fabric tore way too easily for my liking, so I did some hand-stitching to pull together the edges of the tiny hole.  It's bothersome to me, but I'm a perfectionist, and you have to be pretty close to see the error.

This pattern was so incredibly easy to put together that I immediately made one for myself.  I don't have any good pictures yet, but I've been wearing it constantly.  This pattern is a favorite, and I'll definitely be rocking more versions when summer rolls around again.

Kitty's second dress is Vintage Vogue 2961, made in a navy blue cotton with white polka dots.  This dress was her original request (a navy sundress), and we added the maxi dress on later.  (I didn't mind adding on the maxi dress because I'd been eyeing the pattern FOREVER.)

We made some adjustments to the Vogue pattern to make it something she would wear more often.  We eliminated the boning, and though we had some fitting issues in making the bodice tight enough so it would stay up, the dress does not have to be dry cleaned now.  Wearability wins the day!

We found the belt in Mom's closet two minutes before these photos.  Mom liked the look so much that she said Kitty could keep it. 

Bound buttonholes.  They look terrible, but they are there and I did them so I'm calling this a victory.

We shortened the dress by five inches, which allows it to have both modern and vintage elements and gives Kitty everything that she wanted in the dress.

Her major request was detachable straps.  The pattern calls for straps that are permanently attached, but we took two strips of fabric, made buttonholes in the end, put buttons above the side darts, and now she can tie them into a halter if she feels like it.

Yeah, this dress took at least 15 hours, but it's adorable as hell so I would say that it was worth it.  Kitty's boyfriend has also promised me that he would take her out and show her off in it.  I am pleased with this idea because it's nice to have your creations shown off, especially if you are proud of the end results (and I totally am).

I think it is an inevitable part of being a sewist or knitter that you will receive requests to make things for other people.  It is a rare thing (in my experience, at least) that the requesters will actually pay you for what your time is worth, if they think to pay you at all.  I find that I am 100% more likely to agree to making something for someone if I am being paid fairly (family does get a discount of sorts) OR if goods and services are being traded.  For instance, in exchange for listening to me gripe at work and always having Ibuprofen on hand, my coworker is getting his curtains made by me.  My friend, Mina, who took the amazing pictures from Promaballoona, gets a dress of her choosing made for her.  For C2E2 next year, Stephy is handling the latex, I am handling the costumes.  For these dresses, my sister paid me.  

I've come to realize that my time is precious, and my sewing time even more so.  When inspiration hits (especially after a dry spell), I want to run singing through my fabric closet and make something pretty.  In order to do that, I am learning to say No.  In situations where I felt pressured to say Yes at that moment, I am now going back and saying No.  I've already noticed my attitude improving, because there is nothing I resent more than feeling pressured to do something I don't want to do.  This is my hobby.  I cultivate my skill for me, because it's something I love to do.  If I offer to make something for someone, without being prompted, it is out of love and every stitch is made with love.  If I feel cornered into using my skill, well ... we'll just say that I turn into a child who is on the verge of throwing a tantrum behind closed doors.

So I am learning to say No, upfront and without guilt or anxiety. 

Friends, let me know your thoughts on completing sewing requests.  How do you handle saying No?

XOXO and much love to you all,

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Leaving the Sewing Machine Alone

Friends, it's been a frustrating few weeks.  It seems that I am having a string of bad luck when it comes to picking patterns and fabrics.  In two of the projects (one of which you have already seen), the fabric was tearing before I finished the item.  With the third project, I chose a completely impractical fabric (cotton/linen blend - SO WRINKLY), rendering my new Simplicity 3688 trousers nearly unwearable to work.
So, aside from the two dresses I'll be finishing for my sister this weekend, I'll be leaving the sewing machine to sit for a time while I focus on my knitting needles...
and my very first sweater.
The lovely Michelle agreed to knit-a-long the Catherine sweater jacket with me, and she has been a huge help during our weekly meetings.  I've had the chance to learn quite a few things.  For instance, when you end up having more rows on one end than another, you will need to knit back and figure out where the issue happened ... and pay better attention to what direction you are knitting next time.  Also, when you don't anchor your colorwork yarn properly, it will suddenly appear like a huge spot on the right side of your sweater ... and then you will need to knit back.  Or when you don't carry your alternate color properly and it appears on the right side, you will need to knit back. 
I have had to knit back A LOT. I think I could do it in my sleep at this point.  I am feeling confident, though, that my sweater is going to be something I am proud of, once it is finished. 
Michelle and I work towards a common spot in the pattern prior to meeting each week.  If I work hard (and get done with my re-knitting after knitting back), then I tend to pick up another project.  Can you believe I am looking at other sweaters already? I have so much yarn set aside for projects, and I would love to have at least two sweaters done before winter sets in.  I think it's a reasonable goal... if I don't have to knit back too much ; )
Friends, what do you currently have on your needles? Let me know!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Failure

Friends, the failure of a sewing project is enough to damage sewing motivation for weeks.

During the wonderful adventure that was Me Made May, I decided that I needed more tops in my wardrobe.  I wanted tops that could be worn with my Simplicity 3688 trousers, as well as with jeans when I wanted to go out on the weekends.  When I found the below mail order pattern at an antique fair, I thought that I could make every version in multiple fabrics and be set for the summer:
I have a severe weakness for the remnant bin at the Textile Discount Outlet in Pilsen, and when I stumbled on an animal-like print, I snatched it up in a moment.  I cut out the square necked blouse gleefully, thinking how fabulous it would pair with my black Simplicity 3688 trousers, but that is where the good thoughts ended.
This fabric was SLIPPERY. I was determined to French seam everything possible to reduce the fraying, so this added to the frustration and time consumed by this project.
The fabric held a few surprises ... like a large fraying hole, right under the neckline.  I don't know when it appeared, but there it was.  If I touched it, the threads reached out like tentacles and the area grew.  It was amazing (and completely discouraging) to watch.

I top-stitched around the neckline to hold the facing in place, as well as stabilize the area as much as possible.  No good.  It still spread. I knew it would not last the first laundry day it encountered. 
I decided I at least wanted to rock the blouse once, and do it somewhere fantastic.  Dinner with friends, or the like.  I also decided to use it as a learning experience since I had FINALLY gotten an invisible zipper foot.
(I know, I know.  Don't judge me.)

So the time came to complete the last steps and put the blouse on ...
 and it was so huge, it immediately started falling off my shoulders.  Whaaaa?  Did it magically grow on my dress form? Did I not adjust the size enough when I cut it out? 

Regardless of how it became too big, it was too big and the first time wearing it was less than exciting.  I wore a cardigan all day because the neckline gaped so much and the blouse kept falling off my shoulders. Once I got home, I threw it in a pile, where it stayed until I decided to take these pictures.

Since dealing with this fabric and pattern, I haven't been much in the mood to sew.  Lately, I've been watching lots of PBS with my roommate and hanging out with my friends, which has been completely fantastic and relaxing. It's also been a great way to avoid the pile of projects I want to make and am hesitant to mess up.  I'm hoping that attending a theme party this weekend (1940s!) will inspire me to whip out my Ginghers and get to work. Who knows? You may see a fabulous dress with pink steins all over it next week :)
Friends, what do you do to recover from a failure? Does it completely kill your sewing mojo?
Much love and many hugs to all of you, especially everyone attending MPB this coming weekend!  Have a marvelous time!

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Colette Truffle Dress aka Great Gatsby Party Dress!

FRIENDS!  It's been entirely too long since we've chatted.  June was sheer craziness. My parents came and visited for eight days (stayed downtown, but I saw them almost every day), and then I had a house guest for ten days ... so my days were quite full of company!  I've also been working to enjoy the Chicago summer to its absolute fullest, meaning I am hanging out with my friends and a handsome gent as often as possible.
Thankfully, I am now working to catch up with all of my reading (you guys were really busy while I was checked out!!!), so expect some comments and love coming your way soon!

I did actually have time to make and photograph something, believe it or not.  I attended a Great Gatsby 4th of July party (WOOO), and I needed a new dress.  After examining my schedule for open pockets of time (non-existent), pastel and lighter hued fabrics (few and far between), I finally combined the simplicity of the Colette Truffle Dress with some sea foam satin remnants:

The neckline is a bit wonky in the photos because I got lazy when pushing the straps over my shoulders like the model wears them in the book.  I move around quite a bit.
*insert rump shaking Charleston dance here*

The satin is a bit wrinkled (and I swear the back doesn't look this bad in real life), and I inserted an invisible zipper without an invisible zipper foot (it just came YESTERDAY), but I quite like it.  I'm thinking if I throw a sweater over it, I'll be able to make it work appropriate.

This is my best friend.  She is a classy lady.

Our most gracious hostess, Karen. 

And my best friend's hubbie, who is also my friend.  It was a room full of happy, warm feelings ... and lots of sunshine.

My next project is a Vintage Vogue sundress for my sister, due on Friday (advice for bound buttonholes would be so so welcome!!). I've also been working on a few things for Meli's Rip and Redo Challenge, and I'm hoping to get those posted next week.
Many hugs and much love to you all, and I'm looking forward to catching up on all of your adventures in the next few days!
XOXOXO x 1,000