Cherbourg Dress

This dress started with the fabric. I bought it at Atelier Moondust during the sales and I immediately knew it would become a shirtdress. Unusually, I also immediately sewed the shirtdress in question. Not all fabrics can boast such a short stay in my stash!

I chose the Camí dress because it’s the most basic (in a good way!) shirtdress pattern I own. I knew I’d have to make some fitting adjustments though: my first Camí fits awfully at the neck and shoulders. Since I wasn’t really sure about how to fix that, I thought of comparing the pattern pieces to the one other pattern I’ve sewn that has a collar with a stand, the Cardamome dress. And then I thought, why not simply blend the collar and shoulders of the Cardamome pattern with the rest of the Camí? So that’s what I did. It was not the easiest to do because of the yoke of the Cardamome, but it did work: this version fits way better than the first one. It’s still not perfect, but it’s getting there. I might try a broad shoulder and/or back adjustment in the future, and maybe something for my sloping shoulders. And shortening the back bodice, too.

As you can tell from the pictures, I didn’t only make fitting adjustments; I also modified the opening: no more side zipper, but a full button band instead of the partial one of the original. It takes more time to put on or take off the dress, but I’m yet to get dressed or undressed in such a hurry that this poses a problem, and it’s also more comfortable to put on. And I love the look of the full button band so much!

Oooh, speaking of the buttons, aren’t they lovely? They are vintage and I got them at the last Lille Braderie. I was so happy to find such a perfect use for them!

Another change I made, which you can’t see in the pictures, is one I had also made on my first version, raising the too low pockets.

The only real problem of this dress is… the fabric! It’s the cutest with its adorable umbrellas and raindrops and everything, but man does it wrinkle, which makes it look a bit sloppy at the end of a day’s wear… Ah well, it won’t stop me from enjoying those little umbrellas!

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Olive Cardigan

This cardigan is almost one year old. I finished it right before last spring, which, for such an autumn coloured sweater, was maybe not the greatest idea. I was just starting to crave pastel and other spring hues, so it felt like I wouldn’t want to wear that cardigan a lot.

But strangely I did wear it a lot, and I didn’t even wait for September for that. I say strangely, but I guess the ever fall-like Belgian weather must have helped quite a lot.

I had bought the yarn (Drops Karisma, colour #57 olive) for this sweater in 2014, at my beloved local yarn shop, which has since closed. I had another much longer sweater in mind at the time, but when I decided to knit the Wainthropp cardigan, I didn’t want to buy any yarn unless I didn’t have anything suiting it in my stash. So I said goodbye to the long sweater and opted for the safest bet, yet another Andi Satterlund sweater, my eleventh if I’m not mistaken! 😀

I modified the button and neck bands: I didn’t like the garter stitch ones of the pattern, so I changed them for twisted ribs, matching the waistband and sleeve cuffs. As usual, I wrote down the details on Ravelry. The buttons are from my stash, once again salvaged from an old garment by my mother.

What more can I write about this cardigan from a designer I’m used to, knit in a yarn I’m used to? No much I guess, except that I’ve recently realised that, weirdly, I have a tendency to knit cardigans in fairly dull colours. It’s particularly obvious when you see them all together. My only bright cardigan was this one, but I’ve just got rid of it because it was too worn and damaged. It’s strange because I think of myself as someone who loves colour and is not afraid to wear bright colours even in winter, yet my sweater shelf says otherwise. Something to keep in mind the next time I buy some yarn!

Joanna Dress

When I first saw the Lliria dress pattern, it was love at first sight. It has everything I like in a dress: the overall silhouette, the sleeves, the yoke, the gathers, I could go on… And when my friend Hibbis almost magically dug out not one but two 1,50 metre pieces of this lovely black and white floral viscose from a messy stand during our last visit to the Stoffenspektakel, I immediately saw it as the perfect fabric for my Lliria.

And it was. But man was it a pain to sew! I had already sewn with viscose, but never with such a shifty one, and paired with the curves of the Lliria dress, it was an absolute nightmare. The waistband in particular got so distorted that its two ends didn’t match at all once sewn up: I had to unpick and re-sew it, which was not fun at all, but I think worth it in the end. I also had to unpick and re-sew the hem a couple of times… and once more after my bike chewed up a piece of it during its first outing! 😱

The flat button is inside the waistband.

The buttons are vintage. They are the same I used on this blouse. And by “the same”, I mean five of them were stolen from said blouse. They were too perfect for this dress, and not that comfortable on the back of a blouse.

I’m really happy with the fit of the finished dress. I had to blend quite a few different sizes to get there: size 42 for the shoulders, 40 for the sleeves, 38 for the sleeve cuffs, 36 for the bust and waist and 42 for the skirt (with a size 48 length at first, but I had to chop off a few centimetres after the bike incident and I think I got back to the original 42 length). It’s kind of all over the place, but that’s what I thought would work after comparing the pattern pieces measurements to the measurements of well-fitting garments, and it did: it’s incredibly comfortable and I feel like a million bucks in it!

I also made a couple very small modifications to the pattern: I added side seam pockets and I interfaced both facings and sleeve cuffs. The only one of these changes I wouldn’t replicate on a future version is interfacing the skirt facings since it takes away some of the fluidity of the skirt. The rest I’m happy with.

Surprisingly, I’d say this is probably the most difficult pattern I’ve ever sewn, because of the type of fabric it requires coupled with the curved shape of some of the pieces, which made it impossible for me not to distort them despite all my precautions. But I’m sure it would have been much easier had I not used that particularly fickle fabric, or had I maybe thought to stabilise it with starch or something…

And the result is so worth it!

Aux robes pareilles

I don’t know that my second version of such a simple pattern as the Moneta deserves a blog post of its own, but I really love this dress and I was wearing it when I thought about taking pictures for the blog, so here goes.

You may remember that I had to shorten the bodice of my first Moneta dress after completing it. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to alter the bodice pattern pieces, too. And, contrary to what I was forced to do on the first dress (since it was already cut and sewn), I didn’t simply cut off the bottom of the bodice pieces. I shortened them properly by slashing and closing, and I feel like this allows for a better fit at the waist than on the first version: the waist seam is now horizontal, even at the back, so no need for a swayback adjustment after all.

What may also have contributed to this more horizontal waist seam is the fact that I used my preferred method of gathering the skirt (the same as for a woven garment, with three basting rows, but adding clear elastic when attaching the skirt to the garment) instead of the recommended one.

If I did alter the bodice pattern pieces, I didn’t think of altering the skirt pattern pieces at the time. And I realised that right after having cut both skirt pieces, argh! I remember thinking that the length of the first dress was okay, but not perfect, and that on the next version I’d definitely add some length to the skirt to compensate for the length I had lost at the bodice. I could have kicked myself when I realised I had forgotten to do so! I made a very narrow hem to get as much length as I could out of my already cut skirt pieces, and I think that the length I got is more than okay, but I must remember to add a couple more centimetres to the next version in order to get to my perfect skirt length (63 centimetres — this one is 60 or 61).

Those 2-3 missing centimetres sure haven’t stopped that dress from becoming one of my favourite ones! Aren’t those cherries the cutest? I had made this beloved skirt a bit more than a year ago in a lovely cotton poplin, and when I found the exact same print but on jersey (at Herbert Textiel), I didn’t think twice and immediately ordered 2 metres for a Moneta dress.

It’s a white fabric with a dark print, so it does show a tiny bit of white at some seams (see the sleeve seam in the close-up picture below — note that you can always click on the images to make them bigger), but it’s nothing you notice unless you’re specifically looking for it.

What’s crazy is that, out of the two metres I had ordered, I managed to get this dress of course, but also a matching cardigan! I cut and sewed them both at the same time, which was really fun and gave me the impression of being incredibly productive! In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t intend to wear them together, nor to wear the cardigan with the matching poplin skirt!

But when does one enter crazy cherry lady territory? I mean, people (okay, students 😉 ) have already started asking questions, and they haven’t even seen the cardigan yet, nor the three other cherry fabrics I still have in my stash!

Socks in Fox

I almost exclusively knit cardigans and sweaters. Sometimes a scarf, very rarely a hat, once a pair of fingerless mittens, another time a pair of slippers and, up until I decided to knit these, never a pair of socks.

The thing is, I hardly ever wear socks. I’m almost always in a dress or a skirt, so tights are what I wear most of. The occasions when I do wear socks being casual to say the least (i.e. mostly lazy days at home), I’ve been content with the same old pairs I’ve had since… my teenage years for some of them. Typing this, I’m realizing that this means I’ve had some of these socks for TWENTY YEARS! 😱 And, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve bought any socks these last ten years. Please feel free to judge.

Aaaaanyway, so weirdly, most of my socks have started showing signs of age. And since I have pretty much entirely stopped shopping for clothing (making clothes is so much more fun!), when I realised I should stard to replace the ones I’ve had to throw away, I didn’t think twice and started browsing Ravelry for sock knitting patterns.

I was looking for something cute of course, but also fairly easy for my first time knitting socks. Lauren Riker’s Pawsome Pals seemed like the perfect choice: by far the cutest socks I found on Ravelry (with these ones, also by Lauren Riker — I opted for the Pawsome Pals because they are lower, so better suited for a first sock project I thought, but I did buy Lauren Riker’s whole “Look at Those Legs!” pack), and as it turns out they are plain stockinette with duplicate stitch added at the end, so easy peasy.

For the yarn I chose the cheapest option, also one of the easiest available, Drops Fabel. I quite liked knitting with it, and I’m fairly happy with the way it has worn out: it did felt and pill slightly at the surface in some places the first time I wore the socks (and white heels were maybe not the best idea), but it hasn’t changed a lot more in the year since.

I loved knitting these socks! They are knit from the toe up, and it was so neat seeing the shape of a foot appear almost magically. The only changes I made were adding a contrast black toe and omitting the writing at the back.

I had read about second sock syndrome, and to avoid that I knit the two socks simultaneously. I didn’t want to fuss with two socks/skeins on the same needles, so I simply bought a second pair of circular needles and knit each step on one sock, then on the other: toe, foot, heel, leg, cuff, bind off, ears, weaving in ends, white duplicate stitch, black duplicate stitch. That’s the advantage of knitting with cheap needles!

Unfortunately, the finished socks are not perfect. They do look very cute, if I do say so myself, but they are a little bit too tight. They are comfortable to wear (though I wouldn’t mind more space at the instep — you can even see it in the pictures), but pretty difficult to put on. Frankly, I can only blame myself: I didn’t knit a gauge swatch and my tension was way too tight. My duplicate stitch leaves a bit to be desired, too: I couldn’t stop the orange yarn to show through the white yarn between some stitches. Ah well, these were my first socks, and at least I left room for improvement for the next pair!

Retro Stripes

Nine months ago, when I had just made this dress, I wasn’t sure I’d wear it a ton. I loved the fabric (still do), but the shape was just not ideal on me. I felt like it hit a weird spot between lose in some places and tight in other places. And I liked it from the front, but I was bothered by the fabric pooling at the back. I also didn’t want to add darts to a T-shirt dress, so I decided to wear it anyway.

It has not become my favourite dress, but it has become one of my most worn garments nonetheless. Especially in the summer, when the weather’s warm enough to wear it without tights: it’s my go-to dress for lazy summer days. I also wear it in winter, with tights and a cardigan (usually this one), so it really is a year round dress. And I don’t ever think about its imperfect fit when I wear it.

To make it I used Sewaholic’s Renfrew top, which I simply lengthened. Now I know not to do that again. I also shortened the sleeves, got rid of the sleeve bands and made my own, much narrower, neckband. All hems were serged, then turned and topstitched with a double needle. Since I was using white thread, I made sure that the topstitching fell on white stripes. I didn’t topstitch the seam allowances of the neckband down.

The fabric once again came from the Stoffenspektakel. It has a lovely texture that sort of reminds me of vintage crochet; I love it!

I don’t have a lot more to say about that dress which is essentially a T-shirt (and I think my sixth version of the Renfrew pattern) so I’ll leave it at that. See you next week!

Little Black Cardigan

You may remember that I concluded last week’s post by toying with the idea of sewing a black cardigan to match my Moneta dress. In an unprecedented turn of events, I didn’t procrastinate for a decade and immediately made the cardigan in question. It was a very fast sew: about five hours, cutting the fabric included. And that’s with me being an extremely slow seamstress.

I’ve become much more thoughtful than I used to be regarding my pattern buying habits; it’s now very rare for me to buy a pattern as soon as it comes out. But when Jennifer Lauren released her Juniper cardigan pattern, I could see View 1 become such a staple that I bought it at once without hesitation. It seemed like the perfect cropped cardigan, with such a cute shoulder detail (which you can’t really make out in my pictures — thanks black! — but it’s there).

It was my first time sewing one of Jennifer Lauren’s patterns, and probably not the last since I don’t have anything even remotely negative to say about this one: the instructions were great, the fit is great (even the sleeves are long enough for my monkey arms) and the resulting cardigan looks great! I didn’t print the pdf at home. When there’s a copyshop version included, I usually prefer cashing out to get it printed professionally than spending time cutting and taping an inordinate number of A4 pages. So the fact that there is a copyshop version included is great, too!

It’s a fairly easy pattern, but I still dreaded sewing the saddle shoulders a little bit beforehand. Now that I know what there really is to it, I can tell you that there really isn’t anything to fear: if you can sew a normal T-shirt sleeve, you can sew these saddle shoulder sleeves. The notches were a great help to get everything perfectly lined up. Not only at the shoulders, but everywhere you could need them. I like precision, and this pattern didn’t disappoint.

I cut a size 8 and didn’t make any adjustment. I don’t know that it’s a “perfect fit” and as is often the case I see more wrinkles in the pictures than in real life, on a moving body, but I still wouldn’t change anything for a next version. I also followed the instructions to the letter, except that I sewed everything directly on my serger. I only used a sewing machine to topstitch the neckband (with a double needle) and to make the buttonholes.

About the buttonholes, I stupidly placed the highest one too high: I had marked its top, but I mistook that marking for its bottom, and I only realised my error when I had spaced (and sewn) all the other buttonholes accordingly, so I didn’t bother unpicking it. This means that there isn’t any interfacing under this top buttonhole, but it’s clearly not a big deal since I hardly ever wear my cardigans closed.

The fabric is the same I used for this Ondée top, a cotton/lycra jersey from Tia Knight (on their eBay store, which apparently doesn’t exist anymore). I had thought about using a lightweight French terry from my stash, but I preferred trying the pattern with this remnant first. And now that I’ve tried the pattern, I’m not convinced (even a lightweight) French terry would be the best choice for it: there are places such as the junction of the waistband and neckband where it might be too bulky. But I’m not sure either; maybe I’ll try someday.

The buttons are vintage. I bought them at a yard sale two summers ago, still on their card, and I am so glad to have found a use for them as they are so lovely! Vintage buttons are one of those things that I think make handmade clothing even more unique and precious.

I made this cardigan to go with my hard to match Moneta, but I know it’s going to get worn with so many other outfits. A black cropped cardigan was something I felt was missing from my wardrobe and I had been meaning to knit one for a long time, which I actually still intend to do ultimately, but for the meantime I’m quite happy with this one!

 

Golondrina Moneta

When I finished this Moneta dress about a year ago and put it on my dress form, it was love at first sight. Then I tried it on and saw that the waist fell about an inch too low to my taste: I like the waist seam of my fit and flare dresses to fall exactly at my waist. And I prefer a waist seam that is a touch too high than a touch too low. But it did not look awful either, so I thought I’d try wearing the dress like that and see whether I’d maybe change my mind like it sometimes happens and decide that I did not mind the position of the waist in the end.

Man did I feel self-conscious that next day at work! I could not not think about that too low waist and kept unwittingly crossing my arms to hide it. It had been a very long time since I had felt that uncomfortable in a piece of clothing (which in turn made me cherish the fact that I’m so used to feeling good in my clothes that it has become a given)! So that was it, I definitely had to alter the waist.

You know me, summer came and I hadn’t even touched said waist yet. I tried on the dress again, to get an idea of how much I had to shorten the bodice and I thought “hey, it actually looks way less weird than I remembered” and wore it the next day. I felt far from as uncomfortable as the first time I had worn it, yet I knew I still had to alter it.

What’s funny is, in the two times I’ve worn this dress, it has garnered a crazy amount of compliments. More in two days than each of my most worn garments in the numerous times I’ve worn them (except for this dress; it’s like I cannot wear this dress and not get at least one compliment — I’ve been stopped on the street by strangers about this dress 😀 )! But none of that really matters when you don’t feel totally comfortable, so I knew I wouldn’t wear it anymore until I shortened its bodice at last.

It took me a few more months, but I eventually did (almost a year after finishing the dress…). And even though this means the skirt now falls an inch higher up my knees and does not hit that perfect-for-me spot anymore, I finally feel perfectly comfortable in my dress, phew! It might still benefit from shortening the back bodice by something like one more centimetre to compensate for my probable swayback, but that’s a detail that can wait for the next version!

I have to say, it’s not the easiest dress to wear in winter though… Not because of its shape, but because of the fabric (from the Stoffenspektakel and tissus.net — I regretted to have only gotten one metre of it at the Stoffenspektakel so I bought some more when I came across it while browsing tissus.net), or more precisely because of the colour of the fabric. It’s proven very difficult to find a matching colour other than black. The only cardigan of mine that does not look too bad with it is my red Mary Mead, but what I need is a black cropped cardigan. I do own a black cardigan, but its shape does not look nice at all with this dress; it makes me feel like I’m wearing a nightdress and a dressing gown. I’m pretty sure a black cropped cardigan could be worn with a lot of other outfits, so I absolutely need to either knit or sew (I’m looking at you, Juniper!) one.

Now that I’ve solved my little fit problem with this dress, I want to make a million more! I love the shape of the neckline (especially at the back), sleeves and skirt. And it’s sooooo comfortable, all the while looking so elegant!

The only thing I didn’t like with the pattern was the way they have you gather the skirt, ugh! I don’t understand how people can get a nice looking waistline with that method: you need to stretch the waistline of the bodice so much for it to match the skirt; even with the addition of the clear elastic (which you also have to stretch too much), I personally couldn’t get a truly clean result and the waist seam is a bit wavy in places.

EDIT (12/1): Oops, I suddenly realised that this is not the way the pattern has you gather the skirt! It has you gather the skirt with clear elastic, then attach it to the bodice. I now remember using this method the first time I attached the skirt and hating it about as much as I hated the method I used the second time around, if not more: stitching the stretched out to the max clear elastic on a sewing machine was such a pain! At least with the method I described above, I was able to feed the elastic through the guiding slot in the presser foot of the serger, which kept it in place much better.

Next time I’ll make sure to apply my usual method, the same you’d use on a woven (always using a contrasting thread for the gathering stitches in order to be able to take them out easily afterwards without messing up the serged seam), but with the addition of clear elastic, and serging the waist seam of course: much less painful, much better results…

Now to choose the fabric for my next Moneta! Or maybe I should make that black cardigan first…

At Least It’s Not Easter Yet!

Ho ! Ho ! Ho !

Christmas has come and gone, but I’d rather not wait a whole year to blog this little knitted hat. And my Christmas tree is still up, so…

Fandangle2The pattern is Fandangle by Andi Satterlund, and it was my first real stab at stranded colourwork (this sweater I made in 2014 featured a tiny bit of stranded colourwork). I found it a bit tedious to knit, although not really complicated. I just don’t like dealing with two strands at the same time. But I’m not really happy with the way my ornament motifs look: at first I thought I had pulled the floats too tight (despite making all efforts not to), but I have since realised that I was simply not supposed to cross the strands behind each and every stitch, duh! Ah well, it doesn’t look catastrophic and I don’t even think about it when I wear the hat, and at least now I’ve learnt my lesson!

My hat also fits tighter than intended (a what? A gauge swatch?!), but that’s not really a problem: at least it feels secure on the head, even with the weight of that HUGE pompom I made!

The yarn is Drops Flora (#01 off white and #18 red). It was my first time using it, but I was on familiar ground since it’s similar to Nepal, one of my favourite yarns, only in a different weight.

I started knitting this hat a few days before Christmas last year and finished it two to three weeks later, too late to wear it that same year. So I put it away, and I was very glad to find it waiting for me at the beginning of this festive season. I’m pretty sure I’ll be just as happy to pull it out of its drawer again come next Christmas!

Lait Fraise

Taking pictures, or rather the fact that I find it difficult to muster the energy to take pictures, is usually what stops me from blogging regularly. So when I took these pictures, I thought I’d write a blog post the next day for sure… Two months later, still no blog post, oops!

So don’t worry, I’m not crazy and did not wear this outfit in November, but in September, when the weather was still warm enough to wear a summery sweater!

The sweater in question had already gotten used to waiting quite a bit, seeing as I started knitting it in May 2015 and finished it in March 2017! I had actually almost finished it in summer 2015, with only the ribbing bands left to knit, but I didn’t feel like knitting those pesky little bands (on 2 mm needles, ugh!) at the time, knowing I couldn’t wear the sweater until the next warm season anyway. So I put it away… and then kind of forgot its existence until not one, but two years later! :-/ To think it only took me two more days to finish it once I got back to it…

The yarn is Drops Safran (uni colour 01 light pink), yet another great value for money from Drops, if not for a small tendency to split when it’s being knit. I love the finished product though, so I wouldn’t let that put me off from using it again in the future.

The pattern is the Babette top by Belgian magazine La Maison Victor, and it was my first time knitting in Dutch! The pattern itself was… okay I guess. I changed a few small things: knit in one piece, grafted the shoulders, extended the eyelet pattern to the back, added buttons… Should you need them, all the details are on my Ravelry. With all those changes, I must say I really like the finished sweater. I mean, look at that back: isn’t it just lovely?

I’m starting to have quite a collection of sleeveless or short-sleeved cropped cotton sweaters, which are one of my favourite things to wear in (not too) warm weather. I love their vintage look, and on a less glamorous note, I also love that they don’t show sweat marks! 😀