Monday, November 30, 2015

Irena Top

Early this morning I told you about my Liana Stretch Jeans, and now I'm back because I want to tell you about another great pattern I was fortunate enough to test for Kennis of Itch to Stitch a few weeks ago!

This is the Irena* top!  It's just been released today and is on sale right now - there's also an extra savings for Cyber Monday today - you can check out the details on the Itch to Stitch site!

Irena is a deep V, cozy sweater. It calls for 75% stretch fabric and for this version, I used a really soft sweater knit that I was able to get on sale at Fabricland in the city.  It's longer length makes it perfect  for wearing over skinny jeans or leggings too.

The only tricky part of this quick to sew top is the corners of the neckline (I'm not sure if you can see I have a teeny pucker on the one corner - but unpicking stitches on this fabric was a beast so I decided I can live with it!).  No need to worry though.  Kennis walks you through the process in her thorough instructions and the rest of the sweater is really straight forward and easy!

I am also going to show you my second version - bear in mind though this was before the pattern was tweaked a bit, so it's not quite the same as the final version, but I love it so much and wear it so often I thought I'd show you anyways.  For this one I chose a sweatshirt fleece with only 25% stretch.  I meant to size up a bit to accommodate for the lack of stretch in my fabric, but completely forgot.  It's a bit more fitted than the intended design of the pattern, but it's warm and comfy and I can get in and out of it without needing the jaws of life to extricate me so it's all good! Ha ha!

I'm not sure why the bust is pulling in the photo.  I'm pretty sure it doesn't do that in real life.  Must be the way I'm standing or something.

I won't show you version one - although I should in the manner of a cautionary tale.  When choosing fabrics, you really need to pay attention to not only the stretch a fabric has, but the recovery.  If you'll remember from my earlier post today, I had this particular problem with my jeans as well.  Recovery really does make all the difference in a project.  For my first version of Irena, I carefully chose a lightweight jersey out of my stash with 75% stretch.  I felt it might be a bit too drapey as I was sewing it up, but in for a penny, in for a pound, right?  I think my jersey was a bit light to start with for a top like this, but that combined with the lack of recovery and oh my! Incredible growing top!  Laying flat on the table it measured correctly, put it on and it sagged to great lengths.  Yikes!!!

So lesson learned.  Choose fabric wisely.  (One would think I'd have learned this lesson and have it firmly cemented in my brain at this point, but apparently I simply refuse to believe certain facts of life.)

Anyways, two outta three ain't bad, so they say, and I do have two great tops that are in regular rotation in my wardrobe - at this point I'm pretty sure that people are starting to assume I only own two tops in my entire wardrobe, I wear them so often.  And of course I have the one that I'll probably take off some length of to accommodate the drape (I've used the term loosely here - this fabric goes beyond common drape!) and it'll make a great, soft and cozy lounge around the house type top. Waste not, want not and all that!

You can find the newly released Irena Top for sale over at the Itch-to-Stitch website!

Muppet Flail Arms! : or Liana

Strange title for a post?  Not really.  Imagine if you will a happy muppet-y flailing of arms.  I'll give you a minute...  Ok.  Got that image in your mind?  Good!  That's pretty much me right now!

Why you ask?  Because I've made myself a pair of jeans.  Yes.  I made jeans.  And I survived!!!!  Ok, ok.  I know I'm late to the party by about a year.  Every other sewing blogger/bloggess out there has made a pair of jeans.  But being late to the party has not diminished my excitement in the least.

I decided last winter that I was going to make a pair of jeans for myself.  So I bought a pattern. Then I bought denim.  Then I pre-washed the denim...  And then I completely lost all courage for making jeans.  Seriously.  I was completely terrified of the prospect of it.  Could not even contemplate being successful at it, such was my intimidation.

With my "good time gal" crappy Walmart Singer, there was absolutely no way I could make jeans anyways.  That machine had fits at anything heavier than two layers of quilt cotton.  But then I started shopping around for a new machine in the spring and I specifically chose a work horse 40-something year old Pfaff off of Kijiji with the notion that I could make jeans with a machine like that.  The first thing I did when I got that baby set up on my sewing table was try sewing denim (for research purposes it sewed through a whopping six layers of denim like it was butter).  But I was still way too intimidated by jeans.  Oh jeans how you scare me so.  There's just so many areas that they can go rogue on you, really.

Then one of my fave designers, Kennis Wong, of Itch-to-Stitch - you may recall I already have a slight obsession with her Idyllwild* tee going on - put out the call for testers for her new Liana Stretch Jeans pattern. Liana comes with three different leg options - skinny, straight and bootcut and uses denim with 25% stretch.  I jumped at the chance without even giving it a second thought.  I knew that the combination of Kennis' pattern making and instructions and the motivation of having a deadline was exactly what I needed to tackle jeans head on.  And I was right.

And actually?  They're not really that scary after all!  I had a bit of a fitting conundrum that was causing me one heck of an unflattering rear view - but thanks to Kennis, with her wisdom and advice, I was able to sort out that I just needed to do a bit of tweaking of the pattern for my shape and what a difference!

Yikes!!  Lets get those wrinkles going, going, GONE!!!!
For your amusement here's a little collage I put together to show the before, in progress and final tweaking I did for the derrière.  Yikes! Try not to laugh too hard at those huge smiley butt wrinkles.    It's amazing what 3/8" of tweaking can accomplish!

I love that this denim has a subtle stripe to it!
Also topstitching.  Love how it turned out!
I was worried about the topstitching.  I thought it might be a bit of a nightmare switching back and forth from thread to thread as needed, not to mention when using such a contrasting thread any little blunder is going to be so painfully obvious, but in the end it wasn't bad. You never have to change the bobbin thread, so it's pretty quick and painless really and actually it turns out I kind of like topstitching.  My trick for keeping my double lines nice and even was to do the edge stitching and then align my right edge of my presser foot (which conveniently - thank you Pfaff of the past - happens to be a lovely, perfect 1/4") along the edge of the edge stitching and voila!  There's also the built in benefit with topstitching that you get to have the rights to "ooh and ahhh" at your own handiwork every time you finish a section of it.

This is how I feel about taking photos of myself.  LOL
Also what the heck wind?!?  Could you give me two seconds between gusts?  Please?!?

At least this one is pretty normal.  LOL!  These are the straight leg version of Liana.
Something is obviously fascinating on the ground...

Did that camera timer go or not yet?!?
So there you have it!  Jeans.  Just like that.  Sewing didn't even take that long all things considered.  I set the timer the other morning for two hours and got the backs and the fronts all done.  A couple more hours for basting and fitting and modifying for my body shape, and then another hour and a half or so for hemming and the waistband and I was done.  Incredible!

I'll show you the first pair I made of Liana too - because while they're not the best fit, they're not really that bad. I think with some tweaking I can still make them work, but I had a couple issues with them.  First off my denim had really poor recovery.  Like a pair of jeans from Old Navy, I can wear them for about five minutes and then they start to sag in a sorry way.  So keep that in mind if you're making your own pair.  The percentage of stretch is very important for sizing, but ultimately so is the recovery.  (make sure that fabric bounces right on back to where it started from or prepare for some disappointment) I also panicked about sizing and made them a size too big.  Ooops a daisy!  Should have thought that one through better!  But this pair taught me so much about the construction of jeans and really helped me to overcome the intimidation.  They were a great practice pair and the fabric I used for the pockets? What seamstress wouldn't smile at it?

Pockets for my first pair
And since I'm showing off pockets -
here's the second pair making use of what I had left over from my "Bluebirds of Happiness" dress 

Again what is so interesting on the ground?!?!  LOL

Not bad looking until they stretch out and don't want to go back!
(Remember good recovery = happiness!)
So are you ready to take the plunge and try making your own jeans?  I highly recommend it!  Liana is a great pattern to start your adventure in jeans making with - Kennis walks you through each step in the illustrated instructions - and if you're an experienced jeans sewist, I think you'll really enjoy these! Having the opportunity to be a tester and getting in on this pattern at the ground level, so to speak, I know that she put a lot of work into creating a great pattern that will work for a really wide range of sizes! You can find the newly released Liana Stretch Jeans pattern over at Itch-to-Stitch.  Kennis is hosting a sew along for Liana and also has a great sale going on right now until December 6th!!

I'll be back later on today to tell you about another great new pattern from Kennis that I was lucky enough to test!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Well, talk about getting things done just under the wire!  I finally sewed the last two buttons on my new cardi and blocked it.  The knit along ends tomorrow!   Phew.  Made it!

The cardigan in question is Penelope, another great design from Andi Satterlund, that was the project for the Untangling Knots Group fall knit along.  It is, like all of Andi's patterns, an easy to knit pattern.  I imagined I would have finished it a couple of weeks ago, because it is very simple and straight forward.  It is a full length cardi, so I anticipated a bit more time on the needles, than a cropped cardi would take, but I didn't imagine it would take more than a month.

I didn't have any crazy issues with it, like I did with my Sunshower cardi I knit in the summer - I don't know if you remember my adventures that led me completely astray multiple times (ahem.  all user error, of course, the pattern is great).  I had no problems except much to my dismay, my knitting mojo seemed to get up and leave this fall.

I have no idea where it's gone.   (If you spot it somewhere along your travels could you please send it back to me?  I've got loads of projects lined up to do for the holidays and no "Umph" to get them done.  Or really started for that matter.)

Where oh where has my mojo gone?  Oh where oh where could it be?????

Anyways, all that being said, I did finish on time for the KAL deadline, and I did end up with a cardi that I really love.  I knit this one straight from the pattern with no modifications what so ever and the fit is perfect for what I wanted!

This one is knit in some stash yarn I had.  Sirdar's Country Style DK - a wool/acrylic blend was used for the contrast and Universal Yarns Dolce Merino, which is a merino/microfibre blend for the main colour.   I'm hoping that the Dolce Merino holds up alright.  It seems like it could have a tendency towards pilling.  Both yarns are super soft though and well, stash yarns fit the budget quite nicely of course!

I think the only thing that my Penelope is missing is a new skirt to go with it!  I'll have to think on that.  Oh.  And a new pair of shoes.  (Those will definitely have to wait though.  LOL).

Monday, November 16, 2015

Under the Category of Better Late Than Never...

Or maybe we can all pretend that we just hopped in a time machine and went back a month!

I wanted to show you the few things I did for Baby Boy's fifth birthday in October and somehow time has flown by and here we are mid-November already.

Our littlest guy had not one, but three celebrations for his birthday! MADNESS I tell you.  Excessive madness!  LOL

Little Man made his brother a sign for the entrance way

The first was his "family birthday" party where I think I disappointed my nephew with my lack of handmade goodness in the treat bag.  I have to say, I felt both badly and incredibly honoured when he said, "What's the thing you made this year?  I always like the thing you make the best." And then he proceeded to list off the things I'd made in the past and I'm pretty sure he thought the cookies I'd made this time just weren't up to snuff.  One of my nieces had apparently been wondering on the drive out what kind of thing I'd have made them too.

So from here on in, I hereby declare that Auntie Sarah will stop being so lame and figure out something good to make for my lovely crew of nieces and nephews! (Really, I just couldn't come up with a good idea and then ran out of time.  No excuse really.)

Anyways.  Baby Boy is crazy about dolphins.  Specifically crazy about the dolphins Winter and Hope  of the Dolphin Tale movie fame.  We had got a second hand book about Winter last year and he immediately became obsessed. Playing Winter and Hope, talking about them, drawing pictures of them, telling us great epic stories about them...  So naturally a dolphin theme was what he wanted when birthday party planning rolled around.

For his family party I made a dolphin shaped cake and the aforementioned cookies.

Dolphin cake #1

Dolphin sugar cookies - still working on my Royal Icing technique 

A couple of days later we had his actual birthday, which required another cake and the traditional birthday crown.  I love that the little guys enjoy the birthday crowns still.  I never guessed when I made the first one for Little Man's first birthday that it would become a yearly tradition.

Dolphin cake #2

What a guy!  I can't believe he's already five!!!
 Finally we had his "school friend" party towards the end of the month.  I asked him what kind of cake he'd like figuring he may have been dolphin caked out by that point, but he requested an exact replica of the one he had for his family party.  I feel like I could make a dolphin shaped cake in my sleep now.  Ha ha!

Dolphin cake #3
I also wanted to have a game planned for the kids at the party.  I thought a rousing game of pin the tail on the dolphin would be good to amuse ten five year olds, so I got some poster board from the dollar store and painted a dolphin on it.  Then I cut out tail shapes from card stock - a different colour for each party guest.  Note to self: A loose weave scarf for a blindfold that the kids can actually see through kind of defeats the purpose of the game...  all the tails pretty much ended up one on top of each other in the right spot.  At first I thought the kids were just that good.  Then Little Man confessed,  "There's tiny holes in the scarf, Mom!  You can see right through it!!"  Ooops!

Help kids!  I need a tail!!!
And thus ends the birthday month of baby boy.  I think I'd better try and pin Little Man and Baby Boy down on their birthday themes for next year so that I can start thinking now of things to make for party favours.  Maybe that way I'll redeem myself in the eyes of my nieces and nephews!  :)