Summer Sewjo

July has been one exhausting month! I signed up for a fitness program called StepBet which means I’ve been spending a couple hours a day walking instead of knitting and sewing. My poor hobbies feel so sad and neglected! It has also been quite hot so I am much more drained by all the physical activity than I would be in cooler conditions. All griping aside, I’ve enjoyed making walking more of a priority in my life. Just less to post here!

Anyways, I got to a place where I just needed to make something to get out of my rut. I’d made a few toddler nightgowns after retrieving my serger from timeout, but the one thing I tired to make for myself went terribly wrong. Some day I’ll finish it and post here, but I can’t bring myself to work on it at the moment.

And while I love a light weight woven summer dress, I found I was reaching for my knit dresses much more frequently. Who wants to iron when it is 90F in your house? So off I went to find enough yardage for a sleeveless summer dress, but I quickly found I only had one dress quantity washed and ready to go. Boo! So I pulled my sole pre-washed fabric, tossed it in the dryer to get the wrinkles out, and started cutting.

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What emerged was another Washington Dress hack. You may remember I made several long sleeve versions last winter, and thankfully the sleeveless version is just as nice to wear. With binding around the armholes, it feels a lot like one of my favorite tank tops from Target only dress-ified.

The process of making this wasn’t without drama. First I forgot to cut the back on the fold, so there is a big seam running down the center back and that also means the back is about 1/2 inch narrower than it should be.

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Because I used a 100% cotton knit (Alison Glass) there wasn’t enough stretch to the neckband as drafted. I had to cut out my first attempt and try again. The lack of stretch is also why the whole top feels a little more snug than usual and the armholes are a tad on the tight side. For the next version I’m going to pull out my favorite tank top and compare the armholes to see what adjustments might work.

Now I’m a little sad I let this fabric sit for so many months! It was originally purchased to make a Tiramisu, but lately I’m finding I like sleeveless dresses a lot more than short sleeves. Also I knew I was going to need to adjust the Tiramisu pattern, but I did not have the brain space to tackle pattern adjustments at the moment. Oh well!

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And because I always like to see how fabrics wear throughout the day, here is another photo taken at 6pm on a hot hot day. Fabric held up incredible well. Way better than I excepted. I thought it might stretch out quite a lot by the end of the day, but it held shape really nicely!

My little quilt shop is going out of business, so last weekend I picked up another dress quantity of Alison Glass knits in Peony to make a second version. This only took about 2 hours to make including cutting it out and dealing with all my errors. Sergers for the win! I stuck mine right in front of our wall mounted A/C unit so I was nice and cool. I serged all the main seams and only had to sweat at my regular machine to attach the facings and do the top stitching. Yay!

(#photobylu, my 4 year old was the only person available to take photos, so apologizes on their quality.)

Summer and Guiding

Oh hi! I guess I disappeared for longer than I expected. Mostly we’ve been busy with a staycation, a family reunion, and a new job for my husband, but yesterday I spent my afternoon volunteering so here I am to talk about a dress I actually made last summer.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I volunteer at Heritage Square, a museum in Los Angeles that resembles a Victorian neighborhood. I’ve been there for nearly 6 years and I have to say I really enjoy it. Once a month I give tours and at first I felt like such an impostor, but then I realized how good it has been for my public speaking skills and how much it has become like a second home.

The pretty costumes don’t hurt either.

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So here is my summer tour dress!

Like I mentioned I actually made this last summer. I spent months obsessing over which pattern and fabric to use only to finish the dress right before the weather turned cool. Whoops!

That’s the hard part of making historical garments…the self doubt. I am far from an expert. When I first started volunteering I had no clue. Polyester everything because it was what I could afford. Then I went and had 2 babies and nothing fit anymore.

So a year ago I decided to make something simple, summery, and easy that I could wear in the long hot summer season. Also a dress that didn’t use dozens of yards of fabric so I could afford to make it.

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I also opted for something nursing friendly.

Enter the 1912 kimono dress pattern from Sense & Sensibility Patterns. It was everything I was looking for. Simple to sew, easy to wear, and with easy nursing access.

And after sweating, stressing, and asking a few people for help I settled on using Robert Kaufman lawn as the main fabric.

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One year later I am happy with those choices. It took me so long to make that I skipped the nursing option. Otherwise there are a few fit issues, like it’s a little big through the upper back and the sleeves are an awkward length, but it is so easy to wear.

As you can see I added yards of insertion lace to make the pattern more like the lingerie dresses that were so popular through the 1910s.

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I also used 2 colors of fabric, an ivory and a soft peach. Both were common colors to wear 100 years ago.

And confession…I don’t wear Edwardian underwear underneath my dress. I’m sure historical clothing experts notice. I should wear a corset underneath. I know I know. I just don’t own one for the right time period so for now I skip it and only wear a chemise (and modern underwear). Eventually I’ll buy one because having a few different corsets would be helpful, but they are also costly to purchase with custom measurements. Oh yeah…I guess I should maybe make one? I’ll mull it over for next summer.

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And here is my dress last summer with a much younger Charlie! You might notice the hat looks different. That’s because this spring I tried my hand at millinery. I took this same hat and redecorated it to match the dress. Many new skills in this outfit!!! I also received some new shoes for Christmas that coordinate perfectly.

So now I ponder what I’d like to make next. I should probably make something a mourning dress. We do an event every Halloween that explores the mourning customs of the Victorian era and my old outfit is super tight. At least for that one I have the underwear!

Beach Babies

Nothing like a wave of 110F+ weather to tell you it is officially summer! Until 2 weeks ago I’d never ever made a bathing suit. Now I’ve made 3!

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Yep, we all match. I started with my bathing suit then had enough fabric left over to make each of my girls a suit too! No losing these two at the pool.

I wrote up a long post for the Curvy Sewing Collective all about my suit (It can be found here), so over here I’m going to talk about the kid suits and how my tankini has held up to real life.

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Lu has pretty much asked to wear hers every single day. “It has a skirt momma!” A dream come true to for my girly girl. The pattern is the Sun n’ Fun Swimsuit and Leotard from Peekaboo Patterns. I’m still kind of mad at them for a shady deal at Quiltcon this year, but I put my anger aside because they had a ton of cute kids swimsuit options.

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To add a skirt I roughly followed the tutorial from Sewlovele. I had SO MUCH FABRIC left from my swimsuit that cutting out a full circle skirt for each kid was no problem. In fact, I think the was Sewlovele constructs the pattern is better than the Peekaboo directions. It leaves a seam free finish to the inside that is much more comfortable to wear.

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The fabric is probably this one from Michael Levine’s. I bought it in person so I’m not 100% sure. It is super drapey and lovely to wear. Though I did line all our suits in power mesh because that’s what I had on hand. For fun I used the reverse side for the main body of both kid bathing suits and the shiny side for the skirts and bow in the back. It’s hard to see both in pictures and in person, but still a detail that makes me happy.

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The downside to lining the suits with power mesh is they aren’t as stretchy. Lu’s is a size 4T and Charlie’s is a size 18 months. Both kids are just growing into those sizes, but the bathing suits perfectly fit right now. I might need to make them each a new suit by the end of summer if they grow at all.

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We all have worn out new bathing suits to the pool with great success. Then today we went to the beach to beat the heat and the suits held up well to the sun and the sand too!

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Including mine. When I wrote my pattern review I was kind of sad I hadn’t made a bikini. I feel like this suit hides my waist (and smallest part). But then today wearing my tankini to the beach I was able to fully appreciate the coverage Lisette 6360 provides. Mostly that I didn’t need to sunscreen my very very pale midsection. I also felt really good walking the beach and not like I needed to hide my body. I don’t generally feel that way at the pool when I’m wrangling two kids, but a beach full of college co-eds is a different story.

Now I have  conquered making swimsuits I feel like I could sewing anything! What should I make next?

 

 

Upton 2.0

This week I decided to tackle the Upton Dress again. I thought my last version was too big so this time I went down one full size to a 12 in the shoulders/bust and a 14 waist/hip. But before I talk about the outcome, can we admire my fabric choice?

I looooooooove this fabric, a cotton sateen I bought on sale at JoAnn’s. It’s not often that I find something so wonderful in that big box filled with disgruntled employees. In fact I’d been all ready to compare JoAnn’s to purgatory, but then I had the best visit I’ve ever had. I found this fabric, the customer services was down right friendly, and they actually had almost everything I needed in stock.

Anyways this is a stretch sateen. It was marked hand wash/dry on low and I almost passed it by because I’m not hand washing my dresses. But it was inexpensive and I decided it wouldn’t be a huge loss if I washed it and ruined the fabric. Thankfully it survived the maiden journey just fine.

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And the dress turned out quite lovely, but I have a couple grumbles. This is the smallest size through the shoulders and still feels wide. I know others loved the open neckline, but its maybe a touch too much for me. It is still a hair too wide in the back.

My other grumble is the skirt feels much narrower than 64 3/8″ through the hip. I roughly measured and it came up more like 58″, but I’m not going to stress about it. As you can see in the photos it looks good. But it feels constricting though the stomach even though the fabric has good stretch for a woven. What is likely the issue is that my hips go out in a dramatic fashion. Much faster than the hip curve of the pattern. And most of the tester versions I’ve seen are on ladies who have slimmer hips than my build. So the gored version just isn’t as nice to wear as the pleated skirt.

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The back turned out totally awesome. I’ve really been nailing the invisible zip installation recently and I’m a huge fan of the V neckline in the back.

So I’m going to wear this a few more time and see how I feel before I made another. I have a few yards of some linen that would be just perfect for this pattern, but I want to feel more confident before breaking it out. Maybe the solution is a 12/14 back and a 12/16 front. I think also a different dart shape for the front lower bust darts. All easy fixes when I’m ready.

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Also, I realize I’m nit picking. This dress is about 1000% better than anything I could buy commercially. We went to a party last night and someone who works in fashion complimented my dress! It was really exciting.

 

 

2nd Annual Anniversary Project

You may remember last year I knit a beautiful sweater in the color of my wedding dress. This year year I decided to continue the trend with my 2nd Annual Anniversary Project.

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It has been so fun working on these projects around our wedding anniversary. A time for reflection on how far we’ve come and where we’re headed next. Or how we’re maintaining our sanity while our children create chaos around us! You know, life.

What project could possibly go with a 6th wedding anniversary? Apparently this is the candy/iron/wood anniversary depending on which list your reference. Hmmm, how about socks? They were knit on carbon fiber needles…

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This is the first pair of socks I’ve made for myself and only my second pair ever (first pair being slipper socks for my husband last Christmas). I scoffed at sock knitting for many years, but I have to admit it was FUN.

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The pattern I used was Wendy Knit’s Fingering Weight Toe-Up Socks With Gusset and Slip-Stitch Heel. Long name, but it was recommended to me as a good basic toe-up sock pattern.

Can we just stop and admire the stripe matching for a moment? I suppose one advantage to knitting your first socks after becoming a fairly competent knitter means you have plenty of practice keeping your gauge consist

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I didn’t totally follow Wendy’s pattern. I decided if I was going to knit socks I was going to do everything I could to get the fit right. So I cast on for the smallest size and knit asymmetrical toes. This is my favorite feature! I did it by only working 3 sets of increases on the big toe side and all the other increases on the baby toe side of my foot. The instep of the socks were a tad bit snug, so I added 3 sets of increases just on the top half. I then decreased those 3 sets of increases out again at the ankle after discovering the ankles were all saggy.

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Lastly I worked increases every 6 rows on the back side to accommodate my muscular calves as other hand knit socks I own (generously knit by friends) are a tad tight there.

I really wanted to use up every single bit of yarn that I could, but ultimately I still have a little left over. It was a good effort for a first time. Next time I think I’ll pre-split the yarn into two even balls before I start knitting.

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The yarn is fabulous. It’s from the company White Birch Fiber Arts and the colorway is called Royal We. Perfect match to our wedding colors don’t you think? I have another skein in Release the Kraken that I’ll knit up eventually. Socks really do make perfect purse knitting! All those knitters weren’t kidding when they recommended socks as a travel project.

Next year looks like it’s the wool anniversary, so hmm…sounds like I should go big! Good thing I have a whole year to plan.

 

Loominous Upton!

Was there anyone more excited about Cashmerette’s new pattern, the Upton Dress? Probably not. I was stoked. The Appleton and Washington (hacked) have become wardrobe staples for me so I was thrilled to see her come out with a woven pattern. I have had such trouble getting dress bodices to fit lately that I thought surely this was my ticket to the perfect fit.

And the end result is not quite there. Over the Memorial Day weekend I made up my first version using the same size as my previous Cashmerette patterns and it is too big. Womp womp.

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This is a size 14G graded out to a 16 for the waist and hips. Looking at the back of the envelope I’d been worried the dress would be too tight if I made the size 12G, but I should have just followed directions!

Even with adding additional darts to the back neckline there is too much fabric. The neckline is too wide! Just really too much fabric everywhere. But before moving on can we talk about the paid matching. I matched the shit out of that plaid and this is the best invisible zipper installation ever.

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I like the way this dress looks so much better with the extra fabric pinched out so I suppose I’ll suck it up and unpick the lining so I can take it in at the side seams. I couldn’t face it last night but it is much needed to make this a more wearable dress. Didn’t stop me from wearing it to work today anyways!

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I switched out the neckline for a square neck since it suited the plaid fabric. Also bias cut the waistband because 1) I like it and 2) the plaid on the fabric wasn’t symmetrical. A bias waistband helps masked the non-matching plaid pattern down the center front. I also didn’t have enough fabric to make the full skirt with 5 pleats each front and back. For 45″ fabric the pattern has you cut out 4 skirt panels then seam the center front. I didn’t want one more spot to match the plaid, so I omitted the outermost pleats to get the skirt to fit across 45″ wide fabric and still have a very successful skirt.

With a cardigan this dress is 100% win! But next time I will for sure cut one size smaller and I’ll alter this one once I can face the seam ripper. I still have hope that the Upton will be really successful for me! In the meantime I’m going to bask in the knowledge that I am an ace plaid pattern matcher and how much I love where I placed the color bands of fabric to suit my shape.

This Isn’t the Whole Rainbow?

Woot! Woot! I finished knitting a sweater. The best sweater ever because it has 6 shades of purple. It’s like a whole rainbow with only my most favorite color!

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Yay purple!

I’ve been knitting this sucker for 2 whole months straight and I could have it done in nearly half the time except I had to rip the whole thing apart when I discovered it was too large. Way way way too large.

I won’t lie. It was painful to pull apart all the little lengths of yarn from each stripe. But in the end I am so glad I persevered to finish. Worth it.

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The pattern is Jagged Little Stripe from Mary Annarella. Mary is a fantastic knit wear designer. Everything she creates is classic with a fun twist and her patterns are wonderfully clear. Its a treat to knit them.

I did need to alter the pattern for a couple reasons. 1) I was using a gradient set as the main color and 2) I needed to add more stitches to the front to accommodate my bust and tummy.

Working with a gradient set came with some challenges. I needed to figure out how to work with the stripes to make sure the colors transitions naturally. What I found through trial and error was that it didn’t matter where in the color sequence I ended for the short rows. In order to achieve my vision I only needed to start with the lightest color at the shoulder and the first row of the waist slash. Then finish the hem, sleeves, and waist slash with the darkest color. I also made sure to end the first row section with cream and end the waist slash with the cream color.

Now Mary is a different build from me, so I had to knit things a little different shaping wise. First I added extra stitches to the sleeves as I was already doing the increases. Then to accommodate my bust and tummy I added 10 stitched when casting on the neckline to join in the round. My waist is also higher and bust lower. So I knit more rows before starting the short rows and worked the waist decreases earlier. All of this worked great. It is not super fitted through the waist, but I like the ease as it is.

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My daughter Lu took these pictures. She’s very funny and demanded she take a photo of my skirt and shoes as well as the sweater. The skirt is Gabriola which I talked about in my previous post. So you can see a bit of the funny stitching around the zipper.

In all honesty I made that denim skirt specifically to go with my purple gradient sweater. This sweater is a big reason I switched to a skirt with a closer fit through the hips and is much better suited to wearing a top untucked.

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The yarn is from Astral Bath Yarns. Its the Spectra base and I love working with it. I bought the gradient set off my friend. Well I bought half the set as neither of us needed the full 3,000 yard of yarn it contained. Then I bought two skeins of naked yarn to pair with it. I still have a ton of both left so now I need to decide if I keep the left overs or try to destash them.

Anyways, now I’m off for the glorious first holiday weekend I’ve had in many months. We’ll be busy busy busy, but I’m hoping I can sew together the new summer dress I cut out this evening. I think I can. I think I can!