Friday, October 2, 2015

FO: Forest Friends Sorrel Top

This week marked a momentous occasion - I used one of my most beloved pieces of fabric :) This week is Selfish Sewing Week plus it's the final few days of Sewing Indie Month, so it just seemed fitting that I make something I truly love for myself.
I used the Sorrel pattern again - I've wanted to make another ever since my first version. I wear that shirt about once a week I love it so. It's comfortable and flattering and a little different. All my favorite things!
Again, my hair obscures the fancy collar detail, so here's a shot with my hair behind me. I used a little of this amazing fabric for the body. The fabric is from Joann's in their Doodles line for kids and it's called Majestic Cord Woodland Animals. Sally over at The Quirky Peach posted about this fabric when she found it back in June and I was thrilled to find the same fabric at my local store during their 4th of July sale. I grabbed 3 yards to possibly make a dress, but I'm still torn about knit dresses on me. In the meantime, I just wanted to make something, and I still have enough left for that dress should I decide to take the plunge. This fabric is 100% cotton and it's like a super soft interlock knit. I paired my beloved fabric with some simple white interlock from my stash for the collar and sleeve cuffs.
I went for the cuffs on the sleeves again, because it's just such a fun detail :) I will confess that this time the shirt took much longer to make due to a) me being really picky and b) making stupid mistakes. I had the bobbin run out twice since I decided to use partially filled ones instead of just winding a full one :/ Of course this happened while top stitching and about halfway across the front of the shirt. Like I said, I'm picky, and I just couldn't look down and see a restarted top stitching line on the front of my favorite fabric, so I pulled the whole thing out. The other issue was the stitching in the ditch around the collar. I used white thread to stitch between the collar and body of the shirt, but it was visible every so often which I knew would drive me nuts. I picked out the entire thing. Ugh, it was not fun. I switched to purple thread after that and it came out much better.
The obligatory mannequin shots. Another change I made from my last version is that I lengthened the body and twin needle hemmed instead of adding a hem band. I like this way much better. I think it's a little more laid back looking to just have a standard hem, plus I don't like how hem bands tighten the shirt up around your hips - this one is more free flowing and comfy.
Here are some close up shots :) If you look really closely around the back collar you can see my purple thread. I'm pretty ridiculously proud of getting it so hidden. It was a long, slow line of stitching, but it was totally worth taking the extra effort.
And the insides. The collar facing just fascinates me on this shirt - it's so great that it sits so flat and I never have to worry about it. Totally comfy :)
And there you have it! My forest friends sorrel top :) I know that I will wear the heck out of this top and I will bask in its five-year-old-like goodness. Maybe I'll name the critters? Is that going too far?

Fabric: 3/4 yard of Doodles woodland print interlock knit - $5.00, white cotton interlock knit - free (in the stash for years)
Pattern: Sorrel Top and Dress by Seamster Patterns
Notions: knit fusible interfacing - $0.50, woolly nylon thread, polyester thread in white and purple
Hours: 7 (due to mistakes)
Total Cost: $5.50

Thursday, October 1, 2015

FO: Agatha Cardigan

Get ready for a photo dump, guys, cause this project was a long time coming :) I finally finished my Agatha Cardigan!
I started knitting this on December 27th of 2014 and I only just got it finished. I blame Florida - I was doing ok (picking up and putting down a few times) until March when it started to warm up and I had no desire to knit a long sleeved wool sweater in 90 degree weather. I set it aside in hopes of cooler climes, and while those lower temps have not hit here in the slightest the heat has let off from "I'm never exiting my air conditioned home" to "at least it's not so humid at night" and apparently that was enough for me. I got on a big sweater finishing kick after all my other summer sweaters and this was next in line. I forced myself to finish this before I could start another (and I already have 2 new projects ready to go), so I managed to pick this back up at the end of August with just past the armhole separation knit on the body and I finished it by September 24th. Not too shabby :)
This is the Agatha pattern by Andi Satterlund, making this my 6th sweater pattern I've made from her patterns. What can I say - I hate doing math, lol, and I've figured out how to make her patterns fit me so the math portion is basically null and void at this point. I've always wanted to make this sweater since seeing Lauren's Blagatha several years ago. At the time I had just learned to knit and knew it would be too complicated for me, so I never bought the pattern waiting until my skills improved. Then last year when I participated in the Marion Knit Along, my prize for finishing my sweater was a pattern from Andi of my choice :) I was thrilled and knew exactly which one I would get - Agatha. I had to wait until after Christmas to start, but as you can see I barely made it past that deadline and began 2 days later.
I used some yarn I picked up for a sweet deal from Craftsy before Christmas - Cascade 220 Superwash Quatro in the Lupin colorway. Usually I'm not a big fan of variegated or multi colored yarns, but this one has just a very subtle twist of 3 similar colors giving a very neat look. That's one of the reasons the sweater was so hard to photograph - those little flecks to the sweater are actually the color variation. I will say though - I almost got heat stroke taking these photos! Public Service Announcement: Worsted weight wool is warm stuff! I had to knock my AC down to 70 degrees and aim a fan right at me, lol. Hopefully I am able to wear this here. I have heard that this winter should be colder than normal, so I am definitely ready. (by the way I hate that derpy photo of me with my hair back, but I wanted to show the neckline. Just for the record ...)
I really enjoyed this pattern even though I am an English knitter and all that back and forth-ing with the ridges got a little annoying. Normally I hate ribbing, but there seemed to be just enough stitches between the switching between knit and purl to not make me want to stop working on it. I love many aspects of the design - the side shaping is so cool how the ridges just merge into each other, and of course I love the lace - but my favorite part of this sweater has got to be the sleeve lace. It looks like staggered leaves and I just love this simple touch.
The sleeves are finished with long cuffs (which make it even hotter, lol). I love this in theory, but they didn't come out quite like I hoped in my version. The ribbed section of the cuff is 4.5" long and you are supposed to just fold it in half - as you can see they are folded back much farther on me (the entire 4.5" in fact). I didn't really think about checking the sleeve length while knitting them (dumb mistake), but without the cuffs as well as before blocking they seemed like they were going to be a good length. They must have stretched out quite a bit in blocking because they are WAY too long now. I look like a Whoo from Dr. Seuss with them unrolled. The only thing I can think of is my drying method I used when blocking: since this is superwash yarn, I soaked it in a bowl with Eucalan and then put it through a rinse and spin cycle in the washer, so I think the centrifugal force of the washer stretched them out. It's not a huge deal since I think I can probably fix this if I block the sweater again, but I seriously can't be bothered at the moment, lol. So I will just have very long cuffs this winter, or if my hands are cold I can just unroll them and have built in mittens :)
I did make my usual changes to the pattern. I knitted the Size Large for the bust and sleeves, but I eased up to the Extra Large for the waist. I've done this a few times now, and I'm starting to think I will go back to just a straight size Large in the future. It's certainly not that my waist has shrunk, but I think now that I'm not knitting so tightly and the fact that wool is so stretchy combines to make it a little too loose. I noticed this particularly on my Sunshower Cardigan - after wearing it a few times the waist is noticeably too big now) . Thanks to the recovery of wool, it's not an issue on this sweater but I think I'll give it a try next time around (which will be in just a few days, lol). The other change I made was to lengthen the sweater by about 2.5 inches at the waist. I have a long torso and I had plenty of this yarn so I wasn't worried about running out. I really like the length on this and it ends right at my natural waist. The only hang up with adding this length was that it made the button hole spacing out of whack. I had to do a little math and either have the buttons spaced out more (only using 6 for the whole thing) or doing way more (11) which is what I did. It wasn't hard to figure out, so I just had to make sure they were evenly spaced.
As per my usual obsession, I put petersham ribbon button bands on theis sweater. I really love this finish, and I completely lucked out with having enough black ribbon in my stash left over from my Emelie. I had 1" left over. I also lucked out with having enough buttons in the right size which was REALLY lucky because I typically don't have that many of any of the buttons in my stash. I think that may change next time I have the opportunity to get more buttons on the cheap since I've been making more items that take larger amounts of buttons (I plan on working out McCall's 6696 next and making a slew of shirt dresses - yay buttons!) Because of my black buttons, I went with the black ribbon and I'm really pleased that you can't see the black at all from the front.
Some close up details: Ah, I do love a petersham button band :) I actually had to borrow my mother's sewing machine to make the button holes since my foot is hanging up. It worked out in the end though. I do love how the buttons look - they are faceted black plastic ovals with little black crystals around the outer rim. I think they make the sweater look a smidge more dressy, so that will go with how I probably will wear this most of the time. And I couldn't resist showing a close up of the back lace. Plus you can see the little color variation a little better in these shots.
And I had to include a photo of it open since it will be worn like this a lot. I also really like the little outfit I made for the photos. The sweater looks really cute with my Melissa skirt :)
So there you have it - my Agatha cardigan :) I know that I will use this pattern in the future (maybe with a cotton yarn and with shorter sleeves) and I seriously can't wait until it's not a health risk to wear this out in public, ha ha. Bring on the cool weather! I know you northerners are cursing the impending winter, but as a pale Floridian I wait for this time all. year. long. Yay, sweaters!

Yarn: 4.5 skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash Quatro in the Lupin colorway - $21.00
Pattern: Agatha by Andi Satterlund - Free (given as KAL participation prize)
Notions: 1 yard of 1" wide black rayon petersham ribbon - $3.00, 11 black plastic buttons - $3.00
Time: On and off for 9 months
Total Cost: $27.00

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Review: The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

I grabbed this book at a time when I was just ready for some frivolous reading. I suppose that's what I got ...

The Friday Night Knitting Club is about Georgia Walker, a yarn shop owner and single mother in New York City. She has taken care of her daughter on her own with the help of her older friend, Anita, and established her business. Her daughter, Dakota, is twelve during this story, and suddenly life starts to twist. Dakota's father starts to show up and want to be a part of her life for the first time ever. Around the same time, Georgia's old high school friend who stabbed her in the back over college discovers her shop and starts custom ordering $10,000 and $15,000 knitted gowns. The story mainly follows Georgia's life in this time, always anchored by the knitting club that meets in her store each Friday night along with all its participants. The story goes from New York to Scotland and back, and ends very differently than you would expect.

I'll be quite frank up front - I did not like this book. Like I said, I wanted something frivolous, and this book is proof that you should be careful what you wish for. First of all the premise of the book is so incredibly unrealistic. Georgia is pregnant and abandoned, knitting in Central Park when Anita sees her and mentions that she has friends who would pay highly for Georgia's skill in knitting. Anita backs a store for her where she just makes custom designs, then as the years go by she expands into selling yarn. As a knitter, I call foul right there. Do you know how long it takes to knit something to order like a sweater or a blanket? Particularly an intricate one? Even if you had no other job and only knitted all day, it would take at least a week. That's 4 items per month, and that's supposed to make enough money to not only pay rent in New York's Upper West Side but also pay for the owner's living? Um, I think not. The rest of the story is equally unrealistic and far too dramatic. It felt like I was reading the script of a Lifetime Network movie. I really wanted to at least look at this book as a guilty pleasure, but it really just lost me. I'll give you a hint. When the plot starts to mellow out, cancer is thrown in. Yeah. *sigh* You can't win 'em all. The story isn't just about the shop owner, but none of the side plots were convincing enough to save the main plot line for me. I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.

Monday, September 28, 2015

FO: Blue Jean Melissa Skirt

 I've officially finished another entry for the Sewing Indie Month contest - a blue jean Melissa skirt!
I made this using the Melissa Dress/ Blouse/ Skirt pattern from Muse patterns. I liked the dress when it was originally released, but I picked it up in the Sewing Indie Month bundle for a sweet deal (this was one pattern I was most excited about in that bundle!). Originally I only thought about this pattern as a dress, but then Rochelle from Lucky Lucille posted her skirt version earlier this month and I saw more of its potential. While I love the dress, it does remind me of an 50s bowling team dress or a waitress' uniform at an old school diner. That look definitely has it's place and I fully plan on making the dress and blouse at some point, but seeing Rochelle use all the same fabric and basically making a gored button up skirt with cute pockets really sealed the deal. I needed a skirt now, and I had the perfect denim in my stash.
Since the finished measurements listed on the pattern were very close to my own and this really just has to fit at the waist and fall, I skipped making a muslin. I figured I could work out any issues as I went. The only fitting issue I ended up having was the waistband area (the one fitted spot, of course). I had to add a little piece to the waistband (I made sure it was to the side that will be covered by the buttonholes) so that was easily fixed (*after wearing the skirt, it has loosened up and it looks like it's a little too big now with this piece :/). The other issue was a little beyond me at the time. The pattern has you ease the skirt into the waistband piece, and it's a good 2" or so you have to ease in. That just wasn't wanting to happen in denim. I have a few little puckers, but knowing that my shirts will always cover the top I didn't bother taking it out. The thing that frustrates me is that there is actually excess fabric at the top of my waist under the waistband. It actually bunches up there. I think that next time I will try taking the ease out of the top pieces just in that top inch or so - I guess my back waist decreases faster than the average or something.
I had to find a piece of fabric for my mom in her really (really) really old fabric stash a month or so ago, and I cam across a huge cut of this lightweight denim. She said she intended to make me, my 2 sisters, and herself jean jumpers back in the early to mid 90s with this fabric. I told her I'd add a removable bib to my skirt to make her dream a reality, lol. In the end she was fine with me taking a small amount and putting it to use instead of it waiting around any longer. This skirt only took 1.5 yards, so she still has plenty left for her dream jumper :) I love gored style skirts, and in reality this so close looking to my Altered Navy Button Front Skirt it's scary, but I know this will be one of those garments that matches anything so I don't mind at all that it's similar to another item I have.
The gored style is really flattering to my shape (at least I think so), and I just love the little pockets! I will confess that the instructions were seriously confusing for the pockets. I think that the diagram actually made me more confused because of what it shows as the right and wrong sides. When I realized that all you have to do is press the seam allowance under, lay the pocket edge piece on top of the front panel piece (the one that is the length of the skirt), line up the top edges, then top stitch the bottom edge, I was surprised it was so hard for me to get it. This is the very first step of the pattern, so at least I was raring to go and willing to try it and rip it out a few times without chucking it in the naughty corner. In the end, I love how the pockets look, though they don't quite fit my hand inside. Next time I will make the piece a little wider to actually fit my hand into the bottom so I can take things out of my pockets. The way the pockets are inserted would make this very easy to just remove them completely and have just a plain gored skirt (I may actually do this in the future and add side seam pockets).
I was really torn with what spots I should use gold top stitching on! At first I thought I'd use it on every seam, but when I started thinking I knew that would be a lot of gold lines for such a simple skirt. In the end I decided for gold thread on the pocket V, the hem, and the buttonholes and all of the other seams have navy thread that blends in so well it's basically invisible. 
I wanted my insides to be nice and clean as well as hold up for a long time to frequent washes, so I overcast the seam allowances inside and then top stitched them down to make faux-felled seams. I love how nice and flat this turned out. I did make one flub up that resulted from me just not reading the instructions well enough - I lined the entire front pieces with fusible interfacing instead of just half like it calls for. This made the front quite thick compared to the rest of the skirt, but honestly I kind of like that about it because my tummy is my most self conscious area and this really prevents any clinging to lumps. You can also see the pocket bags in the above shot :)
And some up close details! My top stitching isn't perfect, but considering I didn't use any type of guide foot for it I am pretty proud of it :) I used some satin finished brass buttons from my stash that a friend of mine gave to me. These are quite old, and some are a little scratched, but I really like how they look on this skirt. The upper right pic is to show my faux-felled seam. The middle shots are the waistband issues - you can see the seam line from the piece I added to the waistband, but I'm sure no one will see it when I wear it. The other pictures are just to show my top stitching and how neat the insides look. For the hem, I didn't want it to be too bulky and the pattern only allots for one turn up of 5/8", so I just overcast the edge, turned up 5/8", and then top stitched 1/2" from the folded hem.
So there you have it - an awesome wardrobe basic with a few special touches to keep it different :) I know that I will wear this a ton. I've already worn it once and it was really comfortable, so I'm already trying to plan another version. I think once I get the little things fixed that I need to tweak, this will be a tried and true and quick project!

Fabric: 1.5 yards of lightweight denim - Free ("borrowed" from my mom's stash)
Pattern: Melissa Dress/Blouse/Skirt by Muse Patterns - $3.80 (from Sewing Indie Pattern Bundle 1)
Notions: Pellon fusible interfacing - $1.00, gold top stitching thread - $0.50, 7 gold metal buttons - Free (given to me by a friend), Navy blue thread - $0.50
Hours: assembling pattern, tracing pattern, and cutting fabric - 2 hours, actual sewing - 5 hours
Total Cost: $5.80