Hello again friends! Another post, so soon after the last one, you ask? Well, when you work on 5 dresses at the same time, sometimes they all get to the finish line around the same time. Maybe that explains the last three months of me not posting. Let’s call this catching up on lost time, getting reacquainted.
…Sometimes I choose fabrics for sewing projects that I like to look at, but don’t want to wear. I have been better at this in recent years, but this project was (at first) a miss for me. It hung in my closet, never worn. It felt too mumsy, too busy and colorful. I’m a neutrals and solids kind of gal. Black, grey, tan, and occasionally some blue or green. I really do love the fabric, but felt overwhelmed in all that yellow.
Luckily, the day I recruited my sister to take pictures of it (picture above), she had the brilliant idea that I cut off the sleeves and make it a high-neck tank dress. Lightbulb! Somehow changing the silhouette makes the dress feel more modern, less twee. It is now in regular wardrobe rotation. It’s airy and nice for this hot hot Pittsburgh summer. And the yellow feels bright and summery rather than overwhelming.
Other details: Size XS with a small FBA on the side seams that I later took in when I converted it to sleeveless. I sewed and then serged all seams. Added pockets in the side seams. Bust detail fabric is a linen scrap leftover from another project. Belt is made of self-fabric and attached at side seams. I finished arm holes with bias tape. Fabric is Sleeping Porch cotton lawn from Firecracker Fabrics in Morningside.
Hello! I’ve been away for a while, busy with work, applying to grad school (and getting in), and so many weddings. I have a bunch of half-finished dressing sitting around my apartment, including a couple Clovers (finished soon, hopefully), another copycat dress and… drum roll please… my sister’s wedding dress! There will definitely be pictures of that coming up. My time sewing lately has been spent either on alterations, mending, or the wedding dress. I did a bunch of thrift store hunting and finding, and found a couple gems that I had fun altering. The only thing I’ve sewn from scratch (that isn’t sitting in my UFO pile) recently is this cute little black number.
I found this dress on super sale at Madewell this winter, and loved wearing it with leggings and socks:
I was sad to pack it away when the weather got warm. I loved the fabric, cut and length. I had a couple yards of dry stretch cotton from Mood that was the exact same weight and stretch as the original dress. So, I used it to make a pattern for this warm-weather version. I laid the dress flat and traced it, then folded my traced version in half, trued the lines, and added seam allowances and a scoop neck.
I made this dress while my serger was in the shop; it was a challenge to sew a knit dress with only my regular sewing machine. I used my walking foot most of the time. I also experimented with different lengths/widths of zig-zag stitches on scrap fabric before sewing the dress. For the gathered waist, there is a strip of fabric zig-zag stitched on top and bottom around the waistline of the dress, with elastic inserted after.
It was a quick and simple project, and hopefully one I’ll repeat in another color.
My sister and I took a walk with her dog in Frick Park a few weeks ago. I must have been laughing at something funny the dog was doing in this pic.
Aaand we’re back with some seasonally appropriate clothing. Specifically, my latest Cabernet Cardigan. I have made the long version before in a sweatshirt knit, and wanted to try the shorter version in a sweater knit. The fabric is a polyester sweater knit from Joann Fabrics. I made View C in an XS, no alterations. The pattern is drafted for petite sizes and has options for both busty and less busty people. I used the version with darts (for more busty people), but I think the fabric has enough stretch that I didn’t need it. I think I’d also like to add another button at the top since there is more room in the bust than I need. It’s so nice to be able to make a pattern straight out of the package with minimal alterations. Yay for petite patterns!
The only change I made after sewing it up was to slim down the sleeves. the stripes originally matched up at the seams but are a bit offset since I changed the width. The stripes do match up at the sides (see above picture) and at the front, where it really counts! All seams are serged. Buttons are beige buttons from my stash.
Promise I’m not in a bathroom in these pictures- the S.N.O.W has relegated me to my kitchen, which has tile on the walls. Also sparkly black and gold linoleum and wood paneling. Wonderfully retro.
So there I was with gorgeous fabric in one hand and pattern in the other, and the two didn’t match up (in case you missed my last post: I had accidentally ordered the wrong type of fabric and it was too stiff for my original project idea). I was pretty upset at myself, so I moped for about 24 hours until the idea popped into my head to hack Lekala #4552. I won it from Saturday Night Stitch’s giveaway a couple months ago and wanted to make a version without sleeves.
Below is my first rendition of Lekala #4552. It did not turn out well. I had originally made it in a black suiting from Joann Fabrics, but it looked like a very short nun’s habit or choir robe. I took these pictures, threw up my hands, and then threw the dress in my UFO pile:
The thing was, the body of the dress fit well, and I could see the pattern working without the sleeves. It was worth a second try. I omitted the sleeves, lengthened the skirt, sketched a new neckline on the black dress, and finally traced it back to the pattern. From there it was simple to cut and sew the dress in my Contrado fabric, do a little bit of fitting at the princess seams around the bust, and then add spaghetti straps.
Then came the pockets.
Pockets are easy to add when you’re just slapping it in the side seam, but which seam do you put it in when you have 4 seams to choose from?! I put them on the side panels, between the front and side seams:
This fabric and the pattern are a match made in heaven! I’m so pleased with how it turned out, and I know I will wear this dress so much this summer. I really only want to wear dresses in the summer, and this one has PoCKEtsES. Lookit what I can put in my pocket:
I’m a proud pocket mama.
I anti-pattern matched so the dress would look as busy as possible. I think I did a pretty good job of having no seams line up! (Dead serious. Promise.) The insides are serged and finished with bias tape (from da stash) and the hem is a rolled hem from my serger.
Again, thank you to Contrado fabrics for printing my design. They have a huge selection of high quality fabric. I definitely recommend them for fabric printing. You can read my other post about Contrado and this project here.
*I was provided this fabric free of charge by Contrado UK. All opinions are my own.*
OMG guysss lookatthisfabric. Isn’t it sweet? My sewing friend was at my house looking through my stash and she said, “I like this fabric, where did you get it?” Little did she know… I designed it! Mwah haha. The fabulous people over at Contrado fabrics contacted me last month about designing fabric and I jumped at the chance. I put a lot of time and thought into both the design of the fabric (and the dress I made from it) and Voila! If you want to skip the rest of the words, here’s a spoiler: it’s great fabric!
So I, like everyone else on Pinterest, was fairly obsessed with Bliss and Mischief’s last collection (2016). It was heavy on embroidered flowers with a western/feminine feel, lush and earthy and also mucho $$$$$.
I had to have some of that poppy goodness for myself, so I based my design on it. Here’s the block I came up with (feel free to download and use in your own home fabric or printing projects):
Yaaaaaahhh it’s so good it could have come straight from the source. To be fair and respect B&M copyright I found some pictures of poppies on google images and then sketched them in a similar style. I then traced the images in pen, scanned them into the computer and played around with the arrangement and colors in Photoshop (I had help from a friend).
Then I uploaded it to Contrado’s website…
The fabric- Their collection is extensive. The stack of samples they sent me was like 5 inches thick. I had a hard time deciding on what fabric to choose! The fabric quality is incredible. I had my design printed on the Cotton Satin, which is a great dress or bottom weight fabric. It was easy to cut, sew, and press, and feels luxurious and silky smooth to wear.
Printing quality- the colors are true to my design, and the printing is clear. It hardly faded when I washed it (which I’ve only done once, so time will tell).
Customer service- I had a bazillion questions (and had trouble finding help articles to answer said questions), but customer service was prompt, friendly, and helpful.
Beware the basting stitches- when I ripped out my basting stitches along the bottom of the pockets, a small amount of the dye came with them. You can’t tell from far away, but there are tiny little white dots along the stitching line. So be careful when seam ripping with the dyed fabric. I imagine that if I had stitched and ripped more than once, it would be more noticeable.
Online platform- it leaves a lot to be desired. It is confusing to use and fairly unintuitive, especially compared to Spoonflower (another fabric printing website that I’ve used only once). Many of the help articles I clicked on were nonexistent (so I emailed customer service who was prompt and very helpful). It is easy to see how the whole piece will look printed out, but it’s difficult to zoom in. I hoped I had done everything correctly and took a leap of faith when I hit the “order” button. That being said, now that I’ve used Contrado and am more familiar with the online software for ordering your design, I think it would be easier the second time around.
Double check which fabric you order– The fabric names on the swatches are sometimes different than the names on the website, so I accidentally ordered the wrong fabric. I had to revise my sewing plans after this (luckily I had a more suitable pattern on hand). I had originally tried to order the cotton/silk satin blend to make a Clover dress (from Papercut Patterns), but I got the cotton satin (without silk), which is much stiffer. So I made a heavily hacked version of Lekala #4552. Which you can read about in my next post (check back soon!).
Conclusion: Although the design process was a lot of learning and the online side of things was a bit of a headache, once I had the fabric in hand, I really enjoyed working with it. If I’m looking for fabric printing in the future, I will consider Contrado because they have such a wide range of fabrics and produce a high-quality product.
I’ll post the dress I made with this fabric in a few days. Bye for now.
*I was provided this fabric free of charge by Contrado UK. All opinions are my own.*
Well it’s been a productive month of knitting small things and enduring enjoying unseasonably warm weather here in Pittsburgh (srsly I just want like 1 week of COLD before spring weather plz). Althought it’s been almost too warm for hats, I knit a couple Pussyhats. I had at least one interaction where, when someone asked me what I was knitting, I said, “A Pussyhat” and they said “But it doesn’t look like a vagina!” Hardee har har. Both the hats I knit went to friends who, like myself, also missed the Womens’ March in DC, but better late than never!
This also marks the occasion of my first post about non-sock-related knitting! Hats are easy and fast to knit. Much easier and faster than socks. Why have I not discovered this until now? I have often wished for the power to knit faster so I could make more knitted objects as gifts. Hats are the secret. Must knit moar hats!
My parents can testify that I am very picky when it comes to socks. When I was a little girl, I would delay departure for preschool by complaining that my socks were too bunchy at the toes. My parents would have to take my shoes off, straighten my socks, replace my shoes, and repeat until I decided my socks were un-bunched.
Maybe that’s why, all these years later, I have developed such an obsession with knitting socks. It’s all about the fit. With this pair, I think I’ve finally figured out how to knit a pair that fit me well: looser around the foot and ankle, more snug around the leg, and with about an inch and a half of ribbing at the top ending just below my calf.
Of allthesocks I’ve made (with intentions to keep), this is only the second pair I’ve kept and wear regularly. The rest have had “flaws”- too tight around the heel, too tall in the leg, or too bunchy at the toes- so I’ve gifted them to some very happy recipients.
But with this pair, I’m happy to announce that I got it right! They’re pretty, too- contrasting toes, stockinette stitch along the foot, and a lace pattern for the leg. The lace pattern is Shell Socks from Maison Rililie. I’m not sure why the lace pattern got twisted, but I like how it turned out.
I used another skein of verdant gryphon skinny bugga from the stash that is running low… especially now that they have closed (so sad). Pretty colorful palette for winter, but still warm and muted.
And in other news, I was planning on going to the Women’s March in DC this weekend. When I woke up yesterday I was so tired and mixed up from working nights that I didn’t feel safe to drive the 4 hours there. And grad school applications were calling my name and needed to be worked on. I am consoling myself with the fact that with a graduate degree, I’ll be more effective at doing the work that needs to be done to make our country a better place. My spirit is with all the people marching across the country and around the world for women’s rights, civil rights, and human equality. Have an awesome march!
One perk of big city livin’- people appreciate style. Somehow, I don’t feel costumey when I dress up these days. By dress up I mean wearing skirts, jewelry, boots, anything nicer than jeans, work boots, and a sweatshirt. It’s fun too working on projects that are less utilitarian than mending or adding patch pockets (most of what I did living in Virginia). But one downside of Pittsburgh- it’s cold! Everything I’ve sewn lately is really warm (I’m dreaming of some flannel-lined pants next). Both the sweater and the skirt were thrift store finds- too big but in fabrics I adored. The brown skirt is a soft brown twill on one side, and satin on the inside. The sweater is a wool/polyester blend.I’m really happy with how this outfit turned out and both pieces have gotten a lot of wear.
*Update* As I was writing this post I happened to see this picture on Reformation’s website:
Pretty darn close to my outfit. Didn’t even realize I was so on-trend with this one. Haha.
I digress. Toning down the screaming 80’s vibe on the sweater was simple. I turned it inside out and took in the ballooning sleeves and raised the armhole. I started with 3 inches at the underarm, tapering to nothing at the cuff. I straight stitched and then serged the raw edge.
The skirt was a little more complicated. It has elastic in the back and buttons on one side that I wanted to save, so I only had one side to work with. I needed to take it in from a size 10 to a size 4 and recreate the original side slit.
First I seam ripped open the side without buttons:
Then I pinned, marked, and sewed a new side seam. I made sure to leave room for the slit. Next, I turned under the seam allowance around the side slit and sewed it down.
I trimmed and serged the seam allowance:
And made sure to tack the seam allowance at the waistband:
And that’s it! Two quick, cute projects to keep me warm.
Things got better. I settled into my apartment: painted the yellow walls white, found chairs for my living room, an island for the kitchen. Made friends who like to sing and play music, go to happy hour, sew gowns for cancer patients. Got busy with my job. Actually finished some sewing projects. Hosted the family for Thanksgiving. Hiked and biked and walked by the rivers. Spent long evenings cooking with my sister and cousins. And in between it all I found time to finally block my Guernsey Triangle shawl that I knit on the boat (which I’m calling a scarf because ain’t nobody gonna see me wearing it like a shawl). I made a size medium, which meant basically following the directions for a small and then adding one more band (the purple one). Yarn is Eidos from the Verdant Gryphon.
I was worried that knitting something with needles bigger than a size 1 (which is what I use for most of my socks) would end up making a piece that is full of holes and unevenly knit. But the scarf is actually really warm and cozy. Getting used to the bigger needles took a few rows, and then blocking evened out everything else. Speaking of blocking….
Don’t want to spend a lot of money on blocking wires and mats? Use an old mattress topper, 7 circular needles, and every single one of your sewing pins. Feel joyful that you figured out not only how to block a knitted thing, but also did it with materials you already had. When you get impatient, decide to sew to distract yourself, then remember that you can’t sew while you wait for the scarf to dry because all of your pins are otherwise occupied in the blocking process.
Go #KnitFlix instead. Then go to work and spend 26 hours awake. When you come home after night shift you PTFO but wake up excited as a kid on christmas because you can take all the pins out and rejoice! that you did it! you knitted a not-sock thing and then blocked it and it worked out and it is warm and lovely and you can wear it all winter. So proud. Observe my victorious expression:
Now observe my ingenious blocking method and millions of pins:
Ok enough of knitting flat things. Now back to socks.