Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Completed Knit: Cropped Cardigan with Bobbles and Cables

Pretty cardigan, right? Well it was a pain in the butt, I'll have you know.

This was not a particularly enjoyable knit at times! I actually put it down for a few months; yes, it was my first knitting UFO.
I made some mistakes, and those were:

- Going down needles sizes to get gauge, when the yarn was slightly too thick. That means I found the knitting to be slightly tight, which I felt slowed me down and made my tension a bit dodgy. (Then I made the same mistake again with another project, UGH!)
I did use an 8ply, just as the pattern called for, but this 8ply must be a bit closer to 10ply I think.

-Poor pattern choice, and modding without knowing what I was getting into!

Possibly thinking "If I'd known it would have been this much trouble, I'd have burnt the book!"

Let me tell you the saga…
When I got this book, I fell in love with the lovely cable patterns in this cardigan and was determined to knit it, even though I discovered it didn't have a schematic (those are alarm bells you hear!).
I noted that it had no waist shaping and was designed for positive ease. Well, I'll add waist shaping, and make it negative ease! Easy right?

Well, not so easy, because my gauge was slightly too big, even after going down in needle size, and I couldn't just knit a smaller size as the smallest size still would have been too big.

The complications basically came in the form of the construction (bottom-up, seamed raglan sleeves, which I'd never done before) and lack of schematic. I basically drew my own schematic in the end. I have learned from this experience to keep NEAT notes though, as I could hardly figure out what I'd written when I revisited them!
I discovered as I studied the pattern that the sleeves had 15cm (5.9") of positive ease in them. Ummmm, that's NUTS, I thought. And it confirmed my suspicion that there was something fishy going on with the model. It is quite well disguised, but there is definitely a lot of bagginess in the sleeve.

Look at the model in green. Baggy sleeve! And I believe the model on the right is wearing a cardigan several sizes too small for her. Deceptive.

Anyway, I went positively mad trying to figure out how I could fix the pattern with all the modifications I wanted to make. I ended up making a lot of mad calculations, and winging it.
I honestly think I'm lucky this turned out wearable!
Actually, I probably could have just learned to draft my own and stolen the charts from this pattern, and it would have been simpler.

I paired it with my corduroy Sewaholic Hollyburn (note to self: need more Hollyburns).

The cables ARE lovely though.
Checkin' out the cables, and OOH, bobbles!

Pattern blather:
Since I'd decreased the circumference at the bust, I thought I'd decrease the raglans less steeply, so they were about about the same length as the pattern, but I would have enough stitches across the upper chest and shoulders.

For the sleeves (and I agonised a LOT over these), I eventually decided to decrease their circumference dramatically, as well as lengthen them to full length. However all those raglan decreases meant I would run out of stitches before I reached the neckline! So I decided to stop decreasing when I got down to the cable pattern (the last 15 stitches), and keep going straight until it was as long as I needed. I believe this is a saddle shoulder construction, again, something I've never tried before and was just making up as I went…

I pinned my pieces together at this point and decided how long to make the shoulder. Eyeballing all the way, baby! I also plotted some extra shaping to make the front and back shoulders fit in with the new sleeve shape.

Pinned together, now make stuff up.
Soooo yeah. It was a very think-y knit, and I caution anyone who would attempt it! In fact, later Joy pointed out to me that Roobeedoo had made it and had found the sleeves to be as dodgy as I had suspected! Sweet vindication! However her version is still very lovely and pushed me to keep on going.

Oh yeah, and to bang on about it a bit more, I changed the button bands and also the neckline just cos. Also I had to re-knit the bands a few times. AND they're seamed on too. UGH. I wanted to try something new as I'd always done picked-up-and-knit ribbing with horizontal rib, but I am not convinced on the merits of these seamed, vertical rib ones. So much work! But they give a nice look I suppose.

After all that, do I like it? Hmm, I guess so, but I don't love it. I think the seamed raglan sleeves (oh btw, SO MUCH SEAMING in this pattern. Boo!!), give it extra structure in the upper chest, and the cabling adds bulk too. So it feels almost like a jacket, which is weird. AND, my dodgy "Make up shaping as you go" approach didn't work perfectly, so there's a bit of extra room around the neckline which sticks out away from the body (probably the i-cord I added instead of ribbing makes it worse, as it has a little bulk of its own!).

So to sum up my irks with this pattern:
-There is no schematic- what shape are the pattern pieces please??

-There aren't enough photos (only 2), and in one of them the models' hair covers up the details! I have to wonder if the details are covered up because they wanted to hide the flaws in the pattern….

-There is no indication of how much ease the models are wearing, and though from the size chart it is indicated that the design is meant to have 1" positive ease, one of the models is clearly wearing a lot of negative ease. This is deceptive for beginners, who might assume theirs will look like the model's.

-There are no charts for the complex cables, so I made them myself using this chart generator, and then printed them out.

Well, I guess I learned more about knitting patterns and modding and such, but honestly, I probably could have knitted two cardigans for the time it took to figure this beast out! Well, that's life eh? I'm such a sucker for a challenge...

Token back shot.

Anyway, when I was taking photos, I found that I could potentially fix the gross neckline by creating faux lapel thingies. I think it's a much cuter shape somehow, and stops the neckline sticking away from the body. I am considering sewing them down.

Of course, if I did that, I couldn't wear it in the other cute way which fixes the neckline by letting it droop down half unbuttoned:

But maybe, just maybe there's room in this world for a hybrid of the two??:

Also, camera went crazy.
So has anyone else had a pattern they totally got in over their head with? And shall I make little lapel thingies?! Gah though, I'm so relieved this project is over! :)

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Completed: The Bossy Burgundy Beignet

So you guys chose for me to make the Beignet Skirt from Colette Patterns when I polled you last month. And behold, I deliver!!

Gosh, me, don't look TOO excited.
I gave it a fear factor of 4/5 and I think I was justified in that (self-fulfilling prophecy?). Lots and lots of hurdles presented themselves but I finally, finally got there in the end. Phew.
I'm really glad I was able to conquer this garment. I probably wouldn't have done it if I hadn't been bossed into doing it by all of you!  I definitely have to make it worth my while by making a bunch of versions (one of my goals for the year, to use tried and true patterns).

I am INSANE for the depth of texture corduroy provides! Cordurooooooy <3
I have wanted a Beignet Skirt for so long, after stalking the amazing versions from Tasia and Andrea.

Luckily, I had some great tips from Andrea's post on the skirt- I only bought 1.5m of fabric, and it was enough. Colette recommends 2.5, that's a whole metre more! In fact, I almost got the whole skirt out of one width of fabric, getting all of the panels but one out of the first width. If you have small hips, or the freedom to flip your pieces (obviously you shouldn't do that in corduroy, friends! Pay attention to nap! :) ), you could sneak it out of less I think. In fact, yes, Tilly only used 65cm for one of hers! By the way, that's just one more blogger with a stunning set of Beignets. Must... emulate!!

A tip from Andrea was not to bother trying to turn your belt loops inside out for a bulky fabric like corduroy. Instead I overlocked one edge and folded each edge in, with the overlocked edge on top. My corduroy was quite fray-happy so I was careful not to leave any raw edges. I even finished the top and bottom of each belt loop before I folded them under and stitched them on. Better safe than sorry...
And taking another page from Andrea's magical book, I reduced the number of buttons from 12 to 8. That could save you some coins if your buttons were expensive! (Mine were a bit expensive, for some unknown reason. They look fairly average to me.)
I also pressed the corduroy seams open instead of to the side because of the bulk (except on the side seams because of the pockets).

Oh yeah, POCKETS!

Plus bonus weirdo face!
Okay so the pockets were a pain in the butt. I changed the construction because their way didn't make sense to me. I saved my long-winded blathering for my pattern review
Figuring out all the wee details of construction take up so much time, but now I've sorted them out, hopefully subsequent versions will be a breeze. Or I'll be super lazy and omit the pockets...No, pockets are too great.

I didn't want to make the tie belt for bulk reasons, but I wouldn't wear it without a belt to define the waist. Ooh it's so flippin' fancy.  (You can tell I'm a casual girl cos I think belts are what fancy people wear.)

I made two muslins, but realised too late I'd totally done it the chump way and made it way harder than it had to be.  Sigh!! Because the pattern ran large, it sat below my waist. 
So I raised it to my waist by taking it in, but I only realised later that DUH, the skirt sits above the natural waist! So it was still too low!  Cue a multitude of adjustments.  I got there in the end...
I could do a separate post if people wanted to know all about my behind. Heh.

Anyway, once the changes had been made, the seam lines were all changed so much I had to totally redraft the lining and all the facings. It took me ages to figure out how to do it and then do it (the lining hem has to line up to a precise point at the centre front and get sewn to the facing etc.) And when I was sewing it I could NOT figure out why the front facing didn't line up (because I'd drafted it the wrong length for some idiot reason!) If I'd just checked that straight away it would have saved me a LOT of time. On the plus side, I guess I know how to draft all that stuff now??
Oh, Here's another plus side, I finally got this skirt I've been wanting to make forever! Celebrate the good side!

And I think the fit turned out pretty well, for all that work. :) 
I managed to convince myself while making it that it was going to be too small. I do this all the time with fitted garments! Talk about paranoid. But a muslin doesn't act the same way as the final garment.  My corduroy garment has interfacing, thicker fabric, and facings, and I worried I hadn't taken that into account enough. However it DOES fit, to my relief. Haha! I will conduct field testing to make sure it stays comfortable all day. THEN I'll make a squillion of 'em, yeah?

Oh yeah, and it doesn't look too shabby with the beret I just knitted!
To be honest, everyone seems to rave about Colette's instructions, but I was underwhelmed. They were slightly sparse on the diagrams and details and written no clearer than the Big 4, I thought. I made notes on my pattern instructions for next time. BUT, when I was having issues with the mess I'd made of the pattern redrafting, I e-mailed them and Sarai was super helpful! You really can't beat that for customer service, can you! So all in all, the pattern gets a thumbs up! :) Better keep my eyes peeled for more Beignet fabrics... ;)

Ooh, by the way, of course you recognise my Renfrew I've paired with it, yeah? I think this this skirt is very versatile, and I hope to make some cute tops to go with it...
I had a lot to say about this pattern, but I haven't even talked about the fabric yet! I took care not to press the corduroy severely, and put my leftover corduroy underneath my skirt on the ironing board while pressing (with nap facing the same way as the skirt), to avoid mashing down the nap.. Threads has a great article on corduroy. They even recommend shaving your nap down in the seam allowances for bulky corduroy... tee hee! I didn't do that, but it amuses me.
Obviously making sure all the pattern pieces were cut with the nap going in the same direction was important too. I used a plain cotton for facings, to reduce bulk.

OooOO fancy lining.

Buttonholes and mysteriously expensive buttons.
So. Beignet. I did it. Phew. Thanks for the push guys :)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Completed: Knitted Beret

Hello! Yes, I still exist, and I made a beret!
Also can I just say, the Tiramisu I'm wearing is a rumpled MESS, whoops!
This is Colette, a free pattern- here on Ravelry. It's a very simple design, perfect for bus-knitting. I have been taking loads of buses for school which definitely takes a lot of hours out of my week! I can't be too mad if I can use that time to knit though.
Full-time study + some part-time work = not as much sewing, 
especially considering how tired I am when I get home (boo!). Well, that's life! So the blog will be a bit sleepy. Don't cry too much guys :)

I quite liked it when I tried it on before blocking. Then I blocked it over a 10" plate (well, actually mine was a pot lid), and I think it drooped and stretched downwards a bit over the edges of the lid. So it ended up a bit bigger than I wanted. I actually did swatch for this even though I know some people wouldn't bother for a simple beret. But better safe than sorry I say. I knitted the swatch in the round, obviously, or a swatch would be pointless, as my purls are a different tension to my knits! Explanation here. I used the "whole loop" method. Plus, I was subbing in an 8ply for a 10ply. New Zealanders who can't find 10ply, this is for you: Ashford Tekapo can be knit at a 10ply gauge. In fact, I've tried knitting it at an 8ply gauge and it was horrible and tight, so I feel it is quite a heavy 8ply. YMMV of course! I bought it at Made Marion, a lovely craft shop to go visit, Wellington people! ;) 

I wasn't sure about making this up, because I don't even know if I suit berets, having never owned or worn one. I'm a beanie girl, historically!
But I definitely want to be as cool as Erin from Miss Crayola Creepy because she rocks a good beret. Have you seen her awesome Stray beret by the way??

The best part of this hat is DEFINITELY the little French beret-style knobby thingy! It's knitted i-cord.
I'm not sure this is quite "me", though my husband likes it.
I decided my options were to: 
1) re-knit it with a smaller needle 
2) pull it apart and pretend it never happened
3) see if it grows on me (well, it's already grown on itself!! HAHA)

Seeing it in the photos I think I do like it okay after all. I love the colour obviously, and it seems great for someone like me who's too lazy to do my hair, since you can just tuck it inside...

Still. I find it weird. 
Attempting to wear it draped to side, and giving it a suspicous side-eye:

So there are a few ways to wear it, even if I'm not convinced they suit me.
But definitely don't wear it like this:

And yeah, that's my hat! There's not much to say about it, other than yay for simple construction! It's knitted in the round. I didn't bother with double pointed needles, I just magic looped the whole thing. Pretty manageable, plus yikes, no way do I want to be poking around with 4 or 5 DPNs on the bus. Nightmare! I'd definitely be paranoid about losing them too!

However, I've recently been intrepid enough to knit cables on the bus. Haha. I wonder if people think I'm totally odd. Well I say, life's too short to waste perfectly good bus time! :)

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Goron Amigurumi

I actually finished this project a long time ago but never blogged it. I felt maybe it was too incongruous with the general garment theme of my blog that's happening right now, but then I was was all "wait a minute, I can post whatever I like on my blog!".
So here is a weird little amigurumi I designed.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Fitting Vogue 8766: Final Thoughts and Review of "Sew the Perfect Fit"

Woo! With the bodice-fitting done, let's get back to more fun garment posts on this blog soon (well, hopefully)!
Previous posts on this bodice: post #1post #2post #3.


After! Garment post is here. (must tweak the CF waist seam upwards slightly for next time ;) )
I'd like to round up with a review of the course and what I've learned.

I learned to face what is non-standard about my body. 
First off, everyone is different. To expect to have the exact body the pattern is drafted for is silly.

Secondly, after all my years of illness, it's probably impacted my body shape. And now I'm well, I'm still unfit! There, I said it. I'm unfit, world!! I feel this may be another reason for some of the things I have to adjust for.

Should I beat myself up about this? Or should I just accept who I am right now and that I may change in the future? (Hint: it's the second one).
The point is, even if I become a bodybuilder or a total hunchback, at least I'm building fitting tools to help me if and when my body changes.

It's a challenge, but I am learning to accept my body for what it is!
It was actually good to see all the other students' photos within the Craftsy class, because it was nice to see that I'm not the only one who struggles to get a good fit, and that there are other non-standard bodies out there :)

I learned that my fitting issues are pretty consistent.
I found myself making the alterations I've discovered a need for across the many pattern companies I've tried out, so I suppose that's good to know. I'm no longer hoping for some magical pattern to come along that will happen to fit me from the envelope!

I learned new methods of tackling fitting and pattern alteration.
The more ways I try, I more I discover what feels right for me. The great thing is that there is no "wrong" way, as long as it works for you!

I learned that internet people are the coolest.
I want to say, thank you SO much to all the lovely, lovely comments you guys gave me, encouraging me, giving me advice, and letting me know you guys have fit issues too. It really helped me along, and I highly appreciate them! You guys are fantastic! :D

And now for my review of the class:

Sew the Perfect Fit on Craftsy
-Content-wise, it was good value, though I wouldn't call it a comprehensive resource for fitting. Three different models were fitted, so a variety of fitting challenges were covered. The initial muslin-altering stage was followed up with how to transfer it to the pattern, which was great to see. I learned a lot of new ways to tackle pattern-work.

-I enjoyed the slash and hack approach to pattern fitting. I enjoy the intuition of this approach, and also, who doesn't like slicing up fabric? She describes the muslin as a laboratory, which is a great way to think of it. There's such freedom to it; drawing on the fabric, cutting slits to relieve tension... which is why I don't believe in wearable muslins, unless the fitting issues are extremely minor.

-I was impressed by the prompt replies from the teacher, though the answers were not always thorough enough to address the questions I brought up. I like to understand everything about what I'm doing, so it was sometimes frustrating.
The difficulty in communication is a standard downfall of such a medium though, I suppose.

-This is more of an annoyance at the Craftsy platform, but the commenting system kinda sucks when you want to add photos. You can only add one photo per comment, and when viewing comment threads you have to click on each photo individually to view them at a good size. It's a real pain to deal with.

-I liked the personality of the teacher. No fluff, just good information. I've viewed other classes where the teacher waffles on and on about irrelevant material for minutes, which is so frustrating.

-The pattern is included as part of the class, and I think it is a good choice of pattern. A basic darted bodice and fitted skirt, which I feel is a great tool once the fit is correct! One thing I would have preferred is for the sleeve to be a standard set-in sleeve with no darts in the head. I haven't tackled fitting the sleeve at all yet. The journey is just getting started!

Final thoughts:
YAY IT'S OVER!! I hope to use this bodice for the base of many garments, to avoid future fitting headaches. Also, huge thanks to my husband for pinning me in so many times and taking photos of me wearing hideous bedsheets. What a gem right? :)
I hope these fitting posts helped some people. Now let's make some garments!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Giveaway Winner and Boss Me Around!

So as you may or may not know, I participate in The Monthly Stitch, a blog where a bunch of sewers get together and sew to a theme each month (though I don't always succeed at that!).
March's challenge is to sew up a pattern that's been lurking in your stash, but the catch is, the readers get to decide. Eep! My fate is in your hands...
Here are my three choices:

#1: The Colette Beignet Skirt:
Fear factor: 4/5
This is such an elegant design; I've wanted to sew it forever, but it scares me for these reasons:
-A semi-fitted skirt, eeeeep! Muslin time! (I have tried to muslin a fitted skirt pattern before and it didn't end well. I think I've learned from that though, so it might WILL go better this time.)
-Loads of seams!
-The challenge of sewing with corduroy

This won't be a quick make but it really is a beautiful pattern. I have burgundy corduroy in mind.

#2: The Kelly Skirt by Megan Neilsen:

Fear Factor: 2/5
This is quite similar to Beignet I admit, but a lot simpler. It's more casual and fun I think. Again I have corduroy in mind! I'm not trying to cheat the poll by putting in two patterns so similar, I promise! It's just that both patterns have been lurking on me! Haha.

-The challenge of sewing with corduroy

#3: The Shirtwaist Dress from Gertie's Book for Better Sewing

Fear factor: 5/5
-Buttoooooons (Seems I've set myself up for buttons whatever I do. Oh dear.)
-Sleeves and collar!
-Last year I went through the muslin fail-zone with this pattern so I'm still a bit scarred (TWO awful muslins and no finished garment. Yeah.). My new idea is to use my new fitted bodice from Vogue 8766 as a base, and Frankenpattern the rest together. Which I have no idea how to do...Heh.

I have a navy linen in mind for this.

So yes, for these patterns I'm simultaneously excited and terrified.
Please vote here and you can add your reasons in the comments too! :D

Which Pattern Should I Make?
pollcode.com free polls 

Oh, and let's not forget the giveaway for my blog's second birthday!
The winner of the giveaway is...
Kirsty of Tea and Rainbows who wanted the Hot Cider Pullover... good choice!
Please get in touch with me to claim your prize, you lucky thing you :)

Friday, 14 February 2014

Complete: My Fitted Bodice Dress!

Oh yeah, after my fitting odyssey, it's easy to forget I can actually make a garment from the damn pattern, instead of endless muslins!
The BEST thing about this garment was that I didn't have to try on and attempt to fit as I went. I knew I'd invested the time to make it turn out right!
Sooo.... here it is :O

For my other posts in the fitting series, here's a link to post #1post #2, and post #3.

I spent a while deciding what to make first with my new darted bodice block. In the end I decided I would show off my good fit by letting it speak for itself. No distracting design details, no patterned fabric. (However I am looking forward to playing with both of those things!) The pure simplicity of light pink linen. There's nowhere to hide!

This pattern is a true Frankenpattern; the bodice is Vogue 8766, the skirt is a Sewaholic Cambie, and I used the instructions for the Colette Truffle dress!
The instructions were good, if a little sparse. I finally got to try out the different way of lining a bodice which eliminates the need to hand-stitch! Yay! I've seen it floating around the web and have wanted to try it! I give it a thumbs up, though I will work to improve my technique in the future.
However, I did still hand-stitch the lining down at the waist, as stitching in the ditch from the right side is a bigger pain, in my opinion! (Maybe I just need more practice!)

I also need lots more practice at putting in invisible zips; I definitely still find them a bit scary, and it takes me a while to make sure everything's lined up right! But I got there, and it's rather invisible, so yay :) (And this was done with a regular zip foot, I still don't own a specialised foot. IT CAN BE DONE!)

This is a linen I bought when I was still a total sewing newb. I thought I'd make a top, but I realised it was too heavy and would result in a boxy top; not the look I was after. I'm glad it finally found its destiny!
The lining is a super cute lightweight floral someone from the WSBN gave to me. Score! I would have had enough to line the skirt as well as the bodice, but I accidentally cut extra pattern pieces I didn't need instead. Ugh! Lol!
But I'm so pleased at how they go together <3

Oh yeah, and frankenpatterning the pieces together was a case of "This'll be easy... *hours later* Hmmm, okay. I was wrong". I had to:
a) Make the seams of the bodice and skirt pieces the same length on both the front and back (they were quite different).
b) Make all the darts line up (again, quite different!)
I ended up increasing the waist of my bodice a little at the side seams, and decreasing the cambie skirt. On the bodice front, I didn't want to mess up the side seams because of the pockets, so I took it out of CF all the way down to the hem.
On the bodice back I took some from CF and a bit from the side seams, (On the side seams I tapered to the original side seams further down).
I was just sorta making it up as I went. Obviously since I'd fitted the bodice so carefully I tried to change it minimally, mainly changing the skirt.
For the darts, I moved them on both the bodice and the skirt, as they were quite discrepant! Phew, a lot more work than I anticipated!

By the way, I stained this fence, so admire it will you?? (I'm not DIY at all so this is a big deal haha!)
Side note: I wish I had nicer shoes to pair this with- wouldn't it look the bee's knees with some nude heels? Unfortunately I spend all the money I could be buying shoes with on fabric and yarn. Oops...

The linen was very fray-happy, so I pinked the seams that would be enclosed in the lining. I don't know if it was necessary, but it couldn't hurt... I finished some seams with zig zag and some with my overlocker (I'm still scared of chopping a hole in my garment with it by accident!).
For the hem, I pinked it, then stitched bias tape on top of it. I did this to reduce bulk, because instead of turning under the raw edge of the linen (two layers of medium-weight fabric), there is just the linen with the thin bias tape on top. I picked up this idea online. I think I'm doing it right?? Haha. I didn't have any lace which I suppose would be even better, being thinner!

Then I used my machine to blind hem it.

I switched my machine with my Mum's when I went up north for Christmas. Both of them are from the same series though, so it's almost the exact same machine! I believe these machines date from the late 1960s. Mine was the most basic level (I think it was a 732). Her 730 has a few extra features which include fancy ornamental stitches! I also like the way it runs a little better.

Last time I did a blind stitch hem, I had to use a long zig zag, and I did it this time too. It was only AFTERWARDS that I realised one of the fancy new ornamental stitches I have access to was a blind hem stitch! D'oh! I will use it next time and think I'll get a nicer result, as my wee test indicates... The stitches are spaced further apart which helps hide the hem.
Still, the jury is still out on whether it can beat a hand-stitched hem!

Bottom: dress hem. Top: Even BLINDERER sample hem! Next time!

Okay, I'm going to take a wee second to congratulate myself on my nice fit:
Boobie darts: Smooth and in the right spot.
Neckline: No gape
Side seam: Straight (YESSS)
Armholes: Not too low, follow the curves of my body.
Annnnd... Waist seam: LEVEL!!! It's Leveeeeeeeeeellllllllll!!!

Oh, and just for satisfaction, a comparison to my first muslin:

There are a few tweaks I can see myself making (I might blog that separately) but this is pretty good fit if you ask me! And boy I worked hard for it. Phew.

"I made this pretty dress, and all it took was a million hours of muslining! Simple!"
Now, bring on the squillion variations I guess! Heh :)

Ooh P.S Happy Valentine's Day! It is also my wedding anniversary today and we are going out for dinner. Naturally I shall wear this dress!
P.P.S Thanks for entering my giveaway, it is still going and I will announce the winner soon!