Mama Mustard Cardigan

Moutarde2When I took a look at my me-made wardrobe before the start of Me-Made-May, I quickly realised that I was pretty lacking in the cardigan department. Cardigans are one of my staples, yet I only knit three of them, isn’t that crazy? So of course I decided my next knitting project would have to be a cardigan.

Moutarde1I still owned a store-bought mustard cardigan that went with virtually everything in my wardrobe, but it had started pilling and showing other signs of age, so I had been thinking about replacing it with a me-made version for a long time. I had some mustard merino yarn in my stash, so I browsed Ravelry by entering its gauge in the search parameters and I came upon Kelly Brooker’s Mama Vertebrae pattern. Aside from the fact that that name freaked me out a little bit (still does: to me it evokes scary creatures with a prominent spine – creepy!), I really liked the simplicity of the pattern, so I immediately bought it and got to work.

Moutarde4I was in-between two sizes and I chose the smallest one because I wanted a close fitting cardigan. I followed the suggestion of stopping the raglan increases early in order to get a smaller armhole and I didn’t cast on more stitches to compensate for the omitted raglan increases when I started working on the sleeves so that I’d get a closer fit on the sleeves. Also for that closer fit on the sleeves, I decreased two stitches every eighth row as suggested in the pattern. I really liked the fact that the pattern is easy to customise to get the fit you want, and also that it is written for four yarn weights!

Moutarde5I initially debated knitting long or 3/4 sleeves, and I opted for the 3/4 sleeves mostly out of laziness, but when I reached the 3/4 length indicated by the pattern, I felt like the sleeves hit my arms at a weird place, so I went on knitting until I felt like they were long enough to be a true 3/4 length. And of course after blocking I realised I had actually knit long sleeves… Happy accident!

Moutarde6Before blocking I was really worried about the number of stitches I had picked up along the neckline: even though I had used Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind off, the ribbing pulled the whole front of the cardigan in and I felt like no blocking would be strong enough to make it the right size. Turns out I was totally wrong: once the yarn was wet, it was really easy to get it to conform to whatever shape I wanted it to take.

Moutarde3So this is not the most original knitting project, but it fills a hole in my wardrobe and I can only hope I’ll wear it even half as often as that old store-bought mustard cardigan! Next on the list: a navy cardigan! Can you believe it’s been at least ten years since I owned one?

MMM ’14 – Week Four

Only one week left, woohoo! Not that I don’t like wearing my makes of course, but I also don’t usually have to bother putting together a different outfit for each day of the month, so this part is becoming a little bit tiresome. Also, even though taking a picture everyday has been proving easier than last year, it’s seeing pictures of myself every day that has become kind of annoying.

DAY 19 (Monday)

Day19Nope, I didn’t go to work dressed that way! 😀 I had to stay home sick so it’s kind of a miracle that I found something to wear that was entirely me-made and comfortable enough to spend the whole day resting on the couch. Also a miracle that I managed to smile for the picture. I’m wearing a me-made skirt and top. I only wore the shoes to go out and do some emergency grocery shopping and it was so hot outside I wished I had put on sandals instead. Other than that a very comfortable outfit.

DAY 20 (Tuesday)

Day20I don’t feel really at ease going tightless to work unless it’s really really really hot and I don’t own any me-made trousers, so I put on the next best thing in order not to suffer from the heat: compression tights! The skirt and blouse are me-made and I’m kind of running out of things to say about my clothes! 😀

DAY 21 (Wednesday)

Day21Once again, not a lot of things to say. The weather got colder but not too cold either, so a 3/4 sleeve dress without a cardigan was the way to go. Add some flashy tights and instant cute! This must be my easiest dress to wear and I need a million more.

DAY 22 (Thursday)

Day22Same weather as the day before, same strategy minus the flashy tights! I also need a million more Renfrew dresses! I took the picture coming back home from work right after 8 am when I realised I had gotten up three hours too early since I had forgotten that I exceptionally started at 11 am on that day. :-/

DAY 23 (Friday)

Day23I’m wearing a me-made skirt and top to leave for a weekend at the countryside with my knitting group! Later in the day I put on a cardigan, but I didn’t take a picture. You’ve seen the skirt already, but I think this is the first time you see that top. It’s actually a refashion I made years ago. I even thought to take a picture before cutting into the original garment, so you can see the boxy tee it was before. I used a Burda pattern (there was a short sleeve version in the magazine) and I was a beginner at the time so it doesn’t look too good from up close, but I still like wearing it despite that and the fact that it shows a lot more cleavage than what I’m used to. It originally showed much more by the way, too much for me, so I gathered the shoulders in order to make the neckline smaller.

DAY 24 (Saturday)

Day24Since I wasn’t home, I cheated and took that picture on Sunday coming back from my mini-trip. I spent the day knitting then going for a walk (hence the unusual sneakers!) with my fellow knitters and wearing a me-made skirt, T-shirt and cardigan I’ve already told so much about on that blog I’m going to stop right there. Oh yes, one more thing: I almost ruined my skirt climbing up a mossy tree that made big stains, but I managed to clean them away, phew!

DAY 25 (Sunday)

Day25.1Apparently this has become my Sunday skirt! This time I’m wearing it with my knitted blouse. The weather was pretty warm and I needed comfortable clothes for the ride back to Brussels, and this outfit fit the bill perfectly.

Day25.2In the morning I wore a sweater I can’t believe I’m still putting a link to seeing how much I’ve been wearing it this month, so I put it on again later in the afternoon just for the picture in order to give you an idea of how it looked with that outfit. Once again, not a lot of things to say except that I liked the outfit both with and without the sweater very much.

Conclusions of the week:

– I need trousers.

– Knitting getaways are the best!

Guest Post at Georgette’s: Watercolour Skirt

GuestToday I’m a guest on the Georgette blog, where I was asked to contribute a piece around the theme “Go Through Your Wardrobe: Make Do and Mend”. So if you want to see more of the skirt I was wearing last Sunday (MMM ’14 – Day 18) hop on over to the Georgette blog!

MMM ’14 – Week Three

More than half the month is over, and I’m still having fun putting outfits together! I could do without the pictures of course, but even that I find less of a hassle than last year because I’m a little better organized.

DAY 12 (Monday)

Day12A comfortable outfit for a very long Monday. I love how there are some tiny flowers on the dress that are the same colour as the sweater. What else can I say that I haven’t said already? It’s the second appearance of the dress this May, and already the third of the sweater and they’ll probably both come out again before long.

DAY 13 (Tuesday)

Day13.1I love that outfit. Yes, it’s a pretty positive me-made week! 😀 It seems like Deer & Doe’s Sureau and Andi Satterlund’s cropped sweaters and cardigans are a match made in heaven: my favourite outfit from last week was another Sureau and Andi’s Miette cardigan (Day 6). The dress, sweater and shoes are me-made. Still the greatest feeling on earth spending your day in me-made shoes!

Day13.2I took a second picture coming back from work because I was wearing the usual me-made jacket and shawl just like every day, but also my fingerless mittens. Not that you can see them very precisely in that picture of course, but I love them and I always carry them in my bag just in case it gets chilly as on that day.

DAY 14 (Wednesday)

Day14A combination of skirt, blouse and cardigan I wear very often. I really don’t know what more to say except that I should make another Hollyburn, another Miette and another Sencha because I really love those patterns. The only thing I don’t like about that outfit is the fact that both the blouse and cardigan have synthetic in them. It’s not that much of a problem for the cardigan because it’s a blend and I never wear it too close to my skin, but the blouse is clearly 100 % synthetic and although the fabric is really pretty and it almost never wrinkles, it’s also not breathable at all and it smells much faster that any piece of clothing I’ve ever owned, which is not ideal when you bike everywhere!

DAY 15 (Thursday)

Day15Now that’s a combination I had never thought to make, but I suddenly realised there were flowers on the fabric of the dress that were reminiscent of the colour of that cardigan, so the outfit went from there. This is the kind of surprises I love in Me-Made-May!

DAY 16 (Friday)

Day16Friday is supposed to be my day off, but I exceptionally had to work on that day, so I tried to stay positive by dressing cheerfully nautical. It kind of worked! I’m wearing a me-made skirt, blouse and cardigan.

DAY 17 (Saturday)

Day17I stayed at home the whole day for that long due date with my sewing machine, and the weather suddenly changed and got MUCH warmer, so it’s kind of a miracle that I even got out of my pyjamas, and I don’t think I would have had it not been for Me-Made-May! I put on that comfortable and unwrinkleable dress and I was good to go! No shoes, it was that warm! Okay, confession time: I spent most of the day with an ugly white cotton sport sock on my right foot (yes, only on the one foot!) to protect it from getting burnt by the presser foot of my very vintage sewing machine which has a tendency to overheat. Very sexy. And I should definitely get that presser foot fixed, I know…

DAY 18 (Sunday)

Day18I’m wearing a me-made tee and a new skirt. This is kind of a sneak peek of the skirt, so I won’t tell more about it except that I made it following Tilly’s Picnic Blanket Skirt tutorial. I wore that outfit to go to a yard sale under the sun and the whole time I couldn’t believe I was wearing sandals and no tights!

Day18.2When the sun got down, I put on a me-made cardigan. It’s weird how different my hair looks in the two pictures by the way: I swear I took them on the same day! Oh, and sorry about the bra lines, one of the perks of that thin rayon knit.

Conclusions of the week:

– My me-made wardrobe is much fuller than I thought at the beginning of the challenge.

– Apparently my hair looks curly when I look at my left, and straighter when I look at my right. Weird indeed…

MMM ’14 – Week Two

One third down! I’m quite surprised at how natural it’s been feeling until now, and I still have some unworn me-mades in the closet, yay! Well, we’ll see how I feel about that in a week!

DAY 5 (Monday)

Day5The week starts with my least favourite me-made outfit EVER! And that’s including Me-Made-May ’13 of course! The colours are okay, but although I love that dress and sweater, their shapes don’t go well together at all. You can’t really tell from the picture, but really, least flattering outfit ever. I was feeling a bit under the weather, so this explains that. Also, I made the dress so long ago it’s really starting to show signs of age…

DAY 6 (Tuesday)

Day6Ah, feeling much better, both physically and sartorially! This is an outfit I wear very often and I love it. The shape, the colours, the comfort, the fact that I made my shoes… Both the dress and cardigan are among my most worn me-mades. The cardigan is made from what I thought was a low quality yarn, but it seems like I was wrong when you see how well it’s been holding up. The buttons on the other hand have faded like crazy, but I don’t really mind.

DAY 7 (Wednesday)

Day7Another favourite outfit to get back on my feet after the disaster that was Monday! The dress (see MMM’ 13 – Day 1 for more information) and cardigan are me-made and really belong together I think. Also a very comfortable outfit, though not ideal for getting rained on while biking from work (but what outfit is, really?). My tights are normally a shade lighter but they (as well as my shoes and the skirt of the dress) were drenched!

DAY 8 (Thursday)

Day8I had never thought of wearing that skirt and that sweater together, but I liked this outfit very much. The top I’m wearing under the sweater is also me-made. I felt very comfortable and cheerful all day.

DAY 9 (Friday)

Day9To think I almost threw that skirt in the trash for some silly detail I don’t even remember! I’m wearing two sweaters with it: the one you see best was one of my most painful knitting experiences but it’s been so worth it since I wear it all the time (this is already the second time I’m wearing it in May! – and this is my first garment repeat of the month), and the one I’m wearing under it used to be restricted to summer, until I realised how much I liked it worn under the other one.

DAY 10 (Saturday)

Day10The dress, cardigan (second repeats of the month) and hat are me-made. It was raining again, hence the rubber boots.

Day10HatI thought about taking a picture of my outerwear for once! These are the jacket and shawl I wear literally every day except in summer. The acrylic shawl is now five years old and still going strong! I made the hat in February, for Valentine’s Day, but I hadn’t worn it yet because I thought it was a bit too tight and uncomfortable, so I wanted to cut the lower part and make it into more of a bowler hat. But I felt like wearing a hat on that day, preferably red to go with the boots, so I tried it on again… and wondered what was wrong with me the first time I tried it on! It fits pretty good, and its shape makes it stay on the head very securely even when there’s a lot of wind like on that day. I think I could even wear it on my bike!


DAY 11 (Sunday)

Day11I had planned a day-long date with my sewing machine and I was wondering what to wear to stay at home, but I had completely forgotten I was supposed to go to one of my best friends’ housewarming party! Luckily when she didn’t see me coming she sent me a text, so I grabbed the first garments at hand that kind of seemed to go together, took a picture and jumped on my bike to head to my friend’s place. I was pretty happy with my outfit, especially seeing as I really didn’t have time to think about it for too long. It was actually much more flattering in real life, but the way I’m holding the blackboard hides my waist and makes me look much thicker than I really am. Ah well, it’s already kind of a miracle that I even took a picture, so I’m not complaining!

You’ve already seen the blouse (see Day 1) and cardigan (see Day 6 this week) this month, but it’s my first time wearing the skirt.

Conclusion of the week:

I think I’ll manage with what I have for a month, but I wouldn’t mind a few more cardigans. You are about to see the three I own and my Winter Heather sweater a lot this month!

Hat Collection: Make Do and Mend

MakeDoMendIt’s so weird to think that, in less than two months’ time, I’ll graduate as a milliner… In order to do so, each student has to present a small collection of hats around a theme. I hesitated between a few themes for some time, but none of them really convinced me. Then I thought about the theme I would finally choose, which is, as you might have guessed from the title of this article, Make Do and Mend, and it was kind of an epiphany since it combined two of my main obsess… I mean, interests, vintage fashion and upcycling.

So the plan is to make some 1940s inspired hats only using second-hand materials, with a few exceptions such as thread and other notions that would be too difficult, if not impossible, to source in the second hand market.

The assignment is to make five hats: a winter hat, a summer hat, a hat on a buckram base (the buckram is one of the things I’ll have to buy new) and two hats made with free to choose techniques. I was thinking about knitting for one of those last two (I think I could find a sweater whose yarn I might be able to repurpose), but nothing’s set in stone yet!

For the time being I only have started on the first two hats (the winter and summer ones), but I wanted to share the process with you before the end for once. So here are the first two pages of my inspiration notebook: the one you see above is simply the front page, where I sketched without thinking too much some hat shapes that evoked the forties to me. And the one below is the inspiration page for the first hat: some pictures of the hat I would transform and some drawings I made to decide what the final hat would look like. As for the summer hat I started, I haven’t finalised the inspiration page yet, but I’ll share it with you as soon as I do.

MakeDoMendWinterThe winter hat will almost certainly look like the simplest of the drawings, the one that’s on the head. I tried various ribbon combinations but I quickly realised I prefer to let the felt flowers be the focus. And I’m pretty chuffed that I’ll probably even be able to reuse the petersham ribbon from the original beret inside the new hat! I just need to wash it I think, and it’ll be good to go!

I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

MMM ’14 – Week One

Four days into May, this hasn’t been too difficult yet. Especially since I haven’t had to go to work: I don’t work at weekends, nor on Fridays this year, and May 1st was a holiday, so four days at home left me plenty of time to plan my outfits and take the daily pictures.

In addition to what you see in the pictures, I also wore my me-made jacket and shawl every day, every time I went out.

DAY 1 (Thursday)

Day1Hello, favourite skirt and sweater! This is a combination I’ve been wearing a lot these days, except I usually wear a store-bought black long or 3/4 sleeved tee under the sweater. This time I substituted a me-made blouse (pattern from this book) for the tee and I was really pleased with the result. This blouse is the first piece of clothing I ever sewed, so I don’t wear it often, but I can’t part with it and I still wear it every summer.

DAY 2 (Friday)

Day2I’m wearing a refashioned dress and a sweater I recently knit. I’m wondering whether I shouldn’t shorten the sweater a touch, even more than what I already did, because its body still has a tendency to bunch up a bit under the arms.

This is the kind of outfit I would never wear to work because of the short skirt, though I have no problem wearing very short dresses/skirts outside of work as long as I’m wearing tights. Oh, and if you’re wondering why my hair looks better behaved than usual, I went to the hairdresser’s that day.

DAY 3 (Saturday)

Day3“Who’s that straight-haired girl?!” is the question I asked myself every time I saw my reflection that day! 🙂

Anyway, I’m wearing the first sweater I ever knit and a Renfrew dress you may remember from not too long ago. The sweater has become a little too big for me and I don’t like the fact that it’s polyester (made from recycled bottles, that I like!), but I still love it so much, I’m pretty sure I’ll knit another one in a better yarn someday.

Had it not been for Me-Made-May, I’m not sure I’d have thought to wear this dress and this sweater together, but since I don’t have a lot of me-made cardigans or sweaters that go with the dress, I had to be more creative than usual!

DAY 4 (Sunday)

Day4.1The weather was much warmer than the past few days, so I only wore a me-made dress for most of the day. I still love the style of that dress and it’s also very comfortable, but the fabric has seen better days so sadly I think it will have to retire soon. Ah well, at least it will leave more room for future makes!

Day4.2The evening was a bit chillier, so I put on a me-made cardigan I often wear with that same dress. When I made a quick inventory of my me-made wardrobe before I wrote my pledge, I realised I actually only own three me-made cardigans. This is one of them and it has also been showing signs of age, so I’m planning on knitting me some new cardigans in the near future. Seeing as my daily uniform is a dress with a cardigan, I don’t know how I didn’t realise that sooner!

Conclusions of the week:

– I need some cardigans!

– A whole year is too long a period between two haircuts.

New York Hoodie

Hoodie1Proudest sewing moment ever: I not only finished a gift on time (which reminds me, a friend of mine is still waiting for the skirt I promised to sew for her birthday in May… 2013!) but I also drafted the pattern myself!

Hoodie2I had planned on simply tracing my boyfriend’s old hoodie (without taking it apart), but this proved to be such a hassle on a stretchy fabric that I quickly gave up on that idea and found myself drafting my own pattern. I just used the old hoodie and this pattern I own to check whether the length and width of my pattern were correct, then I drew everything myself with a certain amount of guesswork.

Hoodie3By the way, you read it right: I own a hoodie pattern, yet I found it more appealing to draft my own instead of using that one. I really must hate tracing patterns even more than I thought!

Anyway, the result not only looks like what I had in mind, but it also fits the recipient! Luck of the beginner I guess. There’s only one thing I would change in future occurrences of this pattern, and two more the recipient would have me change.Hoodie4What I would change is I would make the hood longer and deeper so that it fits more comfortably over his head. What he would have me change in addition to that is making the whole body and sleeves wider so that he could wear it over several layers (even more than what he’s wearing in the pictures apparently, which is a tank top, a long-sleeved tee and a sweater – and you can see the hoodie doesn’t even look tight over all those layers!) and above all widening the sleeve bands a bit: I swear they aren’t tight at all, you can sort of see it in the pictures, but feeling something touching his wrists is a pet peeve of his so he usually wears clothes that have much more ease than what I personally think he would need (that’s why such a thin – yet very tall – guy wears size XL clothing!). He also feels suffocated when something touches his neck, which is why he didn’t close the zipper all the way up – never will! Ah, Mr Picky, you’re lucky I love you! 😉

Hoodie5Despite his (constructive) criticism, he still said he was happy with the hoodie and he took it with him to New York and I know he’ll be wearing it a lot, so this is actually at least as rewarding a sewing project as those destined for myself.

Hoodie8As regards the technical details, I lined the hood and made the cuff and body bands with self fabric: I initially wanted to use some ribbing for the bands, but I didn’t want to bother with finding (or dyeing) the right colour, and mostly I knew Mr Picky would HATE the snug fit of ribbing! I was a little bit afraid the result wouldn’t look as professional as with ribbing, but I was pleasantly surprised!

I used an assorted purple separating metal zipper which I bought in a great local shop where they specialise in zippers of all colours, types and sizes. They even cut this one to the exact length I needed and it looks like it has always been this length: you can’t see where they cut it or moved a tooth even if you try! Unfortunately, this great shop that has been there for as long as I can remember is moving outside of Brussels in June. 😦

Hoodie7I realised on Sunday that I needed some metal eyelets for the hood lace before I could tackle the next step. Since I didn’t want to wait until the next day for the shop to be open, I delved into my stash in search for a replacement… and found out that I not only had an eyelet plier, but also two whole bags of eyelets in two colours: gold and silver. I had completely forgotten that my mother had bought me those some time ago!

Now that I (know that I) have all those eyelets, it shouldn’t be too long before I replace my own ratty hoodies! Though I don’t think I’ll bother drafting the pattern myself this time, seeing as one of them is so ratty I’ll have no qualms just taking it apart and using the pieces as a pattern!


Sketchbook: Selfless Hoodie

HoodieNo, your eyes are not playing you tricks, I’m not the recipient of my latest sewing project!

My boyfriend, who hates shopping like you wouldn’t believe, had been making hints that he would appreciate it very much if I helped him avoid that chore by sewing him some of the clothes he needed to replace. I wasn’t overjoyed at that prospect because, you know, sewing for someone else, ugh. Plus he is very picky about the comfort of his clothes, and I didn’t want to waste some of my precious sewing time making something that wouldn’t get worn! I knit him a cardigan four years ago, and instead of falling at my feet in eternal gratitude as any normal person would do (a cardigan, for Pete’s sake! Size XL!!!), he pointed out that the sleeve ribbing was too tight for his taste.

But then again, after I fixed it with some astute blocking, he’s been wearing the cardigan all winter long every year. Just as he has been wearing that fleece headband that took me about five minutes to sew. And he was in desperate need of a new hoodie for an upcoming trip to New York. And I had bought an impressive amount of sweatshirt fabric that was taking an impressive amount of space in my stash. And Thread&Needles had just announced their “Un vêtement masculin” (men’s wear) sewing contest.

So I set to work and made him a (self-drafted!) hoodie. And I have to say I’m really proud with the outcome, which I should show you very soon since he accepted to pose for some pictures before he and the hoodie left for New York yesterday!