Life in the frozen north

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I miss Florida. Palm trees…. the ocean…. herons…. alligators… I miss it all. I also miss being warm.

The only upside to dealing with cold weather is snow. DC has experienced some snow in the last few weeks and I love snow! I really love snow when I’m nestled warmly into my sofa with a steaming mug of hot chocolate.

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Snowy DC rooftops

Unfortunately, I sometimes have to leave my warm apartment while it is snowing or has just finished snowing. At these times, I am very glad I’ve learned to knit. The ensemble above has been worn a lot this winter. I admit, I look sinister. I’m writing it off as the price of warmth. I bought the puffy black coat from NY and Company on sale before the holidays and made the hat and cowl. The cowl was knit first. I purchased the yarn and pattern from Craftsy.com. It was the November 2013 Mystery Knit-Along.

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The yarn is from Sweet Georgia Yarns and the color is called  terracotta.  Acacia Cowl is the name of the pattern. This was my first attempt using cables in a knitting project. I took a cable class this summer at a yarn store back in Florida, but hadn’t used my new skills in a project. These cables were very easy to create and didn’t require a cable needle.

After I finished the cowl, I decided to make a matching hat. I ordered another skein of the terrocatta yarn and found a cabled hat pattern through Ravelry.com.

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The cables are different, so I think of the two pieces as coordinating rather than matching. The pattern did require a cable needle, but I enjoyed the fancy-shmancy stitching. I’m putting this FO down as a success.

If you haven’t tried knitting cables yet, I encourage you to go for it! It wasn’t hard and who doesn’t like the look of a classic cable?

Happy creating in 2014!

Baja Hoodies & a summer chevron tote

Wahoo! This is my first blog post as a doctoral candidate. Things have been quiet around this blog because I’ve been studying (and seriously stressing) over my doctoral qualifying exams and exam defense. After several panic attacks, nonsensical threats to my boyfriend that I was going to quit the program, and HOURS of studying, I passed my exams and defense. Now I just have to write my dissertation…

Although I haven’t been blogging, I have found some time to sew. Below are my latest projects: two Baja Hoodies and a summer chevron tote.

Baja Hoodies

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My niece and nephew turned three this month and I wanted to make them something cute for summer. After a bit of searching, I discovered many adorable little girl patterns both from indi designers and the big 4. Unfortunately, little boy patterns are not so plentiful and not nearly as cute. I was getting really discouraged when I discovered Blank Slate Patterns. Yay! Cuteness for little boys!

I purchased the Baja Hoodie pattern. A unisex pattern with simple construction, I envision the kiddos heading home from swim class in their coordinating hoodies.

The pattern is a downloadable pdf and has really clear instructions with photos to help you out along the way. This was my first time using bias tape and the photo instructions demystified the process. The pattern is considered intermediate due to the use of terrycloth. I agree this is not a good beginner project (unless you substitute cotton for terrycloth). Terrycloth fuzz covered my apartment (and my cat!) while I worked on these. In addition to making a mess, terrycloth is bulky and was tricky to work with. The fabric was too thick for me to use my walking foot, so sewing layers together was more difficult than it might otherwise have been. Many of my stitches across the bias tape aren’t as straight as I would like due to terrycloth misbehavior. Luckily, I doubt the kiddos will mind.

Front view- For the little man.

Front view- For the little man.

Back view

Back view

Front view- For the little lady.

Front view- For the little lady.

My favorite part of these hoodies is the label. I found these in a local knitting shop and couldn’t help myself. How cute are they?!

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Overall, I’m pleased with how they turned out. I don’t, however, think I will use terrycloth again for quite a while.

Chevron Tote bag

I’ve been using my monogram tote bag a lot this summer. It’s the perfect size for all my stuff (laptop, power cord, wallet, book or two, etc.). It has taken the wear in stride and still looks great, so I’ve been toying with making a second one in a more summery fabric.

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The pattern for the bag- New Look 0126

I found a great bold black and white chevron canvas print at Michael’s last week and couldn’t resist making the purchase. It appears Michael’s is stocking a very limited selection of sewing notions now. My local store has a wall of quilting rulers and rotary cutters in addition to a very limited selection of precut fabric. The canvas I purchased is sold in bundles precut to a yard for about $10. This isn’t a bad price for canvas and, with a 40% off coupon, was a pretty good deal. I then picked up some red ribbon, webbing, and lining fabric at JoAnn’s.

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The finished bag

Lining- red polka dot quilting cotton

Lining- red polka dot quilting cotton

This was a quick and satisfying make. I can’t wait to load it up with my stuff and head off to my “office” (aka. Starbucks around the corner) to work on my dissertation proposal!

Two challenges & a forgotten black knit top

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This morning, I took the Me-Made-May pledge! Eek!

I vow to wear at least two me-made items per week during all of May 2013. I’m a bit worried. Just a few months ago, I had never threaded a sewing machine and here I am attempting to wear things I made at regular intervals. Yikes!

Concerned that maybe I can’t pull this off, I took inventory of what I’ve created thus far and realized one of my me-made items had neither been worn nor posted on the blog. When I made it a few months ago, I was on the fence regarding whether or not it suited me.  I suspect the hideous yellow floral version on the pattern envelope may not have helped with my overall impression of the garment.

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I folded it up, placed it in a drawer, and forgot about it. When I inspected it this morning, I have no idea what my hang-ups were about this top. It fits well and my workmanship is good. I threw it on with a pencil skirt and sweater and headed off to my teaching duties at the university. Now, lounging around on my sofa in the shirt and a pair of yoga pants, I have decided to declare it a sewing success. It was super comfortable to wear today and I think the draped neck is a good look for me.

After months of neglect, here is McCalls 6563:

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Please ignore my blank expression. Obviously, a career in modeling is not in my future…

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With sweater. It’s warm here today, but the university has a love affair with airconditioning.

In addition to resurrecting my black knit top and signing on for Me-Made-May, I have decided to attempt my first sewing challenge:

TheGreatGatsbySewingChallenge

I like 1920s fashion. It always strikes me as a bit ahead of it’s time and appeals to my feminist sensibilities. Tiny waists or unnaturally pointy breasts weren’t required. Short, almost masculine hair was incredibly fashionable. I have yet to see a pair of crazy high heels in photos from the 1920s. While I have no desire to go back in time (I am a thoroughly modern girl), I do appreciate first wave feminists, flapper fashion, and bobbed hair.

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I also LOVE F. Scott Fitzgerald. This Side of Paradise and The Great Gatsby are two of my favorite books. Friends and I have already planned a girls’ night for the Gatsby movie. Obviously, I’m up for this challenge. I think the best part may be researching my garment. I’m hoping to come up with something paying homage to the 1920s, but modern enough for wear today. A Pinterest board may be involved….

“Sew” in love with Mathilde!

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My Mathilde is finished!

This blouse was such a pleasure to make. The pattern fit me perfectly. (I’m 5’3″ and usually find the best fit in the petite department. Taller girls may need to lengthen the body, but it worked perfectly for me!) The only adjustment I made was to the fullness of the sleeve. I thought they were a bit too puffy, so I slimmed them down by 4 inches.

I encountered a few sewing firsts with this make: buttons

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button holes

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pleats

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and French seams!

I was so worried about the button holes. They were intimidating! I read through my machine’s manual and practiced a bunch on some scrap fabric before finally braving it with my good fabric. I was thrilled with how they came out.

Overall, this was an easy make, but that was due in large part to Tilly‘s excellent online tutorials. Whenever I had trouble wrapping my head around the pattern directions, I referred to Tilly’s blog. Her detailed explanations and photos were a huge help. The bit about the gathered sleeves was particularly helpful

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as was the post on the poof at the shoulder.

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I wore the finished blouse to Easter dinner with a white mini skirt. I felt comfortable and chic while filling up on ham, veggies, and wine.

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A huge thank you to Tilly for the great pattern and super clear online tutorials. Due to her diligence and my willingness to go slow and follow her every direction, my blouse is shockingly flawless (how amazing is that?!). According to her blog, Tilly is about to release another pattern. If it’s anything like this one, I’m all in!

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’80 inspired social event- What should I wear?

This weekend my research lab is getting together for an 1980s themed bowling game.  (I know, I know… We are nerdy  AND weird, but we’re also a lot of fun!) I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to wear. I’m stuck! I browsed around online and found the following as inspiration:

  • Yeek! These are really tight and I will not wear them in public, but the lace and gold fabric might be good sources of inspiration. My hair will do this kinky-curly thing naturally, so that’s one piece of the ensemble that I don’t have to worry about.
  • ’80s trends included: legwarmers, shoulder pads, Members Only jackets, and acid washed jeans.

This little horror is my favorite so far, but the price ($69) and time needed to ship it exclude it from being a viable option:

Hmmm… I’m still not sure how to pull this all together. I think a trip to Goodwill is in my immediate future.

Any outfit suggestions?