Made With Love

bb1You know me by now, I’m a terribly selfish sewer/knitter. I have to be really close to someone to even think about sewing/knitting them something. And the worst part is, I don’t even feel bad about it! Sewing is my hobby, not my job, and I want it to stay fun… Not that sewing for other people can’t be fun; it’s just not my personal preference, and sewing for myself also puts way less pressure on my shoulders!

bb3But I do appreciate the occasional selfless sewing project, especially when it’s something I wouldn’t sew for myself. Sewing for my boyfriend (blog post about the jacket I made him in March still to come, ahem!) gave me the occasion to have a stab at menswear, which I enjoyed a lot, and sewing this little outfit for my goddaughter, my first time sewing baby clothes, was very rewarding, too!

She turned one in October and I could not not sew her anything! I browsed my Burdas to find something I could see her wearing, and this baby collection caught my eye right away: such cute patterns! I liked the idea of sewing a whole little outfit, so I chose the quilted jacket, the blouse with ruffle collar and the stretch trousers to go with them.

bb4Fabric wise, I went digging through my stash. I own a few cotton pieces I impulse bought at Veritas that are too small to use for adult garments (except maybe a fitted blouse), but so cute I could never bear to part with them. This cherry one was a favourite and I knew it would look so cute on my goddaughter, so that was an easy choice. After that I looked for matching pieces in my stash: a red cotton jersey for the outer layer of the jacket and a blue one (the same I used for this Ondée) for the leggings. I just bought the batting, bias binding (polka dotted because I know my goddaughter is not afraid of print matching!) and buttons (glittery ones for the jacket and plastic snaps for the blouse).

I only had two 75 cm x 100 cm pieces of the cherry cotton and I wasn’t sure it would be enough for the blouse and the jacket lining, but it was, literally to the half centimetre! I sighed in relief when all the pieces were cut! Same with the red cotton jersey, but this time literally to the millimetre, phew!

bb5Burda advises you to cut the pattern pieces before quilting the outer layer, adding 3 cm seam allowances, then re-cutting these seam allowances to 1,5 cm after quilting. I quilted the whole piece of fabric (“basting” batting and outer fabric with spray adhesive and using masking tape to get even lines), then cut the pieces.

Other than quilting the outer fabric, which was looooooong (but not difficult at all), the jacket was a breeze to make! The instructions were perfectly clear, and I don’t know why, but I found it quite fun handling such tiny pieces!

bb6The blouse was also lots of fun to make. I only deviated from the instructions for the hem of the collar ruffle: they have you turn it once, zigzag stitch then cut the excess fabric. I preferred turning the hem twice and using a straight stitch to make a baby hem, which I think gives a much cleaner result.

The trousers were less fun to make (just boring in comparison with the cute jacket and blouse), but they took about an hour from start to finish, so no complaining on my part. I used my serger to assemble the pieces and a zigzag stitch for the waistband casing and the hems.

bb2I finished the whole outfit way past my goddaughter’s birthday (but way before the next one so I’ll count that as a win 😉 ) and could only give it to her mother (who seemed to love it, yeah!) very recently, so I don’t know yet whether it fits her* (I made a size 80), but in any case I’m really happy with the look of the outfit. And I truly liked sewing for her, so this is definitely not the last time I do!

*EDIT: It does! 🙂

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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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Yes Frills!

frilly2With time, I’ve learned to choose my knitting projects more and more wisely. It’s been years now since I’ve knit something and not had any use out of it. In short, I am usually pretty happy with my finished knit projects. But this one, ah, this one, I like it even more than the rest!

I first discovered the pattern years ago on Casey’s old blog: she had made an adorable turquoise version with white edging which had me convinced I needed the book it came from. Not that easy since it was out of print at the time. I had to wait for quite a long time before it was rereleased, but after months (years?) of stalking the designer’s website, finally, I could get my hands on it, and on volume 2 for good measure. These two books are chock-full of lovely designs I immediately added to my mental knitting queue, with this Frilly Jumper at the top, of course.

frilly1You know how knitting queues go (i.e. not fast), so it took me another few months (years?) before finally starting working on it. I knew I wanted a crisp white edging like Casey’s, but I agonised over the main colour for a while. Then I found this perfect red at Hema of all places (I didn’t even know they sold yarn until then), 100% cotton, and I got down to work.

Ravelry tells me it took me three months to knit, but I think it could have gone much faster had I had more free time during that period. It was an easy knit and the instructions were clear. I hesitated a bit over the size and chose to make a 76-81 cm (30-32’’) based on the finished measurements, which seemed plenty enough for my 33-34’’ bust. It was the right choice: the amount of ease is perfect for me and I love the fit of the finished sweater.

frilly4The only place I deviated from the pattern was the collar: the pattern has a four-piece collar, which I didn’t like at all. In fact, the thing I liked most about the pattern when I first saw it was what I thought was a ruffle collar. Ruffle, singular, not four ruffles. It’s only when I read through the instructions that I realised that there were indeed four separate parts to that collar. This made no sense to me, and I was so much keener on a one-piece collar frill, so I changed it. It was an easy modification: I simply knit one long neck frill of 342 stitches instead of four short ones, and seamed it up at the back afterwards. Apart from than that I followed the instructions for the small neck ruffles, only on a bigger width.

As always, you can find the rest of the technical details on my Ravelry, but this is the only consequent change I made.

frilly5This little summer sweater is one of my favourite knits ever, if not one of my favourite creations ever. It looks exactly like the picture I had in my head, and it goes with so many of my skirts… The only little thing I could criticise is the thickness of the sleeve frills, that prevents me from layering most of my long-sleeved sweaters over it. Still, the weather has allowed me to wear it a lot already, and I know it won’t spend a lot of time in the closet come the next warm season.

frilly3

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A Week Of Hats: Mam’zelle Clio

MamzelleClio1Last year in millinery class, we learnt to make a fabric hat on a buckram base. I chose a base similar to the one I would later choose for my Hollyburn hat and I used red lace and lining remnants from this dress. It was an exercise, so the result was far from perfect, and the hat got pushed to the back of a cupboard were it got crushed under other objects.

MamzelleClio2I decided to salvage the fabric (and batting!) of the hat to make another one with some new buckram I would buy, and while taking it apart I thought I should try and see whether or not it would be possible to reuse the buckram, too. I was far from convinced it would work, but once wet, the buckram could take any shape I wanted it to take as if new!

MamzelleClio3So I was able to block the top part of the old hat into a new base, and the side/bottom part into some sort of bow (that everyone but me seems to see as a propeller! 😀 ). There is some millinery wire reinforcing the edge of the hat itself and the edge of the bow.

MamzelleClio4The hat once again stays on the head thanks to a piece of millinery elastic, and its inside is finished with some matching red lining and a piece of petersham ribbon (both also salvaged from the original hat).

MamzelleClio5This is not the kind of hat that is very easy to wear on a daily basis, but I think it can be fun to wear on special occasions nonetheless. Its name comes from this song, because both the song and the hat have a silly side to them.

MamzelleClio6

Circus Tent Sweater

Chapiteau1Here’s my sweater! Its red and blue scallops remind me of a circus tent and I love it!

I actually finished it on Monday, but I didn’t feel like taking pictures until today, so it had to wait. I even tried forcing myself to take some pictures two days ago, but then I saw that on each and every one of them I looked like this mean angry man with a weird yellow complexion and the battery of my camera died, so I had to accept that maybe I should wait until some other day.

Chapiteau2This really is the perfect sweater either for a beginner knitter or a more advanced one looking for a fast and easy project. Had I not started knitting the wrong size, I’m pretty sure it would have taken me two weeks. Having to start from scratch after reaching three quarters of the work, it still took me just under a month to complete.

The instructions are very clear, and the construction is, as always with Andi Satterlund’s patterns, flawless: I love it when I finish knitting a sweater and I just have to weave in some ends; no seaming required before enjoying my new knit!

Chapiteau3I only made one small modification to the pattern: when I tried the finished sweater on, I found the body was a touch too long for me, which caused an unsightly pleat at the waist. So I simply unravelled a few rows of the waist ribbing (about eight rows I’d say), and voilà!

Chapiteau4It was such a straightforward knit that I really don’t have much more to say about this sweater (ravelry notes here, by the way), except that it’s a shame the cold weather seems to be close to its end here (though in Belgium, you never know…) so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to wear it before next fall.

Vuelta Al Cole Sweater

VueltaAlCole1There’s no more denying it, holidays are over. I came back from Spain a week ago, and I went back to work last Tuesday. I told you before leaving that I had taken the materials for a knitting project with me, Andi Satterlund‘s Chuck sweater. In my mind, this would be the perfect sweater for your first day back at school, so I was really excited to knit it in August in order to wear it on my first workday in September, with autumny skirt and tights.

Well, no such luck, the weather has been unusually warm for a Belgian September, so I had to wear tightless skirts and summer tees the whole week. I’m not complaining (especially after the ten months long winter we had here last year), but I still can’t wait for fall to start! I know it’s not very original of me, but fall is by far my favourite season: I love the (not too cold) cold, the leaves changing colour… and fall clothing of course!

VueltaAlCole3Anyway, this is my second time knitting one of Andi Satterlund’s patterns and this is my second time being blown away by:

– the amazing seamless contruction,

– how fast it knits,

– how good it looks.

There were a few steps I dreaded before tackling them, but every time I reached one, I just had to follow the instructions and everything made sense in the end.

VueltaAlCole2The genius construction means that, once you have finished knitting, you weave in the ends… and you have a sweater! No tedious seaming up, to me it’s like magic!

It took me exactly two weeks to knit this sweater, and that’s with the time it took me to frog and re-knit the whole first cable motif because I had made a mistake at its very beginning. I think my Miette was also knit in two weeks. Both have more or less the same gauge and the same cropped silhouette that make them such fast knits.

VueltaAlCole4I made a size S without a single modification and it fits perfectly. The yarn I used is Drops Big Merino. This was my fist time using a Drops yarn, and I’m definitely convinced!

For the waist bind-off, I initially tried a traditional one… and could barely get the sweater past my shoulders. I managed to put it on after a lot of effort and it was not very comfortable on the waist, either. So I decided to try Jeny’s surprisingly stretchy bind-off instead, and it worked like a charm. I used a traditional bind-off for the rest of the sweater, where less stretch is needed.

VueltaAlCole5This is the perfect fall sweater. It goes perfectly with most of my high-waisted skirts and I have a few other sewing projects in mind that would pair really well with it.

I can’t wait for the weather to allow me to finally wear it!

Red Hot Chardon

Chardon4Two Deer&Doe patterns down, six to go! Oh how I love those patterns…

This is the Chardon skirt, of course. I made view 2, with the belt loops. I used a red cotton sateen with subtle stripes from Sacrés Coupons in Paris that I’ve had in my stash for a couple of years. The fabric has a slight stretch to it, which let’s hope won’t cause the skirt to stretch out of place (the interfacing I used should prevent that), and it was a joy to work with.

Chardon1The pattern, too, was a joy to work with. There were few pieces and the instructions were very clear. To the exception of the part that tells you how to attach the belt loops: the pattern doesn’t explain exactly how to sew the loops on. I had no problem doing that without the instructions, but the pattern is aimed at beginners and I know that as a beginner I would have been kind of lost.

Chardon2The skirt was really easy to put together, if not a bit time consuming when it came to the pleats. But I’m a very slow sewer, so this might be just me… About the pleats, looking at the pictures I realise I might have done a better job at pressing them before the shoot. Ah well, I’ll do that before wearing the skirt at least!Chardon3I cut a size 36 and the fit is spot on. I didn’t make any modifications. At first I wanted to add a lining, but I finally opted not to when I couldn’t find enough yardage in my stash. And I was really glad I didn’t bother with a lining when the time came to sew the zipper… I’m kind of zipper challenged, you see, so I had enough trouble inserting it without a lining! I almost gave up and hand-picked it instead of machine-stitching it, but I held on and I did manage to get a nice result in the end.

Chardon5I was afraid the waist would end up bulky because of the thickness of the fabric and the pleats, but it looks ok on the finished skirt. Though I had to understitch the waist facing and it still wouldn’t stay tucked inside so I invisibly hand stiched it to the waist, which solved the problem.

Chardon6My favourite part was finishing the hem with bias tape. It was so easy yet looks so nice! I’ll surely use that method in future projects. I used a red and white polka dotted bias tape which looks so cute against the red of the skirt even though it’s not exactly the same shade. Confession time: I had planned to use another bias tape (with another motif) whose shade was closer to that of the skirt, but I cut it too short… and then I couldn’t for the life of me sew two pieces together to get more length! I tried and I tried and got it wrong every time… so I finally gave in and went to buy some at the fabric store. I felt so lame! Oh, and of course there was a massive sale going on at the otherwise too expensive store, so I may or may not have bought a few metres of fabric that went to join a now overwhelming stash…

Chardon7Well, at least now I have a skirt I love (and cute new fabric to boot!) and I know I’ll be wearing a lot. I recently came to the realisation that, even though I consider red to be a wardrobe staple (it’s kind of a neutral, isn’t it?), I didn’t own any red pieces except for my new playsuit (do a T-shirt and an old frumpy cardigan really count?). So that’s one gap filled!

21st of July Playsuit

July21.1Remember I teased you about an upcoming refashion project? Well, it took me a looooong time, but I here it is at last!

July21.2

I heart pockets.

I almost threw in the towel numerous times on this one… At first I didn’t have a playsuit in mind but a dress, but it was impossible to get all the pattern pieces on the fabric. Then I thought of a playsuit after seeing one in a book I was reading, so I dug through old issues of Burda magazine and found this pattern. I thought it would be pretty easy to shorten the legs and add shoulder straps (I don’t do strapless), which it was. I also thought I would it would be easy to place the pieces of this small playsuit on the fabric of the huge eighties dress… which it was not.

July21.3

Do you see any bra straps showing? I don’t!

The dress was very old and there were holes and black stains in a few places, which made it a real headache to place every pattern piece on the fabric. I had to think about it for two whole days before I found a solution. And it was the layout that determined the length of the legs, so I was afraid the whole time that they would be too short.

July21.4You can see on the above picture that I used black seam binding inside the hem. It helped me keep as much length as possible. About the hem: I actually didn’t have a fabric piece big enough to cut the second leg, so I had to add a scrap of fabric to fill the gap. That scrap of fabric from hell was almost the end of me: I don’t know why (well, I think the grain must have shifted while sewing it or something), but it sat in a weird way that made the hem of the shorts awfully uneven. I don’t know how many times I had to redo that small part, but I was ready to give up.

Finally I got a tolerable result so I decided to power through… and now I don’t really see the problem if I’m not looking for it specifically. This is so often the case with my sewing projects: I obsess about a detail almost to the point of tossing the project away, but once I wear the completed project I completely forget about that detail…

July21.5I was really afraid such a playsuit would not suit my figure very well, so when I first tried it on I was relieved to see that it was actually pretty cute. I’m not used to seeing such an ample top on myself, but with the flowy fabric I think it works.

Also the length of the shorts had me doubt, but with the heat we’ve had these last few days I’ve gotten into the habit of showing my bare legs again and I don’t think it looks that scandalous.

July21.6I cut a size 36 for the top and graded up from a size 36 at the waist to a size 38 at the hips for the bottom. I have plenty enough room even though my hip measurement would be closer to a size 40. As regards the two elastics, I have no idea of their length because I pulled them around my waist/bust until I found them snug enough so I didn’t measure them.

I used black cotton voile for the pockets and for the wrong side of the shoulder straps. You can see it peek out from time to time, but I think it looks nice against the black polka dots (which, come to think of it, you can’t really see in the pictures because they are so small), so there’s no real problem here.

The buttons I used came from an old cardigan of mine.

July21.7I finished the playsuit yesterday, which was Belgium’s National Day, so it was quite suiting that I wore black, yellow and red, which are Belgium’s national colours! These are colours I don’t usually like together, but with only a touch of yellow (my rubber duck earrings, and you could also count my golden sandals and straw hat as yellow), I think it works.

So even though this won’t be my most worn garment (playsuits are not renowned for their practicality), I still find it cute and will most definitely wear it in the unexpected heat of this Belgian summer and in Spain where I’ll be spending three weeks in August.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I can also totally see it worn in Fall with black tights and a black cardigan… Or is it just me? Well, if the frail vintage fabric holds up until then, that is!

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Watching the Seagulls

Seagull1Wouldn’t this hat be perfect for a stroll along the North Sea? I chose the colour of the straw first, then I saw the block I would be using, with its cloche-like asymmetric brim, and I immediately had this idea of a hat that would evoke sea bathing in the 1920s. So I decided to add blue and white trim in order to achieve that look.

Seagull2It took me a long time to complete, since as per usual with my hats I let it lie unfinished for too long because I sort of lost interest after I had done most of the work and I had to begin another hat for millinery class. But I have just realised that the end of the schoolyear is fast approaching and that I’d better quickly finish all of those languishing projects!

Seagull3The base is parasisal, molded in two pieces (one for the crown, one for the brim) then sewn together. The trim is store-bought bias tape. Seeing as the polka dot one wasn’t wide enough to look right around the base of the crown, I sewed three lengths of bias together (that’s the only thing that was machine-sewn by the way, and it was also sewn by hand to the hat): two polka dot ones at the sides and one solid in the middle. The one at the edge of the brim covers millinery wire, which you can see has suffered a little bit at the back from being lugged in my backpack (that’s when I realised I had to find a better way to carry my hats when going to class on my bike!).Seagull4I added this strip to cover the seam at the back of the trim, and I thought gathering the trim in a smaller tube would add more visual interest than leaving it straight all around.

Seagull5The inside of the hat (I used a wider petersham ribbon than usual because that’s all they had in that colour in the store), plus you can see the asymmetric brim more clearly. All in all I’m happy with this hat and it really looks like I had envisioned it, BUT in order for the crown bias not to gape I tightened it a little too much and as a result the hat is now a little too small (which it wasn’t before). I’m leaving it as is for the moment because at least it really stays in place on the head (which is nice if I ever bring it to the sea – hello wind!), but I’ll loosen it if it’s actually uncomfortable after wearing it for real.

Have a nice weekend!

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