Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Silk Lounge Jacket

Since lesson plan reviewing, cushion re-covering and dish washing are all really boring activities, I decided I wanted to make something fun and pretty for myself. I've got so many pieces of fabric sitting in my stash for projects that have been put on further hold because I won't be back into my normal clothes for a few months yet, and we still have lots to do to get the house ready for the baby, I really felt the need last night to do something frivolous and a little luxurious for myself as far as sewing goes (maternity clothes are practical, but not particularly luxe feeling). I had just over two yards of this gorgeous silk that I got from a friend about a year ago, and hadn't quite decided what to do with it. I'm not sure why, but suddenly last night I had a brain wave. It would be PERFECT for a lounge jacket. Mr. S. has a comfy silk smoking jacket that he's had for ages and it's simply not fair for me to not have one as well ;)

I was in the process of re-filing a bunch of my patterns that had been removed from their respective drawers for one reason or another, and remembered I had this pattern from Eva Dress. It's a 1933 Lounging Ensemble, and it's the same pattern I had adapted before to make my 1930s pants that I love so much. I hadn't ever had the chance to use the blouse, apron or jacket components though, and I do love them all, so I decided to do a test run with this silk. 

Pardon the bad lighting. Taking pictures in my house after early afternoon is always a bit of a challenge because of the way the light comes in. 

The pattern is a size 12, and I graded it up (slash and spread) to a 16 (1930s equivalents). Sometimes I can get away without grading patterns up, but I wanted this to fit loosely like it is supposed to, and fitting on myself is a little challenging right now since I'm 20 pounds heavier than usual and a totally different shape. 

The armscyes are just a bit snug (totally wearable just not as relaxed as I would have liked), but that may also work itself out once the baby is born and I'm back to my normal size. 

I followed the pattern pretty directly, only altering the pocket edge by making a reverse facing in order to match the wrong side of the fabric that I used for the cuff turn-backs.

I finished the whole garment with french seams or facings, and this fabric really was wonderful to work with. It hangs beautifully and feels like buttah! I love the color, too. It was tough figuring out what to make with it when I acquired it due to the limited yardage and the slightly more abstract pattern (a bit of a departure from my usual solids and simple geometrics or florals). It's very well suited, however, to this sort of jacket I think. The painterly quality of the pattern and the slightly artistic feeling, smock like qualities of the garment design seem to work in perfect harmony. 

This was a pretty quick, simple project to give myself a break from all the housework, baby related projects, and work related tedium. I'm really excited to have something new and glamorous feeling to sit around the house in after the baby is here. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Drawn work baby cap

Hello all! Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine's Day. We're having particularly nice weather today and it's really doing wonders for my mood. Hopefully it holds out for a while. It's much easier lugging things back and forth from my office to my car without all the extra bundling up. Anyway, last night I finished another of my many UFOs, an 18th century baby cap of handkerchief linen. I actually started this about two years ago when we found out a friend was pregnant with their first child, and it was originally intended as a baby gift for her. However, the drawn work became a much more involved task than anticipated (especially in the middle of grad school and a lot of other upheaval) and needless to say it did not get finished in time to give to her. So, then we found out about a year or so ago that ANOTHER reenacting friend was having a baby and I thought "Well great! Now I can finish this and give it to HER!" But oh, the best laid plans.....

Well, when we found out that we were expecting our first I decided once and for all that I was going to get this silly thing finished. By this time I had already decided to SERIOUSLY scale down the amount and intricacy of my drawn work design. At first I thought since it was such a small garment it would be an easy one to use as a sort of sampler, incorporating many different patterns on both cap and ruffles. However, after I realized that if I kept up this goal I would never actually get the thing finished I decided to nix many of my ideas and just finish the two patterns on the sides of the cap. I got that finished and then it languished for a while again as I was busy with other things and finally sat down the other day to finish the rolled hems and whipped gathers on the ruffle. My original plan was to do a double ruffle, but I didn't have the length I needed for that, so I instead did a split, single ruffle. I don't think I will ever attempt drawn work again (I enjoyed it, but it's also a bit too labor and time intensive to be practical), but I will admit having another chance to do some tiny rolled hems is always something I enjoy. Whipped gathers are pretty fun, too, especially on something this delicate. So, without further ado, here are some (not very brightly lit, sorry) photos of the finished piece. 

I wasn't really as careful as I should have been with my drawn work designs, and since I didn't count my threads as precisely as required the two sides are a bit different from one another. Not much to do about that once I cut the thread though! Oh well. The entire cap (as is obvious when looking at the hems) was hand stitched. I've always had a bit of a soft spot for miniatures, and any other small, dainty, or OCD satisfying meticulous handwork, so doing all of the rolled hems for this cap was really something I enjoyed a great deal. While I generally use my rolled hem foot for this sort of thing on modern garments, anytime I have an excuse to make them on something for my 18th century wardrobe it makes me happy (ok I'll admit partly just because it's easier to sit in front of the television and do this than use the machine). Now the baby has some headwear for his/her (this is so much easier in spanish, why don't we have a neuter option??) 18th century debut in October. While I have many more projects to finish before then, up next will be some 18th century baby gowns and so forth. It's always chilly so I have to make sure I have plenty of clothes for bundling the little one up!

Have a lovely week!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Two more projects finished!

I've managed to finally get two more of the things in my "in-progress" stack finished in the last week or so. First, is the 1960s maternity dress I had mentioned a little while back, and the second is the baby quilt project I've been working on for months it seems. First the dress. The pattern is one which I was given by a friend, and thanks to some sleuthing help from a reader I have been able to pin down as being from 1960. It's a really cute pattern, and the dress turned out really well. It's perhaps not the most flattering color on me, but the black helps set it off a bit, and this also served as a bit of a stash busting project, so since I wasn't buying new fabric for it I wasn't so concerned about the color being the best suited. It will give me something a little cooler and more breathable to wear to work (or anytime that yoga pants and oversized t-shirts are not appropriate) once the weather gets a bit warmer. 

The dress is obviously quite a bit large on Tabitha, but you get the picture. The mister is asleep, so there wasn't anyone to take a picture of it on me, and I wanted to go ahead and get it taken care of. It clearly is not so trim looking through the waist when it's on me and my six months of baby belly.

The second project is the baby quilt I started quite a while back. There are forty little nine patch squares alternating with the plain white dotted squares. I used some of the extra backing fabric as well, but the majority of the fabric for the nine patch squares was cut from scraps leftover from dresses I've made over the past few years. There are even a couple of small squares that were left from my final project at the Oxbow School several years ago. I made a quilt then, too, inspired by genealogical studies of my mother's family and her great grandmother's immigration from Ireland. It seems like ages since I started this thing, and for such a little blanket I feel like I should have gotten it finished much more quickly, but  with several other projects in the works at the same time, along with working, I guess it's not all that ridiculous. Anyway, I finally got it all finished last night. It is far from perfect (cutting all those tiny squares was not as exact an art as I would have liked) and the batting made it a bit difficult to get all the corners perfect. Instead of purchasing new batting, I used my own baby quilt, one that my grandmother made when I was born. Over the last 25 years it has gotten so stretched and faded that it hardly even resembled a rectangle anymore. It had a hole in one corner that I poked with my big toe when I was five years old. Still, I have always loved it and the chance to breath a little life back into it was not one I could pass up. I pulled off the old binding (revealing just how completely faded the face fabric had become) and attempted to straighten it as best I could in order to bat the new quilt. Overall, it turned out pretty well. I'm not too worried about the little imperfections either, since I intend this blanket for serious use and abuse (although perhaps not quite as extreme as those my own blanket has suffered over the years). 

It's going to be a nice weight for using as a play mat on the floor also, which will be nice. It's also really nice having another project taken care of. I currently have nothing waiting on the knitting needles, and nothing cut out and waiting to be sewn. There are a couple of tops I want to get made, but those can wait for a couple of weeks. Up next I really need to finish recovering my couch cushions. I got the base of the couch just about finished (just some tacking to do on the back mostly), but I haven't gotten around to the cushions yet. No more excuses now. It's the only "in-progress" project on the docket for now, so I can't escape it any longer. 

I hope everyone has a lovely Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cables, baby!

I finally finished my second knitting project for Baby S. It's a cabled jacket and matching knee socks in a burgundy baby merino. The pattern is one available on Ravelry from Drops Design. It is for the jacket, socks and a blanket (which I opted not to make). The pattern itself has some issues, being relatively poorly written, but once I managed to decipher the more confusing sections the overall product turned out really well. I extended the cabling around the hood after looking at some other knitters' versions of the project. I've got about 1.5 skeins of the yarn left (I seem to have this issue frequently because I knit pretty tightly), so I have cast on the 1940s Knitted Turban pattern from the V&A. It's knitting up really quickly. I'm about a quarter of the way finished with it after a brief amount of work last night.

I also got a wonderful surprise from my older brother this morning. He showed up on my porch a little while ago with a glider rocking chair for the baby room, complete with easily removable cushions. Now I don't have to steal the one from my parents' house ;)

For some reason I can't get this picture to rotate, but you get the idea. This is the first time I've ever made socks, and I had never worked short rows before. Again, the pattern was a little difficult to decipher at points, but once I got it figured out the socks turned out well also.

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