Friday, September 19, 2014

FO Friday: Ashton Mystery Revealed! Meet Larry :)

This past month has been one of my favorite annual events - the FreshStitches Mystery Crochet Along! The way it works is that there are 3 clues each containing several pieces to crochet. You have no idea what you are making - you just follow all the directions and collect your pieces, waiting for the final clue that tells you how to put them all together. After completing all my pieces, my project looked like this:
I played around with where the pieces could go and tried to figure out what it would be, but I had absolutely no idea, lol. I knew those blue pointed pieces would be ears, and that the big piece was the body, and I had a suspicion about the others but that was it. I just embraced the surprise of the whole thing and waited for the final clue to be released this past Monday. So, without further ado, this year's mystery animal is:
A super cute puppy! I've decided to name my guy here Larry - he looks like a Larry, no? I really love the shape of him, very unconventional compared to the bodies of other FreshStitches animals. This guy just makes you want to hug him, which is exactly what my toddler nephew did as soon as I showed it to him (after the hug, he tossed him aside, but we'll take the hug as a good sign, lol).
The legs are attached flat to the body, which makes them easy to bend so he can sit down. The points of his ears are tacked down to stay in that folded over position. I think he's just adorable :)
He even has a cute little tail! Since I had no idea what I was making, I just went with crazy colors that I loved. I used Red Heart With Love in Jadeite (seriously my favorite color right now) and Peacock. They are a really nice combo and I think it came together nicely.
Look at that face :)
I had so much fun with the mystery this year and I just love the design - Stacey has done a great job again at stumping us all! If you've never participated in a mystery crochet along before, I highly recommend it - they are a blast and it's so much fun to see the creatures everyone else makes. I will definitely keep up what is now my tradition (this is my third time making the FreshStitches mystery animal). I hope you join us too!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Marion Progress

I've had a bunch of random things going on this week, but I only have one project to show any progress on. I ended up finishing the other a few days ago (so check back for a super cute finished object!). September 10th marked the beginning of the Marion KAL with Andi Satterlund. I was prepped and ready, so I began on the 11th. I've already finished the upper back and I'm about halfway through the right front!
The back was a no-brainer - just plain stockinette stitching, but the cables are a bit of a mental workout for me. It's not that they are hard (the cable stitches involved are very straight forward), it's that I have to lay out 3 pages of the pattern to do them: one page that I use to keep track of how many repeats of each row I've done, one page with the cable chart, and one page with the stitch explanations so I can do the cable chart. All this makes for not such a great travel project since I kind of have to spread out and pay close attention to my counting. I do like the pattern though :)
This is my first cable finished :) Well, not my first ever cable, just the first one on this sweater. I got to this point and had to stop because I was convinced I had repeated the last few rows of the repeat too many times. I've tried counting my stitches, but that didn't reassure me. I've taken to blowing up every picture anyone puts up to share their progress and counting how many cable bumps they have in which direction, lol. Andi posted her progress 2 days ago which reassured me. I now know it just looks strange because of where I stopped in the pattern. Now I can move forward without concern, lol. It is the most charts I've had to keep track of at once, so I'm hoping I don't screw up too bad as I continue. I am very much enjoying this project :) I'm excited to see how I like the finished result considering my doubts about the yarn, but I am going with it anyway.
So, that's all I really have to share this week. Check out Tami's Amis' Blog to see what others have going on too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cherry, Cherry Plantain

I gushed so much about my first Plantain that you must have known it would be my first one to repeat :) I've been itching to show you this one, because it has turned out to be my favorite of all!
This is my second time using the Plantain pattern from Deer + Doe within 2 days - since the Saturday night version ended up too sheer to wear, it's only fair that I make another right away that I CAN wear, right? This is also my first time using knit fabric that wasn't from a thrift store (gasp!) - I know, I can barely believe it myself :) This fabric came from my latest Sewing Studio haul on the 4th of July. The fabric was a garment industry remnant, so the content is a complete mystery. It's wonderfully soft, doesn't like to hold water (which means it dries fast), and repels wrinkles. I seriously wish I knew what it was so I could buy more, lol. The fabric cost me $7.20 for 2 yards and I still have a decent amount left since it was at least 62" wide.
This time around I used a 3/8" seam allowance on the sleeves with 5/8" everywhere else and this seems to have solved both my weird wrinkles and my snug sleeves issue - woo hoo!
Of course, I included the elbow patches again :) My elbow patches are from a raspberry colored thrift store interlock knit - I cut out a different shirt in the fabric while I cut out the fabric for this shirt, then used the raspberry remnants to make the patches - efficiency, folks.
And if you can't tell, I absolutely love the patches on this version :) They aren't an exact match of the cherries on the base fabric, but it's like a darker shade of the same color so it works great.
I know it's hard to see in the photos, but the fabric is actually lots of cherries going every which way on a pale blue background :) So cute. It was very handy that they are turned this way and that because I didn't have to worry about the fabric's direction at all while cutting. The fabric's soft texture gives it kind of a worn in look, but in a good way. I'm sure this was probably used as kid's pjs it's so soft. So comfy to wear! The print is what gives the shirt it's name too - gotta love Neil Diamond, amiright? "She got the way to groove me." (I've included the song at the bottom of this post if you aren't familiar with it. Seriously, go educate yourself!)
My only minor snaffoo this time was that it seems I pulled on the base fabric around the front curve of the neckband a little. It's not incredibly noticeable though, and I'm sure I've purchased rtw shirts that have this as well. I guess it just happens sometimes. Oh well, I was not about to unpick all that, lol. See how nice and neat the neckband is inside? I just love it.
And here's a proper view of the elbow patch laid flat - love it! And this time I mustered up my courage and did my twin needle hems and top stitching on the neckband with contrasting raspberry thread. I used white inside since the stitches would show outside occasionally and it stood out, but I changed to raspberry for anything outside. I really love how professional this makes it feel :) Also, I have already machine washed this bad boy and everything is still intact - score!
So, I think it's safe to say I am a Plantain-a-holic now. I have a stack of other knits that would work great for this pattern and I'm fighting the urge to just make them all right now. I want to space it out a bit - I'll enjoy this one for a bit before I make another. But there will definitely be another! This is certainly my favorite t-shirt I've made so far :)
This also means I have another entry in the Let's Sew Deer + Doe Sewalong. I wonder how many Plantains I will have entered into the pool by the end of the year, lol.

Fabric: 2 yards mystery knit from The Sewing Studio, $7.20
Pattern: Plantain by Deer + Doe, Free!
Hours: About 4

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Too Shy" Plantain

So, clearly my Labor Day labors started a trend with me - in truth, I made this on Saturday of the same week. I had such great success with my other t-shirt making endeavors that I kept the momentum going by finally downloading the Plantain by Deer + Doe Patterns.
The Plantain is a free pattern from Deer + Doe patterns, a really cute French pattern company. This top has swept across the sewing blogosphere ever since it was released, and there are a zillion cute versions out there by now. What I love about this design is that it deliberately hugs up top but skims below the bust which makes for a very flattering silhouette. Add to that the option of cute elbow patches and I'm all there. I had a sneaking suspicion this would be a great shape for me, but I didn't know if I would have to make any grading changes to the pattern to get it fitting me well. I hover right at the cut off of Deer + Doe sizing, which is why I've never splurged on any of their patterns (they are about the same as most indie pattern prices, but you have to add international shipping. Oy). I figured this freebie would be a great opportunity to test the fit and see if I should take a gamble on any of their other cute designs.
This first version was meant as a muslin, so I grabbed a knit with 50% stretch from my stash and went for it. Who cares if the fabric is sheer when it's a tester, right? Well, it turns out that the shirt fit great so now I'm left with a ridiculously sheer shirt that I would love to wear but can't due to common decency laws. I'm serious, you could see absolutely everything through this fabric, lol. In the end I put a plain white t-shirt from Target underneath it for these photos and I actually do like it this way. I think the white band around the neck looks nice with the rest of the color combo - too bad it's so freakin' hot outside. This shirt has been put in the "will wear when it's colder" section of my closet. I do love how this material feels - it's some kind of jersey (I think?), but it's not like the other jerseys in my stash. When I look closely at the weave of the fabric it is clear that one side has the knit stitches and the other side has purl stitches - just super tiny. Of course I didn't notice this until I fused my stay tape to the knit side of the back piece (doh!), so technically the back is backwards. I bought this same fabric in mint green, bubblegum pink and light gray from a thrift store for a few dollars each cut and each one was at least 2 yards long and over 60" wide so I have quite a bit of this stuff. Too bad they're so thin! The fabric is very soft and drapes nicely, but I have no idea the fabric content. Next time I use it, I will self-line and basically cut 2 of each piece. It will make them very warm, but at least I can wear them in public.
The surprise show stopper of this pattern is the elbow patch addition. I originally thought I would leave them off, but decided it would be fun to try since it was just a trial run anyway. I had a remnant of a navy blue jersey from a thrift store that was already cut by its previous owner, so I was able to use one of the narrow sections between the cuts for both patches. I love the color combo of mint with navy.
The neckline is really fantastic on this pattern - not too low but not too high and not too wide. The way the directions have you attach the neckband make for a very neat finish - it definitely took a while to get everything in place, but as long as you take your time with pinning everything down the neckline looks great.I do get some slight wrinkles around my underarms with this shirt, but I have no idea what that means in a knit - any idea? The only change I'll make on future versions is to change the seam allowance on the sleeves - the pattern includes 5/8" seam allowances which was great everywhere except the sleeves came out a bit snug. Maybe that's what caused the wrinkles? Because the sleeves don't move freely on my arms? Anyway, I think I'll go down to 3/8" seam allowances next time.
Just look at that fine neck band! This picture also shows how sheer the fabric is on the back since you can see my coral table to pretty easily through it. I think this photo was meant to show the inside of the neckband, but trust me it looks nice :) The fabric's transluscence is what inspire the shirt's name. Everytime I put it on without an undershirt, I just think of how I'm way too shy to wear it, which naturally made me think of "Too Shy" by Kajagoogoo - seriously the most ridiculous named band in history, but a great song nonetheless. I've attached the original music video at the bottom of this post - you're welcome :)
This project also inspired me to try out the twin needle. Seriously, how easy is the twin needle?! It's like magic, folks. It took about 5 minutes to look in my manual about how to set up using the twin needle - turns out its exactly like using a regular needle, you just have to add the extra spool peg and push the twin needle button. Duh! I now want to use the twin needle on everything just to show off my prowess :) Also this photo shows the defined knits and purls of the fabric.
And just look at that finish! Oh, twin needle ... how I love you! Let me count the ways. I took it nice and slow this first time, but I think it looks just like a store bought shirt. Love. It.
And my beloved navy blue elbow patches. I will say, these were kind of a pain to sew on - I had to lift my presser foot every 1/2" or so, probably more around the curves, to make sure I didn't bunch up the fabric. I just went really slow to try to retain the oval shape as best as I could. I had to carefully trim a bit to set as close to the stitches as possible, but it worked out great. In spite of the extra time the patches took, I absolutely love them now that they're on. I want elbow patches on everything now, lol. Also, another great twin needle hem  on the sleeve there :)

I adore this pattern! I think out of all my test shirts, this design is my favorite. I love the fit, I love the details, I love that it uses 50% stretch knits (because it turns out I have several in my stash). I know I will have quite a collection of these shirts as time goes by :)
Let's Sew Deer & Doe
Incidentally this shirt means I've participated in the Let's Sew Deer + Doe Sewalong hosted by Ashley of Craft Sanctuary and Sally of The Quirky Peach. The two of them have decided to sew all of Deer + Doe's patterns between themselves by the end of the year and have invited others to join in. All Deer + Doe designs sewn from September 1st through the end of the year. You just have to sew one thing to participate, but you can submit as many items as you make. This shirt made me the first project in the Flickr group :) I can't wait to see the lovely things everyone makes and who wins the prize at the end of the year!

So, have I tempted anyone out there to sew a cute t-shirt yet?!

Fabric: 1.5 yards mystery thrift store knit, $2.00
Pattern: Plantain T-Shirt by Deer + Doe, Free!
Hours: About 4