Mathilde progress

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This evening, I needed some sewing therapy. It was one of those days. Nothing horrible occurred, but little frustrations seemed to greet me at every turn. As soon as I got home from the university this evening, I went to work on Mathilde. I managed to cut out and mark all my fabric pieces. I also stabilized the neck and back of the blouse with interfacing.

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Tomorrow- pleats and darts! Wahoo!

Stalking Mathilde

I’ve been stalking the Mathilde blouse.

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If you haven’t yet seen it (or it’s many versions), go ogle it right now- adorable, right?! It reminds me of other blouses I’ve been crushing on:

Polka dot top from Loft

Polka dot top from Loft

Hippie Haute Back-button blouse at Bergdorf Goodman

Hippie Haute back-button blouse at Bergdorf Goodman

A summery version from Ann Taylor

A summery version from Ann Taylor

These tops are lovely, but a little on the pricey side. That Hippie Haute beauty is over $200! My starving grad student budget can’t take that kind of hit, so I really want to make my own version. In the past month or so, I must have directed my browser to Tilly’s webpage a thousand times trying to work up the nerve to purchase the pattern. It’s so cute, and I want to make one so badly, but…

…button holes terrify me.

Despite my fear, I’ve decided to take the plunge. I purchased the pattern this weekend and am working on a muslin. I’m still a mess when it comes to gauging fit.  Ease and “finished pattern measurements” are still concepts I’m grappling with. By making a muslin, I hope to figure out the correct sizing and save myself angst when working with my nice fabric.

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I’m a bit short on patience, so the muslin is sloppy. I managed to sew a side seam wrong side out. You can see it in the photo above. And, I just ironed and pinned one set of pleats. Lazy, I know, but it seemed like too much work to do a second set after I figured out the first. Of course that set didn’t go perfectly. One pleat is inside-out!

Although the pattern directions recommend I cut a size 4 based on my body measurements, I thought the finished garment would be a bit big on me. I cut the 3 instead and I really like the fit. Not too snug, but not “Oh! When are you due?” loose. That’s not something about which I want people to have to speculate.

Slightly less puffy sleeve

Slightly less puffy sleeve

I have also de-poofed the sleeves a little. I’m petite and I found the sleeves a bit overpowering. I followed the lead of Shivani at Pins and Needles and decreased the width of my sleeves by four inches. Much better. Shivani’s Mathilde is my favorite non-Tilly version of the blouse. I love the print. I love the fit. I love those wooden buttons. General love for her make!

I think I’m ready to cut into my nice fabric (I’ll post pics of that later). Unfortunately, I doubt I’ll finish the blouse until this weekend. Instead of blogging, I should be working on a manuscript… sewing time is tight this week. I hope to wrap up my Mathilde by Sunday. I’d really like to wear it to my parents’ for Easter dinner. I have a crafty Saturday morning planned with a friend who is a button hole sewing pro. She is aware of my fear of button holes and has offered her expert assistance. I’m hoping for success.

Now, I just need to learn how to cook…

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A very girly apron happened this weekend.

I used this pattern, Simplicity 1934:

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Simplicity patterns were on sale at Joann’s for $1.99 last week, so I decided to give this one a go. I created version C. I thought the ruffles were adorable. I didn’t really need an apron, but I decided it would make a fun weekend project. I also figured it was a low risk garment on which I could practice gathering fabric and sewing ruffles. It was the first time I had done either.

The ruffles on the pockets turned out pretty well.

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The waist band gathering was also pretty easy, but the neck ruffle was a bit tricker than I’d anticipated. My sewing is a bit wobbly. You can’t really tell from the apron front.

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Okay- you can tell a little, but would you have noticed if I hadn’t said anything?

The back is a hot mess:

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It’s all over the place…

If you don’t look too close, I think the finished project is cute.

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I had enough fabric left over to create a second, simpler apron for a friend who just bought a house. It’s a little kitch for her new kitchen.  I kept this one really simple and I think the end result is very professional.

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For this one I borrowed a friend’s pattern, Simplicity 2011. The entire apron is one huge pocket and the exposed cupcake fabric are holes to reach your hands in. I would have loved to do the waistband in the pink fabric as well, but I ran out. She’s not as comfortable in loud prints and bright colors as I am, so this may have  all worked out for the best.

My sewing machine was humming with apron making this weekend. Now, I just need to learn how to cook!

Cupcakes, polka dots, & more plum

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Two new projects were started this evening. One involves the fabric above and this green bit for accents.

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I cut and marked the pieces so it is ready to be put together this weekend.

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My love affair with plum continues… The second project I began today is slowly growing on my knitting needles. I haven’t knit in a week and I’ve missed it. I’m worried this may be an early sign of a knitting addiction. The new project will require I learn how to create a lacy edge. I’m excited!

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I made a dress!

I love green and navy prints. Here’s one from Banana Republic’s current Mad Men collection I think is fabulous:

Banana Republic's Mad Men dress

Banana Republic’s Mad Men dress

When shopping I tend to seek  out navy and green prints, so as I was picking fabric to make my own dress, a green and navy print was the obvious choice. I picked up  this geometric cotton sateen at Joann’s a few weeks ago. It’s part of their Hampton Collection and has been on sale, 30% off, for a while now. I think it cost me about $10 a yard.

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I used New Look 0126 and made a muslin.

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…And then made and remade the muslin. Several versions later, I decided I needed one size up top and  a different one on the bottom.I ended up cutting a 10 on top and a 12 on the bottom. I was a bit freaked out by having to merge two different sizes but it wasn’t a big deal as I just blended them at the waist.

Here’s the final result without a belt:

IMG_0665I think I’m a bit too curvy for a sheath without waist darts. It’s comfortable but looks a little sloppy.  I like it much better with a belt:

IMG_0666Since it’s chilly here today, I styled it with a sweater for my school visits.

IMG_0669The hardest part of putting this all together was the back zipper. It came out okay, but there are a few minor imperfections. I’m probably the only one who will ever notice, but…

Also, the back neckline gapes a wee bit. It’s fine with the sweater over it and I’m hoping it’s due to the interfacing needing to soften up a bit in the wash. I bought what the pattern recommended, but it seems overly stiff.

Hands down, my favorite part of the dress is the invisible hem. I did a slip stitch by hand and it really is invisible!

See? No threads!

See? No threads!

Overall, I’m pleased with how my first dress turned out. I wore it to dinner with friends this evening and they asked where I bought my dress. Their reactions were pretty humorous when I told them I’d made it!

This weekend, I was at Joann’s (if I’m not careful, they are going to start charging me rent) and I took advantage of their 5 for $5 Butterick patterns promotion.

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Hmmm… which should I make next?

In honor of National Crochet Month…

According to the Crochet Guild of America, March is National Crochet Month. I had no idea there was an entire month devoted to crochet. My knitting needles might get jealous…

In honor of National Crochet Month, I am posting my first attempt at crochet.

Ta da!

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A tech cozy for a Flip camera!

I know it’s not a complicated project, but it’s my FIRST finished crocheted piece. Be impressed.

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A few weeks ago, my mom attempted to teach my how to crochet. (I blogged about it here.) Unfortunately, Mom hasn’t crocheted since I was a wee one and had a tough time recalling some of her former skills. I decided to search for some additional help online and found a Craftsy.com class, Crochet Lab, that appeared to meet my needs. Since I’ve been having such  a good time with Craftsy.com’s Sewing with Knits, I was optimistic. The course was also on sale for $10 which helped make my decision. So far, so good. I’ve learned how to single and double crochet.

The tech cozy is the first project in the course. It’s composed entirely out of double crochet and after many failed attempts, I was finally able to crochet straightly and consistently. The yarn I used was Sheep(ish), Vickie Howell’s line for Bernat. I’m happy with the way the cozy turned out. It only took an episode or two of Psych to create and it fits the Flip camera with a little room to spare. Although it was my first project, I didn’t keep the cozy. The camera isn’t mine! It belongs to my friend M who has allowed me to borrow it on several occasions lately for a research project. I noticed it didn’t have a case, so it was the perfect candidate for my first crochet project. I gave the camera and cozy to M this weekend. She seemed rather pleased with it and was inspired to pick up her long neglected crochet hooks and learn how to create a granny square via YouTube.  Pictures were shared via text message and I am very impressed…. and jealous. I’m going to log into my Craftsy.com course and learn how to make granny squares tonight!

I’ve been a bit of a crafting fiend lately. In addition to the cozy, I crocheted a scarf for myself, also a Crochet Lab project.

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It looks a bit uneven in this photo, but the edges really are straight. You don’t even want to know how many times I ripped it apart to recrochet straight edges!

I finished it in a week! The scarf I knitted my brother took me a month. I am amazed how fast this came together. Again, I used Sheep(ish) yarn and the entire scarf is composed of double crochet. It’s chunky and thick texture, which I love, is due to crocheting with two strands of yarn throughout (one yarn is Plum(ish) and the other is Magenta(ish)). The result is perfect for winter days somewhere other than Florida…. I’m modeling the scarf below with a short sleeved T-shirt. It’s nearly 80 degrees here today! Oh well, it’ll be perfect for my next winter trip north.
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I also sewed a knit top this week. I’ll share more about that later.

And- this weekend, a project involving the following material and pattern was in full swing.

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I just have the zip and hem to finish tonight. Assuming all goes well, this will be my first dress. I’m optimistic.

Happy National Crochet Month!

Finished projects: A cozy knit jacket, an icky v-neck, and a chunky scarf

Knit Jacket (Butterick B5789)

Brrrr… it’s cold here in Florida this weekend. Perfect weather for my Saturday sewing project, a comfy knit jacket!

Butterick B5789. I made up view B.

Butterick B5789. I made up view B.

I purchased this pattern during the winter holidays with the intention of created view “B.” I bought some thick moss green knit fabric for the jacket, but both pattern and fabric sat on my shelf for a few weeks while I figured out how to work with knits through the Craftsy.com Sewing with Knits course. I started sewing this up around noon yesterday and finished around midnight. It would have taken way less time if I had not had to reinsert the sleeves about a thousand times each. Even using basting stitches, sleeve insertion was not pretty. The sleeve has a sort of pointed oval shape due to darts defining the shoulders.

The sleeve darts- they look lux and reinforce the shoulder.

The shoulder darts- they look lux and reinforce the shoulder.

They look lovely on the finished garment, but made the sleeve an awkward shape to insert into the sleeve opening. (I also took breaks for meals, snacks, and playing with/shooing the cat  out of my sewing materials. For some unknown reason she is obsessed with my seam ripper. She loves trying to bat it around the table, on the floor, etc.)

Here is the finished jacket:

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Me- headless in my new jacket.

An attempt to show the side/back of the jacket

An attempt to show the side/back of the jacket

I cut the small. The only alteration I made was to the sleeves. They were too short, so I added an extra bit of fabric to give it a cuffed look. It’s not perfect, but I think it looks okay.

Through this make, I learned that the stretch stitches on my machine are okay after all (I wasn’t happy with them after my last project). I think the problem had been the fabric and not my machine. For this jacket, I used a sort of basket weave-looking stitch (I have no idea if it has a name…). It is super stretchy and, since I can’t use a double needle, I think it looks pretty along the hem of the jacket. It gives it a nice finished look.

The stretch stitch

The stretch stitch

The finished jacket is incredibly comfortable. It covers my bum, so I think I will wear it a lot with leggings and boots.

The v-neck t-shirt

Oh, ick. Just ick. I created the second knit top in the Craftsy.com Sewing with Knits course, a v-neck t-shirt, and the pattern is all wrong for me. I don’t tend to wear v-necks because they nearly always hit my chest at a bad spot giving the world quite a peek at my cleavage. This v-neck was no exception. I’d have to wear a tank under it and I hate having to do that. It’s too hot in Florida to layer tops! So, I did not take any photos of this make and I doubt I’ll ever wear it. Since I adore the scoop neck t-shirt I made from the course (and have worn it several times already), I’m going to chalk this one up to style and move on.

Chunky scarf

Although I didn’t get much sewing done during the week, I did work on the scarf for my brother’s birthday. I finished it late Friday night.

It clashes with my top, but you get the idea...

It clashes with my top, but you get the idea…

The design is called “man scarf” and I found it through Ravelry.com.  I widened the scarf by eight stitches and kept going until it was long enough to double and wrap around my neck comfortably.

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My brother has been doing a lot of snow boarding recently, so while this isn’t the sort of  scarf he’ll want to wear on the slopes, I think it will be nice when he’s back at the lodge with the guys enjoying a few beers. His birthday isn’t until May, so maybe I can figure out how to make a matching hat by then?

Yarn used: Bernat Alpaca Natural Blends in tomato. I used 2 and 1/2 skeins.

Time until completion: About a month. I worked on it a bit at a time each night after work.

Up next on my sewing table and on the knitting needles?

I have all that lovely plum yarn from a shopping trip a few weeks ago… I think it’s time to make a scarf for me!

This afternoon, I cut the pattern for a silky top with a warm weather vibe. I hope to get started on it this evening.