Saturday, October 17, 2020

A Cropped, Coral Colored Sweater

In July I had a hankering to knit.  Go figure, right?!  But the urge struck, and so I gave in, despite the temperature.

A few months earlier, Poison Grrls had a sale on their knitting patterns.  I kept seeing lots of cute patterns designed by Amy Appel show up on my Instagram feed, so I decided to try one for myself.

I had this coral colored wool in my stash for a few years, and since I had enough for the project, I decided to go for it.  Coincidently, the yarn works very nicely with the beaded circle skirt I have been stitching.  And a cropped silhouette works perfectly with a circle skirt, so hooray for at least one separate in my wardrobe that will work with the sweater.

I don't wear my hand knits nearly enough, and one of the issues is that I tend to choose patterns and yarn colors without a whole lot of thought to what I will wear with the sweater once it's finished.  I don't have this problem with sewn items, but for some reason, sweaters seem to exist in some alternate wardrobe universe for me.  But I'm working on the problem!

This particular design is knit from the top down.  It's a technique that I am not very familiar with, but the instructions were clear.  They didn't always make sense while reading through the words in my mind, but like so many knitting pattern, you just have to have needles and yarn in hand to figure things out.

I can see the appeal of working on a garment in this way since you can try it on as you go.  Am I going to switch to knitting only top-down sweaters in the future?  I doubt it, but I am pleased with the way this pattern worked out for me, and I am not against trying something similar in the future.

This design also gave me a chance to pull out the double-pointed needles.  One of these days I am going to try the magic circle trick with circular needles, but for now, the old stand-by double pointed set does its job.

The only real change I made to the pattern is the neckline ribbing.  The pattern comes with a mock turtleneck shaping.  The instructions suggest a loose bind-off technique that I have never used before, and it certainly is stretchy, but it looked gapey and odd to me.  I tried a couple of other bind-offs, but one was too tight, and the other didn't look great.  

Instead of getting frustrated, I folded it in half and stitched the bind-off to the base of the ribbing.  And you know what?  I love it!  I am definitely going to use this neckline style again.

The weather these days is even hotter than it was in July, so I still haven't worn the sweater, but I have a feeling this one is going to see a lot of wear.

It turns out, another skirt I made this year is a perfect color match to this sweater, so that's already two matching skirts in the closet!  And I can definitely see myself making another version.

[Ravelry notes on this sweater may be found here.]

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Vintage Pattern Illustrations and Novelty Prints


I haven't been all that interested in the recent Vogue Pattern offerings, which is probably a good thing.  I have plenty of other patterns on hand to try, and they are taking over my sewing space.  And I definitely need a better storage solution, because the one pattern I want to lay my hands on is never anywhere to be found.  But I find it so very hard to part with any of them because I can see myself needing something similar in the future.  What I need is a pattern hoarding intervention.  

And I was doing so well on my pattern purchasing ban.  But then I caved and made an exception for Vogue 1696.

On a positive note, I actually managed to make up the pattern almost as soon as I got my hands on it.  And I am so very glad that I did.  I can say with certainty that I felt the most "me" I have in a long time getting dressed in a petticoat and putting a ribbon in my hair for the day.  It might seem trivial, but it's the little things that are getting me through this very bizarre experience we are all living through.  I have also taken to wearing lipstick each day, even if it might stain the inside of my face mask; because it makes a difference to me in feeling ready to face the day.  And I don't think I am the only one!

While sewing this, I was very curious to see how ribbon straps fed through the bodice neckline channels would actually work on a body.

There really is no way to know how this garment is going to feel until the ribbon is in place, which happens at the very end of construction.  I suppose you could mock up the bodice, but without the weight of the very full skirt, I don't think it would give an accurate read.

When I first tried it on, I was a little concerned that the straps were not going to stay put.  One thing I did was add a waist stay to make sure that portion of the dress was secure on the body.  It also helps to pull the ribbon a bit tighter than you think you want and re-adjust the neckline of bodice front and back once the ribbon is tied.

Having worn this dress for an entire day, I can say that I did not have any issues with having to pull at the straps.  

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that you don't want to sit on or pull the ribbon ends - if that bow comes un-tied, the whole bodice is going to fall down to the waist.  You could certainly cut a shorter length of ribbon, but I rather like the drama of the ties falling almost to the hemline.

I previously noted that the pattern illustration must have influenced my color choices with this dress.  There is even a vintage photograph of what appears to be the same dress design, also with a turquoise hued ribbon.  I am sure that I have come across that photograph in the past, and perhaps it subconsciously suggested this combination of fabric and ribbon choice to me.

What I am certain of is the fact that I need more turquoise colored clothing in my life; and some turquoise shoes would also be lovely; and perhaps some turquoise jewelry.  It is absolutely one of my favorite colors! 


Dress:  Made by me, Vogue 1696
Petticoat:  Made by me
Shoes:  Colin Stuart

Monday, September 28, 2020

Turquoise Ribbon


I found this wonderful quilting cotton at JoAnn Fabrics about a year ago.  For some reason I cannot recall, I was up north, and went to the Rohnert Park location instead of San Rafael.  And boy, oh, boy, is it more organized up north!  If it was more convenient, I would certainly be going to that location every time I needed something from JoAnn Fabrics.  But that's a story for another day . . .

I couldn't resist the quirky illustrations on this cotton, and I purchased it, along with a few other vintage themed novelty prints.  When Vogue released their latest vintage reproduction, I was looking for a four yard length of fabric in my stash, and I came upon the print, which seemed to me to be a perfect pairing.

The pattern gives the option of using a length of ribbon or self-fabric to feed through a casing on the front and back bodice which creates straps and a dramatic fall at center back.

And guess what I found in my ribbon stash?!? - the perfect turquoise grosgrain ribbon; and I even had more than the four yards necessary.  Looking at the pattern illustration on the right, I think I was a bit influenced by the artwork!

I decided that I would try using the grosgrain as a pseudo-piping for the waistband.  I was a bit concerned that the poly grosgrain might be difficult to work with, but it didn't fight me as much as expected, and the extra effort was certainly worth it!

My other addition to the design was a waist stay.  This pattern has a whole bunch of extra fabric in the bodice and the skirt.  The one area that is close-fitting is the waist, and I thought it would be nice to have some extra stability at that point.  Really, the only measurement you should worry about is the waist circumference when choosing your size for this dress.

I found a roll of ecru colored petersham at an estate sale a couple of years back, and I thought the color worked nicely with my zipper choice and the interior shade of the fabric.

And I am sure you spy my bound seams.  I don't have the heart not to use my rayon seam binding in some manner on any given project!

But you might think, the dress doesn't look exactly like the stylized drawings on the pattern envelope.  It needs an assist.  So I brought this petticoat out of retirement.  She was slightly too long as she was made for this dress, so I hand tacked the lower layers of netting up.

And as you can see, the silhouette is completely changed by the addition.

That's a lot of extra fluff, and I love it!

And yes, I have already worn her out of the house, petticoat included.  It's the most "me" I have felt in months, which is definitely a good thing.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Discovering an old outfit that's perfect for Fall

One benefit of going through old photos is that it reminds me of clothing that has been buried in the back of the closet and ignored for no good reason.

Which was certainly the case with this outfit.

I have worn the skirt a few times, but the blouse has not had much attention in the three years since it was stitched up.

It was a wearable muslin using some cotton that I picked up at a fabric swap.  The cotton was probably a little heavy for the design and I wasn't initially expecting to make a top out of it, but I wanted to try the reproduction pattern, and there it was.

I decided not to take a wedge out of the back bodice (which is a standard alteration for me) because the back of the blouse was meant to be blousy.  Turns out, I probably should have removed some of that extra length because it is really, really blousy back there.

The other thing that I was not quite sure of once I finished the garment was that collar.  It looks rather 1970s to me.  I realize that the 70s stole the 50s silhouette, but that exaggerated collar seemed a little over the top to me.

Now that I've had some time to consider the outfit as a whole, I rather like it.

As far as the skirt goes, I was pretty sure that I could cut a skirt out with my remaining yardage so that I would have a complete outfit.  

As I was writing this post, it took me a minute to remember what pattern I used.  (I used to be really good about putting information along with fabric swatches of all of my sewing projects in a sketchbook, but I have fallen way behind on that.  I definitely need to be better about keeping that record more up to date!)  

But I am 99% sure that I used  Simplicity 4070 and added a narrow waistband to make the skirt.

The buttons were from the stash, so this outfit was one of those projects that made excellent use of materials on hand.  I love it when that happens!  And since wearing these pieces last week, and studying these photos, I have decided there is no reason to ignore the blouse.  I rather like it.  Is it something I will be making up in every color of the rainbow?  No.  But it definitely has a place in my wardrobe.


Blouse:  Made by me, Simplicity 8445
Skirt:  Made by me, Simplicity 4070
Earrings:  Banana Republic

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Blue Damask

If there is a gap in my wardrobe, it would be lightweight coats.  I have plenty of warm wool coats (although I always want to make more), but the transitional pieces that work in Spring and Fall are lacking in my coat closet.

This garment was an attempt to remedy that.

And while a solid color would probably have been more useful, the remaining yardage from this dress was just to wonderful to ignore.  And I think the fabric suits the 1960s silhouette beautifully.

I almost have a mind to make another version of this pattern.


And I definitely need the shorter version in my life.

The only question would be, what fabric to use?


But first I should find a few appropriate dresses in my closet and figure out my best color options.

I have a bad habit of charging ahead with outerwear in a fabric I like, only to realize that I don't have a whole lot of clothing to match.

Of course, that means I get to make more things to match my new coat, but I am trying to create more pieces that work with things I already have in my closet.

And I am definitely still doing my best to work from the stash.  It feels incredibly satisfying to use leftovers instead of purchasing more fabric that I am going to have a difficult time finding room for in my home!

I have a few more Summer appropriate projects I hope to finish before the weather changes, but I have a bad habit of waiting to make Fall things until the season is almost finished.  So maybe I should find some fabric for a short little jacket that will be perfect for chilly autumnal mornings and evenings.

Dress: Made by me, Simplicity 1197
Coat: Made by me, Simplicity 3856
Shoes: Liz Claiborne "Leigh"