Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A knitting interlude...

I have been so busy keeping up with inaugural events in the Netherlands over at The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor blog...just not much time to sew! Do you read this blog? I love it - all the latest on royal fashions, jewel collections, tiaras, families, and events. So interesting - great pics, lots of historical background, and very interesting commentary.

And I have been feeling a bit lazy. I was actually unwell all of January and February, March was recovery - and April has been such a nice month. Just enjoying feeling so well.

I went back and took a long look at my fuschia Weekend Retreat Cardi, the one that came out a couple sizes too big, and decided the yarn just does not work. It is a worsted weight and looks clunky. But I do love the color!

Weekend Retreat Cardi

The pattern suggests using a cotton yarn, but many knitters mentioned that the cardi weighs a ton when done in cotton. Wool and other animal fibers are out, so I looked through my acrylic stash and pulled out some grey Red Heart designer sport yarn. Much better! It's lighter, and the cardi fits nicely. On this one I added two buttonholes on the upper right side band. Liking it and will wear it in a pic soon.

The pattern is available, no cost, on Ravelry or at Lion Brand Yarns.

Ravelry has soooo many cute cardigan patterns. Here are two more I've put in my project library:

108-22 Jacket
Arianna Jacket by Universal Yarn
Today I did the cast-on for the back of the Arianna jacket, in an ivory designer sport yarn - all 156 stitches. The markers are my way of counting every 10 stitches when I'm casting on. Otherwise I would have to restart a gazillion times :-) 

Back to my knitting and a movie. I hope everyone has a nice week. Bye for now! Coco

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Butterick 5881 Katherine Tilton dress - Into the unknown

This is going to be my favorite of all patterns in the spring 2013 collections! But getting here was not an easy journey. This is Butterick 5881, a layered, multi-piece dress by Katherine Tilton. I looked everywhere for examples of the dress, because the envelope pics leave much to the imagination. What is up with the hem(s)? What is meant by a split seam? Is that center back really off center or am I looking too hard?

I Googled all over the web, and all I found were pics from the pattern envelope. Not even Tilton has  sewn and shared a version with us. So here we go - Butterick 5881!

Butterick has labelled this as an Easy pattern. Ummmm. It has 19 pieces and includes a lapped front placket, underdress with reversed seaming, applied elastic gathers, bound neckline, and pieced overdress. It is not hard...but I really don't think it's easy as in a beginner sewist will have an easy time with it!

I really like all the pieces but wanted to understand the pattern. So I decided to reconstruct the dress. I spent an entire day putting the pattern pieces together and tracing a simplified version of the dress. 

Underdress with attached skirt

Black poly/cotton broadcloth from Holly Lobby - very lightweight and smooth
Overdress with placket and back gathers (more on both below)

Fuji Afternoon Umbrellas - JoAnn Fabrics Keepsake Calico
Robert Kaufman Spot On Brown Mini Dots - Pink Chalk Fabrics

I used a faux front placket in the contrast fabric, in place of the lapped placket. I'll continue to do this - I would rather sew a bound buttonhole than do a lapped placket!

I also used the contrast fabric to form a casing for the back elastic, which I elongated by 1/2" and centered. And I only used 3 pieces of elastic, instead of 4.  
I was not at all sure about the length of this dress - underdress or overdress! The pattern was not much help. It does not have lengthen/shorten lines. 

OK, so I'm a bit over 5' 7". On the assumption that the pattern is made for someone 5'5" - 5'6" tall, I added 2" to the overdress, just below the line of the placket, front and back. And 2" to the skirt of the underdress, just below its upper edge. I purposely did not add length at the hemlines, because I did not want to add width there and throw off the lines of the dress.

Turned out well! The overdress is perfect, with a 1" hem. I ended up taking 2" off the underdress - go figure! - and again put in a 1" hem. It's not long by any means, maybe a little shorter than some of my dresses. But the dip in the right side makes it seem a little longer. I really like it - so much I twirled!

Whew! Dizzy...

All the leaves are from the mahogany trees, which switch out their foliage in April for a new outfit :-) 

I really really like this dress - so much that I have 6, yes, 6 pieces of linen blend coming into the loft in interesting (no, not pastel!) colors, so that I can sew a couple multi-piece versions. And I want to do at least 2 more in print/contrast versions. Love doing that.

Ciao! Coco

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A beautiful fabric find...George Mendoza

I'm smitten with this cotton fabric by artist George Mendoza. It is so unusual - the design just seems to move. I love the vibrant color palette and the density with which it's applied. A maxi dress for sure...

This particular design is from Mendoza's 2009 Wise Tree collection and is called River Bank in Red. It's manufactured by Westminster Fibers, under their Free Spirit brand. Free Spirit released a second collection in 2011, but Wise Tree is by far my favorite.

George Mendoza is very interesting all by himself. From Wikipedia:
At the age of fifteen, George Mendoza lost all of his central vision and 80 percent of his peripheral vision to a rare, incurable, degenerative eye disease.... After months of research, Mendoza's mother learned bright light could sometimes help those with vision problems similar to his. In 1972, hoping to help her son she moved them both from New York to Las Cruces, New Mexico. Mendoza was angry and bitter; he was a teenager who faced limitations he had never imagined. After high school graduation, Mendoza heard of the curative powers of El Santuario de ChimayĆ³ in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. He hitchhiked to the small village skeptical of a miracle cure. His vision was not restored, but Mendoza underwent a transformation in the ChimayĆ³ chapel “I’ve got bad eyes, sire, but there's nothing wrong with my heart, lungs, or my legs." With a beginning a new chapter in George Mendoza's life, he joined the track team at New Mexico State, entered marathons and in 1980, ran in the international Olympiad for the Physically Handicapped in the Netherlands. A man of vision and courage, George went on to become a world class runner, Olympic contender, author and a motivational speaker to the youth and the disabled in America. In 1993, he began to paint full-time. With the center of his view he saw what he called "kaleidoscope eyes"- intense and changing visual images of fiery suns, brightly burning eyes and colorful pinwheels. Mendoza’s paintings sprang from the loss of his eyesight and a conversation with a priest that made a major influence on his life. “Many years ago I was getting tired of the eye problems, the dancing colors would not leave me alone. He spoke to a priest who told him "paint them, make designs and pictures of them", this started the transition from a person with bad eyes to a visionary artist. George Mendoza remembers physical sight, which contributes to art and designs. His work is derived from his visual memories intertwined with dreams, visions and emotional experiences. Defying categories of art George paints figuratively and abstractly having never received formal training. 
Mendoza's artwork is stunning, and his story is compelling. PBS has produced two documentaries on his life story - hope to catch one on TV soon. And he has a website,  georgemendoza.com.

More from the collection...

I found my fabric on eBay at creativemerchandisestore.com - they shipped it the same day I ordered it! So many of the eBay shops are such a pleasure.

Bye for now! Coco

Monday, April 8, 2013

Vogue 8565 Pintucked Knit Tunic

It's a beautiful morning, clear light and a soft wind promising to bring in some clouds later in the afternoon. I love this time of day in the garden.

I finally finished a top for Faye's Essential Top Sew-Along! Thank goodness she extended it 3 days for laggards such as I. Actually, this top took much longer than I ever thought it would, even given my picky picky ways.

I've been wanting to sew this top ever since I found a pic of  SewEllen's  last year. Super cute. I sewed View B, which is tunic length like hers, but I think mine is a bit too long. Which I can fix easily enough. I did a muslin in the shorter length, but like it a little longer.

From reading reviews on Pattern Review, I knew that many sewists had run into issues with the negative ease in this top. Having a full bust, I did not hesitate - I added 5/8" to the sleeve and side seams beginning at the top of the armhole and curing in just above the natural waist. (I like the additional length on the sleeve). I also dropped the armholes 3/8" on both sides, they were just a bit high for me.

 Vogue 8584 Loose Leg Capris

My fabric is a very soft cotton jersey from Girl Charlee. It is a very fine, yarn-dyed knit - and slippery! So my Very Easy Vogue became a challenge.

I had to be careful not to let the stripes move around, and the pintucks were little beasties. Twelve parallel lines with 1/4" tucks in slippery knit. I ended up thread tracing the pleat lines through the tissue, then machine tracing those lines, and using the trace lines to form my pleats. I was wishing for some mid-weight printed jersey before I was done!

Another change I made is in the neckline finish. The pattern suggests turning the neckline to the inside for a 5/8" hem with topstitching. Noooo. I much prefer a bound neckline. Quick how-to:
  • Cut my binding width-wise across my fabric (so that the stretch goes with the length of the binding), 1/1/2" x 40".
  • Trimmed 5/8" from the neckline.
  • Sewed the binding on the outside, right sides together, with a 3/8" seam.
  • Turned the binding to the inside and stitched in the ditch on the outside. Note that the binding is turned over the 3/8" seam allowance - the seam allowance is not turned to the inside!

My staystitching across the top of the pleats was a little tight, they should be spread out a little more. I did not notice until the binding was finished - no way am I going to go back and fix it!

Great with Vogue 8859 skinny pants...

I did not even know I had a branch in my face. I could see just fine. Dodging the branch the next time...

Ciao! Coco

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Knit Maxi Skirt a la Coco

I've been so inspired by sewists who draft their own great looking knit maxi skirts - I love all the variations by Autie at iCandy Homemade,  Lizzie at Cotton and Curls has a cute skirt with an elastic band waist, and Miriam at Mad Mim has a great tutorial that includes both flared and gathered versions. Just to name a few!

Having read and sketched and calculated - a lot - I realized that a flared maxi skirt is basically the same shape as the skirt on the knit maxi dress I just finished, Kwik Sew 3703...and measuring against the pattern  tissue proved it. Good fortune!

My Kwik Sew 3703 is already modified to be super long to the floor, not ankle length. Since I know that I wear my maxi skirts at 42" from my waist, I traced a skirt pattern using the lower 45" of the dress pattern.

The extra 3" are for the waist seam and hem allowance.

For the waist, I used a yoga style band, which is simply a rectangle, folded wrong sides together, and applied to the top of the skirt. Both Autie and Miriam, in the links above, have great guides on making a yoga style waist band.

I used 2 1/2 yards of 60" wide fabric. The flare in the skirt and the need to match stripes kept me from overlapping my pattern pieces in any way. But I did get a tee shirt out of the remnants!

This skirt is super comfy to wear! Can you tell the humidity is about 100% in these pics? But I promise the skirt really is comfortable. It's a medium weight cotton jersey from Fabric Mart, with about 20% 1-way stretch. And it sews like a dream. I did everything on the serger except the hem, which is turned up, folded under, and topstitched.

Love the colors in the stripe...

which mirror many of the Pantone Spring 2013 colors in an interesting and non-floral way. Totally not by design! I just noticed this a couple days ago when Pattern Review announced its Colors of Spring contest :-)

First of many, this was fun and I feel like Columbus. Do you make 'your own' skirts? 

Ciao! Coco

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Welcome April...

Goodbye March!! It was not a successful sewing and knitting month for me. I only finished one wearable garment! Time out to whine...

I started with a major disappointment - Butterick 5854 (blogged here).

Such a cute blouse pattern, I thought it would work so well. But it really did not suit me at all.
I kept trucking on and turned to another new pattern, this one from Marci Tilton - Vogue 8876. 

I was so sure that this pattern would be wonderful that I did my muslin in my intended fabric, a cute poplin from Fabric Mart. Over 4 yards of it! Thank goodness I was able to stop before I used my Robert Kaufman mini-dot contrast fabric as well.

Wrong. This style is not simply not for me. Wadded.

Never ever ever give up. I used a heathered red french terry from my stash to sew a maxi dress using McCalls 5893... Actually, it had emerged from its pre-wash a heathered pink. aarrggh.

This became the dress that kept on growing...on the hanger, it got longer and longer and longer. And unlovely. Wadded.

At this point I went into recovery mode and pulled out my knitting needles! On Ravelry I found the Weekend Retreat Cardi - good name, yes? It's a really nice little shrug -  it's knit top-down in one piece, no seams - perfect.  

It's from Lion Brand, so you can get the free pattern download there or on Ravelry if you're interested.

Fun to knit and easy to size...but I managed to get my gauge wrong. I thought for sure that I knit 18 stitches x 24 rows on size 8 needles with the worsted weight yarn I was using. So I did not even check. 

I measured the length as I worked - but not the width, since I had so many stitches on a circular needle. And yes, my cardi is too big. 


But I will save the yarn and do it again - sensibly!

Hello April, welcome Spring! 

Bye for now, Coco