Minty Fresh Sweater

Mint1As an avid fan of cropped sweaters and cute collars, I waited for about three seconds and a half before ordering the Ondée sweater when it came out. I had been eyeing the Bluegingerdoll Bonnie sweater but had never clicked on purchase, but the adorable collar of the Deer&Doe one coupled to the fact that Deer&Doe patterns usually fit me pretty well made me glad I had waited.

Mint3I can knit the cropped sweaters I need of course, and it’s not like I was desperately looking for something to wear with my high-waisted skirts as I’ve read was the case for so many people, but sewing a top is still a nice change from spending a month or more knitting one. And did I tell you about the adorable collar?

Mint4I immediately knew I wanted to use this mint cotton (with a hint of elasthane) jersey knit, and white for the collar (a crisp white collar is always a safe bet), and the result is exactly what I had hoped for, yay!

Mint5The pattern was really easy to follow and fast to sew. Even the collar, which I thought was going to be more difficult than a classic T-shirt collar, was a piece of cake. I used my serger for everything but the collar, and a zigzag stitch for the latter. A double needle would have been my first choice, but my machine has been acting out lately every time I’ve tried to use a double needle, so after trying in vain different tensions and needles on fabric scraps, in the end I opted for a simple zigzag stitch, which worked like a charm.

Mint2I don’t have a lot more to say about such a straightforward project, but rest assured that this won’t be the last Ondée you see on this blog!

Mimosa Cardigan

Tambourine1Quick, before summer gets here and makes it unbearable to wear this cardigan even for a short photo session!

I haven’t worn it since I finished it two months ago, at first because I hadn’t blocked it yet, and then because even though the weather had not been very warm yet, it was still not cold enough anymore for me to wear such a cardigan. It’s now patiently waiting for its hour of glory on its shelf in the wardrobe, and I’m pretty sure I’ll wear it a lot come fall and winter. I mean, aren’t those circles of nupps adorable?

Tambourine3I don’t think I’ll wear it a lot closed all the way up like this though. I prefer it open; it looks less strict I think.

The lovely pattern is Tambourine by Julia Farwell-Clay, from Pom Pom Quarterly #12, and the yarn is Drops Karisma (colourway 52), which I can only recommend since it’s already my third time using it. I didn’t like the contiguous button bands of the pattern, so I changed them into ribbing I picked up and knit on afterwards. I explained this in more detail on Ravelry.

Tambourine4I also didn’t feel like sewing the sleeves to the body, so I decided to try and replace them with seamless set-in sleeves. After I had done my calculations, I took a look at these instructions and saw that the sleeves of size M used the same number of stitches, so I simply used those sleeves instead of the Tambourine ones. The sleeves are a little bit snugger than expected (it may have something to do with my gauge tightening when I knit in the round), but they are still perfectly comfortable, so no biggie.

Tambourine5I lengthened the sleeves a little bit, too, because with past knitting projects I often forgot that sleeves tend to creep up when you wear them and ended up with too short sleeves.

Even though I haven’t worn it yet for meteorological reasons, I’m really happy with the outcome. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I can’t wait for fall to arrive so that I can wear it though, because that would be much too ironic seeing as how all I can think about right now is summer!

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Mademoiselle Marinette

Marinette1I don’t exactly remember how I stumbled upon Gasparine, I think it was via Instagram, but I do remember that I immediately fell hard for Miss Marinette. As a lover of 1920s fashion and nautical style, I could not resist its dropped waist and sailor collar and immediately ordered the pattern.

There was one detail I didn’t like, the elasticated low waist: I knew there was no chance for this to look good on me and I decided to simply omit the elastic, easiest modification ever. But when I first tried the dress on, it was way too long and, well, it did not look good at all. So I unpicked the waistband and reattached the skirt directly to the bodice, and that did the trick! It’s crazy how much a few centimetres of skirt/dress length can change the way a garment looks.

Marinette3All in all, the pattern was really easy to sew, to the exception of the collar, but the tutorial for that part made it fairly easy, too. The only step I had trouble with was no part of the pattern: the cotton trim I used had a strong tendency to shrink as I was stitching it to the rayon, which made it a total pain to sew. I managed to keep it under control on the skirt and sleeves, but not at the collar: it literally made the collar ties about five centimetres shorter each, argh! This made them difficult to tie, so I invisibly hand-sewed them in place.

Marinette5The fabric is some rayon I bought at Le Chien Vert. It’s a beautiful fabric, heavy and very fluid. Fearing that the pieces would distort as rayon is often prone to do, I stabilised not only the neckline but also all of the bodice seams with some Vlieseline Bias Tape T12 (I prefer that to staystitching).

Marinette4The pattern has you finish the neckline and sleeve hems with bias tape, but I did not have enough fabric to make some, nor did I want to use some stiff store-bought bias tape on such a fluid fabric, so I made a narrow neckline facing that I topstitched in place (leaving about two centimetres free, that couldn’t be reached by machine, under the collar on each side of the shoulders), and I serged and turned the sleeve hems. I also replaced the skirt gathers with pleats (four pleats, one under each bodice dart), because I had made such pleats on this dress and loved the effect.

Marinette2I like the finished dress very much; the only thing that bothers me a little is the fact that the collar got so distorted by the cotton trim that it sometimes gets a bit wavy, depending on the way I stand. But once again, I never think about it when wearing the dress. Oh yes, one thing that really bugs me is that I completely forgot to add pockets! I keep reaching for them, so I think I’ll have to muster the courage to add some side seam pockets to the finished dress someday…

Jolie Mimi

Mimi2Out of my backlog of garments to be blogged, this blouse is a definite favourite! Before I forget, sorry about the print, you can’t make out any details in the pictures because of it… But I promise, the cute collar is there and so are the lovely sleeve pleats!

Mimi4The pattern is Tilly’s Mimi Blouse, which I had been meaning to sew ever since I first saw it. I even had the perfect fabric in mind, a gorgeous vintage pink rayon, but it was too precious to risk ruining it with an ill-fitting pattern, so I decided to make a test version in a less special fabric first.

Mimi5Not that I don’t like the fabric I used, a very soft cotton, light but not too stiff: it’s actually pretty perfect for this blouse and I still love tiny flower prints and could wear some every day; it’s just less unique and irreplaceable than the vintage rayon. Even as a test, unless it was a muslin destined to be ripped apart (yeah, like I ever make those…), I wouldn’t waste my sewing time and energy with a fabric I didn’t truly like and want to wear.

Mimi6I was especially wary of the size I chose to make: I was in-between sizes, and looking at the finished garment measurements, I felt it would be best to go down a size to avoid feeling swamped by a too-large blouse, but I also feared the smaller size I cut would be too restrictive. But it isn’t! And I really like the closer fit. I like this blouse so much, as a matter of fact, that I don’t even want to sew the “final” rayon version anymore, at least not for now; this version feels like the final one…

Mimi7All the seams are French seams, and the facing and sleeve hem edges are finished with a narrow bias tape. I like pretty insides so much! And since this was supposed to be a test version, I wanted to be able to give it away in case it didn’t fit without being ashamed of subpar finishing techniques.

Mimi1Luckily, the test was conclusive, so the pretty insides are for me! I’ve been loving wearing this blouse with my red Chardon and navy Hetty every time the weather has allowed it. I took a picture of the blouse untucked for documentary purposes, but I don’t think I’ll ever wear it that way, at least not with that kind of high-waisted skirt. I might wear it untucked with trousers or shorts though, if I had any… What the heck is still keeping me from sewing myself some trousers, that is the question!

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Peachy Dress

Blush1Judging from my blog, you’d think I’ve completely given up on sewing and knitting, wouldn’t you? But I haven’t, not at all! I blame Instagram for the languishing of this space: it is so much easier instagramming what I’m working on or what I’ve just finished than bothering to clear up the space where I’m taking my blog pictures (you didn’t think it was always this pared-down, did you?), set up the camera and tripod, and check my hair, and strike a pose, and blah, blah, blah.

But I’ve decided to stop with the slothfulness and blog those unblogged garments already! My obsessive nature compels me to present them in the order I made them, so we’ll start with this dress I finished in, ahem, February!

Blush3The fabric was a birthday gift from Mimolette, who knew I had been fawning over Atelier Brunette’s beautiful designs but hadn’t taken the plunge yet (I have since bought three meters of this beauty). Bye Bye Birdie Blush: gotta love the alliteration. My birthday’s at the very end of September, so this fabric only spent five months in my stash, not too bad compared to the usual lot of fabrics in my house.

Like all cottons, it was very nice to sew with, but man does it wrinkle! Also, it has a tendency to forget that it’s 100% cotton and sometimes attracts lint like a common synthetic. I mostly wear it with this cardigan, which I wear with a lot of other pieces, yet this dress is the only one it sheds tiny pieces of black fluff on. Not that big of a deal, but it was surprising at first.

Blush4The pattern is from Stylish Dress Book 3 (Dress B). It’s a very simple pattern so I was sure I’d be finished in no time, but you know me, I’m never finished in no time!

I quickly realised that with such a light-coloured fabric, I’d have to add a lining or run the risk of putting my underpinnings on display. Luckily I had some beige Bemberg rayon in my stash, and putting in the lining was not too difficult. I did have to think twice about how to manage around the neckline facing and the sleeves, and finally opted to simply attach the lining by hand at the sleeves (but by machine everywhere else). While we’re on the sleeves, I trimmed those with a very small piece of this lovely cream lace (oops, still haven’t started on that blouse!).

Blush5I had planned on adding patch pockets to the dress, but later realised that there was no way the pockets I had in mind would work with the gathers of the skirt. So I had to ditch them in favour of side seam pockets, for which I had to unpick and redo the side seams of the skirt, argh!

Blush2The only thing I’m not happy about with looking at the finished dress is how high the waist is compared to the dropped waist I was imagining. I should have measured the pieces beforehand and compared them with my other dropped waist dress. Like most sewing mistakes, it never bothers me while wearing the dress, but I’ll definitely lower the waist if I ever sew that pattern again.

Now only eight more finished projects to blog to catch up on my backlog!

Tangerine Cardigan

Orange6I’ve never been a fan of orange, but ever since I finished this dress I’m wearing in the pictures, I had been wanting to knit an orange cardigan to go with it (hoping it would also go with other things in my wardrobe). Knowing how long it usually takes me to translate my ideas into actions, I’m kind of surprised it took me less than a year to make this cardigan a reality. I finished the dress last year in March, and the cardigan this year in February.

Orange5Once again, it’s a Andi Satterlund pattern, the Marion cardigan, and once again it was a pretty fast (it took me exactly one month from start to finish) and easy knit. Seeing as how much I love both their style and construction, this is certainly not the last of her patterns you’ll see here!

Orange1The yarn is Nepal by Drops (colourway: 2920 orange), which I had already used for this project. It’s a lovely yarn, very nice to knit with, and I always machine wash the finished sweaters (on a very delicate cycle, at 20°C) and they still look like new. So this is certainly not the last time you’ll see this yarn here either.

Orange2I had to shorten the cardigan a little bit for the ribbing to sit at my waist (judging from the pictures I think maybe I should have shortened it even more) and I chose to lengthen the sleeves to full length, because it was very cold when I knit it and I couldn’t imagine myself not wanting to wear long sleeves at the time. They seemed long enough at first, but I realised when wearing the cardigan that after I raise my arms they tend to creep up a tad and I sometimes have to readjust them. You can see that on my right arm in some of the pictures, because I had just reached for the shutter button of the camera. And while you’re at it, why don’t you take a look at the cute little cables on the sleeve ribbing? I think they are my favourite detail on this pattern!

Orange3Just like with the skirt I showed you last week, I finished this cardigan so long ago that I do not remember all of the details, so it’s a lucky thing I wrote everything down on Ravelry at the time. But just like with the skirt I showed you last week, I finished this cardigan so long ago that I’ve already had plenty of occasions to wear it and I know that it goes great with a lot of things in my wardrobe!

Orange4

The Five-Month Skirt

JupeGrise1Long time no see, huh? I haven’t stopped sewing and knitting of course, but I needed to put blogging on the back burner for a moment. I hadn’t imagined I wouldn’t come back here for over two months, though… It was really weird (and not in a good way) taking pictures of myself again… By the way, my hair looked smashing in the mirror, but in the pictures it looks like a hot mess, whatever.

JupeGrise2This skirt took two months in the making and still had to wait for close to three more months to get its blog post. I like that this allows me to speak about it more knowingly than if I had blogged it right away. When I had just finished it, I felt like it was going to be easy to wear and to match with the rest of my wardrobe, now I know I was right! I also know that one should never try on a high-waisted skirt so close to the end of the year festivities and their obligatory overeating: a skirt that fits perfectly at that moment might not fit so well the rest of the year! My skirt is now a little too big at the waist; I might add a second row of snaps to make it tighter in the near future.

What I don’t like in writing about a garment so long after its completion is that I have to make much more of an effort to remember the technical details. But here goes…

JupeGrise3It’s a Burda pattern from a few years ago; this was my second time making it. The first time I used a shiny pink fabric, so even though I still really like that first skirt and find it very flattering, it’s not that easy to wear. I wear it a lot in my free time, but it doesn’t feel right for work. So when I found this corduroy remnant at Tissus Passion, one of my favourite fabric shops here in Brussels (it doesn’t look like much, but there are gems to be discovered there!), I immediately thought of that pattern.

JupeGrise4Like the first time I made a size 36, which corresponds to the size of my waist but not of my hips (my hips are between a size 40 and 42), and, despite having to wiggle my way into the skirt to slip it on, once I have it on there’s enough ease at the hips for it to be comfortable.

I underlined the skirt pieces with some grey Bemberg rayon lining I had in my stash to prevent them from clinging to tights without having to bother with a lining (come to think of it, I don’t think a lining would have been that much more trouble) and it is very effective: to the exception of the waist that bags a little like I mentioned, I never have to readjust the skirt when wearing it.

JupeGrise6I used a thinner fabric for the hidden parts of the belt, front fly and pockets: a cotton poplin (I think) with tiny grey flowers printed on it, also from my stash (I got it at a fabric swap). This was both because I didn’t have enough corduroy and I feared the corduroy was too thick to work in those places. Also, it looks pretty.

I took advantage of the underlining to hand sew an invisible hem, catching only the underlining with the thread. And I replaced the hidden buttons of the pattern with snaps, and the faux welt pockets with functional patch pockets.

JupeGrise5

See? Functional!

One of the reasons it took me so long to finish this skirt (aside from the fact that I am a very slow sewer) is how scared I was of messing up the fly front zipper. The first time I made that pattern, I didn’t know fly front zippers were supposed to be that difficult and I didn’t have a problem following the instructions of the pattern, but ironically this time I had read in so many places how scary they were that I started to fear that step. I read a few online tutorials that confused me even more, so I went back to Burda instructions… and everything went, if not perfectly (you can see there’s a small bubble of fabric at the top of the zipper), pretty well! So now I am kind of mad at people who make things seem so insurmountable when they aren’t. No, fly front zippers are not that difficult, you just need to go step by step. And while we’re at it, sewing knits is no more difficult than sewing wovens!

I still have a cardigan, a dress and a blouse to show you, let’s hope it takes me less than two months to come back again!

Hibou Express

owls1Like many knitters, I remember seeing Kate Davies’ Owls pattern for the first time on Ravelry a few years ago and thinking it was both beautiful and fun, but also way out of my league. So I promptly forgot about it, and when I came across it again at a time when I considered I was a knitter competent enough to tackle it, I didn’t see myself wearing this shape anymore.

Then my favourite yarn shop closed its doors and I went and bought about half its stock in the closing sale for fear I would end up with Phildar as my only option again (okay, I know I’m exaggerating; Phildar is not that bad – I really like these three yarns for example, and their magazines – it’s just that I prefer having more choice locally).

Owls3Among my haul was this beautiful tweed yarn I had been eyeing for months even though I don’t even usually like tweed yarn. I had always found it too expensive, especially for a tweed yarn when I was supposed not to like tweed yarn (how many times can I write “tweed yarn” in one paragraph?), but there were the last nine balls with a nice discount, so this time I yielded to the temptation, without really knowing what I would knit them into.

This yarn being a thicker one than what I’m used to, I had trouble finding a pattern I liked that would suit it, but then, as you guessed it, my Ravelry search eventually led me to the Owls pattern again, and although I still couldn’t see myself wearing that sweater as is, I suddenly had the idea of simply cropping it! Now there was a shape I was sure I’d wear a lot!

Owls4It was really easy to crop the body of the sweater (you can read my Ravelry notes if you’re interested in how exactly I did it), and it made a fast knit an even faster one: can you believe it was knit in five days?! I couldn’t believe it either, but the thick yarn coupled to the fact that it’s a close-fitting sweater and that I cropped it made it my fastest knitting project ever, by far.

It took me two more days to sew on the 32 buttons. 32 buttons is a lot of buttons to sew, and I must say I was tempted to leave them off, as I had seen some people had done, but I had already bought them (what was I to do with 32 buttons?), and also once I saw how much cuter the owls looked with their button eyes, I knew they were worth the effort!

Owls5Other than that, I really enjoyed knitting this sweater and watching those cute owls almost literally flying off my needles! The only thing I didn’t like, but that’s a detail really, was that the pattern tells you to close the armholes by grafting some stitches you have put on hold… but that this was far from sufficient to close them! I don’t know whether I did something wrong (I don’t think so because I’ve read other people have encountered the same problem), but I ended up with two large holes on each side of the grafting of each armhole. I closed them up with a few stitches and this took no time at all and looks good after all, so no real problem here; I just found it weird that the method that was recommended in the pattern actually didn’t work.

Owls6Another word of warning, if you ever knit a cropped version of this sweater: the waist ribbing might look freakishly tiny before you reach the stockinette body. Mine was small enough to fit my cat! I freaked out a little bit, but I decided to trust my gauge swatch and go on knitting, and things started to look more normal once I had hit the body, which stretched the ribbing and made it start to look human-sized, phew!

Also about the size, if you want a close-fitting sweater and fall between two sizes like I did, I’d recommend going with the smallest size: according to the schematics, the size I chose is supposed to fit a 30-32’’ bust, mine is 33’’ and I’m really happy with the fit of my finished sweater, even with a few layers under it!

Owls2Though I’ve come to realise such a thick sweater doesn’t need that many layers to keep you warm. It’s one of the warmest sweaters I’ve ever owned. As a matter of fact, I have to make sure I’m never wearing anything too ugly or revealing under it in case I have to take it off or faint form the heat when I’m teaching!

The Black Zinnia

BlackZinnia5I’m not one to read those magazine articles that assume that every woman needs certain items of clothing in her wardrobe, such as a little black dress and other nonsense (I’m not one to read any of those magazines, period. Not anymore. You wouldn’t believe how much my self-esteem has improved since I’ve restricted my magazine buying to Burda and other craft related periodicals). It’s kind of ironic that I’m saying that when my last blog post featured what could obviously be described as a [shudder] LBD, but seriously, I lived without a LBD for most of my life and I didn’t feel the need for one like, ever!

BlackZinnia1Anyway, rant over I guess. What I wanted to tell you was that a black cardigan was one of the rare garments I felt I needed. I used to own a store-bought one that you can see here (I don’t know why I’m bothering linking to that picture: everybody knows what a black cardigan looks like, don’t they?), but it died and I’d been missing it sorely ever since.

BlackZinnia3There were a few pieces in my wardrobe, such as the dress you see in the picture I absurdly linked to a few rows above, that I always wanted to wear with a black cardigan. But it’s also so much more appealing to knit colourful yarn that boring black yarn, isn’t it? So each time I started a new knitting project, it didn’t even cross my mind that I could make that black cardigan.

BlackZinnia4

Smiling is for the weak.

Enter Zinnia. I don’t know why, but when I was perusing my favourite yarn shop (no link because it recently closed doors and I’ll be sad about it forever :-( ) to choose some yarn for that project, for once I was drawn to grey and black. The various greys that were available in the shop didn’t really appeal to me, so I chose black.

BlackZinnia6And I am so happy I did! Not only was the black yarn not boring at all to knit (annoying maybe; it was a cat hair magnet! – not so much since I completed it, weirdly!), but I finished this knit two weeks ago and I’ve already worn it so often: it seems like a black cardigan does go with everything. I also like the way the textured stitch looks in black. I was afraid the dark colour would hide it, but it doesn’t and I think it looks great. The yarn is Drops Karisma, a superwash yarn which I’ll definitely use again in the future.

BlackZinnia7I really enjoyed knitting this pattern: the textured stitch kept things interesting yet it was very straightforward to follow. The lace diamonds, too, were a pleasure to knit: I placed markers between each repeat, which I always do when I’m knitting lace, and it made things easy as pie. You can find my Ravelry notes here.

BlackZinnia8When in-between sizes as is often the case with Andi’s patterns, I usually choose knitting a size smaller, which is best with all those close-fitting cropped sweaters I love knitting/wearing, but for this one I preferred going a size bigger since it was supposed to be looser-fitting. And I’m glad with the result: I can comfortably layer one or two long-sleeved tees under it, yet it doesn’t look too loose-fitting either when I’m only wearing one layer of short or 3/4 sleeves.

BlackZinnia9I should be back in not too long with another knit, and then with that skirt I started two months ago. Both are finished and just need to be photographed, alas we all know “just” photographing our sewing projects is even less of a small feat in winter than during the rest of the year!BlackZinnia2