Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Apple Cider Nettie

*note: you can also see this post over on the Monthly Stitch!*
Hello, Friends! When I saw this month's challenge of Cheers for New Years! drink themed projects, I knew it was time for me to stop standing on the sidelines and join the Monthly Stitch once and for all. This challenge was especially appealing, because it pushed me to make a pattern I purchased almost as soon as it was released: Closet Case Files Nettie Bodysuit. After seeing multiple versions on the interwebs, I became convinced that it would be a perfect item in my wardrobe for the Chicago winters. After all, there is nothing worse than your shirt coming untucked and a draft of arctic wind blasting across your bare skin! 
Several years ago, I purchased some apple printed thermal knit, with the goal of eventually making a bodysuit with it. Once this pattern was released, I knew it was a perfect match! 

This bodysuit took two days to put together - not because it was difficult, but because I kept getting distracted by other things that needed to be done at home. The pieces went together easily, though there are some things I would change for next time:
  • My fabric doesn't have quite the stretch that the pattern calls for, which I should have taken into consideration when cutting out the neck and leg bindings. I ended up stretching those pieces to their absolute max to get a good fit. It worked out, but I would rather not fight so hard next time!
  • I used a straight stitch to put the pieces together, and zig-zagged in the seam allowance. This seemed to work out fine, and any waviness added to the seams by the zig-zagging was easily remedied with some ironing.
  • I cut a twelve for the bust and waist, and fourteen for the hips. I would definitely go up to the 16 for the snap area, just to give myself some extra length to snap the closures back together.
I would also like it if there wasn't a vertical line from the apex of my bust towards my waist (as in the photo above), though I imagine a fabric with some spandex and a little more give in it might resolve that issue. 

Now that we are in the thick of winter, I can definitely see myself making many more of these, and someday even making a daring backless one (when the weather gets warmer, of course)!
What are you sewing to keep warm this winter? Let me know in the comments!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Stashbusting Quilt

Dear Friends! Thank you so much for your comments on my last post. After reading some of your suggestions, I donated some fabric and patterns, as well as reassessed my organization in the room. I also decided to buckle down and tackle one project that was on my sewing to-do list, and happened to be taking up the most room in my sewing area.

The bag at the top of this photo, filled with blue fabric, is GONE! (The other piles are still there, unfortunately.) I decided to finally tackle a scrap quilt, and since I had so many blue pieces, I thought making an all blue scrap quilt would be really amazing. 

I bought Sunday Morning Quilts about a year ago, and had yet to tackle anything from it, but the quilt on the front cover stayed in the front of my mind. 

It's called Candy Coated, and for a beginner quilter (like myself), it seemed relatively simple. I will say that I initially made some pretty huge errors in cutting out my strips, as I couldn't find a recommended width for strips. I quickly learned that cutting out the recommended number of strips at 1" (when you would need 1/2" of that for seam allowance) would mean cutting out more strips at wider widths as you went along. 

In my mind, the skinnier strips make a nice visual break between the thicker strips, but oh man, getting the full length pieces to the required width required quite a bit of extra cutting (thus using up the whole of the scrap bag).

Once all the strips were cut out, then came the fun part of putting everything together. I made smaller sections of strips, squared those, and then stitched into the longer strip. I found the squaring process very satisfying!

This quilt top is full of fabrics that I have been carrying for YEARS. The polka dot fabric was a dress for Kitty, the royal blue surfer fabric has been living in my Mom's stash since my childhood, the yellow and green plaid was left over from a pair of shorts I made myself five years ago, the navy Hawaiian fabric was a dress Mama Grand made me in high school, the white with navy medallions was from my friend Claire's stash, the light blue floral is from a Jasmine blouse I made, the navy elephant fabric is from my most recent Oakridge blouse, Doctor Who fabric from my C2E2 dress last year, the teal Hawaiian print was a pillow from the 90's ... the list goes on and on.

There wasn't much rhyme or reason to putting the strips together, but I made sure not to have too many of the same fabrics too close together. Some of the fabrics did end up matching in different rows, but I actually enjoy those little coincidences!

I found myself staying up late at night to work on the quilt top. I was so excited to see how it was going to turn out, I just wanted to keep on working on it. This project fully revived my lagging sewing mojo and got me thinking about future sewing projects - something that hadn't been happening much lately.

For the backing, I'll be using these amazing twin sized flannel sheets that I stole from my parents' house AGES ago. I had thought to make them into Carolyn pajamas, but my apartment is too warm right now for anything more than a tank top and shorts. Also, I think using these sheets as part of a quilt that already has so many memories is more fitting :)

Once assembly began, I was ecstatic. The colors and patterns looked so so good together! I confess, I didn't yet have all the strips put together before I started assembling, but I was eager to get started on the next step.

Because the smaller sections of strips still needed to be finished, I made the two larger sections with the finished strips (which actually made ironing the whole thing A LOT easier).

The smallest section was used to stitch the two larger pieces together, and once I was finished ironing...


I'm totally in love with it, and I am so excited it's done! The final measurements of the quilt will be 64" by 88", so not large enough for a queen, but definitely for a twin. This will be a blanket for the couch, and will be large enough for two people to snuggle quite comfortably. The next steps, batting and backing, are relatively new to me. I have the backing (the flannel sheet), and I actually have the batting as well! It was part of my grandmother's stash that was given to me, and if I'm able to find enough binding in my supplies, this will be a quilt made completely from my stash! Perfect for my goal of getting out of debt and stash busting :)

Friends, have you ever made a scrap quilt? I'd love to see your versions, if you don't mind posting a link in the comments! 


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Resolutions: The 2016 Edition

Friends, every year I make New Year's Resolutions, and sometimes they stick (yay for flossing more often!) and sometimes they don't (sew/knit for 30 minutes each day - boo). But this year, I am determined. My 2016 Resolution (and there is only one) is to get out of debt. I don't have a tremendous amount of debt, but enough that I find it annoying and would love to use the money for student loans to go traveling instead...or buy yarn/fabric without having that nagging, guilty feeling in my stomach. It's time.

This lovely print can be found here
So, in preparation for that, I've started keeping a finance journal. I bought this notebook when I was in London in 2005 (!!!) and have never wanted to use it (lest I mar the loveliness of it) - until now. I have something pretty to write my goals in, and it makes the whole situation less painful. I have a financial goal every single day, because every article about resolutions I've read says to make your resolution specific, and break it down into manageable pieces. So far, it's working. I've noticed a significant difference in my attitude and accounts already.

Aligning with my goal of getting out of debt is my goal of using up my fabric and yarn stashes. Not only do I not want to divert any funds from the debt payoff to buy new fabric or yarn, but more than that, where would I put it?After moving to the new apartment last month, things are still in a state of disorganization. As much as I would like to say I am settled in, I sometimes have issues focusing when I am surrounded by the chaos of my crafting areas. So many projects planned, and so little time. 

To combat some of the chaos, a goal for January is to create ten garments. So far, I have made four Oakridge blouses, two Renfrews, and one Veronika circle skirt made (pictures to follow once the weather clears). Before the month ends, I'd love to finish two Granville blouses, as well as a yellow Veronika skirt which would be amazing with any top in my wardrobe. All of these items were cut out prior to moving, and I'm ready to finally have these pieces in my wardrobe instead of in plastic bags.

In the meantime, I am doing everything in my power to reduce the piles. The large blue plastic bags hold mostly scraps, as I've always wanted to make a quilt. In fact, I have plans for three or four quilts - but the bags might be overtaxing my brain before I can even get started.

Friends, how do you cope with fabric storage issues? And where do you start when your space feels overwhelming? 


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Holidaze! Part II

Friends, every August I send out Facebook invitations to my friends for a lovely little party I like to host in December, "Holidaze." August?! you may say. Why, yes! Because every person at the party gets a handmade present, and I need time to put that together. There is no greater stashbust than Holidaze for me, and now that I am making it an annual thing, I use it as a way to purge scraps of yarn and fabric all year round.

This year I ended up with over fifty presents. I felt very accomplished, considering some of these were getting made while we were in the process of moving apartments. Also, because we were moving apartments at the last minute (and I had sent out the invites in August...), my darling friends offered the use of their house for the party. I owe them a big one!

I stash busted those awkward color zippers that had been floating around my sewing area, as well as some iron-on patches from the 1980s, and made some cute zipper pouches using this tutorial.

The peppermint scented heating pads were a big hit at the party, so much so that I made some for Josh's parents as part of their Christmas present. Grab some essential oils and find the tutorial here. The flannel all came from my stash, and it was exciting to see friends running around with pieces that matched my pajama pants. WE CAN ALL BE COZY TOGETHER, YOU GUYS!

I have so much lavender left over from when I taught a class on sewing and we made sachets for our class project. I love this tutorial, and it helped use up bits of fabric and ribbon from my stash (including Doctor Who fabric!).

I also took peppermint scented rice and made hand warmers out of bits of flannel and cotton from my stash - these are super helpful when dealing with Chicago winters. Basically, I try and make things that I think my friends will use. Often, they are things to keep them warm, organized, or smelling delightful :)

The High Line hat, Capucine, Incognito cowl, and a zippered pouch with a fabulous iron-on pear. 

The peppermint scented heating pads, as well as some zippered pouches, and beach balls for the friends with wee babies. Michelle got my favorite bag - an amazing purple floral fabric. I think I need more purple florals in my life :)

Some fabulous zippered pouches, as well as one of the 12 Balls of Christmas.

Bags and pouches, and a stegosaurus from 1983.

Hand warmers require hilarious poses!

Sachets and hand warmers were popular (especially with the lovely Liz and Felix)...

but not as popular as the Space Princess Hat. Travis took it and wore it the entire party. Much envy was had by the other party goers.

This past Holidaze party was a ton of fun, and I've already started making things for next year! I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to my gift making, but it's secret, so the participants don't know what to expect :) I'm so sneaky!

Friends, did you do any holiday gift making this year? Let me know in the comments!


PS. Thank you for your super kind comments on the Significant Other sweater! Both Josh and I appreciated them very much :) Yay for breaking the boyfriend sweater curse!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Happy 2016! Starting the year with the Significant Other Sweater...

Happy 2016, Darlings! I, for one, am so happy to be looking at 2015 through the rear view mirror. Already 2016 has gone better than expected, and I'm excited to see what else this year will bring.

My first project for the year was actually finished last year. I promised my SO a sweater for his birthday in November. Technically it was finished the day after his birthday...but was blocked and ends woven in prior to visiting his family on Christmas Eve. Whoops! Either way, he's got his sweater now and he loves it, and that's what matters, right?

(Oh gawd he's so dreamy)

My favorite knitting projects are the ones that I've made with Liz and Michelle. Comparing notes, yarn choices, and adjustments, not to mention the fabulous photo shoots at the end, make the knitting process so much more enjoyable for me. We decided to team up and each knit the Lumberjack sweater for our menfolk. 

For SO's sweater, I chose Knit Picks Swish DK. Josh knew he wanted a red of some sort, so when the Knit Picks catalog arrived, I opened it to the centerfold of yarn colors and told him to pick one. He chose Garnet Heather, and it knit up beautifully. 

Michelle chose an amazing silk and wool blend for Mike's sweater...

...and Liz bought an incredible wool in Paris for Felix's version.

For the photos, we ended up at the Lincoln Park Conservatory, where we took photos for our first sweater together, the Ingenue. Of course, we had to recreate a photo from that shoot for this one :)

Ok, let's talk about the pattern. I swatched and got gauge on size 5 needles, and all ribbing would be done on size 4 needles. Based on Josh's chest measurement, I decided to knit the Large (finished chest 40.9"). 

Josh is a tall guy. A really tall guy. I knew some adjustments would need to be made so the sweater fit him properly, specifically adding shaping into the torso of the sweater, as well as adding length to the arms and torso. Because the pattern called for about 1800 yards for the Large version, and adding in some extra yardage for the length, I ended up ordering 17 skeins (2,091 yards total).

I ended up with 8 more stitches before casting on for the bottom of the collar, so I only cast on 10 stitches instead of the 14 called for by the pattern. When I got to the separating for sleeves, my count was at 364 instead of 368, and after speaking with Liz and Michelle about the bulk of the sleeve, only cast on six stitches for underarm instead of 8. Even with taking those stitches out, the sleeves are still a bit bulky. The sleeves also didn't need any length added to them! I was very surprised about that. As you can see, they are a bit too long on Josh, and whether that was the yarn choice, the pattern, or the blocking, or a combination of all three, I don't know. He does like the length, saying it is a very rare thing to find something that is too long for him.

For the torso shaping, I decreased four times over 32 rows (decreased a total of 16 stitches). This shaping, plus the reduction in underarm cast on stitches, created a fitted silhouette that I really like. I ended up ripping back and adding five more inches for torso length, which made it slightly too long for Josh, but he likes it (he can lift his arms above his head without showing his shirt underneath). 

A close up of the collar. I love how the collar turned out, and Josh picked the button from my stash. 

Overall, I'm pleased with the result. I was disappointed that I ended with too much length, but Josh likes it and wears it almost every day, so I'm telling myself that that is what matters most. I was also disappointed that I only used 12.2 skeins of yarn for this project, about 1500 yards total, 300 less than the pattern called for. I now have 4.8 skeins left in my stash, and while it is a pretty color and I don't mind overbuying slightly, I feel like 590 yards is a bit excessive. 

Since Josh likes this sweater so much, I've offered to make him this sweater next time... but I'm going to do some knitting for myself first ;)