Posted in sewing

You Say Tallis. I say Tallit. We say Talliot.

Every fall at the Jewish high holidays I think, “I should sew Jordan a prayer shawl.” Then, it quickly leaves my head and I move on to something else more fun.

#goingtothetemple #ubudorbust #ubud #indonesia #batuantemple #wanderlust #travelgram #instatravel

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In Bali w. Stephanie

So, last year when my friend Stephanie (who I traveled to Bali with) said her son was going to be a bar mitzvah in 2017, I volunteered to sew him a tallit as a test run for Jordan’s eventual prayer shawl.

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I suggested Stephanie ask her dad for an old necktie that we could use for the neckband (attarah). We thought it would be a nice way to represent and connect the generations for years to come. Using that tie Jeannie and I picked out silk dupioni for the color blocking at the prayer shawl while we were in New York before Christmas. Due to my extremely bum hand at the time, Stephanie and her daughter came over and did all the fabric cutting with my guidance. So, all I really had to do was sew!

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I’m sorry I don’t have any construction photos. I swore I took a slew of them and even posted on Instagram while in progress. But, I can’t find any of them now. So, this post is more for posterity than instruction!

I used this link for ideas about sizing — bearing in mind he would need to use this as as adult too. And, they are reform so not super observant / religious so it didn’t need to be very long or wide. The main fabric came from my stash. A nice beefy off white wool with a faint plaid pattern. The tie was an all bias, massive PITA to deconstruct and work with. But, the sheen is beautiful and goes well with the silk. For anyone attempting this project, I used the eyelet template from my Singer buttonholer in the corners. Make interfacing and a walking foot your friend.

Stephanie ordered and tied the corner strings (tzizit) using a YouTube video.

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Overall it was a satisfying project. And, I’m glad it helped me be part of such a big occasion for their family.  Stephanie and I hope this becomes an heirloom that he will wear on his wedding day and perhaps even pass on to his son.

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At the bar mitzvah party with Stephanie wearing Burdastyle 12-2010 #102 I made back in 2013.

I wish I had sewn one for Jordan for our wedding! But, it didn’t even occur to me that I could sew one. He borrowed his dad’s for our wedding and isn’t sure where his is from his bar mitzvah. When he goes to services he uses the loaners at the synagogue. We actually have his great-grandather’s prayer shawl framed in our guest room.  So, I figure I have another five months before sewing one up for him too.

Posted in Machine Knitting

Ravello Sweater

My goal in 2017 is to knit all year round. I was a bit knitted out after all the pink hats for the Women’s March on Washington and Jordan’s letterman sweater. When I returned to my machine in March I found myself making a lot of rookie mistakes. The best way to avoid skill slide I suspect is to knit all year.

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Organic Cotton Plus reached out to me in January about possibly partnering on a blog post. The fact is I don’t partner on posts, test patterns or sew for other people because I don’t like deadlines. So, I immediately wrote back to say thank you for asking but I have enough fabric and I hate sewing under deadline. Except my email bounced back to me. So, I went on their website to get a correct email address. While poking around I saw they had yarn. And, I thought, “Oh! Do you now?”

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Needless to say, my new email to them said I’d be delighted to partner if I could use one of the naturally dyed wools from their website,  if it was possible to get enough for a sweater and if I could wait until March before posting anything  (I was in the middle of Jordan’s letterman sweater, I desperately needed to sew jeans, I promised to sew a prayer shawl for a bar mitzvah and I was wrapping up an on-site consulting gig so I knew I just didn’t have a bunch of extra time). This timeline and the yarn worked for them, so GAME ON.

I selected the worsted weight wool in Natural, Deep Black and Indigo to knit the Ravello Sweater from Isabelle Kramer.  The yarn comes in hanks with a “Sustainable Stitches” label.

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Organic Cotton Plus uses waste material from plants to dye their yarns. The leftover waste from the dyeing process is biodegradable. Compost and irrigation water is used to grow dye, medicinal plants and food crops for the Indian families in India involved in the dye group. Now, as an all-electric car driving, home composting, and soon to be urban gardener (#GrowFoodNotGrass) this warmed my liberal snowflake heart.

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I wash and wet block all the pieces of my garments before I seam them up. Sometimes it’s because the yarn comes oiled (glides through the machine easier). But, mostly I find a nice block makes seaming a million times easier as the yarn has relaxed and it’s in the right shape. The yarn has beautiful stitch definition. And, when made up on my Brother 270 (a bulky gauge machine) it really looks like a hand knit!  Also, the natural dye process is ever so slightly uneven in the way that hand-dyed yarns are. So, it didn’t look commercially made which I also really like.

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So, I was hopeful that when I did my first wet block I’d be able to get rid of some of the dye transfer I’d noticed in the garment. The Deep Black  in particular gives off a light dust when wound in to cakes and run through the machine. I also noticed there was color transfer to my hands from working with yarn. I reached out to Organic Cotton Plus about the amount of dust and dye transfer. They let me know that I received a first run of the product and have enacted better quality control to eliminate this problem.

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The second issue I had with the yarn were my blacks are two different dye lots. Now, I only noticed this after the first wash. Organic Cotton Plus does say that their vegetable dyed yarn may not be as colorfast as traditional chemical dyes and can fade ‘over time’. So, I think I have two dye batches vs the quality of the color.  But, like the dye transfer/ crocking  I see, no one else seems to notice.

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After washing, I could see that the smudgy coloring I’d noticed was still there. And, overall the natural cream was a bit dingier and I could see that the blue also bled a bit. Now, this could all be chalked up to using such extremely different colors in one garment, something I will probably be hesitant to try again. But, I would definitely NOT recommend it with a black or a non-chemical dye that has a higher chance of running.

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Would you like to talk about the elephant in the room otherwise known as my neckline? So, I wanted to try an i-cord trim for the neckline. I found two helpful videos from

Susan Guagliumi

and Diana Sullivan

and got to work. Unfortunately, the i-cord bindoff didn’t work perfectly for me. And, you know what? That’s ok. It’s my first time trying it. It’s not perfect. Heck, it’s not even acceptable. But, I did it. And, I’ll do it better next time. This is a casual sweater that I won’t be wearing to business meetings and I’m okay with how it looks.

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Now, the conclusion to this long tale. I attempted to use some dye color remover. The dinginess of the yarn really bothered me. And, as Jeanne pointed out it made it look like there were mistake where there weren’t. So, I used some dye remover, with hot water in the hand wash cycle of my machine and the entire sweater shrank to a size unwearable by me. While I’m a little sad to not have it in my wardrobe, I have a friend who I think will love it. And, the excess *did* come out. But, lesson learned. Even if the directions say start with hot water, maybe start with cold and wash it by hand. And, I did love this sweater on me so I’ll be reattempting it soon.

Posted in sewing

Red Wool Trench Skirt: Burdastyle 8-2009-107

If you know my preferred clothing style even a little bit, you know that throwing some trench / military details is the way to my heart.

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So, when this sweet trench skirt came out in 2009 I immediately knew I was going to make it someday. I cut this out back in late summer 2015 from a  beautiful gifted red wool left over from my Parisenne dress. It has a teeny bit of stretch and a nice flowy hand.

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I am admittedly out of Burdastyle practice because the directions left me confounded. Oh how I hate when people complain about Burda directions. Yet here I was not making hide nor tail of the instructions in front of me. Luckily, YouSewGirl had photo details of her pockets and Handmade By Carolyn provided an interior shot of her skirt so I was able to muddle though.

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It feels like I haven’t sewn a woven in AGES. It felt really good to work with a nice fabric and get those incredible sharp seams from a good pressing.

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Sizing: I sewed a 42 grading out to a 46 at the lower thigh.

Pattern Changes:

I extended the front facing and waistline facing by 2.5 inches based on reviews.

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I made my pockets way, way too big. I read a complaint on PR that the pockets were too small. So, I drew a new pocket based on my hand size. Well, that same pocket is now sewn into the front of the skirt due to the top stitching and extended facing. So, I have NO pocket.

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Sewing randomness:

I utilized my blind hemmer rather than a visible hem with top stitching

I did use top stitching thread when topstitching called for — setting up my Singer Featherweight for main sewing and my Bernina 830 for topstitching because my edge stitching foot is the bomb. But, I’ll be the first to admit that this tone on tone red top stitching isn’t really popping.

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I paired this skirt with a turtleneck I sewed up in 2013. Thank goodness for knits, eh?  Buttonholes sewn with my Singer buttonholer. I have got to stop hoarding these. I made a step towards letting go by giving one to a friend last year. Baby steps. Buttons were sewn on using my buttonhole foot from Bernina. Built in shank, baby!

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The pattern calls for sewing a belt and belt loops. I ended up leaving them off which takes away some of the trenchiness of said trench skirt. When I make this again in a nice khaki I’ll definitely add it back in.

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Thanks to Liz for taking photos (she’s wearing an old RTW silk dress of mine I gave her). This mural is “Welcome to Baltimore” and shows different neighborhoods and attractions in the City. We illegally parked and whipped these out in 10 mins.

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And since we were so rushed we totally forgot to take photos of the back 😂.

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Posted in sewing

Lingerie / Athletic Manufacturer Warehouse Sale This Weekend

ETA: as of Feb 9 the sale is postponed. New date TBA. But, probably on a a Friday based on the cancellation email.

 

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Remember the local manufacturer warehouse sale where I’ve bought laces, elastics, athletic and outdoor fabrics for $1 to $2 a yard? Well, it’s baaaacccck. Slated for Saturday, February 11 starting at 8 am. I will be there when the doors open with a coffee in hand. I’m helping a friend sew a tallit (prayer shawl) for her son’s bar mitzvah that day.

I finished this Isabell bra from Sewy last night from Fashion Unlimited laces. It looks phenomenal on.  I have no recollection where the main fabric is from. I took 1/2 inch out from the band and it fits perfectly! I have a second one coming up in a stiffer powernet. So, I’m adding back in that 1/2 inch and hoping the cups will cover :-D.

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From the 2013 sale I made up the red jacket in 2013 above. I first found them back in 2011 in a quest for someone else to make nice buttonholes on my clothes.


 

The Maryland Historical Society (headquartered in Baltimore, natch) has several textile related lectures this year. I hope to make it to a few. And, their annual gala ($$$) will feature the fashion collection of the Historical Society. We might go to the afterparty for younger (less affluent) people.   Two years ago they exhibited jewelry from Wallis Simpson.

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So, that’s some local fiberly things I know about.

Oh, Jeannie and I have talked about starting a machine knitting group. If you might be interested let me know. We think there has to be more than two of us locally.

 

ETA: as of Feb 9 the sale is postponed. New date TBA. But, probably on a a Friday based on the cancellation email

Posted in Machine Knitting

Vintage Varsity Letterman Sweater

I love the Tweed Rides and Seersucker Socials that take place in Washington DC. Participants dress in vintage inspired clothing and ride bicycles around Washington. It’s the ultimate hipster American thing and despite not having gone for a few years, I kind of love everything about it. When I first met Jordan I asked if he’d ever go with me and he gave a flat ‘no’. But, when I showed him a now discontinued Abercrombie University of Michigan varsity style sweater, he said if he had that, he’d go.

Well, grab your craft beer and vanity monocle, Jordan. Because we’re going on a hipster bike ride.
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I decided to knit this sweater for Jordan’s birthday. The cardigan is drafted to his measurements using Garment Designer (which drafts for both sewing and knitting). I have found GD to have more ease than I prefer so I used the minimum ease option and tapered sleeves in the design.  I think the fit through the torso is okay. And, I’m very happy with the length of the bodice. Where I failed, is that I’ve never made a sloper for Jordan from the program like I did for myself. I just assumed since mine fit so well off the bat his would be the same.

I can’t say that’s true. I found the sleeves on this to be about two inches too wide and three inches too long.** ETA: It looks like I added length to the ‘long’ sleeve. When I can pin him down, I’ll remeasure his bicep.

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The back neck also gaped pretty badly. So much so I that I machine sewed in two darts. This is a guess as I’ve never done this before: But, I think the neckbands are usually done in ribbing which has a lot of stretch and would pull the neckline in to the body. The plain stockinette bands should probably have been shortrowed  around the back to add curvature. And / or I should have wet blocked some shaping in to them prior to applying them to the cardigan.  If I were to make a stockinette neckband the same way, I would short row around the neck to snug up the fit. But, if you have other ideas, I’m all ears!

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Speaking of the neckband, I didn’t knit in buttonholes. I didn’t know what buttons I was going to use and wasn’t sure about placement since I was just knitting a doublewide band to length. So, I decided to machine sew the buttonholes after I bought buttons locally.

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I think the shoulders hit about the the right place too. Maybe move them in 1/4 inch. The back waist is a little large, but nothing some short rows (darts) couldn’t fix in the future. I also made a machine knit hem. Which I’ve actually never done before! But, when I looked up vintage style sweaters online, I saw they used hems rather than ribbing for the bottom.

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Now, the yarn… oy. The yarn. I first bought the Cascade 220 Superwash. I read reviews for it online after purchasing and the reviews weren’t great. I thought I can make this work! I couldn’t. The yarn haloed (got fuzzy) and had a weird feel. I had to frog the first piece of sweater I knit and the yarn got super ratty and wouldn’t easily unravel. I decided life was too short and I could make hats from the leftover blue. So, I ditched that yarn  for a lambswool from Colourmart and kept the daffodil color from Cascade fro the Michigan Maize.

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I ordered the Michigan M  and the ’13 (the year he graduated law school) from Sunshine Chenille on Etsy.  The M is perfect, I love the quality of the patches. But, unfortunately, the colors kind of clash. The M is more of a gold and the yellow I used is a pale butter color. But, I’ve decided to live with it and the other flaws.

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This was also the first time I knit pockets. It felt like magic! And, like sewing welt pockets. I knit these in 1×1 rib. I don’t LOVE them. But, I like that I was able to make them.

Overall Jordan likes his sweater! And, he’s asked for more cardigans. Because, he’s really an old man inside a 29 year old frame 😀

I think this is the fifth garment I’ve machine knit? I tried several new-to-me techniques (pockets, hems, cardigan, sewing buttonholes on a sweater knit). I also learned a bit more about fit and how to best use my design software. So, it’s a win for me despite some issues.  And, hopefully I’ll continue to improve!

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We took photos at the City Dock in Annapolis today where we met his parents for brunch. This naval officer coat was his Hanukkah gift in 2015. It’s heavy wool, resists rain and American made (and is apparently missing a button). I love it on him.