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.

“The

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!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Mason: Just in time for the cold.

So, here's another post I started writing eons ago and have finally gotten around to finishing. It's taken me ages to get the pictures taken for it, during which time I've been busy with holidays, other projects and the start of the semester and the accompanying onslaught of student emails. I've got a couple more posts that I'm working on and should have up in the next couple of weeks as well. I hate to let this space languish for too long. Anyway, without a further ado, here we go.

I finally finished the sweater I've been working on for my husband! It took me just under a year (and by "just under" I really mean it. I think I was about 5 days short of the one year mark.) to finish this thing. Despite being knitted in bulky weight yarn and on #11 needles, it's about twice the size of anything I usually knit. Long arms and a 44" chest make for a large project, and one that's very difficult to block when you're used to pinning things out on your ironing board. I won't go into full details about yarn, etcetera on here, but if you're interested you can see the full project notes on my Ravelry project page.

I apologize for the harsh light in these photos, but it's been super overcast, freezing, and we didn't get around to taking pictures until this evening so the light was all around atrocious. I promised Mr. S I'd crop his face out, so these may not be the most compositionally elegant photos of all time, but you can see the sweater alright.

Despite it taking me nearly a year to finish, it was actually a pretty quick knit. The heavy yarn/large needle combo makes for a very different knitting experience than what I'm generally accustomed to, since my preferred projects are fingering weight yarn on small needles. It was nice to work on something so different though.


We had some debate about whether or not he wanted me to change the collar since he usually only wears crew-neck sweaters, but he finally decided to just go with the original design and while it took a wear or two to get used to, he's been glad for the extra warmth the roll collar has provided in the single digit temps we've had the last week. It's not an extremely tight knit, but he says it's super warm, and all of the guys at work have been admiring it lately, which has made him like it even more. I think he's proven himself worthy of another hand knitted sweater or two in the future ;)




 I've really been wanting to get some sew-in tags made for myself, but keep hemming and hawing over what I want them to say/look like, or whether or not I should spend the money on something fairly silly. For now I stuck with a little ribbon tag in the back since the front and back of this sweater are pretty hard to tell apart.


I hope everyone had enjoyable holidays, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone in the blogosphere produces in the upcoming year! Have a great week, and to those of you in the more northern climbs, stay warm!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Seasonal sewing: My minoru

This post should really be back dated like 6 weeks or more, but whaddaya gonna do...

I'm not always the best at sewing in preparation for upcoming seasons. I know this is something that many of us struggle with, much preferring projects that we'll be able to wear immediately. That's not always the most practical, though, especially when it comes to cold weather sewing I think. For once, though, I've actually managed to get something finished in preparation for the cooling weather so I actually have it ready to wear when I need it.

In this first phase of my great coat replacement efforts, I've made myself a Minoru. I made this one to replace a quilted nylon jacket that I inherited from a friend ages ago (a thrift store find originally). It was my go-to winter jacket for walking, sledding, etc, and it was grungy, worn, had splitting seams right and left, and all in all was in desperate need of retirement. Since this Minoru was intended for walking, cycling and trips to the park, I needed something water-resistant. I found a tomato red, treated cotton jacketing at Denver Fabrics for about $5 a yard that was perfect, and nearly the same color as the jacket I was replacing.

Sewaholic Tomato Red Minoru


I knew I wanted a fun, printed lining ( I mean, really, what's the point of making your own clothes if you can't give yourself fabulous and entertaining linings?), but opted for a solid rayon bemberg for the sleeves for ease of wear. While lurking around the Denver Fabrics site, I happened upon this AMAZING, printed cotton twill. At around $5 a yard as well (and covered in vintage ski posters) I was going to have to have it anyway, but could there really be a more perfect lining for a jacket like this? I think not. I was going to need a lot more warmth for my purposes, so I interlined the whole jacket with cotton batting, quilting the twill for the body before cutting.

Ski poster lining

cotton twill and rayon bemberg lining


I cut an 8:6:4 to get the right proportions for my figure, and I also added in-seam pockets at the sides about an inch down from the waist elastic. I'm very glad I did. A jacket without pockets on the outside just doesn't compute in my world. I also had to get a longer zip for the hood (as many people have noted), since the opening is too long for the listed 18 inch zip. I shortened the waist elastic to about 8 inches also, to get a little more snug fit at the waist. I'm really happy with the fit. I could maybe have given myself a little more room in the shoulders since it does get a tad snug when I've got a few layers on, but in less than freezing weather it's perfectly comfortable and functional. I've tested this thing driving, walking, and cycling and it's great for all three. It's long enough to keep my rear warm on the bike seat, keeps the rain off well, and the inside pockets (on which I omitted the velcro) are the perfect size for my phone, house key and some cash for quick trips with the munchkin.

Side view minoru from sewaholic

In seam pockets minoru jacket


Cotton twill vintage ski poster print quilted lining

Minoru jacket open collar front view


I've been trying to get pictures taken of this thing for two months, and today I finally got a break from the frigid weather and rain to get some pictures in the slightly better light on our side porch, so of course then the camera battery died on me in the middle of it. Hours later, I finally have pictures of this thing, inside and out. It's already been worn A LOT. Like, basically every day. it's been awesome for the gross, fairly wet weather we've been having. It's comfortable and looks a whole lot nicer than it's predecessor. I can fit a couple of layers under it comfortably as well, which makes it nice and toasty even on the days it's been about 18º outside.

There are a couple of little tweaks I'll make if/when I make another of these; enclosing the hood seam more effectively, being a little more careful about my topstitching around the base of the collar, etc, but all in all I think it's safe to say that I LOVE THIS COAT.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A pair of Hawthorns

I finally made a Hawthorn! Well, okay, I finally made two Hawthorns, and I made them a couple of months ago, but still. I made a Hawthorn!

I'm totally late to the Hawthorn party, but I'm so glad I've finally joined. This is seriously one of my favorite new patterns. I rarely make any pattern twice, and having now made the 3/4 sleeve dress and the blouse version, I have plans for more of each.

First up is the blouse version. I made this in a white, swiss dot that I got from Michael Levine, and I couldn't be happier with the fabric for this top. I was clearly inspired by the sample in white with black polka dots. Must have polka dots! The swiss dot was subtler, though, and will therefore be more versatile when it comes to pairing it with things in my existing wardrobe. For the blouse I cut a straight 6, and didn't really have to make any changes, other than raising the waistline seam about half in inch in center front and center back. I frequently have trouble with RTW blouses pulling at the bust, but since Hawthorn is drafted for a C cup already I didn't have to make any changes. This fabric does wrinkle as soon as you look at it, which can get a bit annoying, but It's less noticeable on than when it's on Tabitha. I swear I ironed it, really.




Hawthorn #2 is the 3/4 sleeve dress version. I used a chartreuse Italian shirting (also from Michael Levine), and as this fabric had a lot more stretch to it than I was anticipating I cut a 6:4:6 to make sure that I had a snug enough fit at the waist. The only other changes I made were the same shortening of the waistline at center fronts and backs because for some reason it was dipping quite a bit on both versions, and I also added in-seam pockets. Now, let me just say, I LOVE this fabric in that the color and pin striping are amazing and it feels really good on, but Oh. My. Lord was it a pain to sew. The amount of stretch in this stuff made stripe matching an absolute nightmare, so I eventually gave up on it for the most part. It also made  stitching the sleeve plackets a total bear. As a result, they are far from impeccable, and I really would like to make another one (maybe a long sleeved blouse) to try and get the plackets really perfect. I ended up facing the hem in order to keep a little bit of length, and I think next time I'll just cut the skirt an inch or two longer, since I like my skirts a tad longer than the pattern calls for. It also makes sitting on the floor with toddlers a little more ladylike. All in all, I love this dress, and I've already worn this one a few times too. The boy and I had just gotten back from a bike ride to playgroup, hence the rolled sleeves and rosy cheeks, and this dress is totally bike friendly as well. The bike that I have the baby seat on doesn't have fenders or skirt guards, but a simple dress clip fixes any skirt catching issues, and the skirt is long enough that I don't feel like I'm flashing everyone even when it rides up a tad. I have a million other things in the queue, but I would kind of like to make another of these for the fall now that the weather really is finally cooling down.

(The lighting in our house is terrible, but it hasn't been much better for photos outside lately, so I apologize for the glare through the side door. And boy do I need a haircut.)





Happy sewing everyone!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Irish lace

In what little time I have to sew and knit lately, I've managed to grab a few moments here and there to  work on a new sort of project for me. A couple of years ago a good friend gifted me with a pretty massive stack of vintage and antique crochet and knitting books, ranging in age from about 1915 to the 1950s. The vast majority of them are crocheted lace patterns (plus one KILLER 1930s knitting book, which I've got plans for later this winter), and while I've never been much of a crocheter, some of these lace patterns are just too pretty for me not to try my hand at it. 

I decided to try and stick with something fairly simple for my first go 'round, so I picked this fabulous Irish lace jabot pattern. There is no dat on the pattern, but I'm guessing it's from around 1940. It has taken me MONTHS (ok, honestly I have no idea when I started this thing, but if feels like eons ago) to finish this thing. Mostly since I only had little bits of time here and there to work on it, and even then I couldn't work for very long in a sitting because it started to make my hand cramp after a while. Maybe this should tell me something about my tension? 

1940s crocheted irish lace jabot ruffle

1940s crocheted irish lace jabot ruffle

A lot of these patterns call for size 50 crochet cotton, but I had a hard enough time finding 30 anywhere. I'm seriously doubting whether 50 even still exists, but it seriously has to be about the size of hand-quilting thread because the 30 is pretty darn tiny. Anyhoo, this pattern was not only simple, but it was one of the few that called for 30 to begin with, so I guess it was kismet. After the foundation rows the jabot is worked back and forth in a "U" around the center, building outward in a series of simple 7-chain loops. The final three rows are done with an alternating 7-chain loop and double crochet shell. I was kind of winging it on the final rows, since I couldn't tell from the picture exactly what the edging was supposed to look like. In theory, this is right. Either way it looks pretty, so who cares, right? The entire piece is about 18 inches long, and gets folded in half when worn. I have no ideas what I'm actually going to wear it with since almost all of my clothes have "V" or scoop necks, but I'll figure something out. It's just too awesome not to wear. 

1940s crocheted irish lace jabot ruffle

I still need to hit it with a little bit of starch to get the ruffles to hold really well, but overall I'm really happy. I'd say for a first lace project it was a success. Has anyone else been trying their hand at something new lately? I'm always keen to learn new skills (because I clearly don't have enough projects already). Even if I only end up doing something once I can at least say that I have. 

(You've also got a little sneak peak on Tabitha of what I've got to share with you all in my next post, however belated). 

The fall weather seems to finally be here to stay in Kentucky. This weekend is supposed to be pretty chilly, and I'm loving it so far. Mr. S is off work next week so I'm hoping to get in plenty of time outdoors with my boys, plus lots of sewing time since I'll have an extra pair of hands around to help with the Tasmanian Devil who thinks he's two already. Hope everyone has a lovely weekend!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Digging in the dirt

Just popping in to say a quick hello and a glimpse of one of my unblogged projects from this summer.  This post also marks my own official photographic return to the blogosphere. It's really difficult to get pictures of myself unless Mr. S is home (which is not often as a small business owner), and for a while after my son was born I didn't really want to take pictures of myself anyway. But I'm back! Pictures of me may still be few and far between, but I'm going to make a concerted effort to get more photos of clothes on me and not just Tabitha. Last weekend my husband and I were doing some yard work, cleaning up the garden and planting some new shrubs, and as I already had my 1940s overalls on with the rest of my rather flamboyant gardening garb I had him snap a few quick shots (dirt, sweat and all) to show you. I used a lightweight, light blue denim, and some white ric rac from my mom's stash, along with a bit of polka dot ribbon I had lying around, just to brighten them up a bit.


These are kind of a frankenstein garment, using the bodice from a vintage playsuit pattern (I'd have to dig out my pattern index to find the number, but it's from the late 30's or very early '40s), and Simplicity 3688 with a little cuff added. The pockets were an idea I got from Bex, and stored away until I had something to use them on. The ric rac was basted on and then sandwiched between the pockets and the pocket facings, and then I topstitched the pockets to the overalls. 



I painted these wooden shoes a couple of years ago and I love them for yard work. They are so easy to slip on and off, and they're great in the mud. Plus, how can you not feel better with birds and hearts staring back at you from your bright yellow toes? I mean, really. 


I've worn these numerous times since I made them and I really love them. They're super comfy, totally utilitarian, and while I have something to wear for grubbing around in the mud I still feel like myself. I've got a couple of other projects from this summer that I'm working on getting some pictures of, and will hopefully have those posted soon so I can get on to my current projects (both sewing and knitting). Since the weather this week has finally cooled down and the brisk bite of autumn has firmly (hopefully) taken hold, I've been getting geared up for some winter wardrobe building.  I've got three major cold-weather sewing projects in the queue in an effort to revamp my winter wardrobe, but more on those later. For now, I hope that everyone is enjoying this shift into fall!

And because everything is better with 80s music video footage:


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