Sunday, 29 June 2014

Complete: Renfrew Mod

Well, I know my very last project was a Renfrew mod. But here's another one. What can I say, I'm addicted!
Just one more item to add to my big list of Renfrew mods, I guess!

This project was inspired by me stuffing up another project and running crying to my comfort zone of knits. It was fun though, and I'm really happy the mod I tried out worked. I just made it up, so it could have been a failure!
The mod is what I call "boobie-gathers", and I teamed it with gathered sleeves, which I'd previously used in another mod!

Boobie-gathers close-up

Here is the backside of the gathers (note I used a non-matching thread for my twin-needle top-stitching. I often do this because I'm too lazy to make up a matching I used clear elastic to gather it like in my Moneta dress, using the original length of the pattern at that point as a guideline. 

Here is a (terrible) shot of my pattern alteration. I started with the V-neck view which I'd never made before! Now I did just make this up so it's probably "wrong". lol. As you can see, spreading open the pattern at the bust vertically breaks the straight line at the centre front. I opted to true it up by extending the top of the pattern piece outwards to match. This meant excess at the neckline, but I decided I could just ease that excess into the neckline band, which I kept at the same length as originally drafted. Make sense? I hope so! Anyway, it worked! I did have to chop off a bit from the hem at centre front to level it out when I tried it on. I'm not sure if that was from this mod, or the fact I tried out a sway-back alteration on this version. Possibly both?? 

Speaking of sway backs, it didn't fully work, so I may not have done enough of an adjustment. Or maybe I didn't do it right. Anyhow, I think this top looks best tucked in. Problem... solved. Lol. I do plan to keep trying to adjust Renfrew till it fits perfectly though! Plus, it would be good to wear this top with pants too.

Still has wrinklies at the back.
I like the proportions better tucked too. 
I really like this fabric and you'll see it again in the form of another garment! It's another one from Girl Charlee, and I was careful not to place a flower in any awkward placements on the chest.
I'm wearing it with my New Look skirt which I made a while back. 

Oh, and one more bonus:

Thanks to my new undie-making adventures.... I get matching undiiiiiiiies!
Ahh Renfrew, the pattern that keeps giving. There's not too much more to say on this one. Okay, I better get back to working on those tricky woven garments... Hah!

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Completed: The Indie Mash-up Dress!

This dress is a combination of a well-loved pattern of mine: the Renfrew top from Sewaholic, and a new-to-me pattern from Colette: the Moneta Dress. The lovely Teresa  (whose squirrel print dress I am dying to steal omg) lent me the Moneta pattern. Thanks Teresa!

And the two patterns live together in perfect harmony! I'm so happy!
So what is it called? The Reneta? Monfrew? Haha.
You may have seen my experiments in the past with the Renfrew pattern, modding it in many different ways. I even compiled a list of mine and others' modifications! I'm quite surprised it's taken me this long to make it into a dress, but I'm very pleased with the result!
To make the bodice, I just cut the bottom of the Renfrew pattern pieces off at a little longer than the waist (always cut it a bit longer than you think you'll need! And it turns out I did need it, as it turns out my waist fell below the waist shaping on the pattern, so I needed that extra length!).
I put on my Renfrew bodice and used some elastic around my waist to find my natural waist. I then marked it on the fabric with pins, and trimmed it to a normal seam allowance. Now I've marked it on my pattern, I know I have a reliable waistline for next time.
I also had to take it in quite a bit at the waist to get it sitting nice and close to my body.
Now, why didn't I just use the Moneta bodice, you ask? Well, I already know that I have got Renfrew fitting me just fine and I don't believe in reinventing the wheel. After all, Colette is drafted for a larger cup size than me, so why open that can of worms? Also, I've already drafted my boatneck for the Renfrew which I really wanted to use on a dress! The Moneta neckline is more scooped.

Okay, and the wind was being a NIGHTMARE when I was trying to get these photos, resulting in many like this, but worse:
Here I put the bow at the front. Lol I'm a PRESENT. Too cutesy?

For the Moneta skirt, I used the size M skirt, and since it's gathered, it doesn't matter if it doesn't match my bodice perfectly. I loved the fact that it has pockets, they are such an awesome feature to have, and don't create bulk! They just hide sneakily in the gathers. Yay pockets! The other fantastic thing about the Moneta dress is the way the waistline is gathered. Well, they call it shirred, because it's done with elastic. It's way better than stitching lines of gathering stitches and pulling them to fit! It's so fast! My gathering is not fully even, but I'll do better next time now I know what I'm doing!
Being a bit of a nerd about it, I made paper pattern pieces to use as elastic cutting guides for next time. And I'm sure there will be a next time. I need to look out for a knit fabric sale.... :)


I think Colette Patterns have done a great job of creating a pattern that is accessible for beginners and actually uses MODERN instructions and techniques for knits.
The sleeves are set in flat, which I approve of! It even has 1cm seam allowances which I think is good for a knit! I do still stand by 1.5cm seam allowances for wovens, for the fitting and fraying insurance they give.
Since I have 1.5cm seam allowances on my Renfrew pattern, I just graded out to 1cm seam allowances after the waist.
My experience with this McCalls knit pattern showed me that there are a lot of terrible and dated knit instructions out there, so well done, Colette!
I will say there was one thing I changed: I chose to sew the side seams last. This makes it easier to take in at the waist if necessary.

The only issue I had was that my pocket notches didn't quite line up with the skirt notches. I'll have to check my pattern, I probably did something wrong!

Can I take a second to tell you an amazing tale? THIS is how much thread I had just after I finished the last stitch of the twin-needle top-stitching on the hem. The bobbin thread behind it also had the same amount left (you can see it has dark purple left underneath from a previous project). Unbelievably lucky right?? AND I was using non-matching bobbin thread for the zig zag on the bottom, so it truly was the last of my thread.

I got this fabric from Girl Charlee, whose knits I really like. I always complain about how you can't find cute knits in New Zealand. It's so sad! What's even more sad is how outrageous the shipping is from Girl Charlee to New Zealand. I can't bear it, so no more cute knits for me... *sniffle*

I wasn't sure the polka dots would look great, but I think they work! I just thought that they needed a little breaking up, so that's why I created a waist tie. I like the idea of wearing it with a regular belt too, I just don't have a white one (yet!).  Something about breaking up the busy print just really helps the look. Also, the dots don't match on the side seams. Meh! They kinda do in some places... I'm not bothered. I just didn't even remember it while I was cutting!

I think this would be a great Summer dress, but I had to pair it with tights as it's getting pretty cold here. I had a go at styling it with my Blackberry Cardigan and Beret. Burgundy and magenta, yum!

I kinda feel like I'm cheating when I sew with knits... They're just so easy! No seam-finishing, easy to fit... I'm grateful for Colette Patterns and Sewaholic for giving me the gift of lovely casual garments. Thank you!!

Saturday, 14 June 2014


Okay, let's just get this out there. I made some knickers, okay?? I trust you all enough to show you my smalls. Except they're not smalls, they're giant "granny panties", lol!
Warning: This post contains a million links, as I ended up vigorously researching undies! Heh!

Sophie-Lee hooked me up with the pattern, (the Ohhh Lulu Betty High Waist Panties) which helped me, as the huge amount of undies patterns out there is overwhelming! I'm learning to take one option at a time, instead of looking at too many and going mad with so many choices!

I've been meaning to have a go at making my own undies for ages. Saving money you say? Tell me more! I'm hoping from now on I can scrounge a pair of undies out of each cotton knit garment I make.
But I also want to get some nice combinations of fabric and elastic going, because this plain pair is not too glamorous. It's just my "wearable muslin", and it's a bit fugly, there I said it! I hate the combination of black and red (mostly), but it's what I had.

Can we talk about high-waisted undies for a second? I personally stand strong in my opinion that they are not sexy. They are grandma undies! But I made them up in the original high waist at first to try it out.
Then I laughed and then chopped off the top once I'd confirmed that yes, high-waisted undies are for grandmas. Your opinion may differ of course.

Here is myy dress form (who has no butt/crotch) modelling them for you for a laugh:

OMG so sexy!!

Based on the hip measurement, I cut the largest size (I do have a large butt, but surely this sizing would exclude a lot of women if I'm the largest size?). I didn't bother grading, and as expected, it was loose in the waist. But that's okay, I chopped most of it off anyway. I just did this by folding them down to a height I liked while wearing them, and marking with pins before taking them off. I then snugged the seams in around the waist, and also at the bottom of the backside. I'm not sure this is necessary as that extra looseness could be eased in when the elastic is added. But I did it anyway.

Chop Chop! (I then tried to make sure the seam lines matched, and added notches for ease of sewing next time).
These are designed to be made in knits, OR to combine knit fabric on the sides with bias panels of woven fabric in the front and back. This makes the pattern open to lots of variations! Ohhh Lulu's shop on Etsy has some beautiful inspiration on how to make non-fugly versions of underwear.
Also, omg, Ohh Lulu has a tutorial on adding ruffles (albeit to a different pattern but I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to adapt!)... RUFFLES!

If and when I experiment with wovens, they'll probably have less give, so I hope they're not too small. But they're not super-tight when made entirely from knit fabric, so maybe I'll be okay. I thought they looked giant next to my RTW undies, but when I put them on top of each other it was mainly because my me-made undies are still a bit higher-waisted. I might add more to the butt coverage next time, and chop off even more from the top.

These are lined up at the crotch. Look, they eat my other underwear for breakfast!
Aaand I guess I just revealed I have a pair of bright yellow underwear... Meh, I thought about it and realised that undies are undies. If someone thinks it's scandalous to talk about, that's their problem.

This tutorial from Novita (omg she makes amazing underwear) shows three different kinds of elastic and how to apply them. I used picot elastic. I'd like to try out all the different types of elastic and finishing techniques on underwear! I am very intrigued by fold over elastic. Sandra linked me to Sunshine Shoppe Supply on Etsy which sells some very cute printed fold over elastic! Then I found Elastic By the Yard too. For local Wellingtonians, Made on Marion carries it as well (Buy local, Wellington people!! Sunni had a great post on why this is important)! Oops, didn't I say I was learning not to overwhelm myself with options??
Okay, just one more for New Zealanders: Cordall in Levin sell multitudes of elastic, do mail order, and have great customer service to boot :)

The famous Gertie made this pattern a while back (and has several cute ideas for fabric combinations). And recently I saw Frances of Would I Wear It in Paris made them and raised some good points. There are no notches or lengthen/shorten line. I would add that the instructions are pretty sparse. There are some photos, but no diagrams, so it took me a little bit of extra thinking to figure out. I mean, it wasn't rocket science, but I do like pretty pictures and clear instructions. Of course I discovered there was a sew along on Ohhh Lulu's blog afterwards, but I don't want to have to use a sew along. The instructions should be clear enough.
I liked that the seam allowances were 1cm instead of the standard 1.5. I think that they could even go down to 6mm. Maybe I'll alter them down to 6mm once I get the pattern how I like it, for speedy and accurate assembly!

I did notice mention of the seams being eased into each other. When I chopped off the top, I trued the seams to be the same length. 
Looking at it later I saw that the side back seam is a little longer than the back seam. It's just like a princess seam for boobs, which makes sense, as a butt is a curve too! Or at least that's my understanding.

I thought I'd add some of that ease back in so I slashed and spread the pattern piece, and then trued the grainline by folding the pattern piece in half (The grainline is totally a thing, Gertie said to do it). I have NO idea if the slashing and spreading thing is a thing. I have yet to try it out but I plan to make more undies in the future so we'll see! It'll probably be one of those things I can't even tell the difference with.... I'm totally over-thinking undies aren't I?

Really, I have no idea what I'm talking about or doing, but they're just undies so meh.

Anyway, I know this isn't a glamorous make but I'm really happy to open the door on new ways to save money with sewing, and a practical way to use up scraps. It gives me eco-friendly good-feels! Have you made undies or are they waaaay too practical and boring? :)

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Knitting Bits

As usual, I'm knitting away. Here are some bits and pieces on that....

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Completed Knit: The Blackberry Cardigan

Wow, I can't believe I'm finally blogging this! This was one of those projects that got put aside a lot...This knit languished for weeks waiting for blocking, seaming, and buttons. I have to agree with the majority, it's the less enjoyable part of knitting.

Oh and apologies in advance for the terrible photos. I get bad photos when I take them myself cos I can't work a camera (and I'm too lazy to learn right now!)! :P
Anyway, this is the cabley-est thing I've made so far, which was quite a lot of work! It's the Blackberry Cardigan. It has lovely cables and also textured details on the back and arms.

I think it would look really great over a dress but I didn't really have anything suitable (better make something!). It works well casually too, but I think it would be nice with a necklace added! I am very slack when it comes to accessories.

Of course I got up to some technical malarkey.
For one, I changed the body to be knit seamlessly.  Come on, who has time for all that seaming faff? All you need to do is figure out what order the pieces are put together, and remove the selvage stitches. Then knit for your life! I did seam the sleeves though as I didn't fancy knitting cables in a small circumference in the round.  I also added extra shaping for my pear shape, starting a size up in the hips. I moved the shaping too, from the side seams, so it could be next to the cabled motif. That way it looks more like a seamless part of the design, rather than sitting in the middle of the stocking stitch panels!

Tasty side seam shaping.

Other Ravelers had noted what a pain the blackberry bobble stitch was to knit, and upon swatching, I agreed. So I changed it to double moss stitch. I swatched that too and it was a different gauge, so I had to mod the stitch count for all those sections too!

Bonus swatches I did for the bobble stitch! Bottom is the double moss stitch I went with for ease of knitting.

The collar is picked up and knit in one piece with the ribbing that goes allllll the way around the body. Then it's shaped with short rows to make it longer around the neck.
I diligently hid my short row wraps on the wrong side of the fabric. ....except when I finished I realised that of course the collar folds over, making that wrong side the right side!! Ugh, hello again ugly short row wraps! Some dodgy hand-stitching and a prayer that it wouldn't look too noticeable followed.
I also tacked down the collar with invisible hand-stitching at the front so it doesn't flip up.
You can see it flipped up at the back in this picture, so I'll be tacking that down too!

Also, look how the pattern's sample garment's collar rolls away from the body. I think it's kinda eww.

This pattern is designed for 0 to a little positive ease but I went for -3", I know, what a rebel! I was worried that would be too small, but none of my other negative ease garments have felt too small. This is the most negative ease I have put into a cardigan yet. The buttons may pull a skosh but I feel I got away with it. It doesn't bother me! I think having less buttons also puts a little more strain on them, but I really only want to button the top two. I should have gotten photos with the rest done up though, for science.

Details, details.  Just call me the mod-aholic.
I enjoy putting that extra thought into my knits.

Here's a sleeve tip from me to you: When knitting a long piece to be seamed, put markers in at the start and end of the row, every few inches (in my case I used tied loops of dental floss). Then when you're seaming it up after blocking, you can match them up and it makes your seam precise and easy to match up!

Oh! And I found the sleeve caps really weirdly drafted: look how short they are! They're designed to be 3" high, whilst others knits I've made with set-in sleeves were around 5.5" high.  So squat! They went in fine though. I think perhaps they they pull the shoulder seams towards my arm a bit, but really, what do I know about sleeves? They're complicated beasties they are. And the stretch of the knit makes it work. If you have any insights on this, let me in on them! :)

This photo is super bright... WHOOPS lololol.
When I went to block it, the water turned pink! Eep! I drained the water and re-soaked it 2 more times until the water looked clear. Then I did a final soak with some vinegar chucked in. Thanks to Sonya from Ginger Makes for giving me advice on Twitter!  Vinegar supposedly helps to set the colour. Fingers crossed! I might wear an old white shirt under it as an experiment before wearing under anything too precious...

Are you ready for more dodgy photos?? :P

"detail" shot of the back where you can hardly see it!

Pic of me looking like a weird criminal.

Dang flippy collar! lol :)
I recommend this pattern overall, but I wrote copious notes on my Ravelry as usual, as there were some points that could have been improved. I'm pretty happy with this knit, and I hope I get lots of wear out of it :)