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!

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

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

FO: Disney's Best Princesses Top

It's that time of year again - where I feel compelled to sew a new shirt for my Disney going adventures :) I never really intended this to be a tradition of mine, but each year I go to The Sewing Studio sale and they have a new, cute Disney jersey fabric that just screams to be made into my favorite pattern - the Sorrel Top by Seamster Patterns. This year's knit was perfect for me because it only has my favorite princesses on it (none of this Frozen-on-everything stuff for me). Sleeping Beauty was my favorite classic Disney princess, and of course as a kid I loved Belle on principle of being about 6 when that movie came out, and Tangled has quickly become one of my favorites to watch as an adult (as evidenced by my Halloween costume 2 years ago). What could be more perfect then to combine just these three on a great quality jersey fabric? So I bought a chunk in July with the intention of making this exact top, and once the sweltering heat of summer had a prayer of dying back a bit along with the horrific crowds of vacationers at the parks in June and July, I made plans to go to Epcot for the Food and Wind Festival with a friend at the end of September - which meant a deadline to get this made - so I cut out the fabric just after Hurricane Dorian passed us by.
I've made this pattern 6 times now, 5 of which are Novelty prints, 3 of which are Disney prints. What can I say? I freaking love this pattern. Before anyone asks - sadly this pattern is still not available to buy. It's so sad! And I'm so extremely glad I bought the pattern bundle that included it back in 2014. I'm not sure what ever happened to Seamster Patterns, but she dropped off the internet just after this pattern bundle came out and she never released this on its own. Ugh, so sad. But the design will definitely live on with me for years to come. Every time I wear one of these tops, I get compliments on it. It's just such a cute and different design, and when you add a fun fabric it really demands attention. Even my first version, which is made in a solid fabric with a printed collar, gets compliments. One of these days I should try it out in all solid fabrics. Ooh... this needs to happen. Anyway, I adore the pattern and always will.
The fabric is the same brand of jersey I've used for my other 2 Disney tops, and it's a lovely quality. The fabric is thick enough to smooth over lumps and bumps but thin enough to not make you want to die in the Florida heat and humidity. It seems Springs Creative has the licensing on Disney prints, which I'm not complaining about since I like the quality of their base fabric. It's soft but not overly pilling, unlike some other big brands I've worked with (Art Gallery, I'm looking at you), so it holds up to a lot of wear and still looks nice. If you have the chance to buy some of their knit fabric, I definitely can recommend it. My other 2 tops have been on many sweaty, long day Disney trips and they still look nice years later. Can't argue with that.
I did try to take care to avoid any boob medallions when cutting out this fabric, and I'm happy to say I succeeded. I also cut out identical sleeves that have one of the medallions in mid-bicep just because I actually bought enough fabric so I could afford to do some fussy cutting instead of my usual squeeze-those-pieces-in-there approach. It definitely adds to the quality feel of the garment. The white fabric was a piece I bought in a Joann's remnant sale YEARS ago. It was only a 1/3 yard cut of white cotton/spandex, but I knew it could come in handy for trims and whatnot eventually, plus I probably paid less that $1 for the piece. So I'm glad I had it on hand for this project.
At least all my iterations of this pattern mean I've had a lot of practice at getting that point between the collar pieces really nice :) I adore this collar, folks. 
So that's my Disney shirt for 2019 :) I've already worn this to Epcot last month and then to Animal Kingdom just last Friday, and I can attest that this is another comfy winner of a shirt that gets lots of compliments around the park (particularly by the employees, who always say they've never seen this shirt before, which is cool). I'll be going once more this year and wearing this shirt yet again - maybe I'll actually get a photo in the park with the shirt, lol. The other times I've been too busy having fun. Yay for fun and comfy clothes!

Fabric: 1.25 yards Disney Princess Friends cotton jersey - $10.35, 1/4 yard white cotton jersey remnant - $1.00
Pattern: Sorrel Top by Seamster Patterns
Notions: fusible knit interfacing - 0.50, thread - $1.00
Time: 5 hours
Total Cost: $ 12.85

Monday, October 21, 2019

Refreshing Old Makes: Dying My Favorite Skirt

Today's post is another simple one with a big result. My Brown Melissa Skirt is, to this day, still one of my favorite things I've ever sewn. I posted this back in November of 2015 (!) and I wore this skirt at least once a week (usually a few times a week, to be honest) for years. Years! But over time, the color in the skirt faded pretty badly - also I gained weight and wasn't able to wear this for about a year - plus one day when I did try to wear it, I noticed a few oil spots that I spent quite a bit of time trying to remove to no avail. I folded this up in my sewing stuff and would occasionally try removing the stains only to be disappointed each time. Last month I started going through some of my old makes I hadn't been able to fit into due to my weight gain - I've lost weight recently and wanted to see what beloved pieces were now wearable again - and this skirt popped into my head. When I discovered it fit great, I knew it was time to finally buy some hard core dye and try to get this back into rotation again.
This skirt is made of a mystery thrift store fabric that I have never been able to successfully identify. I knew it had some polyester in it, which meant that regular Rit dye wouldn't work. I had to buy Rit Dye More, which is designed for synthetic fabrics. I will confess I was afraid that I would spill this dye in my kitchen and irreparably stain something, which also made my put off this project. But I really wanted to wear this on my trip to Epcot in September, so I bit the bullet and risked it. 
Unlike regular Rit dye, Rit Dye More is a bit more particular with how to get the best results. You have to do this in a pot on the stove to keep the temperature consistently high. You're supposed to mix the dye then sustain just before boiling in the water for the entire duration and you're supposed to keep your piece in the dye for at least 30 minutes, stirring constantly. 
Not having any throw away utensils on hand, I used a large wooden paint stick to stir my skirt. Waiting for that huge pot to almost boil took quite a while (I used my canning pot because it's the biggest I have and it doesn't get any food put in it so I wouldn't worry about ingesting chemicals from the dye later on), but then the standing at the pot and stirring for 30 minutes felt a bit like an eternity. The whole process took about an hour and a half with all that heat up time and everything. Then it tells you to rinse in cool water until the water runs clean, and for good measure I threw it in the washing machine with a color catcher and a mild detergent just to make sure I wouldn't end up with dye transfer later.
After all was finished and dried, this was my skirt :) It's not quite as dark as when I first made it, but I love this nice medium brown I achieved. It's certainly much deeper than the faded mess I started with. Also if I decide I want it darker one day, I could just do the whole process again and maybe keep it in longer. We'll see if the sewing lasts long enough for me to contemplate that, lol.
And happily, my oil stain is almost completely masked by the darker color. I can see it because I knew exactly where it was, but no one else notices a thing while I'm wearing it. Success! Also a happy byproduct of the dye is that it dyed my buttons as well. The buttons are a carved resin, and a few of them had worn down through the brown colored outside into the gray centers with time and probably slapping the insides of my dryer. Now the buttons are evenly brown again, even on the areas that were gray. Yay!
I know this is a terrible picture, but this is how it looks on :) I wore this to Disney all day and had no dye rubbed on my undies, which was another worry of mine. I'm happy to report that dying this was much easier, if a little more time consuming, than I originally thought and I would have no qualms dying a synthetic fabric again in the future should the need arise. Now I have my favorite skirt back and wearable. Yay for refreshing old makes!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

FO: Refashioned Old Navy Top

So this project is so simple it kind of feels like cheating to even make a blog post about it, but I haven't posted any refashions in a while and I thought I could show how such a simple thing can transform a piece into something you love. 
I found this at a thrift store a while ago - it was an odd length - too long to be a shirt, too short to be a dress for anyone with any decency, lol. I suppose it was a "tunic", but I just don't do tunic length anything. It's probably the most unflattering length I could wear. I really liked the top itself, and I purchased it knowing I would shorten the hem. During the time when I was waiting for Hurricane Dorian to not show up, I came across this top and decided that I could totally have a new shirt to wear that day with very little effort. So I finally re-did the hem :)
I really like a lot of the details on this top. It's originally from Old Navy, but I love the exposed zipper at the neck, the contrast fabric yoke and pocket. It's just a fun piece that I doubt I would've ever made myself yet I really love.
I started by putting it on and deciding on the length I wanted. I marked it all around and chopped off about 9 or 10 inches from the length.
See what I mean? Indecent dress length, lol. At least on me, that is.
 Next, I just pressed my hem under and stitched it with my preferred twin needle and wooly nylon thread in the bobbin.
Just look at that fine hem! This whole thing took seriously about 20 minutes, and most of that was deciding on the length I wanted and then marking it correctly. 
So there you go - my shirt that I was able to wear out 20 minutes later :) I love the finished product, and I just share it to show that refashions don't have to be some big ordeal. Sometimes it's the really simple fixes that give us pieces we can love and wear for a long time. Yay for easy changes!