Saturday, November 22, 2014

Dude knitting

So I did some unselfish knitting. Or to be precise, I did some unselfish knitting a couple of years ago, and now I re-did it. Does that count as double the good karma? The hat was for my dad, but here it is being modeled by boyfriend.

I knitted a hat for my dad a couple of years ago, using this same yarn and an almost identical honeycomb pattern. I followed the pattern (bad me) and the hat turned out way too big. My dad soldiered on and wore the hat anyway, until I happened to find it this fall and decided that enough was enough.

I couldn't find the exact same pattern, but used this free one from Novita (sorry, it's in Finnish). I made no alterations and the hat turned out snug enough, but I didn't use the same yarn as in the instructions, so I can't vouch for what the fit would be like then.

Nothing more to say about this one, a pretty quick project although cable needles always slow me down. Is there even a clever way to hold them? I always feel like I'm missing two fingers when using them.

How about you, have you gotten your knitting groove on this fall yet?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Blog hop: My writing process

I'm so excited to take part in my first ever blog hop! I was nominated by the lovely Kirsten of Fifty Two Fancies. She's such a positive person and reading her blog always makes me happy. So thank you Kirsten!

Mystery yarn for my current WIP

Why do I blog?

I would actually like to know the answer to that question too! Before I began blogging a few months ago, I didn't even follow any blogs, and I certainly had no idea of the wonderful community of sewing bloggers out there. I have always sewed and knitted (seriously, I'm beginning to think it has become a bit obsessive recently, I'm beginning to worry), so my blog is really just an extension of that. A very beneficial extension I might add: I have never finished so many well-fitting garments in my life. I have a terrible habit of leaving a trail of unfinished objects behind me, but since no finished items equals no blog posts, I have to finish them all! The fact that I have to look at thirty pictures of myself in said garments also motivates me to push myself when choosing fabric, patterns and overall style of the things I make, not to forget really putting in an effort to get a flattering fit.

What is my writing process?

That's a difficult question. For me, writing is the third and, in a way, the least important step of my blogging. First, I make something, then I usually take pictures and then I write. Sometimes it's the other way around, text comes first, then pictures. I never publish anything straight away after writing it and I'll re-read it compulsively to find any errors in my text. English is not my native language and I do not speak it on a regular basis, so I'm a bit paranoid when it comes to grammatical errors.

How do I differ from other sewing blogs?

Gosh - I'm different but I'm not? Is that an answer? I think all (sewing) bloggers have a unique combination of traits that set us apart from each other. My combination, at this moment in time, is for example: new blogger, professional seamstress, spends more time taking pictures than writing, not too many followers yet and spends way too much time adoring other sewing blogs. I guess that's one way to sum me up as a blogger.

A current WIP is...

... a top for my sister, that's first priority at the moment. I've got it cut out, interfaced and ready to go. Since I'm really bad at concentrating on one project at a time, I began tracing the pattern for my dream winter coat on Friday. Too bad the instructions are in Spanish and there are a gazillion pattern pieces, but the heart wants what the heart wants. And it wants this coat. I'm also going to make a second version of my favorite knit hat ever, using some mystery yarn from my stash. I already made a swatch and as soon as I'm done typing this I'm gonna cast on and start knitting. 

There you have it folks, my confessions regarding my writing process. I'm sad to say that it's not very structured, it's not a big part of my life, or even my blogging, but if I can evoke a few laughs here or there describing my love/hate-relationship with sewing, then I've succeeded.

I'm nominating the creative and talented Elizabeth from Hyer Handmade Design to tell us about her writing process. She designs and sells knitwear, how cool is that?! 

What makes up a good blog text in your opinion? Until next time!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Anti-UFO Project: a red cardigan

Oh boy did it take me long to finish this one. I don't even know how long ago it got abandoned into a corner in my drawer, but we're talking YEARS here ladies.

Why did this cardigan become an UFO? Indecisiveness. The pattern calls for a contrast satin button band and the best contrast color I could find at that moment was a horrendous brown shade. I'm still glad I didn't use that one. The pattern is #117 from Burda 4/2010 and I don't recall making any changes.

I still wasn't sure what to do about the button band this time around, so I put off the decision making for as long as possible. The pieces were already cut out and the fronts, shoulders and arm scythes reinforced with fusible interfacing, so I got straight to sewing.  I'm now wondering though: how much of your knits do you reinforce, using fusible interfacing or something else? The shoulders? The neckline? Arm scythes?? Too much interfacing already??

I'm really happy with my button band, like ridiculously happy. After all, it took me years to come up with this idea. The seam allowance is reinforced with fusible interfacing and I turned it to the wrong side using cotton bias band. That is some sturdy stuff btw, not at all like satin bias band. The buttons are from my stash. The front is now a bit narrower since I omitted the extra button band, but I probably won't wear it buttoned up anyway.

The reason I finally got around to this cardigan is the Anti-UFO Project by All Style and All Substance. Such a great kick in the bum! I'll be posting my cardigan to the Fall Essentials Sew-Along Flickr group and the Spooky Season Linky Party too.

So now tell me, tell me: what are your most guarded UFO-secrets?

I'll leave you with crazy bunny-eyes, because why not?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fear Fabric Challenge: scuba leggings

I present to you the most unexciting contestant in the Second Annual Fear Fabric Challenge, hosted by the lovely Beth from 110 Creations. I actually feel bad for entering something that was so unchallenging to sew, since the whole idea of the challenge is to, well, challenge yourself to sew with a fabric that scares you. But guys, scuba scares me!

Give me some lace, chiffon or satin and I'll sure feel challenged, but at the same time more at home as a seamstress. Does that make sense? Scuba on the other hand, is some weird man-made invention that's supposed to be so EASY and COMFORTABLE. No wonder a girl gets suspicious.

So here is my first attempt at sewing with scuba fabric. And of course I loved it, and of course that's mildly irritating when I've been avoiding it for so long. It's so easy to sew with, it's like ponte knit and denim had a love child and it was told to always behave nicely and respect older people. THAT'S how nice it is. I would even go as far as to say that this is the fabric I would recommend to anyone who's embarking on their first sewing journey. You know, for that first project where nothing can go wrong or the aspiring tailor will hate everything sewing related for the rest of their lives and take up wood work or something instead. And we can't let that happen, we need fresh blood on our side.

The wearing part I don't know about yet. Since my house is occupied by two Jack Russel Terriers, I've been moving around like a ninja to avoid getting dog hair on my leggings. If my butt had actually touched the sofa, there could never have been any pictures. Never. On the flip side, you can't tell anything about the wearability of leggings before you have worn them to a) a movie night with the girls, b) binge watched Netflix while knitting or c) had too much tea and too many laughs with a friend while sitting in awkward positions.

The pattern is number 130A from Burda 1/2011. I've made the version with the attached skirt once in a much lighter jersey. This time I shortened the legs, lowered the rise and added a bit of width throughout the legs since the scuba is a sturdier knit. Good call btw. And since it's also thicker, I noticed some of my usual crotch seam abnormalities that weren't noticeable in the lighter knit. Too long in the front and too short in the back, not much to do when the seams are serged together, so I compromised and shortened both a bit. Totally boring and totally should have seen it coming.

There you have it folks, my first blogged fall make! I'll be posting my leggings to the Fear Fabric Flickr group, the 4th Annual Fall Essentials Sew-Along Flickr group and the Spooky Season Linky Party over at Project Sewn too. Phew. Check those out if you haven't already. Happy social sewing everyone!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A little something for a little princess

I don't know anything about sewing clothes for kids or babies. This is a huge gap in my sewing experience. So every time I get asked to sew something for a kid or a baby, I feel kind of torn: it's supposed to be "easy", but it scares the sh*t out of me.

But what kind of godmother would I be if I didn't cater to my goddaughter's every need? Not a very good one, so I put my big girl pants on and pulled out the ballpoint needle.

The little princess needed a bigger swaddle, and apparently they are impossible to find. I figured I would be able to copy the structure from the smaller swaddle without a pattern, since I had her mum telling me exactly where it needed to be bigger and by how much.

The swaddle is a result of true collaboration: I, who knows nothing about babies, and my goddaughter's mum, who knows nothing about sewing, combined our knowledge to create this.

The pictures are really boring without a baby, but I didn't have one on hand. Enjoy the owls instead!

The original swaddle didn't have any buttons, they are an addition supposed to keep the little critter from prying the velcro tape closures open in her sleep.

The construction was pretty straight forward: two pieces shaped like the letter T, two lower halves, four darts at the bottom for shape and two at the top for the shoulders. The outer layer is a double knit and the owls are a 100% cotton knit.

Do you too have an irrational fear of small clothing? Or do you squeeze out tiny jersey creations like nobody's business?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bribing my photographer

The first rule of blogging? Keep your photographer happy or you will end up standing alone in a field, with your tripod, in the rain. Or at least that's my biggest fear.  

To keep that from happening I bribed my sister/photographer with a one-of-a-kind top, in a fabric that just screams her name. I'm very proud of this fabric. I was killing some time (who am I kidding, I was having the time of my life!) in a fabric store and found this small piece of viscose. It's soft and drapey without being see-through at all. The print is kind of old fashioned and the blue is an interesting shade, perfect for my sister. 

The repeat of this print is huge and I only had a small piece of fabric, so I concentrated on the pattern placement in the front. I'm so bad at pattern placement. My sister joked that as long as the birds aren't upside down, like who would be stupid enough to do that, right... I hadn't even thought about the stupid birds. Disaster barely averted. 

Being aware of the birds now, I tried not to decapitate any of them at the neckline or arm scythes. I finished the neckline and arm scythes with self-fabric bias binding, invisible this time. 

This is the same pattern as my TNT in the making-top. I fixed the weird post-finishing gaping under the arm by taking out a wedge of 1 cm at the front arm scythe. 1 cm was perhaps a bit much, but at least it fits snugly now.

It's October already, and I still have two more finished summer tops to photograph and blog about. If I keep up with this trend I'll be showing you mittens at Midsummer. Oh well, as long as we're having fun, right?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sunshine in the form of a dress

I was asked by my dear friend Tiina to replicate her favorite dress, a dress she had bought on vacation that was now falling apart. 

The shape was fairly simple: the back consisted of one piece in jersey and the front was made by layers of jersey and a lighter fabric. Because of the jersey the fitting wasn't an issue, but the construction of the front was trickier than I expected. 

The beloved original dress, un-ironed, whoops.
I cut the dress apart and numbered the front pieces: jersey number five and chiffon number five go together and so forth.
I used the numbered pieces from the original dress as pattern pieces.

The front pieces are curved, which led to 1) they took up more fabric than expected and 2) the finishing of the lower edge caused a meltdown on my part. See the plan was to use a rolled hem, because the original dress had something similar. Well, this fabric wouldn't have any of it. I guess it has something to do with the edge being curved, but the finishing kept "falling off": the fabric ripped above the seam, no matter how many times I tried. By this point, something that was meant to be fairly simple turned out to be much more time consuming and the only thing that kept me from throwing the serger out the window was thinking about how much it would cost to replace it (I'm sorry Tiina, but that's the honest-to-god truth).

I added length to the dress by adding layers of jersey and chiffon. This involved some math which I got wrong had no problem with. 
Instead I finished the edge with the serger, pressed it under and topstitched. It actually looks better this way, and it wasn't difficult at all, but you all know how annoying it is when you don't get to do something your way.

One happy, beautiful customer!

It all came together in the end, and both Tiina and I are happy with the result. Any words of wisdom when replicating something? Mark the pieces! Apart from that - go for it! Chances are you will end up with something well-fitting and lots-of-wear-getting on your first try.

PS. Fall is here! And I'm still sewing summer tops, since I'm trying very very hard not to leave any UFOs behind. And also, because, just a little bit of denial.

PPS. I'm sorry about the blue-ish hue and smurf-like complexion in some of the pictures. Blogger wouldn't play nicely this time either and something evil happened when I uploaded the pictures. Was able to fix the worst though.

Friday, September 19, 2014

What my grandma made

Sewing, knitting, crocheting... handicrafts run in my family. This dress was made by my grandmother on my mother's side of the family. It had been hanging in the far corner of my mum's closet for many many years, until I now decided to try and rescue it and put it to good use again.

The fabric is so soft and drapey, which makes the dress lovely to wear. I didn't want to change too much, just enough to make it wearable for me.

Originally, there was a metal zip inserted in the front, going all the way to the waist. The zip had been unpicked at some point, so I stitched the front center seam closed to an appropriate height.

It's difficult to detect any seams in this busy print, but instead of side seams the dress has side panels. I took in the back panel seams quite a bit at the waist to make the dress just a bit more fitted.

Pockets need to be added to every single thing, am I right?

The finishing on the sleeves had ripped, so I re-did that, but otherwise I didn't want to mess with the original construction or finishing.

The inside of the hem

The finishing of the seams
Damn, just think of the time and effort that went into this dress! No serger or sophisticated sewing machine, just a whole lot of patience and skill. Makes me feel bad about blaming my sewing machine for my own shortcomings...

Too bad the print is so busy, because I love the shape of this dress and feel tempted to recreate it sometime. I don't know if I'll be wearing it despite the changes because the busy print really isn't my style. Still, it feels good to pay homage to the incredible skills of those who have now passed, and be grateful to the ladies (and men!) in my family who have passed on their knowledge and love for all things handmade. I know I'll be devastated if one day my own children won't know the difference between a knitting needle and a pair of scissors.

Here I'm explaining to my sister ,who's behind the camera, how my cheeks look stupid from a certain angle.
She didn't buy it.
Have you ever rescued anything worth saving just for the time that went into making it?

Monday, September 8, 2014

My comeback sweater

You guys, I had totally given up on sweater knitting. Sure, it's a lot of work, but that wasn't the main reason. I never wore them. They always ended up too big around the shoulders, too hot or too clumsy. This summer I realized that I always went for the wrong patterns - overly complicated textures or one-of-a-kind designs that, let's face it, are one-of-a-kind for a reason: nobody wants to wear them.

Earlier this summer I stumbled upon some great sweater knitting inspiration: Andrea's Robin Sweater and Tacia's Snowy Owl Sweater and I had an a-ha moment! It makes much more sense to spend HOURS on something that you feel comfortable wearing every day and not feel like you stick out for the wrong reasons. Everybody surprised now? I know I am!

So I went on a hunt for a blank canvas pattern and landed on a top-down raglan sleeve sweater from Vogue Knitting Spring Summer 2014. I used the pattern as reference on how to construct the top-down raglan thingy and then went my own way. I wanted it to fit snugly on top and loosely around my torso.

For the first time ever I took the time to do the math involved in achieving a perfect (read satisfactory) fit. My notes are in Swedish/Finnish/English and make no sense whatsoever, but somehow I managed to squeeze out a sweater from the gibberish. Success!

Since I knit this in the summer I used a cotton yarn, Kotiväki Huvila by the Finnish company Novita (fun fact: during the recent downswing in the economy Novita was one of the most successful Finnish companies, yay knitters!) I love this yarn. I didn't want the sweater to get too heavy or dense, so I used larger needles than recommended.

The knitting was a breeze. The only thing I would change construction wise is that the yoke is worked back and forth and then seamed together at one of the raglan seams. Next time I'll work the yoke in the round.

The cotton sadly causes some problems though. The neck line stretched out like crazy when wearing, which I learned is because cotton isn't an elastic fibre, so it doesn't recover. I googled for some ways to fix this, and apparently the lack of seaming in the yoke makes the stretching worse, so I added a crocheted chain to the neck line and raglan seams and hope it solves the problem. If not, I'll try adding a band as facing on the wrong side of the neck line. Anybody ever done that?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Something sweet for my sweet sister

I have FINALLY made something successful for my baby sister. She's a crucial part of this blog, although you don't see much of her. She takes all the pictures of me and most importantly, she's my brutally honest wardrobe critic, so I feel honored I was able to make something she approved of.

Well, I didn't actually make-make this, I re-made it. My mom has saved a bunch of dad's old shirts, some of which have never been worn because they were the wrong size. This was one of them.

The fabric is lo-ve-ly and this one was a true gem construction wise too. I'm bummed that I didn't take a before picture, but just picture my sister drowning in blue shirting. I started by cutting off the sleeves and I swear I heard a choir singing hallelujah. The arm scythes are ingeniously constructed so that there weren't any raw edges left! Sooo beautiful! Having said that, I don't envy the seamstress who has set in those sleeves.

I go about these kinds of re-makes one way - stick the poor customer in front of the mirror and start pinning away. It takes some time, because you have to pin the same changes to both sides of the garment, otherwise you might accidentally remove too much. You'll start at the top and work your way down.

This time the side seams needed the most adjusting, so I began with those. Then it was my sister who  came up with the brilliant idea to make a vertical seam that goes all the way from almost the back hem and over the shoulder. The shirt had existing darts that I deepened.

The most time consuming part of this project was moving all the pins from the right side to the wrong side of the shirt and measuring everything. I top-stitched the new seams so that they would match the original darts left.

I love the fit of this new tunic/dress/shirt! It flares out just a bit at the bottom which gives it a feminine air. Luckily for my sister the fit isn't spot-on for me - otherwise the shirt would have mysteriously gotten "lost" or "damaged" during the process and ended up in my closet!

Have you got any great tips for re-making men's shirts? I have a couple more left that I would love to get to good use!