Friday, April 3, 2015

Project progress: Hazy mohair

I've got some progress on another knitting project to share with you all today. It's a total departure from the sock knitting I've been doing for the last few months, and it feels nice to get back to what I'm more accustomed to working on....a sweater! I'm making myself a cardigan for next fall/winter so I've got something warm (and new) to wear that is still nursing friendly, unlike the last sweater I made for myself. I love it, but a cardigan is definitely going to be more user friendly for the next year. 

The yarn I'm using is a GORGEOUS, un-dyed mohair yarn that I got at our new LYS, A Yarn Crossing. It's so nice to have a great LYS around again. We haven't had one within a reasonable distance for years and I'm seriously loving this one. One of the things I really love about them is that they have a consignment section for local farmers, spinners, dyers, etc to sell their wares. This yarn is from one of their consignors, H & K Farms. I went in for one thing and then walked around for ages trying to make up my mind once I saw this. I couldn't stop touching it, but the color was not one that I generally wear or that is particularly flattering, so I just couldn't decide. One of the owners finally helped convince me to buy it, though (although it was actually something he wanted for a project himself). It's been working up beautifully, and it feels like silk. 

I wanted to make a simple, classic cardigan, and the pattern I finally decided on using is one from Kim Hargreaves' North which was released this past season. The pattern is called Honesty, and I fell in love with it (and numerous other patterns from the book) as soon as I saw it. 

The simple stockinette body, the subtle shaping, the deep v-neck and the long sleeves were absolutely perfect, and it's actually designed for a mohair yarn. I did decide that I wanted to crop it to waist length, though. While I do love everything about the design as is, I do tend to prefer waist-length sweaters as they work better with the proportions I go for in my wardrobe (my winter wardrobe in particular). Because of the simple stitch pattern it was really easy to shorten, and it's been knitting up pretty quickly. I've gotten the back and a fair amount of the left front finished at this point, although I've only gotten pictures of the back. 

cropped Honesty cardigan back

The color of this yarn is so difficult to capture. It's a really beautiful golden brown color with an incredible sheen to it. This goat has some seriously stunning hair, and it feels like buttah.

Back detail mohair cardigan

Waist ribbing mohair cardigan

The original pattern calls for pressing each piece in it's entirety (ribbing included) since it's a hip length sweater, but since I want a more '50s silhouette I think I'm probably going to leave the ribbing alone and just press the rest of the body and sleeves. I've started thinking about what sort of buttons I want to use for the finished sweater, and while I'm a huge fan mother of pearl/shell buttons on just about everything. They tend to have fairly sharp edges, though, and I don't want anything too abrasive against this yarn. I've been toying with the idea of a brushed gold, or maybe a brass button. I'll have to take a look at a few options against it before I can make any sort of decision. 

I've also been gearing up to start work on some post-baby sewing in the near future. I've got a couple of fabric/pattern options to decide between, and I'm leaning towards another version of my favorite 1940s challis dress in an orange on white floral print.....or I may make a new skirt. We'll see. Hope everyone has had a good week!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Knowing when to quit

Ok, so I was working on another summer maternity project for the Vintage Pattern Pledge (and to give myself one more garment for the hot weather, but......things just aren't working out. I have had this 1950s pants/shorts pattern in my stash for a while and have always been intrigued about how they work, since they're designed for wovens and don't feature the gaping hole in front that many of the old skirt patterns have in order to make room for your stomach. I had enough denim left from my overalls to make up the shorts, more as an experiment than anything else. I wasn't ever super invested in having them be wearable, although that would have been a bonus. I got them cut out and mostly sewn up. Then I tried them on.

The front panels that extend out in order to overlap and cover everything up are doing something hella weird. I'm not sure if it's because of stretching not he curved edges or what, but it makes them poke out all crazy, and while shifting the waistband down a couple of inches at the front edges and then tapering the adjustment out to the side seams makes that stop, then it does all kinds of weird stuff to the grain at the top edge, and yadda yadda yadda. After letting them sit around for a couple of weeks trying to decide how to fix them I've decided I'm not going to bother.

My to-do list for the next ten-ish weeks is insane, and I've got PLENTY of other stuff to occupy my time with than trying to make a pair of shorts I'll wear for three weeks fit right. I didn't spend anything on the fabric, it took all of about an hour and a half of work so far. I'm not out anything. Chalk it up to experience.

1950s maternity pants and shorts sewing pattern

I've been working on a knitting project that I'm about 30% finished with (a mohair cardigan from GORGEOUS yarn that came from a local goat farm), and I've got a couple of other things I want to try and get finished this summer, which will require starting pretty soon since my sewing time is about to disappear almost completely. I've still got at least two patterns to get through for the Vintage Pattern Pledge, and I think I may start one of those in the near future. It's non-maternity, but I've used it before and I've got my alteration/fitting notes, so I'm pretty confident I can work on it without being able to fit it on myself as I go.

The brief cold snap we had this week finally broke and I took advantage of the sunny (although chilly) day to spend some time outside getting these puppies thinned and transferred into peat pots. I've still got a while before it's time to put summer crops in the ground, but I've got some cole crops in for the first time right now that I'm pretty excited about. We'll see how they do.

Hope everyone else is getting to enjoy some nice spring weather!

Friday, March 13, 2015

1901 Corset or "There's no such thing as too many bows!"

This has been sitting around for ages waiting to be photographed and blogged, but since I still haven't gotten the rest of the outfit all finished I just never seemed to get around to it. It's a nice little break from posts about maternity sewing though, so we'll just run with it. This was my first real corset making venture, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I like doing things that are super structured, and I love all the little fiddly details like flat felling seams, inserting grommets, hand stitching binding, etc. My mom thinks I'm nuts, but someone has to like that stuff, right? ;)

Anyway, it's the 1901 corset from Corsets and Crinolines. I really didn't have to make too many adjustments as far as size goes. It's been a long time, so I can't remember all of the specifics, but basically I just added seam allowances to all of the pieces and subtracted a little width from the hips so I didn't have to mess about with hip pads and things underneath. I can get a pretty good shape with a couple of petticoats and little bustle pad under the skirt. If I ever make myself another outfit of the period/another iteration of this corset I'll probably leave the hip width and go for hip pads to get that really extreme s-curve shape, but for now I'm happy with the shape I've got with this one. I hadn't originally intended on making it quite so flamboyant, but once I got started I couldn't stop with the springy, cupcake decorations. 

It's a single layer of coutil, with spiral and flat steel boning inserted into applied channels, so it's actually pretty lightweight. If I do make myself another one I think I may skip out on adding the seam allowances to the pieces, or at least make them smaller, because while this one fits, it's actually a tad on the large size. It laces all the way shut really comfortably with just a couple of inches reduction in the waist. It really needs to be about 2 inches smaller to get the fit spot on. I could probably make it work with the original corset measurements and some hip pads almost perfectly.

The yellow I used for the binding and the garter straps was bias that was leftover from the baby quilt I made for my son, and once I decided I wasn't going for all white, I figured it would be nice to use some stuff up as well.

The channeling on the inside is not perfect, but I'm happy with it for a first attempt. The couple of minor issues I ran into were mostly due to the fact that I wasn't marking things carefully while I worked on the two sides. I've actually got one more piece of boning to insert in the hip on one side, but I had to wait for a new bone to arrive and wanted to get the rest of it finished so I went ahead and attached the binding, leaving a little opening for inserting that piece once it got here (which I still haven't gotten around to of course). I also intended to floss the ends of the channels, but never got around to that either. At this point I don't know that I'll ever go back and finish that. I definitely want to try my hand at it on my next corset project (way down the road). The next one will probably be an 1870s style to go with the 1871 gown I have been planning on making for eons. When I'll get around to doing any of that I don't know, since I have to make ALL the underwear for it before I can start on the dress itself. I have the fabric, though, and that's what matters!

I'm hoping to be back with a couple more posts before the baby's born, but we'll see how things go. I'm going to try and squeeze in at least one more major sewing project before then, and I've got a sweater on my knitting needles right now. Have a good weekend!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Simplicity 2475: Thinking of spring

I actually got this finished a week or so ago, but then I got sick (again) and we've had yet another snow storm since then so it's still been a little crazy around here. This is my second project of the year, and the second installment in my sewing for the 2015 Vintage Pattern Pledge. It's Simplicity 2475, which I was given in a large pattern stash (almost all children's and maternity patterns) by a friend when I found out I was pregnant with my first.

1958 maternity sewing pattern Simplicity 2475

The pattern is from 1958, and after making a version of a similar top the first time around I knew I wanted to make myself another one. They're super comfortable, and with a few more weeks of warm weather before this kiddo is born I wanted another lightweight top that wasn't skin tight. This is yet another 100% stash buster as well! The fabric is from the massive stash my mom and I accumulated (and still resides at her house), the bias binding is left from finishing all the seams in my Robson Trench last year, and the buttons were from a huge button stash that a friend of mine inherited when her husband's grandmother died.  I opted for view 2, but changed the welt pockets to patch pockets since this lawn is so light. I didn't want the extra strain on the fabric and was also concerned about the pocket bags showing through badly. Forgive the weird light. With yet another 8+ inches of snow outside, the already odd lighting available in my house is even worse.

1958 maternity top

the front curves of the yoke don't match perfectly, as the fabric was kind of a pain and I was tired when I was sewing, but for something I'm going to wear for 2 months I wasn't super concerned about going back and trying to fix it. 

Simplicity 2475

Simplicity 2475 Maternity Top 1958

The buttons, as I said, are some I got from a friend after she inherited a HUGE button stash. They're really pretty little pearl shirt buttons. I'm not sure how old they are. 

patch pockets in floral lawn 1958 maternity top

I'm really happy I decided to do patch pockets instead of welts. Not only were they much easier, but I like the little touch of green in the bias binding at the top. It helps break up the print a little bit. I've got a black and a pink pencil skirt I plan on wearing this with that both look cute, especially with a little sweater. I'm actually working on a wearable muslin of some maternity shorts out of leftover denim, but the front sections are doing something really weird because of the some bias pulling, so they've been put on the back burner for bit, but if I do get them finished they'll look SUPER cute with this. So summery! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is the last real push of winter before spring arrives. We've got pretty good temps predicted for the coming week, which will be a relief, but if it gets super cold again after that I may have to hide under a rock. Hope everyone else is keeping warm!

Monday, February 23, 2015

First sewing project of 2015: Simplicity 3345

Hey there! It's been a hot minute since I had a sewing project to share with you all, but today I've got my first finished project of the year to show you! It's actually also my first finished project for the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge of 2015, AND as just a little icing on the cake, it's also a 100% pure stash-buster. I did not make any further financial expenditures for this project. Every single thing on it, from the fabric to the notions (and the pattern) was stuff that I already owned. While it's not "technically" true, I am telling myself that this dress was consequently a "FREE" dress, which makes it even better and totally fits in with my attempts at stash busting and project budgeting this year. All good things.

Anyway, this is the second version of Simplicity 3345, the first of which can be seen here.

I made a couple of minor changes, mostly taking the side seams in slightly, in order to get a little better fit on this one. I think by rights I probably should have done a full bust adjustment as well to get the fit really perfect, but that's more work than I wanted to put in on something I was only going to wear for a couple of months (and be changing sizes the whole time anyway). I shortened the hem (from the pattern length) by about 5 or 6 inches, so it hits me just at the bottom of my knee like the illustration. I'm not all that short, and even with a three inch hem allowance you'd have to be 5'10" for this to hit you where it does in the illustration. I intended on getting pictures of this one on myself so you could see how it looks on a legitimately pregnant human, but my husband is never up during daylight hours and the tripod is broken, so Tabitha will have to suffice yet again.

The bow is actually a pin that goes on the playsuit from which I scavenged the red fabric (it was from the skirt portion of the playsuit, which I think I maybe wore once and decided needed to be put to better use), so I can move it around, which is fun. It looks pretty cute at the neck, too. The back sash pieces don't perfectly line up with the front since I was working with the width of the previous skirt's ties, but my usually super anal retentive self was ok with it because I was doing some awesome stash busting/recycling.

You can see where I had to piece the ties to get the length I needed for this, since the skirt ties were much shorter. I hand-picked the zip like I normally do, since it's actually one of my favorite bits of hand finishing. I think they just look so much nicer, too. The zipper and waist elastic were also things I had in my stash already, which is why I went with a bright red zipper instead of a matching one, but I think bright zippers can be fun sometimes anyway. 

Just so you can get an idea of what these dresses look like on a real person, here is a picture of version 1 from Derby two years ago. I was about 36 or 37 weeks. 

I actually have my second project in the queue already cut, I just need to find something to use for the contrast bias binding I need. It's a smaller project and should hopefully be finished a little faster. I've also gotten a lot more done on my second pair of socks. I'm not sure which project I'll have to share with you first, but my goal is to get at least one of them finished in the next three weeks. Have a good week!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Cozy, cold weather knits

I've got another knitting project to share with you all today! I haven't been doing any sewing lately since it's super hard to keep the space I need clear of toys, and even harder to keep the kid from trying to run my machine while I'm not looking, so I've consoled my idle fingers with lots and lots of knitting (a decision for which I am now paying dearly; oh the knitting pains).

This project was a first for me. I've got so many different projects in my queue that sometimes it's hard to decide what I want to make next, but after seeing Michelle's GORGEOUS new socks I knew exactly what I wanted to pick up after I finished assembling that giant sweater. I've never made socks before (well besides the tiny pair of baby socks I made for the boy last year) so this was a fun new experience for me. I think it's safe to say I'm hooked. I will always be a sweater knitter at heart, but I see numerous pairs of socks in my future.

They are the Little Cable Knee Highs from The Purl Bee. I wear knee socks all of the time in the winter, over tights, under jeans, around the house. That is one habit from my Catholic high school days that I don't think I'll ever lose. When I saw Michelle's version in that gorgeous pale blue, such a simple sock design with that little bit of interest at the back of the leg (I'm a sucker for a cable) I knew I was going to need multiple pairs of these. Until now I've only had one pair of hand knit socks, a bright green pair that my mom made for me a few years ago, but they are the warmest most comfortable socks I own and I'm glad to finally have another pair. I promise they're actually the same length, but my leggings kept sliding and my slight contrapposto stance makes them look a tad off at the top as well.

alpaca cabled knee socks

After making the first sock I realized that the fit on the foot wasn't quite how I wanted, and the right sock is just a hair long, so the heel flap pulls up a bit on the back of my heel. I knitted the second sock a few rows shorter in the foot and it fixed that problem. You can see the slight difference in the height of the heel flap in the photo below.

Cabled alpaca knee socks

We just had a new local yarn shop open up in early December after a several year long fiber drought. The only other "local" option was a shop WAY the heck out (we're talking a minimum 30 minute drive and for someone who normally walks or bikes places that might as well be in another state). It's "technically" still in the metro area, but like I said, it's not really "in" the city proper. The only other yarn shop we had closed years ago and so there really haven't been any options besides JoAnn and those sorts of places (which never carry the sort of stuff I want), so I've generally ordered yarn online. I was so stoked about A Yarn Crossing opening I went on opening day specifically in search of yarn for this project. Incidentally, it's only about two blocks down from husband's restaurant/bar as well, making it a mere 3 miles from my house and FAR more convenient than driving way out in the east end. What's really great about it, in addition to being in an adorable little converted shotgun house painted lovely bright colors, is that they carry a fair amount of local fibers, too! They have yarn and roving from local farms/spinners/dyers, expanding their inventory while supporting more local businesses/artists and providing customers with really unique products. If I didn't have a toddler with me all of the time I'd seriously spend hours and hours and hours hanging out in their sitting area knitting and sipping tea. 

Anyhoo, the yarn I bought is an alpaca blend sock yarn that is really comfy and was pretty easy to work with. I wanted something in a neutral color to wear over my maternity leggings and with my skirts to keep myself warm this winter since most of my standard layering pieces won't accommodate the baby belly. 

These are actually not quite as long as the original pattern, although that was not intentional. I was reading the pattern on an iPad screen because my printer is currently down for the count, and since I can't really absorb things I've read on a screen instead of on paper I realized (after the fact of course) that I had accidentally skipped a total of 8 cable repeats between the increase rounds through the calf. They are still a totally functional height, but I'll definitely make sure to include that extra 3 inches or so of sock the next time around.

The cuff fold over should really be wider, but because I lost length in the calf I lost a little width in the cuff fold over. 

Shortening the foot on the second sock helped a lot, but I still wasn't getting quite as snug a fit on my narrow foot as I would like, so for the next pair (for which I have some butter soft, brown merino) I started the foot on size 1 needles and am switching to 2s for the calves. So far the fit is pretty spot on with those. I've had to put working on the second pair on hold for a while because I was knitting so obsessively on these I gave myself tendonitis in my right arm. It's much better, but I'm going to take it easy for a few more days before I attempt to pick them back up.

I did take a rather foolish few hours the other day to whip up some quick, scrap yarn mittens for the boy since he lost one of his, but I immediately regretted it and had to slap on a serious wrist brace afterwards. I've been trying very hard to be good since then.

fair isle toddler mitts
The yarn for these was left from the sweaters that I made him last year.
While I was very impatiently awaiting the opening of the yarn shop so I could get yarn for my socks, I went ahead and cast on for a sweater for myself as well. It's the pattern on the left, "Roll Neck", from a 1940 knitting magazine that a friend gave me a year or two ago. There are a few really cute sweaters in it, plus some seriously great knitted skirts that I'd love to make some day. But, back to the topic at hand. I figured I could start this now and maybe have it finished for next winter when I'd be able to wear it, but if not it would definitely be a good thing to finish for the following winter when I won't be nursing anymore. It's knitted top-down, and I'm maybe half way down the shoulders I think. I'll get back to that once I get my brown socks finished.

1940 knitting pattern

I'm hoping to be back to knitting by the end of the week, and should have some new socks before the month is over as long as I don't hurt myself again. It's been so hard not to be working on something.

Have a good weekend!

Friday, January 16, 2015

2015 Vintage Pattern Pledge

I hardly ever get a chance to participate in all of the great sew-alongs and things that people are always hosting, but this is one that I'm definitely jumping on board with this time. Marie over at A Stitching Odyssey is hosting another Vintage Sewing Pattern pledge this year and I'm planning on taking part. The great thing about this pledge is that it's fairly easy to tailor the challenge to your individual abilities and ideas. Marie has outlined a number of possible ways to organize your sewing plans, and I am opting to choose a few of my original vintage patterns to make over the course of the next year.


I, Evie, pledge to sew up at least four of my original vintage patterns this year. This will include patterns from the late 1930s through the early 60s. If I'm able to, I'd like to extend that number to include more projects, but 2015 is shaping up to be a very busy year, so I think that four is a reasonable number for me to shoot for.  The specific patterns that I am planning on using are the following:

Simplicity 3345

The pattern is from 1960, and as you can see it's a maternity pattern. I've got baby #2 due in mid-June, which is partly why my projects/posts have been somewhat few and far between the last few months. I made this pattern up last time around in the fabric you see here. The print I have intended for version 2 is a fairly busy, retro novelty print. I'll get pictures of that for you when I get around to cutting the dress out. I'm considering making the collarless version this time. 

Simplicity 2475 or Simplicity 1174

2575 is the one I'm really leaning towards (the sleeveless top) but I'll need to see just how wide the neck actually sits on me, since I do need to be able to wear a regular bra and camisole with it. The fabric I'm planning on using is a fairly sheer floral lawn, so I won't be able to avoid the strap issue with whatever I have to wear under it. 
If I can't make the neckline work then I'll be making 1174 again, but in the sleeveless view this time around. I LOVE that top and I'd be totally happy with having another one if I can't make the first pattern work. 

Anne Adams 4811

This is another one that many of you may recognize. I have another couple of challis prints that I bought on sale and I've been itching to make another of these. It was such a great dress to have this past summer, it's nursing and cycling friendly, and it's super comfy to boot. 

For the fourth pattern I'm considering McCall 3610

This is a very late 30s pattern I've had in my stash for some time and have yet to make up. I may have to put this one on hold in favor of something that buttons down the front so I can nurse in it, but we'll see.

I've been toying with the idea of trying to whip up a pair of shorts from this 1950s maternity pattern:

Advance 8512

Since I'll be pregnant further into the hot weather this year it might be nice to have a pair of shorts to wear, plus I'd kind of just like to see how these go together construction-wise, and how they fit on the body. I think I've got a couple of things in my stash/scrap bin that might work for a wearable muslin at least. They'd be nice to have for chasing a 2 year old in as opposed to the pencil skirts I wore most of the spring last time around.

I plan on getting started on the first of the maternity patterns in the next month, so hopefully I won't have any problem getting at least two of them sewn up before April so I can get a couple of months of wear out of them at least. I'll have to take a little bit of time off over the summer while we're acclimating to the new schedule/living arrangement, but I hope to get back to sewing quickly enough to finish at least two more projects before the end of the year. I'm really looking forward to seeing what all of the other participants come up with this year!
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