Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Flint wide-legged trousers

I've finished teaching until the Fall (!!), but a few months ago, I was in need of some work-appropriate items.  Enter the Flint trouser by Megan Nielsen.  This style is a bit of a departure for my normal slim-legged pant wardrobe, but it's kind of refreshing (and certainly comfortable).  
The pattern itself is simple, as far as pants go.  There isn't a zipper, so to open the waistband, there's a clever opening system (buttons at the side, which transition into the pocket). 
Since I was kind of loving the sailor-inspired buttons on the side, I matched them on the other side, complete with non-functional "buttonholes".

The legs are definitely wide, and the width starts at the butt.  I need to somehow reduce the crotch length a bit for the next go around, since there's a little *extra* fabric in there.

And for the record, the back seam is sewn correctly--I must just have shifted them around a bit, so it looks funny in the photos!
 The fabric (stretch double weave cotton in Charcoal) is from Hart's and is really quite perfect for this particular style.  It has some weight, but is still a bit drapey.  I definitely enjoyed sewing with it and it's very lovely to wear.
Overall, I like the pattern a LOT.  There are some minor fit issues, but the style is fun and different and a good addition to my wardrobe.  I'm looking forward to trying the shorts version, perhaps with the waist bow, for the summer!

Friday, April 06, 2018

Goldfinch and snap pea handknit sweaters

Somehow, back in December, I got hooked on knitting.  Until then, knitting had been my "craft of last resort", reserved for when I wasn't near my sewing machine and just desperate to create something.  So in December, I started on a hat for my sister-in-law on a flight home from Alaska and from that moment on, I haven't been without an on-going knitting project.  Since then, I've made 7 hats and these two sweaters (with a third about 1/2 done).
I made this first one after discovering Quince & Co yarn company.  Quince & Co is a Maine-based company that sells US grown and spun yarns, and their aesthetic is just right for my style.  After perusing their patterns, I found the Lesley sweater, a perfectly simple pullover by Hannah Fettig, and bought the recommended yarn.  The sweater is knit from the top down in the round, with no seams to sew (wahoo!).  I increased the length of the hem ribbing, but otherwise, I followed the pattern exactly for size 32.
The yarn (Osprey) is an Aran-weight wool, which is super quick to knit (1 week from start to finish on this one).  I chose the "Goldfinch" color because in the depths of winter I was dying for some spring.  The yarn is soft and squishy, and not at all itchy!  So lovely.
The back neckline is shaped with short rows to make sure it goes up a little higher on the neck than the front.  I hadn't knit short rows before, but it was no big thing.
I'm seriously in love with my Goldfinch sweater and have sewn two skirts to coordinate with it!  It has taken actual effort to not purchase all the colors and knit up a ton of these.
For my second sweater, and with only 2 weeks until the day, I suddenly *needed* a green sweater for St. Patrick's Day.  So, I purchased the worsted-weight Lark yarn (in snap pea) to knit up the Petra sweater by Pam Allen.  
Again, this sweater is knit from the top down on circular needles, so no seams at all!  (Seamless circular construction is almost a requirement for a new project now.)  This one took me 1 week and 1 day to finish.  Again I added length to the sleeve and hem ribbing as my only alteration.
The boatneck goes a little higher in the front and lower in the back than I would like, but I've worn it with a button down underneath and that works well.  
These are kind of "faux" cables, made without a cable needle.  So pretty! 
Since these two sweaters almost felt like knitting cheating (it doesn't feel right to knit a sweater in a week!), I tackled a much more involved project for my third sweater.  I'm using a wool-silk fingering weight yarn and lace pattern for the Florence cardigan.  My goal is to be done by Mother's Day, and it will be tight!

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Sweater knit skater dresses

It's been a while, yeah?  Between a busy teaching quarter, broken sewing machine, and a newfound obsession with knitting, I haven't been sewing as much as usual.  Which isn't to say I haven't been sewing (there will be several upcoming posts of my past garments), it's just slowed down a bit.  It's actually a little ironic, since I made a loose "resolution" to not purchase any clothing that I could sew (which is *almost* everything) for the year. 
Anyhow, for my winter work attire, I thought some sweater dresses would be useful.  I absolutely fell in L<3VE with these jacquard sweater knits from Hamburger Liebe (navy & pumpkin and wine & pink fabric, purchased at L'oiseau Fabrics) and a skater dress felt like a good way to showcase them.  Both fabric are the same type of knit and both are thick and lovely, with good drape but not too heavy.  They wash beautifully, too! 
I made the navy & pumpkin one first.  It works well with tights and boots, and I have a cropped cardigan that I wear when it's chilly (which is always in my teaching lab). 

Here's a closer view of the fabric.  Isn't that pattern the best?  And the colors?  Faves.
Both dresses were sewn using the same pattern, a personalized version of the Bronx dress from SBCC.  I've used this pattern a ton and just love the simple, yet flattering shape of the fit and flare.  It's pretty ideal for work and non-work.  
The second version feels a little "flashier" with the bold herringbone geometric, but I love it just the same.  

I did my best to match up the vertical lines at the waist seam, but the same is curved on the skirt, so it's a bit sketchy toward the side seams.
Since the hems aren't really stretched much when wearing, I went ahead and sewed a straight stitch, which worked just fine.  I definitely didn't feel like busting out my coverstitch machine for these quick projects.  
While the fabric has some stretch, it's not quite enough to use like a rib knit, so I topstitched the neck band, to ensure it would lay flat.  

Alas, no pockets on either dress.  They are definitely missed, but it would just be way too bulky/ lumpy.  Trade-offs!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Knit slouchy beret

Somehow, knitting got bumped up on my projects list this winter.  I'm not sure what got me started, but over the past month and a half, I've made a hat for two of my sisters-in-law (both unphotographed!), a baby hat for my husband's colleague, a hat for my brother (ungifted at this point, so no spoiler photos yet!), and two hats for myself.  I had to finish those projects before "letting" myself buy yarn to make a sweater (this sweater, from the book Home & Away). 
This hat was made from the pattern "Strawberry Slouch Hat" in Classic Elite Fresco (wool, alapaca, and angora, color Parchment).  I love the simple eyelets throughout and slouchy beret look.  I reduced the length of the ribbed brim, but otherwise stuck to the pattern.  I didn't count the number of hours, but the project didn't take too long despite using sport yarn and small needles!
I made a little i-cord loop at the top, just for fun (it wasn't included in the pattern).
I know I had promised two hats in my last post, but the second hat was just too darn big.  So, I unraveled the whole thing, had to wait a few days for wool wash to arrive in the mail, and today finally washed and hung the skein to remove the "ramen noodle effect" of having been knit and blocked as a hat.  I will absolutely reknit this one, but in the meantime, here's its undoing:
Isn't that yarn luscious?  It's Dream in Color Classy with Cashmere in colorway Milky Spite.  Can't wait to reknit it!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Bowline sweater 2.0

This is another repeat, but it's been over a year and a half since I made the first version.  I'm always on the lookout for a different pattern--something that is interesting and unusual, but still wearable.  The first time I made the Bowline sweater from Papercut Patterns, I wasn't sure I had constructed it properly, so I wanted to give it another go.  To tell the truth, I'm still not sure I've sewn the pleat over the shoulder correctly again! 
The fabric is a nice medium weight cotton/ lycra  (on sale right now, and no, I'm not an affiliate!) from Girl Charlee.  I originally bought it to make a bodysuit, and it would be a good weight for that too, and I may have enough leftover for a short-sleeved version.  
I sized down to an XXS from my first version and the fit is a bit better.  I still feel like I look a bit pregnant (I'm NOT!) from the side because of the excess fabric from the pleating, but it's not too terrible.  Actually, this top would make an awesome maternity shirt in the early months!
The top is comfortable and comes together pretty quickly (after studying the instructions for a while!), but I'm not sure I love it.  The pleating doesn't lay in a way that is pleasing to me, but if it's on my body and I'm not looking in a mirror, I guess I don't care so much.  Has anyone else had better luck?
I've been on a knitting kick lately (easier to do while vegging on the couch in the winter!), so you can spot one of my creations in the photos here.  I have to block a second hat, but then I'll give the details of both.  :)

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Party skirt in silk gazar with drapey wool top

Back in Paris, I had the opportunity to visit a special Balenciaga exhibit at musée Bourdelle.  The theme was black: the garments were primarily black, usually displayed in black boxes, and some were even behind black curtains that you had to lift to view the dresses.  The pieces were stunning, naturally, but what was particularly intriguing to me was that many of them were made of silk gazar (a fabric invented by Balenciaga).  Despite taking two Fabric analysis course and have decades of sewing and touching fabric experience, I had never even heard of silk gazar.  The instructor in Paris described the fabric as being "silent".  Whether that was a translational issue or truly the fabric made no noise when the wearer moved, I didn't know at the time, but I felt compelled to find out.
A quick search at Mood revealed some options and I chose this deep navy blue silk gazar.  The fabric reminds me entirely of fine linen with it's crispness and hand, though it doesn't wrinkle quite as badly.  It was slightly translucent, but the structure and body of the fabric was lovely.  Apparently, it softens considerably when washed, but I wanted to keep the stiffness for my garment.
Originally, I had planned this outfit for Christmas, but when that didn't happen, I hoped to sew it for my husband and my anniversary on the 28th of December, which also didn't pan out.  I ended up sewing the skirt the day before New Year's Eve (and the top on NYE) for that night out and then for my brother's wedding a few days later.
I went with this simple box-pleated middy-length skirt from Just Patterns.  I sewed a size 36, but I should have cut a size 34 (or maybe smaller).  I ended up omitting the pockets when I had to resew the side seams (poor decision, especially when I had to carry tissues at the wedding!).  Since the fabric was a bit see-through and lightweight for the winter,  I made a simple straight lining (with some tucks at the waistband)  with what I had around that matched, which was a 4-ply silk I've had for a while.  Kind of a decadent lining, but it worked perfectly well.   The pattern was well-drafted and for only $3 for the digital copy, it's a complete steal.

For the blouse, I've recently become a bit obsessed with the color emerald (you know, 5 years after it was the "Pantone color of the year" :) and found the lovely stretch wool jersey.  The fabric was ideal for a drapey top, so I used the draped bodice of the Bronx dress pattern by SBCC, extending the length to hip-level.  I should have made the top a bit more form-fitting, but it works well enough.
I'm pretty much ecstatic about this outfit.  It feels fun and fancy (especially the length of the skirt with some kitten-heel booties), but not too frilly, and the colors are so festive.  One issue though, I can't do a whole lot of eating while wearing the skirt--that waistband is *quite* fitted.  

Oh!  In case you've read all this way to find out if silk gazar is silent....well, it's definitely quieter than you'd expect for a fabric this crisp, but I'm not sure I'd call it silent.  It's still pretty rad, though, and I'd happily work with it again!