mardi 17 février 2015

Finished Project: Snöflinga Hat

Another knit project! 
I knitted this hat no less than 3 times. And y that I don't mean I made three versions, but I undid it twice and remade it twice.

The pattern is the Snöflinga Hat by Jenny Gordy. I don't remember what caught my eye in this pattern,  I think it was the simplicity of it, and yet it had some interesting detail, simply created by contrast between knit rows and purl rows, and one row of bobbles. I made it with the suggested yarn: one skein of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in colorway Woodsmoke. It's a great pattern to make with this yarn. It was a super fast knit, just a few hours really. I had never made bobbles before, but they are surprisingly easy. 

So the first time I made it, I felt it was too big. Although a few friends said they though it was fine, I decided to unravel it and make it with a smaller needle size, and less row. I liked the result even less than the first time, so I unravelled a second time and made it again, back in the original size. Somehow it turned out better and I actually really like it now. I have to say, that's the beauty of knitting vs. sewing: if you don't like the result, you can start over, nothing is wasted.

I like to wear this hat indoor actually, perfect for bad hair day, and it looks great with a more casual outfit.

Man, that's a lot of my face in this post :P

mardi 10 février 2015

Finished Project: Faux fur vest

This is one of my rare UFO. I started this project quite a long time ago. I had made a muslin and put it all together, only to realize it was a bit too boxy for my taste.

Faux fur is a bit tedious to work with, as it invovles trimming the hair from all the seam allowances. So after working on if for a while, I kind of ran out of steam. Plus spring was coming, so I put it away. Actually it sat on my dressform for over a year...

Then finally, just before christmas, I found myself without a sewing project. I didn't want to start something from scratch as we were going away for the holidays. So I pulled the vest out of the closet (it had migrated from the dressform to the closet before summer) I took another look at it and started pinning in every seam. I also decided to give it a lower V-shaped neckline, as opposed to the higher round shape that contrinubted to make it look overwhelming on my figure.

Eventually I managed to turn it into something that I'm happy with. With the fur it's not so obvious, but the V-shape actually makes a big difference, and thanks to the princess seams I added in the back, I was able to take it in in four different places thus balancing things a bit better.

The pattern is Simplicity 2285 - my early post about the muslin has a bit more detail about the changes I made. Also, Sonja just posted a great article on her blog about how to sew with fur, full of great tips.

I'm really glad that I finished it, I was so excited about the faux fur when I firts bought it. It was one of those purchases where I went to the store a few times, petting it for a minute, but then walking away, before I finally made the leap of buying a meter of it.

I've already worn this a few times, it's quite comfortable and warm and goes with pretty much anything. So glad I finally got the motivation to finishing this!

lundi 2 février 2015

Finished Project: Wool and Leather skirt

I first saw the inspiration for this project on Bee Made's blog here
Actually, this wasn't so much an inspiration as me flat-out copying this garment (which was also a knock-off from a RTW pattern). But I felt it was ok to be a copy-cat as she actually provides a tutorial to put this skirt together :)

I'd never sewn with leather, so I was quite excited to get started, I had already visited Lonsdale Leather, a gold mine for leather, and I was itching to have an excuse to come out of there with something. So this was a great opportunity.
I purchased a full lamb hide of light weight black leather, about 9 square feet. 

For the pattern, I used skirt 115 from BWOF 09-2012. The base is the same as this skirt, (without the pleat) for which I'd already figured out the fit, so it seemed like a good option.

I didn't actually follow the tutorial - by the time I got around to making the skirt, I actually forgot it was even there, so I just made up my own pattern piece for the wrap portion. I didn't want a real wrap skirt, so I added the asymetrical panel on top of the rest of the normal skirt. In hindsight that might not have been the best thing, because it adds quite a bit of bulk to the side seam and I couldn't get a nice smooth side seam.

Anyways, I made a muslin to figure out the dimensions and orientation of the asymetrical panel, then I cut my leather and fabric.  Working with leather wasn't so bad. I used paper clips to keep the leather pieces together (instead of pins). I also used leather tape, after seeing this tutorial, to finish the hem, and it worked perfectly!

I'm a little on the fence about the result. I love the idea of this skirt, and I've been wearing it a lot, but I only wish the side seams laid a little flatter and smoother. No matter how much pressing I did, it doesn't look quite right. Oh well, I'm still happy with it and the opportunity to work with leather, and now I'm dreaming of a little pouch to use my left-over leather.

mardi 27 janvier 2015

Finished Project: Poolside sweater

A few years ago I purchased a few skeins of Estelle South Pacific cotton yarn from a store that was closing down near my work.
It took me forever to decide what to do with the yarn. I considered the sweater below from Phildar,


 But after doing a test swatch I decided I didn't like the result of the cable pattern with the yarn so the search for the right pattern continued on. Eventually I chose the Poolside sweater by Isabel Kraemer.

This sweater is knitted in the round, from top to bottom. The body is worked first, then you go back to each sleeve where the stitches have been put on hold and you knit them. The previous sweater I made was knitted in pieces and seamed up, so it was nice to try this other method.


What was nice about  knitting in the round was being able to try on the sweater early on in the making, and making sure the fit was correct. I did not enjoy however how long the rows ended up being, since it's knitted in the round. Generally speaking, I find that knitting in pieces is easier from a motivation persperctive, as each piece you finish is an extra step completed, whereas when knitting in the round, you have to knit the entire body before achieving the first step.

I really like how the stitch pattern on the body turned out but let me tell you IT.TOOK.FOREVER.
The thing is, it's one of those repeat patterns where you have to really pay attention. Forget about social knitting and having conversations while working on your project. This one (for me anyway) was a full-focus project. I could barely watch TV while knitting it. Hence the time it took to finish.

I made a size S. The pattern is designed with negative ease in the upper body, which makes the fitting a bit easier I think. As far as adjusments, I added a few rows at the top to make the armholes bigger. I didn't want the sleeves to be bigger though, so I balanced that by not adding additional increases on my additional rows, and making more decreases at the start of the sleeves. It was a bit of a shot in the dark, but it worked out in the end.

To make the sleeves, I used double pointed needles. I didn't love that process as, again, it's a bit more focus-intensive as knitting flat and you have to pa extra attention to all needles and not dropping any stitches from any of them. In the end though it was nice to bind of the last sleeve and be able to put the sweater on right away (well, after weaving in the ends) without the hand-seaming step...

I'm really happy with how it turned out. Even though it's cotton, it's pretty warm. I haven't had issues with the cotton stretching, which was one of my biggest worries, but no major stretching so far, hopefully it lasts...

I just finished another sweater, for B this time, and the next one on my list will be a Phildar pattern with some black Cascade 220 yarn I purchased in Washington State on our Christmas road trop..

Catching up

Even though I haven't posted in a while, I've been pretty busy sewing and knitting over the last few months. Photos get hard to take in the winter when light is low.
But finally we got the camera out lest week-end for a catch-up session and I will have quite a few new projects to post in the next few weeks.

Since the end of the summer, I finished 2 knitted sweaters, 1 skirt, 1 vest (an old UFO I finally decided to complete), 1 top, 1 knitted hat. I know it may not seem like much compared to the productivity of others out there, but it's a pretty good record for me!

I also have quite a few more projects on the go, including pajama pants and top, a camisole, a scarf, a couple of loose tops. I'm enjoying tackling a few fast, easy-fitting, no-muslin-required projects these days, but I'm planning a pair of skinny pants in the near future, which will no doubt involve its fair share of fitting challenges.

So that's my little catch-up, stay tuned for some more detailed posts of completed projects!

samedi 15 novembre 2014

Sneak Peek: Peplum Top

Even though this is another summer top, I was really determined to finish it this year, as opposed to make it a UFO for another year.

I'm hoping to have a chance to take modeled photos soon, but in the meantime. here's a sneak peek...

I also finished a knitted sweater and am now working on a skirt that will incorporate leather, as well as a knitted cardigan for B. So many projects!

samedi 8 novembre 2014

Finished Project: A Bridesmaid's dress

*Warning* this is a long post! but this project was quite special so I wanted to share the details of how the dress was made. 

In July, my step-brother J.B. got married. I was one of the bridesmaids, together with the bride's sister. Right away I knew I wanted to make my bridesmaid's dress.

Judy (the bride) told us to do whatever we wanted - she trusted our taste and judgement, so with that, Katherine (her sister) and I started brainstorming ideas and exchanging inspirations. Eventually we settled on the concept of a flowy skirt, a fitted bustier-type bodice and a sheer overlayer to cover the shoulders. This was our initial inspiration:


Looking for patterns to use as a base, I found Vogue 8766 in my stash. The pattern looked perfect for what we needed: a fitted bustier (view A), a circle skirt (view C), and the full bodice option as well, to be used for the overlay (View D).

I cut out two muslins (one for me and one for Katherine, using her measurements).
The pattern included indications of finished measurements, which allowed me to realize even before cutting that it had a LOT of ease built in, especially for the bodice of view D. I used the finished measurements rather than the suggested size to figure out what size to cut.
Katherine and I went fabric shopping together. Originally, we were thinking of making the same dress but in two different blue tones. As we were looking for fabric though, we couldn't find colors that really spoke to us.
After looking for quite a while at the solid colour choices, I started looking around for other options, and came accross a really beautiful silk chiffon that looked almost painterly, with big brush strokes of pinks and reds. I layed the fabric down on a cutting table and both Katherine and I got really excited about this new option.

The bride had told us to do whatever we wanted, she didn't have any preference for colour. We did check with the mother of the bride to make sure it wasn't going to completely throw off the color scheme of the wedding - but she said that we should go with the fabric that excited us the most - and that was definitely it. The silk chiffon being sheer, we also purchased baby pink silk satin to use underneath the chiffon.
With the pink satin only, it had quite the bubble gum dress potential.
We also altered our oroginal concept as we realized that the fabric wasn't going to be sheer enough to get a strong opaque/sheer contrast on the shoulders like the inspiration. So we decided to drop the sheer over layer idea, and instead add a shoulder yoke in a contrasting cream fabric. All I had to do was cut the bodice piece so it would connect with the bustier above the bust, and that was that! We also changed the neckline to be more a sweetheart shape, and made the skirt knee-length instead of midi.

Aside from the design changes, I did very few adjustments to the pattern overall: Added a shoulder dart for both Katherine and I, did a forward shoulder adjustment, added 1 inch in length. We also altered the neckline to be slightly lower and wider, and we moved the zipper from the back to the side.
Unfortunate collateral damage: my tape measurere (the kind that rewinds itself) fell to the ground and litterrally exploded

 Katherine and I went on making our dresses seperately, but we sent each other pictures of progress on a regular basis. It was really fun to make this together and share challenges. The shoulder yoke especially turned out to be the most finicky part. We used a double layer of chiffon for it, but because the fabric was so sheer, the inside had to be as clean as possible. It was really challenging to get the seams all pressed and neat. We also decided to trim the seam allowances to .5 mm and leave them unfinished as any seam finishing would show from outside. Stuck between the two layers of the yoke, we weren't too worried about unravelling or anything.

The bustier was underlined with muslin fabric, to keep it stiff. It was ultimately made out of 4 layers: the silk satin underlined with muslin, the overlayer of chiffon, and the lining. I used baby pink bemberg for the lining.

 The skirt only had two layers: the satin (which acts as a lining) and the chiffon.
One thing that I had to do differently than Katherine was cut the skirt on the cross-wise grain. Being a bit taller, I needed a longer skirt, and it didn't fit in the length-wise grain. I ended up with a seam at center back, and the print of my fabric being a different direction than hers, but in the end, I don't beleive it was highly noticeable.

In anticipation of this project, I purchased two presser feet for my machine: a 1/4 inch narrow-hem foot and a 1/6 inch one as well. I'm so happy I did! Each of the layer of the skirt ended up being 4+ meters long of hem, which would have taken hours to do without those foot. It did take of bit of practice to get the hang of it, and there are some messed up areas on the hem, but in the end, i managed to get a pretty clean hem.

Katherine came over one night so we could help each other get our hems straight. I hemmed both dresses and Katherine pressed them (4 layers of fabric between the two dresses, that's 12-15 meters of hem!) Since those were circle skirts, cut on the bias, I had mentioned that we should let our dresses hang for a couple of days before hemming. I did but I must not have let mine hang long enough as a few days after heming it, the silk satin was peaking from under the chiffon in various places (i think the satin ended up stretching more than the chiffon, which makes sense since it's much heavier).
So I cut off the satin just above the first hem, and recut in the areas that were too long, and re-hemmed the whole thing. Again, I was so grateful I had the foresight to purchase that narrow-hem foot!

my dress on the left and Katherine's on the right. you can tell here that the print diretion on my skirt doesn't match her, but I'm ok with that.
We originally were going to have a closure of sort at the back of the neck, with a slit at center back down to the bustier, but we decided to leave the two side hanging as it looks pretty that way.

photo by eaphoto
In the end, both our dresses looked really good. And we were pretty proud of ourselves. I also like that this dress doesn't scream "bridesmaid" and that I could probably wear it again for a different occasion.

photo by eaphoto

photo by eaphoto