Friday, May 30, 2008

Past: Panta

This was one of the first things I took pictures of with my brand new, first ever, digital camera (so I'm guessing I finished it around March 2007). It was also the first (and so far, only) thing I'd made with my "cheater" handspun.

Woah. Back up there.

I had seen tutorials online for making a spindle out of CDs, a grommet, and a dowel (like this one at DIY Network - except I used a cup hook instead of a bent eyelet at the top).

Fun! But I had no fibre to play with.

What I did have, was lots of bulky/super bulky yarn reclaimed from ski sweaters.

It was 3 or 4 ply (altered randomly throughout the sweater!), very loosely spun wool. I don't like using bulky that much, and I had A LOT (thanks to DH's lovely support of my craft, he kept coming home with more sweaters for me to unravel!!).

Wait. If I use only two of those plies...

Left: original yarn. Right: unplied, respun each single on the CD spindle, then plied two singles together on the CD spindle = worsted weight yarn!! I call it my cheater handspun, because I didn't need to get it even - it already came in a relatively constant thickness - and I think that's the tricky part (actually, relatively is a loose term here, there were quite a few more variations than you'd see in most commercial made yarn). I just had to get the amount of twist fairly even.

Add a little red and blue food colouring with a shot of vinegar, zap in the microwave (just like Kool Aid dyeing, only with added vinegar - Kool Aid comes with acid in it) -> hand dyed, hand "spun" wool!

And in my first attempt of many to make a workable hairband -

An altered version of the pattern buried in a huge long link - I have a vague recollection of the english version of the pattern showing up around page 27 - but it's been over a year, so I'm probably making that up! The original has more spines, and consequently flares out much thicker (like a hat for coverage across the top of the head) - which I wasn't looking for. So I cut down on the cast-on numbers and only did three knit spines to keep it more in the hairband region.

Verdict: It's very cute. It's also extremely warm. Should have made it as a "hat" ;).

Monday, May 26, 2008

Future: Vintage Dress

Near future, I hope!

Last weekend my mom and dad came to visit!! Even better, my mom left a bag of vintage sewing patterns, and a bag of vintage knitting pattern books in her wake!

Drool worthy, or what?

And just may solve that nasty problem of "what to wear" at a couple of weddings I may be attending this August! I have a gauzy light blue fabric (probably at least somewhat cotton), with white threads streaking through it. I'm thinking contrast white cuffs on the sleeves. Here I am taking pics of it with the two zippers I have long enough for the side closure, trying to figure out the best one.

It's a lapped zipper application, so technically one shouldn't see the zipper at all - but that isn't always the case when twisting about, or bending, or other life events. The second one won't scream "look at me" since it's muted, but it doesn't match the colour at all. The white looks amazing with the white threads in the fabric, but would be pretty obvious! I do have invisible zippers - anyone ever put one in to a side-opening dress before?

So, then I get to pulling out pattern pieces to make sure I have enough fabric.

Uh, oh. Someone just shoved a whack of tissue paper in the envelope...

Then a little piece fell out...

UNPRINTED PATTERN! Never used one of those before... So I spent Saturday on the floor, with tiled white paper sheets on the ground for contrast, pattern piece on top (ironed, carefully - these things are fragile! Why didn't they print on acid free paper?!), then Burda gridded tissue paper on top to easily mark grainlines and alter. Traced in pencil, so that nothing would bleed through to the original.

The pattern is a size 14. Which at the time meant 33-26.5-35. Yup, got some grading up to do! I did the skirt while the pieces were being traced - with this kind of skirt, the hip number didn't matter, I just needed to add through the torso. With 8 seams (and two sides to each seam), it was a miniscule change. I'm going to have to fit this on me, because my scissors aren't that accurate! The problem is the bodice, which is rather funky. I think I'm going to test it out on a sheet and figure out where to add.

Some funny tidbits I found along the way:

Saw this and thought soaker, right? (Goes over baby's cloth diapers.) Check out the hip sizes! LADIES knitted undergauchies! Sorry, not looking to pick out wool fluff from down there, but thanks ;).

This doesn't bode well...

GAGH! Where's "You Knit What?" when you need it?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Past: Knit Dress

DH, when seeing this dress for the first time said "it looks Scandinavian". I'm not sure about Scandinavian, but it's always been a little off the beaten path in our neck of the woods.

It's made with a heavy interlock, teal and black mix, with black braid embellishment.

Except for that bit at the back, the fit was awesome right out of the package. The notches are still visible on the inside, which means I didn't do any fitting!

Now I get to the troubled part - it appears I've given away the pattern. Probably thought there was no need to duplicate such a memorable piece! I know it was Vogue, and I remember cutting out a 14. Other than that, I'm at a loss!!

Anyone recognize the design?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Present: DH's Shirt!!!!

It's done, it's done, it's done!

Including my FIRST EVER flat felled seam!

Well, that armscye seam was neat, but then I faced the underarm-side seam version. Ummm, you want me to topstitch the bottom seam of a sleeve that's already in a tube?? I checked both the Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing and Vogue Sewing, and they both said the same thing. So deep breath, start at the bottom hem, and, to paraphrase Dori on Finding Nemo "Just keep sewing, keep sewing..."

Darned if it didn't work. (That's the sleeve getting inverted as I kept going along - the foot of the sewing machine is in the hole of the volcano!) My stitching line might have become wonky a couple of times there, but it worked!

I think it all worked out a step above my first attempt (several years ago now, but I'm ashamed to say I didn't try in between!):

One glaring error - I didn't stitch back one side of the sleeve placket, so the cuffs wouldn't lap one end over the other. Instead of going back and fixing it (well I did discover it after I'd made the buttonhole), DH volunteered to have the double buttonhole and use cufflinks. He owns no cufflinks. Besides, light poly cotton with wonky topstitching doesn't really lend itself to formal ;).

I followed the McCalls instructions - which had me hand stitch the fold-over cuff closed on the inside, and zigzag finish the regular seams. DH is the kind of guy who rolls up his sleeves, so this doesn't really look all that nice.

And I think my first attempt at using the rolled hem foot that came with my sewing machine - 1/8"!! Yeah, it's hard to get that one going without feeding it too much seam allowance! Check out last weeks post about how I did the hem on the new shirt.

Back to the success - and the requisite fun photos!! (I think he likes ;) )

Details: Lightly based on McCalls 8409 size M (which looks like it's out of print too - how can a classic men's shirt pattern go out of print?) - lengthened a whole bunch through the sleeves, a bit in the body, shortened the yoke, and used his favourite shirt to create new patterns for the collar, cuffs, and pocket (I'd already misplaced the pattern pieces for the collar and the cuffs!). I like that the cuff is in two pieces (and the rounded edges are neat! Need a bit more practice on turning and topstitching all those curves though.) Note to self: also don't have sleeve placket or buttonhole placket patterns (just cut out 1"x length of placket for the sleeves, and folded the cut-on placket to the front of the buttonhole side - which worked out fine because the fabric looked the same on both sides!). I ended up using the cheap Fabricland sew-in interfacing, because (a) the fabric was already fairly heavy (a stretch poplin from Wazoodle - which is both very stretchy and wrinkles when you look at it sideways - have to see how it works in the wild!), and (b) I get really annoyed at the bubbling that happens even on RTW shirts with fusible interfacing!!

Bye Bye Everyone!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wistful Future

I'm sure a lot of people indulge in the makings of fantasy projects...

I bought this pattern years ago (Vogue 1940 - sadly not enough people were indulging in the fantasy - it's out of print!). Jersey fabric - wouldn't that make the most comfortable evening dress ever? I love the swooped straps of the green version.

Sadly, after years of not finding affordable enough knit fabric with just the right heft but not too much stretch, I've come to realize I don't have the lifestyle for this dress either! I have a dark green stretch velour, a navy satin ankle-length princess seam gown, and the revamp of my wedding dress (chiffon over satin) hanging in my closet ready to jump out for a night of fine dining and dancing - and there they sit. OK, so I admit to a couple of dinners at home where they made an entrance, just because I wanted to! But, really, a fourth?


Well, at least the idea was nice after a day of sorting buttons for DH's shirt!

GAGH!!! That's where it would be handy to have kids! "Hey, guys, I've got a great game..."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Past: Union Square Market Pullover

... altered, of course ;).

Not in the essentials - I loved the essentials! But I was given a bag of DK weight yarn, and this required fingering if I remember correctly...

The original pattern is in IK Fall 2005 magazine, designed by Kate Gilbert (I love her stuff!).

A number of previous knitters found that the flares on the sleeves were too big for comfort, so I remember toning those down. My brief notes also say that I shortened the sleeves (14 rows? at my gauge that would have made it about 2", but that could have been yarn/gauge problems more than pattern issue), and lengthened the body by an inch.

The sleeves were done on my homemade dowel dpns (which means they were slightly bigger than 4.5mm, but smaller than 5mm), and the body done on the 4.5mm circular - so I had to plot each section separately on graph paper because the gauge changed! I picked a larger gauge than normal for the yarn to give it the drape it needed to mimic the lighter yarn in the original.

I love it!

Except... the larger gauge coupled with the slipperiness of the yarn = bagged out elbows pretty quick. Am considering lining options.

The yarn is Paton's DK DiplomaGold. A wool blend that's machine washable - except don't do that. It fuzzes up with machine washing!! Machine washing also pulled out my twisted-rope button "holes", so I just pulled them out and used straight yarn - my yarn was thicker than theirs already anyway.

I might one day make this again (it's so distinctive a sweater, I probably don't need two in my closet at the same time) - this time with the lighter yarn and tighter gauge!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Present: Slowly Plodding Along

Sadly, not much progress on the WIPs:

- FIL sweater is aaaaaaaaalllllmost done the main body. The fronts are done, the back is a few rows short of the shoulder/neck bindoff (well as soon as I figure out the neckline!)

- Brea Bag lining is cut out, still haven't sorted out what kind of strap to put on it.

- DH's shirt now has sleeve plackets, and a narrow hem on the bottom of each body piece (I'm going to try and do flat felled seams on the armhole and side seams). I followed Liana's method that she wrote out on the old Sewing World site for the narrow hem (she made up an encyclopaedic post over on Stitcher's Guild here, and her blog is Sew Intriguing)

First, line up the fronts to see if one has to be trimmed even. Then run the bottoms through the serger straight (sorry about the pic, forgot to put on the macro setting!):

Turn the hem at the edge of the serging, and do a 3-step zigzag to attach (so there won't be a solid stitching line to show through):

Then turn again, and stitch down - voila, narrow hem, no pressing needed as you go:

(well no pressing except for me, who's fabric has quite a lot of stretch, so it kept waving!)

In other news...

I've signed up for the June Capsule Contest at Stitcher's Guild! 4 garments and an accessory in the month of June. A sneak peak at my storyboard (has options, since I'm not sure how much fabric I've got):

Now I've really got to get off the computer - long day tomorrow!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Future: Summer Dresses

Ah, summer. It has to happen, right?

And the best thing about summer? (besides the warmth!) Summer Dresses!

Why can't I sew faster?

I have 62 pictures in my "summer dresses" folder, and 87 pictures in my "vintage dresses" folder. Very heavy on the empire waist, midriff band, full skirt, or all three ;).

Of course I could get distracted with a shirtdress...

(all images are copyright of their respective pattern companies - for contemporary patterns check out the McCall's, Butterick, Vogue or Simplicity, New Look sites)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday: Past

I think this was my very first foray into! I'm guessing 2004?

My version of Grecian Plait

You guessed it - one of my first recycled yarn attempts too! It used to be a fair isle mohair sweater (all over two-toned snowflake pattern if I remember rightly). Actually, I think it was also my first attempt at making knitting needles (the lace portion at the bottom needed 9mm needles, so a couple of dowels got sharpened).

I liked the style, but it turns out my skin isn't a fan of mohair (too itchy!), and this really isn't a style that I liked having shirts come past the neckline and sleeves. So it's gone now to a happier home (I hope!).

I'd still like a solid colour one a lot like the original pattern... must look for soft, but thick yarn!