3.01.2015

we got there in the end

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A sweater!! You guys! I knit a sweater! I'm realizing that I'm actually pretty terrible at blogging about my hand knit items, so I'm trying to change this. For some reason knitting just seems better suited to Instagram than my blog (for me, I love reading about other people's knitting on their blogs). I'm not totally sure why this is, because knitting is so. SLOW. Seriously. You wanna talk about a labor of love, just talk to a knitter! I mean, I can slap together an entirely new, hand sewn outfit in the amount of time it takes me to knit a hat! So you'd think after all that hard work I'd be ready to crow about it from the rooftops, right? And instead my hand knits tend to only get a fraction of the hoopla that my sewn garments get. Well no more! This is me, climbing onto the neighbors roof (because it's more fun if it's trespassing) and crowing: I MADE A SWEATER! 

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And it's purple! This is the Carpino pullover designed by Carol Feller for Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People 6. I had my eye on this design since I learned how to knit (*cough* last year *cough*). I love the honeycomb lacework design of the front. It felt like a less girly version of lace, which is good for me, because as much as I love the way lacework looks, I get really uncomfortable in anything too girlish (... I mean, there's an exception to every rule, but in general...) I also really wanted to learn lacework, and this is a nice, repetitive, not-to-complicated pattern. Perfect for learning.

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This sweater was knit from the top down, in the round. I followed all the instructions as is for a size 39 - which should have given me plenty of ease, since my chest measurement is closer to 34 inches. I did test my gauge, but I think I tend to be a tight knitter, even when I'm trying to relax. So the finished sweater is a bit narrower, after blocking, than the size 39 specs. I'm actually okay with this. I think the fit is pretty cute, and pretty close to what I had imagined. The only place that I would have appreciated a bit more width is through the shoulders, however I actually think my sweater fits me through the shoulders pretty similarly to how it looks on the model, and I can comfortably wear a long sleeve shirt underneath it, so I'm just gonna go with it! It'll probably relax with time and wear anyway.

I added an extra inch or so to the overall length of the sweater, leaving the arms the original 3/4 length. I did this because 1) I thought it looked short on the model and 2) my first sweater that I knit (never blogged... but maybe I'll get around to that...) always feels a bit short and it bugs me. I think that after all the work and time you put into knitting, you really don't want to have any regrets at the end. While you're knitting it can seem like a pain to spend more time and yarn on one section, when all you want to do is get to the next part of the instructions, but it's worth it in the end. Knitting, I've found, is a practice in the art of patience.

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The yarn is Brooklyn Tweed's Loft in the color Thistle.  I love that on BT's updated site they give the color stories for their yarns. I've spent a fair few lazy Sundays just reading each one, they're like little love notes to color! I had to give a hoot when I read that, according to BT, "Playful Thistle is perhaps rather intense for adult-sized garments"... whoops! Um... definitely didn't get that memo! In truth, I actually don't think this color is nearly as intense as it shows up in photos. In reality it's more of a red-purple, and the flecks of navy, bright red and white are so much fun. Brooklyn Tweed's yarns are really interesting. They are 100% wool and have a very 'heritage' feel to them. When you're knitting them up they're kind of scratchy and stiff, but after wet blocking them they really soften up and come alive. I haven't knitted with a ton of different yarns, but I really am partial to this stuff. They're insanely warm. The other sweater I knit is with Shelter and it is the absolute warmest thing I own.  I'll admit that I don't like wearing these sweaters directly next to my skin, but I don't really like wearing any wool right next to my skin.  

Loft is BT's fingering weight yarn, so it's much lighter weight and makes for a thinner, slightly drapey-er material. You guys. I will give pause before I knit another sweater with fingering weight yarn. This sucker took me FOR . EV . ER! I think I cast on in the beginning of September? It's so long ago now I can't really remember! But let's go with September. And when I knit, I get pretty obsessive, so I was devoting a good amount of my free time to this baby. So six month. SIX MONTHS!! Egads! I blame it on the fingering weight yarn and size 4 needles. The fact that I'm a painfully slow knitter didn't help.

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Sorry this photo is a bit out of focus. It was getting dark while I was shooting these, so my shutter speed was very slow. But anyway, The sleeves and hem are finished with a 1x1 twisted knit ribbing.  I learned a thing or two while knitting this sweater - I mean, you're bound to learn a thing or two about anything if you do it for a straight six months! But one thing I learned is that I really prefer knitting in the round with 5 DPNs (double pointed needles). I had always used 4 (3 holding the stitches in a triangle shape, one used for knitting) in the past and could never figure out why I got such ugly laddering on the stitches where the needles joined, but then I read somewhere that if you switch to 5 DPNs those joining stitches have much less strain placed on them. It made sense to me, and it definitely made a difference in my sleeves! 

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The neckline is finished with an i-cord bind off. This was also new to me! For the first couple of stitches I kept thinking that I was just making a big messy knot, and then slowly it started to reveal itself and I got pretty psyched! It's a really pretty way to finish a neckline, and a nice alternative to ribbing.

As I was nearing the finish line with this sweater I began to suspect that I would run out of yarn. I guess that extra length I added really ate up a lot of my yarn! I just had 1 inch left of cuff ribbing and the i-cord bind off to go and I was down to a marble sized blob of yarn. I started to freak out a bit because the thought of buying a whole new skein just for that little bit of knitting seemed insane.  When I lamented about this on Instagram (see, IG gets all the good knitting stuff) Samantha, of A Gathering of Stitches, suggested I try Ravelry to see if anyone was selling a leftover skein, which was a brilliant idea! Unfortunately I didn't have much luck - it seems that Thistle is not a very popular color! Who'd a thunk...? But I'm passing that little nugget of wisdom on to you guys, should you ever find yourself in a similar situation. Anyway I eventually had the thunderclap realization that I still had my two gauge squares stashed away somewhere. So I unraveled those and ended up with more than enough yarn to finish my sweater! I ran out of my original ball of yarn while I was binding off the cuff edge, which was super inconvenient, but it did force me to learn how to do a spit join (or spit splice), which is magic! Why have I not been doing that all along?!? I could have been saving myself from so much tedious tail weaving-in! Again... the things you learn...

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Well, I absolutely adore my new sweater! And I better after all the time it took away from other projects! Nick isn't too keen for me to jump into a new knitting project too quickly. He thinks I love my knitting more than him, but I think a bit of jealousy is healthy for a relationship. Keeps the sparks alive, ya know? So on that note, what do you think I should knit next?? 

Since I tend to really love Brooklyn Tweed's (and company's) aesthetic I had originally planned on moving on to Seacoast from Wool People 7. I love the elegant, wide, neckline and the clean lines, but after all the stockinette on this sweater started to bore me I thought maybe I should try something more challenging and Jared Flood's Backbay from the Fall 14 collection caught my eye.  I definitely think Ondawa is the star of that collection, but the cute little bobbles, moss stitch, and overall classic look of Backbay really won me over. But then the Winter 15 collection came out and I became intrigued by Kusama! Although I can't tell yet if it's the pattern, or the styling of the model that I'm really into here... Obviously I need your help! 

What are you guys knitting? And can someone please tell me if six months is an insane amount of time to spend knitting this sweater?

xx

2.22.2015

scorched

Mood Fabrics Gray Stripe Linen | Burda shirtdress

Hey everyone! I am currently sitting, staring at my computer at 9:30 pm on a Saturday night (because my social life is off the hook). I think I've written these first couple of sentences a dozen of times, only to delete each one. I told myself that I wasn't allowed to write about the weather, or the fact that February seems to have gone by very very  fast, and as a result I'm finding myself with absolutely nothing to say. It's at times like this that I wonder if we're given a finite quantity of creativity in our lives, and if I've squandered all mine on dramatic readings of Us Weekly performed for my cat...

Mood Fabrics Gray Stripe Linen | Burda shirtdress

To be fair, those readings have been some of my finest work, but don't expect Mister Muscles to back me up on that because he's a tough critic!

Well, since it seems like the insides of my brain currently consists of one, long, obnoxious, fart sound, I'm gonna take the liberty of skipping the niceties and jumping right into the sewing talk. Trust me, it's better for everyone this way. Besides, I have a lot to say about this silly, flowy, voluminous dress!

Mood Fabrics Gray Stripe Linen | Burda shirtdress

This was my February make for the Mood Sewing Network (you can read that post here, which is probably way more informative than this post is going to be).  I had initially planned on making a spring jacket, which is much needed in my wardrobe, however our crazy 'winter' turned unexpectedly balmy for a week or two there and I just couldn't muster the enthusiasm to sew outer wear.  So instead I made what is essentially my ideal spring dress. Of course, it has since returned to being cold and drizzly, and now I'm really wishing I had that jacket - so back to the front of the queue it goes!

This dress was made using this White and Gray Striped Linen-Blended Woven from Mood online.  I'm not totally sure why this fabric caught my eye, as it certainly isn't the sort of rambunctious print I usually gravitate towards when I'm buying fabric with my Mood allowance. But I do know that when I saw it I thought of light and airy spring dresses with a sort of folksy, bohemian, Ladies of the Canyon kind of vibe.  The kind of thing you wear with minimal sandals and lots of jewelry (bonus points if you're lucky enough to own some genuine turquoise...) and long, flowing locks. The finished look might veer more towards 'a man's sleep shirt from the 19th century' or faintly Laura Ingles Wilder, but I'm actually pretty cool with that too! 

Mood Fabrics Gray Stripe Linen | Burda shirtdress

I'm going to reveal something incredibly nerdy about myself right about now - when I was a kid (and probably a little older than would have been considered 'cool'... like, oh, say 15) I was in love with American Girl dolls. My favorite doll was/is Kirsten (R.I.P. Kirsten, as you are no longer available) who was the 'pioneer doll.'  I mean, pioneers are pretty badass! I even had matching dresses so I could dress up like my doll and pretend that I, too, was a pioneer girl. Well. I would be lying if I said that this dress doesn't make me feel a bit like my 8 year old self, playing dress-ups with my Kirsten doll. And after doing that google image search I'm realizing just how much it resembles Kirsten's nightgown (which I also had in my size). Sigh. I mean, aren't we all just trying to satisfy our inner 8 year old? 

Another fun fact - my nieces are just getting to the age where they are getting into American Girl dolls, and I swear, this past Christmas I was almost as excited as they were to receive their first doll! I literally had to stop myself from being like, "here, let me show you how to brush their hair..."

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But I was trying to write about sewing here (see above, re: brain = fart sound). So I saw this fabric, I decided I wanted to make a folksy, springy dress, and I chose a pattern, like you do.  This is Burda 10/2010 #122, the same pattern I used to make my green dress. I love that green dress so hard that it only made sense to add another version to my closet.  However there were a few changes I wanted to make. For clarity sake, I'm gonna go with the list format:

  •  Lengthen the entire dress by about 3 inches. The curved hem makes for some scandalous thigh moments on my green dress, so this length is much more modest.
  • Narrow the shoulders by 1/2 inch (using this method). My green dress actually fits very comfortably through my shoulders, but optically I feel like it makes my shoulders look wide(er). Since this is such a roomy dress I felt like I could get away with narrowing the shoulder so the shoulder seam sits in a bit more, which I find visually more flattering on me.
  • Used a different method to sew the front placket because when I followed the instructions from Burda on my first version of this dress I felt like the placket got really gross. I don't remember now exactly what I did, I just kind of made it up as I went along. I'm sure if you were to have watched me sewing the placket it would have been like watching a chimp perform brain surgery. No offense to any primate surgeons out there - but it was definitely touch and go there for awhile! But we got there in the end. I'm actually really pleased with my placket on this version.
  • I used the same wide, gathered sleeve pattern that I made for my first version, but this time I added 1/2 inch to the overall length, and changed the sleeve to an exaggerated bishops sleeve, so it's a little bit longer in length at the back of the arm than it is at the front.
  • I omitted a lot of the topstitching and interfacing on this version because I wanted a very soft, rumply look.
  • And finally, I left off the pockets. I'm generally a fan of pockets in dresses when they fit into the overall design of the dress, but I often think in-seam pockets seem like an afterthought, and they always flap around uncomfortably when you wear the dress. So out they go!

Mood Fabrics Gray Stripe Linen | Burda shirtdress

Perhaps the change I'm most pleased with is the sleeve adjustment I made.  The bishop sleeve really does fall in a very lovely way around the arm, which I think is really key for making this kind of poet sleeve work.  And it's just really fun to wear! I'm actually already imagining other patterns I can slip some bishop sleeves onto, and next time they're going to be even more exaggerated! Puffy sleeves for all!

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Perhaps after all this rambling you're wondering why I would title this post 'scorched' (or maybe you've just caught on that my post titles are only tenuously related to what I'm talking about and you've just learned to ignore them, in which case, who can blame you?) Well! That has to do with a little lesson I learned about my new iron. Oh, I never told you I got a new iron? Well I did! For Christmas I got a Sapporo gravity feed iron and it makes me feel legit. I also love knowing that I will never have to buy another iron - or at least not for many many years (fingers crossed anyway, appliances are always susceptible to giving up the ghost, but from what I can tell, these things are lifetime companions). Although it hasn't been all sunshine and roses with my new iron. There's definitely been an... adjustment period (we're still getting to know one another). This thing is just way more serious than any other sewing appliance I own! Take, for instance, the sewing of this dress. While working I decided I needed a cup of tea, which of course turned into a snack, and then I sat down to check my email, and read some blogs... Anyway! An indeterminate amount of time later I returned to my sewing room only to find that in my negligence I had flung my work-in-progress across my ironing board, leaving the corner of the dress to rest against the iron! Now, as I've said, this iron ain't your mama's Rowenta! This sucker gets hot. And the whole base gets hot, not just the underside. Also, there's no auto shut-off like there was on my old conventional iron, which means the entire time I was lolly-gagging about, my dress (which I had just painstakingly manhandled a beautiful front placket for with all the precision of a chimp surgeon) was being scorched. I've never had an iron burn anything I was working on before! While I did want to cry when I saw the ugly, brown scorch mark on the front of my new dress, in retrospect I actually feel really lucky that I didn't start a fire! 

So! I would like to offer myself up as lesson to the sewing community! Do as I say, not as I Do! Learn from my mistakes, dear ones! Take care with your works in progress, and beware hot, powerful, irons!

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And this picture is for Nick, who really liked the scale of me in amongst all these palmettos and tropical greenery. 

Until next time friends!

xx

2.04.2015

the seuss is loose

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Poly Floral | Style Arc Zoe Skirt

Welcome to winter in Galveston! Seriously, the weather in these parts has been so topsy turvy I can't even keep up. One day I'm wearing a sleeveless dress and dreamily meandering the streets on my bike on the way into work, the next day I'm bundled up in my handknitted woolies and bumping up the heat! But one thing is definitely for sure, this time of year always gets me thinking about planting things, growing things, digging my fingers into cool dirt, watching anxiously as seedlings start popping their little heads up... I guess in some parts of the continent it's still a bit early for that sort of thing, but round here we're just on that cusp before everything decides to burst into color again (color besides green, of course). 

Anyways! How's your winter going?? Hopefully if you're in the cooler climates you've managed to stay warm. As much as I love our relatively mild winters here, I do sometimes get a bit nostalgic when I see pictures of people all bundled up in their wooly layers and snow boots.  Or when I see people like Sonja making freaking fabulous faux fur coats!!! Seriously, I'm considering braving heat stroke and the proverbial sweating-of-bullets just so I can call such stunning, muppet-y outerwear mine...

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Poly Floral | Style Arc Zoe Skirt

Where was I...? Oh that's right, I have something new(ish) to show you. I say 'newish' because this was my January make for the Mood Sewing Network and chances are you may have already caught a glimpse of it, but I like to make sure my MSN makes make an appearance on my home turf as well. 

So for this go around I’ve got a fun new skirt to show you.  I’ve realized a bit of a pattern with my fabric purchases in the last year – if I don’t have a specific project in mind that I’m buying for I tend to just zero in on the wackiest fabric I can find at that moment.  This Marc Jacobs floral print, poly double-cloth-what-have-you was one of those purchases for me.  (It is now, of course, sadly sold out – but check out all these amazing Marc Jacobs fabrics from Mood’s online selection.  Marc Jacobs is seriously one of my favorite fabric designers, he just comes out with such fun stuff, like this vintage inspired floral silk, or this cuh-razy wool knit.) I know this fabric probably doesn’t look all that wacky at first glance, but trust me, its weirdness abounds…

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Poly Floral | Style Arc Zoe Skirt

First of all, you have the print. We start with a nice, sedate, oyster colored backdrop, all cool so far, right? Right. Then there’s a medium scaled floral print – also nothing amiss. But hold up! Now we take a major detour into Dr. Seuss-land because those flowers have stripes all over them. And all of a sudden a nice, normal, floral print turns a little trippy and weird. (And gives me inspiration for the title of this post - in case you were wondering. You probably weren't.)

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Poly Floral | Style Arc Zoe Skirt

Then there is the fabric itself.  The face of this fabric is a smooth, satin-like poly with a dull sheen, very soft to the touch.  This is fused to a heather gray poly knit on the backside, also smooth, but still… a knit.  Am I the only one that thinks this is weird? The fabric has no stretch and is a medium weight. I’m just so curious what this fabric was originally used for? Any ideas? One commenter on the MSN site remarked that it may have been used for a knit garment with the floral print satin used as a fun lining, which definitely would work, as this fabric could totally be reversible. It definitely made finishing my skirt really easy! I didn't worry about lining, but rather just serged all the raw edges. This step was actually almost just a formality because the raw edges didn't fray at all

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Poly Floral | Style Arc Zoe Skirt

Well, whatever the original use for this fabric was, I thought it would make an awesome pencil skirt, but I wanted a pattern with a little bit of a twist to match the fabric.  I eventually landed on the Zoe skirt from Style Arc.  I really liked the longer length and unusual style lines of this skirt – the angled side seam, and the long darts in the back most especially.  I added black faux leather piping (leftover from these pants) to the side seam to really highlight that line.

This was my first time making a Style Arc pattern.  I've always been a bit nervous about these patterns because the sizes aren't nested, so when you order the pattern you have to choose your size, and you only get that size. Doesn't leave a whole lot of wiggle room for fitting cock-ups (did I just type cock-ups??) In addition, the sewing directions are minimal. Like, the instructions for this skirt are not even 1/4 of a page. However the styles are always so intriguing, and just a little bit more fashion forward than what you normally see offered by the Big 4 pattern companies, and even many indie pattern designers, so I was just too tempted to not give it a go! 

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Poly Floral | Style Arc Zoe Skirt

Now, you'd think with all that trepidation I would have been careful to make a muslin, wouldn't you? Uh no.  I decided to throw caution to the wind and live dangerously! Jump on the back of that motorcycle and ride into the sunset... hair blowing in the breeze. Where will we stop? Who knows! Who cares! It's all about the ride, man, the riiidddeee.... Where was I? Oh yes. It probably would have been prudent for me to do a little basting test fit prior to stitching everything in place because I definitely am getting some fabric bubbling around my high hip area. This is a pretty standard issue with me and fitted skirts. I think it has something to do with the fact that I have a pretty narrow upper hip/pelvic area, but a full lower hip... I believe the conventional (and rather degrading) term for that would be saddlebags. It's an easy adjustment to make, and one that I'll make a note of if I make this pattern again. As is, I don't intend on this being an everyday type garment, so I'm not too fussed if the fit is not quite perfect.
I feel like no one is going to believe me when I say this – but I actually really agonized over print placement with this skirt.  Don't laugh! It's the truth! You see, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to attempt to print match those center front and back seams or not.  In the end I, obviously, decided not to, as I thought the visual jar of the mis-matched print along those seam lines actually fit the print better, and also helped to highlight those style lines without me putting the faux leather piping into all my seams, which I felt might be a bit much. Also... lazy.

Mood Fabrics Marc Jacobs Poly Floral | Style Arc Zoe Skirt

All in all, this was a fun, quick, and painless make, and I think the results are equally fun. Will this skirt get a ton of wear? Probably not. But it will be great to pull out for the next gallery opening or fancy event I have lined up. And I love how well it pairs with my faux fur topI actually bought this Marc Jacobs fabric at the same time that I snagged this Black and Blue Faux Fur that I used for this top thinking that they might make a cool outfit together. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that I actually saw my plan through! A rare thing, indeed!

And on a final end note - I wanted to thank you guys for all your kind, encouraging, and heartfelt comments on my last year in review post. It's such a pleasure to know that when I put something out into the world it's being received by the nicest group of people this thing we call the 'internet' has ever seen. You guys...

xx

Disclaimer: the fabric for this project was provided to me as part of my monthly fabric allowance from Mood Fabrics in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network. All other supplies, and obviously thoughts, are scrounged together using my own resources.

1.17.2015

reflections of...

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Here it is you guys! The good ol' year in review post! More than a little bit fashionably late, but what are you gonna do? That's just my style...

I haven't done one of these posts in a few years because it just didn't feel right (read: I procrastinated writing it for so long that it felt a bit odd to post it in... say... March). But I always sort of regret it. I think writing out your thoughts on past achievements and stating your goals for the future is a really great thing to do every now and again.  And the start of a new year seems as good of a time to do it as any. So without further ado, let's get this rambling post started!

Warning: I didn't really organize my thoughts too much before writing this, so be prepared for a whole mish mash of thoughts on the personal and practical, sewing and 'real life', and everything in between.

Sewing

Mood Fabrics wool and leather coat

One of the biggest changes for me in the past year, and really since I began sewing and blogging (a little over 4 years ago if you can believe that!) was becoming part of the Mood Sewing Network this past year.  Having Mood sponsor my blog has been a huge deal for me, in a very real, practical way. On a highly personal note, making money is not something that my husband and I excel at. We live very very frugally and as many of you know, sewing is not a cheap hobby (although I do believe it is a much more economical solution to clothing consumption than my previous shopping habits, but that is a conversation for another day). That being said, there have been many times throughout the past year that I've been immensely grateful for that monthly Mood fabric allowance.  Without it, I'm not sure I'd have been able to continue sewing. Or at least not with any sort of frequency.  And without sewing, I'd have no creative outlet. And without a creative outlet... I implode. And besides that, I have loved getting to try out fabrics that I would normally shy away from.  There have been so many truly kooky fabrics that have crossed my path this year, and it's made sewing a real joy.

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A few makes I am still extremely proud of are my wool and leather coat, and Nick's selvedge denim jeans. I'm still shocked by how much use I've gotten out of the Nettie bodysuit pattern (see here, here, here AND here!) and wearing this dress makes me endlessly happy.

Going forward, I'd really like to aim for two makes a month. This was my goal last year and I almost made it (22 makes total)! But I'd like to keep my sewing directed as well. It's so important to me that what I make gets worn on a weekly basis. The whole point of all of this is to make getting dressed as effortless as possible. So with that in mind, a few holes I've discovered in my wardrobe are loungewear, workout clothes, and weekend wear. Basically the boring stuff! So keep an eye on THIS space (she says sarcastically).

Mood Fabrics Geometric Embroidered Linen Skirt

Blogging

Oh blogging. First, let me say that I love my blog, and I love to blog. BUT! I always feel like a terrible blogger.  2014 was no exception.  Even though the Mood Sewing Network kept me blogging regularly at least once a month, I still always felt like I should be doing more.  It can get a bit difficult to be a part of a blogging community, even one as kind and compassionate as the sewing blogging community, and not fall into the trap of comparing yourself to everyone around you. It's something I feel like I have to be very mindful of.  Does anyone else feel like this? Please share if you do, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

This upcoming year I'm going to work on going easier on myself. Thankfully (and luckily for ya'll) most of my 'bad blogger' berating goes on behind the scenes, but I still catch myself apologizing for prolonged absences and making self-deprecating jokes about what a bad blogger I am, and I think it's time for this to stop. I think we can all agree that blogging should be enjoyable, no matter which way you choose to do it, and not yet another source of bad feelings for not measuring up in our lives! And since I'm fairly certain that these 'bad blogger' feelings are totally self derived, than it's really up to me to change my attitude. I want to have a long, healthy relationship with my blog, after all.

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This past year I gave my blog a little facelift. Actually, "facelift" is still probably too dramatic of a word for what I did... Really I sent my blog to the salon for a fresh cut and color and maybe a little makeup demo.  This was perhaps not the total site overhaul I would love to do one day, but it did make the space feel a little fresher and tidier.

In terms of content, I would love some feedback on what you guys would like to see more of here? Are you interested in more process or 'behind the scenes' posts? Life updates? I've gotten the odd request for a hair tutorial or makeup question, and while that's a bit of new territory for me, I'm happy to oblige... Let me know... should I branch out, or just keep on keeping on??

Knitting

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Oh man! This is something I'm insanely proud of! Learning to knit has been a 'bucket list' goal of mine for awhile now, and this past year, with the help of my supremely talented sister, I added it to my repertoire.  In 2014 I made two hats, one sweater (never blogged) and started another sweater. The only bad thing about knitting, as far as I'm concerned, is that it turns me into an insanely obsessive couch creature. Seriously.  I find knitting to be about 1000 x's more addicting than sewing, to the point that it's kind of dangerous. Like, if I'm not careful it might destroy all my personal relationships and land me in some kind of crafter's rehab (that exists, right? It should...)

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I'm itching to finish the sweater I started last fall  - hopefully before spring arrives so I get a chance to wear it! Although I might have already got distracted and started knitting another hat in the meantime. This is something I pretty much never do. I'm actually really hard core about finishing what I've started because I hate having half-finished things lurking about, giving me side-eye. But it felt like the right move this time. Like if I didn't take a break from the sweater than I was going to get officially burnt out, but this still keeps my mind in the knitting world... or something like that... Yeah okay, it wasn't really sound logic... and maybe I was just really excited about the yarn I got for my hat...

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My goal going forward with knitting is to average about one or two sweaters a year, depending on the size of the project, and one or two accessories like hats, mittens, or socks.  I think this should be doable... but I also have to stay mindful that I keep balance, or else come spring I might find myself melded to the couch... Another goal is to tackle some color work in the upcoming year! I think this would be a great project for some mittens (maybe these or these would be fun!)

Life and other stuff

One thing that has become a bigger part of my life in the past year is fitness. As someone who has gone out of her way to find ways to not move (surely I'm not the only person who is a champ at picking things up with my toes so I don't have to bend over? And chairs with wheels are heaven sent...Want me to come over there?? Hang on a second... *weeeeeee*!!) this is kind of a big deal.

I was actually pretty okay not being a very active person. I ride my bike at a snails pace the two miles of very flat road to and from work daily, I mean... what do you want from me? But this coming year I'm turning 30. Which is also okay by me. What wasn't okay was the fact that I was starting to feel like I was turning 50. Oy vey! My hip! My knees! My hip and my knees! Couple that with my propensity for shuffling around in my bathrobe and slippers and my fondness for knitting while watching British murder mysteries on Netflix and I felt like my family might start sitting me down for conversations about how they think I might be 'more comfortable' in a retirement home.

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My picture game has seriously devolved in this post... 
 So around the end of last summer I began to try to incorporate more movement into my day beyond my half-hearted attempts at yoga, which usually resulted in me laying around in savasana more than actually saluting any suns... I decided I wanted to try, like really try, no excuses, to make fitness a part of my life. I always felt like any attempts at exercise I made previously were always done in the spirit of punishment - like "Holy Cow! You ate all the candy corn again?!?!?! To the treadmill with you!!" So I decided that was the first thing that had to go. I wasn't going to exercise because I felt a little bloated. I was just going to exercise. Every day. No matter what I did or didn't eat, or how my clothes fit. It was just going to be something I do. Like brushing my teeth. Which I know sounds really simple, but it was actually a huge mental shift for me.

I always hesitate writing about any of this on the blog because I don't want to come across as though I've 'figured it all out'. That's not the case. I just felt like I wanted to write it out so I don't forget. And because it's become a part of my life and I like talking about it. So if you're interested in hearing more, I'd be happy to write more, but otherwise - Note to self: Keep working out. You like it. It makes you feel good. It also makes you a much nicer person to be around.

Phew! Long post you guys! The crazy thing is, I could write so much more! But I think I touched on all the highlights.

I hope this didn't bore everyone to tears! Is it too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year? Probably, right? Well whatever....

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Oh! And I wanted to leave you with this, because... reflections. And Diana. Duh.


xx

1.05.2015

furry

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

Oh my gosh you guys HAPPY 2015!!! I hope everyone had an amazing holiday season, and a fantastic start to your new year!

As you might be able to tell from the lack of my usual greenery in these photos, I've actually been traveling for the past few weeks and only just got back home.  Whilst visiting family and indulging in some cozy holiday relaxation, I decided to unplug from the internet and social media for a bit, so my apologies if I've been a bit MIA in the blogosphere as of late. Since getting back I've enjoyed perusing all your reflective year in review posts - so much great food for thought! I'm feeling inspired to put together my own for this year... look out...

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

In the midst of my travels, my December make for the Mood Sewing Network went live, and then promptly disappeared. I believe they've been switching over their server over there, so if you saw some posts pop up in your feed but couldn't get to them that would be why! And it looks like things are on the mend now...

This was a quick and simple make this month since I spent the latter part of December on the road, tragically separated from my machines. However, I really think the fabric here is the star of the show, elevating this from a simple raglan top to a special statement piece.

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

Holiday sewing always makes me feel weirdly anxious.  Being the willing citizen of the internet that I am, I feel like I get bombarded in the weeks leading up to the holidays with beautiful examples of party dresses, articles on how to put together my best holiday party look, and advice on how to juggle my holiday party circuit without getting burnout. Question: Who is having all these fabulous holiday parties and why is no one inviting me?!? Are there really people that have so many parties to go to that they get burnout?! I mean, I know I'm not the most social of butterflies (*cough*understatement*cough*) but, like, is the whole world hanging out without me? Yes. Yes it appears they are.

So because I am a mindless automaton, I think holidays = parties, therefore, holiday sewing must equal party dresses, right? And then Practical Sallie mule-kicks me in the back of the head and reminds me that the fanciest party I'm going to involves catching up with my Mom over a cup of tea. While I'm sure she wouldn't blink an eye if I decided to curl up on the couch in a taffeta and lace confection to watch It's a Wonderful Life, the whole scenario leaves me feeling oddly itchy...

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

So I put my social anxiety back on the shelf (where it belongs) and tried to come up with a compromise that feels a little special, but still allows me to kick back and relax without having to don pantyhose (because...ugh). 

And that, my best beloveds, is how this little furry top came to be. Aren't you glad you asked? What? You mean you didn't?? Hmm...

Okay! Back to the matter at hand, and all joking aside, I've been digging the whole 'fancy sweatshirt' look that has been a bit of a trend for awhile now, and thought that a faux fur sweatshirt might be just the ticket to fancying up what is, essentially, loungewear. And I just happened to have Grainline's Linden Sweatshirt pattern arrive on my doorstep not too long ago, so I thought I'd give it a whirl!

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

I ordered this Estate Blue and Black Faux Fur from Mood Fabrics online a couple of months ago with absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it. And when it came I couldn't stop petting it. No exaggeration folks, it is so SO soft. Like, I-want-to-make-footy-pajamas-for-my-dog-out-of-it-so-she-can-be-this-soft soft. That's right, I want to cover my furry animal in faux fur because.... soooooffffttt

Did I mention it's soft?

It also has a very short 'hair' and a slightly crushed surface, reminding me a bit more of velvet than of fur.  And, true confessions, I actually have a pretty big fear of working with velvet, or really all napped fabrics, including, I suppose, faux fur.  That's right. I have a furry phobia. (Let's all agree to just not google that last sentence, mmkay?) I mean, THE PILE you guys!! What if I crush the pile??!!! Oh the things we sewists worry over...

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

Isn't that fabric gorgeous!? That subtle blue and black animal print... that sheen... that texture! Sigh...

So how did I handle this furry fabric?? Well, here's my little secret guys: I did absolutely nothing different than I usually do with a woven fabric.  That's right.  That's my "expert" advice to anyone out there who might share my fear of faux fur - just treat it like you would any other fabric. Of course, if you want to get technical, there was also a fair amount of finger-crossing and making burnt offerings to the Fabric Gods going on, as well... I know, I know... I'd never ask me for advice either...

Okay, seriously, this fabric is 100% rayon, which I knew going into it. It has a very firmly woven backing, a crisp drape, and as I mentioned, a short hair.  I simply cut my pieces, as you do, sewed them on my regular machine, then serged the edges together to prevent any raveling.  I'll probably be finding little blue and black hairs all over my cutting table and in the gears of my serger for the next eon, but them's the breaks. I used a medium hot iron with a little steam on the back of the fabric whenever possible, and employed the services of a press cloth if I had to press on the front. No drama.

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

The pattern required some tweaking to make it work in this faux fur because the Linden Sweatshirt is designed for knits.  But, you know guys, I like to live dangerously.  I take fabric suggestions as just that: suggestions. Obviously a knit would be perfect for the Linden, but I felt like this slightly crisper woven would work too, given the easy sweatshirt fit of the pattern, and would make for a more boxy shape.  Plus, I always feel like Jen's patterns are so expertly drafted that they really hold up well to experimenting like this. The only place where my little experiment totally backfired was at the neckline.  The fabric stood away from my body in a most unflattering way.  So I took two little darts out of the neckline at the mid-point of the raglan sleeve and problem solved! The actual raglan lines are a little puffier than perhaps I would like, but at the point I tried the top on (obviously there were no muslins being utilized here) it would have required too much finagling to fix the issue, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to move my arms if I did. So we're living with a bit of poof. We're okay with that.

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

I made View B of the Linden, which has a cropped hem and a shorter sleeve.  To keep things on the luxe side I used bias strips of black silk charmeuse to bind the neckline and as a facing to finish the sleeves and hem. It's a very small touch, but it feels very luxurious.  I hand stitched everything in place on the wrong side so there are no visible stitches when the garment is being worn.  The seamlines really sink into this faux fur and become nearly invisible so it probably wouldn't have been a big deal, but I really wanted a clean looking finish and didn't want to chance it.

Mood Fabrics Faux Fur | Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

I really love the finished look! The shorter length of both the hem and the sleeves make for a really cool layering piece, while the faux fur still keeps me snuggly and warm.  I'm also such a sucker for playing with opposing textures this time of year and I love how this pairs with my faux leather leggings.  All in all, this was such a simple make, but it's also such a great statement piece. Definitely a nice, subtle way to dress up my low-key, party-free holidays! 

I really hope y'all had a wonderful holiday, that you got to spend some time with those you love and make a few memories to carry you over till next year.  As I get along in years I really start to cherish the holidays as a time to come together and show my love and gratitude for all the important people in my life.  So excuse me for being sentimental, dear readers, but I'd just like to take a moment to say how much I've appreciated each and every one of you this past year. You guys are where it's at.  I'm sure I'll be back with more new-year-reflections, so I'll keep the sap short for now - just know there's more where THAT came from!

Love you guys...
xx

11.26.2014

wool weather

Mood Fabric Wool Sweater Knit Saiph Dress 

Howdy Y'all! Well, it's finally sweater weather here in East Texas. Sorta. Off and on at least! Which means that it's time for me to do what I do every year around this time: freak out about my utter lack of cold weather clothing and start eyeing the blankets on the back of the couch maniacally, wondering if I can quickly drape and belt them into some passable semblance of clothing! Every year I feel completely taken off guard when the mercury decides to dip below 60 degrees (that's about 15C to all my non 'Merican friends).  I think having 9 months out of the year with triple digit temps does something to your brain...

That's why this month my Mood Sewing Network makes are all about quick, but warm, wooly dresses. I needed something warm, and I needed something warm now.  (Before the weather decides to return to balmy temperatures in a few days time!)

Mood Fabric Wool Sweater Knit Saiph Dress

My first dress was made using this thick and fuzzy Designer Wool Sweater Knit from Mood Fabrics online, which is, of course, no longer available. Those wool knits go fast dudes - my advice is if you see one you like, pounce on it, like a tiger, regardless of the seasonal appropriateness of it.  For example, I spotted this fabric back in early August - when just blinking put one in danger of overheating - and I think I must have been daydreaming about cooler weather because I had to have this fabric then. At that moment. I think Nick was a bit concerned when the box came and I proudly pulled out my yardage and started crooning over it's springy, scratchy, wooly goodness. Of course, maybe it wasn't the fact that I was buying wool sweater knits in the middle of August that caused his brow to furrow, but rather the fabric itself. It's a little bit like an 80's Cosby sweater thrown in a blender... I mean, what is with those colors?! And why am I kinda obsessed with them?

Mood Fabric Wool Sweater Knit Saiph Dress

Despite my love for this fabric, I had a bit of a hard time deciding what to do with it. It's quite thick, and scratchy, which means that whatever I made had to be roomy enough to wear something underneath, but not so big that I end up looking like the Michelin Man rolled in mud. I settled on variation 2 of the Saiph Tunic from Papercut Patterns because I had made one last year out of a medium weight black wool knit that I loved, but that sadly died a tragic death in the dryer (*sobs* R.I.P.) and I felt that this pattern worked well with heavier weight fabrics with a stiffer drape.

Mood Fabric Wool Sweater Knit Saiph Dress

Because this fabric was pretty lofty, I ended up changing a couple of things about the Saiph Tunic in order to keep bulk to a minimum.  First I left off the neck facing and instead just simply turned the neckline in 5/8" and topstitched it with a double needle. This made for a slightly wider neckline, but I'm okay with that.  I also left off the front in-seam pockets, which I'll admit was partly because of the bulk issue (4 layers of this fabric is a lot) and partly out of laziness.  Although I'm regretting not trying to find a thinner substitute fabric that would have worked, because I keep trying to dip my hands into non-existant pockets! I also omitted the back neck button closure because I remembered from my last version that the dress was plenty big enough to slip on and off over my head.

Mood Fabric Wool Sweater Knit Saiph Dress

Despite the thickness of this wool sweater knit, I had no problem zipping through it with my serger, which I used for all the major seams.  The cuffs and hem were stitched in place using my double needle on my regular machine.

I wasn't sure how I would feel about this dress, but after wearing it around the house and for pictures, I have to admit I'm fairly smitten! I love that the boxy shape is tempered by the short hem, and the horizontal seam at the drop waist does wonderful things visually to the crazy print.

Mood Fabrics Wool Knit Nettie Dress

But, you know, sometimes you just don't want to feel bulky all winter long! In which case, let me introduce you to my second wool knit dress for this month! This was made using a smooth, mid-weight wool jersey, with a nice amount of crosswise stretch, in a bitter chocolate color (I'm also not seeing this exact knit online anymore, but this gorgeous deep maroon jersey is catching my eye!)

Mood Fabrics Wool Knit Nettie Dress

Unlike the first sweater knit, this wool jersey was soft enough to wear against bare skin, so I thought a body-hugging silhouette might be really flattering. It's also thick enough and completely opaque so I don't have to worry about every little lump and bump showing through.  For this dress I used Closet Case Files Nettie Bodysuit & Dress pattern.  This pattern has so many great options for variations.  For this version I decided to make it a dress (obviously) and went with the high neckline for both the front and the back, and the long sleeve.  I was hoping the modest neckline might add a counterbalance to the curve-hugging silhouette.

Mood Fabrics Wool Knit Nettie Dress

This dress came together in no time at all. Of course it's a very simple design, but still, I think I wound up sewing the majority of this one morning before work! And I love the results. This dress is just so easy to throw on and yet still look like you tried. It's also warm, which was my main motive, and I think the bitter chocolate color is a nice, unexpected alternative to the usual black. I'm already eyeing more appropriate wool jersey to make more of these, because I could basically live in them all winter long.

Mood Fabrics Wool Knit Nettie DressMood Fabrics Wool Knit Nettie Dress

The only downside is that it attracts fuzzies and hair like it's its job! So please excuse all the lint in these closeup shots.  As far as construction goes, I just zoomed all the major seams through my serger.  The neckline was finished with self fabric binding, and the sleeves and cuffs were once again hemmed using my twin needle.  Easy peasy!

Mood Fabrics Wool Knit Nettie Dress

And that's it! Two quick and simple wool dresses to keep me warm... for as many weeks as winter decides to last! Best of all, both of these dresses go really well with these mulberry colored tights I pulled out of the depths of my sock drawer the other day, and immediately proclaimed them the perfect colored tights for Winter 2014/2015! Okay, okay... maybe they are just the only tights I still own that haven't been shredded to bits. Yet.

What are you sewing to keep warm or cool, depending on your hemisphere?

I hope all my friends here in the States have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving week, and for all my international buddies, Happy Sewing, as always!

xx