Friday, 27 December 2013

Top 5 time!

It's getting to be that time of year where everyone looks back and reflects on the year that's been.
And being the bandwagon-jumper that I am, of course I'm getting in on Gillian's top 5! I did it last year as well, though I think I have more projects to choose from this year (yay!).

So let's start with the top 5 misses (get the bad taste out of the way first, right?)

Fail number 1: Knowing what suits me
From the start of the year, this one was a case of choosing a style I liked on paper but not in real life. I am a sucker for a cutesy woodland aesthetic but I didn't think it suited me when I finished it, and I still don't. Oh well, I gave it to a friend who it looks great on! So this fail is now a win, haha.

Fail number 2: Case of the crazies
This one was a total body-image fail, because I stewed my brain obsessing about sizing of the waistband. I find sewing forces me to confront my body measurements and it's not pleasant. I've put on weight since I got well, and it's not always easy to feel good about. I know it's stupid to obsess about sizing and it's something I hope to have less fails on in the future.
Another fail about this garment was the million mistakes and how frustrated I was while making it. The result was wearable, so at least that's a relief. Here's to better sewing mental health in 2014...

Fail number 3: Overcooked
This was sort of a personal challenge. I dipped my toes into drafting and adding my own design elements with this project, and also worked with this particular fabric as a matchy challenge. I don't really like the end result though. It's not my favourite colour, and I can't see it as anything but an overcooked mess! Heh.

Fail number 4: Big fat waste of time
My Anna dress wasn't a fail, but the dress I originally intended to make with the purple linen was a terrible muslining decision and a total waste of my time.
The vintage pattern came in just one size, one size bigger than me. I thought it would just require a few tweaks, but it was huge! Damn that excess ease! A smart move would have been to measure the pattern instead of ploughing in blindly.
Ugh, I hate thinking of all the time I've spent on terrible muslins. Next year, please tell me I will master fitting and stop spending so much time on boring muslins!

My fifth fail is on the same note.
Fail number 5: Muslinitis
I have spent SO much time this year making muslins, and since I have no idea what I'm doing, I often can't even resolve my fitting issues, which is insanely frustrating and I feel really stupid for it.
I end up making multiple muslins sometimes and feel like I'm totally in the dark on the smart way to proceed.
I have several garments this year that have never made it past muslin stage because I don't know how to fix them.
I have to stop looking back on all my muslins and beating myself up for my perceived failures I guess. But I'll never give up the muslin because a bad fit is far more intolerable to me...
So what's the solution to this fail? I'm not sure yet but I'll keep trying. I never give up!

Most of my fails here are for different reasons, but on a similar theme, in that I tend to drive myself crazy. My husband has questioned me a few times saying, "You don't seem to enjoy your hobby". Well, I do enjoy it, but admittedly it holds plenty of frustration sometimes... I think I said it last year, but I hope to get in my own way a lot less in the next year. I've improved, but there's still a long way to go!

Okay, enough fails and introspection. Here are my hits.
Hit number 1:
You can see me pointing out in the photo why this is a win. Well, it's a fail/win hybrid really. I cut a tiny hole in the waistband while trimming seam allowances (the fail bit). But the win is that I minimised my freak-out and fixed it by making belt loops to hide it. I'm still looking for the perfect skinny belt for it!

Hit number 2:
This is just a win for taking a commercial pattern, and derailing its built-in failure. If I'd made it to the pattern directions, it would have been WAY too big. Its construction methods were stupid too. I'm happy to say I've learned enough to ignore some of the dumb stuff pattern companies tell us to do. Oh yeah, and also knit dresses are a win for being super comfy and easy to fit. Yay!

Hit number 3:

This was a fun knitting project, because me and Lauren from Lladybird decided to continue our tradition of being knitting twins and both knit something in green! (You can see her awesome knit here.)
I really liked the colour which isn't a staple of my palette but perhaps should be! This was my most expensive knitting project this year, so hopefully I wear it for years, heh.

Hit number 4:
This one was on the many mods I made to the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern this year. I had a bit of fun playing with pattern modification, and this was my most extreme!
The list I put together of all the mods myself and other people have made to this pattern can be found here- it just keeps growing!:

Hit number 5:
Another knit. This year I've enjoyed knitting more than sewing, as I struggle with it less. I still keep pushing through with my sewing though... I love the colour of this yarn, and the rib and lace patterning on this design is so beautiful!

I chose these 5 wins hoping to have some diverse reasons, but then I realised 3 of them are cropped designs, and 2 of them are dresses. Two things I'm an absolute sucker for. Well, I likes what I likes. Haha!

So those are my top wins and fails of the year... looking back, it's been a year of crafty ups and downs. Here's hoping next year comes with more even more wins (and let's face it, there will definitely be fails, but that's life eh?).

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Completed Knit: The Honeybee Cardigan

Ooh! A summery knitted cardigan! I've been planning this for ages. I fell in love with the lace and of course, the cropped design. My weakness... This pattern was a gift from fellow knitter and blogger Kristin after I finished my very first cardigan, the Miette, so I'm glad I finally made it up. Thanks so much!!
I'm wearing it with my vintage Simplicity dress, which doesn't get worn much due to its slightly costume-y nature, heh! And yes, after these photos, I went inside and changed into jeans....sorry, but I'm not that glamorous in my everyday life!

You can totally see the kimono sleeves poking out under the cardigan. Focus on the lace instead!!
So this is the most ambitious and fancy lace I've ever knitted... I showed it to my husband and he said "It looks just like all the other cardigans you've made". Haha! Well, I'm sure YOU guys appreciate the awesomeness of this lace.
I'll share a secret with you though, since you guys are cool. I messed up one of the honeybees on the back and couldn't fix it, so I sewed it up all janky-like with yarn. That'll teach me for being lazy about putting lifelines in. I was too lazy to rip all the way back to a distant lifeline, and I didn't want to risk messing up the lace by ripping back to a spot with no lifeline- I thought for sure I'd just cause more issues, since the lace is so complicated. There aren't even any rows knit plain, you're doing lace on every single row, right side AND wrong side!
I'm not too worried about the fix though- I managed to disguise it okay, and no-one's going to notice but me. Well, I HOPE. lol :)
At least it's on the back, phew! I'm shocked I didn't make loads more mistakes than that, to be honest!
Speaking of mistakes, I only just realised when I was putting it on to model it.... I'd put the buttonholes on the wrong side!! That really ticks me off, though I guess not many people will notice. But can I just say, "AGHH!" Come on, I'm sure I'm not the only one who's done that...

Hah, I bet you can't spot the mistake.
When I tried it on before blocking, the ribbing barely came to my waist. "Hmm, I wonder how much difference blocking will make!", I thought, doubting the lace's stretch and my own calculations.
Well, when I blocked it I basically stretched the bejeezus out of it- see the pic I tweeted here- so many pins! It was a lot of work! And I had no idea what I was doing, haha.

Well, when I tried it on after blocking, I was amazed! It really transformed! However, the ribbing and the neckline had also been stretched out and were looking super floppy. Not the look I was going for. So I got out the steam iron and smooshed those bits back into shape as I steamed them. That helped the ribbing contract back... phew! (Wish I'd gotten a pic of the floppy stage! It looked really dumb.) Now I see these pictures, it seems the blocked length has shrunk vertically again. I guess wearing it pulls the lace back up as it stretches horizontally?? I think I'd knit it slightly longer next time. Learning lessons about lace over here!

The ribbing could possibly use some stabilisation with ribbon but I can't be bothered...
The next smaller size was 5" smaller in the bust, so I stuck with the 33" bust for approximately zero ease. I thought 5" negative ease at the bust would be pushing it. The ribbing at the waist has a little positive ease in it. I probably should have knit the ribbing a little tighter and increased more stitches in the first row before the honeybees... well, too late now! It looks fine, just not as clingy as I like!

Also, I didn't plan it, but I think it looks really nice with my recently completed La Sylphide skirt.

So the yarn I used is from Linda of From the Purl Side. She recently opened her own shop where she sells hand-dyed yarns- Kettle Yarn Co. I'd been following and enjoying her blog for a while, and she had a 15% opening discount. Umm how could I resist?? (Oh by the way, she has a 20% off Christmas deal right now!!) She custom dyed this shade for me. Custom!! It's so special! The yarn is beautiful and thanks a LOT Linda for ruining me for average-quality yarn. It's 80% "British Bluefaced Leicester" (some kind of fancy sheep lol) and 20% bamboo. If only I could afford yarn this nice for every project! :) The good thing about a lacy, cropped project is that it doesn't take much yarn to knit it up. So it was pretty affordable in this case.

I was worried about running out of yarn, as I bought slightly less than recommended. So I used a provisional crochet cast on for the bottom of the sleeves (they are knit bottom up). Did I get a picture? Nope! Sorry. But it means you can pick up and knit downwards later, so you can knit the bottom of the sleeves shorter if you don't have enough yarn. I totally didn't even need it though, I had leftovers when I was done! Phew!

I enjoy how it looks unbuttoned too.
There were definitely some tricky bits in this project. As usual I wrote complicated notes and dumped them on Ravelry here in the hopes they'll help someone else.
And as usual, this cardigan goes so well with things I totally haven't made yet, but are in my head. Heh heh! I have some lovely fabric stashed that would go so well with it. Better get sewing huh??

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas Dress! Butterick 4443

Merry Christmas everyone! This dress is my festive and fun summer Christmas dress :)

Ignore the wrinkle over the boob, I swear that's not normally there, lol!
So this is Butterick 4443, a basic princess seamed bodice, which I attached a gathered skirt to, instead of the half circle skirt included in the pattern (not enough fabric!).
For the skirt, I just ripped right across the width of the fabric, once for the front, and once for the back. That gave me a ratio of almost 3 times the width of the waist. I was worried it would be too much gathering, but I think it looks great!
I did take the time to match the dots at the side seams and centre back, though I'm sure no-one will notice in all that floof. Oh well!

Last year I sewed a red Christmas dress too, in red linen- Vogue 8469. Could this be the start of a new Christmas tradition?? Haha.
Last year's dress turned out to kinda be a pain, because it was restrictive in the shoulders (poor fitting strikes, my friends!), and it isn't that nice to wear. Boo!
Well, looks like that is part of the tradition again- this dress is slightly tight in the armholes, haha! Luckily, after wearing it out and about, it's not a deal breaker. But I'll definitely be fixing it next time I make this pattern. I'm thinking I'll let the front and back princess seams out a bit.
Annoying that I never noticed it once in the toile stage! And then I realised how much work it would be to unpick all that lining and was like "okay, I'm just going to live with it."

Speaking of toiles, I was helped on the fitting of this by Maryanne, who is an absolutely brilliant sewer and crafty lady. I was very lucky to get her help on this. I hope to use this pattern a lot!
I added a little bit of extra into the waistline as I'd been scared of making an uncomfortable dress (waist pinchies are the worst!!), but I think I could take it in a little bit more. I want to find the perfect balance of waistline ease and fitted-ness :)

Back looks pretty good...phew!
Instead of putting shoulder darts in the outer fabric, I darted the lining, and tried to ease the back neckline in to match, so I didn't interrupt the polka dots. I'm not sure this strategy is the best for a cotton like this, as you can see shows puckers a bit. Darts would possibly look less conspicuous, I'm thinking? Oh well, at least the neckline doesn't gape!

For the lining method, I just followed the pattern instructions- this means there's a lot of hand-stitching, for the zip and along the waistline too. I know there is a fancy bagged lining tutorial floating around out there that a lot of people swear by, and I'd like to try that next time. It'll be good to have a comparison.
One thing I did differently to the pattern is trim off about 2mm of the the lining around the armholes and neckline before sewing like this tutorial- this is supposed to help it roll under so it doesn't peek out the edges. And I definitely don't want the white edges of my lining on display!

Lots of hand stitching.
This was another project that had loads of unpicking, haha. I am getting way better at accepting my mistakes and fixing them without being a big baby about it! lol :) There's still room for improvement though!
Wow, putting in the zip by machine took me FOREVER. I think if I'd done it by hand it would have been much faster, as I'm more used to that. Practice makes perfect though.

I tried out a new technique for the hem. I got out my blind hem foot and gave it a try. Unfortunately my old machine doesn't have a blind hem stitch, so you have to use a long zig zag. That just means the "bites" of stitching you see on the right side are spaced closer together. At first I thought my hem looked really rubbish-the blind hem had created a ridge on the right side. But an aggressive pressing sorted it out pretty well. I think that's normal for blind hems, according to what I read... I liked this method and I'll use it again, if the garment and fabric are suited!

Bottom: blind hem from right side. Top: blind hem from wrong side. See the zig zag?
OH! And I can't forget- this fabric was won in a giveaway from Sue at Sewin' Steady a while ago, and I'm so happy I finally used it! I really love the polka dots. I was super excited when I won, and Sue, I hope I did your fabric justice (Really glad I didn't set it on fire by mistake or something, lol)! Thanks so much! :)

I also finally got around to making Tilly's bow belt,  I made mine a bit thinner than hers- it's designed to be 1.5" wide and mine is 1". I always have to change things don't I? :)

It is actually made from remnants of the linen from last year's dress. Double Christmas!!

Double Christmaaaaas! Bows!!
And I know I don't look impressed in this last picture, but I am! Because polka dots, bows, Christmas, and full skirts= happiness, obviously :)

So despite all the struggles and mistakes I have to choose to smile.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Completed: Papercut La Sylphide Skirt

Well, I did it. I managed to turn another simple skirt project into a mess of overthinking, haha! Why, that's my specialty!
That said, I feel all my overthinking really helped me achieve a good result.

So maybe it wasn't overthinking. Wait, am I overthinking about whether I overthink?? Ahem!

This is the La Sylphide skirt from indie pattern company Papercut. It has a dress, a peplum blouse, and a skirt.
The basic line art doesn't do the pattern justice.
Here's the dress view which I totally didn't make, but want to.

I made this as part of the La Sylphide Sewalong on the Papercut Patterns blog. I went for the skirt view, obviously. I couldn't find a single person online who'd actually made this view; everyone is making the dress (and for good reason, it's gorgeous, duh!). I'm sure fellow skirt-sewers are out there somewhere. I made it in a lightweight cotton lawn. I want to make it again in a different type of fabric for another look!

What I really like about this pattern is the contoured waistband. Many skirt styles have a straight waistband that sits at the natural waist. For example, my Hollyburn, circle skirt, and gored skirt. Straight waistbands are everywhere.

I'm pretty short waisted, so I feel like waistbands can visually eat up my waist length and make me look even shorter on top. So since this sits just below the waist, I theorised it might give a better proportion, while still leaving me able to wear cute cropped cardigans and tucked-in tops!

What's the verdict?
Hmm, it definitely gives me a longer torso, but then maybe it accentuates how wide I am in the hips?? (I think this might be in my head). What do you think of the proportions? Opinions please!!

My attempt at a comparison.
Now, I gave this waistband the same treatment I gave the wide yoke waistband I fitted for my New Look 6594.
Come to think of it, I probably could have dug out those pattern pieces and compared them as a starting point. Whoops!
Anyway, I put it on, I slashed, I hacked, I made another waistband to test again, rinse and repeat.

This took me from this:
Top: slashed up toile. Middle: original waistband. Bottom: slashed up pattern!
to this:
It looks CRAZY right? The original is on the bottom.
As you can see, mine is a LOT curvier. I guess being pear shaped, I increase outwards from the waist a lot faster than the model this pattern is designed for. And my belly isn't very flat either, so it needs more curvature at the front as well.
Another thing I did was move the notch which matches to the skirt side seam. I just put my fingers where I felt was my natural middle at the side of my waistband, marked it, and that was my new notch.

This shows the fit before and after.
It took quite a while to get it satisfactory- I actually tested my waistband prototypes by wearing them around the house. If it felt even the slightest bit restricting it had to be changed! I just can't stand restrictive clothing- there's nothing worse than a nagging waistband constantly reminding you of the existence of your stomach. It's like it's whispering "hey...saggy guts, HEY!!" lol! And that's just awful.

I ended up fitting it on the loose side, because I wanted to have insurance for times I'm feeling a bit bloaty or when I'm lounging around all saggy-like (haha). So it sits slightly below the waist, but can ride up if it needs to. Ahh, sweet comfort. I'll never compromise you for fashion. Except when it comes to shoes.
I'm hoping I can reuse this waistband a bunch now I've got it fitting me...

After completely messing up the waistband pattern, obviously it wouldn't match the skirt. So I walked the two pattern pieces along the seamline and added to the skirt pattern pieces at the side seams, so the two seamlines would be the same length. I hope that makes sense!

Pretty full skirt. You know what that means....
Compulsory twirling pic. That's just how it is okay?
I get carried away with stupid poses when I'm alone with the tripod. Haha!
Oh and can I just say this pattern drove me a bit nuts? When I first traced it, I was looking at how the notches lined up and could not figure out for the LIFE of me why the waistband was 2cm longer than the skirt back at the seamline. I checked and rechecked until I was going crazy. I never did figure it out.
And you know what? When I altered the skirt to fit the waistband, I did it my way, and it totally lined up in construction, so either the pattern's wrong, or I live in crazy town (the latter IS possible).

After all that waistband malarkey, a relatively simple alteration was lengthening the skirt. I just noted how long my Hollyburn was, since I know that's an approved skirt length on me! And because La Sylphide sits below the waist, I then subtracted the length of the contour waistband (2"). Do be warned, this pattern is designed to be short, so if you don't like flashing leg, you'll probably want to lengthen it too! My altered skirt pieces were about 20" long I believe. Oh yes, and I added another button because of that extra length.

When I cut it out, I realised my fabric wasn't wide enough to cut the skirt on the fold for the back piece, so I had to create a centre back seam. No big deal!
I also ended up creating a side seam in the waistband when I cut it out, though it wasn't really necessary- I was totally just being stingy with my fabric! (The remnants of this cotton could be useful for so many things, right?? Fun facings, stuffed toys...)

Boring back view with the poofy cardigan is quite unflattering....
Sewing this was a relatively smooth process, well, actually there was a fair amount of mistakes, I suppose, haha! But I'm not letting them bother me as much as I used to! I breathed a sigh of relief when my buttonholes didn't explode. These are my first "proper" garment buttonholes! (The ones on my Hollyburn skirt are just for the decorative buttons so they totally don't count).
It occurs to me that since I won't be undoing any buttons except for the top three to get the skirt on and off, that I could be sneaky/lazy and not make the buttonholes for the rest of the skirt next time (just sew fake-out buttons). I'm just not sure if that would feel right though. I'd know. I'd KNOW!!

Check out my zig zagged centre back seam. I'd had a fight with my new overlocker that day. Haha.
Some parts of the construction had me scratching my head so I had to change the instructions and do it my way.
I had some problems with the placket instructions. Since it probably isn't that interesting to people who haven't used the pattern, I kept my blathering about this in my review on Pattern Review so I don't have to bore you with it here :)

I don't know, maybe I just didn't understand the instructions, but hey, my way worked for me in the end. Too bad, since indies have a great reputation for their instructions and service, but when I emailed Papercut with my problems, I got no help. Bummer.

Oh yeah, and I thought I'd shoehorn my new Renfrew into this post since it doesn't deserve its own post (I've already made so many!). I used the puff sleeve I modded in this version but did the short sleeve view. The awesome thing about this Renfrew is that it's made from the remnants of the fabric from my Tiramisu dress so it's like a freebee! Woo! I did have to lay out my pieces like a NINJA to get them to fit though. It took forever, but it's worth it for a freebeeeeeee!

Back looks much nicer without the poofy cardigan over top.
It's amazing how the different fabrics change the look of the sleeve- these are much more perky compared to the soft drapey sleeves I got in my last version.
Speaking of Renfrews, after I made my boatneck version, I promised I'd update the post with more information on how I did it, because Erin from Miss Crayola Creepy promised me she'd love me forever if I did. And now I've done it. Hear that Erin? I remembered! Forever!! Mwahahaha! I look forward to seeing your boatneck Renfrew soon ;)

Hmm, I've written an incredibly long-winded post it seems. lol! Well, that's that for my first Papercut make. It wasn't a smooth ride, but I hope to make another La Sylphide in the future. I'm sure it'll be much easier next time! :)  ...right??