FOs revisited

I’ve been thinking for several months about a few pieces in my wardrobe that aren’t working for whatever reason. Many of us seem to enjoy sharing our finished makes online, myself included, but how often do we go back and talk about when things don’t work? Several years on from finishing a project, it can be very clear that it doesn’t fit your wardrobe needs or style the way you thought it would. Even if you love it.

In those cases, there are a few different options. The most passive approach is to simply let it sit in your closet/wardrobe/storage, either totally forgotten or occasionally haunting you when you remember it exists. I’ve had a few of those. More active responses to the realization that a piece doesn’t fit your life include selling it or giving it away to someone whose life or body it fits better, or choosing to re-work it or re-use the materials in a way that will work better for you.

I’ve done this at least once before – back in 2016 I frogged a sweater project that rarely got worn, and wrote a bit about it in the latter half of this post. That yarn later got turned into a basic raglan pullover that I wear all the time, although I don’t think that FO ever featured on the blog (I did post about it on Instagram, though). I think the success of that experience is part of what’s led me to consider other pieces that could use a similar treatment.

So, there are a few pieces of my handmade wardrobe that haven’t been working for a long time, and I’ve been devising plans for them. I’ve even started executing a few of those plans, in fact. I’d like to share the results of each transformation when I finish them, but I figured I’d share a bit about my plans here at this point.

First up, my Svalbard cardigan, knit back in 2014 (you can see the original FO post here). I think this is a lovely design, and I actually did wear this cardigan a lot in the first year or two after I knit it, particularly when we still lived in Seattle. But over time, it became less and less something I reached for, for a variety of reasons. It didn’t work as well in the colder climates we’ve lived in since Seattle (Norway and Montreal). A huge part of why this is true is that it doesn’t pass the Jacket Test (that’s my shorthand for the question: Can you put on a coat or jacket over it without too much faff? If yes, it passes; if no, it fails). I’ve learned that my clothes live and die by the Jacket Test. Over time, I felt like Svalbard was less flattering on me and I rarely reached for it, but I love the yarn I knit it with and would happily use it in another project. So a month or two ago I frogged it, and it felt good. I’m not sure yet what this yarn will become, but it’ll be ready for me when I’ve made up my mind.

Other pieces I have plans for:

  • This simple gathered skirt sewn back in 2015. I’ll go more into detail after I’ve sewn a new skirt from this fabric, but suffice it to say that it turned out this skirt didn’t work as-is, and I deconstructed it this weekend in preparation for sewing it up into something that I hope will work much better. This plan was largely inspired by my success with the Fiore skirt.
  • My Circlet Shrug, knit in 2017. This plan is also already in progress, and luckily it doesn’t involve any frogging, but just a simple addition to the garment: sleeves! My Circlet Shrug is becoming a Circlet Cardigan. I’m very excited about this transformation and hope to share the finished modifications soon!
  • I’m also tentatively considering adding some length to the sleeves of my Lapwing pullover (again, an FO I never blogged about once finished, but that I did post on Instagram). This is lower on my priority list and it also wouldn’t be particularly fun – it would involve unpicking sleeve seams and pulling out a bind off in Hillesvåg Sølje, not the easiest yarn for that kind of task. I do wear my Lapwing, but I think I’d wear it more if the tightest part of the sleeve sat lower on my forearm for a more comfortable fit, and I do have enough yarn to make this modification. So we shall see.

I do think one thing that comes along with making our own clothes is continuously learning about what does and doesn’t work for us – and the wonderful thing is that as makers, we can so often tweak pieces we already own to make them work better, or even re-use the materials for a larger transformation. Have you ever frogged a sweater you knit or crocheted, or re-worked a piece you sewed? I’d be curious to hear how it worked for you!

FO: fiore skirt

I mentioned back in my post sewing in april that I had plans to make a Fiore Skirt by Closet Core Patterns, and I actually did make one not long after that! Initially I wanted to finish it for syttende mai (May 17th, Norway’s national holiday) even though we weren’t going anywhere or doing anything for the holiday this year, but I didn’t quite make that self-imposed deadline. Nonetheless I finished it up shortly after that, and have been meaning to blog about it ever since!

I learned a lot making this skirt, which was part of the point of making it. It’s one of the patterns included with the Closet Core online sewing course I did as well, so there were videos as part of the course that walked me through some of the more challenging parts. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve sewn a proper button placket, and I’m very pleased with how that turned out. I used a lightweight cotton lawn I fell in love with (Lady McElroy Evening Roost in teal), and because of the pattern on the fabric, I affectionately refer to this as my Bird Skirt.

The Fiore pattern has three views: a version with a zip in the back, a wrap skirt version, and a version with a front button placket. There are also two lengths. I obviously made the version with the button placket, and I made a couple of modifications:

  • while I used the long version of the pattern pieces, I added around three inches of length to the skirt to get the length I knew I wanted (I’m 6′ / 182 cm tall, so the pattern’s “below knee” designation wasn’t going to hit me below the knee without modifying).
  • I did away with the patch pockets (since those aren’t my fave) and added side pockets instead. I used the pattern pieces from the Chardon skirt from Deer & Doe for the pockets since I’ve made that skirt before and had the pieces on hand.
  • I did away with the seam at the back. All three views use the same pattern piece for the back; you cut two of the back piece and then sew them together. This makes perfect sense for the version with the zip, but for the other two views, I don’t really see why the seam is necessary. I didn’t want to cut up the pattern of my fabric, either, so I cut that piece on the fold instead.

This is easily the most lightweight skirt I own, which makes it a great option for the summer heat (although with a slip I can also wear it with tights for cooler days). I paired it with a knitted tank several times this summer, particularly in June when we had our hottest weather. It was a joy to discover that I loved this combination so much, because I’ve been trying to incorporate a wider variety of colors in my wardrobe for a couple of years. This deep mustardy yellow-orange color pairs very well with blues and teals, which I love and wear a lot of, so I’m definitely going to try to incorporate more of it into my clothing. The tank was made with Rauma Petunia, a DK weight cotton yarn, in a limited edition color called villhonning (“wild honey”). I used Jessie Maed’s Framework Bralette as the starting point but made a lot of modifications to turn it into a simple stockinette tank.

I liked making the Fiore skirt a lot, and I would definitely use the pattern again. I might go down a size if I do – the waistband feels ever so slightly large on me in this size. Another option would be to add a bit of elastic to the back of the waistband, which is a modification I’ve seen for this pattern. I will note that size-wise, it goes up to a 39″ waist, but no further.

I haven’t managed any other sewing this year since finishing this skirt (aside from hemming some curtains), and I’d like to change that. We’ve been working on house projects on the weekend a lot, however, so fitting in sewing time has somehow felt challenging. I’ve definitely spent more time knitting than sewing – and some of that has been for new patterns, so I’ll be able to share those in the coming months. I’m not sure yet what my next sewing project will be, but the most likely candidates seem like an Emery dress or a knit top of some kind. I have fabric for both, but I haven’t been able to make up my mind about a pattern for the knit fabric. Do you have any favorite sewing patterns for tops with a jersey knit?

sewing in april

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I mentioned at the beginning of the year that I received a sewing machine for Christmas (after about four years of not having one), and that I was looking forward to getting into sewing again. January and February went right by without a stitch sewn, but by March and April the home isolation period seemed to offer the opportunity to pull my machine out and finally try sewing some garment projects. And so after a couple of weekends of sewing, I have two projects to share with you!

Before April, I last sewed a garment in 2015. I’d also had a couple of sewing experiences that year that I’d felt slightly frustrated by – having become a very proficient and knowledgeable knitter, I started to feel totally lost at sea when I came back to sewing as an adult, because I wanted to be equally proficient and knowledgeable in that skill. I first learned to sew as a little kid, and I sewed a fair bit in high school, but I wasn’t very fussy about details or finishing at that point in my life (and at that time, I was only knitting really basic scarves, so sewing felt like the more developed skill between the two). But as an adult? I was definitely thinking about details and realizing how very much I didn’t know.

So coming back to sewing this year, I really had to psych myself up before getting going on my first project. But I sewed two things in April! And I have more sewing projects lined up. So that’s excellent. I also decided to purchase the Learn to Sew Clothing online class from Closet Case Patterns, and I can absolutely say that’s been a wonderful investment. At first I felt slightly overwhelmed by the number of hours of video content available through the course – did I really need all of this? – but even though I know enough to sew basic garments, the course walks you through so much foundational knowledge, and a lot of it is exactly the kind of stuff I’ve felt like I’ve been lacking. I learned loads in the first three video lessons alone. Sometimes it’s really worth going back to basics.

But at any rate, here are the two projects I sewed in April:

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First up is the Berlin Jacket by Tessuti Fabrics. Now, I’m gonna say up front that this pattern only goes up to an XL, which is not great. (Size inclusivity* is something I’ve thought about a lot in the past year and I’m in the middle of working on expanding the size range for my own back catalogue of knitting patterns.) I would love to see Tessuti Fabrics expand the size range on this, because I know there are sewists above an XL who’d love to make it if it came in their size. I chose this pattern because I had a few meters of a boiled wool knit I’d ordered from a local shop, originally thinking I would use it for a dress – but at the last minute I decided it was probably too thick for that, and I’d do better to find something that specifically recommended boiled wool. I also wanted something that suited my re-entry level skills (in other words, simple and approachable). This pattern seemed to fit the bill on both counts.

The Berlin Jacket is kind of a coatigan, in that it’s lightweight and unlined, so it’s somewhere between a coat and a cardigan. It’s been a really nice layer for Trondheim’s spring weather, though. I cut the size medium and didn’t make any modifications. The sleeves are designed to have the cuffs flipped up, and while I do wear it that way if I’m wearing it indoors, if I wear it out on a walk (as in the photo at the top of the post) I find I prefer to have the cuffs flipped down for the extra length. At 6′ / 172 cm my arms are on the long side so extra length is always appreciated.

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Most of the seams are overlapped, so there are a lot of visible raw edges, which is why boiled wool is one of the recommended fabrics for this pattern (since it won’t fray). That meant minimal finishing, in theory, but it also meant I went back along some of those raw edges and trimmed any raggedy spots, since when I cut the pieces out I didn’t do the neatest job (I used shears, since I don’t have a rotary cutter). The heather grey is very forgiving, however, so even the edges that still aren’t that neat don’t look too bad. I’m overall really pleased with this project and it proved a nice first project to get back into the swing of things.

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Next up, I went looking through my (small) pattern library for a simple top, and discovered that I had the Tiny Pocket Tank by Grainline Studio. This is actually a discontinued pattern (I believe it was Grainline Studio’s first ever pattern), and it was replaced by the Willow Tank in 2016 (although the Willow has a slightly different silhouette and fit than the Tiny Pocket Tank). Both patterns only go up to a finished 46 3/4″ bust (to fit a 44″ bust), as far as I can see, so again the sizing is pretty limited. But again – this was making use of a pattern I already owned which was at the right skill level for me, and I liked the silhouette, so I decided to make use of it.

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I chose a mid-weight quilting cotton for this project, even if something slightly lighter might have been a better match for the pattern. I knew it would be easy to sew (and there are so many beautiful prints available) so it felt like a good choice for me. I skipped the eponymous tiny pocket, so the basic construction was dead easy – shoulder seams, side seams, and the hem was pretty simple to execute too. It was the neckline and armholes that took the longest. This pattern and the Willow both make use of bias facings, which I had never used before. I’ll readily admit to being one of those people who’s totally intimidated by bias tape, but I followed Grainline’s photo tutorial for flat bias facings, taking my time to go through every step, and it was worth it in the end. I did the neck first, which felt like it took forever, but the armholes went quicker and by the second one I didn’t have to check the tutorial anymore. If this were a solid color fabric with a contrasting thread, you’d probably be able to see that not all my seam lines are quiiiite as tidy as they could be, but in this fabric it’s totally passable and I’m really pleased with how well I managed to execute the facings overall.

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I made two modifications kind of on the fly, since I was trying it on as I went, and the fit was feeling a little weird when I got the main construction finished. The bust darts felt too low for me, and the front neckline on this pattern is notoriously on the low side as well. I ended up taking in the shoulder seams by a half inch, so the shoulder straps were shortened by 1″ in total, and I took out my shears and lowered the underarms by about a half inch as well. To be honest, I totally eyeballed that and I was a little nervous about the length of the bias strips still being right, but it all seems to have worked out okay. And after wearing the tank for a full day, I’m really pretty happy with the fit, so those adjustments seemed like a good call for me. Between the silhouette and the print, this is a garment that’s got me looking forward to summer, although I can wear it already as a layering piece. At the top of this post you can see it paired with the Berlin Jacket.

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Next up, I’ll continue with the Closet Case course, and I’m planning a project that ties in with that. When you purchase access to the course you also receive the PDF versions of the patterns from their Rome Collection, so I’m planning to sew a Fiore skirt. It will add a few more skills to the table which are technically all things I have done in the past (working with interfacing, sewing buttonholes and buttons), but the course is there to guide you through the tricky bits, and I’m eager to have that kind of guidance right now.

*If you’re not familiar with the size inclusivity discussion, I highly recommend checking out this interview Pom Pom Quarterly did with Jacqueline Cieslak, which was originally published in the magazine earlier this year. Jacqueline is amazing. You can check out her knitting patterns on Ravelry while you’re at it.

another new year

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Happy new year, all. I made that Norwegian godt nyttår garland back in 2010, and it’s still going strong – I expect it to last a long while yet. At the time, I was living in a shared house in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle with a housemate I met in Icelandic class (who became one of my dearest friends), working part time in a plastics shop while I worked on my first master’s degree. It feels like a lifetime ago, but it also one of the periods of my life I look back on with the greatest fondness. It’s nice to remember all of that at the turn of each year, when that garland comes out.
I’ve been reflecting on the decade a little bit. There have been soaring highs but it has been turbulent in other ways – three transatlantic moves since 2015 seems to have really taken it out of me this year, even if I feel incredibly happy and comfortable in our decision to come back to Norway. I feel exhausted, but I also feel excited about the future we’ve chosen here. And so I find myself looking forward more than back, even if I feel apprehensive about some of the things 2020 may bring.
We spent the last two weeks of 2019 moving into our new house (finally!). Of course it takes time to make your home in a new place, but we already feel so good in our new home, which is a relief after six months of living out of a couple of suitcases in temporary rentals. I’ve been putting together a craft room (/hobby room/Paper Tiger HQ) again, and I’ve felt a renewed sense of inspiration that’s been missing for a few months now. It makes me excited about the projects this new year will bring. I’m not aiming to make more (in fact I’m always aiming to make less), but either way I am hoping to make things that I will really, really love. I would like to make more for others this year, as well.

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On that front, I got a sewing machine for Christmas, which I am incredibly excited about – I gave away my old sewing machine when we moved to Tromsø in 2015, and I haven’t had one since. It’s a little startling to realize that’s nearly half the decade I’ve been without one. I got it as a slightly early gift, so that I could hem some curtains for the new house, but I can’t wait to embark on a few garment projects later this year. I bought a few dress patterns in 2019 that I’ve admired for a long time (knowing that I planned to get a sewing machine again once we got settled here in Trondheim): the Bleuet dress from Deer & Doe, the Fen dress from Fancy Tiger, and the Emery dress from Christine Haynes. The only question is which one will win out to be first (I expect the Emery will win, though the Fen is a close second – I want to hold off on the Bleuet dress with all its buttons until I feel like I’ve gotten to practice a bit with my machine).
As for knitting, there are one or two design projects on the horizon, but it’s going to be a lot quieter on the pattern front, which I’m very okay with. I’m interested in knitting up some of the things from my queue, which overlaps with my other goal to knit more from stash. I’ll admit that I stocked up on a few things while working at Espace Tricot in Montreal (again, knowing that we were going to try to move back to Norway and certain yarns would be harder to get) and my stash has reached some rather astonishing proportions, at least by my own standards. It would feel really good to follow through on that planning and actually start knitting with some of that yarn. I think working in a few leftovers projects would be nice as well.
In general, 2020 is feeling like the year I’ve been planning for for a long time. We’ve spent several years trying to figure out where we wanted to “settle” – at least for a little while – and after moving every two years for I-don’t-know-how-many-years I’m definitely excited to not have any moves in the foreseeable future. Right now I have so much to be grateful for. I think 2020 will be the year I get to find my rhythm in Trondheim for real, and I can’t wait.

FO: simple gathered skirt

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The drought continues, and its friend Terrible Heat Wave has come to hang out as well. We’ve been hovering around 85F / 30C lately, and I can’t deny that it has me daydreaming of autumn already. Fortunately, the weather cooled down a bit and we actually had cloud cover for an entire day today, so I was able to head outside and get some photos of a recent FO.

In the midst of a bunch of deadline knitting work, I’ve also been craving a simple sewing project – something to restore some of my confidence after the last few sewing experiences I’ve had. At this stage, I think I’m coming to terms with the fact that while I like my sewn FOs, generally, I don’t necessarily enjoy the process of sewing a garment. What this means right now is that keeping it as simple as possible is the best way for me to go.

SO. What’s one of the simplest sewing projects there is? A gathered skirt. Done right, it can involve very little cutting out of pieces, you only have a few seams to deal with, and the end result can be super flattering. I happen to love high waisted skirts, which is part of why I’ve been focusing on cropped sweaters lately. While I really like the Chardon skirt (blogged here) I finished a few months ago, I wanted something even simpler to sew. I also wanted something a little longer (thinking ahead to autumn). Starting with the super basic gathered skirt, I opted to add a few details I felt comfortable executing, like pockets at the side seams and a hidden side zip (I don’t love the look of an elastic waistband). A few hours later (four or five, probably), and I had a new skirt! (I realize it’s a little wrinkled in these photos, but it’s been folded, not hanging, as I’ve started pre-packing my clothes for Norway.)

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The plaid suiting really called out to me when I went to find fabric for this project. I love the neutral tones with that turquoise highlight running throughout. I’ve been gravitating toward plaids, lately. I think it’s a big combination of many things: my growing love for Rowan and in particular this book from Marie Wallin, watching a lot of Outlander a few months ago, and Kate’s recent post about Scottesque (and the midi kilt she paired with Buchanan). Between the neutral plaid and the gathered skirt, this thing almost counts as Outlander cosplay, hilariously. The theme song popped in my head when I tried it on to see where I wanted to hem it.

I used three rectangles (front, back, and waistband) and traced the pocket pieces from the pattern for the Chardon skirt, and that was it. Simple and satisfying. I didn’t trim away any of the skirt fabric, which is why the gathering is so dramatic (no Outlander pun intended). I’m very pleased with how the pockets turned out and I think I actually did a pretty decent job of horizontally matching the plaid at the side seams.

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I still need to find closure for the waistband to sit above the zipper – perhaps a heavy duty hook and eye? But that can wait for now. I’ve paired it with my Chuck in these photos, and I think it’s a really lovely combo. I’m looking forward to pairing it with some of my blues as well to pick up on that blue in the plaid. I’ve logged the skirt on Kollabora and you can check out that page here.

FO: hemlock tee

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I’ve been enjoying following Me Made May again this year, but with how busy it’s been in my house – prepping for an international move, then a parental visit – trying to actively take part really hasn’t been practical. There definitely haven’t been many opportunities to actually create new items of clothing. I decided to set aside an afternoon while my parents were here, though, to sit down and sew something I’ve been meaning to sew for months: the Hemlock Tee. It’s a free pattern from Grainline Studio, designed for knits. Ever since Me Made May rekindled my desire to sew last year, I’ve wanted to tackle knits.

When I was in high school I did a lot of sewing, but I was never a technical sewer – I was very DIY make-it-up-as-I-go-along about it all. I think I wrote about this last year, but it’s been so interesting to return to sewing after reaching such a professional level with my knitting. My knitting skills are pretty polished at this point and I know so much about technique, fit, and designing – so to come back to sewing means realizing I know next to nothing about the technical aspects of sewing garments. I was pretty sloppy in high school and I really didn’t care, but now I want my hand sewn garments to reflect the level of polish I’ve come to expect from my knits. It’s challenging, to feel like you’re going back to being a beginner at something (and for that reason, it’s probably a very good exercise for me, too).

In any case, when I bought this grey and white striped fabric (from Drygoods Design in Seattle – I *think* it’s this one), I had originally slated it to become a Linden. I even bought the pattern with it. But as it sat on the shelf, waiting for me to have time to make it, and as I looked into ribbing and trying to find a good ribbing to match the fabric, I started to think that perhaps I should start simpler. I’d still love to make a Linden, but the one-size oversized free Hemlock Tee felt like it might be less ambitious. (For those of you who sew regularly, the Linden might not seem that ambitious, but I really need baby steps here. I’m sloooow at sewing and it takes way more attention to complete simple tasks than it should because I so rarely do it.)

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This super simple tee still took me the better part of an entire afternoon. There are plenty of reasons for that – I used my regular machine with a walking foot put on, and I had to figure out how to install the walking foot before I could even test it out. I also started off using a triple stretch stitch (recommended for knits if you’re not using a serger) but that was causing some serious issues with the shuttle in my machine and I broke a few needles before I exasperatedly gave up on that and switched to a normal straight stitch (since it’s an oversized tee, I think it’ll do okay).

I felt unsure about the length of the sleeves, so I didn’t actually hem/finish the sleeve cuffs – since it’s a fine gauge knit, the fabric won’t really fray or do anything terrible, and I’ve just rolled up the sleeves for now so they’re closer to elbow length. I also shortened the overall length of the tee, cutting off several inches of fabric before hemming it. I think it suits me better than the longer length did.

While I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the process of actually sewing it (I think it will take a lot more sewing practice before I can really enjoy sewing a garment) I’m fairly happy with the end result, even though I can spot all the flaws. At a glance, most people won’t notice those, and this tee’s definitely my style and is very at home in my wardrobe. I think it’ll transition super well from a summer piece to a winter piece – it’s very layerable, and I can already picture it with a huge scarf around my neck.

So this will very likely be my one make for the month of Me Made May. I’m still grateful for the excuse to think a little bit harder about what I’m putting on in the morning and where it came from, and I’m definitely grateful for the month of inspiration that comes with so many people sharing their handmade wardrobes day after day. I’ll be doing a lot of culling of clothes before we fly to Tromsø, trying to pare down and really only bring essentials or things I really love, and this month has made it easier to think about what I want to keep and what I’d like to let go of.

Are any of you participating in Me Made May this year?

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lately

There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes for me recently, and I’ll share more about that soon, but in the meantime, here are some things I’ve been up to lately:

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I started a pair of socks with some of the new Arne & Carlos sock yarn from Regia. I’ve never been one for self-patterning yarns, but this line – and this colorway in particular – totally won me over. The colorways are all inspired by paintings by Edvard Munch with ties to the Norwegian landscape through the seasons. The colorway pictured above is called Summer Night, and I basically want to live in it.

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I’ve been thinking about sewing quite a bit (after all, Me Made May is coming up). I’m so pleased with how this Chardon skirt I finished a month ago turned out, box pleats, pockets and all. I haven’t had a chance to sew anything since, but I did buy a walking foot for my machine so that I can try out sewing with knits. I have a striped grey knit fabric I was originally planning to use for a Linden, but I’ve decided it’s going to be a Hemlock tee instead, because that seems more beginner friendly and still totally fits with my wardrobe. If you have any advice for sewing knits without a serger, I’m all ears!

But back to the Chardon skirt (or Jupe Chardon, as Deer and Doe is a French company) for a moment. This is marketed as a beginner pattern but even so, it was kind of a big project for me. There’s not a ton of guidance on how to deal with pressing the box pleats, and the belt loop instructions are literally just a sentence telling you to sew on the belt loops. I know in this modern age of internet tutorials and craft blogging we can expect a lot of hand holding, but if you’re taking on these skills for the first time, expect to spend some time doing research on the best ways to go about it. Still – the box pleats and belt loops are acceptable, if not fantastic, and the skirt is super wearable!

I used an amazing fabric I picked up at Drygoods Design – this Pickering International organic lightweight duck cloth in grey (which now appears to be sold out). It’s a 45/55 blend of recycled hemp and organic cotton, so it’s going to make a fabulous warmer weather skirt (and it’s been doing great in the winter to spring transition with a pair of tights). I love this fabric and would definitely work with it again. Perhaps it’s the hemp in it, but it manages to hold the pleats well it doesn’t wrinkle anywhere near as easily as a plain cotton or cotton/linen blend would.

If I make this skirt again (and I might, because it’s so versatile) I may add a little bit of length. I have a high waist on a 6′ (182cm) frame, so the hem falls a few inches higher above my knees than might be ideal, proportionally. But I’d love a version of this skirt in a darker color – maybe a charcoal or a navy? Or even black?

You can check out the photos in more detail with some progress notes over on my project page on Kollabora.

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And lastly, the main recent development in my world is that spring has come screaming into Seattle. It came early this year for us (sorry, east coasters – especially you Mainers who I know just got more snow) and the whole city has been in bloom for weeks. I can’t deny I’ve been enjoying it; Seattle on a sunny day in spring or summer is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I hope spring is finding its way into your world, too!

an FO!

May has been a quiet month for the blog, as I haven’t had much personal work to share. FOs have been thin on the ground lately, too, as I have about seven or more knitting projects going on at once (I really should finish something) and most everything else I’m working on is behind-the-scenes stuff, like pattern writing, illustrating (more on that later), and Nordic Knitting Conference prep. I’m also getting ready to head to Norway in a few weeks to take part in the International Summer School at the University of Oslo! While all of that is incredibly exciting, it doesn’t make for the greatest blogging.

However! I finally have an FO to share today. The last time I posted was the beginning of Me Made May, and I wrote about my plans to sew the Easy Short Sleeved Kimono Dress from Pattern Runway. I’m very pleased to say I got a chance to pull out the sewing machine over the holiday weekend, and now I have a new dress!

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This was my first time using a PDF print-at-home sewing pattern, and while it did take some extra prep work up front (aligning all of the pages that made up the pattern pieces), it was relatively easy to do. My finished dress isn’t a perfect garment, but I think it is the neatest garment I’ve ever sewn, because I paid extra attention to the tiny details throughout.

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I have a few notes on the process:

– I decided not to try and make any modifications to the pattern for this particular project (in length, for example) because it had been so long since I’d sewn a garment. I figured I could cut and sew exactly as written, and then based on the finished garment, I could decide whether or not to make modifications in the future. It was a little bit of a trial run.
– I did end up making one small modification, because when it was time to cut out the pieces, my fabric (which I thought was 45″ wide) turned out to be about 42″ wide. This means my skirt came out a little bit narrower than it would have otherwise, but it ended up lining up and fitting well anyway. I fell between a size small and size medium, based on the size chart, so I had opted to sew the medium to have some wiggle room (literal and figurative).
– On that note, while the top is designed to have a lot of positive ease, I think I’d be just fine working the size small next time (and perhaps shortening the bodice if I’m using a cotton fabric like this again. The waist of this dress wants to sit lower than my natural waist, which is quite high).
– I’m quite happy with my understitching on the facings and my work on folding up and topstitching the hem! The geometric print definitely aided me in topstitching in a straight line, and consequently this is the best looking hem I’ve ever sewn. I’m not as happy with my seam “neatening” and I’ll be working on improving that in the future. Has anyone tried this method? It looks pretty sharp, I might try it!
– The fabric I ended up choosing was this midweight cotton from the Bee My Honey collection by Mary Jane Butters. The geometric effect from a distance is what initially drew me to it, but when you take a closer look, you realize the hexagon/honeycomb pattern is actually made up of honey dippers! It’s kind of ridiculous, but hey, I’ll celebrate bees. I love that it’s more of a graphic print than a cutesy one.

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– Next time, I will definitely add pockets. Seems like it would be pretty straightforward with this pattern, and if I’m sewing my own everyday dress why wouldn’t I add pockets?

All in all, it was a totally positive experience (except for the part where I broke a needle, but that was easily replaced), and I think I ended up with a very wearable garment. I’ll probably do the PDF print-at-home thing again, but I would spend more on a physical pattern where the option’s available, I think. If you all have patterns you love, I’d love to hear about them!

thursday thoughts

Today marked the start of Me Made May, and while I’m not officially taking part in it, I hope I’ll wear plenty of my handknits when the weather allows. The timing is cause for reflection, for me, as I’ve found myself itching to get back into sewing lately. I used to sew fairly often when I was in high school and through my first year or two of college, but as knitting gained greater prominence in my life, the sewing machine started gathering dust. I’m realizing now, as I’m thinking about taking it up again, that I’ve always been a bit of a “Well, that’s good enough!” seamstress; a little sloppy, if functional. I’d like to do better than that. I decided to pick a simple project to get back into sewing. I want to sew something that’s simple enough that I won’t feel like I’m in over my head, but that will be something I’ll actually wear regularly. I also decided I’d like to try a sewing pattern by an independent company, which is a corner of the sewing world I hadn’t explored before. I’m pretty sure I’ve made my decision; I’ve already purchased the pattern, and I basically just need to choose fabric and pick up the few notions needed.

0b2613b9b7b57831-easyshortsleevedkimonodresspatternrunway(Image via Pattern Runway)

I landed on the Easy Short Sleeved Kimono Dress from Pattern Runway, because it seems to be, well… easy, but also something I’ll get a lot of mileage out of. No zippers and no darts is a huge plus, and I like the elastic waist (perfect with a belt). One of the biggest selling points for me was the step-by-step blog post on the Pattern Runway site that walks you through the whole process of making this garment. I’m happy to have a little bit of hand holding at this stage!

I have a few weeks before I’ll be able to start working on this, so I’m still trying to decide on fabric. When I was sewing a lot in high school I often didn’t give much thought to fabric choice. Sometimes I bought fabric for projects, but most often I pulled something out of my mom’s huge stash of old fabric. I think as my knowledge and skills in handknitting have advanced, and as I’ve started spinning wool and thinking about fiber and how and where it’s sourced, it’s affected how I think about textiles and clothing more generally. In this case, I think I’d like something light and airy, something that’s easy to work with, and I’d also like it to be made of natural fibers – so perhaps a light-to-mid-weight cotton? It will give the dress a much more casual feel than the black fabric pictured above, but as I’m looking to make more of an everyday dress, that seems just fine. I prefer to buy fabric in person, so that I can see and feel it, so I’m planning to head to Drygoods Design sometime soon – there are a few fabric listed on the website that I’m itching to see in person.

Are you taking part in Me Made May? I’d love to hear about your experiences with it! I’d also love any sewing advice you all have. I learned to sew as a kid, and I always thought that fact alone meant I was knowledgeable about sewing, but I feel like a total beginner coming back to it. I’d love to hear from you!