mardi 27 janvier 2015

Finished Project: Poolside sweater

A few years ago I purchased a few skeins of Estelle South Pacific cotton yarn from a store that was closing down near my work.
It took me forever to decide what to do with the yarn. I considered the sweater below from Phildar,


 But after doing a test swatch I decided I didn't like the result of the cable pattern with the yarn so the search for the right pattern continued on. Eventually I chose the Poolside sweater by Isabel Kraemer.

This sweater is knitted in the round, from top to bottom. The body is worked first, then you go back to each sleeve where the stitches have been put on hold and you knit them. The previous sweater I made was knitted in pieces and seamed up, so it was nice to try this other method.


What was nice about  knitting in the round was being able to try on the sweater early on in the making, and making sure the fit was correct. I did not enjoy however how long the rows ended up being, since it's knitted in the round. Generally speaking, I find that knitting in pieces is easier from a motivation persperctive, as each piece you finish is an extra step completed, whereas when knitting in the round, you have to knit the entire body before achieving the first step.

I really like how the stitch pattern on the body turned out but let me tell you IT.TOOK.FOREVER.
The thing is, it's one of those repeat patterns where you have to really pay attention. Forget about social knitting and having conversations while working on your project. This one (for me anyway) was a full-focus project. I could barely watch TV while knitting it. Hence the time it took to finish.

I made a size S. The pattern is designed with negative ease in the upper body, which makes the fitting a bit easier I think. As far as adjusments, I added a few rows at the top to make the armholes bigger. I didn't want the sleeves to be bigger though, so I balanced that by not adding additional increases on my additional rows, and making more decreases at the start of the sleeves. It was a bit of a shot in the dark, but it worked out in the end.

To make the sleeves, I used double pointed needles. I didn't love that process as, again, it's a bit more focus-intensive as knitting flat and you have to pa extra attention to all needles and not dropping any stitches from any of them. In the end though it was nice to bind of the last sleeve and be able to put the sweater on right away (well, after weaving in the ends) without the hand-seaming step...

I'm really happy with how it turned out. Even though it's cotton, it's pretty warm. I haven't had issues with the cotton stretching, which was one of my biggest worries, but no major stretching so far, hopefully it lasts...

I just finished another sweater, for B this time, and the next one on my list will be a Phildar pattern with some black Cascade 220 yarn I purchased in Washington State on our Christmas road trop..

Catching up

Even though I haven't posted in a while, I've been pretty busy sewing and knitting over the last few months. Photos get hard to take in the winter when light is low.
But finally we got the camera out lest week-end for a catch-up session and I will have quite a few new projects to post in the next few weeks.

Since the end of the summer, I finished 2 knitted sweaters, 1 skirt, 1 vest (an old UFO I finally decided to complete), 1 top, 1 knitted hat. I know it may not seem like much compared to the productivity of others out there, but it's a pretty good record for me!

I also have quite a few more projects on the go, including pajama pants and top, a camisole, a scarf, a couple of loose tops. I'm enjoying tackling a few fast, easy-fitting, no-muslin-required projects these days, but I'm planning a pair of skinny pants in the near future, which will no doubt involve its fair share of fitting challenges.

So that's my little catch-up, stay tuned for some more detailed posts of completed projects!

samedi 15 novembre 2014

Sneak Peek: Peplum Top

Even though this is another summer top, I was really determined to finish it this year, as opposed to make it a UFO for another year.

I'm hoping to have a chance to take modeled photos soon, but in the meantime. here's a sneak peek...

I also finished a knitted sweater and am now working on a skirt that will incorporate leather, as well as a knitted cardigan for B. So many projects!

samedi 8 novembre 2014

Finished Project: A Bridesmaid's dress

*Warning* this is a long post! but this project was quite special so I wanted to share the details of how the dress was made. 

In July, my step-brother J.B. got married. I was one of the bridesmaids, together with the bride's sister. Right away I knew I wanted to make my bridesmaid's dress.

Judy (the bride) told us to do whatever we wanted - she trusted our taste and judgement, so with that, Katherine (her sister) and I started brainstorming ideas and exchanging inspirations. Eventually we settled on the concept of a flowy skirt, a fitted bustier-type bodice and a sheer overlayer to cover the shoulders. This was our initial inspiration:


Looking for patterns to use as a base, I found Vogue 8766 in my stash. The pattern looked perfect for what we needed: a fitted bustier (view A), a circle skirt (view C), and the full bodice option as well, to be used for the overlay (View D).

I cut out two muslins (one for me and one for Katherine, using her measurements).
The pattern included indications of finished measurements, which allowed me to realize even before cutting that it had a LOT of ease built in, especially for the bodice of view D. I used the finished measurements rather than the suggested size to figure out what size to cut.
Katherine and I went fabric shopping together. Originally, we were thinking of making the same dress but in two different blue tones. As we were looking for fabric though, we couldn't find colors that really spoke to us.
After looking for quite a while at the solid colour choices, I started looking around for other options, and came accross a really beautiful silk chiffon that looked almost painterly, with big brush strokes of pinks and reds. I layed the fabric down on a cutting table and both Katherine and I got really excited about this new option.

The bride had told us to do whatever we wanted, she didn't have any preference for colour. We did check with the mother of the bride to make sure it wasn't going to completely throw off the color scheme of the wedding - but she said that we should go with the fabric that excited us the most - and that was definitely it. The silk chiffon being sheer, we also purchased baby pink silk satin to use underneath the chiffon.
With the pink satin only, it had quite the bubble gum dress potential.
We also altered our oroginal concept as we realized that the fabric wasn't going to be sheer enough to get a strong opaque/sheer contrast on the shoulders like the inspiration. So we decided to drop the sheer over layer idea, and instead add a shoulder yoke in a contrasting cream fabric. All I had to do was cut the bodice piece so it would connect with the bustier above the bust, and that was that! We also changed the neckline to be more a sweetheart shape, and made the skirt knee-length instead of midi.

Aside from the design changes, I did very few adjustments to the pattern overall: Added a shoulder dart for both Katherine and I, did a forward shoulder adjustment, added 1 inch in length. We also altered the neckline to be slightly lower and wider, and we moved the zipper from the back to the side.
Unfortunate collateral damage: my tape measurere (the kind that rewinds itself) fell to the ground and litterrally exploded

 Katherine and I went on making our dresses seperately, but we sent each other pictures of progress on a regular basis. It was really fun to make this together and share challenges. The shoulder yoke especially turned out to be the most finicky part. We used a double layer of chiffon for it, but because the fabric was so sheer, the inside had to be as clean as possible. It was really challenging to get the seams all pressed and neat. We also decided to trim the seam allowances to .5 mm and leave them unfinished as any seam finishing would show from outside. Stuck between the two layers of the yoke, we weren't too worried about unravelling or anything.

The bustier was underlined with muslin fabric, to keep it stiff. It was ultimately made out of 4 layers: the silk satin underlined with muslin, the overlayer of chiffon, and the lining. I used baby pink bemberg for the lining.

 The skirt only had two layers: the satin (which acts as a lining) and the chiffon.
One thing that I had to do differently than Katherine was cut the skirt on the cross-wise grain. Being a bit taller, I needed a longer skirt, and it didn't fit in the length-wise grain. I ended up with a seam at center back, and the print of my fabric being a different direction than hers, but in the end, I don't beleive it was highly noticeable.

In anticipation of this project, I purchased two presser feet for my machine: a 1/4 inch narrow-hem foot and a 1/6 inch one as well. I'm so happy I did! Each of the layer of the skirt ended up being 4+ meters long of hem, which would have taken hours to do without those foot. It did take of bit of practice to get the hang of it, and there are some messed up areas on the hem, but in the end, i managed to get a pretty clean hem.

Katherine came over one night so we could help each other get our hems straight. I hemmed both dresses and Katherine pressed them (4 layers of fabric between the two dresses, that's 12-15 meters of hem!) Since those were circle skirts, cut on the bias, I had mentioned that we should let our dresses hang for a couple of days before hemming. I did but I must not have let mine hang long enough as a few days after heming it, the silk satin was peaking from under the chiffon in various places (i think the satin ended up stretching more than the chiffon, which makes sense since it's much heavier).
So I cut off the satin just above the first hem, and recut in the areas that were too long, and re-hemmed the whole thing. Again, I was so grateful I had the foresight to purchase that narrow-hem foot!

my dress on the left and Katherine's on the right. you can tell here that the print diretion on my skirt doesn't match her, but I'm ok with that.
We originally were going to have a closure of sort at the back of the neck, with a slit at center back down to the bustier, but we decided to leave the two side hanging as it looks pretty that way.

photo by eaphoto
In the end, both our dresses looked really good. And we were pretty proud of ourselves. I also like that this dress doesn't scream "bridesmaid" and that I could probably wear it again for a different occasion.

photo by eaphoto

photo by eaphoto

jeudi 18 septembre 2014

Finished Project - One last summer dress

On a trip to Fabricana in early July, I was supposed to only get some swatches of fabric for a special project...But of course, I fell into the remnant bin and came out with 3 random pieces of fabric.

One of them was this pink/purple cotton with a mix of tie-dye and batik print. I couldn't resist. I knew it was going to be my last summer dress of the year.

The piece was fairly small (about 115x140cm), so I had to keep it simple. I really wanted an easy dress, the kind that you just slip on on hot summer day, that's effortless and breezy, and doesn't need any addition. 

It had to be sleeveless, but I wanted to be able wear it to work, so I ruled out spaghetti straps, and I didn't want something too loose or flowy - the fabric has a nice body and wouldn't really work as well with a flowy shape anyway.

I had a lot of criterias in mind but couldn't decide on an actual silouette.

I actually looked at a lot of dresses online, hoping to pinpoint what I really wanted, and thinking I would know it when I saw it, which didn't totally happen. Eventually though, i decided it would have a v-neck and some sort of a mock-wrap bodice - I couldn't do a real wrap since I didn't have enough fabric.

For the pattern, I decided to go with pattern 108 from April 2010 of Burda magazine, which matched my idea of faux-wrap with the under-bust seam. The main design detail on that pattern are the pleats, which I removed completely by taping them out on the pattern piece. The pattern starts with size 38, so I had to grade down to a size 36.

For fit alterations, I did my usual:
-Sway back alteration
-forward shoulders adjustment
-back shoulder dart to prevent armhole gaping
-took in at the the center back seem 
-lowered bust dart by 1.5 cm

For design changes I:
-left out the sleeves and didn't add seam allowance on the armholes, so that the shoulders would end up a bit narrower.
- designed a low neckline in the back.


I wanted it to be a fast and simple project, aka, no muslin. I've been using the swedish-type tracing paper, which is great for pattern fitting, since it doesn't tear.  I was able to check the fit by pinning the pattern pieces together and putting them on, and it was actual quite good right off the bat.
I didn't have to adjust the bust length as I often do, and I didn't need a small bust alteration either. There were actually some pulling lines under the bust, which I managed to get rid of by lowering the bust darts about 1.5 cm.

I cut the fabric and basted all the piece together to check the fit in the fabric. The fit of the front was actually very good, if only a little loose, but I was ok with it.

I decided though that I wanted the neckline a little lower, so i recut it.
Then I proceeded to sew the garment for good.
Unfortunately, once all sewn back up, i realized the neckline was now massively gaping on the right side. Not sure what happened, I cut both side symmetrically, or so I thought, but somehow something went wrong. To fix that I had to slip the left bust piece to hit higher on the righ side, to get rid of the gapping. This meant I had to take in a good 2cm on the left side below the bust seam, tapering down to nothing at the hem, to accomodate for the now offset pieces.
In the end, the fix worked. The dress is slightly more fitted than I originally intended, which is actually fine as I can wear it without a belt. It does mean that the main front piece is now technically a little off-grain, so i guess the side seam could start turning after I wash it a few times. This is a pretty sturdy cotton fabric with no stretch though, so I'm hoping it won't happen.

The neckline ended up slightly off (the point of the V is not quite centered), but it's not too noticeable.

I did french seams on the inside and finished the neckline and armhole with bias tape and top stitching - I'm actually quite pleased with my finishing of the neckline point, it's very neat.

In the end, I'm very happy with this dress, it's pretty much what I had in mind (even though I wasn't quite sure what I had in mind). the faux wrap is barely visible (but I know it's there! )

I made sure to complete this dress just before flying to Montreal for a long week-end at the end of August, as I knew Vancouver weather was already getting too cool, and that week-end might be one of the last opportunities to wear it before fall came.
These photos were in fact taken last tuesday on what seems to have been the very last day of summer, as the rain has now started to fall on Vancouver.

samedi 5 juillet 2014

Finished Project: Blue Sweater

Another stash-busting project!

I purchased a piece of blue merino wool knit fabric from Gala fabric in Victoria a few years ago. It was a remnant and there wasn't enough to make a full long-sleeve top. So right away I thought I should find some complementary fabric. Fast forward three years later, when I finally decided to tackle this project, and I purchased some poly satin in a similar color, for a nice mat/shiny contrast.

For the pattern, I used an RTW sweater that I had in my closet. It's a raglan sleeve, V neck top with fitted sleeve and a loose body.

I traced the sweater and made it into a paper pattern then proceeded to put the pieces together.
I made one rookie mistake though. I didn't account for the fact that my original sweater was a knit, and the complimentary fabric that I purchased for the back was a woven with no stretch whatsoever. As a result, I had to use as much of the seam allowances as i could to get a bit more ease. It's still a little tight if I reach both my arms out in front of me, but I can live with it.

The neckline on the original sweater has no finishing (raw edge) but for this I prefered adding a collar band. I replicated the instructions from Sewaholic's Renfrew top to create the collar band and sleeve cuffs.
I added a strip of satin fabric over the raglan seam in the front for a bit of contrast. I only wish the seam was a little lower below the shoulder so that the seam would be more straight.  

I love a buttoned back, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity, so I added a button placket to the center back seam.

Refashion: Jeans to Skirt

A while back, I had bought four pairs of jeans from Value Village for 5 bucks each. I turned two into shorts and kept one as is. The last one had been sitting in my "refashion" pile since then.

I have seen a lot of denim skirts coming back in trends (I mean really, denim is never out of trend), and decided to go with the most classic of all refashions: turning jeans into skirts.

 Nothing new about how I made these: I cut the legs off and un-stitched the crotch, then I used a piece of the leg to fill the gap in the front.

The jeans had a good amount of stretch, which allowed me to go with a pencil shape rather than a-line. The gap in the back was small enough that I didn't need to add fabric to fill it and could keep it as a "slit" for walking ease.

This was a super easy refasion, and it's become one of my favorite skirts.

PS: this necklace is from an online store called Happiness Boutique. I found out about it on this lady's blog. I ordered two "statement" necklaces from them and I found they had a really nice selection and prices where quite reasonable. Plus free worldwide shopping! Just thought I'd share...