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 about 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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Culottes and a Eucalypt

jupeculotte1When leafing through Burda, I often need to look past the styling and always need to examine the technical drawings to fall in love with a pattern. Not this time. When I spotted the May 2016 Culottes (#110a), it was love at first sight. And at second sight when I looked at the technical drawing and saw their lovely scalloped front yoke. I needed those culottes.

You can imagine how happy I was when I found a very similar fabric to the one they used in the magazine at the Stoffenspektakel. So happy that I started working on the culottes right away instead of hoarding the fabric for a couple of years as is usually more my style!

I cut a size 40, graded down to a 38 at the waist/top of the yoke (it’s a low waist, so no need to go smaller than that). It was a pretty fast and uneventful make, the only difficulty being the angles of the scallops, where the scallops meet each other. Angles that I didn’t manage to sew correctly; mine are much more wavy than pointy as they appear to be on the technical drawing. But no one who didn’t see said technical drawing is going to notice that, are they?

jupeculotte5Aside from that, these culottes were a breeze to make. They are also quite nice to wear, especially in this fabric (I think it’s a polycotton), which, contrary to other blends I’ve used in the past, seems to have taken the best of both worlds: it presses really well, but it almost doesn’t wrinkle!

However, I don’t wear them very often. Why is that? Because, and I feel so stupid for not having realised and remedied that beforehand, there are no pockets… So, even though I find the culottes so cute and all, I don’t find them very practical, and I keep reaching for the pockets.

jupeculotte2The top I’m wearing with them in the pictures (I unconsciously composed an outfit that is very similar to the one in Burda, didn’t I?) is also a partial fail. I used Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt tank and, looking at my previous versions of the pattern, I shortened the straps, thinking this would lead to a better fit. I also made a few changes just for this version, for aesthetical reasons: I made the straps thinner, deepened the neckline (front and back), shortened and widened the body and added a lace trim (from my stash; I had just the right length) at the bottom.

jupeculotte4I’m happy with my aesthetical changes, but the fitting change was kind of counterproductive: I feel like the fit of the top part is worse than before! And it leads to the shoulder seams falling too far towards the back and the whole top appearing asymmetrical: if I don’t put the shoulder seams back in place, the top seems shorter in the front and longer in the back.

Another thing I’m not happy at all with is the way my bias finished neckline and armholes look. At first they looked pretty good, but after a wash they wrinkled a lot, and no amount of pressing seems to be able to solve that. And yet I had prewashed both the fabric, a quality cotton lawn, and my bias tape, made from the same material.

jupeculotte3I’ve worn the top a lot this summer, both tucked and untucked, so I wouldn’t call it a total failure, but it’s always frustrating when a project doesn’t meet your standards, especially when you don’t understand exactly what went wrong! Ah well, I keep telling myself we are all bound to fail some projects from time to time, and that makes it only better when the next one is a success!

Dahlia Top

Eucalypt6I sewed something – I repeat – I SEWED SOMETHING!!!

So I started this Eucalypt tank ages ago, in June to be precise, just before I sewed this dress. But my poor choice of bias tape had me think I had ruined everything and the tank was not worth finishing.

Eucalypt1I don’t know the composition of the fabric (I got it at a fabric swap), but I’m pretty sure it’s a natural fibre seeing how nicely it presses and how soft it feels against the skin. And what I’m absolutely sure of is that it’s very lightweight, so I shouldn’t have used that awful stiff store-bought bias tape to finish the armholes and neckline, what was I thinking?!

Eucalypt2The neckline especially was looking as if it was trying to escape as far away from my body as possible, ugh! I tried to arrange things as much as I could by pressing the heck out of that neckline tape, but I was not convinced by the result, so I hung the unfinished tank on a hanger and proceeded to give it the side eye every time I passed it in the next three months.

But last weekend, desperate to sew but feeling hampered by the unusual number of UFOs hanging in my sewing space, I thought I should finish this tank (it was only missing its bottom hem) and, worse comes to worst, wear it as a pyjama top.

Eucalypt3I didn’t bother finding/making lightweight bias tape for the hem (ruined for ruined…) and used the same stiff bias tape I had used for the neckline, only in a different colour because I had no more white bias tape in my stash and I didn’t feel like going out and buying some more. So the hem tape is lilac while the rest of the bias tape is white, so what?

Eucalypt5Not only is the stiff bias tape much less of a problem at the hem than at the neckline, but I also pressed the neckline again (and again!) and finally got a decent result! It’s still far from perfect of course, but it’s now inconspicuous enough that you don’t notice there’s anything wrong with the neckline unless looking for it specifically.

Eucalypt4The armholes are still gaping a little, depending on the way I’m holding my arms (see the first picture of this article), but once again, I don’t know who’s going to notice that when I’m wearing the top. So I’m definitely glad I finished it; it would have been a shame wasting that beautiful piece of fabric, even if I got it for free!

And I can see a lot of Eucalypt tanks in my future! If not for my stupid mistake, it was a very nice pattern to work with. It’s simple but not simplistic and it could look smashingly different depending on what fabric you use or what detail you add.

A Week Of Hats: La Mer

LaMer1Tired of looking at my face yet? I know I am! Let’s concentrate on the hat then. At first I had planned to make a very simple sailor hat, as if borrowed from a sailor by his girlfriend, but then I thought this would be pure reproduction, not creation, so I started thinking about other options.

LaMer2And then it hit me: a lady sailor hat! So I made it smaller, in a more triangle shape (note that at first I wanted the tip of the triangle at the front, but when trying on the hat mid creation I found it looked better the other way around) and I added a fabric covered button at the intersection of the panels and most importantly a perky bow at the back.

LaMer3By some stroke of luck, drafting the crown panels went effortlessly, but the brim, not so much… I spent more than two hours drafting and redrafting and redrafting it again and again, losing my mind in fancy calculations involving the radius of a circle and whatnot, only to realise the pattern piece I needed was… a long rectangle! :-/

LaMer4Once I had that figured out, everything went smoothly. Most of the hat was sewn by machine, the only things I did by hand were attaching the buttons (the fabric covered one outside and a flat one inside), the bow, the lining and the petersham ribbon, and adding little thread loops to fasten the elastic inside the hat.

LaMer5I have already worn this hat once this week (with this dress) and it felt secure on my head, even when I was biking in the wind! Millinery elastic is my favourite way of attaching a hat, which is why I used some on each of the hats of the collection. It’s very secure, yet invisible (especially on dark hair with volume of course, but I’ve also seen it work really well on very short lighter hair).

LaMer6The song that gave its name to this hat is this one, and I guess the reason why I picked it is pretty self-explanatory!

See you tomorrow for the last hat of the collection!

Striped Summer Tank

Summer1This is probably my last project before leaving for Spain for three weeks. I’m going to miss my sewing machine sooo much!

When I first started sewing,  I thrifted some clothes with the intention of salvaging their fabric. The T-shirt I used for this project was one of those. Only five years later, here’s the result!

Summer2As you can see, the T-shirt wasn’t awful, but it was too big and boxy, and of course, none of the stripes matched. I didn’t use a pattern, but I traced around a T-shirt I already owned. This didn’t go so well: as you can see, the armholes have a tendency to gape a little sometimes, depending on the way I stand. I tried to minimize that by adding gathers at the shoulder straps, which worked only partially, but I liked the gathers and they made the gaping look intentional, so I kept them anyway.

ETA: I managed to get rid of the gaping completely after all, by taking in the top of the side seams.

Summer3I used Megan Nielsen’s easy knit neckline method for the neckline and the armholes (because I didn’t have enough fabric for another method, nor did I want to buy any contrast fabric). It was easy indeed and the result looks really clean with the twin needle topstitching, but I find the fusible hemming tape I used a touch too stiff.

Summer4For the hem, I also used a twin needle, but no hemming tape. That’s the method I always use to hem knits, and it always yields a nice result. This time my hem looked horribly wavy at first, but after pressing it looks perfect.

Summer5All in all, this fabric was such a pleasure to sew! All the problems I had came from the drafting part, none came from the sewing part. It was nice being reminded that knits are easy to sew, contrary to popular belief (and what my last knit project would have had me think!).

This is not the project of the year or anything, and as I said, it does have a few flaws, but I still think it’s going to see a lot of wear. It goes really well tucked in my Beignet and Chardon and I can also picture it layered with a cardigan at the end of summer. I’ll be packing it for my holiday in Spain, that’s for sure!