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!

 

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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! 😀

Vintage Lace

The last garment I posted on this neglected blog was a knit, so I hesitated posting this one for a minute. Then I realised, why would it even be a problem to post two knitted garments in a row, especially with a five months hiatus in-between? I’ve also completely abandoned any effort to present my creations in the order I made them and this knitted top is the last thing I finished. This hasn’t stopped me from wearing it a couple times already!

The day I took the pictures was my first day back at work after the summer holiday and what you see here is the exact outfit I wore that day. I came back home and suddenly thought, hey, why don’t I take some pictures of this top for my blog? This hadn’t happened since last March apparently… It took me ten minutes, fifteen tops, which makes me think I really need to get back into the habit of taking pictures when I’m wearing something I haven’t blogged yet.

This is my version of Andi Satterlund’s lovely Zinone top pattern. As soon as I first saw the pattern when it was published, I knew I wanted to make the cropped version (duh) with the full-lace back, in off-white for a vintage lace effect. I of course turned to my go-to yarn brand where I immediately found what I was looking for, DROPS ♥ You #6 in 101 off-white.

I didn’t bother knitting a gauge swatch and, well, I should have! I knit the whole body down to just before the waist ribbing when I realised it looked kind of short and, more annoyingly, the armholes looked tiny! I tried on the top and the armholes were indeed too small to be comfortable. I also measured it and compared the measurements to the pattern schematics: the width was pretty perfect, the length, not so much… This is when I at last thought of checking my gauge: not surprisingly, the stitch gauge was spot on, but the row gauge was much too tight!

I was on holiday in Spain at the time and knew I was going to get lots of quality knitting time in the following two weeks, so it wasn’t too much of a pain ripping out the body up to the armholes. I then added twenty more rows to said armholes (front and back) and went on to knit the body a second time. I intended on adding more rows to the body, too. However, when I reached the waist ribbing again, I got the impression that the length I had added to the armholes might prove sufficient once I knit the ribbing. This was confirmed when I tried on the finished top: although shorter than intended by the pattern, it is the perfect length for the high-waisted skirts I want to wear it with.

The only thing I am not entirely happy about with this top is that I didn’t think of adding any depth to the neckline: the row gauge discrepancy means that I should have added some rows there, too, in order for the neckline to be as deep as intended by the pattern. I didn’t think about that until I had knit the i-cord edging at the very end and saw that the neckline had ended up higher/smaller than it should have. Luckily this doesn’t make the top too difficult to get on and off, phew! It’s one of those errors you don’t even think about when you wear the finished garment (I would have completely forgotten about it had I not mentioned it in my Ravelry notes)… Speaking of the neckline, how nice does the i-cord bind-off look? It was my first time trying this method and I had a bit of difficulty understanding why I was doing what I was doing at the very beginning, but I decided to trust Andi’s instructions, and rightly so.

Between the fact that I didn’t get a lot of time to knit at the end of the last school year and that I almost had to knit it twice because I didn’t check my gauge first, this top took way more time than I thought it would from start to finish. I am glad that I managed to finish it and wear it a few times before summer leaves us for good, though, as it would have been a bit of a shame finishing it and not being able to wear it even once before next spring!

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Gato Morado Cardigan

The last time Monsieur and I were in Madrid, we came upon the cutest yarn shop, El Gato Negro, during an evening walk. It was closed at the time, but it looked very promising from the outside, so I noted down the address in order to come back the next day while Monsieur spent the day at the Prado.

Man was I right! The shop was chock full from floor to ceiling of a rainbow of yarns! There were mostly synthetic blends in there, but there was also a nice selection of natural fibres, at very affordable prices! There were little samples on display, and the yarn was sold by weight. I spent a shameful amount of time browsing the samples and in the end I chose a 100% wool in this gorgeous purple. There was no label on the skeins and not a lot of information available in the shop, only a small tag with the name of the yarn (“Especial”), its composition (100% wool) and its price (€60/kg – I bought 600g and I used a little under 300g for this cardigan).

EDIT (06/06/2017): Here is the yarn in question (colour #61 I’d say)! Hmmm, and apparently it’s supposed to be used for tapestry weaving or embroidery, not knitting… I would totally use it to knit a sweater/cardigan again though!

I knew I wanted to knit a cardigan, but I had no idea which one. Back in Brussels, we went to a yard sale where I found a series of old buttons (I’ve already used some of the black ones on my starry Cardamome), among which were these purple ones I hoped I would be able to use on the same project as my Spanish yarn.

Not long after, Andi Satterlund published the Blaster cardigan. I immediately thought of my purple yarn (and buttons!), but I was not sure it had the correct gauge. I was actually not sure what its gauge/weight was at all, nor which needle size it called for. It looked either sport or DK weight, but I had to knit a gauge to check. I tried 3,5 mm needles first, but the fabric seemed too tight, so I changed to 4 mm ones. These gave a much nicer result… and actually got gauge for the Blaster cardigan! Now if that wasn’t fate…

The only modification I made to the pattern was lengthening the sleeves. I’ve come to realise wool cardigans with 3/4 sleeves are not the most practical for me, so that’s an adjustment I often make. I simply went on knitting and decreasing until I got to the length I wanted. I seem to remember that the number of stitches I got at the very end of my sleeves, pre-eyelets and ribbing, didn’t suit the eyelet pattern and that I decreased two at a time on the last row to adjust for this.

Other than that, I followed the pattern as written. It was my tenth time knitting an Andi Satterlund sweater, so it was smooth sailing.

The yarn was very nice to work with, too. It’s a little bit drier than what I’m used to, but that’s not something negative. I’d say it’s very similar to the touch to Drops Fabel, to give you an idea. And it’s already proven to be quite hard-wearing, judging from the impressive number of times the cardigan has been worn since mid-November. Not to sound like a broken record again, but I do love the finished cardigan! It goes with a lot of my dresses, but it seems like it was made to match my purple Emery, doesn’t it?

PS In case you were wondering, the foxy brooch I am wearing in the pictures was made by Mimolette, using a Mollie Makes freebie from a few years ago!

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Seeing Red

marymead5The first time I wore my purple Emery dress, I reached for a red cardigan… and realised I didn’t own any ! How was that possible? I could think of so many outfits that could be topped off with a cropped red cardigan! So the colour of the next knitting project in my queue was easily decided.

marymead2The project in question was Andi Satterlund’s Mary Mead cardigan, which she had published earlier that year. She advised in her blog post about the pattern to use a yarn with silk or alpaca in it in order to get the best result with the garter stitch, and the Alpaca yarn by Drops seemed to be the correct weight (as did the BabyAlpaca Silk yarn, but I preferred the colour of the Alpaca one), so that’s what I ordered. I was kind of baffled at how few skeins I needed: five! And I have most of a skein left, so at €2,65 per skein, that was a pretty inexpensive knit; yay Drops, yay cropped sweaters!

I do have one small reservation about this precise yarn, though: it left red marks on the underarms of two dresses! The stains did come off in the wash without applying any special products, but still, I didn’t find this very pleasant!

marymead3Being used to the construction of Andi’s sweaters and seeing that the stitch of this one was quite simple (columns of garter stitch and of very basic lace), I thought I’d be done in a month, a month and a half tops, ha! It took me close to SIX MONTHS! I kept messing up the garter stitch columns, realising twenty or more rows afterwards that I had knit a few stocking stitches instead… So I unravelled and reknit an incalculable number of times both body and sleeves, and completely lost steam on the way.

marymead4But I did end up finishing the cardigan, and those countless times I had to unravel and reknit were completely worth it as it’s now my most worn cardigan! It goes with so many things in my wardrobe, I can’t believe I waited for so long before even thinking of knitting this one!

marymead1

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Pastel

pastel1Yes, another gathered skirt with giant pockets; yes, two new Ondée sweaters! I know, I know

What can I write that I haven’t written before, especially since the fabric I used for the Ondées is the same as for my first version, only in different colourways, and the fabric of the skirt is the same as for last week’s culottes, only with vertical stripes instead of flowers? I also used the remnants of the culottes for the pockets and the covered button, so really, nothing new under the sun. I even bought the fabrics in the same place.

pastel5Oh, but wait, I did use a new pattern for the pockets of the skirt! Burda 06/2015 #103a is a gathered skirt, so they only provide you with measurements, no pattern pieces, except for the pockets. I used my usual gathered skirt measurements instead of the pattern measurements, but I did use the pocket piece! I love those pockets: I can literally fit a cat in each one! Now if only my cats would cooperate.

pastel3I have been more into skirts that fall below the knee lately and I would have liked this skirt to do so, but I didn’t have enough fabric left after straightening the grain (I lost about twenty centimetres, grrrrr!), so this length had to do. Judging from the crazy amount of times I have worn this skirt in almost four months, I think I might survive the trauma.

pastel4I have realised since making the two Ondées (and two others after that, oops!) that I should have cut at least a 38 at the shoulders instead of a 36 like I did. It’s funny how at first you don’t see something, and then you notice it and it’s all you can see. I am now the proud owner of ten too-narrow-at-the-shoulders Ondées! Now that won’t stop me from going on wearing them. Also, being the positive person that I am, I see that as an opportunity to sew ten more! Silver lining and all that…

pastel2

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Brigiiiiitte!

VichyMint1When I came upon this mint gingham at the Stoffenspektakel with my partner in crime, I immediately thought of making it into a matching blouse and skirt.

I knew the skirt would be a simple gathered one with giant patch pockets, because you do not change a winning team, but I dithered on the question of the blouse. At first I wanted to make a Mélilot, then thinking I could wear it tied at the waist made me think about Camille’s versions of  this Burda model I had in my stash, and then I remembered Gertie’s pattern, Butterick B5895,  which I also had in my stash (is there a pattern I do not have in my stash, that is the question!), and the deal was done!

VichyMint3I went in search of reviews of the pattern, and a lot of them warned about the surprising amount of ease. I took a look at the finished measurements and chose to cut a size 6 instead of between a size 10 and 12 as the body measurements would have had me cut. Now, the ease wouldn’t have worried me so much was I going to use a drapier fabric, but with this light but stiff gingham I thought it would be wiser to go down a few sizes for fear of getting a much boxier blouse than I intended.

Another thing I read in a lot of reviews was that the blouse was very short. Once again I referred to the finished garment measurements (I also measured the length of the pattern pieces just to be sure) and I decided against modifying the length. But it’s true, the blouse is indeed very short: I suspect I am very high waisted and it falls right at my natural waist.

VichyMint4The pattern only has four pieces, but man do some of them look weird! The only tricky part to sew is the collar, for which you need to be very precise in your cutting, marking and sewing, and I found the instructions perfectly clear.

One thing that worried me was that the grainline does not run parallel to the centre front line, so I had to ignore the grainline on the front pieces for the plaid to be straight on the button bands. Fortunately, this did not cause any problem in the end, phew! The grainline isn’t parallel with the centre back either and I actually like the effect there, but I know it would have bugged me to no end if the gingham didn’t run parallel with the edge of the button bands in the front.

VichyMint5When I first tried on the finished blouse minus the buttons/buttonholes, I realized that going down two sizes and a half meant I should evidently have lowered the darts. So I set out to unpick the side seams and lower the darts by about 3/4’’. I think it was well worth the effort: here’s the before and the after.

After that all I had to do was add the buttons and buttonholes (actually not that easy when you want your centre front plaid to match!), and then make the matching skirt!

VichyMint6I don’t have a lot to say about the skirt, it’s yet another simple gathered skirt. Just like for the blouse, I took a lot of time pattern matching. Instead of pinning, I found it easier/faster (still very time-consuming) to baste the pieces together before sewing them. Once again, worth the extra time.

VichyMint2I like my little matching ensemble, but in fact I’m not sure I’ll ever wear the two pieces together. Separately, yes (already have), together, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s a little too over the top? I really don’t know, we’ll see! And worse comes to worst, I’ll still have a cute blouse and a cute skirt!

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Sailorette

Sailorette1How many Ondées are too many Ondées? This is Ondée #6 (and — spoiler alert! I made #7 on the same day!). This is also far from my first striped top; what can I say? I know what I like!

I’ve sewn a couple more challenging projects lately, and Ondée is still the perfect palate cleanser for when you don’t want to jump directly from one long project to another.

Sailorette7I made my usual size, and this time I used a navy/off-white striped cotton jersey with lycra, once again from the Stoffenspektakel. The neckline, waist and sleeve bands are made from the same off-white cotton ribbing I used for this T-shirt (from De Stoffenkamer). It’s pretty thick, more than the main fabric. This made it a little bit difficult to sew through the bulk at seam junctions, but it does look nice in the end.

Sailorette2The skirt is one of Deer&Doe’s new patterns, the Zéphyr dress. A skirt version, obviously. I’m in-between sizes (36/38 waist) at the moment and I opted for a 36, which is perfectly comfortable, not too tight at all. I didn’t grade to my hip size (close to a 42), hoping the shape of the skirt would provide enough room by itself, and it does. I do have to wiggle a little bit to put on the skirt, but that’s always the case with any garment that relies on stretch and not on any fastenings: if it fits my waist, it won’t easily get past my hips.

Sailorette5The fabric I used is a navy ponte of unknown composition I recently bought at the Stoffenspektakel with this exact skirt in mind. It is perfect for this pattern, just the right weight and thickness.

I pressed the waist seam allowance upwards and topstitched it in place with a three-step zigzag stitch because otherwise it fell towards the skirt and formed a bulge where the side and waist seams meet. I would do the same for any future version, except that I think I would use a plain zigzag stitch. The hem was serged, then turned and stitched with a straight stitch (no real risk of popping the stitches with this wide hem).

Sailorette6Like the Ondée, this skirt allowed me to catch my breath between two more complicated projects. I think this might be the fastest garment I’ve ever sewn! Two pieces to trace, three pieces to cut, that’s it! I don’t often make a skirt without pockets, but I think pockets would have ruined the shape of this one, so I didn’t add any. I’ve already worn it a few times, and the lack of pockets didn’t bother me too much.

Sailorette3I sometimes feel almost guilty when I make such easy projects, thinking I should spend my time sewing things that are much more challenging, but then again I love the resulting garments, so why feel guilty when I should feel proud to be making pieces I’m going to wear on a daily basis? Just because a project is easy, doesn’t mean it’s worthless, does it?

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Agatha Au Naturel

Agatha4This is technically my first completed knit of 2016! I started it last August and finished the knitting part at the very beginning of November… but then I waited for two months and a half to weave in the ends and sew on the buttons, no idea why! When I finally got to it, it was nice spending an hour or two on the finishing touches and getting the impression of having made a whole cardigan in so little time!

Agatha1This Agatha cardigan is my seventh Andi Satterlund sweater/cardigan, and my third time using Drops Nepal yarn (a wool and alpaca blend). What can I say, I’m a creature of habit! I have nothing new to say about the yarn, it’s still very pleasant to work with and to wear, and its only negatives would be that it sheds a little bit of hair on any dark clothes I wear with it, and that it has a strong smell when it’s wet.

Agatha2As for the pattern, it uses the same construction as all of Andi’s sweater patterns, but I would rate it as a little bit more difficult than the other ones I have knit. With the different lace panels of the body that don’t have the same number of rows in their respective repeats, it took me a long time to memorize the repeats and I constantly had to refer to the diagrams, save for at the very end. So nothing complicated per se, but it did require more concentration than the other ones I’ve made, and I am kind of in awe of the people who chose this pattern as their first sweater!

Agatha5There are two little things I’m not in love with on the finished cardigan: the first one is the fact that the upper sleeves are a touch too wide for me, even though I made my usual size (Ravelry notes here). When I look back at the pictures of the pattern, I see that’s how they are supposed to fit, and it’s probably just that I’m used to a closer fit, so nothing serious there.

The other small negative is entirely on my part: I don’t know how I managed that, but I messed up the top buttonhole, which ended up way too close to the edge of the button band! I realised that when sewing on the buttons, so I attached the top button accordingly at first, but then I realised I mostly (more like, always) wear my cardigans open, so it made more sense to sew the button on the same line as the other ones, and have it look crooked when the cardigan is closed (i.e. possibly never) rather than when it is open. Plus, I can also wear it with all buttons closed but the top one like I did in some of the pictures here. Come to think of it, the top buttonhole is on the part I knit last, so if it still bothers me after wearing the cardigan for a little while, I could always reknit it… Though I doubt it will be the case!

Agatha6Speaking of buttons, they are one of the things I like most about this cardigan! For once I found what I wanted in my stash: they are a series of six buttons that my mother had rescued from an old jacket she threw away years (decades?) ago, and I love their vintage style; I think they pair extremely well with the natural colour of the yarn and the style of the cardigan.

Agatha3Another thing I love is the look of the side and sleeve decreases, so neat! And the lace panels, both on the body and on the sleeves. And the cuffs. And… Okay, I think it’s fair to say I quite like this cardigan!

Déjà Vu

DéjàVu2Here’s the last Ondée I hadn’t photographed yet, with a Hollyburn skirt I made back in May!

That Hollyburn is more of a summer skirt and I wouldn’t wear that outfit in real life since I don’t like such a light-coloured skirt with dark tights, but I don’t hate it either so I took the opportunity to blog those two garments at once, especially since I don’t have anything new to say about the Ondée sweater (same size as usual, same fabric as the blue version).

DéjàVu3I had already sewn a Hollyburn skirt, which was actually the first garment I ever posted on this blog. I love and have been wearing that winter version so much that I wanted another one for the warmer months. I bought the fabric with that exact project in mind at Gotex at least two years ago, but so many projects, you know how it goes…

DéjàVu4It’s always a bit of a disappointment when a project you have been thinking about for so long doesn’t turn out as perfect as in your head, which is the case with this one. I blame the fabric: although it looks like a sort of chambray, it’s in fact a polyester/cotton blend, and, just like the one I had used for my Centaurée, it has taken the worst of each component: while the cotton means it wrinkles easily, its polyester part won’t take a press! This was definitely my last time ever sewing such a material.

DéjàVu5I have been trying to lower my fabric stash (no pledge or anything, just trying to remain conscious of what I already have and stop overbuying like I used to – I have to say it’s been working pretty well!) and I didn’t want to keep the small remnant that was left after cutting the skirt, so I made the belt loop version and I sewed a matching bow belt to go with it. I used Tilly’s tutorial (in her book, but you can find it on her blog, too), and I added two snaps to make sure the ends stayed in place.

DéjàVu6Weirdly, despite my qualms about the fabric, a less than perfect zipper insertion and the fact that that skirt shape in a light colour probably isn’t the most flattering shape on me from behind, I still like the skirt a lot. I made it a little bit longer than my first version, which I have always thought was a tiny bit too short to my taste, and, I completely forgot to take a picture of that, but to finish the hem I used some light blue bias tape with white polka dots. Since it was destined to be a casual summer skirt, I didn’t line it, and I used my serger to finish the seams.

DéjàVu1