Uncomplicated Knits

Sometimes I believe I secretly enjoy complicating the simplest things in both my creative life and in the day-to-day living. For example:

“Ok, we have one month before an early Halloween Party so let’s try to make 2 costumes each with 3 or more separate pieces!”

“Let’s see, It’s 8pm, Tuesday night and I’m starving. How about I try that *insert complicated recipe* I’ve been wanting to try!”

“This project would be made extra special if add hand beading to it instead of using a beaded fabric.”

“Not feeling well with this flu, but I really want to try to make Thanksgiving dinner for the first time ever!”

Only one of those is an untrue statement and I’ll let you guess which one that could be. Anyway, the point has been made: Sometimes I like to cram in more things that I can actually finish in a reasonable amount of time or turn a simple project into something that takes longer or is more difficult than it has to be. This practice adds unnecessary pressure on myself for no real reason.

As fun as a challenge can be at times I like to throw in uncomplicated projects that are pretty simple and quick to finish. Very little fitting and math, basic shaping, mindless stitch patterns, simple lines, few components. It is gratifying to finish up a project fairly quickly. Sometimes I prefer a little mindless knitting devoid of stitch patterns that keep your eyes glued to a chart.

The first pattern in Knit Tanks books is a very basic tank knit in the round in stockinette and garter with Lily Sugar cotton yarn in Bright Orange for a huge blast of color.

The pattern uses 3 different sized needles for shaping, which meant three swatches. Let me tell you, I had to “fight” with @dnaliknits to try to opt out of doing those swatches and I lost. 😂 Thankfully she lended a hand on two of them.

I didn’t make any changes to this pattern. Just kept it light and easy.

And for fun, I created a little colored pencil fashion illustration using the knit top as inspiration.

Break out into Bra-making

I think I would be quite happy on the day I can rock a head-to-toe look made by me: from the accessories down to the undergarments. Except the shoes. I don’t have any desire to make shoes now, but hey, you never know what the future will bring.Before I dig into making the underwire type and drafting my own bras, I thought I would start with a few patterns for the soft bra/bralette.

The stores would have you believe that large busts aren’t suitable for bralettes, but I am of a mind that any person can wear pretty much anything they want if it’s made to fit their body. First of all, you don’t necessarily have to turn to the bra for ultra support all of the time. I wanted something that I could relax in. Something that would offer coverage for around the house, but not have the girls hoisted up uncomfortably. Something cute enough where getting caught walking by an open window would not lead to full on embarrassment of getting caught half dressed.And this free pattern from Mood was just the thing to check all of those boxes. The D’arcy Bralette has minimal instructions, but it isn’t that difficult to figure out with sewing experience.The test version had too much room at the side bust so I attempted it fix it with elastic which made it worse. In the second version I left it alone, but it still gaps. Ultimately in the final pattern I pinched out this excess (approximately 1 inch). I also added elastic to the bottom for a little support and lining to the inside for a finished look. All half inch seams were trimmed down to 1/4″ and topstitched.Fabric selection for both versions was a swim/dancewear spandex knit with a shiny foil print. I’m totally in love with it! Before moving on to the next bralette, I would like to hack this pattern once more to eliminate the cage straps and lengthen the band thus heading further into bra top territory.

Fold, Dye, and Repeat

Aside from ruining great creative materials, a lot of what keeps me from doing certain crafts is the setup and subsequent clean up due to the lack of a proper space. I have several creative interests and lucky enough to have a room in which to practice most of them, but it requires you to stay on top of cleaning and organizing when switching projects. If I won the lottery, my dream home would probably have a separate space dedicated to each craft and a different space for the messier work, like dyeing fabric. Last thing I need is a dye accident spilling over onto other projects. So I waited for warmer weather to go outdoors to try Shibori.

On the morning of dye day, I took the time to try out different folds and banding of my white cotton and 99/1 white denim. I also decided to band some bare yarn to see what I would get.

I was fascinated with the oxidation process, watching green turning to blue. The excitement of opening up the fabric to see how the pattern turned out.

What I learned:

Patience is key. In order to get those really rich blue tones you have to dip your fabric multiple times.

Break out the clamps for more striking patterns.

It is messy, but I think I did a good job of not getting blue everywhere.

What I need to learn:

How to properly rinse out the fabric so you don’t lose so much dye.

How to dispose of the expended dye.

Using the fabric:
A few of the pieces that don’t have strong patterns may get over dyed with more indigo or another color. I have a stash of acid dyes waiting to be used.

One of denim pieces was used to create the Nummi tote bag. I’m not a tote bag person, but after making this one I am inspired to create another one in vinyl and faux leather, thus diving more into bag making that has also been on the list.

2019 seems to be the year to try some of those creative pursuits I keep saving for later. Next up, bramaking!

Ankara Love

I was never one that had to be the center of attention so I avoided prints, patterns, colors, and styles that would cause me to stand out in the crowd. As a result, the earlier additions to my fabric collection were of solid colors and very few prints. There is a little something to say for the “maturation process” and coming to embrace the things you truly love without regard to how receptive others will be. I’m definitely feeling the neons, the asymmetry, the unusual shapes, bold prints and patterns now! The stash is beginning to burst with color!

Enter Ankara.

Wax prints are pretty straight forward to work with so there is no worry about shifting fabrics when prepping for pattern cutting. The 6 yard quantities leaves plenty of cloth to experiment with multiple styles. Sometimes I am concerned if the stiffness of the cotton will be suitable enough for my selected design, but with all of that yardage I’m less hesitant to cut things out that may be a disaster waiting to happen.

I used skirt pattern #111 from a 2007 issue of Burda Style, cut in size 42 with a 3/4″ increase in width at the hip.

Dipping into the Ankara stash again, I settled on a lovely blue and yellow waxed print for the next project.

I danced the night away at a friends only fairy prom themed birthday celebration in this ankara print dress. I used McCalls 7321 cut in size 16.

I skipped the lining and made a few size modifications to the bodice (1″ FBA, take in at bodice sides at underarm), hip (1″ increase), and waist. With only 4 days to crank out this piece, I didn’t have the time to fit it as well as I would have liked. Adding a zipper into the mesh fabric was challenging. It was too heavy for the fabric so it failed to lay flat to the body however, all of that was hiding under giant lace wings. For an indoor costume party the dress served its purpose.

Repeat geometric prints are my favorite along with the prints of bright yellow, pink, and orange and blue. I’m working my way up to sewing and wearing that full head-to-toe Ankara pants suit of my dreams.

Slowing Down

I’ve probably expressed many times that I am pretty impatient when it comes to projects, however I always have the lesson to “slow down” thrown in my face.

I don’t like to do knit swatches, so I sometimes end up with garments that are too big or too small.

Fitting takes to long when you just want to jump into sewing.

Who wants to read the directions?! Let’s just dive right in!

With this project I wanted to start right away so I failed to check for the errata that would have eliminated my confusion on stitch count later in the pattern.

Other than that, this project was a nice knit that traveled well despite my use of multiple colors. The pattern is the large version of Dotted Rays, by Stephen West knit using Knit Pick’s Stroll Tonal mini pack in the Spring Field Colorway.

I am forcing myself to slow down a bit more with every project. Don’t they call it “slow crafting” for a reason?

Delicious Prints

I consider myself a “foodie”.  I love tasting and cooking dishes from different world cusines.  Friends and I sometimes gather and cook our way through my cookbook collection that contains delicious recipes from Korea, Africa, France, Columbia and many other places. The colors, flavors, and textures excite the senses. 

Why should I not have all of those things refected in my fabric selections?

I found these two seersucker foodie prints on my last fabric trip to Joann’s which makes me think of last year’s abundance of juicy strawberries from the garden.  This Oliver and & S Seashore Sundress pattern was a breeze to make and it is essentially my first completely sewn pdf pattern.  I did not mind taping the pieces together, but the fact that it’s for a small child probably had a lot to do with that.

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Dress Back

It was so quick to sew that I made another.  How cute is this watermelon print!?

Dress Front

From my stash I pulled this super cute unicorn print with hearts and stars and accented  it with gold buttons.  Pattern was traced from an old Burda Magazine (.  As always, the instructions are a litte unclear in places, but everything turned out well.  The back of the dress is just divine!

I’m definately on the hunt for some food prints I can incorporate into my own wardrobe.  Why should kids always have all of the fun?

Challenging Fabrics: Leather

For the first quarter of this year I sought out projects where I could incorporate some of those fabrics that are typically challenging to sew: sequins, velvet, and leather.

I ordered a medium piece of black pebbled lamb leather hide from Mood Fabrics to use as a leather contrast in the McCall’s 7693 jacket.  This leather was deliciously thin and drapey and soft like butter! I laid out the fabric pieces to test the cutting layout and there was not any room to shift pieces around an wrinkly imperfection so I had to work with every inch available.  In my excitement and hurry to cut and sew, I made the mistake of cutting out the two left fronts of the lower pieces, but i was able to trim it back to the original shape minus a little length.

I cut out a size 16, View B. I did my typical FBA for the front pieces. I also added another 5/8″ to the lower end of the sleeve after removing approximately 1/4″ to 3/8″ from the sleeve head. Is it me or is there tons of ease in the sleeve heads on these patterns?

I used clips instead of pins to hold the leather in place for sewing.  Handstitching the lining to the inside collar was a slow and tedious process based on the pattern’s directions, but I stuck with doing it this way instead of bagging the lining because I wasn’t sure how to manuver around the leather collar section.

Houndstooth is my number one favorite classic print so I’m glad I finally found a use for these 2 yards that I’ve been holding on to forever.  Now it’s time to dive into spring/summer sewing!

Team Body Positiveness

I posted a picture of my finished knit displayed on a mannequin to the Web and after someone commented on how great it turned out the person added “I wish I had the courage to wear something like that…”

I don’t know the woman personally nor do I know her full story behind the comment, but it lead me to think a little of my own journey on gaining courage to wear certain items.  I could write a long list of things I wish were a little different about myself, but I’m choosing to head in a different direction.

I’m joining team Body Positivity.  My wish is for women and men (and myself!) to feel good about themselves as they are in this moment. I am not always in that space, but I try to pull back a little on pointing out my “problem areas”.  I’m learning to celebrate beauty and confidence in myself and others.

Part of what body positiveness means to me is being loving and accepting of your body as it is and this means wearing those things to which you are drawn.  I’m not a fan of those strict fashion rules that say you have to minimize a large bust, or draw attention away from the hips, or avoid wearing stripes over a certain size. Listen, if you like it and if your are comfortable in it, wear it, my friends. If you aren’t comfortable, then make the changes you want or need to make and/or find the acceptance you need to get there, but in the meantime love yourself and see value in yourself as is.

So to that woman I offer encouragement for her to wear those things to which she is drawn.

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Pattern: Dress #9 in Vogue Knitting Fall 2007, Size 40″ Bust

Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers in Japanese Maple

On Perfection

“Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.”

Eugene Delacroix

One can find the word ‘perfect’ in the dictionary, but is there anything that can be truly be defined as without defect or flaw?

In the spirit of “Keepin’ it 100”, perfection is the very reason on why I delay posting my makes. Is my item pefectly finished? How about does it fit perfectly? I assess myself in the mirror to make sure every hair is in it’s place and the folds of the garmet fall where they should. I keep waiting around for that perfect day to take photos outside in just the perfect location. Or if it’s too cold, finding the right corner of the house that I can use as a perfect back drop. Is my photo editing as close to perfect as possible? Will I have the perfect words to convey my journey through this project?

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None of the aforementioned worked out to my standards of perfection on this project. It rarely ever does, but I had to stop and ask myself if it really was that big of a deal.

I’m learning, especially with sewing, that these little imperfections are opportunities to learn and grow in the craft. I cannot let the lack of perfection in an item keep me from finishing or sharing. No matter what, there will be some critical eye that will find something wrong. The goal is to aim for a healthier version of perfectionism. One that includes high standards, growth, and dicipline without all of the anxiety, frustration, and unfinished business. This idea of healthy, yet realistic version should motivate us just enough to continue on the path of improvement and not hold us back in any way. Do the best you can with what you have! I’m pretty sure there is meme floating around with those sentiments.

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I used McCalls pattern 6651 and made View C in a size 16. This top was already oversized so I did not do the usual FBA. I shortened the sleeve cap height to ease in the sleeve without crazy puckering. It’s loose and comfortable. The fabric is from the stash in an unknown fiber. It was in the giveaway bin when I thought I could give it one last chance. I dig it! No bright colors this time, but I also love prints.

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Seasonal Musings

When winter comes around, the cold solidifies just how much more I enjoy warmer temperatures, but I’m not going to complain because there are things I do enjoy about this season. I’ve often considered taking inspiration from each season and translating it into a mini collection. To finally make that a reality, I dug into the bead stash to fashion a simple earring set using superduos.

I didn’t know what to do with these super duo beads so I started with some inspiration in Learn to Use 2 Hole Beads. I thought about the things that I loved (and disliked) about each season. Not digging too deep, I used elements that were quite literally represented in each season: the winter snow, the spring flowers, the summer sun, and fall leaves.

Winter Reflections: SNOWFLAKE

homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows, soup, heated seats, learning to snowboard in Vermont, mittens, cozy handknit sweaters, sewing coats (totally gonna be my new thing)

Spring Reflections: CLUSTERS OF WISTERIA

flowers, dreams of traveling to see the cherry blossoms in DC or Japan, planting in the garden, staying inside for creative rainy days, pollen on everything

Summer Reflections: SUNFLOWER

sundresses and sandals, cycling, embracing shorts, ice cream shops, longer days, back in the day remembrances of sitting on the front steps with my mini boom box

Autum/Fall Reflections: LEAVES OF COLOR

fall colors, Halloween costumes, seasonal allergies *eye roll*, eggnog, roasted root vegetables, apple picking, holiday baking, cornbread stuffing, coquito!

I’m pretty sure I’ll revist this collection concept using another medium. It’s a really simple way to spark a few ideas when you are having a creative block.