Monday, July 09, 2018

Plitvice

It's been super hot here lately with day time temperatures in the +30 range - temps on Saturday were even hotter in the mid 40s with the humidex - so I've been trying to beat the heat by either being in the swimming pool with the boys or by hiding in the basement.  We don't have a/c in our house, and we've got fans in every room upstairs working double time, but the basement is always cool.  I should really spend the time down there sorting through toys and clutter and cleaning it up, but instead I seem to be ignoring the housework and gravitating towards my sewing room (which also is in dire need of a thorough sorting and cleaning).  Big surprise there.  LOL.

I saw this online one day on Pinterest and thought it pretty fitting. ;)
All that being said, hiding from the heat and not working anymore has given me a bit more sewing time lately.  So here I am with my third post in a row about a new Itch to Stitch pattern that I tested over the last couple of weeks. Today's top is the Plitvice Top*, a sweet little cowl neck tee that once again can be made either casual or dressy depending on the fabric you choose.

Let me just caution you here on fabric choice a bit!  You will want to follow the fabric suggestions fairly carefully when it comes to amount of stretch and drape.  I first chose to make one out of what was advertised as "Hacci" sweater knit.  Now I don't know about you, but I've never met a hacci that wasn't drapey and the one I bought was no exception... until I washed it.  I don't know what kind of fabric it really was but it managed to lose most of it's softness and most of its drape.  To make matters worse it smelled like some sort of ghastly petroleum product when wet.  I don't know why I still went ahead with sewing the top.  Suffice it to say, that particular disaster will not see the light of day any time soon.

I was feeling a bit discouraged at that point, but I forged on and rummaged through my stash trying to find something better to use.  What I finally chose was a drapey jersey blend that I had purchased from Blended Threads a couple of years ago and had sewed up into the most horrendous dress ever.  (You never saw that one either - the style, fit and every other aspect were ALL wrong so it's sat hiding on a shelf in my sewing room for the duration)  The skirt alone had enough fabric for my Plitvice pattern pieces, and the ditzy floral print looks so much better as a top, than a dress!  The gathers fall in soft, gentle waves and the cowl drapes gracefully just as one would hope with a top like this!  Win, win for me!  I got a nice new top and got rid of the dress of shame! I love when I can repurpose something so that it doesn't go to waste!



Like the previous two new releases (Nottingham and Crystal Cove) that I've tested for Itch to Stitch, Plitvice was quick to sew up.  The cowl neckline is finished off so nicely compared to a few other cowl neck patterns I've done in the past and it was really simple to get that nice finish on it!



I think I may try another, grading up at the bust but I've not decided yet - for this one I did a straight 18 down to the waist then from waist to hip graded down to the 16.  I also added 1 3/4" on the lengthen/shorten line as I seem to  have to do with all patterns no matter what brand.  I always tend to think that my height is in my legs, but it turns out maybe not because I've noticed a lot of patterns from other designers have an average 8" side waist length - I measured the other day and mine comes up at 10 1/4" - not wonder everything always turns out so short waisted on me.  Full disclosure - I haven't actually measured the ITS patterns to see what the standard side waist length is, nor have I ever asked Kennis... I should do that out of curiousity's sake! That's a pretty hefty difference and a good reminder that even if a pattern is drafted for someone that is 5'6" (which I am just shy of) we are all proportioned uniquely.  But really it's just another good example of why you should take up sewing your own clothes, I'd say!



I have to laugh at this photo - I wanted to show the back of the top and I forgot I don't have long hair anymore.  There's no need to lift a tonne of hair up and out of the way for the garment to be seen and yet I still automatically do it.  Same if I need to get help zipping the back of a dress.  LOL.  Someday I'll get used to this short hair business I guess!

I definitely recommend adding this one to your rotation of quick to sew summer patterns!  If you head on over to the Itch to Stitch site the pattern is on sale for the release week - and as always, Kennis offers a volume discount, so you can save even more if there's a couple a patterns you have your eye on!

Next up in craftiness and avoiding housework/heat, I think I may finish my SOI Eve dress and then really get cracking on my Untangling Knots 2018 OAL outfit.  I'm really missing my knitting mojo so am nowhere near where I'd like to be with my top and I've not got any further than printing out the pattern for my shorts.  But we'll see - I tend to make a crafty plan then get easily distracted.  Ooooh!  Look at the new shiny thing...


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Crystal Cove

So after dipping my toes in the water of pattern testing again with Nottingham a few weeks ago, I jumped headlong into applying to test another new pattern from Itch to Stitch* without hesitation.  Normally I would probably avoid tops like the Crystal Cove Cami - spaghetti straps, fitted bust, flowy from the bust down.  Too many fit issues, too much chance of it becoming tent like.  But knowing how Kennis designs her patterns and knowing how well those patterns fit me pretty much "straight out of the package" I was pretty excited to give it a go.

It didn't disappoint.  The straps don't feel flimsy and with her pattern offering different cup sizes to choose from the bust fitting wasn't an issue either. The loose lower bodice feels shaped, not tent-y at all and the back cross over detail is so much fun!

My only discovery was that lightweight fabric and 50km/hr wind gusts combined with a flowy bodice can add up to a rather revealing flashing incident.  It's a good thing that I had my inaugural wearing of my cami at home in the privacy of my out in the country, well treed property away from innocent bystanders who would've been treated to the bottom of my top billowing right up over my face.  So, if you, like myself, have a propensity for wearing the most inappropriate garments for windy days (which you'd think living on the prairies where 99.9% of the days do seem to be windy I'd have learned a lesson or two by now almost 47 years into life), let me suggest taking a few stitches somewhere along the back to tack that crossover down a bit.

I chose to make both my versions from rayon and they're comfy and cool for hot days!  I had  also bought a cotton lawn on the way home from work on Friday evening, eager to sew up a third version.  Then as I was under stitching my Poppy print top, the Pfaff seized up again.  Not even a full two weeks since it came back from repair, and barely any sewing done in those two weeks.  I was so incredibly upset that I had wasted my money on a repair that did nothing and to had to pull out the good for nothing Singer Advance again.  Sewing with it is so terrible - you can't get an even tension, it puckers seams, it skips stitches.  No matter what you do it's a nightmare to use.  Needless to say the third version will have to wait until I can get my Pfaff 1221 fixed again or get a new machine.


Anyway enough about my machine trials and tribulations and back to the good stuff... the pattern! I will warn you to be careful when cutting out if you use rayon or any other shifty fabric.  Also make sure to stay stitch right away to avoid any stretching.  On my first one (the bicycle print) I made the mistake of not having the tension quite right on my just back from the repair shop Pfaff and ended up having my armscye stretch out like a beast.  I had to do some fancy maneuvering to get that sucker back into shape and get it to match up with the facings.  All was well in the end, but there was some gnashing of teeth along the way.


I did add a bit of length to the bodice and am happy I did.  It feels like it sits at the right spot for both my body shape, long waistedness (not sure that's actually a word! LOL)  and my own preferences, but that was the only change to the pattern I made, which is impressive.  Is it any wonder I gravitate towards the Itch to Stitch Patterns with so few alterations necessary?


I feel like this pattern can be one that you'll really be able to stretch your pattern buying dollar with too because there's so many ways to change it up.  Some of the testers used lace or other trims along the hem line.  Other's did ruffles.  I was thinking of doing double spaghetti straps on the "now has to wait" cotton lawn one.  You can make it super casual or quirky to wear with shorts (I'm wearing my Liana Jeans shorts) like my bicycle print version.  Or you can make it date night dressy with a more feminine print like my poppies one, or elegant with a fancier fabric.  So many options!  You can head on over to the Itch to Stitch site and grab the pattern on sale right now and don't forget to check out all the tester versions while you're there.


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Nottingham

I've got a brand new pattern I want to tell you about today!!  It's the just released Nottingham Top from Itch to Stitch Designs*!

Kennis Wong, the designer behind ITS has quite the selection of patterns now and I've been fortunate to test several of them for her!  Since going back to work last year though, I've not felt able to give a test pattern the attention it requires.  I felt it would be too overwhelming and the pressure to finish would be too difficult.  I've really missed it, but knew it was for the best to take a step back. But then she posted a testing call for the Nottingham recently and I decided to apply.  It's a great top, looks far more complicated than it is, and knowing the Itch to Stitch patterns as I do, I figured it would be a breeze to sew up.  Kennis does such a great job of the instructions, paying really close attention to all the fine details, I knew that even if it was complicated I'd still be able to manage without getting overwhelmed.

I'm happy to say I was 100% correct about her instructions and pattern.  I was so very wrong about the sewing it up though.  At least my first attempt... and it was all my fault. I bought a drapey rayon blend solid the other day for just the purpose of testing.  It was a gorgeous peacock blue.  I got it all cut out after much cursing and swearing and trying to keep it from sliding right off the dining room table and set to work sewing.

All was going swimmingly well until I tried it on.  I'd added my customary length that I always add to my ITS patterns and guess what.  With the drape of the fabric and the  pattern itself my top was precisely the 1 1/4" that I'd added too long.  Not only that, but it turned out that my fabric, while having exactly the prescribed lengthwise and crosswise stretch, had absolutely pitiful recovery. Such a pretty blue.  But such a weird length...


Not to be deterred, I figured no big deal.  I do like my tops a bit longer anyways.  So I soldiered on.  But then part way through my workhorse, dependable, ancient Pfaff simply stopped working.  It just seized up and refused to do a thing mid stitch.  I assumed a bent needle.  So I wrestled the needle out and nope.  It was still straight.  Misaligned bobbin?  Nope.  All good there.  I tried a few more things than went outside in a mad panic to find my husband who can fix anything and wailed that I needed his help.  He dropped what he was doing and came in the house to see what could be done and to give him credit he tried.  We thought it was fixed and then it seized up AGAIN at which point he advised that I should probably just take it to the repair shop and get it fixed properly.  Which left me with the misery that is the Walmart purchased Singer Advance that functions only slightly better than a paperweight.  Oh how I despise using that machine.  But desperate times call for desperate measures and thankfully other than the knot and hems, I could use my overlocker for the majority of the sewing.

I finished up the peacock blue and it was so stretched out and wobbly looking from fighting with the Singer, that I thought I'd pop it in the washer and drier and tighten it all up again.  DISASTER.  It shrunk up first of all. Not a bad thing given its extra length, but beyond that it revealed that I had totally cut it off grain so the seams were twisting like crazy.  It's like I'd never cut out a pattern before.  Geez Louise.

The next day I regrouped, took out the extra length I'd added to the pattern pieces, dug out a floral double brushed poly and got it cut out.  Sewing it took less time than the cutting out I think despite using the beastly Singer  although I did it in a few chunks over the course of the evening and by the time I went to bed I had my new version done.  I love it!  It's everything I hoped it would be and now I need more fabric to make a solid black one.  And then I have some grey sweater knit that would be perfect for the long sleeve version. And then...

Yes.  This is one of those tops that it's going to become a go to.  It's so easy - once you do the knot part, it's just a simple teeshirt and don't worry about that knot.  The instructions walk you through it with detailed diagrams, and there's notches on the pattern to line everything up easily so you can't go wrong.  The kind of pattern that practically sews itself it goes together so well.   Just look at the details of the knot and those flutter sleeves.  I think it goes perfectly with my Blended Threads Double Brushed Poly that I bought last summer and had no idea what to make with.




Congratulations, Kennis, on yet another amazing design!!!  If you want to grab your own copy, head on over to the Itch to Stitch website!  If you hurry, you can get the pattern on sale until May 23rd.  I highly recommend this one!!! (and by the way, if you have your heart set on any other Itch to Stitch patterns, don't forget you can use the bundle discounts for a great deal on everything in your cart while you're at it!)


Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Well That Escalated Quickly!

After knitting six pairs of socks over the course of the last year for other people I felt the urge to knit a pair for me so towards mid March I succumbed to that urge, grabbed the skein of sparkly stripey sock yarn (Plymouth Stiletto) and finally cast on a pair of Zigzagular socks, which is a free pattern on Ravelry and I highly recommend!  These socks, between the stripes and the simple, but interesting pattern, pretty much knit themselves!  Only change I made was to do an afterthought heel to accommodate the continuity of the stripes!




The whole time I was knitting my sparkly socks, Baby Boy was having serious sock envy.  He desperately wanted a pair of stripey socks of his own.  If he could've had sparkles it would've been even more perfect.  I knew I didn't have enough left over yarn from my socks though and he didn't want to wait for new yarn, so I let him pick out of my stash.  He chose an ancient ball of Fortissima Colori Socka for his and I used Joeli's Tiny Treads Basic Top Down pattern.  I should have knit up a size.  They will probably fit him for all of five minutes.  But he wears them all the time so at least he's getting use out of them while he can.




Once his socks were on the needles of course Little Man had a need for stripey socks too.  Unfortunately there was nothing to his liking in the sock yarn bin, so I logged onto Webs and let him pick out some yarn for himself. He chose Sirdar's Sole to Sole in the Jungle Fever colourway.  Bonus for me, it was super inexpensive!  I didn't really follow a pattern this time so much as cast on in between Baby Boy's size and my size and then knit until it fit.  Although darn his little hide, I think his feet are bigger than I assumed, because they seem a touch snug.  Again I used an afterthought heel to keep those stripes going nicely.



I'm not sure how me wanting a pair of stripey socks escalated so quickly to everyone needing a pair of stripey socks, but that's just how things roll sometimes and that's how I ended up knitting three pairs of socks in a total of eight weeks.  Not bad if I do say so myself!

Speaking of hand knit socks, I've decided to partake in Me Made May once again this year.  Last year I took the year off because I couldn't think of a challenge given that I pretty much wear me made every day all year round at this point.  But after listening to Zoe of the So, Zo blog (and the mastermind behind Me Made May) on the Love to Sew Podcast last week I thought that maybe I could find a challenge for myself after all.  I have well over a dozen pairs of hand knit socks that have been languishing in my drawer since I went back to work.  I wasn't wearing them during the week because I didn't want to "ruin" them in my work boots, and on weekends I'm usually barefoot around the house or would just grab my sport socks if I was headed out anywhere.  I decided that it's high time I enjoy those hand knit socks once again, so my challenge for Me Made May is to wear hand knit socks five days a week at work.  (I'm not wearing them on the weekends because there's no snow on the ground anymore, which means no socks thanks!)  I'm not committing myself to documenting them daily - I'm just going to go with the flow on this one, but I'll let you know at some point how my challenge is going or went.   How about you?  Are you Me Made May-ing this year?  What is your own challenge?
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Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Jessi Hoodie

Ages ago - I feel like maybe as far back as late fall - one of the sewing groups I belong to on Facebook was hosting a sew along for the Jessi Hoodie by CoEmi.  I snapped up the pattern, bought the paper needed to print it off (It's a European pattern so required A4 - I made do with 8 1/2 x 14 " to accommodate the extra length needed and it worked just fine), printed and then assembled it all in short order.  Then proceeded to have zero time to sit down and trace the pattern out, add seam allowances and cut fabric out, let alone sew it up.  So it sat in a big pile on top of my desk until the beginning of March.

I've seen this pattern everywhere on Facebook for months now. It seems like ALL the custom fabric group sewists are especially crazy about it.  I really liked the look of it and thought it would be perfect for work, so I finally dragged my roll of tracing paper out and set to the business of tracing and adding seam allowances to all the bits and bobs.  It really wasn't an onerous task and now that it's done and I'm so happy with how it turned out I wonder why on earth I waited so long, other than time was, as always, at a premium.

I decided that my peached herringbone jersey from Blended Thread Fabrics would be great for the main fabric and instead of buying a co-ordinate for the rest, I decided to make do by utilizing as much of the charcoal Fabric Snob jersey from my ill fated New Horizons Vermont cardi that I'd made earlier in the year. (You never saw that one.  It was a complete fit disaster on me.  I don't know why I strayed from my beloved Blackwood Cardi in the first place).  So the cowl contrast was cut from the back of the cardi, the front side panels from the cardi fronts.  I cut the cuffs off and used them as is, and did the same with the cardi bottom band, so cuffs and band weren't exactly as the pattern measures, but did the trick nicely. I was pleased that the only "waste" left over from the cardi was the front bands which were so bizarrely stretched out of shape they were garbage anyway, and the sleeves, which I'll save for contrast on something for the little boys.


I have really loved wearing this top and reach for it so very often on cooler days, so I thought I'd make another version.  This time I used a panel from the custom print company, Midnight Mountain Fabrics which is located in the city. Being from the flat as flat can be prairies, I've always been drawn to the mountains. Some might even call it obsessed with them. I love their majesty, ruggedness and beauty, so I couldn't resist the panel when the pre-order went up a few months ago.  I combined it again with a jersey solid from The Fabric Snob.  This time since I was starting out from scratch I used the pattern pieces for the cuffs and measurements for the bottom band.  I like the bottom band's width, but the cuffs feel just a bit too long and too snug for my liking.  I'd probably like just an extra quarter of an inch width and a 1/4 of an inch shorter for my personal preference.  I'm not sure if it's the difference in fabric, or if I totally used the wrong seam allowance (How on earth do you do that when you're the one that added the seam allowance in the first place...The mind.  It boggles sometimes! LOL), but this one turned out really relaxed and verging on baggy.  I've taken it in some on the side seams and will wait until it's gone through the wash a couple of times in case it shrinks then I may leave it in it's still "relaxed fit" state, or may take it in more - I just feel that the minute I take it in, is the minute that it's going to shrink like a beast in the wash and I'm going to be living in a world of so much regret.  So for the time being it stays as is.


I used the "BIG Jessi" pattern. (Wow!  Not sure how I feel about the naming of the pattern - thanks for pointing out the obvious there CoEmi, because we larger ladies might not realize we're bigger than your regular pattern size range already.  But whatever.  Slight annoyance aside, I wasn't going to let myself be put off by that.  Maybe it's a translation thing.  I don't know.) As for the nitty gritty pattern details, the fit is pretty good (if you follow your seam allowance choice you made...), and it's a nice flattering design.  It has one heck of a huge cowl - if you feel the need to hide your head in a shell like a turtle, this is your pattern. LOL!


Or if you'd rather, there's a nice big hood option as well. You also have options to put in pockets (I didn't bother) and if you're a nursing mama, the pattern tells you how to add hidden zippers along the princess seam lines to make it breastfeeding friendly. Certainly not a feature I'd need anymore, but might be quite handy for others.  I like that you can mix and match fabrics and that it's a perfect way to use those fun custom print panels that are all over the internet that I seem to be acquiring but haven't previously had a hot clue what to do with.

I'm am pretty much delighted with both my versions and am currently pondering if I should make a third version, but this time with french terry and just a regular jewel neckline instead of hood or cowl.  Although, the weather has been glorious, so maybe I should just turn my thoughts to spring sewing instead... we shall see!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Ooops! I Did It Again...

So.  It happened.  I didn't mean for it to happen, but there you have it.  I had some jersey in my stash begging to be sewn up and really, I should have grabbed a different pattern, because I think it is likely just a teensy bit possible that one should branch out and sew something different once in a while.  However, these days sewing time is limited and the pattern was sitting right there on top of the pile of patterns and Oooops!  I did it again.  I further added to my already overly extensive Molly Top collection.

I can't even say anything about it because once you've sewn something ten or eleven times and you've talked about it eight or nine times previously there's just not a whole lot left to say.

So lets talk about these recent fabric choices instead.

The first one is an oh so very soft poly/rayon/spandex jersey from The Fabric Snob.  It's drapey and did I mention oh so soft?  I did my short sleeved, v-neck mod for my Molly because it's currently my favourite way to sew it up.  (admittedly because for whatever reason I can easily sew a v-neck shaped band on a neckline, whereas doing a regular one I seem to manage to mess up every single time.WHY?!?! Its like the fact I can't make Kraft Dinner.  Or Jello.  I don't know... I'm just weird that way I guess.)

Sew Over It Molly Top


The second one is a jersey of unknown specification that I snagged a year or more ago out of the clearance bin at Fabricland.  It has Llamas on it.  You know I couldn't leave it behind.  But there is precisely no drape to it and somewhat less stretch than desired.  Plus there's just something about wearing an entire tee covered in Llamas (or maybe they're Alpacas - I'll have to check out their ears and decide from there I guess) that felt just a little bit too quirky.  But it does make one heck of a fine pyjama top.  And if you've got a top?  Well, quite frankly you might as well make bottoms (I used the Halla Patterns sleep shorts pattern  and they took all of ten minutes to whip up by the by).  So win win!  I got to use my llama/alpaca fabric, I got to sew another Molly top, and I have new summer pyjammies!

Sew Over It Molly Top

Now I'm going to try and take a bit of a break from Molly for a while, but honestly? I really can't make any promises...


Sunday, March 18, 2018

I'm So Magical I'm a Freaking Unicorn

A couple weeks ago I started listening to a new to me podcast, the Prairie Girls Knit and Spin, which I highly recommend - Danie and Susie are great together and I've thoroughly enjoyed the episodes I've listened to so far.  Anyway, in the first episode I caught, Danie was talking about spinning a sweater's quantity of yarn and then knitting a sweater from it.  The comment that she was so magical she was a freaking unicorn popped up and I've decided to adopt it because it is just so perfect for so very many situations that pop up in life.

Need that gearbox right now?  Here it is... I'm magical.  I'm a freaking unicorn.  You enjoyed that roast beef dinner with the impeccably puffed up Yorkshire puddings...  I'm magical.  I'm a freaking unicorn.  Spin some yarn and make something with it?  HELL YESSSSSS!  I'm most definitely a magical freaking unicorn.  See?  So perfectly fitting for so many things.

So, as you all know I started spinning in July of 2016 when my husband surprised me for my birthday with a day long private lesson with a master spinner and my choice of spinning wheel.  Over the course of time, I've spun a decent amount of yarn, but I'd not actually knit with any of it.  I wasn't sure what to knit or where to start.  Every now and again I'd take all the skeins out and admire my handy work, but that was as far as I got with them.

Then a couple of weekends ago I suddenly realized I had the perfect pattern in my queue to use up some of my early handspun.  In fact one of the yarns was my very first "on my own without an instructor sitting with me" yarn that I spun in the days after I brought my Ashford Kiwi 2 home with me.   The other yarn I spun and plied a few months later over the Christmas holidays, just before I started back to work.





The difference in the two yarns is amazing.  I can really see my progression, although both are pretty wonky.  Uneven, overspun, thin and corkscrewey in some places and underspun and thick as your thumb in others.  But they are mine, made with my own two hands and I love them.



The pattern I picked was a simple pair of fingerless gloves that I thought would be perfect for this time of year.  I had to fiddle with the pattern because my yarn definitely knit up at a much, much larger gauge than the Breton Mitts pattern called for.  I increased the needle size and then decreased my cast on considerably and adjusted the rows to fit my hands.

My mitts are thick and cozy and a bit bullet proof, the fabric is so dense, but I didn't want to go up yet another needle size from the three or four sizes I'd already gone up by, because then the thin bits got too thin.  Regardless of their wonkiness and bullet proofness, I adore these mitts and I wear them every morning while I'm waiting for the truck and more importantly the steering wheel to warm up when I'm driving to work.

And I can tell you that knitting something from yarn I made myself is pretty darn magical.  I'm a freaking unicorn.