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

Sewn // How to Alter a Sweater and Maxi Skirt

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.

how to alter thrift store clothes

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.


upcycled sweater


upcycled sweater

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.

upcycled skirt

First I seam ripped open the side without buttons:

upcycled skirt

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.

upcycled skirt

I trimmed and serged the seam allowance:

upcycled skirt

And made sure to tack the seam allowance at the waistband:

upcycled skirt

And that’s it! Two quick, cute projects to keep me warm.

how to alter thrift store clothes

how to alter thrift store clothes


Knit // Guernsey Triangle Scarf


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:

dsc_1510-2 dsc_1512-2

Ok enough of knitting flat things. Now back to socks.


Guernsey Triangle


Knit // Bear Hug baby socks + pattern


Bear Hug Baby Socks Free Pattern

Baby socks are such a good palate cleanser between longer knitting projects. In 4 days, using scrap yarn yarn that you love but don’t have enough of for something bigger, you can not only finish a project, but make a present for someone else. And it’s pretty cool being “that person” who shows up to the baby shower with a handmade present. And then pretty soon there is a baby, and the baby is wearing the socks you made!

Bear Hug Baby Socks Free Pattern


This pattern incorporates elements from two other sock patterns: Rye and Cozy Little Toes. By this time, I’ve made and refined my modified version enough times that I think it constitutes its own pattern. This is a toe-up pattern, easily modifiable by changing yarn weight, needle size, or number or increases in the toe to make them bigger or smaller. The socks are extra stretchy and have a cuff to keep the socks on wiggly baby feet. I used a size 0 needle and fingering weight yarn to make newborn-sized socks. So without further ado, I present:

Bear Hug Baby Socks 

(Links to video demonstrations embedded in the text)


Using Judy’s Magic Cast On, CO 16 stitches (sts)- 8 sts on each needle.

  1. Knit around
  2. On the first needle, Knit 1 (K1), Make 1 (M1), knit to the last stitch, M1, K1. Repeat on the second needle.
  3. Knit around

Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have increased to 28 sts (14 on each needle). For bigger socks, continue increasing until you have the desired number of sts on each needle. Make sure this number is divisible by 4, for example 32 or 36 sts.

Needle 1 will be the top of the sock, needle 2 will be the bottom of the sock.

bear hug baby socks free pattern

Begin the foot:

  1. Needle 1: K2, Purl across to last 2 sts, K2. Needle 2: Knit across
  2. Knit around

Repeat steps 1 and 2 twice, then begin the rib pattern.

Needle 1: Knit in a K2, Purl 2 (P2) pattern (Knit 2, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2, etc.)

Needle 2: Knit across

Continue to knit the rib pattern until the sock is 1/2 inch shorter than the desired length (usually between 2-3 inches). Knit in a K2, P2 pattern across needle 1. On needle two, we will knit a short row heel.


On needle 2, knit to last stitch. Wrap last stitch and turn work. Slip 1, purl back across needle 2 to last stitch. Wrap last stitch and turn work. Knit back across needle 2 to until there are 2 sts left on the needle. Wrap and turn. Purl across until there are 2 sts left on needle. Wrap and turn. Knit across until there are 3 sts left on the needle. Wrap and turn. Purl across until there are 3 sts left on the needle. Wrap and turn. Continue this until the stitches are approximately split into thirds. If you began with 14 sts on needle 2, now you should have 5 wrapped sts on each side with 4 sts in the middle (in the shape of a trapezoid).

Turn work. Knit across heel until you reach the first wrapped stitch. Knit this stitch with the wrap. Turn. Purl across until you reach the first wrapped stitch on the other side. Purl the wrapped stitch together with its wrap. Turn. Continue to knit and purl and pick up wrapped stitches until you have used all the wrapped stitches on each side.

bear hug baby socks free pattern


Knit in pattern across needle 1 and needle 2. K2, P2 across both needles until you have knit 4 inches up the leg (or more- enough to fold in half for a cuff). For stripes, break yarn and knit 5 rows with the second and third colors. Cast off with a stretchy cast off. Weave in ends.

That’s it! Any questions, please email me at hoopesparkstudios [at] gmail [dot] com. Hope you enjoy knitting these baby socks as much as I do.


Bear Hug Baby Socks Free Pattern

Bear Hug Baby Socks free pattern


Sewn // Petite Black Hemlock

Petite Hemlock tshirt

Another month past and nary a post. I guess I’ll have to blame it on being busy again. This month has been all about my apartment. Painting, finding furniture (the living room had only a couch until a couple weeks ago), hanging curtains and pictures, organizing closets and building a dresser. Also getting settled in at my new job, new routine, making friends. Things are going as well as I could expect from such a sudden move. My sister and much of my extended family live nearby and have been very welcoming; not a week goes by that doesn’t see me eating at a relative’s table. Nothing beats having so much family around!

Anyway, rather than let another month of radio silence go by, I thought I’d dig up an unposted project from a couple years ago to share- it’s a Hemlock tshirt made from black cotton tissue jersey from

Petite Hemlock

I made this shirt a few years ago (when I made this one), but never ended up photographing it. Or even wearing it much (I was into wearing colors back then). I found it packed up recently and I’m glad I did, because it has become one of my most-worn shirts. Which is surprising, because loose, drop-shoulder tops are uncommon in my wardrobe. Boxy shapes usually overwhelm my petite frame, but I think a combination of shortening the hem a few inches and lengthening the sleeves with cuffs make this shirt work. I also widened the neckline a tiny bit and cut the front of the shirt as two pieces. I thought a seam running down the front of the shirt would break up the vast expanse of fabric and add some visual interest, and I like how it turned out. Let’s call it a sleeper hit, shall we?

Petite Hemlock





Praise for the mental benefits of knitting

the mental benefits of knitting

Imagine me laying in a coffin-sized bunk in the crowded crew quarters of a 90-year-old schooner, curled up around needles and yarn. It’s the evening, and I’m off after a long day of sailing and sun. There’s only a curtain for privacy between me and the 6 people I share this room with, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I decided to go sailing, I knew I needed something to mark the place between chapters in my life. So I packed a bag, making sure to include my knitting, and headed to the sea.  Those down hours on the boat, the quiet between the busy, mostly spent knitting, helped me process leaving Virginia and ready myself mentally to start anew in Pittsburgh. It made the time without internet or TV for 10 days not only bearable, but enjoyable. Thank you knitting for being there for me.

the mental benefits of knitting

Time passes so quickly. It has already been a month since my last post and two months since I made the decision to upend my life and leave Virginia. Since my last post I’ve moved to Pittsburgh, gone sailing, took a mini road trip, started a new job and moved into an apartment that needed some work to update. My sewing machines are still packed away. But other things are coming along. I knit when I itch to sew. Carpet has been pulled up and functional internet lines installed.

I am finally knitting a project that is NOT SOCKS!! It’s a shawl thing from Brooklyn Tweed, the Guernsey Triangle. Scarves are a different beast than socks, a different emotional experience. The closer I get to finishing this scarf, the longer the rows get, and the less I feel like I am approaching the finish line. When I knit socks, I can easily see their progression. With this scarf, I have to trust it will work out.  I trust that I will have enough yarn. I trust that when I finally cast off and block it, that it will be big enough for me to wear wrapped around my neck at least once. It’s a reminder to trust myself. To trust that in this new city, with my new job, quiet apartment, and (hopefully soon) new friends, I can make it work and that things will get better.

the mental benefits of knitting

the mental benefits of knitting

Knit // Emerald Moth Socks

Emerald Moth Socks

Just ’cause it’s hot out doesn’t mean I can’t dream about/plan for cold weather! The day we took these pictures it was 103 degrees Farenheit outside. I braved the heat so you could all see the glorious color of this yarn! I’m already so in love with these socks.

This is the Hermione’s Everyday Socks pattern- I knitted this pattern last winter and the socks I made are by far my favorite to wear. The moss stitch pattern (name for a combination of knits and purls on different rows) is the perfect balance of stretchy and snug. I used sportweight yarn to make a slightly more plush and cozy version- Bugga! in Common Emerald Moth from the Verdant Gryphon. The pink and purple stripes are leftovers from other projects. I adjusted the number of stitches around my foot to 56 stitches and used a size 1 circular needle (my last version had 64 sts on a size 0 needle and was made from fingering weight yarn; click here for the pattern)

Emerald Moth Socks

Remember the striped socks I made in March? I finally figured out why they were too tight around the ankle. I added stitches to the gusset just before I turned the heel. This made the heel flap taller, and reduced the amount of stretch in that section of the sock. I tried this technique again on these Emerald Moth socks, but ripped it out and re-knitted a shorter heel flap when I realized my mistake. Looks like I’ll be knitting shorter gussets and heel flaps from now on.

Not much else to say about these socks, so I’ll leave you with lots of pictures.

Emerald Moth Socks

Emerald Moth Socks

Emerald Moth Socks

Emerald Moth Socks

Sew Loft Patterns – Download Here

Download Sew Loft Patterns for free here

A while back I started writing a post about the sad disappearance of Sew Loft, but I never finished it. While I was working on the post, I thought, “what if I could get copies of all Sew Loft’s patterns? And then share them with sewists everywhere!?” So I tracked down Sew Loft’s creator, Lauren Elbert. She created both websites and graciously gave me permission to share copies of her patterns on Hoopes Park Studios. I’m happy to announce that from now on, Hoopes Park Studios will be hosting the Sew Loft womenswear pattern library. All patterns are available for free on dropbox. Click on the image above, below, or in the side bar to access them. Or click here!

*Update- Hey guys! Please consider donating $1-5 to help with hosting fees for this website and Dropbox- keeping so many files around gets expensive!*

Download Sew Loft Patterns for free here

I hope you enjoy sewing these patterns as much as I did. If you want to find Lauren Elbert now, she is designing children’s clothing at Sadi and Sam Patterns. Please email me with any questions or concerns. Here’s to the #SewLoftRevival !

Keep Sew Loft alive! Please donate to help with hosting fees for this website and Dropbox. Click the button below to donate

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