Saturday, 3 March 2018

Sew House Seven Toaster sweater in double faced merino

This is one of the final projects that I made last winter before going off to Nepal.  It hasn't been worn much yet but it was an easy make and I really like it, so I expect it will eventually gets lots of wear.

The fabric is double faced merino from the outlet fabric shops in Auckland.  It's dark olive on the outside and a more subtle dusty aqua on the inside.  I went with version 1, and size S.  I loved the inside colour but I couldn't think of any nice way to use it as accents, as the olive is very clearly an exterior sort of fabric - it won't catch on anything, but it's also not as nice against the skin, whereas the texture of the aqua inner is more like usual merino.

A raglan sleeved sweatshirt is pretty simple as sews go.  The fit is good, and I'm glad I didn't bow to temptation to make an XS.  I wouldn't make any changes to this pattern for fit. 

Monday, 26 February 2018

By Hand London Zeena dress in upcycled Marimekko flowers

I planned to make this dress when I was in Ukraine, but somehow I lost the traced skirt piece and that put it on the back burner.  There are always many fun dress patterns to try out...

Finally I decided it was time.  I used a Marimekko sheet that I found at the Goodwill in Seattle. 
This dress is not lined, uses a facing, and has pleats to create the structure.  I didn't shorten it because it's meant to be very short for BHL - I just used about a 2 inch hem to shorten it somewhat.  I used size 6/10 which is my general size in BHL. 

I found nothing difficult in the tracing, cutting process.  I knew ahead of time that I would hate the facing, but I also hate making bias tape.  Unfortunately I should know better.  I really hate facings. 

I didn't do a lot of careful details with this because it was pretty primarily a muslin to see what I thought, although I did pay attention to the flowers not to have them in inappropriate places, or repeating oddly.  My Mum thinks it's cute but I don't like it at all.  The waist bothers me.  I really need to do an adjustment to the back to remove the extra fabric.  The pleats don't please me.  The fit is acceptable even without a swayback adjustment, but the style feels too cute.

As for the bad photos, my Mum needed cataract surgery and couldn't focus so I reckon they were still impressively good : )  (She's had it now and is doing great.)

Luckily I have enough left in this sheet to make something else, like a nice Willow tank! 

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Muse Jenna Cardi in merino sweater knit

When this first came out I was interested.  Cardigans are a big part of my wardrobe and I wasn't sure if I would ever achieve knitting one myself, or be dependent on Anthropologie forever for cool quirky knitted items.  So a pattern for sewing a cardigan, I immediately thought of sewing up some sweater knits, and also right away had a lot of modifications in mind.

Which was why I thought over this pattern for a very long time.  It seemed like a slippery slope of a pattern: make one, assess, then make 4 more with various modifications.  This is indeed exactly what is going to happen, but I managed to make that first one right before moving to Nepal, so the mods will have to wait a bit.

The fabric is heavy merino wool sweater knit from The Fabric Store, which I also used for one in my endless supply of undercover hoods (see here).  This would also have benefited from a double layer of fabric, both to give it more body and to make it thicker and cozier.

I very sadly don't know what size I chose.  But it was consistent with the size chart so I would say don't expect to be surprised if you follow the size chart.  The surprise is the sleeves, they were very very long and I lopped off a decent bit and they are still longish and a bit loose.  I would consider tapering them more in the future.

It took me a million years to get the button holes done, which was a terrible terrible experience.  I recommend topstitching that seam allowance down on the far side of the button placket, so that it's out of the way of buttonholes.  I could also have interfaced the placket, but didn't.  On loose fabrics, consider that!

This first cardi is as I expected.  There are many things I plan to tweak for my Magical Perfect Cardi to be.  I'll make another version in something stable, to update these pattern changes like the sleeves.  I will eventually raise the front neck by a solid 3" because I like my cardigans to have full front coverage.  I would lengthen it above the wide hem band by 2" and then add pockets!  And eventually I plan to also add a hood.  And try the other version with the cool little shoulder gathers...

Overall I do like this first version and I am pretty pleased I found a use for these glass buttons.  I am looking forward to that slippery slope of pattern modifications which I also expect to be a fantastic opportunity for some upcycling.  My op-shop-addicted self starts literally drooling at the idea of all the different bits that I could mix and match to make more of these...

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Fun with knickers + UFO completion potpourri

I started my sweatshop in Seattle with some knickers that I had cut out in Arizona erm just about 10 months ago.  4 pairs - Watsons and the free pattern from So Zo.  I did different bindings on them as I am still seeking the perfect binding.  So far all the picot elastic I've gotten on etsy has shredded in the wash.  And the Watson gives me terrible panty lines which I know and have accepted.

So far: the blue ones with folded tape actually are great, and the red ones with the thin FOE that I couldn't fold over are tighter than the others, and already falling apart, as this FOE from Etsy was only about 1/2" wide and so I have only zigzagged it onto the outside of the knicker - and the stitches are already coming loose due to how much my Mum's Necchi hates knits and skips stitches.  The other two, with picot elastic, are fine. I suspect the grey and the blue are the So Zo pants, and that the green and red are the Watsons, but I'm not entirely sure.

I finished a Grainline Scout which is upcycled from an old dress:

My final thought on Scouts is that the only one I have ever really liked is the double-gauze.  So I think I'm going to stick with that from now on.  The fit of a size  4--2 seems to be good with no other changes. 

I decided once and for all that this Ondee does need to be an Ondee and not an Ondee-skater.

And then I moved on to some new knicker patterns: the Acacia - 2 sizes from one tshirt! (XS and S - I was between sizes, and I think the S fits better.) Yesss upcycling!  I like the butt coverage of this pattern, and I liked the option to use 3/8" elastic.  However I also think that using picot bra elastic gives the nicest finish when you don't have a serger.  And the samples made by Megan are way cuter than using old tshirts and inspires me to actually buy fabric specifically to make knickers with - one day. 

And the Kitschy Coo Barrie bottoms, size 2, which pattern I had high hopes for as it uses normal bindings that might hold up better in the wash.  First one is the lower waisted cut from an upcycled navy rayon tshirt - very soft but a pain to sew.  This has worn well and is actually my favourite of the batch.  Second one is my mum's old blue tshirt circa 1980 and the higher waist - doesn't have much stretch, in fact, those ended up too small to even pull on.  I do like the rayon, the fit is good, they sit totally below the butt so while there are panty lines they are at least not so obvious, and the soft waistband is great.  Must make these in more nice soft stretchy fabric.

I was also very pleased by how many knickers I could get from one tshirt!  This is an upcycling win!  Although I think my Anima lounge pants are totally the winner on best upcycled use of tshirts - enough that I might do them again but focus on colourblocking them so they actually look good too. 

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Halfmoon Atelier Roma skirt

This project was theoretically a quick mock up to see how the Roma fit.  I adore the Halfmoon Atelier patterns, but I always think they won't suit me.  So I wanted to see how this would go and whether I could make it work.  The linen was salvaged from a very shapeless dress which didn't work out so it has various seams in it.  It is heavyweight linen from Merchant & Mills - very heavy, consistent with the website - but still somehow difficult or different than I expected.  It's expensive stuff so I really did want to make something great with it.  I removed something like 8 inches of length from the pattern - a LOT, but I don't remember quite how much.

And then I didn't have the right kind of bias binding.  I ended up ordering some on Etsy.  And by the time it arrived I no longer had time and this project wasn't looking so easy!  So it became a UFO and I went travelling.

It was with unexpected surprise that I saw it come together now.  It's a quick make.  I had lost my pocket markings so I had to make the entire skirt in order to decide where to put the pocket, therefore ensuring that sewing it on would be a total pain, but the skirt was looking so cute that I knew I had to commit and stick with it.  I also customised how far down to sew by just pinning and trying it on, but I don't think I left the slit much higher than the pattern recommends.

I cut a size M!  I sized up based on my hips and an assumption that it would be better loose than too tight.

There is some bagging around my waist due to the thick fabric and the way it pools from the elastic waistband.  I think it's more obvious to me, looking down, than it is to the viewer, although I also don't think the skirt looks flattering, at least in these pictures.

I actually love this skirt!  The slit means it has great mobility and doesn't feel like a pencil skirt (a silhouette I really don't trust) and I am super happy with my gold bias binding. 

Monday, 8 January 2018

By Hand London Kim No. 2

After I finished my first Kim (which you can see here), I applied a few small changes to the already-cut out Kim 2.  I narrowed the bodice top by slicing a tiny piece off the sides of the center bodice piece, bringing the straps in closer and decreasing the space for the bust.  And I cut off 4 cm from the straps - mostly off the front.  And this time it's the normal length, ie only shortened 6" and not 12".  I did not think too hard about whether the armhole would be too small and in the end got lucky - I would have cut out a bit of the front of the armscye if I had remembered...but you will notice that I did all this a long time ago.  You will notice that I said rather prophetically that I hoped Kim no. 2 wouldn't take as long as Kim no. 1, and that I wrote about it almost exactly a year ago!

Well, I left these cut out pieces while I lived in New Zealand and Nepal, and have been sewing up my neglected WIPs all holidays as I wait for various visas.  It took me 1.5 days to sew up Kim no. 2, in between other things.  Those tucks are really exhausting, and it seems I just can't do tucks, gathering *and* a zip all in the same day.

So, Kim 2 fits fine.  The bust is better, but I have shrunk so there's still some space in it.  The armscye is too small due to how much I took off the straps, but the straps are no longer too long.  And the skirt is the "correct" length.  It dwarfs me - I feel pretty ridiculous in this poofy dress.  I think the removal of 1 foot of the skirt length was the best choice for me.

I was really thrilled by the Kim pattern because my first one fit crazy well.  I do feel kind of ridiculous when I wear it - it's the only thing I own with a gathered skirt.  So Kim 2 just feels like too much.  I do like the bodice, but I think I like the Elisalex bodice more.  I still want to do some Frankendresses but I am no longer so convinced this is going to play a part.  But if I keep working at this pace at least I'll finally get my first Zeena dress finished soon!!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Miette by Andi Satterlund - a two year project

I cast this on in Ukraine but realised the lace was too difficult at that time and stopped it.  I had considered using Malabrigo Rios (I ended up making my second simple sweater with it - here) but I thought the single colour that I had originally planned to use would indeed be nicer.  The yarn is Cascade Heathers 220, the colour is called iridescence, it is pale mauve from a distance but close up it's a rainbow and very beautiful. 

So I really cast on in 2016 while I was in Poland travelling with my cousin.  I got through the first 20 rows and then ran out of knitting time...until now.  I had progressed through increasingly challenging projects in Nepal and felt ready to tackle this monster!

This is a much harder project that the simple pullover I made before, and for that reason I'm glad I put so much time in between the two.  I had to relearn everything in Nepal - yarn overs, and ssk and all of it...maybe it will stick in my head this time?  The awesome thing is how my projects inadvertently were a progression of skills.  I started with the legwarmers, doing nothing new, but really needing my project to fit me.  Then I made the cowl which reminded me how to concentrate as you only have two rows of pattern but they are slightly offset.  After that I made the handwarmers and was really amazed how ok it was to do the thumb gusset and the thumb overall - plus those went into use RIGHT AWAY! The cables in my earwarmer made me more confident doing new things - so by the time I picked this back up my confidence had grown.

I picked this up at row 20, and with one week left in Nepal I was on a mission to get it done!!  I was a knitting machine!  I didn't finish it before leaving Pheriche - I had the body and one sleeve done and determined to finish the rest in Kathmandu.  As always with knitting, I have found that the minute you stop a project you doom it to potential eternity.

My colleagues in Pheriche totally laughed at the diminutive size of this thing.  They couldn't believe it was for me.  I made the XS and it's really small looking! But when I put it on, noting there were still no ribbing front bits, it seemed to stretch to fit.  So I guess blocking is when you really make something your size. 

I'm not sure what difficulty level people place this sweater at, but I believe it's relatively challenging for a beginner.  The lace rows mean that you are endlessly counting, ugh!  If you miss a stitch, you have to put it back into the right quadrant of the sweater.  I was totally mad at the single purl row at the bottom of the sweater, not realising it really is pattern!  And after that I didn't have the energy to figure out knitting and purling into my back loops, it was too hard, so I went with normal k2p2 for the bindings.  (During my last week in Pheriche I had no internet to check on things!)

 Also I thought the way the sleeves are continued makes it really hard to actually not have a hole in the armpit.  I assume this is beginner problems.  You only pick up two stitches at the bottom, then you knit those stitches together...on my first armpit that led to a massive hole.  I left a large yarn tail luckily so I kind of darned that thing shut while weaving in the ends.  I used a very short US 8 round needle for the sleeves and it was kind of a pain but I did the same with the second sleeve (not enough of a pain to switch to DPNs).  I didn't have a smaller needle for the sleeves so the cuffs were also done with US8.  I tried to be more clever about the second sleeve but even trying to pick up strategic stitches, there is a huge hole. It seems to me like you need to pick up 3-4 stitches to avoid having a hole.

I did get around to relearning purling in the back loops for my button bindings.  It is not all that easy and for some reason I had a real block at first but I got the hang of it.  However I don't think it looks better at all and it is *so much* harder than just purling, so I'm not convinced.  Or I'm doing it wrong?

The pattern read that I needed 7 buttons, which I already had gotten in Kathmandu, so I didn't double check.  It ends up you need 8 and I could have gotten one more!  I finally finished the bands after the holidays - didn't manage to finish it in Nepal, but I'm still really pleased it's done.  I feel more confident and ready to make larger sweater projects that will actually fill gaps in my wardrobe - I'm not really confident that I'll wear this much since it is best suited to going over dresses.