July 12, 2017

knitting || cha cha cardigan

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably already seen a few photos of my recent test knit for Amy of Poison Grrls. I "met" Amy through IG earlier this year and she approached me about test knitting, and the rest is history! The Cha Cha cardigan is my third test knit for her and is probably one of my favorite makes of 2017 (thus far).

Yarn: A little less than 2 balls (400 meters each) of Schoppel-Wolle Admiral Stärke 6 (sportweight wool/nylon blend) I picked up at Strickpunkt in Murnau, Germany at the beginning of the year. (Yay for knitting from my stash!) 

Buttons/Trim: I purchased these glass buttons (I think they are vintage, but I'm not sure) from a German Etsy seller; I love the weight, they're a perfect match to my yarn, and have flowers! The crochet trim is a mini Kristin sent to me of Skeinny Dipping in "Space Pants".

Process: This is a very straight forward, top down cardigan. It's joined in the round after knitting the neckline/armholes and made for great tv knitting! I also really like how Amy designed the sleeves with a tiny bit of lace--I think it really makes the pattern special. The bobble trim is crocheted and could be left off if you wanted. I would say an adventerous beginner who maybe has one sweater under their belt and is comfortable with the idea of knitting short rows could tackle this!

Alterations: When I test knit, I tend to follow the pattern and not making any changes because I want to test the pattern out exactly as written. I think in the future I might make the shoulders slightly narrower (by 1 or 2 stitches) since the weight of the puffed sleeves tend to pull things a bit down my shoulder. I did manage to bungle the buttons--the original is only supposed to have 5, but I misread things and ended up working 6! 

I also added rayon grosgrain ribbon to the inside of each button band to help stabilize; I find this is pretty necessary when using glass buttons on knits. For the right side with buttonholes, I worked machine-made buttonholes to correspond with the placement on the cardigan front. Each ribbon was whipstitched to the band, cut edges turned to the inside.

Final Thoughts: I wasn't sure about the light pink yarn and puff sleeves together as I started this project; I was concerned by the potential "twee factor". But I really love how feminine the resulting cardigan is, and am planning on pairing this with my dirndl to wear to fest this autumn! More photos on my Ravelry project page.

July 6, 2017

sewing || butterick 6453

Mr. P. hamming it up...

I recently carved out some time to stitch together Butterick #6453! This is one of the popular dress patterns from Gretchen Hirsch's line for Butterick, and it's been on my wish list for ages. The pattern is a new addition to my stash (thanks to my husband taking a work trip back to the US that coincided with a JoAnn's pattern sale--he was kind enough to stop by and pick up a few patterns for me!), and I knew right away I wanted to sew this up with some vintage fabric I've been hoarding.

(Note: my bust is a bit low in these photos; I'm aware of that. Unfortunately, I don't have a great strapless bra solution right now while I'm nursing!)

I really like the back neckline!

 I went down a pattern size, based on the finished garment measurements on the tissue. I also made up a bodice muslin, which needed a few tweaks (hello, post-two-kids body!). Overall, this was a very easy to fit style--the princess seams on the front make it quite easy. 
  • I curved the princess seams in under the bust more, taking out some excess and allow the bodice to "cup" my bustline and hug my torso.
  • Added 1/2" at the underarm as it was far too shallow.
  • The bust apex was shifted down slightly.

As usual, once I adjusted the pattern and transferred my changes, I traced my final bodice pattern on to Swedish tracing paper. The cutting is straight forward; I opted for view A with the full skirt.

Fabric: a vintage, dead stock sheet. I purchased quite a few in-package sheets years ago at an estate sale and have been hoarding them since! I knew right away that this fabric needed to be matched with this dress when I was considering options in my fabric stash. It's a woven, 50% cotton 50% polyester poplin; a little sheer due to the white background, but not too lightweight.

Sewing: Overall, this pattern was super easy to sew, and I didn't make any major alterations to the construction. I would rate it as a great pattern for an experienced beginner.

Following the pattern the bodice is unlined, but since my textile is a light background I opted to underline  my entire bodice in muslin. To underline I cut out a second bodice from the muslin, stitched the princess seams, darts and joined the side seams. Putting the outer bodice and muslin wrong sides together, I basted all the raw edges (neckline, armholes, back, bottom) together and treated the poplin and muslin layers as one. 

I also opted to change the straps to a tie-style. I've made sundresses in the past that have tied shoulders--which I love the look of! It's not entirely nursing friendly, but can be done (I've done it!). And I'm pretty determined to wear this style now

Final Thoughts: One thing I will change in the future is adding some extra width to the center back seam; I found it a bit narrow with the lapped style zipper.

I also need to continue to tweak the fit a bit. After having each of my children, figuring out what new things I needed to do to alter a pattern is a learning curve--and one that takes a bit of trial and error. With this dress, I could take the waist in a tiny bit more (it's hard to tell in the photos, but it's loose--I think shaving 1/2" off would do wonders, and it still wouldn't be too snug) and shorten the bodice 1/2". I've almost always had to adjust for a long waist, but I guess things have moved around a bit after this pregnancy! Like I said: it's a bit of trial and error. 

This is a perfect, wardrobe-builder pattern. The style reminds me of the Bernie Dexter sundresses I've drooled over for years. The style is classic, and I love that view A includes pockets! (Useful these days to stash crackers or a binky.) I can see myself stitching up at least one more version (I may or may not have ordered a large-scale black & white gingham plaid for another!). Not sure I'm going to tackle view B at any point--pencil skirts are not quite wearable running around after small children these days! I think this too will be a good transition dress as the weather warms/cool with a cardigan thrown over top.

January 25, 2016

sewing | starstruck mimi blouse


Have you ever opened a sewing book and just knew you had to start on a specific project right away? After Tilly sweetly gifted me a copy of her book, Love at First Stitch, while I was in London I knew as soon as I got back in Germany I needed to make something out of it. The Mimi blouse jumped out at me--I don't have a lot of blouses in my wardrobe at this point--mostly knit tops--and it's a gap I keep meaning to fill but never make the time for. Plus I'm a sucker for a cute collar, so this was a no-brainer choice for me! (Yes, I realize my version looks almost exactly like one of the example blouses in Tilly's book. What can I say? I'm not immune to the power of suggestion!)

I really love the gathered back yoke!
I'm going to be completely honest and admit that this is actually blouse v. 2. Version 1 had some shoulder fitting issues that were totally my fault (not the pattern). I've known for years I really need to pay attention to the shoulder width on bodices, and often just sneak by. But post breastfeeding, I swear that my posture changed to the point where it's become much more of an issue. Basically, I can't do things quick and dirty anymore, and I'm still learning to slow down instead of being caught up in the Excitement of a New Project! Version 1 was just too narrow and I desperately needed to shift the center point shoulder line forward to accommodate my forward-thrust shoulders. I had just enough yardage left to cut out a second blouse, much to my relief.

The fabric is a lovely, blouse weight polyester I bought while fabric shopping on Goldhawk Road in London. The star print drew me in! It was a bit fiddly to work with, but a microtex needle and careful stitching worked like a charm. I used some scraps of lightweight black crepe for the collar and piping (which I hadn't done on blouse #1)--an effect I really love! The underside of the collar is lined in the star print to reduce bulk.

Eventually I want to find some other buttons, but this was all I could find at the local fabric shops after much searching high and low! I am hoping to find something a bit more exciting in my travels this year (I'm envisioning black with rhinestone centers; I have some vintage buttons like this, but not nearly enough for this blouse!).

Overall, this pattern was lovely to work with. I've made up another of Tilly's designs (the Bettine dress), which I will be sharing soon. But I really like how nicely engineered the patterns are, and the possibilities for design variations! This blouse is going to serve me well through the winter and into the spring, layered with a cardigan. 

I have a bunch of other creative projects to show off as well. I have been awful about updating with new sewing and knitting items!