Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Vintage Pledge!

Hello! I feel like I'm so rusty at blogging lately I don't even know how to write them anymore ;)
Luckily, pictures say plenty.
In this case, "I made a skirt and top!". There, that wasn't so hard :)

You might have seen me on Instagram wishing to be as awesome as the vintage ladies on the pattern envelope....

Now, obviously it's impossible to be THAT cool, but I gave it my best effort! And I get to be part of Marie and Kestrel's Vintage Pledge so that's a consolation prize :)
Here's a link to the pattern on the Vintage Pattern wiki, for anyone interested.

No prizes for guessing the tee pattern I'm wearing. Yeah, I've made the Sewaholic Renfrew top a billion times now, if I can even call it that anymore. I've modified it in so many ways it's its own thing now!
Funny thing about this version- I tried to improve the fit with an experiment, and succeeded in making it worse. Lol! It's fine tucked in though... I'll try again next time! I'll update on the fit if I make any discoveries! :)

If I was smart I'd have remembered to slip a ribbon or tape under the neckline when I was sewing it down, but I forgot and stitched a scrap of tape on as an afterthought to mark the back of the garment.

The neckline is a boatneck I drew onto the pattern. I stitched some clear elastic into it to keep it from stretching out over time, as per this tip on Pattern Review. I neglected to get a photo, but I promise it's as simple as it sounds! I didn't do this on a boatneck knit dress I made a while back and it's starting to feel a bit sloppy in the neckline, so I think it's worth putting that tape in. Plus, it's easy!

The hems are just turned up and stitched with a twin needle. I wish I had a coverstitcher for a professional looking inside to my garment, but this works fine! The neckline is also finished in the same way.

This is me looking crazy, but I'm trying to show my stripe matching on the sleeves!

By the way, I feel like my floppy hat is perfect for the retro skirt style. I'm so obsessed with floppy hats, I have 6.... Need more!

Hat smugness!

Also, this shot looks like someone lazily photoshopped a stock image of a hat onto where my head should be and it makes me laugh:

I got this fabric from the op shop and it's this suede-y synthetic dealy. I thought it was great having the slippery wrong side, so it doesn't need lining. BUT, wow, it really hated being gathered. My stitches just kept slipping right out! Hah, talk about embarrassing - isn't gathering supposed to be an easy beginner technique?? Well I got there with persistence, but it wasn't easy!!

The trauma of the gathering is melting away though, because I'm happy with the final product.

You can see some puckers around the hem. I find that synthetics are a bit merciless when it comes to puckers. I guess it wasn't a big fan of my machine blind hem. I didn't think it was that obvious but this picture is showing harsh reality. Lol :P I like to think this is just a bad photo... but yes, that hem is not ideal.

Obligatory back shot: Highly uneventful.

In terms of sizing, I fit into the larger of the two sizes in the envelope. BUT, I decided to add a little bit more ease for comfort. I slashed and spread the waistband a little bit and sewed the side seams at 1cm instead of 1.5cm (which is more than I added to the waistband). But I just increased the amount I gathered the skirt in to fit the waistband. Problem solved!

Busted! You can see I sewed the waistband underlap a bit longer than the skirt. Oops. Lazy

Guts! Look at the shiny gather-hating wrong side!
I added fusible stay tape to the body along the pocket slash line to prevent it stretching out on the bias (better safe than sorry right?) You could just use interfacing. Really, the tape is just a long precut strip of interfacing, nothing revolutionary.

OH! And if you didn't already know about this method of attaching a waistband, you should! I love it because it eliminates that pesky stitching in the ditch. In a nutshell, you sew the waistband to the wrong side of the skirt, flip it over, and topstitch it down on the right side. (Instead of sewing the waistband to the right side of the skirt, flipping it over, and trying to catch it in by stitching in the ditch from the right side.) Clear as mud??

And well, that's pretty much all I have to say about this skirt, other than I am bad at buttonholes ;) Haha!

NOW, I try to give a balanced view on this blog, and this skirt was a success. But I also produced a fail, so I'm documenting it for truthiness.
I made this velvet skirt a while back, and decided it needed making over (mainly shortening).
Long story short, I decided I hated it and would never wear it, but not before making a total dog's breakfast of the hem. This is what happens when you stop caring:

Haha! Oh velvet skirt, you are dead to me.

Let's focus on the non horrible skirt though :P

So do you guys document your failures, or do you prefer to pretend they never happened? I like to see people's mistakes. How about you? :)

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Completed: The "See You There" Hoodie

Hi! I knitted another cardigan :) The pattern is See You There by Joji Locatelli and ooh! It's my first hoodie! :D
I'm wearing it with the dress I just blogged. Sorry for the lack of variety, haha :D

And YAY, I finally conquered my cursed yarn! This was the THIRD project I'd attempted with this yarn. I had to frog the first two projects I started with it. They were both for 8ply, which this yarn apparently is, but it's a very heavy 8ply. I eventually had to conclude it was best for a 10ply project! Since I love my negative ease, I was able to use the slightly smaller gauge I obtained to size down my garment.

I've done the "smaller gauge" trick quite a few times now; I simply find how much smaller my gauge is than the pattern's gauge (e.g my gauge was 85% as big as the pattern gauge), and then I see which size of the pattern would fit my needs if it was 85% as big. Does that make sense?
In this example, I found that the pattern size with a 35.5" bust, at 85% as big, would be 30.2", which would fit my 33" bust with about 3" of negative ease.

It's kind of a lazy way to do it but so far it has worked for me. Of course, from there I also end up adding custom waist shaping and hip shaping, but this way works to give me a good fit in the shoulders and bust.

The shoulders on this pattern are cool! It's a construction method I've never used before, called the contiguous method. It involves lots and lots of markers, and increasing at those specific points.
It's done top down, and through the increases, forms shoulders (no seams required) and also creates the top of the sleeves! They mimic the look of set-in sleeves, but require no seaming or picking up of stitches. So it's very clever indeed.
It makes the start of the pattern quite a doozy to follow, but once it's all established it's pretty plain sailing!

You can see the fake armhole seam here. It sits a little wider than a traditional armhole does, which doesn't bother me. Maybe it's the size I chose, but I think it sits similarly on the model too. Also lol at my lumpy arm due to the dress sleeve underneath it!

Original pattern styling

One of the BEST things I learned while making this was how to cable without a cable needle. I'd read about it ages ago, but never got around to teaching myself until now. OMG, worth it! It suits me very well, as I mainly knit on the bus; minimising fuss, and droppable objects, is very useful. Here's the link to the tutorial! It's a little fiddly at first, but not too bad once you get the hang of it! :)

Oh and did I mention hood?? Fun!

As usual, I changed the length of the pattern to my own needs. I've been trying to find the elusive perfect length for cardigans. I like them cropped to below the waist, which looks good with skirts and dresses.
Since customising the length messes up button band instructions, I ended up going to my trusty formula of 2 stitches for every 3 along vertical edges. Another way to make sure this will work is to divide the stitches per inch by the rows per inch- that gives you the exact ratio (which in my experience so far is usually about .66 to .75)

Speaking of getting the perfect length, SLEEVES! Argh, they always trip me up. This is probably at least the 4th time I've made my sleeves too long. Because blocking often lengthens my knits, it is quite unpredictable what length they will decide to become. Clearly I need to get more scientific here. They were fine before blocking, but when I tried them on afterwards, yep, too long!   However, as they were knit from the top down, I knew I would be able to rip the cuffs back a little. I was totally ready to do it and then decided it was actually fine. After all, I figure the hood is a bit casual so I can get away with slightly long sleeves, as that suits a casual look just fine. Or so I'm telling myself :)

I decided to reinforce the button band like a good girl (sometimes I've been too lazy, oops), using ribbon. I hand-stitched it on after I sewed machine button-holes in it. Nothing new here for me, but anyone curious should check out Lladybird's tutorial :) Being a little lazy though, I only reinforced the top of the button band, haha. I mean, it's the only part that shows right?? Disgraceful.

Here's a picture of it fully buttoned.

The cream colour I'm not absolutely sure about, but I'm glad to have used it. I don't have many light-coloured wintery garments to match this, but hopefully I will in the future? We shall see. It seems that most stores insist on stocking dreary dark garments for winter (as if it's not already depressing enough). Aren't we lucky that we have more control over what we wear?

And if I'm going to end on a smug note like that, here's a picture of me looking smug.

Do you guys like to wear dark clothes in the winter? Or should we all revolt and wear brights? :)

Friday, 29 May 2015

Polka Dot Dress

Hi guys! My blog's a bit dusty at the moment, as I got swallowed up by uni work. But I promise I've still been reading and enjoying your blogs in my spare moments, even if I haven't taken the time to comment. I read all my blogs on my phone in the Feedly app, which makes commenting a real pain. If only it was easier....

So, the dress. I made this before my life was absorbed by schoolwork, but didn't get around to blogging it till now.  Polka dots! And a boatneck! If this sounds familiar, it's because I've basically made this dress before, but in red. Well, I likes what I likes... hey, and this one is better than my previous effort so there's that!

Firstly. Pockets. Pockets forever! I use them all the time, though mainly just for my hands.
This one also has sleeves, which isn't necessarily better, really, but it fills a different niche in my wardrobe. It's getting into tights weather and I've been wearing it with cardigans. I wish I'd photographed it with a belt too, as I love it with a skinny belt!

The sleeves don't fit perfectly. I though I had them pretty sorted as I've used the sleeve in my other versions, but the difference is that those ones were gathered. This one seems to pull a little and my thought is that I need to widen the shoulders by moving the shoulder seam outwards a bit. You can't even really see it in these pictures! Just one of those micro tweaks I find myself getting into as I refine my favourite patterns more and more :)

This dress was made with my bodice block, which has been getting a good thrashing, which I'm very happy about. I drafted the boatneck onto it (drawing a neckline hardly counts as drafting though, hah!), and I also drafted the 3/4 circle skirt (again, circle maths is not fancy drafting, just maths). But it did take me long enough!

Know what else took me a while? Matching the spots at the centre front seam! Omg, what a pain. I had to add a seam there since the fabric wasn't wide enough. I'm sure no-one would have noticed, but I matched the dots so the seam is hardly visible. 

GOOD LUCK FINDING THAT SEAM! Also, you can see the little bit of extra ease I leave in the waist for comfort here.

My bodice block neckline needs fixing as it isn't high enough on the back neck, so I actually raised it for this boatneck style. Ideally a bodice block should form a very close neckline but mine doesn't, since I made it out of a pattern with a scooped back, and didn't raise it enough. Anyway, my point is that raising the back neckline for this garment caused it to gape, as I didn't increase the dart at the back neck!

Cue angst about my hunched/freakish neck, hah! I am as Rochelle at Lucky Lucille would put it, a lady turtle. Eventually I decided I'd rather just put some darts in all my garments than agonise over it. 

But here is my dark confession- I was too lazy to alter the dart on the garment and facing! So I ended up putting in some elastic in the seam allowance! This gathers it in at the back of the neck so it doesn't gape, while being relatively subtle. And lazy, did I mention lazy?? To be honest, it probably wouldn't have been much extra work to alter the dart, but didn't want to fiddle with stitching and re-stitching if I didn't get it right...

Look, no gape! I promise I won't do dodgy things with elastic again. Maybe. Hah! Well at least I know to increase the dart intake next time :)

Here is a picture of my secret naughty elastic stitched to the seam allowance. I stretched it as I sewed it on to gather the neckline a little.
Here you can see the slight gathering effect.

I feel like this dress is just right for my style right now. Did you notice I obnoxiously matched my shoes to it?? I love matchy-matchy nonsense. 
And full skirts are so great, if a pain to hem. First I overlocked the raw edge. Then I used my blind hem stitch on my vintage bernina.  I need more practice, as I find I get chunks where I don't manage to catch that little nip into the outer fabric. I hope you know what I mean! I gabbed about it a bit more the first time I used it, which was on my other polka dot dress.

Machine blind hem.
All worth it for the twirling. :)

Look, proof of the centre front seam on the skirt! 
As you can see, no fancy finishes in the guts. Just a simple neckline facing and overlocked seams.

I hope you like this dress, as I photographed my latest finished cardigan with this dress too! Heh. Make hay while the sun shines eh? So you'll be seeing that pop up sometime in the future :)

Oh! By the way, you might have noticed my blog is less awful-looking now! I'd never really cared that much about how my blog looked, until I suddenly did, so I changed it (hopefully you agree it looks better now!). I even made my own cute little clicky buttons on the sidebar, which took me forever since I really had no idea what I was doing!
This youtube video helped me with the blog icons...most other things were googling and trial and error! I managed to delete my Disqus in the process, but succeeded in getting it back. Heh!

Let me know what you guys think and if you spot any bits that need touching up ;)

Old blog, eew!
New blog, yay!
Now that I've handed in (most of) my assignments it seems I'll finally have some free time. 

I look forward to it, and finally getting back to making things for myself! :)

Friday, 17 April 2015

Completed: First Fair Isle

Hi guys! I hope all your overseas readers are enjoying the weather warming up....The winter chill is approaching here and I am not amused! Anyway, here's a top I finished a while back!
This was my first attempt at fair-isle knitting and it really wasn't too bad!

This came from a book I reviewed when I got it for my birthday last year, Learn to Knit, Love to Knit. I recommended it at the time, but now I say stay away! My first project from it was a bit of disaster; I've frogged it and hope it remake it into something I like.
The problem with this book is not only the poor fit on the first pattern I made- none of the patterns have schematics and I have no trust in it anymore. lol. 

So this is basically inspired by the book, but it is nearly all reworked by me. I just used the chart and garment style from the book; everything else I made up!

So what does that mean? It means custom stitch counts for every part of the pattern. I used a different weight of yarn from the pattern and also created my usual custom bust/hip/waist shaping. I also went for about 3" of negative ease, unlike the pattern. 
Some of the elements of the pattern are borrowed from Peabody, a pattern I knitted a long time ago.... which I have also frogged! I know! I'm killing my yarn babies, to make them into something I wear more often. I currently have 3 projects frogged, waiting to be reborn.
I borrowed a lot of the shoulder shaping and neckline from Peabody, as well as the sleeves, although I modified them a little.

I made the pattern without side seams, which is my preferred method of construction. :) So much easier!

The yarn I used was Valley Yarns "Goshen", which is a cotton/rayon/silk blend. I knew that fair isle was easiest and most suitable for wool yarns, because they are "sticky" and the fibres hold on to each other well. Being 100% stubborn, I decided my first try at fair isle was to be in this slippery, smooth yarn. I was concerned about the negative ease stretching it out too, and possibly letting the floats show through. First, I asked my knitting guru Gail what she thought, and she said you could do negative ease with fair isle. And you know what? It didn't work out too bad! It's not perfect, and I think it stretches a little at the bust, but I think it looks acceptable.

This is the closest shot I grabbed. Now if anyone is inspecting my chest more closely than this, I don't approve.

I think the fair isle pattern is really cute and I'm glad I started simple. I'd like to do more fair isle, but I'm not buying any more yarn till I work through what I have. Also, does anyone else find picking colours for colourwork quite the daunting task??

Guts! Pretty floats.
I honestly don't know how often I'll wear this top, but it was a good experience. And I KNOW I will wear it more than if I made it out of 100% wool like the sample in the book is. Why would I want a 100% wool top with short sleeves? First, it would run the risk of irritating the skin, as a lot of wools aren't skin-soft. And then my torso will be too hot in wool, or I'll be warm in wool but with freezing arms. I don't quite "get" the concept of a short-sleeved wool top. Then again, I do have a sensitive personal thermostat. 

The sample from the book. CUTE styling, except for the mega positive-ease.
I do need a pair of pants that actually fits me though... I have to wear these jeans with a belt to keep them up (that pesky pear-shape waist-to-hip ratio). You can see the belt buckle makes a funny lump underneath the top!

I went to the trouble of adding bust short rows, like I've done before. They're really quite invisible. It's just my knitting nerdiness coming out, but I like how they improve the shaping :)

Knit tops always seem to ride up on my backside and create wrinkles in the small of my back. I guess it doesn't bother me too much *shrugs*. Anyway, I'm pretty pleased with this top! It seems my love for knitting isn't going to wane anytime soon.

One of my favourite bloggers, Tassadit from Rue des Renards recently mentioned how some bloggers seem to hype up certain techniques as SUPER SCARY, and it can psyche you out! Well I agree with her: don't listen to those people! Fair isle is one of those techniques people seem to freak out about, but it's way less hard than it looks. And it's fun and it looks awesome. I used to listen to those people and get scared, and I probably have been one of these scaremongers on occasion, unintentionally! But I'm much happier now that I've learned not to fear techniques... well, most of the time.

Have you guys ever attempted a "scary" technique and found out it wasn't so bad? :)

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Completed: Creepy Cute Shirt Dress

Why hello there! Nice to see you guys again. I'm back to school and got swallowed whole by that, as well as getting sick on top of it all. So long time, no blog. And I haven't been sewing at all either (boooooo), but I have a few posts to catch up on.

I feel I look pretty dull and lifeless in these pictures, and well, it was because I was feeling a bit dull and lifeless. I'm feeling a bit better now, thankfully. And I hope I look better too... lol.

So anyway, I made a dress with tiny babies on it. If you don't think that's a good thing, I question your outlook on life. Actually, these babies are from an Australian book series, which I remember from  my childhood, featuring the adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie AKA the Gumnut babies. They're cute tiny Australian tree babies! I couldn't resist the weirdness of this print, even though my husband threatened to burn it.

Even he had to admit the dress was quite cute though; from a distance you don't even notice the tiny babies, it just looks like a nature print. Out and about, I did get an unsolicited comment from someone who recognised the Gumnut babies though- that made my day!

I didn't change much from the last time I sewed it, though I had to make the skirt a bit less flared in order to accommodate the pieces on my narrow fabric. This is my second shirt dress, but I want more, more! I just think they are so easy to wear, but make you look put-together, even when you didn't really put any effort in, hee hee.
I've gotten into the habit of wearing these shoes all the time, they're just so comfy! I'd love to wear cuter shoes on a daily basis, but nothing beats the practicality of these, though they perhaps do no favours for my naturally chunky legs. Haha, such a pear shape.

I did change the collar construction a little, and I'm very happy with it. I drafted a separate undercollar, and sewed it in two passes, which is fast, neat, and the points turn out really great! This lovely finish is thanks to Fashion Incubator's collar tutorials. Fashion Incubator is a great site, run by an industry professional. The tone can be almost disdainful at times (especially to lowly home sewers), but does have some very good content. Now if only I understood it all... lol!

In this picture I seem very bored with pockets, but in reality I'm very excited with them.

I made it a bit bigger at the waist, because I was worried that this stiffish cotton would make a difference, but I was totally being paranoid and didn't need to. Now it's a bit loose, but I like it with a belt, which fixes that problem. I have a history of being paranoid about making garments that pinch me at the waist. I just hate that feeling! I think I can trust my bodice block now though, considering I've used it a billion times. Okay, I think it's actually only 7, but that's not too bad. It would be easy to take in, but I have bigger fish to fry (in other words, I can't be bothered). I DO think it might be worth adding belt loops, but let's just see if I get around to that....

Another shot of the cute babies, with the buttons!

Yay naked babies dress. (I never imagined myself uttering that phrase). What do you think, is this a novelty print gone TOO FAR?