Knit // Blue Quartz

quartzonite socks

These are the Quarzonite socks, knit in a little over 3 weeks. My sock knitting time is getting faster! It used to be that I had to really push to finish a pair in a month. Now (maybe it’s because of all this time I spend on the bus commuting to and from school) its closer to 3 weeks at a less-than-breakneck speed. The basket-weave-like pattern was fun to knit. Each row is different than the last, but the chart repeats after 16 or so rows, so it was easy to learn the chart and knit without referring to it. Go Claire go! The yarn is Bugga! from Verdant Gryphon in a blue colorway (not sure of the name; this was stashed yarn I acquired a while ago).  I used a short-row heel rather than a gusset/heel combo as the pattern suggests. I also knit the toes my usual way (with JMCO, two at a time, same as in this post) instead of the pattern’s instructions.

quartzonite socks

I’ve gotten an early start on holiday presents this year. These socks were a gift for my mom. Normally I’d refrain from posting these before Hanukkah, but mom said she was running low on socks and requested them early. Now they are in the mail on their way to keep her feet cozy. 

quartzonite socks

Here’s a good picture of the basketweave in slightly lower light:

quartzonite socks

I’m glad to say that grad school is going well. Being RN felt like working from puzzle full of  holes, and now nurse practitioner school is like filling in the spaces with the rest of the pieces.  The information is super interesting, and hours will fly by without me noticing while I’m studying or writing papers. The new house and new roommates are treating me well, too. After turning my life upside-down last year, it’s nice that life has once again become (and continues to be) happy and peaceful.

I’ve been trying to spend less time on screens (AKA watching Netflix), so I’ve set myself a goal of sewing one thing a week. I had 3 successful weeks and then took last week off. Sewing regularly is working wonders for my skill level, concentration, and pattern drafting/altering abilities. I’m back to my weekly sewing goal this week and I’m sure I’ll have more posts soon.

quartzonite socks

My Sister’s Wedding Dress

DIY wedding dress

I made my sister’s wedding dress this summer. Feel free to ignore the text of this post and just scroll through pictures- lots at the end. The wedding was over Labor Day weekend, and what was forecast as a warm, cloudy day at the beginning of September turned into a 50-degree and rainy day. Despite the rain, the wedding was incredibly fun (and she looked fantastic, of course). This is the sewing project I am most proud of to date. Yay DIY wedding dress!

When Jill formally got engaged she asked me to make her dress (I’ve made other things for her). I was beyond honored that she would entrust me with such a special project. I was also happy to give her exactly the gift she deserved to celebrate her marriage. We are both so pleased with how it turned out – it is very much her style – classic and streamlined.

We sat down a few times to scroll through Pinterest and some dress sites before I drew up a design. She quickly decided she wanted a two-piece ensemble, combining different fabrics and textures. We planned for the top to either be a tube top or sleeveless, tailored, boat neck top. The skirt idea started as a floor-length a-line tulle skirt and evolved to a more tailored mermaid silhouette.

I also don’t think I’ve had a project go more smoothly than this one- goes to show what planning does for the sewing process.

DIY wedding dress
Mid-festivities doggie snuggle time

The top I copied from an old Gap top with built-in bra. After seam ripping it apart and using it to make a pattern, I first made a muslin in black jersey, which turned out great the first time! I ordered special 5/8″ elastic from Tailor Made shop that I sewed in two rows with a straight stitch while stretching it under my walking foot. Tricky, but after a couple tries I got the hang of it. She liked the “muslin” so we decided on the tube top with built-in bra for the wedding.

The skirt I drafted from her measurements and then made out of an old bed sheet. I did this by making a pencil skirt sloper from her measurements, then slashed and opened starting at the knees. Here’s the muslin next to the pattern:

DIY wedding dress
skirt muslin and pattern

It was a little snug, so I added some ease on the final version. I also marked where the zipper and darts would go. I started crying when she put it on – things were coming together! She laughed at me and told me to save my tears for the wedding.

After that, we took a trip to Jo Ann fabrics (they rarely have  the fabric I’m looking for, but in this case, they have a gigantic selection of bridal fabrics) to compare shades of ivory, cream, blush, and eggnog until we found a fabric combination she liked. In the end we decided on ivory stretch crepe for the top and and white swiss dot lace with flowy eggnog rayon underneath. Here is a closeup of the fabrics all together:

DIY wedding dress
fabric

There was about a month of procrastination before I actually sat down to make the thing. The top took a couple evenings. Then the skirt I made in almost a day (the whole day, with a break for lunch). The skirt is french-seamed and the top is sewed on the serger.

I didn’t actually finish the skirt until three hours before the wedding ceremony because we didn’t know what shoes she was going to wear! It took me an hour to hem the under layer, and then I trimmed the lace layer to match the length. Then I braided her hair and put baby’s breath flowers in it. She also wore our mom’s pearls and a vintage fur coat.

DIY wedding dress
grainy instagram photo- our parents walking her down the aisle

The whole wedding was a blast. Our third sister, the groom’s sister, and I were bridesmaids. We moved the festivities inside because of the rain. The living room became the dance floor and people ate at high-top tables scattered around the first floor. 100 people in my parents’ house made it a very cozy and intimate wedding. Eventually the rain stopped and many of the guests (myself included) jumped in the pool to cool off from dancing and drinking. We partied until very, very early in the morning. And the dress did what dresses do the entire night (although it did get a good soak in oxyclean the next morning to try to remove some of the mud stains).

DIY wedding dress
pre-wedding

 

DIY wedding dress

DIY wedding dress

Yellow Clover

Yellow Clover dress

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.

Clover dress

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.

Yellow Clover Dress

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.

Yellow Clover Dress

 

Yellow Clover Dress

Potholders

DIY pot holders

Another project I made this summer was potholders. They are such an easy and quick project (and they make good gifts). The longest part was waiting for the heat-insulated fabric to arrive in the mail.

DIY pot holders

I used this tutorial to make the square pot holders, and adapted it for the oval ones. Blue fabric is leftover scraps from a Maya dress I made, wood grain fabric is from Quilt Sandwich, and green is from Firecracker Fabrics.

Pot Holder DIY

Not the most beautiful job I’ve ever done with bias tape, but very functional.

Pot Holder DIY

Madewell copycat dress

Madewell copycat dress

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.

Madewell copycat dress

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.  Madewell copycat dress

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.

Madewell copycat dress

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.

Madewell copycat dress

 

 

Sewn // Cabernet Cardigan II

 

Cabernet Cardigan

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!

Cabernet Cardigan

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.

Cabernet Cardigan

Cabernet Cardigan

 

Sewn // Contrado fabrics and Lekala #4552 // post 2 of 2

Poppy dress with Contrado fabrics

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.

Poppy dress with Contrado fabrics

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.

Poppy dress with Contrado fabrics

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.

Poppy dress with Contrado fabrics
Pretending like it’s summer in my kitchen

 

*I was provided this fabric free of charge by Contrado UK. All opinions are my own.*

Sewn // Contrado fabrics and Lekala #4552 // post 1 of 2

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 good:

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.

so many swatches

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.

The so-so:

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.

 

The bad:

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.*

Knit // Pussyhats and Baby Socks

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!

Another hat on its way soon @p_ssyhatproject #knittingisfun #craftivism

A post shared by Claire (@hoopesparkstudios) on

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!

Encore une fois. #p_ssyhatproject

A post shared by Claire (@hoopesparkstudios) on

And I knit a couple pairs of baby socks for friends who are expecting (or who have already been parents for almost 6 months… whoops late again…). Feast your eyes on the products of my nimble fingers.

MOAR bebe socks (sharpie for size comparison) #knittingisfun #knittingforkids

A post shared by Claire (@hoopesparkstudios) on

Knit // Twisted Shell Socks

Shell Socks

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 all the socks 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.

Shell Socks

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.

Shell Socks

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!

Shell Socks

Shell Socks

Copyright © Hoopes Park Studios | Design by: The Nectar Collective