Monday, January 13, 2020

FO: Christmas Dress At Long Last

Everything about this dress feels like a down right Christmas miracle, and I am so happy to finally have pictures so I can show it on my blog :) First thing's first: Look - I made a dress!
So I have had this fabric in my stash for maybe 7 years? Something like that? I bought it soon after deciding I wanted to sew my own clothes and had all these grand plans for a closet full of Modcloth style novelty print dresses. The problem with a Christmas dress and me is that I will love the idea of having one, but I never actually have the time to make it by the time I realize I want to wear it. I always think about making it when the holiday craze has already begun, which means I am working a ton and spending my very little making time on gifts for others. So this fabric, which is an adorable Christmas tree damask style print quilting cotton by Michael Miller, languished in my stash all this time, always with the hope that one day I would actually help it fulfill its destiny as a dress. This year, I finally made it happen. I was singing in a local church's Christmas concert on December 3rd and was told to "wear something Christmas-y", and when I took stock of my wardrobe I immediately thought how cute it would be to have this fabric as a dress finally. So Saturday night (the night before the concert) at about 8 pm, I pulled out this fabric, cut out my pieces, and had it almost entirely sewn before going to bed at midnight. After going to my own church the next day, I had to set in the sleeves, hand stitch a bias neckline facing, and hem the skirt. I was finished just in time to fix myself up and get to the concert. Under normal circumstances, I would not recommend starting a dress the night before you need to wear it, but I have to say it really worked out for me this time around :)
The only reason this worked out is because I used a pattern I knew would basically fit me. Since losing weight, I have been able to fit into my Take a Seat Dress and my Don't Let the Bird Do the Dishes Dress again, even having them be a bit too big (which is a miracle since they were always just a smidge too tight even when I first made them), so I knew that using Simplicity 1419 would at least yield me a reasonable fit dress with little to no tweaking. I used this pattern for both those dresses as well as for a Halloween costume and a muslin, so I've adjusted things about the fit overtime and had it pretty much down to a science. This is a Lisette design, and it works as a great basic dress base. I've changed the neckline and sleeves on top of making my usual lengthening and hollow chest adjustments, so the pattern pieces are there and ready to go no matter what I want to do with it. Also, it has pockets, which as an absolute necessity in anything I make.
The fit on this is close, but not exactly perfect. But who really needs it to fit perfectly on something you won't wear beyond one month a year? I am still losing weight, so I don't really want to spend the time and effort and fabric on making clothes that should soon not fit me anymore, but I justified this because I really didn't mind if this only fit me for the month after I made it. So I got to sew again, yay! There are a few things I need to fix about this pattern should I make it again soon, and you can see one above. See how it is bunching up off my back in the photo above? I now know that the way I corrected for my sloped upper back was not correct, and it lead to this issue. I can fix it for next time, but to make this one fit better I added darts in the back neckline to help minimize the volume. It's still a bit baggy in the middle, but it wasn't going to keep me from wearing it.
I didn't get too particular about pattern matching since I was on a time crunch, but I did try to make sure the front and back matched up at the waist as best I could. I'm pretty happy with my results there. Also I did a lapped zipper because they are my absolute favorite.
I went with my preferred bias tape neckline on this dress, just like the last several versions I've made with this pattern. This is the original neckline height from the Lisette pattern, but I omitted the collar and keyhole detail. I hand stitched the bias tape in place because I've just found it lays so much better than machining this area due to the curves, and since it's just around the neck it really doesn't take that much time. Also I loved wearing this with my vitreous enamel cardinal pendant and earrings. I went all out several times and wore a red bow in my hair and even (gasp) red lipstick. I seriously never wear lipstick because I feel like it makes me look weird, but I am warming up to it after this little experiment.
Here's a look at the neckline bias and the lapped zipped up close. I used a 22" green zipper from my stash and it was basically the perfect color. I just love it when that happens, but at this point it's a game of averages because I seriously have so many zippers it's probably more surprising when I don't have one that will work on hand. That's definitely a tip I would give anyone - get your zippers at the thrift store, folks. I bought a bag of over 100 for $10 several years ago, and I've grabbed a few more here and there to add to that selection. It's a crazy tub full, but unless I need a very specific type of special zipper, I never have to put a project on hold because I have to go pick one up. Also, I really have to give a lot of credit for the speed of this project to the fact that I have a serger now. All of my seams were pressed and then serged, making it really so quick for finishing the insides. No matter how quick I need to make something, I still always finish the seams because I don't want it to all unravel in the wash. Definitely worth it even if you only finish the insides with your serger.
So that's my Christmas dress :) I was so happy to have it finished, and I made sure to wear it as often as was appropriate during December. I wore it to the concert, to church several times, for family photos, and to work on Christmas Eve. Now I feel like my time was worth it even if this dress doesn't fit me next year. I got lots of compliments on it every time I wore it, which is also always nice. It's very cheerful, very green, and very me.

Check back soon to see a few other projects I made with this fabric! It amps up the cute factor in a big way.

Summary:
Fabric: 3 yards Christmas Tree Damask print quilting cotton by Michael Miller - $12?
Pattern: Simplicity 1419
Notions: 22" green zipper - $0.10, white thread - $1.00, white packaged bias tape - $0.25 (thrifted)
Time: 6 hours
Total Cost: $ 13.35

Monday, January 6, 2020

A Year In Books - 2019

So, like my making output, my book reading also had a slump. I was cooking right along, but with the beginnings of divorce proceedings I found myself just not in the mood for books at all in any form. So I took a break for several months, trying not to be too hard on myself. So this is the first time in 5 years I did not meet my reading goal for the year :/ But that's ok! I set out to read 50 and I managed 31, which is still not a number to sneeze at. I enjoyed what I did read, and while there weren't any enormous classic books like I am prone to choose, there were quite a few books that have been on my "to read" list for years. I can be happy with that. And while I did not write a single book review (bad Megan!), I would be happy to let you know about any of these books if you're interested. Just leave a comment below. So here are the 31 books I read this year:


1. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
2. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
3. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
4. The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
5. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
6. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill
7. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
8. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
9. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
10. The Library Book by Susan Orlean
11. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
12. An American Princess by Annejet van der Zijl
13. Tangerine by Christine Mangan
14. Jaws by Peter Benchley
15. The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
16. About a Boy by Nick Hornby
17. Florida by Lauren Groff
18. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
19. Normal People by Sally Rooney
20. Noir by Christopher Moore
21. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
22. How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims
23. A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
24. The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
25. The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt
26. The State of Affairs by Esther Perel
27. Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson
28. Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottlieb
29. The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis
30. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
31. Going To Pieces Without Falling Apart by Mark Epstein, M.D.


As far as my top books, I added 3 more to my 5 star list:

  • The State of Affairs
  • Maybe You Should Talk To Someone
  • The Problem of Pain
I also find it interesting the books that I didn't give 5 stars to but they stuck in my mind and I talk about a lot. There were several this year:
  • The Coddling of the American Mind
  • The Feminine Mystique
  • The Happiness Hypothesis
  • The Starless Sea
  • Going To Pieces Without Falling Apart
So, while I didn't hit my goal, I did get a lot out of the books that I read. I will say, I also had the problem of starting a few books and not finishing them. I have a goal to finish them all this coming year. 

Anyone else out there find they want to read less at a certain time? I'm very curious if I'm a weirdo. Every other time I've had craziness in my life over the past 6 years or so, I've turned to reading as an escape and read voraciously. It was very indicative of the total upheaval and change I went through though, I guess. I still love to read and look forward to learning more in the coming year :)

Monday, December 30, 2019

A Year of Making - 2019

Hi, friends! It's been a while ... again ... but I am still here and still wanted to do my yearly round up of makes. I knew this year was slim as far as how many pieces I churned out, but ho man I can't believe how few it actually turned out to be. My life has been in full transition for basically the whole year, so I try to cut myself a break. It's just so hard to look at this list compared to previous years. Ah, well. Hopefully next year brings more time for making this like I love to do. So I combined my Year in Yarn and Year in Thread posts I usually do into one, and here is what I made this year:
1. Teddy's Teddy - Made for my nephew born in April
2. Fairy Tale Sailor Top - I wore this quite a lot ... while it fit me.
3. Gray? Green? Skirt - Another I wore a lot while it fit, so for a couple of months.
4. Dahlia Cardigan - Over a year in the making, but it finally got finished and is wearable :)
5. Lady Russell Shawl - 3 years and 2 months in the making, but I love this piece. It's so cozy and soft.
6. Tiny Superman - Made for a friend :)
7. Old Navy Top Refashion - Love this casual top
8. Disney Princess Sorrel Top - Worn 3 times to 3 parks this year and it was so cute and comfy.
9. Vivacious Vianne - The color of this is the best part. It's a bit big now, but I will still wear it.
10 - 13: Christmas Attire (coming soon) - These were all big hits. I made myself a dress I've wanted to make for about 8 years along with a matching tie and 2 toddler dresses. I promise to blog about them soon, I just haven't managed to get pictures taken yet.

And that's it! I feel like I need a sad trombone womp womp right there, but overall I'm still proud of the pieces I made. I also altered my Burgundy Melissa Skirt and removed 4 inches from the waist so I can wear it again. This year has brought major life changes, including a large weight loss which means inches lost which means my beloved clothing items no longer fit. I do have a stack of pieces I intend to alter, but with the holidays and divorce going on I just haven't got around to them yet. Hopefully soon. This is another big reason I really didn't sew much. Since I started losing weight in July, I didn't really want to sew any clothes to fit my current size since I am still in the process and plan to lose more, so it feels like all the time and effort and fabric would be in vain too soon to really enjoy anything I make. So one day I will get to sew clothing again (and boy, I have been itching to make myself something new!) but until then, I will just be proud of the things I made this past year considering the amazing opposition.

How was your year of making? Were you more productive than me? Let me know!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

FO: Vivacious Vianne Cardigan

I finished a sweater! And it didn't take me a year! It's a miracle! But seriously, after making my Dahlia Cardigan I needed a fun project that had no real deadlines or anything, and this Vianne fit the bill perfectly.
This is Vianne by Andi Satterlund. I've had this pattern ever since she released it, but I had never got around to making it up. I really love the style and it was always on my radar but I just never quite had the inclination. The coolest feature of the pattern is the lacy back.
The lacy and open back makes this kind of the perfect design for hot Florida. It also means the sweater is super stretchy given all that open space - I could've probably sized down for this one, but it's fine enough like it is. I really enjoyed the knitting on this and it was easy to get the knack of the lace pattern. I will confess - I messed up on the upper back but I didn't notice until I had already almost finished the back. I will never tell where the mistake is, lol.
Speaking of mistakes - I made a little snafoo on the front that set me back a bit. I had joined the fronts to the back under the arms and was about 2 inches down the body when I realized I was working a different row of the lace pattern for the right and left front. The problem with this is that the lace swoops are supposed to mirror each other, and my mistake meant that one side was a full 4 rows longer than the other side, so it would not have matched when buttoned up, which would've made me crazy because I would see it all the time like a big shining beacon of failure, lol. I have no idea why I went so far before I caught this, but I decided to just rip it back out, undo the extra rows on the one side, and ptu it back together again. This set me back a few nights of knitting, but not a huge deal considering I am much happier with the finished sweater.
Here's a close up of the lace on the front - I just love it. Also, let's talk about the real star - the yarn. I bought this yarn from pattern designer Emma Welford in July of 2017 during a destash she posted about. She had 3 skeins that she used part of and unraveled, so I got this for a steal of a deal. The yarn is Fyberspates Vivacious DK in the Sunshine colorway, and I think that is the perfect color name. I love the effects of hand dyed yarn - the subtle flecks of darker and lighter tones throughout the finished piece - but generally I'm too cheap to pony up the dough for this fancy of a yarn. That's why I love second hand so much! I loved working with this yarn and it's just the perfect yellow color. So thank you, Emma, for not wanting to finish the project you bought this yarn for! Anyway, because I only had 756 yards of this yarn, I knew going into this project that it wouldn't be enough to make the sleeves 3/4 length as designed.
I had no idea how far I would actually get to make them, especially considering I added 1 inch to the length for my long torso. So I knit the body, then the neck band, then weighed what was left and divided it into 2 identical balls so I could be sure I made the sleeves the same length. Well, that left me with only 25 grams of yarn for each sleeve and that included unraveling my gauge swatch to make the ribbing. It was a close call, and on my second sleeve I was using any and all of my scraps just to finish the bind off. It was a lot of ends to weave in, but I got there in the end. I actually made one sleeve completely, but it was so comically large on my arm it looked ridiculous so I pulled out until the short rows and added a lot of decreases. This sweater isn't designed to have sleeves this short, so I'm sure there is a more technically "correct" way to have done this, and even now the sleeve is pretty loose, but it's done and I don't care that much, lol.
I already had the perfect color of my beloved rayon petersham ribbon in my stash (I get it from Britex and order several projects worth at a time to justify the shipping cost), and even though it wasn't quite as wide as my band, I made it work. In truth, I may not have needed this reinforcement on this particular sweater since it's not very tight (so I won't look like I'm hulking out of my sweater), but I still like the extra stability it adds to the button holes.
So to make it work I just lined the edge up with the picked up stitches for the band and it worked ok. It was a bit of a head scratch getting the buttonholes in the right place since they were off center, but not too bad, and they are all perfectly placed to help prevent my very rounded buttons from slipping out.
I've been trying to stay all stash lately, so I went with these basic white shank buttons. I have a whole tube of these I got for a few dollars, so I'm sure you will see these again. They are wonderfully smooth for this yarn though, which makes them kind of perfect.
And the more realistic shot of how I usually wear my sweaters. Actually, this one may stay buttoned, but I will probably use it both ways. Also you can see how big the sleeves are in this photo. Ah, well. 
So there you have it - a new finished sweater and in a truly fantastic color :) I look forward to wearing this all fall and winter to add a bright pop of color to my life when needed. I'm not sure I can really say "I'm back" with my knitting, but it has been nice to crank out a cute project in a short period of time again. Yay for knitting!



Summary:
Yarn: 3 skeins of Fyberspates Vivacious DK in the Sunshine colorway - $35.00 (second hand)
Pattern: Vianne by Andi Satterlund - $5.60
Notions: 5 white buttons - $ 0.25, yellow thread - free, yellow rayon petersham ribbon - $3.00
Time: 1.5 months
Total Cost: $43.85