Gingerly Yours

ginger34Can you believe I have spent the last two years without a pair of jeans, or without a pair of trousers for that matter?! The only thing resembling trousers in my wardrobe were these 3/4-length jeans, only wearable in summer. The rest of the time: not a single pair!

I’m more of a skirt/dress wearing kind of woman (duh!), but still, no pair at all had started to get a little tiresome. I’ll choose a skirt/dress over a pair of jeans 99% of the time, but I’ve come to realise I need jeans for the remaining percent. I mean, how stupid did I look hiking in a dress and tights last winter? 😀

gingerprofilThe reason I spent so much time without a somewhat essential piece of wardrobe is that well-fitting trousers are close to impossible to find in shops for me: there is a 36 cm difference between my hips and waist, which means that shop-bought trousers that fit my waist will never (and I mean never) go past my hips, and the ones that go past my hips will inevitably gape at the waist. The best I could aim for were ones that didn’t gape so much that they were completely unwearable, but really, I have actually never owned a pair of perfectly fitting trousers. The ones I’ve linked to in the first paragraph were one of my best fitting pairs, yet they gaped enough at the back that I always needed to cover the waist.

gingerfaceBy the way, I’d like to stress the fact that I’m not complaining about my body shape, but about the fact that I couldn’t find trousers that fit that shape. I’m insisting because absolutely every time I have happened to talk about the objective size difference between my hips and waist, there have been people to tell me that I should not be saying that, that I’m not fat and God knows what, as if simply acknowledging (and, let me insist again, not complaining about) a particularity of my body was the same as criticising that body. We all have different bodies, there’s nothing negative in identifying what makes ours different from the accepted norm. Also, people automatically jumping to the conclusion that wide hips = negative kind of puzzles me, but whatever.

Now that’s off my chest, let’s talk about MY FIRST EVER PAIR OF WELL FITTING JEANS! 😀

gingerface2When the Closet Case Ginger jeans first came out, like a lot of people I was kind of tempted, but also kind of intimidated. What worried me was the fitting part. I remembered from the Clover-craze a few years ago that trousers seemed an absolute nightmare to fit, and I wasn’t feeling up to the task. Still, when the Ginger pattern was on sale and I found the perfect dark stretch denim (for €3! – and it is surprisingly good quality!) at Tissus Passion, I gave in. And finally, a few months later, I mustered up the courage and started cutting. What was the worst that could happen after all? Wasting less than €6 of fabric? Spoiler alert: I didn’t waste a single cent!

gingerdosIn a bout of mad optimism, I opted for the high-rise skinny version. I had never in my life even tried on a pair of skinny jeans, but I thought, there’s always a first, and I was curious… My fabric is pretty stretchy, so I went down to a size 10 in the hips instead of what should have been a 12. Also, I didn’t dare grading up or down too many sizes and the jeans are not supposed to fall at the natural waist but a little bit lower, which is why I chose a size 8 for the waist instead of a 4.

So at first I simply graded from a size 8 waist to a size 10 hips, and I tried on the basted jeans (without waistband) as advised in the sewalong and in the eBook. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the fit was already quite good! I just needed to take a wedge out at the back yoke. And before finishing the jeans for real, I tried on the waistband and simply cut off the excess after attaching it to the jeans. Right below are my modified pattern pieces for reference (click on the image to enlarge): in red are the changes I made before even cutting the pattern (i.e. simply grading between a size 8 and a size 10) and in green (only on the yoke piece) the wedge I took out after trying on the basted jeans (the broken line is the seam line, the solid one adds a 5/8” seam allowance). I didn’t transfer the changes I made to the waistband piece, but this will be easy to measure on the finished jeans before I remake a pair. Do not pay attention to any orange marks on the pattern pieces; these are just traces left by the tailor’s chalk.

gingermodifsI mentioned above that I used Heather Lou’s Sewing Your Own Jeans eBook. It was nice having all the info in one place, as well as some additional information that wasn’t included in the sewalong, but what I found most useful is all available for free in the sewalong. So if you need even more hand-holding than in the sewalong, I’d recommend it as it’s so well thought out, but if you don’t, well, it’s far from mandatory to get a nice looking pair of jeans.

And the pattern itself is so impressive! I have read here and there that the fly front zipper insertion method alone made it worth a buy (or a peek at the sewalong! 😉 ) and it’s true, really; I defy you to fail your zipper insertion following this method. But the rest of the pattern is so worth it, too. Everything is so well explained and carefully thought out, I think even a confident beginner could take it one step at a time and get more than satisfying results in the end.

gingerdetails2As you may have understood by now, I am positively ecstatic about my Ginger jeans. There are a few small details I’d like to improve on for a future version (I’d like my topstitching and bar tacks to be more regular next time – I hope not to sew the next pair on the same low range plastic sewing machine though, so this should be achievable! 😀 – and I’d also maybe lengthen the legs a little bit and move the pockets a tiny bit more towards the centre, which are pretty simple changes), but they look so much better than what I had imagined! And they are so comfortable (as proven here)! I love the comfort of the high waist (hitting me around the belly button) and the pocket stay does its job in keeping everything in place: it’s so nice not having to adjust the pockets in place every time you put on the jeans.

gingerdetails1I used some Liberty tana lawn remnants (from this dress and this blouse) to line the pockets and waistband. I chose gold topstitching thread and copper coloured button and rivets for a classic jeans look.

I also made the Breton top I am wearing in the pictures. It’s a Sewaholic Renfrew I modified slightly: I changed the shape of the neckline and I simply turned and stitched it instead of adding a neckband; I also omitted the sleeve and hem bands, lengthened the sleeves and added slits at the sides of the bottom hem. What really makes the top is the fabric, of course. I bought it online from Un chat sur un fil, but it was at least two years ago and I don’t think they have it in stock anymore. It’s 100% cotton, quite thick and it doesn’t have a lot of stretch for a knit. It has pilled a little bit around the spot where the shoulder strap of my bag rubs, but nothing anyone but me is going to notice, I think. I still have enough fabric to make another tee, so when this one bites the dust I can make its clone, phew!

gingerdos2Now can I get back to waxing poetic about the jeans? Just kidding, I’m already embarrassed enough at the sheer length of this post! Please cut me some slack: I MADE JEANS!

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Marinière With a Twist

Coronis1I don’t know whether it’s the gloomy weather or what, but I so haven’t been in the mood to take pictures of this project. It’s been finished since November 18 and I only (begrudgingly) took the pictures yesterday. I usually prefer taking pictures of my creations before I wear them for the first time because I’m afraid I’m going to ruin them and not get a chance to capture them for eternity or something, but this one has already gotten its fair share of wear before getting photographed.

Coronis4This means I can reflect more objectively on its qualities and flaws: I realised by wearing it that the sleeves, which I wanted to be long, have a tendency to creep up a little bit after a moment and not cover my wrists anymore. As you can see in some of the pictures, I mostly wear my sleeves rolled up, but still, I like having the option of real long sleeves, for when I’m riding my bike in the cold for example. Same with the body: I wanted it to hit exactly at my waist, which it does, but once again when I move it rides up a little bit and I have to readjust it. It’s not so much a problem when I wear it with a dress like I do in the pictures, but with a skirt I risk exposing what I’m wearing under the sweater. I still have enough yarn left, so I’m thinking of unravelling the ribbed parts, add one or two stripe repeats then reknit the ribs. Easy. We’ll see how long it takes me to get to it! 😉

Coronis3

See how the sleeves creep up?

The pattern is Coronis by Emily Ringelman, from Pom Pom Quarterly #10 (best magazine name ever by the way) and it was really easy to follow yet pretty interesting to knit. You can take a look at my Ravelry notes for more technical details.

From afar it looks like yet another navy/white striped sweater, but there’s a twist! Look at this detail picture:Coronis7These stripes may look complicated, but they aren’t at all. You only work one colour per row, and the pattern is really easy both to understand and to memorise. The wool is Drops Alpaca, which I loved working with and love wearing. I already have another project in my queue using this same yarn.

Coronis5I completely messed up the gauge on this sweater: I suddenly decided my gauge (which I had checked beforehand) was too loose, so I unravelled what I had already knit and started over with smaller needles. I still don’t know what possessed me: when have I ever knit loosely? The answer is NEVER! I’m a tight knitter, have always been and will always be! It’s a good thing I had decided to knit this sweater with positive ease for once and ended up with a sweater with negative ease, instead of a too tight sweater as I would have if I had decided on a sweater with negative ease, which is usually my preference for that kind of cropped sweaters.

Coronis6Because of that impromptu change of needles, I had to knit way more rows to get the length I wanted, so I ended up with more stripes than on the original. And I’ll have even more rows and even more stripes when I add some length to the sleeves and body.

But I guess having too many stripes is not the worst flaw a sweater can have, so once I get to lengthening it I won’t have anything negative to say about it anymore! I really like the style and the fit and I think it will look very cute with quite a few of my dresses and skirts!

Coronis2

April Fools’ Sweater

AprilFool1It‘s finished!!! I can’t believe it took me so long to finish such a simple project: I began knitting this sweater on April 1st, which means it took me almost three months! I usually knit a sweater in one and a half to two months, but with this one, after a great start with the back, the front took me forever to complete, among other because I kept screwing up the part with the eyelet bows and having to frog and reknit it. After that I kind of lost my mojo and had to wait until I reached the second sleeve to find it again. And now it’s too hot to wear a sweater, waaaah!

AprilFool2But I still have a cute new sweater, yay! It’s exactly as I had envisioned, no surprise about the size or whatever, phew! All in all it was fairly easy to knit (the mistakes I kept doing on the bows where due to my lack of attention, that’s all), especially for my first real foray into colorwork (I don’t know whether to call this sweater colorwork – the chart was so easy).

The pattern is #3 in Phildar Magazine N°69:

Pull3As you can see I’ve changed the colours a bit! I liked the original ones, but I wanted my sweater to be as versatile as possible and I don’t think you could wear such colours in many different outfits. So I chose beige and dark blue, even though I already own a sweater in those colours, because I like nautical style a lot and I thought the form of this sweater was different enough from the other one. And who knows, I might even knit a third one someday seeing as I bought way to much yarn for this project and I still have five balls (almost six) of the beige yarn and four of the blue. 😀

AprilFool3How do you invisibly seam up a striped knit? I couldn’t stop the beige yarn I used to sew the sweater from showing a tiny bit in some places on the blue stripes. I hate seaming up knits!

But what I hated doing the most knitting this sweater was the collar band! Phildar always has this crazy idea of having you knit the collar band separately and sewing it to the sweater afterwards (they don’t seem to know circular needles even exist – they NEVER have you use them). I usually ignore that part and pick up the stitches to knit the collar band directly on the sweater. But this time, my circular needle would not cooperate. I don’t know whether that’s because my hands were sweaty from the heat or just because the needle was poor quality, but after hours (yes, hours! – my left forefinger is still a little numb) of suffering and not even managing to complete one row, I finally had to literally cut the cable of the needle to save the sweater and, the horror, resolve to using the dreaded Phildar method.

AprilFool4Look how cute the back is! They don’t show it in the magazine (you only discover it by reading the instructions!) but it was a pleasant surprise. I thought the pretend button placket looked a little sad without any buttons, so I added three.

So, when’s the cold weather coming back so that I can wear my new sweater?

WIP: Variation on the Marinière

MarinièreEnCoursHere’s the knitting project I was talking about, the one that has been taking forever. I just checked, I began working on it on April 1st (oooh, that’s nice for a marine themed sweater!). I’ve already knit the back, the front and the first sleeve: only one sleeve to go (minus most of its ribbing as you can see)!

I’m using a different yarn than the one recommended and it seems I didn’t estimate how much I would need very accurately: with less than one sleeve (and the collar, but that’s only a few rows of ribbing) to go, I still have six balls of the beige yarn and four of the blue. How many did I even buy in the first place?!

Anyway, I really can’t wait to finish this sweater as I think it will get lots of wear! Well, assuming it fits, you never know (crossing fingers)!