Knit // Vintage Vanilla Baby Sweater

Vintage Vanilla DIY baby sweater

For some time I’ve had my eye on a sweater knitting project. But, of course, an adult-sized sweater was too intimidating for my first sweater, so I started with a newborn-sized short-sleeved sweater. This is the Vintage Vanilla pattern,  smallest size, knit with size 3 needles in a very machine-washable and gender-neutral-colorway acrylic yarn. I found the big holographic button at Creative Reuse and the clear one in my stash. The sweater took me about 4 days to knit and has definitely motivated me to knit a sweater for myself. It has been sent off to its recipient in the 2018 Secret Valentine’s Exchange hosted by Sanae and Ute, so I hope it finds its recipient well, and I hope it fits!

Vintage Vanilla DIY baby sweater

Knit // Stitch Block Cowl

Stitch block cowl

Last holiday gift! Oh, you know how sometimes those knitting projects drag on. I meant to have it done in December but didn’t finish until the end of January. Better late than never. This is the stitch block cowl from Purl Soho. I used Lion Brand Wool Ease yarn (warm and wooly but doesn’t break the bank). When I started it was turning out super huge! and would have eaten up the required amount of yarn without making the scarf long enough. I was knitting to gauge, so I frogged it and adjusted the width (it says cast on something like 51 stitches but I only cast on 41). Generally I’m not a fan of making scarves, but this was worth it. The pattern at least changes every 20 inches or so to keep it interesting. And it was a learning process getting used to knitting larger yarn on larger needles, and learning the three different stitch blocks. I’m pleased with how it turned out, and it’s finally on its way to its intended recipient in Colorado.

And my sewing machine has officially been in the shop for 5 weeks as of today.

Stitch block cowlStitch block cowl

Sewn // Flannel Isca

Well folks, sewing machine breakage has thrown a wrench into my “sew one thing a week” plans. The automatic cutter stopped working (first world problems, I know), and it was high time for a service visit, so off to the shop it went. And it will be another 2-3 weeks until it’s back… in total that’s a 4-5 week wait time. I have managed to cut out about every project I’m going to make for the next year (not really, just kidding. But I have been doing a lot of all the things I can do without a sewing machine, i.e. cutting out pattern and fabric pieces, assembling notions, and pinning to make “sewing kits” for when my machine returns).

I did manage to convince a friend to let me borrow her sewing machine for a weekend, thus I made this cozy flannel number. It’s yet another Marilla Walker pattern! Are you surprised? You shouldn’t be. In true Marilla style I hand-sewed the button holes. Fabric is from Joanns, buttons are from Creative Reuse.

Isca view A

Alterations to the pattern: Left off the collar, widened the neckline slightly and finished with a self-drafted facing. Shortened the skirt by about 10 inches.

Again, LOVE the pattern. This is view A of the Isca Shirtdress, size 3. I will be making view B at some point.

But I digress. The lap-finished seams make the inside of the dress so neat! I could almost wear it inside-out. The sleeve length is perfect, the pockets are nice and deep, and the detailing on the front looks super cool. I used a blue satin for the shoulder reinforcements and pocket insides. It’s slippery, so it keeps the flannel from sticking to itself or whatever I’m wearing underneath so I’m not constantly readjusting.  I’m glad I went with my gut and made the dress in PJ flannel (I was worried that it would end up looking like a nightgown but I happily don’t think it does), because it keeps me warm.


Isca pockets

It’s also REALLY cold in Pittsburgh (too cold to put my coat down and apparently snowing while we took these pictures), but I convinced my roommate to come outside with me for a very brief photo opportunity. Thank you!

Isca view A

Parting makes the heart grow fonder, right? I can’t help thinking about how much I have used sewing as a coping tool since moving here. More so in the winter. Even more so since I started grad school and several times weekly need some deep distraction. The current lack of sewing machine situation is something I’m looking forward to the end of. Patience, Claire, patience.


Sewn // American Apparel Copycat Dress

After writing this post, I realized how little documentation my sewing projects have gotten the past couple years. Every knitting project makes it to the blog, but many of my sewing (and other craft) projects go undocumented. So to appease my guilty conscience, here are three projects in one post!

The first is this green dress. I had bought the exact same dress from American Apparel during their going out of business sale this year. It’s orange, and I wear it so much that I decided another version was in order. I traced the dress, trued the pattern lines, cut and sewed the dress in under 2 hours. It’s a super simple dress but a good winter basic with leggings and a long sweater. Fabric is an olive green sweatshirt knit from All inside seams are serged. I finished the neckline with a small facing and topstitched with a straight stitch. Cuffs and hem are finished with a narrow zig-zag and my walking foot.

Second project is this coat. I found it at the thrift store. It was in great shape but the sleeves were way too long (and despite what that price tag says, I didn’t pay $38 for it (I actually paid quite a bit less)).

I shortened them using the following process:

  1. unpicked the seam between lining and cuff
  2. cut the coat fabric approx 2.5 inches shorter (the length I wanted the cuffs to be, adding some extra to turn under to attach to the lining)
  3. cut the lining fabric also by 2.5 inches
  4. slipstitched the lining to the coat fabric
  5. tacked the new cuff to the sleeve side seams to keep them in place

Ta daa

Last but not least is this necklace I made:

I usually wear them together like this:

Stay warm and happy new year!

Knit // Triangle Socks

Since I now have exactly one brother in law, I figured I had better knit him a pair of socks to welcome him to the family. And, conveniently enough, the time that those socks got finished happened to coincide with the holidays… I figured why not kill two birds with one stone ? 😉

Brief deets:

  • Fingering weight yarn
  • Size 0 needles
  • knit stockinette two-at-a-time and toe-up until I got to the triangles
  • Triangles are knit in short rows similar to this pattern (flying geese), except that I omitted the slipped stitches every time I wrapped a row to make a taller triangle.
  • Rib at the top is K2, P2.
  • Afterthought heel (using these instructions)

They turned out really nice and thick and squishy. Which is good because he does a lot of hiking and biking. By this time he has received them in the mail and I hope he likes them.

I hope I knit them big enough (here is a comparison of one of my socks next to his).

Sewn // Kimono Robes

By now these two robes have made it to their recipients- I made them as Hanukkah gifts for my two sisters. My roommate was kind enough to model these for me before I sent them off.

The pattern is Ralph Pink’s free kimono pattern. I had previously made a full-length version with long sleeves (see it here) which they both adored. This time, I made a few pattern hacks. I have found that the extended sleeves that hang down from the elbow can get in the way.  So I made straight sleeves. I also shortened the length. All seams are french-seamed and the hems are finished with bias tape.

The silky brown and black kimono has a slightly curved hem in the back. The fabric is a charmeuse from It’s slippery and was a bit frustrating to work with, but it was totally worth the extra care for the finished product. Because the fabric is so lightweight,  I interfaced the collar with a stiff twill to add some structure.

The blue kimono is a rayon print from Firecracker Fabrics right here in Pittsburgh. It was a bit easier to work with so I added deep patch pockets. The hem is straight in the back but curved in the front. It’s also a bit longer than the brown and black one and the collar is interfaced with medium-weight fusible interfacing. I ran out of printed fabric so I used some blue satin for the inside of the collar and the ends of the waist tie.

Hope all your holiday sewing projects are wrapping up nicely- good luck and happy holidays!


Sewn // Grey Wool Roberts Dress

A couple months ago I set myself a goal of sewing one project a week. It didn’t matter if it was as simple as hemming a pair of pants or as complicated as making a new dress. The idea was to work my way through the VERY long list of projects I wanted to do. Some projects I had planned in detail and bought supplies for, some were patterns I wanted to try, and some were only vague ideas. Many, many, many were simple alterations- I had a “to be altered/mended/finished” stack that was overflowing its box and blocking the door to my bedroom (a cry for help, perhaps?).

This weekly goal has kept me motivated to sit down and do a lot more 30-minute projects to get through the stack (a lot of things were from the thrift store and simply needed to be hemmed before I could wear them!).  It also meant I got all my holiday presents finished and out ahead of time. Some weeks I’ve only done one alteration, or made a pillow. But that long list of projects is finally getting shorter. It’s very encouraging. I’ve found time by knitting on the bus and sewing on study breaks.

I’ve also started keeping a log of my projects. In my planner I have a page where I write what week of the year I finished a project. It’s remarkable to look at how prolific I have been despite how busy I was in my first semester of grad school! Most of my projects never make it to the blog.  Since the beginning of October 2017 I have

  • hemmed and taken in the shoulders of a graduation gown
  • made a bandanna from fabric scraps
  • shortened the cuffs on a thrift-store coat
  • made 2 pillows
  • sewn a copy of a well-worn dress
  • knit 3 pairs of socks
  • sewn a 3rd cabernet cardigan
  • put pockets in an RTW robe
  • made lined slacks
  • sewn 2 kimono robes
  • hemmed 2 pairs of pants (maybe more?)
  • converted a military dress uniform from a cadet’s to an officer’s (which involved sewing on about a million miles of braid and trim to exact specifications)

So finally I come to this project, which is, surprisingly NOT an alteration (despite the volume I’ve completed to this point)

(anyone still reading?)

Basically I saw someone wearing a Roberts dungaree dress she had made and I became a Roberts convert. This isn’t normally a silhouette I wear (think more leggings and short dresses or sweaters and pants/long skirts), but I think I paired it with the right fabric. This is a grey wool blend from my stash, acquired years ago from a fellow crafter (my aunt). I lined the top of the dress with a pale green and yellow flannel from Firecracker Fabrics– I briefly considered doing some contrast details in this flannel but decided I would wear it more if it was all grey on the outside. Square buttons are from Creative Reuse

The whole thing is warm and cozy, and the cut is boxy in just the right way. The pockets are perfect, too. I’m not surprised at how much I love this pattern despite its new (to me) shape- the last Marilla Walker pattern I made (here) is one of my most-worn summer items. And it was quick to sew- took me 2 evenings (including printing and cutting out the pattern). If all continues to go well with my weekly project goal, I will soon start her new Isca Shirtdress pattern.

Alterations to the pattern: I removed 3 inches off the length at the lengthen/shorten line and then made the dress as-is. At the end I had to adjust the front seam between the bib and skirt- it looked like a frown though it is meant to run parallel to the hem. That meant I had to make a small adjustment to the curve at the back so that the side seams would match up, but it wasn’t too complicated. Next time I make this I will probably do a swayback adjustment and shorten it a little more. And there will be a next time…

Dance time!

Where to find fabric in Pittsburgh, PA

When I moved to Pittsburgh, I didn’t expect to find such quality fabric and notions sources (it certainly doesn’t have a garment district (I miss you Philly!)), but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that this small city has its fair share of independent and unusual fabric stores.  If you don’t want to trek up to Joann’s in the north hills, here are my favorite options for shopping small and locally.

Firecracker Fabrics // Morningside
1745 Chislett St

Firework fabrics has an incredible selection of garment fabrics for such a small store. They also have a large selection of indie patterns, regularly host sales and scissor sharpening, and the proprietor always offers great sewing advice. Firework is attached to Cut and Sew Studio, which holds sewing classes and camps for all ages and volunteer sewing events to make gowns for cancer patients. If you’re taking a class at Cut and Sew, Firework makes sure you have the right supplies. And if you’re just dropping in, this is a great place to get ideas and fabric.

Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse // Highland Park
214 N Lexington St

A thrift store for crafting supplies, Creative Reuse has a large fabric section in the back. Fabric is available in pre-cut sections or by the yard. Selection changes frequently, so check often! There are also tons of buttons, patterns, zippers, trim, yarn and other things you didn’t know you wanted but will give you creative inspiration. Prices are marked down compared to other stores in the area, so plan a visit if you’re sewing on a budget. While you’re there, walk around the corner to check out Construction Junction for surplus and salvaged building materials.

Loom // Strip District
2124 Penn Avenue

Loom sells high-quality apparel and upholstery fabric. This is the most pricey of the places I’ve visited in the city, but it’s worth it for the quality of their selection and the incredible eye of the owner. They have an excellent selection of special occasion fabrics. The store is spread over two floors of a brick building in the grungy-turned-trendy Strip District (where you can also buy Steeler’s gear to your heart’s content). While you’re there, stop in across the street at Penn Mac for some delicious cold salads or one of the nearby food stands for banh mi or canolis.

Any other places you like for fabric or yarn shopping in Pittsburgh? Add in the comments and I’ll link in the post (and probably plan a visit, too).

Sewn // Lined Winter Slacks

DIY slacks

These are some basic straight slacks, modeled off my favorite pair of pants that recently bit the dust. I unpicked the seams, traced them and then made a few adjustments. These pants were originally from H&M, and fit surprisingly well for RTW clothing. But they needed a few alterations. I scooped out the front and back crotch curves about 1/4″ and shortened the legs by 3″ at the knee. I also slanted the front and back center seams forward by 1/4″ at the top, tapering to nothing at the beginning of the crotch curve. I wanted something warmer for Pittsburgh winter, so I underlined the black twill with a cotton jersey. The waistband is interfaced with fusible knit interfacing from my stash.

DIY slacks

Black stretch twill is from Mood (link here) and underlining cotton jersey is from Joann Fabrics. As you can probably tell I wore these pants all day before taking these pictures, but they haven’t gotten too wrinkly.  Zipper is repurposed from the original pants. I followed this tutorial on inserting an exposed zipper from Megan Nielsen. All inside seams are serged or flat-felled.

DIY slacks

I’m really pleased with how these pants turned out. The length is damn near perfect. If I make these again, I will probably make them skinny instead of straight-legged. The other weird fit issue I’ve been having is around the waist. The waistband is perfect when I sit down (doesn’t dig in in or anything), but when I stand up it’s kind of loose and I have to keep pulling them up. Any suggestions?

(oh and look I’ve made everything that I’m wearing in these pictures! Except my shoes…)

DIY slacks


DIY slacks

Knit // Purple-striped Hermione’s Everyday Socks // 3rd pair!

Hermione's everyday socks

Happy late Thanksgiving! I did a lot of traveling and knitting en route, thus my newly completed pair of socks.

It’s yet another pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks! Similar to my last two pairs, they were knit toe-up (instructions here). Purple and grey striped yarn is Gothic Plum from Turtlepurl. I’ve only used yarn from Turtlepurl once before, but it has held up remarkably well. Besides yarn from Verdant Gryphon, this is my favorite brand of sock yarn. Heel yarn is leftover from the Pussy Willow stockings I knit a while back.

I turned a short-row heel instead of doing the usual gusset heel. Craftsy has good written instructions on how to knit a short-row heel here

Enjoy the pics, I’m going to get back to schoolwork! Penultimate paper of the semester due Tuesday.

Hermiones Everyday Socks Hermiones Everyday Socks Hermiones Everyday Socks

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