March 29, 2012

I don't get it.

Dear internet crafting community: 

I meant for this next post to be about sewing. But then I only had enough time yesterday to sew about half of my lining together--I also meant to sew more yesterday, but then I got rear-ended on my way home from the grocery store and that kind of killed my evening. (I'm fine, except for a little soreness in my back, and my car looks to be fine other than two puncture wounds in the bumper. But it still sucked up my time. And will suck up at least a little more, since I need to get my car assessed to make sure the damage is only cosmetic.)

So this post is going to be about knitting again. More specifically, knitting issues that are making me want to pull my hair out! One of my current projects is the Onyx sweater by Heather Dixon. It's a really interesting pattern that has fun texture contrasts, and a nice opportunity for me to practice cabling when I get to it. I know how to do short rows now, which is also new to me. The part of the pattern that I just don't seem to get is any time I have to join two sections together in the garter stitch. Because this is what it does:

I don't know why or how, but every time I do this, it turns into stockinette stitch on me instead of the garter. Which I just don't understand, because I'm only doing knit stitch. No purling. This particular area is where I was trying to knit across the second section to join the right and left sides of the front together. This is exactly what happened when I was trying to go on the opposite side of the invisible cast-on before. Then, I fake-solved it by adding another row of knitting going from the opposite direction of what the pattern called for, and it was fine. I can't do that here, since I need to start from the inside and work my way out from another half of the side. I tried dropping stitches and fixing them with the crochet hook, but that was a disaster and I ended up having to rip it back entirely to the split joining point. I also tried flipping the stitches around on the needle, but that didn't work either. So it looks like my options are to either find directions for this sort of thing, which has not succeeded in either Google or any knitting book in the house, or to switch to purling for the entire left side of this. Which is going to be a pain, confusing, and potentially impossible with that "knit one front then back" increase instruction.

I finally gave up for the night and did a little gauge swatching and some work on a long-neglected scarf instead. (I'm still not quite at the point where I'm comfortable with breaking out the sewing machine while my boyfriend is around, and Thursdays are generally our weeknight to hang out. Thinking I need to get over that, since my distinct lack of sewing time as of late is getting to me.) Even so, it's really irritating me that I can't figure out how this is supposed to work. So I humbly ask you, which is any of you reading who has more experience in knitting than me--what's the deal here?!

Frustratedly yours,

March 26, 2012

Just in time....

I finished knitting my Camille shrug on Saturday! Good thing, since I need it for this coming one. I like it, but I realized after trying it on that the cut of it is going to make it a little difficult to wear with anything too strappy. I'd originally planned to wear this dress, but then had decided to switch to a different one that one of my friends passed on to me because I thought that the colors (lavender topped with black tulle) would be a little more spring-like. But this shrug looks pretty awful with the strap placement, so I think it's going to be back to plan A....just have to dig it out from under my bed where most of my spring/summer clothes are still residing first.

I'm thinking it might stretch out a bit more as I wear it-- right now, it's cutting just below my armpits. I thought about eventually undoing the binding and adding more to the ribbing, but with the way it sits on the back of my neck, I don't think I want to do that.

And here's the back in action! (Please ignore the messy hair. And the somewhat dazed look on my face in the previous picture. I'm a bit under the weather today.)

Now here's the thing I don't get--how do I always, always drastically overestimate on my yarn? So far, I've always bought the yardage that the project calls for, or as close to it as I can get when I'm always subbing yarns. So how is it that I have 3 full skeins of this left over? And what on earth am I going to do with them? (After I finish a few more queued/started projects, anyway... I have the next one in mind and may start swatching tonight.)

I haven't worked on it since last Wednesday, but here's a sneak peek of what's going on with that jacket. Which hopefully I will have more time to work on tomorrow.

Just a reminder--I'm giving away a couple of unused patterns from my stash. I realized belatedly that I was a bit unclear on the procedure in that post, so here's the deal: I am willing to split them up, it's first-come first-serve on which ones you want, and the deadline is this coming Sunday. If there aren't any takers, I'm going to put them up on the local Freecycle, but I wanted to give the lovely online community the first shot! So far, there haven't been any takers, so they are all still available.

March 21, 2012

more complicated than it looks

One of my goals for this month was to complete a refashion for a skirt that I'd already dissected. I actually finished this one last week, but didn't get around to writing it up on here until now.

 I made this skirt several years ago--I'm going to guess somewhere in the vicinity of 2005. Definitely pre-blog era. It was inspired by an Anthropologie skirt (what else?) that looked like this:

(the "North Country" skirt)

I liked the asymmetry, and the leather-over-petticoat look. But of course I couldn't drop over $300 on a skirt--every formal dress I've ever bought or made cost less than that! Embroidery isn't my forte, so rather than do a straight knockoff, I got that embossed-looking suedecloth and made it out of that and a remnant of some home decor fabric. The skirt served me fairly well for several years, but it had some issues:
1) The bias cut combined with the heavier suedecloth fabric meant the waistline kept stretching out, to the point where I'd have to take it in every couple of years.
2) The sheer part on the lining had a tendency to snag on whatever tights I was wearing and cause them to pill, due to a rough selvedge and some bad seam finishing on that lining. Which was especially bad, since the style of the skirt pretty much relegated it to cold weather where I had to wear it with tights of some sort or I'd freeze.
3) Also due to the style, I literally only had about one shirt that this looked good with. Not very good for putting different outfits together.

So since I had to take it apart to fix the waist (again) anyway, I decided to just rework it entirely while I was at it.

So this is the new version of this skirt. And while it might not look it, this was a little more complex than just a chop-and-hem job!

I had this wide-yoke skirt pattern that I've used before (also pre-blog). So I cut a new yoke piece out of the top of each half of the skirt....

...and the lining from a scrap of cotton I found in my bin. (It looks pretty wrinkled, and I probably should have interfaced it. But I didn't, because I cut the yoke a little smaller than I'd originally cut the pattern--it had ended up kind of loose at the waist. To offset the stretching of the still-bias suedecloth, I did cut this on the straight grain, but was afraid that interfacing it as well would make it not fit.)

Like my faux tag? It's the only way I can tell which side is the back!

I cut the lower portion to match on the sides, then sewed that back together along with the side seams.

Check the Technique update: I did re-sew in the invisible zipper on this one. I honestly don't think it's the best one I've ever done, the lower part of the seam is a little wonky. But I guess it was to be expected, because of how the end of the zipper is finished vs. the drape of the fabric. So I'm not checking it off the list yet, but I am working on it.

A second technique I played around with that I hadn't done before was using petersham ribbon to finish the hem off. To simplify things, I decided to play up on the suede look--thus the topstitching at the bottom of the yoke, and I wanted to machine-hem it too. But I also wanted to avoid that annoying ridge that sometimes shows on the outside with a double-folded hem, so this was my attempt to use the ribbon to cut down the bulk. And a rather successful one, if I do say so myself! The ribbon curved nicely to match the hem with a little help from the iron, and not a pucker in sight. I know it's not the ideal thing color-wise, but this was all I had. And in a way, it's a nice tribute to the cream sheer bit that used to be a part of this. (Which I do still have that piece, and I have plans for it!)

I finally had some time to sew tonight, after nearly a week of not being able to get to it. So I have made more jacket progress. But that will have to wait for when I can take pictures in daylight.

One last comment on the word verification issues: I finally figured out a solution! I removed my address from the comment moderation alert form, so I won't get an email every time some spambot wants to post. (Which seems to happen a lot to me for some reason. And here I thought this was a clean, family-friendly blog...) So if it takes longer for your comments to show up, that's why--I can't do things so quickly from my phone without the emails! So far, this solution seems to be working. All of the spam showed up in the right place on the dashboard for easy deletion, and no annoying emails.

March 19, 2012

An award and a giveaway

Nid de Tissus recently gave me this lovely award-- thanks, Donna! And there's some fun questions to go along with it, so here goes...

Favorite Color: It's generally a toss-up between blue and green--I love both! I've found myself going for teal in my fabric choices quite a lot over the last few years, too. It's a good compromise between the two!

Favorite Animal: I grew up with both cats and dogs, and am quite fond of both. I also like horses--they're beautiful creatures.

Favorite Number: 7, I guess. I'm not much into math.

Favorite Non-Alcoholic Drink: Tea! Finally, a decisive answer.

Facebook or Twitter: Facebook. I have a Twitter, but rarely bother to use it.

My Passion: Music, obviously. And sewing is quite up there!

Getting or Giving Presents: Both. I do enjoy making and giving things to my family and friends, but I do have to admit that getting stuff is pretty fun too!

Favorite Pattern: New Look 6407, aka my go-to blouse pattern that I keep altering into other things. It's just so versatile!

Favorite Day of the Week: Saturday!

Favorite Flower: Sunflowers!

Favorite celebrity role model: To be perfectly honest, I don't really have one. I tend to just watch the movies and shows/listen to the music I like, and then ignore the actors' and musicians' personal lives.

Since I'm supposed to pass this on, I picked a few bloggers whose posts I always enjoy and whom I didn't mention in the last award. (It's up to you whether you want to participate or not!)

1. The Girl With The Star-Spangled Heart-- Though I'm not really into the vintage sewing scene myself, I always enjoy seeing the outfits, classic movie inspirations, and as of late, her ongoing series on the fashions in Downton Abbey and attempts to bring some of the Crowley sisters' style into her current wardrobe.

2. Sewn By Alviana-- She's just now getting back into the blogging scene after a (well-deserved and totally understandable) break to have her first daughter. But I've long enjoyed reading her upbeat posts! And since she's from Malaysia, she'll also sometimes give these neat glimpses into the more traditional outfits from there.

3. fanbloomingtastic-- One of the newest additions to my quasi-daily reading list, which I found via this year's round of Sew Weekly contributors. It's interesting to read about the life of a U.K. transplant on this side of the pond. And there's frequent Doctor Who references, which of course makes me like her.

4. 21 Wale-- She uses a lot of cool patterns from companies I'm not really that familiar with, particularly in the realm of magazines. And she also makes these amazing kids' clothes--I'm also impressed that her kids appear to be such willing models!

5. Kelly's Korner-- Her clothes always look so cleanly and professionally finished, and I like that she's been sharing (and actually making things inspired by) some of her favorite Pinterest finds as of late.

Really, there's so many fantastic blogs out there, that it's hard to pick!

And I did promise a small giveaway last time, so here we go!

I was recently cleaning out/organizing my pattern stash. And while I did get rid of a few things that I knew I'd never use again, I found these five that have never been used at all. It seems a shame to throw out uncut patterns, so I'd like to pass them along to someone who might be able to have some fun with them. So here's the list, with links to larger pics when I can:

1. Burda Young Fashion 8174, in sizes 34-44 European (also listed as 8-18 for the Americans)
2. Simplicity 5505, in sizes 6-12
3. McCall's 5137, in size 14-20. I know this style hasn't been seen around for the last couple of years, but it could have potential in alterations, maybe?
4. McCall's 4873, in sizes 12-18. (This is me finally accepting that empire waist patterns tend to look terrible on me, at least without massive amounts of alterations and a more fitted waist..)
5. McCall's 5050, in sizes extra-small to medium. (No numbers listed, sorry!)

I realize that not all of these patterns are going to appeal to any one person, so I'm willing to split them up. So if you'd like, leave a comment letting me know which pattern(s) you're potentially interested in, and if you don't have a blog I can find you at, an email address would be helpful too. I'll give you until April 2. (No spam-bots, please... I've already gotten 6 or 7 anonymous spammy comments this week, and it's only Monday! I might have to go back to word verification, or block the legitimate anonymous commenters again...sigh.)

Edit: And this is why I shouldn't write posts at midnight...I should probably clarify a couple of things about the giveaway. To keep it simple, I'm going to do it first-come, first-serve. Any patterns that are not claimed by April 2 will be Freecycled locally. Thanks!