Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SWAP Pattern Roundup- Butterick 5049

Because I have such issues getting photos, I don't get my sewn items up on this blog.  I am going to try to be better about that going forward, but for now I will be blogging about the things I have made in the past.

First, Butterick 5049, which is a Connie Crawford dress pattern.  This pattern has a clever feature, which involves an alternative sleeve pattern for larger biceps.  I knew for sure I wanted to use this!  When you use the alternate sleeve, you also replace the bodice part of the dress so that the armholes will match the sleeve.

I first made this dress in a black/brown printed mystery fabric.  I wanted a new dress for my niece's wedding, and hoped this would be a wearable muslin. Hopefully this picture will give you some idea of the print.  The fabric was most definitely a polyester of some sort.

I did french seams throughout.  I used self bias to finish the neckline, and some mystery vintage binding from a yard sale to hem the sleeves.  (This turned out to be a mistake, I think this trim shrunk upon washing.) The dress was indeed wearable.  It was slightly tight across the back, so my arm did not move comfortably. I wore it with my first Pearl Jacket, and I thought it looked great together.   I did not get a photo of me in the dress.  Even though I had prewashed the fabric, it seems like it gets smaller with each washing.  Also, where it is tight in the back, the seams are tearing.

On to the "good" version.  I did the broad back adjustment as noted in Fit for Real People.  I ordered some wonderful rayon challis from Vogue Fabrics.  Once again I did french seams thoughout, and this time I finished the armhole seams with SnugHug.  I used some lovely lace trim for the hems on the dress and the sleeves.

I wore this version of the dress on Easter, and I love the fit and I think it will be a great summer dress! ( I won't wear the tights, they were necessary on chilly Easter though!  I have a new pair of light brown cute shoes I will wear them with now that the weather is warm.

I have another piece of rayon challis, and I am thinking about using the top part of this dress, but then doing a gathered skirt instead.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Just for Fun

My knitting buddy Julie from Knitting at Large sent me a link some time back to some awesome striped mittens.  They were made with some hand dyed yarn made by Trailing Clouds in a colorway called Mind the Gap.  The yarn sells out fast when she updates her shop, in fact, because Julie and I both wanted the yarn it took me two attempts to buy it!

I obviously have no need for rainbow striped mittens, but I have been enjoying working on these so much!

Linking up with Patchwork Times for ON the Needles Friday.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

SWAP Photo Op

I have been sewing a good bit, especially with SWAP,  yet hardly any of it makes it here because I don’t take the photos.  I have major issues around getting any selfies!

First, I have bitchy resting face big time. My dad was an avid amateur photographer, he even had a darkroom at some point in the laundry room.  I am sure he gave it up because his inability to get a decent smile out of me for photos made him think he was not good.   Sorry dad, I was not being a brat. I have bitchy resting face! (I think it is hereditary.)

Second, I’ll just put this out there.  I am fat. Wow I said it. Not fat like those sewists that say “oh I am in the zone between misses and plus patterns.” Fat like “oh, I often have to grade up plus patterns to fit me.” I also have to add about 6 inches in length to most things.   The internet is not a safe place to put one’s fat lady selfies.  You get used as before photos.  People comment on the position of your boobs. (Since I sew, I know precisely where mine are thank you, you don’t need to point them out to me. I also know they are uneven, the result of a hack job gall bladder removal that acted like a one sided mini tummy tuck.)  Just try to remember, fat people are real people with very real feelings.

Third, my house is tiny and cluttered.  We are a family of big people in a little townhouse, so really there is not room to get a full view camera angle and not get too much evidence of life around here.  So I pretty much always take my photos in my tiny back yard, where you can see my aging fence, and my electric meter and sometimes a 5 gallon orange bucket from Home Depot.

I needed to get my SWAP photos taken, so I bit the bullet and got to work starting yesterday.  Yesterday, when it was 80+ degrees out.  Suddenly my “cozy” SWAP was causing flop sweats. I would style my hair, and then after a few photos I would have to pull it back in a rubber band to keep if from sticking to my face.  I would iron everything, but my body would steam wrinkles back into them before I could get the photos! I will never again think “ugh why didn’t she iron that?”  I know that there is a chance she did.   I took about half the photos, figuring I would finish this morning. My hair drooped and ended up pulled back before I finished the ironing.   It was not any cooler this morning, plus there were all these giant fuzzy pollen balloons floating around!

But woohoo! SWAP is done and photographed!  I know I might not get even one vote in the competition- there are some amazing collections posted already, and mine is pretty basic by comparison, but I am thrilled to have worked out some patterns that I can wear and made 11 new pieces for my wardrobe.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The Story of my SWAP

Once upon a time in December, I decided to sew along with the talented people on Artisan Square who were planning for SWAP. SWAP stands for sewing with a plan, and the guidelines called for sewing a collection of 5 tops, 3 bottoms and 3 wild cards that would all coordinate. The timeline for sewing was the day after Christmas through April 30.

 SWAP might mean sewing with a plan, but my plan definitely evolved along the way. Way back in December when I started dreaming about my collection, I was picturing outfits that would include my hand knitted accessories and one of my wild card items was a cozy sweatshirt fleece jacket. My original plan included a number of different patterns, none of which I had yet tested, and many of which involved techniques I had not used in decades. I did not originally give much thought to what sorts of things I actually wear, and was more into the challenge of sewing different items.
At some point along the way, as I was fighting to get even the simplest patterns to fit me reasonably (wearable, not necessarily impressive!), I had the revelation that 1- this sea of different styles I was intending to sew did not really suit my casual lifestyle and 2- there was no way I would be able to finish if each pattern took me multiple attempts to get a wearable garment. Then I rebooted the plan to include multiples from the same pattern, as well as pulling in tried and true patterns for a few of the bottoms.

 I was still in a bit of a fantasy. I still pictured my finished items how I would wear them with shawls, knit cardigans, etc. I was not thinking about the end date- April 30- and what kind of stuff I would wear in April. I also had originally intended to do some hand embellishment on a few of the items, Alabama Chanin style. I have long admired the work of some others on Artisan Square who sew up beautiful appliqued and beaded creations. I was in denial- I have thumb issues, and while I can do some hand sewing, doing that much on a deadline would leave me with useless hands.

 I was still having fitting issues. For example, I bought a raglan tee pattern from Lekala, which had I sewn it up unaltered would have been a crop top, and skin tight. Definitely not a good look for me! When I asked advice about this pattern, thinking maybe I had entered something wrong in the website, I heard that someone else had the same issue with that pattern. This person recommended Wild Ginger Patternmaster Boutique software to me. In mid March, with only one shirt of the 5 I need for SWAP sewn, I bought Wild Ginger PMB. To say there is a learning curve is an understatement. It will for the most part draft for my body, but every measurement I try to enter evokes a warning message, as if there is no way a human form has these measurements! There are some defaults that I needed to figure out by trial and error (shoulder length I am looking at you). One of my SWAP tops has some decorative seaming, and that is because I had to remake the entire top half to get the shoulders to be as broad as mine.
I managed to find the right defaults in Wild Ginger PMB to make some knit tops that I am thrilled with. I made 2 boat neck tops and 2 scoop neck tees, and these patterns are destined to be TNTs. Then it was April 29, and I had 10 items sewn. The rules allowed for using a previously sewn item. But I had a Butterick pattern for trousers (B5222) that I wanted to attempt, and I went for it. They are wearable in my opinion, and I will be digging deep into my copy of Pants for Real People.

    So here is what I learned from SWAP:
 1- Sew for the life you lead, not the dreamy one you lead in your head.

2- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you are currently sewing knit tees all from the same pattern and 8 gore elastic waist skirts, don’t plan a collection with 8 different patterns and hand beaded details.

 3- Consider the season you will be in when the collection is completed. I should have sewn for Summer. Some of the items can really work for all seasons for me, but I will not be wearing the vest or the jacket until Fall now.

 4- I should have been taking some photos as I went along. This could have allowed me to be blogging stuff all along, but also I nearly had heat stroke doing my photo sessions.

5- I did some new to me stuff in this process:
 Learned to use Wild Ginger PMB software
Rigged my phone as a remote for my camera
First twin needle hems
 First woven fabric pants with a fly since about 1979.
Also, as I was sewing up wearable muslins, I managed to salvage every item instead of chucking them in the wadder pile.

 Stay tuned, I will be talking about some of my SWAP outfits in my next few posts.

 Special thanks to Kate at Fabrickated.com for the idea to post SWAP stories.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Head is Spinning

There has been a lot going on here in my "studio"- so much, in fact, that I have not blogged because it was overwhelming to know where to start.  I decided that I would start with a summary post, and then expand on the different topics with individual posts with details and photos.

Wild Ginger Software
For my birthday last month I got software from Wild Ginger called Patternmaster Boutique.  It is software for drafting custom patterns.  I am hoping this will help me avoid the massive amounts of alterations involved when I make a standard pattern.  There is a learning curve involved, and I need to make at least 2 fitting garments to work out what measurements I need to enter to get patterns that fit.

SWAP Sewing Progress
I have made fairly good progress on my SWAP sewing.  I have finished two of the three required bottoms, two of the 5 required tops, and two of the wild cards, including a reversible Pearl vest, so the special garment is done.  I can include one previously sewn item and one ready to wear item, so I might be able to finish in the two weeks I have left.  I haven't blogged any of these completed garments, because I don't have photos.  The photos are always my big stumbling block.

Road Trip with a Fabric Theme
On the Thursday before Easter I happened to see the website for the PA Fabric Outlet, and noticed that they were having a going out of business 70% off sale.  I sent a link to my husband, mostly in a "hey this place is closing and we never got to go there" kind of way.  He responded "Let's go.  I'll take tomorrow off." Yes, he is a keeper!  Anyway, despite the fact that I had recently cataloged all of my fabrics and declared that I do not need any more, we hit Pennsylvania hard and bought a ton of stuff.  We shopped two branches of the PA Fabric Outlet.  An employee at our first PA Fabric Outlet stop suggested we also check out the Goodville Fabric outlet (their sale room is pictured below).  We also stopped at the brick and mortar for Fabric Mart.

There was also a stop for lunch and pie at Park Place Diner.  Hey my husband might be a saint but he is also human!

 New Sewing Machine
This week I got a new sewing machine.  I got a Brother LB6800PRW Computerized Sewing and Embroidery Machine.  I've only sewn on it for about a day, but I love it so far!

So I will work on collecting my thoughts and some photos for some more detailed posts about some of these topics in the near future.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

One Ugly Sock

Many moons ago, I bought the book Op Art Socks, by Stephanie van der Linden.  It is an awesome book with some really unique patterns.  I joined a group that was formed to have knitalongs and knit through the whole book- I fell out rather early on because I could not finish the sock of that month on time.  Recently I decided to jump back in, because they were knitting some socks that interested me.  The main one, was Yaacov, which is the beautiful sock on the cover of the book.

Yaacov calls for using two skeins of the same striping yarn, and starting them at different points in the color progression.  I ordered a couple of skeins for that purpose, but when I cast on using those, it turned out the stripes in that yarn were too short for the pattern.  So I decided to try using two different skeins of striping yarn I had together.

Here is the cast on photo:

When I posted this photo before, I said it was a lot like clown barf, but I was ok with that.  I think at the time I was thinking it was cute in an "it's so ugly it's cute" kind of way.  But the more I knit, the more I started to think it was just ugly.  I did finish the first sock, and that made it clear this pair of socks was doomed- too tight!  I want to be clear, that I think the pattern is beautiful, and my problems were all operator errors!

I decided there was no way I was finishing these socks.  My lonely orphan sock sat in my knitting bag making me feel very bad, and I also occasionally thought about knitting the second sock.  Then this morning I got the idea- I would make the sock into a monster.

I cut the sock and sewed next to the cut to keep the sock from unraveling.

I made the toe and most of the foot into the main monster body/head.  I made the leg of the sock into the monster's legs.  For his arms I used the heel of the sock.  I think it turned out really cute!

Linking up to Patchwork Times for on the needles Friday!

Friday, March 20, 2015

On the Needles Friday March 20 2015

This year I decided to knit along with the folks making Year of the Afghan:Nature's Scenery, a design by Maggie Fangmann.  I don't usually start knitting something when I can't see the completed project, but I loved the first block so much I decided to go for it.  I am knitting it for my husband who is always cold while the rest of us are in tshirts and shorts.  I am using Lion Brand woolease in the Fisherman colorway.

A new block pattern comes out every month.  I have finished the January and February blocks.



I am enjoying this project.  It's nice when a large project like a blanket is broken up into smaller managable pieces.  Since the blocks come out monthly it sets a nice pace.  My only concern is the border around the whole thing, I am not sure how to even come up with enough/long enough needles to accomplish that!

Also, I recently finished this shawl!  It is Desert Peach by Romi Hill, in Knitpicks Gloss Lace yarn. 

I am planning to wear this on Easter with a dress I will make from a lovely blue floral print rayon challis I bought from Voguefabrics.

Linking up with Patchwork Times for on the Needles Friday!