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!

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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!

Colourful Airelle

airelle1I bought this small piece of Liberty tana lawn (Garden Wonderland) a few months ago with the intention of making a blouse out of it. Then I changed my mind and decided to make a gathered skirt with a back elasticated waistband instead. I made a mess out of said gathered skirt (don’t ask!), and all I was left with were the front and back panels of the skirt, which luckily were juuuust enough for a blouse, so back to square one.

airelle4I decided to try the Deer&Doe Airelle blouse (if you clicked through those links: doesn’t one of the models look familiar? 😀 ) with the sleeve caps of the Réglisse dress, because that was all I could squeeze out of my skirt panels. I had to shorten the Réglisse sleeve caps for them to correspond to the armholes of the blouse, but style wise I think they suit the blouse very well.

airelle3I made a straight size 36, which fits pretty well I’d say. Had I cut the normal Airelle sleeves, I would have graded the shoulders up to a 38, but the sleeve caps allowed me to forgo that step.

airelle6It was a straightforward sew that didn’t take me more than two days from tracing the pattern to finishing the blouse, and God knows I’m a slow sewer! I finished the seams with my serger, which I’ve come to value more and more: it’s fast and easy, yet looks so professional.

airelle7My favourite part of the blouse has to be the collar: I can’t even begin to understand why so many people have sewn collarless Airelles, but different strokes for different folks… I appreciate the darts, too, which give such a flattering fit through the bodice.

airelle2It’s a nice little blouse that can be worn in a lot of different outfits. I have been wearing it both tucked in high-waisted skirts and untucked over jeans and, although I’m more used to my high-waisted skirts and think those kind of outfits are more my style, I couldn’t really tell which way I prefer it. By the way, those are Ginger jeans you see in some of the pictures, but more about them in a future blog post!

airelle5

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Tangerine Cardigan

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

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

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

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

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

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Sambucus Racemosa

Liberty1It’s been a long time coming, but here it is at last; my first Liberty dress!

When Mimolette went to London, she was kind enough to take my order and bring me back two pieces of Liberty from Shaukat: 1,50m of this orange Fitzgerald and 1,50m of purple Ros. I had never sewn with Liberty before and was pretty curious to see what the hype was all about. I still can’t really get behind the price, but it’s true that it’s by far the softest and nicest cotton to work with I’ve ever used. The only downside is that it’s quite transparent. Not too much for a blouse, but I might have to wear a half slip with this dress.

Liberty7The fabric was a dream to work with and it was my second time sewing this pattern (the Sureau dress by Deer&Doe), so why did it take me so much time to finish? Well, the first thing is, I made a couple of modifications: I changed the sleeves of the Sureau for those of the Bleuet, which was actually not complicated at all, and above all I changed the fake button placket into a functional one that buttons all the way down.

Also, I added side-seam pockets, and after completing them I realised they were lower than I had anticipated. And of course I had French seamed everything (yes, you can French seam side-seam pockets!) so there was no way I was going to undo that. Being the drama queen that I am, I decided if the dress was not going to be perfect, there was no point in finishing it.

Liberty3So it hung on a hanger for a while, until I realised it was not that big a deal and the dress would still be perfectly wearable, especially since, even though aesthetically they seemed a bit low the pockets were actually at the right place for me to put my hands in them. And now that I look at the pictures, they don’t even seem too low to me anymore. How to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Liberty4Then my iron died on me. It began overheating (to the point of literally melting a few centimetres of the serger thread in this dress – luckily at a sleeve hem, where there was also some normal thread holding everything together) then it simply stopped working… and broke water on a pair of trousers! Like, all the water from the container suddenly started leaking through the sole holes. I had to buy a new one, which I didn’t want to do in a hurry and take the first Made in China crap I found, so once again my Liberty dress hung unattended for a while, only missing a hem, and ten buttons and buttonholes (it’s funny how I had no idea how many buttons this dress was going to need when I made my sketch, yet I drew ten!).

Liberty5But I found the iron of my dreams (and of my wallet’s nightmares!) and I was finally able to finish the dress, albeit not without another couple of concerns: first I had to add a tiny press stud between two pairs of buttons (bust and waist) to avoid gaping (worked like a charm!). Then, when I first tried the finished dress on, I realised the neckline, which I had staystitched and understitched, had apparently stretched out despite my precautions: the neckline, which fit perfectly right in my first version of the dress, was gaping like crazy and the facing was trying to escape, the horror!

Liberty6I topstitched the neckline, which cured part of the problem (the right side of the neckline now looked perfect), but the left side was still gaping too much to my taste. I was kind of devastated, then I had the idea of stitching a line of gathering thread on top of the topstitching of the left side and simply gathering (and then pressing into submission) the excess fabric. You can imagine my delight when I tried the dress on again and saw that the neckline finally fit! Now, I must say that, with a solid fabric, this little trick would probably have been much more conspicuous, but with such a busy print, I don’t think anyone’s going to notice anything!

Liberty8I’m in love with the finished dress, which is pretty much exactly how I envisioned it, and I feel like it’s going to get at least as much wear as my first Sureau! And I haven’t really considered the colour orange these past few years, but this Liberty print really makes me long for an orange sweater or cardigan to go with the dress…

Liberty2

Babydoll Dress

Babydoll1Much better, don’t you think? Let me remind you what it looked like before:

Before1.1

Meh with or without a belt.

Side view: what the FUPA?!

Side view: what the FUPA?!

A friend gave me this house dress years ago, when I didn’t know how to sew yet. I loved the fabric and I had quite a quirky sense of style at the time, so yes, I did intend to wear it as it was. But there was a definite problem with the bottom of the button band that created the most unflattering side view, so I actually never wore it. Luckily, the hoarder that I am never got rid of it and when I learnt to sew, it went straight to the to-be-refashioned pile… where it languished for a few more years.

Babydoll2

With the empire waist belt.

It’s not even that I didn’t know how to transform this dress; I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to do, but I simply never got around to it. But hey, I did get to it in the end and I’m really happy with the result, which is exactly what I had in mind!

There are pockets now!

There are pockets now!

Here’s a list of the changes I made:

– I cut the dress under the bust and under the button band and sewed the bottom part of the dress to the top (after unpicking the side seams at the bust to remove the bust darts that were much too low and restitching the side seams without darts).

– I lined the bottom part of the dress (with turquoise Bemberg rayon – oops, forgot to show that in the pictures!) in order for it not to cling to the tights.

– I used the discarded middle part of the dress to make two patch pockets, which I underlined with the same Bemberg rayon lining so that they are more stable.

– I shortened the sleeves to a more flattering length.

– I added six belt loops at the empire waist to hold the belt (or any thin belt as a matter of fact) in place.

– I changed the buttons.

Babydoll4I initially hesitated between leaving the empire waist as is or elasticizing it, and I found adding belt loops was a better solution since it allowed me to wear the dress both ways. And with the way I placed the belt loops, I can also tie the belt at the back, so I have more styling options!

BabydollDetail1I love the new buttons. The old ones were green and silver and much too small, both aesthetically and for the buttonholes. The new ones are the right size, the right colour and shiny as can be!

BabydollDetail2Don’t look at the above picture for too long or you could get a headache (I know I did!). No, I didn’t sew the pocket with the fabric upside down: there are flowers and leaves facing up and others facing down. In any case, I love this fabric! It’s this almost bathing suit like material (I think it’s a polyester knit) but it drapes really well and, although I was afraid it wouldn’t be breathable enough, it is in fact very comfortable to wear.

And I love refashioning! I got a new dress for much less money (I only had to buy four buttons and 50 cm of lining), work and time than if I had started it from scratch! Plus I love seeing the face of the people who compliment me on it when I tell them that it used to be a grandma house dress. 🙂