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?