Sunday, January 29, 2012

Almost Goldilocks Dress

It's done, it's done!

Dress front

  • Bodice: Simplicity 4171, changed neckline to a deep v, slashed and spread the center of the back to add shirring.
  • Sleeves: Butterick 5030
  • Collar: Sew U shirt pattern
  • Skirt, patch pockets & buttonband: self-drafted
I based this dress on one Anthropologie was selling a year or two ago: 

I think it's pretty close! 

This was my second attempt to re-create this dress.  The first, in addition to the armscye being too low and the fabric feeling like cardboard, also looked like this:
Take 1

I was determined to make this one better.  So, after an adventure with sleeves, ripping out the collar several times, re-cutting the collar stand and the buttonband, attaching and re-attaching the patch pockets (they were crooked), and running out of thread with three button holes to go, I'm pretty pleased.  It's not perfect, which is why it's the Almost Goldilocks dress, but I know the problems are small and anyone who can see them is definitely too far inside my personal space bubble.

The fabric, from Fabricmart, is the softest corduroy ever.  It worked well with the shirring in the back, a feature I stole from the original Anthropologie design.  Gertie's tutorial on adding shirring was immensely helpful - I slashed and spread the back between the darts, followed the tutorial, and then sewed up the darts, catching the elastic thread in the dart seam.
Dress back

I finished most of the seams with rayon seam binding, which I hadn't used until now.  I understand why so many people rave about it - it was easy, it looks good, and since I used hot pink (and matching hot pink lace hem tape), it added some fun to the inside.


And, of course, I added in-seam pockets.

Dress pockets

I think I might have put more work into this dress than anything I've made before.  I'm thrilled with the result, but I might be even more thrilled that it's done and I don't have to make another one.

Dress side

Friday, January 27, 2012

Check out my Guest Post on Lladybird today!

Don't let this happen to you! [Image source]
My guest post on 4 Things to Remember when Knitting your First Sweater went live today on Lauren's blog.  Check it out! (Thanks, Lauren!)  I'll be back this weekend, with a finished dress I hope! Happy Friday. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Agatha Short Rows

I broke one of my cardinal rules and didn't read the pattern through before I started knitting.  Whoops.  Agatha is a top-down sweater with set-in sleeves.  So, you start at the back piece with the shoulders, knit to the armpits, put that piece on scrap yarn, knit each of the fronts to the armpits, join them all together and knit to the waist as one piece.  Then you add the sleeves with short rows.
If you haven't knit short rows before, the shoulders give you a little practice.  The shoulder area is shaped with short rows, so that they fit the natural slope of your shoulders.  There is an excellent tutorial on wrapping and turning (w&t) here at the purl bee.
To help anyone confused about how they work with the Agatha, I offer you this:

Agatha Short rows

It's upside-down because its a top-down sweater, so this is what your knitting will look like to you when you hold it (cast-on edge at the bottom).  In the image you start from the left because the first w&t happens on the WS.  The pattern didn't specifically state to pick up the wrapped stitches when you encounter them (see the purl bee tutorial).  I did it anyway, though - otherwise you'll see them in your work.

I hope this helps!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Agatha KAL Update!

Lauren and I have decided to make the Agatha KAL a First Sweater Knit-Along too.  If you love the Agatha cardigan as much as we do, join us through our flickr group! If you're ready for your first sweater but not ready for the Agatha pattern yet, pick your own pattern and join our KAL.  Grab the button over on Lauren's blog.  I'll be answering as many technical questions as I can, posting tips for sweater knitting and links to the best tutorials to help people make their first sweater a success.  We're not setting a timeline, since this can vary so much based on the pattern you choose.  So jump in when you're ready, or just follow along.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Agatha Sweater KAL

Agatha cardigan by Andi Satterlund.  image source
The lovely Lauren of lladybird is starting her first sweater, and after responding to a question she had about gauge I realized it was the same sweater I had just bought yarn for, the Agatha cardigan.  So, we're doing a knit along, and inviting anyone who's interested to join in.  I'll have a link to the Flickr group up soon, where we'll post our photos, and where anyone else making the sweater can post theirs as well.  This is my first blogged sweater (and my first KAL), but I recently made Aidez and the Carnaby Street Pullover, so if you have any technical questions feel free to ask! 

Here are my swatches, all blocked and dry now:

3x1 ribbing swatch

Agatha Swatch 3
Lace panel 2 swatch

I had to go down to a size 5 needle to get gauge, but the fabric feels good - sturdy, but not stiff.  I knit both of the gauge swatches to twice the size specified by the pattern, to help with accurate measuring.
The yarn is Berroco Vintage, a 50% acrylic (I know, I know), 40% wool, 10% nylon blend.  I like it- it definitely doesn't have that plasticy acrylic feel to it like some yarns.  The label says machine washable, but I have not had good experiences with so-called "washable" yarns, so I will definitely be hand washing.  Maybe I'll toss my swatch in the washing machine to see what happens though.  The color in the photos is pretty accurate, though in real life its a teensy bit more cranberry-like.

I'm so excited about the sweater; not only is it going to be way more fun to have at least one person to knit along with (thanks Lauren!) but I know that I'll get a ton of use out of it once it's done.  I wish I had the right skin tone to pull off the mustard color, but I definitely do not (I have to make myself a mustard skirt and bag to make up for the lack of mustard dresses and tops in my life...).  Red will still be good though.

In sewing news, I've been working away on my corduroy dress.  It snowed yesterday (FINALLY!), so it's a great time to work on a project and be cozy inside.  Do you have the kind of weather this weekend that gives you an excuse to laze around with your projects all day?

And, sadly, my laptop harddrive has bit the dust, without any sort of warning.  Don't you hate it when they're so inconsiderate like that? Of course I always intended to back everything up and didn't actually do it... anyway, my boyfriend lets me use his when he doesn't need it, so hopefully this won't disrupt blogging too much.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sleeve Saga

I'm plugging away at my Anthropologie-inspired corduroy dress (see this post), and much of my time over the weekend was spent on the sleeve.  I admit to leaving multiple dresses sleeveless because the sleeve offered by the pattern did not work for me, and I either tried to adjust it and it just didn't work, or I just figured I could go without.  But, feeling emboldened by such a successful sleeve in my Jalie shirt, and armed with my resolution to make muslins this year, I decided to put some real work into the sleeve for this dress.  I feel pretty silly calling this a saga, when Sunni recently made a bazillion muslins to tackle a dress fitting issue.  But relative to my usual cross my fingers, sew it up, fix what I can and call it a day, that's what it's been.

I mentioned before that I had already completed a mild-failure version 1 of this dress (I'll show you version 1 vs. take 2 when it's done!).  The sleeves were too wide, so I took them in at the seam.  But the real problem, which I couldn't fix, was that the armholes came down too far.  I had trouble lifting my arms, and I couldn't fit a coat comfortably over the dress! Not acceptable.

The armscye from Butterick 5030 is on the bottom; Simplicity 4171 (the original pattern) is on top.
So, I took out the original pattern I used (Simplicity 4171, with a full skirt and a modified neckline), a Butterick wrap dress pattern (B5030, size 10), and the shirt pattern from Sew U (size S) for a comparison.  The difference in armscye and sleeve cap shapes was crazy! Even though the Simplicity pattern is labeled as the smallest, the armscye came down an inch lower than the other patterns.

Sew U on the left, Simplicity on the right.
The sleeve cap difference was similarly insane.  There were 2" of sleeve cap ease in the Simplicity pattern, versus 1" in the Sew U pattern.  They looked completely different.

So, in a brave (aka blindly hopeful) move, I brought the bottom of the armscye up about 3/4", folded out all of the sleeve cap ease, and made up a muslin.  Which got me this.

There were diagonal wrinkles, it felt tight, and it was, mostly, worse than the original.  So, I made a cut across the top of the sleeve cap (with the muslin still on... this is how impatient I am).  And, voila! Most of the wrinkles disappeared.

I adjusted my sleeve pattern, adding back about 1" of ease to the cap.  I compared the adjusted sleeve to the Butterick sleeve, and they were nearly identical except for the Butterick being slightly slimmer.
Butterick on the bottom, sleeve #2 with 1" ease added
So with the Butterick sleeve, I ended up with this improved version (on the right):

Sleeve #2 on the left, Sleeve #3 on the right.
Now, it may not look different to you, but I could move! There are still a couple of wrinkles, but I'm adding 1cm to the armscye at the shoulder, which, according to various internets research, may help.  (No, I'm not making another muslin.  I think the wearable muslin (what I'm calling Failure #1) and this one were enough progress for me, don't you? Muslins are magic, but I have my limits!)

I'm secretly (or not so secretly) jealous of people like Jessica at Stitchy Witch, who often successfully removes all of the ease from her sleeve caps.  Maybe I'll figure it out next time, but for now I'm sticking with my 1" of ease.  I have the corduroy cut out, and I've started sewing it up.  Hopefully I'll have a dress to show you soon! One that isn't a bodice only, with a large rip in the shoulder.  Not a good look for me.

What do you think about muslins? Are you as impatient as me? Do you skip them? Begrudgingly make them? Or love them and see them as part of the process for a good finished product?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The 80-cent earmuffs

Winter seems to have finally arrived in NYC.  And this knitter sadly found herself without a hat that covered her ears.  Tired of hat hair from hats that didn't even keep my ears warm, I stitched up some earmuffs last night.

With my Jalie tie-neck blouse, blogged in this post

The only thing I had to buy for these was felt, which rang up to a grand total of 80 cents! Everything else I had already: an old headband from H&M, yarn, and needlepoint canvas.  
The all important question, of course, is do they work? 

I am happy to report that I wore them out to brunch this morning, and my ears stayed warm! If there's enough interest, I'll write up a little tutorial for these.  So, let me know if you'd like to make your own! If you don't knit but still want to make your own, I have plenty of ideas for other versions, no knitting skills required!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Easy Peasy

If only all of my sewing experiments turned out so well...

Pattern: Self-drafted (or, on-the-fly cutting with fingers crossed)
Fabric: Probably polyester sweater knit, from P&S Fabrics on Broadway.  

This dress was originally inspired by this dress from Modcloth:

The shawl collar looked so cozy! But after seeing the dress on actual humans, I wasn't in love with the way it sat.  So I knocked-off the rest of the dress and did a wide scoop neck instead.

The trim is two tubes of fabric, twisted and hand-stitched along the neckline.  I stabilized the back of the neck with velvet ribbon and my twin needle (a new love!).  I shirred the waist.  It was my first time shirring, and definitely not my last.  It's like magic.  Or, you know, elastic thread and a few straight lines.  

And, since this is, after all, a sewing and knitting (and other things) blog, a knitted cowl for your viewing pleasure:

Pattern: Cast on something like 70 stitches, and knit round and round until I was out of yarn.
Yarn: Karabella Margrite Bulky, 2 balls.  It was horribly splitty, but very soft.  

The cowl makes up for the missing shawl collar, and it's nice to have a pop of color.  I'm not big on pink usually, but I love this berry color.

And now for the three day weekend! Three day weekends were made for sewing, in my opinion.  I'm going to delve into take two of my corduroy dress project, and try to stop by a fabric store for some muslin.  I don't have any right now, and it's so hard not to jump headfirst into cutting my good fabric!
Do you have any big sewing plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pacing myself. Maybe.

Image Source

I'm a planner at heart.  Knowing what is going to happen during the day, the week, the year is important to me.  With crafts, though, and especially sewing, this all seems to go out the window.  I see a pattern, and if I'm excited enough about it, I buy it.  But by the time I have fabric and a pattern, I start to feel less enthused about the pattern, wonder if there's a better use for the fabric, and before you know it, I've spent two hours looking for inspiration and a better pattern online, and then the night is over and I have no crafty-ness to show for it! Knitting tends to work the same way.  I think I need a new way to shop.  One pattern at a time, perhaps? Are you as wishy-washy as me?

I'm trying to remedy this by planning just a few projects at a time.  (And blogging.  You can't have a crafts blog without FOs, right?)  I have about 20 patterns that I'd love to sew up right now, if I had a spare $600, a month off of work, and 3 clones.  Since I'm stuck with just me, a small fabric/yarn budget and a job (Crappers! I'm a grown-up!) here's what I'm working on for the next few weeks:

A blue corduroy shirt dress, using a few frankensteined patterns.  Inspired by the Refined Cord Dress at Anthropologie last year.
Attempt #1 of this was a mild fail, mostly due to poor fabric choice.  It was too stiff for what I wanted, but the whole time I was putting it together I just tried to convince myself that I liked the poofy look.  I do, but not with this.  So, take two coming up.  The fabric (you can find it at Fabric Mart here) is soooo soft.
If there's enough left over, I'd love to squeeze a Beignet skirt out of this as well.

A houndstooth dress.  I'm thinking about Victory Pattern's (LOVE THEM!) Chloe for this one, with black trim.  And a peter pan collar, a la Mary at Idle Fancy.  The fabric is a stretch woven, which I nabbed when Jen of grainline was giving away some of her stash.  The pattern isn't made for stretch, so I'm feeling a teensy bit apprehensive about the choice.  (See?! Wishy-washy!)

A chiffon skirt, with a black paint splat print from, sadly no longer available.  The plan is a simple gathered skirt with a ribbon waistband, lined with black rayon bemberg.

Maybe now that this is out there for the world to see, I'll feel more committed.  Or not.  Regardless, I do have a dress that just needs to be hemmed, so some sort of FO is coming soon!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Plan.

The why: I started this blog as way of tracking what I make and sharing it with the huge sewing/knitting/baking/crafting community out there.

The what: Knitting and sewing projects, completed and in-progress, plus my favorite recipes. Mostly for dessert, because that is mostly what I like. Sugar all the time.

The who:
  1. Me: I knit, I sew, I bake, I cook.  I also have a job and stuff, but that's not exactly the most exciting part of my existence.  It does mean that I can buy the things for the knitting and sewing and baking and cooking though, which is good.  
  2. My sewing machine.  Unnamed.  But new-to-me (aka refurbished) and shiny.  
The goals:
  1. The big one is to build up enough of a me-made wardrobe to participate in Self-Stitched September in a serious, nearly all of my outfit is me-made way.  
  2. Learn some patience.  As in, make muslins, don't rush it, and put it down if I'm tired or thinking anything like "who's going to notice?"
  3. Make a coat! (I have a vintage pattern I'm really excited about.)
  4. Make a good dent in my yarn stash.  My fabric stash took a serious hit about six months ago, when I didn't have a machine for a while and then moved and had to make some tough choices.  So, there isn't much fabric to stash-bust.  
The first blogged project: 

(Apologies for the crap-tastic photos... I'm going to have to find the time in the morning for pictures to avoid flash and fluorescent apartment lighting.)

Pattern: Jalie 2921, size S
Fabric: Rayon-blend jersey from  It has little arrows on it.  I squeezed this top out of 1 yard.  I think the pattern calls for 1.5 yards.

This was my first successful knits project (yay!), due in no small part to my new machine.  Before I made this, I made a stitch sampler of every stitch my machine will do.  This was soooo helpful, and now I can refer to it whenever I need to see what a stitch will look like.  I ended up using a stretch stitch that finished the edge and made a stretchy seam.  This was also my first time using a twin needle.  I love how my hems look!

I made a few small changes to the pattern:

  • Took off about 3-4" at the hem, but turned up less than called for.  It's the perfect length to wear with pants (I hate tops that are too long.)
  • Shorter sleeves.  This was mostly due to not having enough fabric, though I think that the pattern's 3/4 length sleeve would have been too long on me.  I'm not thrilled with where they sit now--I'll probably take them up an inch, to get away from the awkward length.
  • Longer ties: I added about 4 inches on each side of the ties.  I would only add 3 inches next time.
  • Smaller seam allowance: I took a smaller seam allowance on all seams, using my overedge foot as a guide. This probably made the pattern about half a size larger overall.  I'm happy with the fit overall, especially in the shoulders, but next time I'll adjust the seam allowance everywhere except the shoulders.
I'm definitely going to make more of these tops, and at least one dress version.  It's a great pattern, with an interesting construction that gives you a neat, invisible way to attach the scarf.  

Until next time!