Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Anchor's Aweigh

I'm so excited everyone!  I've been completely obsessed with making a nautical themed dress for months now, probably at least since we were still knee deep in the snow.  (Ok.  That might have just been May knowing the prairies but let's not quibble ok?)  Now it's done and ready to wear!

I had originally planned on making my nautical fabric into another Emery dress, but had been holding off not quite sure what I wanted to do with the skirt (certainly not waistline gathers.  Nope. Not for me, thanks!) So my lovely cotton fabric that I ordered from a seller in Thailand early in the spring sat languishing in the storage bin.  OK.  That's a lie.  It only went down to the sewing room about two weeks ago.  Prior to that it sat on my dresser staring at me begging to be sewn up.

Anyways, I'm going off course here.  Let's get back to business.  A few weeks ago Kennis of Itch to Stitch released an update to her Marbella* pattern.  It's a pattern I've had my eye on for a long time, I love the slightly scooped out boat neckline, but hadn't quite committed to purchasing yet because of the skirt.  I'm just not sure I'm a tulip skirt kind of girl.  But the update happens to be the addition of a variation for a circle skirt.  Yes, please!!! I'm definitely a circle skirt kind of girl no question about it.

I look impatient here.  I wasn't...
Little Man was telling me how to pose and I was concentrating.

I muslined the bodice because you just never know when it's a new to you pattern but as like almost all of the Itch to Stitch patterns I've sewn to date, it fit great from the get go.  The only adjustment I made was to lengthen the bodice by about 3/4", which is pretty much standard for any pattern I sew from any company.

Oooh!  Look at the impeccable lining up of the invisible zip.
Ok.  You can't really see it, but it's there and it lines up
...and it only took me three bloody tries to get it perfect.

The pattern itself sewed up really easily.  I did choose to skip the lining step and just lined the yoke instead.  I'm a bit lazy that way! LOL  It was also a billion degrees outside which meant it was about a billion and two degrees in the house when I was sewing and the thought of extra layers was just too much for me to contemplate at the time.

Note to self.  Be careful where placing hands.  I'm not grabbing my own butt.
I was following instructions to put my hands in my pockets.
Just not fast enough.
Seven year olds are demanding photographers I tell you!

I was going to get fancy with my hem and do some ribbon or contrast fabric binding but in the end decided that I'd keep it simple and just do a narrow three-step hem for it.  I did buy some fishing weights to stitch into it, to lessen the "flash my knickers" potential but then promptly forgot about them.  I might just stitch them in just above the hemline into the seam allowances on the sides and centre back and see if that does the trick.

I think this dress is going to get a lot of wear this summer.   The cotton is soft and a great weight and I love the style and fit of the dress itself.  This one is a total win for the wardrobe!!

See ya later!  I'm off to do some more sewing! :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Vintage Baby

This year I decided I was going to officially take part in the Vintage Pledge hosted by Marie of A Stitching Odyssey and Kerry of Kestrel Makes.

I wasn't sure at the time I signed up what I wanted to pledge, so I will admit to being pretty wishy-washy about it.  Something along the lines of "I will knit or sew some projects using vintage patterns".  There's commitment for you, all right.

I still have absolutely no direction in mind for what I'm doing in terms of my vintage pledge, well... in many areas outside of the vintage pledge as well, but we'll focus on the pledge in this post, not life in general at the moment.  LOL!  I have enough stress going on in life at the moment that my crafting should definitely not be one of them.  So, my goal is to have fun and enjoy this and just see what happens.

One of the limitations of my Vintage Pledge is that I do not have an extensive library of patterns to choose from.  Although with the 80s now being included I suppose I have many more than I realize - but when I think vintage I like to go a bit further back.   Also, the majority of the patterns I do have are children's patterns.

Wow!  So that was a lot of preamble to get to the point of this post, which is that I have actually made my first Vintage Pledge project of the year!

I signed up to do a swap in one of my Ravelry groups in the spring and was assigned a little girl who lives in the Southern States so I really wanted to make her a little sunsuit for the heat of the summer.  I knew I had a great 1960s pattern in my stash that would fit the bill exactly for what I was envisioning for her.

I didn't realize until I dug it out of my pattern box that the pattern itself was a size 2 and the little miss in question was just turning one this summer and unlike my gargantuan babies, she is slightly more petite, so between consulting a modern pattern I had in my stash (well - early 1990s anyways) for sizing and a bit of going by guess and by golly I graded the pattern down to what I hope is closer to the 12 month size clothes she actually wears.

It was a fun sew and I love the blend of the vintage look of the pattern and the modern beachy print.  I decided to add eyelet instead of a self ruffle at the bottom because I LOVE eyelet on all things and then changed the bottom of the bloomers to have a ruffled edge rather than a turned under casing because ruffles should be somewhere on a baby girl's sunsuit in my humble estimation and since I'd eliminated them from the top they had to go on the bottom.  (My mind is a mysterious and bizarre place.  Don't feel badly if you're thinking, "What in holy hell is she on about now?!?!" I certainly won't judge you for it! LOL)

I also knit a quick little head band because the swap was on Ravelry and I felt that meant it should definitely utilize yarn somehow in it!  I used a thoroughly modern pattern but picked one that I thought sort of echoed the vintage vibe of the eyelet I used on the suit.  The Princess Headband took almost no time and was an absolute pleasure to knit!

Anyways.  End result?  I adore this outfit and as a bonus it fulfils the first of my Vintage Pledge projects.  Whoot!  Whoot!

Next up on my sewing desk is a modern pattern for me, but I do have a few more vintage pledge project ideas floating around in my head right now!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It Only Took Three Years...

I've finally finished my Jane Richmond Gemini top and it only took me three years to get to this point.

I first cast on Gemini for the 2013 Tops Tanks and Tees Knit Along on Ravelry.  I even finished it during that KAL.  Unfortunately it was a disaster fit wise and I completely ripped it out the very next day.   I was ever so proud of myself that I not only ripped it out, but I cast on immediately again in a size smaller.  But then I made a mistake and ripped out again and restarted, then ripped and restarted and then eventually made a mistake, got confused where I even was in the pattern and tossed it into the deep dark recesses of my closet where it sat for a few years until this spring when I was trying to decide what to knit for the 2016 TTTKAL and found this languishing in a bag.

It wasn't even on needles any more, but the lace panel and a few rounds below were done, so I decided to put it back on the needles and figure it out once and for all.  Things were going swimmingly... or so I'd thought.  Until a few inches from the bottom I tried it on and realize that my gauge had gone to hell again and my top was getting larger and larger.  The bust fit well, but below that was a mess.

I just about threw in the towel then, but after investing so much effort already, I decided it had precisely one last chance.  I ripped back to almost the armholes and restarted again, immediately working a set of decreases along each side.  Then knit two more inches and worked another set of decreases.  Then noticed way back where I'd joined a ball of yarn I'd somehow twisted the stitch, dropped the one below it and goodness knows what else.  It was the ugliest stitch imaginable and stuck out like a sore thumb.  To give you an idea of how bad it was, my husband even noticed it from a distance and gently suggested something should be done about it.  He was right, so I painstakingly dropped down approximately 4" of knitting for two stitches and reworked them back up, which was no easy feat given that it was a stitch at the start of a new ball of yarn, but so worth it.  After that was done, I kept knitting, keeping close watch to make sure I didn't let my gauge go rogue on me again, and finally did a couple of sets of increases for the hips and finished up.

This was the original gemini in it's droopy tent like capacity:

Re-worked and much, much better :

I swear I thought I would never ever see the end of the tunnel with this one and I didn't finish it in time for the due date of the TTTKAL, which was a bit disappointing - I was two days late, but I am really glad that I did slog away at it and didn't give up.  It's exactly the fit was I was envisioning back in 2013 when I first set out to knit it.   Sometimes it pays to be a "responsible knitter" and re-work things until you get them the way you want them, even if it feels like an impossible task at times. To keep going and have something you'll wear, rather than something that languishes in a dark corner of the closet never to see the light of day again.  I suppose like anything in life.  Sometimes it's just good to persevere.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016


I have a new addiction.  It's the latest release from Itch to Stitch* that I was fortunate enough to test.  Vienna is a fantastic little pattern.  Like Kennis Wong's Idyllwild tee that I couldn't stop making in the fall, this one has proved to be just as addictive.  No sooner had I finished my first one, I was cutting out a second one.  Fabric for version three is sitting on my table and version four is in the planning stages.  It's like potato chips.  You can't just stop at one.

I absolutely LOVE this top.  Cute, full of options, great size range, easy to whip up in a few hours max; the perfect warm weather sew.  Vienna is designed for a knit body and woven yoke, but I can tell you that lots of the ladies testing the pattern opted to do a completely woven version and they all turned out looking fantastic.  I can also tell you that almost all of us testing immediately jumped into making a second version as soon as the first one was done.

Another perk with this pattern is that you can use smaller cuts of fabric.  My friend sent me a parcel of fabric delights from Japan recently and one of the pieces was a sweet little cotton lawn print.  I adore the fabric.  From a distance it looks like just a floral print.   Pretty enough alright, but then hello!  Who's that peeking out from the flowers?  A polar bear!!!!  How much fun is that?!?! I only had half a metre of my precious polar bear in the flower garden fabric, and wondered what I could do with it.  With a print that fun I knew I wanted to have it in a garment somehow.  Then the testing call came out for Vienna and I knew exactly what I was going to do!  It was the perfect place to showcase it!

My first version used a cotton/spandex blend t-shirt knit for the main body and a cotton plaid for the yoke.

My second version used a drapey bamboo/spandex knit for the main body and cotton lawn for the yoke.

I highly recommend getting your hands on Vienna, which just so happens to be on sale right now for 20% off, and then run, don't walk to your sewing machine and get some fun new shirts in your wardrobe for summer!!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Me Made May Update

If you follow me on Instagram at all this is pretty much all going to be old news, but for those that don't I thought I'd give a bit of an update on how Me Made May went for me.

Here was my pledge for this year:

I, Sarah Jane, of Prairie Girl Knits, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2016' (not including my bras and handbags as that would be cheating since I only ever use handmade for them. LOL) I also endeavour to discover what "holes" are in in my wardrobe so that I can begin to fill them up.

Just like last year I looked at my Me Made May challenge as a great time to discover what was missing in my current hand made wardrobe.  I was surprised to find that there weren't really any in terms of what I wanted to wear day in and day out.  Something I counted as a big success compared to last year was that instead of repeating an outfit because I'd run out of hand mades to choose from it was a repeat because I just love it that much.  I didn't find it a struggle at all this year to reach for hand mades as I'm realizing the ready to wear is really being phased out in my wardrobe and the majority is in fact hand made at this point.

Other than a couple of pairs of jeans this past winter (that I used a gift card for) I can't remember buying any clothing for myself.  Lisa of Sew Over It often mentions her personal rule of not buying if she can make it and its a sentiment that I can relate to quite a bit.  It's not that I have a hard and fast rule for myself on the matter exactly, but more that I simply prefer to make my own clothes rather than buy ready to wear.

So here's a glimpse of what my month looked like mostly through the eyes of Little Man who was my designated Me Made May photographer.  He was occasionally assisted by Baby Boy and when both little guys were too busy (or fed up, because lets face it, taking Mommy's picture every day gets a bit boring after a while) a selfie did the trick for recording the me made of the day.  There is a photo for every day except for May 1st - I forgot to take a photo of my Me Made that day - off to a rollicking start wasn't I?  Ha ha! And in case you're thinking that I can't count there are a couple of extra photos just because I changed from one me made into another partway through the day because I was going out.

May 2 - 7
May 8 - 14
May 15 - 21

May 22 - 28

May 29 - 31

All in all it was a great month and I made a few happy discoveries along the way in terms of what I had available and what favourites were amongst those choices. I easily succeeded in achieving my goal of wearing at least one handmade item per day.  I really enjoyed keeping up with all the photos on Instagram too.  It was loads of fun seeing what others were making and wearing.  One thing I am kind of over is the whole daily photo thing.  I always feel pretty awkward in front of a camera and so I find the daily photo feels a bit weird and after awhile I start feeling a bit silly posting a "LOOK AT ME!!!!" photo every single day.

I'm continuing on with my own journey of utilizing and expanding my hand made wardrobe.  I just made a new top earlier this week, have a skirt on the sewing desk and top on the knitting needles as I type this, and have plans for several upcoming projects.  In the same vein as continuing on, it occurs to me that I didn't even think about it this morning when I grabbed a hand made to put on when I was getting dressed for the day.  I call that success on my personal challenge!

So that's pretty much it for my thoughts on the challenge this year.  Did you make a Me Made May pledge this year?  How did you feel it went for you?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Operation New Dress Success!

Guess what!!! I did it!!! I am so happy to say that I have successfully completed "Operation New Dress (revisited)!  I put the finishing touches on this afternoon (finishing touches being buttons - everything else was already done).

Love this print and look what arrived in the post last week?!?!
My new Lottas!!! Yippee!!
I ended up choosing the Sew Over It's Doris Dress.  I love the easy feel of it.  Because there's more ease in the silhouette there was a lot less fitting to worry about in the bodice.  I did sew up a muslin because I wasn't sure and didn't want to waste any of my good fabric by messing up, but I didn't make any changes to it other than to add an inch to the bodice and take an inch off of the hem of skirt to compensate. Otherwise this baby fits right out of the envelope (or off the printer as is the case).

The fabric is an easy care, easy wear rayon from Fabricland in the city and after sewing Doris and wearing it I want to make a closet full of rayon dresses.  It was beautiful to work with! I was a wee bit nervous about how I would like the print because it does veer off quite a bit from my usual florals that I gravitate towards, but I really like it quite a bit!  Thanks Agnes!! (she's my go to gal at Fabricland.  She never leads me astray on fabric choices!).

Doris is a fairly straight forward sew and even more straight forward because I opted to leave the concealed side zip out.  I know!  I live on the edge...

I did test it out first of course by basting the side seam and then pinning the front bodice closed and it was easy enough to get on an off  unpinned so whoot, whoot!!!  No concealed  zip for me!  It's an upside of having a less than huge bust/waist ratio. Also an upside of me not liking my clothes to be super fitted as a general rule. Anyways.  I was pretty pleased to skip that step even though it meant I couldn't skip the button holes because they needed to be functioning now.  Lesser of two evils and all - especially given my buttonhole function on my old new to me Pfaff works a treat.

Doris Dress, Vianne Cardi and Low Braid Lottas 
I am so thrilled with this dress and have already started envisioning another.  I have a few other projects I want to do first but rest assured another Doris dress will be appearing here sooner or later!

And would you look at that!  N's pop up restaurant is still three days away and my new dress is DONE!!!

 I am just this happy about my new dress!
(apparently my excitement causes me to take weird angled selfies!)

Saturday, May 07, 2016

So. About That Plan...

This may well be my new favourite outfit for spring!!
Remember how the other day I had a plan?  One month.  One dress.  All I had to do was decide which one?

Well it kind of fell by the wayside.  It wasn't my fault entirely.  It was that I was let loose with some money in my pocket and a fabric store in my sights.  I was still on the straight and narrow of the "Operation New Dress (revisited)" plan at the fabric store for the first bit of my peruse around.  But then I spied a sweet red floral print.  Better yet, the red floral print also had white polka dots.  And there went the plan.  Because that seemingly sweet innocent floral/polka dot print was actually screaming quite loudly that it absolutely NEEDED to become a Sew Over It Susie.

Plans to make a dress. Cuts out a blouse...
(And yes.  That is a can of tuna and a can of black olives doing double duty as pattern weights)
You know how it happens.  You plan to make a dress and instead start a blouse.  Oh the fickle seamstress I am.   But I loved this print and it's lightweight and soft and was a remarkable $3.99/metre.  You can see how I couldn't say no, right?

Like my first Susie, I really adore this one!  I had cut it out earlier in the week and then unfortunately never got a chance to start sewing right away.  It ended up that I actually sewed it up after the little boys went to bed on Thursday evening.  (And Baby Boy didn't go to sleep until about 9:45, darn his little hide!).  Now that I've got the fit down from doing the work prior to my first Susie, it was so quick to put together. For reference, I was hanging my new blouse in the closet and climbing into bed by 11:30pm. So not bad for sewing time!

A Susie Selfie! I ADORE this blouse!!!
I was so glad I stayed up a bit later Thursday night so I could wear my new blouse out for my date with my mama and my daughter on Friday.  Good visit, good food and a comfy blouse.  What more could a girl ask for?

So now that I've got Susie sewing out of my system I will return to my previously scheduled new dress sewing... Honestly.  I will.  Really...