I desperately want to reclaim my blog space this year and seek out a bit more than bite-sized meals of content that I’ve consumed for most of 2020. I refuse to make any plans or promises, because who knows what’s in store for 2021.
I spend most of my social media time on Instagram. I post projects, share photo stories, although no lives or reels yet. I have even been able to connect with a few people beyond the double-tap for a like. There are things I like about it, but, over there, it’s an endless scroll of content that you have very little control over what you choose to consume. While that works some of the time, I am missing the good ole’ days of the blog roll. It was filtered and every once in a while you got a full entree of a post; Something to sink your teeth into, slowly digest one bite at a time, and walk away without scrolling right into the next course.
Anybody out there back to blogging these days? Who has the time? The energy? Who even cares? That’s why IG and other media platforms are popular. Serve up or consume a quick bite and off you go! No one has time to read. Show me the video! I so understand. Time is precious. Thank you for that lesson, 2020!
Perhaps, by putting this out into the universe I will find what I seek. If not, there’s always books.
WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.
The cooler temperatures have arrived! No, that is not excitement, but an embracing of the inevitable. In utter defiance of September’s arrival, my last finished creative project was a pair of shorts, but the cool air has showed me who is boss and kindly whispered, “Next summer, babe.” And so I shift my attention to coats, long sleeves, and my fall favorite: Hand knit sweaters.
I worked on the Turnstone Pullover throughout the summer months. I like to have that knitting project waiting in the wings for days where I don’t want the physical demands of sewing with standing, cutting, and moving from table to machine or for days I don’t want to bend to see the fine details of beading.
The pattern called for KnitPick’s Shine Sport and that is the yarn I used in Sailor and Robot colorways. Even using the same yarn I was unable to get the gauge called for in pattern. So I knitted a few swatches with different sized needles to see how close I would get to the same number of stitches per inch and I knit the size that was closest to it. To explain, my bust is about 38.5″, but I ended up knitting the sweater of finished measurements of 35″.
For the row gauge I did not do any calculations, but crossed my fingers and hope to God it wouldn’t be too short. The way this sweater is designed, you must have the length of the sweater on point before joining the front and back panels to knit the sleeves. I was definitely flirting with danger by not doing any calculations, but it all turned out well. I did knit a few extra rows as called for in the pattern to account for any ease I might need for more bust room.
To get the sleeve length I tried it on to estimate the right length. I have long arms and also wanted full length sleeves. I wish I added just a tiny bit more length to them, but I am still pleased with the sweater overall. I love stripes and chevrons and I love the contrast of the two colors that I picked. The yarn is cotton and modal and while that might not be the warmest combo, my Turnstone has a nice comfy feel to it.
My bra-making adventure started out with making a few bralettes which I have learned can be made with more support, however on the day to day I usually wear bras with underwire.
For my first wired bra, I used the pattern that comes in the Bare Essentials Bra book which is a full frame bra with one seam. My tester was too big in the back band so I removed 1/2″ and finished the bra, but I think removing only 1/4″ would have been sufficient. I didn’t really know the best way to attach the hooks and eye nor close up the underwire channeling at the front frame, but I learned a few techniques after sewing up the Berkeley Bra after this. More on that in a future post. I also made things difficult for myself when attaching the channeling because I had used 1/2″ elastic on the bra band
The 34D size fit pretty well right out of the gate with just a few issues. I wasn’t crazy about the shape of my breasts that was created using the one vertical seam. The bridge was just a little bit too wide. Also, regular underwires were not long enough.
Because I didn’t want to make the same bra twice, I added lace to the second version and made a few more modifications. I modified the bottom cup to 2 pieces, removed 1/8″ from the CF of the front band bridge, and then cut a 1 piece frame. For the back band I used both a firm weight power net and a light mesh for both support and to match the white inside lining.
I’m quite happy with the three piece cup version. Changes for the next bra I might draft a power bar now that I know what those do.
Fabrics and Notions Used:
Duoplex, Rigid Lace, 3/8″ Elastic, Decorative Elastic, Full Coverage Underwire, Sheer Cup Lining, Firm Power Net and Light Mesh, 1/2″ rings, sliders, and straps.
For the past two plus weeks I’ve been engaged in an online class created by Seamwork Magazine entitled Design Your Wardrobe (DYW). It’s a three week class that gives you guidance on how to develop a plan to sew your own capsule wardrobe.
So I’ve been in a funk and about my wardrobe for a while. I have a few pieces that I love, others I abhor, some I keep around in case I miraculously lose that unwanted 20 lbs. A few are nostalgic, some are kept out of necessity. Some are handsewn, but not quite right in the fit, but they stay because of the work put in to making them. And none of it fits nicely into the closet. A serious purge needs to happen. You know the new mantra: If it doesn’t spark joy…
I’ve always admired Seamwork and Colette patterns, some for their simplicity and hackability, and I finally got the nerve to give membership a try. Coincidentally my timing was perfectly lined up with the start of the next round of DYW. See, the universe is trying to bring some order into my life!
Sewing with a plan has never really worked for me. Or perhaps I never really gave it a good try. I have too many “great ideas” to narrow them down and as soon as I come up with a solid plan something newer, cuter, and on sale comes along and changes the game. What makes me think it’s going to be different this time around? Nothing, but I know setting goals is important. I know being consistent is key. And I know I want a wardrobe that excites me.
Week one has you collect inspiration that will lead you to develop a story and mood board for your mini collection. This is the goal setting stage: The why of your wardrobe plan and a list of the things that inspire you to develop the kind of collection that speaks to you. What story do you want to tell? Then take that inspiration and narrow it down to create a mood board that reflects that idea. At this stage I’m super excited to gather inspiration for a spring/summer wardrobe.
I am inspired by color. Vibrant color which speaks the opposite of how I am currently feeling. My story: Vibrant Flair. In addition to loud prints and pops of color I am drawn to the little details that add excitement to a garment: maybe it is a ruffle, pleats, ties, a print, an embellishment, a cut out.
Shortly after collecting inspiration, the excitement turns into a little bit of apprehension. How am I going to successfully create a cohesive collection with all of that color and mixed prints? Adding details and embellishments can take quite a lot of work or pattern hacking to achieve so will I be able to sew all of the pieces in this wardrobe in the upcoming months? Also, will any of this inspiration be reflected in my current fabric stash so I could purchase a little as possible?
All of these questions gives me the feeling that I will have difficulty with making decisions on selecting a palette for Week 2, but I will stick with the process and will try my best to follow through and see what develops.
In my creative space sits a open plastic bin that is overflowing with unfinished projects otherwise known as UFOs. Therein contains a range of projects in various stages:
abandoned knitting and sewing designs
patterns/pattern magazines paired with fabric ready to be analyzed
intense knitting projects that require my full attention
cut pattern pieces ready for sewing
projects in need of finishing details
projects and ready-to wear items that are in need of repair or refitting
There is even a bonus UFO bin for unfinished jewelry projects. I’ve arranged, rearranged, sorted, and analyzed the items in this bin many times, but truthfully it’s just an eyesore and a heartache to see those things piled up. So, it is time to put on the big girl panties and knock these projects off the list!
In this post, I wanted to put the spotlight on the last two categories which, in my opinion, have no business hanging out in that bin. What is it about the final details on a project that makes one wait so long to finish? Is it fear of ruining it? Sad to see a labor of love come to an end? Laziness? Disinterest? I mean, let’s face it, the actual sewing and knitting of the thing is the most fun part of making.
This project was started in Feb/Mar of 2017. So long ago that I don’t know how long the thing sat in that UFO bin. At least a year for sure. The sweater was finished and was in need of blocking and seaming at the neck and sleeves. THAT’S IT! When you really look at it, it does seem kind of silly.
Tangerine Rose Circle Sweater from Knit Swirl, knit in size One using Ella Rae Classic Superwash Heather in colorway Claret Heather 102. I omitted the knitted rose and for now, the silk ribbon that runs through the eyelet. All of the knit and purl bands make this a relaxing sweater to knit and wear.
I came up during the 80s and 90s: eras that created acid/stone wash, bomber jackets, bold colors, and over-sized ensembles. To me, these two decades celebrated individuality. I didn’t grow up with a large clothing budget to keep me in the fliest of fashion trends so to this day, there are still a few items for which I pine, believe it or not. Pass me an 8 ball jacket, a Starter jacket (Raiders, no doubt), MCM sweatsuit, full Adidas look from head to toe, and the classic shearling bomber. Come on, walk with me! And throw in a pair of Air Jordan 4’s for good measure.
New Look Pattern 6536 cover sample had me inspired to make a shearling coat, but I was left wondering if I should step all the way out and nab some real shearling skins. I wanted to, but decided to go the faux shearling (aka Sherpa) route at least for practice in working with such a heavy fabric.
The design is simple enough to power through this coat in little time. It’s unlined with just a few simple seams. I later added some hook closures because the pattern originally had none. I changed nothing else about the style, however for the fit, I added width to the front to accommodate a larger bust, added 1/4 to each back raglan seam for a little bit more room, and lengthened the sleeve to accommodate my long arms.
The challenge came with sewing through the two layers of this thick fabric, which is a bonded faux leather and faux shearling from Mood Fabrics. My machine slugged through a few times, because I didn’t use anything to help it glide through the feed dogs, however I did use a longer stitch. It’s officially cold here so I’ve been wearing it every day since its completion. I love it!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.