I know, I know, I said the next update would be here on August 6 - but there is an issue with my camera. Replacement is being organized, so expect the update Monday the 8th. Sorry for the inconvenience!
It's the summer holidays! I'll be gone for a few weeks and will post a 'what I did on my summer holidays 2016' with an overview of what I made, bought and did on August 6. See you then!
In the meantime, check out these awesome blogs:
7 Pine Design: A blog by a professional seamstress about sewing techniques, apparel construction, pattern drafting and grading, and pattern reviews. A very educational, thoroughly written and enjoyable blog!
Lilacs & Lace/Laura Mae Designs: This lady sews beautiful items, mostly vintage-inspired dresses, and her pictures are a pleasure to see. Nice blog to browse through and enjoy the inspirational projects!
This weekend - and just in time for a party next week! - I finished my long-sleeved knit dress:
This pattern is pattern 45059 from Bootstrap fashion and made-to-measure. Overall, I am very happy with the fit. There are just a few adjustments I now know I have to make when ordering from Bootstrap fashion again. Notably, my bust apex is higher than their standard pattern, and my shoulders are slightly wider. Luckily both of these are options Bootstrap fashion offers!
The pattern instructions have you use bias tape around the neck edge and the edges of the faux bolero (as you can see in the pictures on the pattern page). This dress was my first time working with stretch fabrics and I felt it was a bit ambitious to combine that with bias tape, which I am not the biggest fan of at the best of time (I love the way it looks, but I always have difficulty getting it on nicely). In addition to this, I couldn't figure out how to use bias tape on the neck edge when there is also the fold of the faux bolero bow. So in the end, I cheated, omitted the bias tape and just sewed the neck edge my own way:
Being my first time working with stretch fabrics, it was also my first time working with twin needles. Unfortunately, this did not go great. Of course, I practiced on a bit of waste fabric first. And things went well! Nice, even stitches, no worries. So I moved on to the dress, hemming the sleeves and the bottom of the dress and stitching the neckline, aaaaaand... problems. Skipped stitches and tunnelling appeared frequently. Apparently, this is mostly due to me not having used stretch twin needles. I thought all twin needles were made for stretch fabrics! Let this be a warning to you all.
As you can see, there is a slight mismatch between the two colours along the zipper. It's a 1 mm difference and after a lot of thought I decided against redoing it. Unpicking stitches does not do this fabric any favours.
All in all, this dress may be my favourite homemade item yet! I am in love with Bootstrap fashion patterns (which I believe are Lekala patterns? I'm not sure how the system works), I am delighted that I chose the highest quality fabric the shop offered instead of going for the budget one, for a first project with stretch fabrics it's a great success and I learned a LOT. And, perhaps most importantly: I think it looks amazing on me.
Way back at the beginning of this blog, I said my goal was to never let the WIP-list get over eight again. A while back, I managed to get it down below eight - and now it has crept up again to nine.
The problem, or at least my problem, is that I had no knitting projects in progress. After I finished the Bauhaus sweater, I started two new sewing projects (the Burda dress and the long-sleeved knit dress from Bootstrap fashion), even though I already had a lot of sewing WIPs, instead of a new knitting project. Turns out I don't do well without a knitting project. Sewing projects are fun! But you can't do them while watching tv or Skyping with people, and they're not very portable.
So, to have a project I could take with me, I cast on for Julia Frank's Saxon the City stockings.
I have had these stockings in my queue since 2011. Back in January 2014, I got the yarn for it. I'm using DROPS Lima in red and black. And now, I've finally cast on!
Almost immediately, I ran into a problem. The other projects on Ravelry all have notes saying it's very important to make a size that's small enough to give you plenty of negative ease. Even though I intend to wear these with garters, that stuck in my mind. So for my 54 cm thighs, I cast on size small. And, having knit 3 Saxon braid pattern repeats so far, it fits... just. But it's stretched to the limit. It just doesn't look very nice, even though it does stay up reliably on its own like this. Before continueing, I'm going to cast on for a second stocking in the medium size and see how that fits. If that fits nicely, I will continue with that size. If I don't like the look or feel of that either... Then I guess the 5 year wait for this pattern was in vain.
In between the other projects I have going, I made a quick little hat:
I call it the copycat hat because it is made after the example of this NYfashion101 hat, which is no longer available for sale:
As you can see, there are some differences between that one and my version. The NYfashion101 version is apparently made with Aran weight yarn, whereas mine is made with a bulky yarn, needle sizes 5 mm and 6 mm. The original is also more slouchy, starting the decreases after the last reverse stocking stitch section, whereas I started the decreases in that section because I prefer a less slouchy hat. I also decreased more gradually, for the same reason, as the original looks like it did not decrease for a couple of centimeters and then suddenly decreased a lot to get that gathered look. The hat used exactly two skeins of yarn (100 meters) and was a quick knit to kill time during excessively long loading screens. Now, back to the sewing!
Today it is exactly one year ago that I started this blog.
When I started, I had 17 ongoing projects. Right now, I have 8. In total, I finished 25 projects in the past twelve months, including eight gifts. So that’s about two projects per month – pretty good, as far as I’m concerned. Here are some of the things I finished in that time (click on the picture to go to the relevant blog post):
I have also really limited my purchases of craft supplies. I bought supplies for those gifts I mentioned, and apart from that I only bought yarn on my summer holidays (cashmere from a local farm) and fabric for the two knit dresses I am working on at the moment. I gave away both yarn and fabric that I wasn’t enthusiastic about. For example, I had three (!) lengths of what was in theory a lovely plaid fabric perfect for a Chanel type two-piece suit… in salmon pink and light blue. Not only do I not wear Chanel type jackets or suits, I do not like salmon pink and especially not in combination with light blue. Where did it come from? Why did I have three pieces of it? We will never know.
I did not manage to clear many boxes (actually I think I only managed to empty one), but because there is less stuff just lying around, my flat does have a calmer appearance. I have been trying to also declutter other things, like books. Like everything else, this is a slow process, but it is working. It has also gotten me to read some books that had been in my bookcase for ages, to determine if they were good enough to keep. Most are, some aren’t. One thing I haven’t figured out how to declutter are my handmade gifts. I have a bunch of scarfs, mittens etcetera that would make lovely gifts for people – but I am never quite sure of other people’s tastes. So I either buy them something or make them something that is ‘safer’ than the fun projects that are in my gift drawer (because things that are in my gift drawer are made because I liked the pattern or the project, and I can’t expect everyone to share my tastes!). I have thought about donating them, but the items that are called for are never the ones I have, and I don’t want to donate handmade items if they’re just going to be thrown out with the textile recycling. If anyone has any ideas, let me know!
There have been some frustrations. My interests change, and so do my tastes. I want to experiment more with certain techniques, but can’t buy new fabric to try them with. I see new patterns pop up and want to make them, but don’t have the appropriate yarn for it. I am getting a better sense of my fashion style and what suits my body (only took me until my late twenties), but have to wait until I get further in my decluttering before I can explore that more. I lost weight and a lot of clothes I bought only a year ago are now far too big (trousers dropping off my ass big), so lately I am spending quite some time taking things in which is time I am not spending on making new things. I could of course buy more ready-to-wear, but there too I am trying to declutter (which, I admit, is helped by the weight loss: if you have to decide if something is worth the effort of taking in, you very quickly learn that you just don’t like some clothes that much).
That is not to say that I regret doing this or am thinking about stopping. All in all, I love this process. I don’t stick to “the rules” occasionally – like buying that knit fabric for the dress, then buying more when the first one didn’t work out – but I don’t beat myself up over it. After all, I’m trying and doing a pretty good job! Being on this self-imposed crafting diet meant that I had a sense of commitment, responsibility and urgency that was missing before. I treat my projects with more respect. What I mean is: before, projects were just something I did because it caught my interest and to be dropped when I lost interest. Now, I am more aware of the ‘costs’ of a project. Not the financial costs (I never really splurged or had a problem handling money), but the environmental costs of the materials and the ‘mental’ costs of keeping something in my house that is not making me feel better, but is making me feel more stressed. Finally, keeping track of things on this blog helped a lot. I would have no update for over a week and think ‘I really need to finish something or my blog will start gathering dust’. The mere fact that the blog exists makes me feel a sense of accountability.
I am planning to move later this year and want to move only the minimum. There will be no summer holidays for me this year, only a week or so at home, or possibly my parents’ home, with a bunch of projects. Regardless of the amount of WIP’s I have at that time, I will allow myself to start a weaving project. For the rest… we’ll see how long my stash can keep me going!
This week, for some time my bed looked like this:
No, I am not trying the Konmari method – I have heard good things about the book, but haven’t read it myself – but I was decluttering.
I take good care of my clothes, which is why they last quite a while. I still have several pieces of clothing from high school (which I left 10 years ago). However, not all of them actually get worn. There was a sizeable chunk of my wardrobe that I hadn’t worn in years. While I have thought a great deal about how I had to be more ruthless with my wardrobe, in reality this just translated to not buying stuff (which I’m good at) and not actually throwing stuff out (which I’m bad at). Then I decided to start getting a bit healthier. Over the past six months, I have lost some weight, and I am now working out so in addition to the weight loss my body composition is also changing. This means that a lot of my clothes just don’t fit very nicely anymore – which is exactly the motivation I needed to get rid of them. I don’t just want cute or comfortable clothes now: I want clothes I actually look good in. If it’s a beautiful dress but it makes me look frumpy, I don’t want it. That’s not what I’m putting in the work for.* So what better time to finally try on ALL my clothes and donate those that just don’t make me happy?
After a few hours of fitting, I ended up with three piles: Goes back in closet; needs altering; and donate. Contrary to popular belief no ‘discard’ pile is necessary if you just don’t put irreparably damaged or stained stuff back in your wardrobe.
I was pleasantly surprised that some of my clothes actually fit me better now! Particularly the vintage items I have. I didn’t lose that much weight – barely one ready-to-wear clothing size – so I guess I went from ‘slightly bigger than intended’ to ‘slightly smaller than intended’ for these pieces.
In the end, I donated three full trash bags of clothing. And, as with all my other decluttering efforts, what amazes me is that after getting rid of so much, I still have so much:
The only new things I have to buy are well-fitting trousers, and those I needed before this decluttering round anyway. Around 90% of what I discarded, I hadn’t worn in at least a year and won’t miss. The only thing I feel really sorry for is one lovely red and white retro “New Look” dress, but it was clearly far too big and too complicated to take in. I also felt a bit guilty about throwing out some items made by my mother, but, frankly, they wouldn't be worn anyway. Better they make someone else happy.
And now I really need to get myself some trousers that fit properly...
* Technically I am putting in the work to improve my overall health and invest in my future by decreasing my chances of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and various other ailments. Looking good is a very, very welcome side-effect.
The latest project to be finished is my Bauhaus sweater:
This pattern by Ann Weaver was published in 'Knitting Architecture: 20 Patterns Exploring Form, Function, and Detail'. The original pattern is for a cardigan, but I prefer sweaters so I omitted the button bands and then just knit the whole thing in the round. This posed some slight problems with the colour blocks on the back. Knitting in the round, you can't knit intarsia, so I did a wrap-and-turn at the end and beginning of every round so I could knit back and forth. Unfortunately, that wasn't quite as invisible as I had hoped:
Having seen that the join would be visible in the side seam, I decided that for the last colour block, when I had joined the sleeves to the body, I would do it differently. I decided that on one round, I would make the wrap-and-turn behind the sleeve and on the other round in front of the sleeve and that way, there would be no long thick join.
If, reading that, you can see why that is a stupid idea, you are smarter than I am.
Because there were so many stitches on the needle, I didn't realise until after I had finished the blue block that this method meant that one shoulder contained twice as many rows as the rest of the sweater. I had created a hunchback, but on the shoulder. Not my proudest moment. So, I unraveled the whole block and knitted it up again with all the wrap-and-turns in the same place. It's on my back, so at least I can't see it myself.
While that problem was entirely my own doing, there were a few other things I felt were more a problem with the pattern. One of these is that the end result was a bit baggy. Here on the left is the sweater before taking in the sides and on the right the final version:
While there is some waist shaping, I wonder why: It's only 4 stitches. I mean, why bother? Either leave it without waist shaping, in which case it would be expected to be somewhat baggy around the waist, or do some proper waist shaping. What's the point of just 4 stitches? As per usual, I didn't think of doing anything about this as I was knitting. The cardigan looked fairly close-fitting in the pictures, I was making the smallest size and my gauge was good. And while the above wasn't bad - it would have been a perfectly serviceable sweater - it's not what I had in mind. So I did some minor alterations to the sides, by taking in up to 7 stitches on each side. On the inside I sewed down the seam and trimmed it. In the pictures above, you can see on the left-hand side between the shoulder and back the row of wrap-and-turns I was unable to avoid.
Another issue I had is that the squares seem smaller, proportionally speaking, in real life than they did in the pattern. I'm not sure if this is a result of me using the same yarn for both the squares and the sweater itself (the pattern calls for a lace-weight yarn for the squares, which is a nice effect for a cardigan but not very practical for a sweater), but to be honest I don't see how it could be.
Finally, the top of the blue square stretches to both sides because of the many decreases for the yoke in that row. Perhaps it would have made more sense to do gradual raglan-style decreases to avoid this problem.
The sweater was made using DROPS Air, a great, soft and very VERY warm yarn. It is very light, meaning you get a lot of meters in 50 grams and that a big garment like this isn't uncomfortably heavy. Modifications I made (apart from what was already mentioned) were lengthening the sleeves by about 6 cm and knitting only 8 cm of collar instead of 10 cm. The end result is a sweater I am looking forward to wearing a lot next winter.
This is a bit of a story, which finishes with me starting a new summer dress.
I don't usually buy new patterns or fabric, since I still have so much stash (kind of the whole point of this blog). However, some time ago I came across the Indiegogo page of Bootstrap fashion. They were running a crowdfunding campaign to expand their Design Center, with which you can mix and match pattern pieces to create your own sewing pattern. They also sell made-to-measure patterns from Lekala. One of their rewards was 35 of these patterns for $35 - a bargain! So, I pledged, and received my $35 in-store credit (plus $2 extra)... and naturally, had to buy a pattern to test things out.
First off: while I haven't tested a pattern yet, I have heard great things about this service. What they do is, they have a huge database of sizes for each pattern. You enter your measurements and any adjustments you want made (for me, a small bust adjustment and proportionally long legs), and the program matches the best fit from all the pieces it has. So, the patterns aren't actually drafted to your measurements, but because they have so many pieces 'behind the scenes', they can produce a great fit for a large range of bodies.
Second: the customer service is amazing. They answer all questions quickly, like I said they gave me $2 extra credit even though they did not reach their crowdfunding goal, and they seem extremely professional. If you are on the fence about trying a made-to-measure pattern, just give Boostrap fashion a whirl. They're worth your custom.
The first pattern I bought was this long-sleeves knit dress with contrast top. At the same time, I received a 20 euro discount coupon for an online fabric store. Perfect timing, right? Sort of. I bought what I thought was a suitable knit of organic cotton (and a length of discounted linnen with a beautiful flower pattern, I'm very happy with that one). Unfortunately, it wasn't quite what I had in mind... For the dress, I was looking for a sturdy 4-way stretch. What I got was a thin, flowey fabric that is nice, but totally unsuitable for this dress. It's my own fault: I didn't check all the details properly. If I had done some thinking on the weight per square meter, I would have realised it would be too thin. Let this be a lesson to everyone who buys fabric online: check twice, buy once.
I did end up finding fantastic fabric in the one fabric store I know of in my home town (about twice as expensive as the organic cotton, but so be it...). In the meantime, though, I was left with the thin knit fabric. At first I thought I'd make a muslin of it for the dress, but it felt like such a waste! So I decided to make a second dress: dress 122-A from Burda 07-2013.
The whole dress is made double, because the fabric is so thin. I am making the top in dark pink, the front and back of the skirt in light pink, and the sides will have a dark pink outside and light pink lining. I am thinking of doing some reverse applique there: cut out flower shapes in the dark pink and have the light pink show through. I washed the fabric yesterday and today traced and cut the pattern pieces. I will now have to wait until tomorrow to buy matching thread.
I will end up with two dresses in the same colour scheme - the Bootstrap fashion dress will also have a light pink skirt and a dark pink bodice - but other than that, the two are so different that I don't think anyone will notice. And if they do... well, I guess that means I have an almost coherent 'style'!
Finally, I want to share a sneak peek of something else I've been working on that is not so much a project as a self-led course in sewing:
With the aid of Tomoko Nakamichi's Pattern magic, and my parents' old curtains, I am trying my hand at pattern drafting. I will do a full blog post on my experiments and experiences in due course, but I can already say it is a lot of fun and very educational!
No, I hadn't forgotten this blog exists - I just hadn't finished anything in the past few weeks. Well, I finished a baby jacket, but I didn't take a picture. Unfortunately, the pattern wasn't great, so I won't be using that again.
Since then, I've kept working on the projects I've got going, particularly the Bauhaus sweater. Pretty soon, I ran into a bit of a snag with regards to the two quilts I'm working on: they are both made with scraps, and one of the fabrics I wanted to use scraps from hadn't actually been used yet. It was a lovely, brightly coloured cotton that I got in Japan along with several other fabrics a few years ago (all of which are incorporated in the quilts). Some of these other fabrics were used for the Vogue V1102-hybrid dress and the summery split skirt I made last year.
So, last weekend I decided to just make a quick summer dress:
The pattern is nr. 133 from Burda magazine 6/2013 (I omitted the pockets):
As you can see, in the picture, the dress falls quite narrowly along her body. I made a size 38, based on my bust measurement, and, well...
I should have known, I guess. Burda patterns tend to run large, the same way that Vogue patterns tend to run small, but, well, I lost weight over the past few months and a size 38 was already a size smaller than I would normally have sewn, so I thought it was safe. It's very comfortable, was easy to make, and I am happy with the end result - but I have decided that if I want to wear this as anything other than a house dress, it needs to be belted.
Now that I've finished this, I have freed up the scraps to be used in my quilts, so I hope to make some progress there soon!
Hi, I'm Mina and I have a stash problem. This is my way of trying to fix it.
Last yarn purchase:
Last fabric purchase: 02/03/2017