Dahlia Top

Eucalypt6I sewed something – I repeat – I SEWED SOMETHING!!!

So I started this Eucalypt tank ages ago, in June to be precise, just before I sewed this dress. But my poor choice of bias tape had me think I had ruined everything and the tank was not worth finishing.

Eucalypt1I don’t know the composition of the fabric (I got it at a fabric swap), but I’m pretty sure it’s a natural fibre seeing how nicely it presses and how soft it feels against the skin. And what I’m absolutely sure of is that it’s very lightweight, so I shouldn’t have used that awful stiff store-bought bias tape to finish the armholes and neckline, what was I thinking?!

Eucalypt2The neckline especially was looking as if it was trying to escape as far away from my body as possible, ugh! I tried to arrange things as much as I could by pressing the heck out of that neckline tape, but I was not convinced by the result, so I hung the unfinished tank on a hanger and proceeded to give it the side eye every time I passed it in the next three months.

But last weekend, desperate to sew but feeling hampered by the unusual number of UFOs hanging in my sewing space, I thought I should finish this tank (it was only missing its bottom hem) and, worse comes to worst, wear it as a pyjama top.

Eucalypt3I didn’t bother finding/making lightweight bias tape for the hem (ruined for ruined…) and used the same stiff bias tape I had used for the neckline, only in a different colour because I had no more white bias tape in my stash and I didn’t feel like going out and buying some more. So the hem tape is lilac while the rest of the bias tape is white, so what?

Eucalypt5Not only is the stiff bias tape much less of a problem at the hem than at the neckline, but I also pressed the neckline again (and again!) and finally got a decent result! It’s still far from perfect of course, but it’s now inconspicuous enough that you don’t notice there’s anything wrong with the neckline unless looking for it specifically.

Eucalypt4The armholes are still gaping a little, depending on the way I’m holding my arms (see the first picture of this article), but once again, I don’t know who’s going to notice that when I’m wearing the top. So I’m definitely glad I finished it; it would have been a shame wasting that beautiful piece of fabric, even if I got it for free!

And I can see a lot of Eucalypt tanks in my future! If not for my stupid mistake, it was a very nice pattern to work with. It’s simple but not simplistic and it could look smashingly different depending on what fabric you use or what detail you add.

Adelfa Cardigan

Adelfa1Three knitted projects in a row, not a single sewn project in between. What can I say? Three weeks in Spain, far from my sewing machine, followed by the start of school and its unavoidable fatigue… Not the ideal conditions to get back to sewing!

Ah well, at least my beloved knitting needles can go everywhere with me and one row here, one row there, I ended up with a new cardigan!

Adelfa2Most of this cardigan was actually knit in Spain, on a stone bench next to an oleander – adelfa in Spanish. For my last two weeks there I was staying in a village where I didn’t have a lot to do but to knit or read (I’m not complaining here, this is my ideal kind of vacation!), so in those two weeks I finished the body and a sleeve and I knit more than half the second sleeve. Then I came back to Belgium (and to work), and the remaining half sleeve and neckband took me two whole new weeks to knit.

Adelfa4The (free) pattern is Que Sera by Kirsten Kapur and the yarn is Cascade 220, knit with bigger needles to get gauge. I made a few small modifications to the pattern: first, I added three buttonholes to the five of the pattern. I thought they looked a little too far apart in the pictures.

Then I lengthened the sleeves by one pattern repeat (12 rows) and I knit them in the round. I had to adapt the lace pattern a bit for it to work in the round (see my Ravelry notes), but that was really easy. Because of my knitting the sleeves in the round, I was afraid the sleeves would end up too wide for my taste (since there would be no seam allowance to take in account), so I knit them a size smaller than the body. Note that knitting the sleeves in the round also made them much more difficult to block correctly (which is why I’m particularly glad that I lengthened them a touch!). But I was very happy not to have to seam them up afterwards, so there’s that.

Adelfa3Also, when I first tried on the cardigan with the buttons closed, the button bands gaped like you wouldn’t believe. So I had to stabilise them with petersham ribbon. I used a method that is very similar to this one, except that I didn’t interface my petersham and that I took care to make all of my hand stitches virtually invisible because clearly I’m a psychopath. It took me four episodes of Murder, She Wrote (Have I ever told you about my passion for Murder, She Wrote?) to sew on the petersham but come on, look how pretty!Adelfa5So that’s it, I’m delighted with my new cardigan; I love its style and colour (closest to the detail picture of the petersham button bands, by the way) and I’m sure it will look great with a lot of my clothing pieces, existing or to come!

PS I forgot to mention this in my last two posts, but I’m on Instagram now!

Les vacances de Mademoiselle Hulot

Hulot1Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday is one of my favourite movies, and every time I watch it I fall in love again with the costumes (among so many other things!). I had been meaning to knit myself a summer sweater worthy of the holidaymakers of the movie for a few years, so in July, when I was trying to decide on my next knitting project, I settled on a striped cropped sweater that I thought would fulfill this need.

I knew I wanted navy and cream stripes on a cropped sweater with a fitted waist; I also wanted to try Drops Muskat, but I didn’t know what pattern to use. I hadn’t even thought about that option, but Mimolette convinced me that the kind of sweater I wanted would be pretty easy to design myself…

Hulot3And she was right! After all, the effect I was looking for didn’t need a lot of shaping; all it required were two rectangles, one for the front and one for the back, a few increases at the neckline and a lot of decreases at the waist, and that’s it!

I knit this sweater Andi Satterlund style, i.e. seamless and from the top down, knitting the top of the back, picking up the front shoulder stitches and knitting the top of the front then joining front and back and knitting in the round (see Ravelry notes for more details).

Hulot2As for the distribution of the stripes, I made it up as I went along. When I realised I wouldn’t have enough navy yarn to go on with my four navy rows, four cream rows design, I simply started knitting wider cream stripes. I was afraid until the end that I wouldn’t have enough yarn to finish the sweater, but I did (with less than a metre of either yarn left after I cast off)!

This sweater was knit in less than two weeks, so I could take it to Spain with me and I wore it a lot there both with the red Chardon you see in the pictures and my polka dot skirt. And I’ve already worn it here in Belgium, too, in the week I’ve been back!

Hulot4Now if only my last sewing projects could be as successful as my last knitting projects: I couldn’t finish either of the two summer dresses I’d started before my departure (a Centaurée and the Juni dress from this book that was my final choice for the Outfit Along), and I haven’t had enough energy to get back to sewing since my return. Sooo much easier to knit in the couch than to get up and sew!

Estoy de vacaciones!

LesVacances

The sweater you see in the picture is the only garment I managed to complete before my departure to Spain. Both the Centaurée and Outfit Along dresses will have to wait for my return, sniff!

But I still took a suitcase full of me-mades with me, as well as the materials for two knitting projects (two projects in three weeks, one can dream, right?): the first one will be this cardigan (I’m in love! Mine will be fuchsia pink!) and the second one  this stole I started in April but has been hibernating ever since.

I’d  better keep this article short and sweet as I am xanaxed to the max to be able to handle the plane trip, so let me just wish you a very nice month of August, whether you’re on holiday or working. See you in three weeks!

Navy Hetty

NavyHetty1It was HOT when I took these pictures, not the ideal weather to be wearing a 3/4 sleeve dress and a wool cardigan! But I was so happy for this cardigan to finally be over that I couldn’t wait for the weather to get colder before I took the pictures.

NavyHetty2I started knitting this cardigan at the very beginning of June, thinking I would be finished in no time. I thought I would knit it in about two weeks, ha! But when I reached the end of the body, I realised my gauge was tighter than I thought and I was probably going to end up with a too small cardigan seeing how tiny the body looked.

I was determined to start from scratch, but not very motivated to do so, so I let it rest for a few days. Then I read on lladybird’s blog that it was probably supposed to look that tiny before blocking, so I changed my mind and chose to go on with the same gauge/size after all.

NavyHetty3Still, I couldn’t shake the fear that I was in fact knitting a kiddie size cardigan (Mimolette laughing her ass off every time she saw how tiny it was didn’t help that fear either! ;-) ), so I lost part of my motivation. That and a very busy month of June meant that there were a lot of days where I didn’t even touch my knitting needles. Oh, and I had to start the first sleeve all over again because I had made a stupid mistake in the way I knit my yarn overs in the round.

NavyHetty4But the Hetty is such a fast knit that, even by knitting one row here, one row there, it was not that long before a whole cardigan fell off my needles.

I added two repeats of the pattern at the end of the sleeves and four rows to each button band to compensate for my gauge being so different from the pattern, but I didn’t add any length to the body because I usually need to shorten my other sweaters/cardigans.

I also picked up way more stitches than recommended (85 instead of 61!) for the button bands, thinking that way it would be easier to stretch them when blocking the cardigan. This meant adding some buttonholes, too: I made eleven instead of eight. Same with the neckband, I picked up 98 stitches instead of 78.

NavYHettyDétailI should have taken a picture of the cardigan before I blocked it (I finished it at night and I didn’t have the patience to wait for the morning light to block it) but believe me when I say it was kid sized: pre-blocking, I think it would have fit a four year old!

I can’t tell you how relieved I was when I tried it post-blocking and saw that it fit! It’s very short, but it hits me exactly where I wanted it to, right at the waist! The sleeves too are the perfect length. The whole sweater could stand to be a bit wider though; it is very tight. But luckily it is not so tight that it’s uncomfortable, and as you can see I can wear it over a dress with sleeves.

NavyHetty5You may remember this was the first part of my OAL participation. I’m thinking about changing my plans for the matching dress: I still want to use the same fabric, but I’m having second thoughts regarding the pattern. With the hot weather in Brussels right now and the fact that I’m going to Spain in August, I was thinking about replacing my chosen pattern with the Colette Parfait dress. Right now I have more use of a sundress with straps, so unless I don’t have enough fabric for the Parfait, I think I’ve made up my mind!

A Dash of Rainbow

Rainbow2Hey, I made something that doesn’t go on the head!

These past weeks I had been craving some sewing time like you wouldn’t believe, yet when I was finally relieved from all of my obligations I found myself actually dreading and postponing my getting back to sewing, like I was afraid I wouldn’t even know where to begin and I would end up with a failure that would put me off sewing altogether.

Rainbow1So I decided on a pattern I’ve made before and I know fits and is easy, the Renfrew. With the warm weather we’d been having (where is that warm weather now?! It’s been raining non stop for days!) I came to realise that my summer wardrobe, me-made or otherwise, was almost non existent (Mr Picky begs to differ). I need summer dresses, skirts, tops, shorts, everything!

Rainbow3I started with a summer Renfrew dress: short sleeves, gathered skirt and a lot of ease at the waist to let that summer breeze in. To get that result at the waist, I didn’t use any elastic for gathering, I just gathered the regular way (but with only one row of thread instead of three so that it would be easier to get rid of that seam) then serged the seam, hoping the gathering row would be cut off by the serger knife. Worked like a charm.

Rainbow7As per usual I “drafted” (such a pompous word for what was actually involved) my own neckband piece, and I also omitted the sleeve bands for the sleeves not to stick to the arms (here’s that summer breeze again!). And as per usual I added some simple patch pockets, because I need pockets on my dresses and I like the look of patch pockets, they help visually structure the skirt.

Rainbow4As you can sort of see in the picture above (and clearly see in the two pictures below), the dress seems solid from the front, but it’s not, there’s a suprise rainbow at the back! I love that detail: the dress looks so classic at first sight (and if I wear a cardigan over it), but it has that little something special.

Rainbow6This was really the perfect project to get back on my (presser, mwahaha!) feet. I’ve already been wearing it almost everyday, though only once styled exactly as on the picture. The rest of the time it had to be accompanied by tights (in July!), a jacket and rain boots.

Rainbow5And from as soon as I started working on it, but even more so since I finished it, I’ve been feeling ready to tackle projects that are a little more challenging, i.e. ones that I haven’t already sewn before. The next one, which I’m working on at the moment, is a chambray Centaurée dress!

A Week Of Hats: Que reste-t-il de nos amours?

QueResteTIl1And here’s the last hat of the collection! There’s something of a déjà vu, no? It’s pretty much the same pattern… in that there’s no pattern: I didn’t take any notes the first time I made this hat, and of course I didn’t think to take any notes the second time around! This was more of a try on as you knit thing.

QueResteTIl2And it’s not exactly the same hat either: the turban part of the first one I knitted was detachable whereas the turban part of this one is attached to the hat. I actually always wore the first hat with the detachable band on and I lost it and haven’t used the hat since, so I thought it would be better for that version to be in one piece.

QueResteTIl3It was not made in one piece though: I knitted a hat (with ribbing at the bottom for it to fit comfortably) on the one side and a turban band on the other side and I joined them afterwards by sewing their bases together.

QueResteTIl4This was an easy hat to knit, and I held the yarn double so it was a pretty fast knit, too, but what was most difficult was unravelling the original sweater to make it into usable balls. The yarn has a mohair quality to it and the sweater had been worn and washed a lot since it was knitted at the end of the 1980s, so this was not an easy feat!

QueResteTIl5Turbans were a very popular style during the 1940s so I wanted to include one in my collection, and I also knew I wanted a sewn hat and a knitted hat for my two techniques free of choice, so I thought a knitted turban would be fitting. The result also has a 1920s look to it, I think it will depend how I style it in the future.

QueResteTIl6I named this last hat after this song, another one of my favourites and the epitome of a cold weather song.

And that’s it for the collection, thank you so much for reading!

A Week Of Hats: La Mer

LaMer1Tired of looking at my face yet? I know I am! Let’s concentrate on the hat then. At first I had planned to make a very simple sailor hat, as if borrowed from a sailor by his girlfriend, but then I thought this would be pure reproduction, not creation, so I started thinking about other options.

LaMer2And then it hit me: a lady sailor hat! So I made it smaller, in a more triangle shape (note that at first I wanted the tip of the triangle at the front, but when trying on the hat mid creation I found it looked better the other way around) and I added a fabric covered button at the intersection of the panels and most importantly a perky bow at the back.

LaMer3By some stroke of luck, drafting the crown panels went effortlessly, but the brim, not so much… I spent more than two hours drafting and redrafting and redrafting it again and again, losing my mind in fancy calculations involving the radius of a circle and whatnot, only to realise the pattern piece I needed was… a long rectangle! :-/

LaMer4Once I had that figured out, everything went smoothly. Most of the hat was sewn by machine, the only things I did by hand were attaching the buttons (the fabric covered one outside and a flat one inside), the bow, the lining and the petersham ribbon, and adding little thread loops to fasten the elastic inside the hat.

LaMer5I have already worn this hat once this week (with this dress) and it felt secure on my head, even when I was biking in the wind! Millinery elastic is my favourite way of attaching a hat, which is why I used some on each of the hats of the collection. It’s very secure, yet invisible (especially on dark hair with volume of course, but I’ve also seen it work really well on very short lighter hair).

LaMer6The song that gave its name to this hat is this one, and I guess the reason why I picked it is pretty self-explanatory!

See you tomorrow for the last hat of the collection!

A Week Of Hats: Mam’zelle Clio

MamzelleClio1Last year in millinery class, we learnt to make a fabric hat on a buckram base. I chose a base similar to the one I would later choose for my Hollyburn hat and I used red lace and lining remnants from this dress. It was an exercise, so the result was far from perfect, and the hat got pushed to the back of a cupboard were it got crushed under other objects.

MamzelleClio2I decided to salvage the fabric (and batting!) of the hat to make another one with some new buckram I would buy, and while taking it apart I thought I should try and see whether or not it would be possible to reuse the buckram, too. I was far from convinced it would work, but once wet, the buckram could take any shape I wanted it to take as if new!

MamzelleClio3So I was able to block the top part of the old hat into a new base, and the side/bottom part into some sort of bow (that everyone but me seems to see as a propeller! :-D ). There is some millinery wire reinforcing the edge of the hat itself and the edge of the bow.

MamzelleClio4The hat once again stays on the head thanks to a piece of millinery elastic, and its inside is finished with some matching red lining and a piece of petersham ribbon (both also salvaged from the original hat).

MamzelleClio5This is not the kind of hat that is very easy to wear on a daily basis, but I think it can be fun to wear on special occasions nonetheless. Its name comes from this song, because both the song and the hat have a silly side to them.

MamzelleClio6

A Week Of Hats: Y’a d’la joie

YaDlaJoie1Remember the old hat covered in dust (and other things much worse than dust!)? Once cleaned and treated with stiffener, the straw looks totally different: stiffer of course, but also less grey and much glossier.

YaDlaJoie2I dreamed of a hat of this shape for my collection because to me there’s no shape more typical of the 1940s than a hat that forms that kind of aureole framing the face, and I was lucky enough to find the brim block I needed at school.

YaDlaJoie3The hat is made of two pieces, the brim in that aureole shape and the crown shaped using only the top of a simple round block as it’s not deep at all. It was not easy getting the two parts to conform to each other afterwards, but I did manage it in the end. It was also not easy sewing anything to that straw, be it the flowers all around the crown or the petersham ribbon inside the hat. I could not stop the thread from getting caught on every irregularity of the straw and consequently forming annoying knots all the time.

YaDlaJoie4But the important is, the hat once more looks like what I had in mind, so it doesn’t matter if the realisation was a bit tedious at times. I also love the effect of the flowers, even though they cost me an arm and a leg! They were actually one of the rare things I had to buy for my collection, so the contrast was even more glaring since most of the hats cost me about €1 each in material (that’s if I’m not including the time it took me to get the materials in a usable state of course).

YaDlaJoie5Once again there are no pictures of the inside of the hat, but there’s a brown petersham ribbon as a sweatband, and both millinery elastic and a comb for the hat to securely stay on the head as it’s a bit heavier than the other ones.

YaDlaJoie6The name is another song (this is the least kitschy video I found of this song, imagine the other ones!) by Charles Trenet, which I think matches the exuberant character of the hat. I want to have an old-fashioned colourful picnic in that hat!