Some knitting and my first Zinnia

Eek! It’s been over a month since my last post! I’ve been busy getting into the groove of life in my new city. I’ve also been focusing on my dissertation.

I spend lots of time staring at my computer screen while drinking coffee.

Soy latte in Chinatown Coffee Company

Soy latte at the Chinatown Coffee Company. I’m in love with the milk foam heart.

As it gets colder in D.C. (it’s supposed to snow this weekend!), my knitting needles have been clicking away. I made a turquoise hat to wear in the cold at home and to a conference last month in Minnesota. Minn is freezing! My bones were cold… I found a sample of this hat at Looped Yarn Works in Dupont Circle. It was cute and looked easy. The pattern is called 201 Hat found on jessibean’s Ravelry page. It worked up very fast and is comfy to wear.

Freezing with fellow students in Minneapolis.

Freezing with fellow graduate students in Minneapolis.

Then, I made a cowl from some lovely textured yarn a former co-worker gifted to me. I think it was hand-dyed and I suspect it’s rather old. I used the free bulky mobius cowl pattern. I wasn’t able to pull off the mobius cast on this this yarn, but hope to give it a try soon.

Super warm cowl made from gifted yarn.

Super warm cowl made from gifted yarn.

In addition to knitting, I made a Zinnia!

When Colette Patterns came out with this versatile skirt, I knew I wanted to give it a go.

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The fabric cost about $6 a yard on the sale table at Joann’s. It’s synthetic, but I like the colors and the print.

skirt fabric

skirt fabric

I used a non-static liner also purchased at Joann’s. It’s stiff and doesn’t drape well. I was worried about bulking up the hem, so I just did a zig-zag cut on the lining. I’m now in the market for nicer lining fabrics. If you have a good source, please share!

Lining and lazy hem

Lining and lazy hem

I am pretty proud of the button and my invisible zip isn’t too bad, either.

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Can’t even see the zip!

Here’s the finished product. I wore it with a chambray shirt and what my fiance refers to as my “cowgirl boots.” It is a bit western worn like this. For its next wearing, I think I’ll go with a simple brown or white top and brown heels.

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Selfie in my kitchen.

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Here it is from head-to-toe!

This was my first Colette pattern and I will be making others. The directions were very clear and the pattern only required one minor adjustment. I cut a 6 and ended up having to recut the waistband. I think I spaced out my pleats a bit too far apart which caused the waistband to be too short. Luckily, I had extra fabric, so cutting a bigger waistband was no big deal. I sprayed the fabric down with Sullivan’s Fabric Stabilizer which helped with the slippery factor. Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the result.

Now, the time is ticking for holiday sewing. I have two projects on the docket and limited time. Anyone else engaging in holiday sewing?

Sewing amid chaos

Things have been quiet around the blog because life is happening in a big way.

First, this occurred..

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Then I moved here…

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The move was immediately followed by a brief hospital stay for my fiance. (Luckily, he’s fine now.)

Then, my soon-to-be sister-in-law broke her ankle. I stayed with her for a few days post-surgery.

Now, that everyone is on the mend, I am trying to plan our wedding. It is not going well…

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If eloping wouldn’t cause massive family drama, I would do it in a heart-beat.

In the midst of all of this, I am supposed to be writing my dissertation. Ummm… yeah

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Sewing and knitting  are the only activities keeping me sort-of sane.

Right before I moved, I finished my first vintage pattern!

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I went with view 3 and omitted the pocket.

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The pattern was straight-forward and I loved the little check boxes on the direction sheets. Although the pattern claimed to be a teaching pattern, it assumes the sewer has some basic garment construction skills. I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who’s never sewn before.

I used a cotton poplin I purchased recently on sale at Joann’s. I like the crispness of the cotton and the summery pattern, but I wish I had tried to match up the diamonds at the zipper. If I make it again, I’ll attempt back pattern matching and I’ll probably lower the neck by a few inches. It’s a little bit too high to be really comfortable. I also took in the side seams by an inch or so and raised the bust darts (I usually have to make this alteration). Maybe a size smaller would have been a better place to start?

I’ve worn it a few times, but it’s getting too cold in DC for such a summery top. It was in the 50s today! Gah! How is this Florida girl going to survive?!

While my fiance was in the recouping in the hospital, I knit a sweater. I’ll post photos later when it’s light out. I’m not thrilled with the result, but it’ll work. Obviously, I’m going to need it and many more. I need to get the knitting needles clicking!

My current sewing project is on hold while I wait for the knit interfacing I ordered to arrive. I’m working on my first fall wardrobe item, a knit sweater:

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It’s another Big 4 pattern that I picked up for a $1 at Joann’s. I’m working on view E. My version will not have contrast trim or pockets. I want something simple and need some more cardigans for fall weather. Seasonal sewing… a new concept for me!

Ooo la la!

I love pretty lingerie. Maybe it’s my French heritage or my penchant for the girly- a bit of satin and some lace makes me a very happy lady.

So, when Vogue 8888 came out a few months ago, I had to give it a try. Although it’s labeled “easy,” I was a bit worried. It all looked complicated and impossibly delicate.
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I attempted view D. I recently picked up a ton of fabulous fabric on sale at JoAnn’s- 50% off red tag fabrics! One of my purchases was three yards of a printed satiny blend for $2.75 a yard. I decided to forgo lace and just let the print do the talking.

IMG_1245Eat your heart out, Victoria’s Secret! What would have cost me about $50 was less than $6 worth of fabric.

I will not be modeling this one because it is cut low. It looks great (I think my boyfriend will love it), but I don’t want my cleavage splashed all over the internet…

The “easy” label was legitimate. I was most worried about the fit of the bodice, but the pattern fit perfectly without any adjustments (I’m a solid B-cup).

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I used French seams throughout, so the inside is pretty, too. Overall, it was a fast make. I started it Sunday after lunch and was able to wear it to bed Sunday night. How great is that?!

I will be making up this pattern again. I’m debating sewing up a version in jersey for a different look. I also think I’ll give the other views a try. Maybe I’ll even incorporate some lace next time.

Au revoir! Bonne nuit!

Summer bag and little sailboats

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As my exams loom closer (ohmygodohmygodohmygod..) I haven’t been sleeping well, so I’ve been crocheting in the wee hours of the morning. These sleepless nights have resulted in a new summer purse. The terrible photo above was taken on a rare day when I stopped studying, got out of yoga pants, and ventured into public.

The bag pattern is a free Ravelry download, Summer Sling Tote. It worked up bigger than I thought it would, which is good. I was worried it would be too small. There is enough room in it for all my essentials plus a book and my laptop’s power cord- perfect!

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The bag took me about a week and a half to crochet and line. According to Ravelry, more experienced crocheters get it done in just a few days. It’s a great first pattern, just double crochet after double crochet with some slip stitches to attach the handle. I had a tough time with gauge on the handle. I kept making my initial chain too tight and it took me three tries before I was happy with the result.

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The completed bag before the lining was inserted

 

Fellow Ravelry-ers (is that a word?) reported having a tough time with the lining, but I didn’t have any problems.

I used some cotton poplin I had left over from a disastrous skirt attempt (I’ll blog about that later…).  I think it’s so cute with the waves and pink sailboats!

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First, I fused the fabric with a mid-weight interfacing. I didn’t want the bag to flop and sag when I wore it. I like the stitch pattern and I want to show it off. I sewed in the lining by hand and was semi-successful matching up the waves at sides of the lining.

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The interfacing did the trick. The bag stays nice and round even with all my stuff in it. Here’s a side view:

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I am pleased as punch with my new summer tote and reactions to it are keeping me entertained. My mother was impressed and is claiming my crochet skills are hereditary (Mom hasn’t crocheted anything in 30 years…). My friends are giving me incredulous looks when I tell them I didn’t buy my bag- I made it. I think a few don’t believe me!

I have a little less than two weeks until my test, so I guess I’ll need another insomnia project… hmmm… What should I make next?

 

Gingham wrap blouse

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I love a bow.

My boyfriend has hidden things with bows from me when we go shopping. He thinks I am irrationally drawn to items adorned with bows. He’s right! I don’t think my style is super girly, but I love a bow.

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The above is McCalls M6564.

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I used a cotton blend I picked up on sale at my local Hancock Fabric store. The word “easy” is missing from the pattern envelope, so initially I was worried the make might be too complicated for my current skill level. It wasn’t. The directions were clear and uncomplicated. The pattern fit perfectly as written, so no fitting adjustments were made. I did add a snap to the front neckline. While trying it on during sewing, I noticed it gaped a bit across the chest when I moved around. I also gathered the tops of the sleeves to create a little poof. This wasn’t my original plan. I couldn’t get the sleeves to ease in without puckers, so I decided to gather the tops in order to make them fit. Luckily, I like the result.

During the make, I made two rookie sewing blunders. First, I sewed a dart inside out.

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Then, I basted in a sleeve inside out.

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Oh well… I’m still learning and I like the end result.

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My first vintage pattern!

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Look what arrived in my mailbox today!

I’m so excited! This is my first vintage pattern, Simplicity 4676. I discovered the pattern on Lauren’s blog. Her make is gorgeous and I want one, too!

After some hunting, I found it in Tina’s online store.

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I’m always nervous ordering online from someone for the first time, but this was a pleasant experience. Tina emailed right away that she had received my order and was shipping it out. The pattern arrived wrapped carefully in plastic and is as advertised.

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I think I’m going to attempt view A.

Joann’s has 50% off of sale fabrics and I now officially have what sewing bloggers refer to as a “stash.” I totally lost control and filled my cart with linens, knits, cotton blends, and satins. I picked up 11 different fabrics. The most expensive was $5 a yard (a tribal print challis) and the cheapest (a wine colored cotton knit) was only $2.50 a yard! My fabric store purchases will now consist of only notions until I get some of this sewn up. I’m so looking forward to making up the garments I’ve planned for all of this beautiful fabric!

I picked up this beauty today for $3 a yard and I think  it will make a perfect bow blouse. It’s a lightweight (but not see-through) cotton. I’m generally not a big fan of pastels or purple, but I really like this anyway.

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I’m a little worried about the pattern’s fit. According to the body measurements on the envelope, I am a perfect size 16. In the modern patterns I’ve made up thus far, I’ve been taking a size or two down because there is so much ease. They look sloppy in the “correct” size. I wonder if this will be a problem with vintage patterns. Should I have ordered a 14 instead?…

“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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