Sunday 21 September 2014

A little Chickadee told me . . .

As soon as I finished my Hetty Cardigan, I started to knit the Chickadee cardi - a pattern by Ysolda Teague. The pattern has been published in the book a "Little red in the city". I don't have the book and only bought the cardi pattern from Ravelry. I really couldn't wait to get knitting this cardigan. Although it has the Chickadee fair isle pattern (which was what drew me initially to the cardigan), most of it is knitted in simple stockinette stitch. So having knitted Hetty, I really wanted to knit something simple without having to think about the pattern too much.

Yarn: Garnstudio DROPS Karisma Superwash. It was the first time that I used the brand and I just love it. So far, I think this wool feels best in comparison with the brands I have used before. It's super soft and was nice to knit with.

Instructions: I love the instructions, because the pattern has little gaps where usually the numbers of repeats are. You just have to look into a table, find out the numbers of repeats for your size and fill it into the gap. So no confusion with other sizes, genius!

Construction: I'm not going into detail here, but you can find some more infos on my Ravelry page. It was the first time that I tried a fair isle pattern and it was challenging, but manageable. The birds are not perfect yet with the tension being far from even. But after I wet blocked the cardigan the bird design smoothed out a bit and now they look great :) I think I had to start the first row of the fair isle pattern three times because I just kept making mistakes with the order of the yarns.

The cardigan is knitted from the top down and after knitting the yoke, I had to knit the sleeves. I liked that a lot. Because that means your are already done with the sleeves when starting on the bodice and they are not looming at the end of the knitting, yeah. These sleeves were the fastest I ever knit, it took me only four evenings to finish them.

My main problem was knitting the neckband/buttonband/hem bit. It is knitted altogether in the round in garter stitch. Meaning you have the complete outer edge (hem- left buttonband - neckband - right buttonband - hem) on your needles. So one row took me about 30 min and to knit the whole edging it took me about 6 hours! Because you have the whole cardigan on your needles, you can't try it on and that's why I didn't realised that my edging was too big. So imagine, a totally excited me trying on the cardigan in front of the mirror. Realising that the neck edging stood up making me look like Dracula. There was no way it would stay like that.

It took me almost a week to finally gather my courage and frog the edging. I then knitted the edging on smaller needles because I had read that often garter stitch turns out bigger than stockinette stitching. I also only knitted half of the edging rows to prevent the neckline from being to close to my neck. And this time it worked. The neckline lies flat against my collar bone :)

I think the buttons I used are a bit to small. They look nice with the cardigan, but tend to spring open when I'm wearing it. You might have noticed the open button in a few of the photographs already---my photographer obviously didn't. Also, I should have added a few more buttons in general as there is a lot of strain on the yoke and I think one more button there would have divided the strain.

There is no more left to say. Thus I wish you all a good start into the coming week and if you get ever tired or stressed get a cuppa tea :)

Sunday 14 September 2014

Hepburn Dress in Chiffon

Finally, I'm back online and my life slowly settles into a routine - I hope. I'm not sewing much at the moment, because coming home from my new job just leaves me exhausted and yearning for bed. But nonetheless I have a few makes to share with you that I made before moving :)

So let me show you my version of the Hepburn Dress, which is a pattern by Audrey & Me. Audrey & Me patterns are designed by my friend Charlie from thisblogisnotforyou. Maybe you have heard about them, if not you are definitively missing out ;) I was lucky enough to test the Hepburn Dress pattern before it's release---actually I was getting on poor Charlie's nerves asking "Is it ready yet? Can I test it? I want to make it before I move, please". Haha...

I was especially thrilled to sew this pattern because I wanted to sew with Chiffon. Sewing with Chiffon was on my 2014 sewing list. I was super terrified of sewing with Chiffon and thought it would be a good idea to learn to sew with it. Charlie's pattern came to the rescue...

Pattern: Hepburn Dress by Audrey & Me pattern. PDF pattern. I made version 1, which has pleats at the neckline and boxpleats at the skirt. The pattern comes with lining instructions for the bodice.

Fabric: Butterfly Chiffon for the outer shell and a pink polyester rayon for the lining. The butterfly chiffon I got from Goldhawk Road and the rayon I bought from Minerva Crafts, when they were having a sale a while ago. I was really curios about what rayon is, as I can't get it at Goldhawk Road. And I love it.

Alterations:  Surprisingly enough, I hardly had to do any alterations! I only did my standard forward shoulder adjustment and moved the bust dart in the lining down by 1". I cut a size 10 for the bust and graded to size 12 for the waist. I think the dress sits a bit snug around my bust, so next time I will cut the bust at size 12 as well.

Construction: To make sewing with Chiffon easier, I followed the instructions of how to sew with Chiffon by Andrea posted on cation designs. Thus I soaked my massive amount of fabric (I think it was 2.5 meters) in a bowl with corn starch and water. Which should stabilise the chiffon. I then ironed the fabric dry. Which was a total mess with the starched water dropping everywhere and soaking my ironing board despite me constantly changing the towels beneath the fabric. It took me one hour to get it dry and the fabric seemed to become stiff. (The stiffness didn't go away after washing so I guess I melted the polyester???)

The actual sewing wasn't a problem at all. I finished all seams with french seams to achieve a nice and tidy finish. I even managed to put a french seam below the zipper thanks to the description from Mercury-Handmade fashion. However, there was one point that I didn't think through when choosing my lining fabric: You can see the darts and seams through the shell because I chose a contrast lining, buh. I also managed to put the lining wrong way in. With the darts looking towards the shell. I don't mind too much and next time I will know better.

To line the skirt, I just assembled two skirts - one made from shell and one from lining fabric. So you can say I sewed the dress twice :) I hand stitched lining and shell together at the waist seam, which took me 2 hours. I attempted first to stitch in the ditch by machine, but due to the slippery fabrics, the stitches were not at all in the ditch!

The hems are finished with the rolled hem function of my overlocker. So quick :)

Have I worn it yet? I did several times. It goes perfectly with my Hetty Cardigan and white tights and these cute pink shoes I bought recently (which you can see only in the first pic).

Will I make it again? Yes I will for sure. Maybe not this year, because I'm feeling already to cold to wear sleeveless dresses, but definitively next year :)

Thursday 4 September 2014

Delphine Skirt and Bronte Top for Autumn

Now that the weather is getting colder in the UK, I have the strong urge to start sewing warmer clothes. Especially after I realised that I have hardly made any clothes for colder weather. Because we are moving, I had to pack all my staff and when going through the garments I thought "Where are my me-made winter garments" - there were none. That brings me to the problem, what fabric and patterns should I use to make winter garments? If you have any suggestions, please let me know :)

But as a start I think a denim Delphine Skirt and a long-sleeved Bronte Top are a good idea. So let's talk about the skirt first.

Pattern: Delphine Skirt by Tilly and the Buttons.

Fabric: Grey denim bought from Clothes House in Soho, London (so pricey fabric). I had bought this denim when I started sewing (so about 4 years ago) and I made a pair of trousers from it. Although you can't actually say they were finished trousers, because I realised they were massive on me and never hemmed them.

I think 1.5 me would have fit in there, haha.
For the last 4 years they lived hidden under my bed (as many other items that I made before knowing about fitting and muslins). A few weeks ago I remembered them and thought I might be able to refashion them into a skirt. So I unpicked all these pesky seams, cut out the zipper, gave the fabric a wash and waited for the right skirt pattern to come along. And the Delphine came along and I decided to muslin the pattern with the denim (you can see my second version here).

Cutting: Can you imagine that one half of the trouser leg was bigger than one quarter of the skirt? I managed to cut each skirt panel from one trouser leg. To be sure to be on grain, I pulled one thread from the denim to get a straight edge and used this to align the skirt panels. The front panel of the skirt is cut on the fold. But I didn't have a piece big enough to cut on the fold. So, I just added a 5/8" seam allowance to the center fold and cut two front panels that I sewed together.

Fitting: As said in my last post, there was a lot of fabric bunching in the back due to my sway back. So, I just kept shifting the waistband down at the center back until the bunching was gone = instant sway back adjustment.

Embellishment: I couldn't resist to add a pink piping that I made with some bias tape from my stash. Don't you think pink and grey are a match made in heaven? And yes I know that the pink piping will limit the versatility of the skirt. But never mind, I love it. I added even more pink on the inside where I used a lovely pink quilting cotton with mannequins on it as a facing. The fabric was a leftover from one of my first quilts.

Almost perfect invisible zip if it wasn't for the bulk added by the piping.

Now before the post gets to long, let's talk about the Bronte Top.

Pattern: Bronte Top by Jennifer Lauren Vintage.

Fabric: I'm not 100% sure what kind of fabric it is. It looks knitted on the front and has little loops on the back. And it is super soft :) I could be a French Terry Knit. However, I somehow doubt it because I bought the fabric in Walthemstow Market. I can't remember the price, but it will have been under £3.

Alterations: I made the same alterations as for my first Bronte and this time just sewed the long-sleeved version. For the sleeve, I traced the sleeve in size 10 and the sleeve cap (between front and back notches) in size 12 to get a slightly higher sleeve cap. I love the fit of the Bronte top. Usually sleeves are twisting on me because of my forward shoulders. The Bronte, however, fits perfectly! The sleeves are a bit long, which I actually like because that means I can cover my hands with them :)

Some closing thoughts:

I love both the skirt and the top, although I have to admit that I'm not really sure that they fit both perfectly together. The styles go well together, but I'm a bit unsure about the colors (me kicking myself for adding pink piping). Actually when getting dressed for the photos, I kept changing my tights and top until I came up with this outfit. I think because of the pink the skirt doesn't look as wintery as the top. But when paired with a summer top and my woolen tights (yes I'm that cold already - that's why I have issues sewing winter clothes) the top looked out of place. Maybe the tights are the problem, haha.

On other news, I have moved to Cambridge and started a new job :) I'm not having internet yet. Other than on the bus to work (and it might stay like this for another two weeks, thanks internet provider) hence my absence from the blogging world. This post was actually half written before my move and I had luckily added most pictures. I'm saying most here, because there are a few missing such as a pic of the facing. But hopefully everything will settle in the next two weeks and than you can see a few more makes that I have already finished :)

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