Posted in sewing

Finally. A White Singer Featherweight.

Over the summer a neighbor posted on the community listserv that she was destashing fabric as she prepared for a move. Never one to turn down fabric, I went over for a wee looksie. Turns out she’d been a one-time reader of my blog (pre-graduate school) and collected vintage sewing machines.

And, then she showed me this:

I immediately began trying to figure out if I could talk her into selling it to me. She wasn’t particularly interested in selling. And I was a motivated buyer. I knew I was leaving my job soon and finally merging bank accounts with my husband. So, now was the time to spend money any way I wanted. Plus, it was literally in my backyard. I kind of felt like it was meant to be mine.

Now, despite being lucky enough to buy ¬†a black singer Featherweight¬†in 2009, I’ve *always* wanted a white one. But, they were too far away and too expensive.

Short version: it took about two months of gentle prodding, prying and begging emails before she put a price on it. And, I took it. Happily.

Meet my squad.

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It’s a 3/4 sized ¬†Kenmore 1040 (Kenny, acquired in 2007) , my main machine a Bernina 830 (acquired 2013). My new-to-me white Singer Featherweight and my black Singer Featherweight. I just realized that each of those machines has a sewing community connection! How cool is that?

The first project I decided to make with¬†my new machine was a ¬†random carrying tote and sewing pad. So, very crafty of me, eh? I’m not prone to craft projects. But, I was housesitting the weekend I bought it and thought would be a fun thing to do that didn’t require my full sewing room. The pattern is available from The Singer Featherweight Shop.

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My fabric is a fun Dutch postal fabric I bought while in Amsterdam on our honeymoon three years ago. I think I thought I was going to make shower curtains from it. Then realized I wasn’t going to make a shower curtain from anything.

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To be funny, I decided to line it with orange fabric. Because, Netherlands = House of Orange. Get it? I often amuse myself with totally nerdy stuff.

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There’s one piece I didn’t finish, the folding bed cover for storage. I may or may not get around to it. For now, I have the unfinished piece just sitting there, heh.

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I am officially the cat lady of sewing machines.

Posted in Machine Knitting

Brooklyn Tweed Roslyn Raglan Tunic Dress

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It seems I’m all knitting, all the time these days, eh? That’s because it’s cooled down here in the mid Atlantic¬†and after years of sweater lust, I can finally have wonderful knitted clothes. Plus, I spent the last two years working in a jeans and sweatshirt environment and desperately need winter clothes.

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My friend Veronik Avery¬†¬†¬†(SHAMELESS NAME DROP) designed the Brooklyn Tweed Roslyn. Roslyn is a raglan style dress / tunic with a 2×2 rib turtleneck. I’ll be upfront here. I know I don’t look my best in¬†turtlenecks, I have my mother’s short neck and rounder face and I’m busty.¬†Logic¬†and fashion dictate¬†I should wear deep Vs and wraps — and they look great on me.¬†But, I love my neck being nice and toasty and cannot resist¬†their siren song.

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Veronik ¬†designed a really lovely, classically styled tunic with beautiful proportions. I was worried I wasn’t lithe enough to pull it off. But, wanted to give it a try anyway. I used the schematics from the pattern to draft this in Garment Designer. The only change I made was taking in the lower thigh area after completing the top. I always err on the side of more side seam room for my lower thighs. Yet, tend to look better when I flatten the curve there a bit. And, after¬†one day of wear, I took in the hip / thigh area another four inches after the yarn stretched (must get better at picking the right yarn for a project).

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My right sleeve is really stretched out because I accidentally put my head through it one day instead of the neck. My head is significantly bigger than my arm.

Sweater dresses remind me so much of 80s¬†elementary school! I was all about the geometric sweater dress and stirup leggings. I remember getting that outfit for Christmas and couldn’t wait to show up on the first day back at school from break.

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While this can be work with leggings or tights, I think I’m sticking with leggings. I’m open to opinions though on if this is a good length for me or if I should go shorter or longer in my next iteration. I’m generally terrible deciding on proportions.

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I knit a sport gauge weight yarn in Cranberry from Bartlett Yarns on my standard bed machine. I thought I was going to have to hand knit my ribbing too. But, it turns out I just needed to use a massive amount of weights to prevent the ribbing from jamming on my machine. I like the yarn fine. It’s pretty affordable for 100% wool. It was a nice hand and an almost rustic look. I did find the yarn a little thin in some parts. But, it comes coned which is a huge benefit to me!

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I’ll likely make Roslyn¬†again with a crew or a V neck (or reduce the height of the turtleneck from 9 inches to at least six). I’ve already edited my draft to take out a bit of ease and accommodate for the stretch of wool (it’s supposed to have 4 inches of ease).

I love this tunic! I wear it a legitimate two times a week. It’s prefect for winter. Feels festive and on trend at the same time.

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I’m currently on a crafting break. After raking about 20 bags of leaves, knitting a few pairs of socks, some scarves for my aunts and not wearing my hand brace AT ALL, my ¬†wrist tendonitis has flared back up ūüėß. So, I’m nursing it for a few weeks (hand brace, heat, ibuprofen) to let it heal correctly. Might be time to get caught up on my reading!

Posted in Machine Knitting

Brooklyn Tweed Corvid Coat

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I’m so excited to share this sweater with you. Why? Well, to start, I’m¬†utterly in love with it. It’s the first time I’ve been able to take a commercial pattern and knit it on my machine. The Corvid Coat from Brooklyn Tweed conveniently has a schematic so I could use¬†Garment Designer to draft the design and produce a machine pattern for me. Also, it appears they hired my reincarnated self to model the design….

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A few changes (and flaws), well, one big one. The collar and lower front extension¬†on the original is in cartridge rib. I think the closest approximation my ribber does to this is fisherman’s rib. But, because I hadn’t done it before and requires tucking – which I also haven’t done before- I just made a 2×2 rib. But, don’t fear. I plan to make this in a cream Corriedale¬†yarn I bought last year and will do fisherman’s rib then.

 

 

The flaw: my collar isn’t ¬†wide enough. If you look at the original design, it flips back on itself and still looks about the same width as the lower ribbing. I read the directions to be five inches in width. But, I got it wrong. When I make this again, I’ll widen the collar to 8 to 10 inches and lengthen the collar a few inches (I accidentally made mine a few inches short).

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The sleeves are also snug on me (although now that I’ve worn it around, they have loosened up). Which I could clearly see when I drafted it in Garment Designer. But, I decided to go with the exact provided measurements instead of, oh, you know using the software I own that allows me to customize fit.

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Because the Corvid is mostly straight stockinette, this knit very quickly with whole swaths of simple¬†knitting (no increases or decreases). I knit¬†this on my bulky Brother 270 (new to me this summer) ¬†in a sport weight yarn from Bartlett yarns¬†that I picked up at Maryland Sheep and Wool¬†this year.¬†¬†This weight yarn probably knits best on a mid-gauge machine. I knit this on Tension 1 (which the lower the number, the tighter the tension). I’m also so sad now I’m going to miss MDSW in 2017. We have two weddings in May. One of them in NY during MDSW.

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I am not 100 percent happy with the ribbing.Before blocking, it had a nice beefy hand and great definition. But, post wet block, the 2×2 rib looks a bit flat along the front hem. I’m not sure if that’s a product of the yarn or the Tension 0 I knit it on (again, the bulky machine isn’t ideal for a sport weight yarn). So, for the collar and lower front extension, I used steam to give the ribbing a final block. ¬†I know that a lot of people hand knit the ribbing and add it to the machine. But, I have really bad tendinitis in my hands that prevent me from hand knitting.

Due to the width of the back and lower rib, I did have to knit¬†them in sections and seam them together.¬†But, I think it’s really hard to tell unless you’re looking.

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Any who, if you can’t tell, I AM FEELING MYSELF. I am so happy to have a REAL sweater made from REAL wool that I made. It’s EXACTLY why I wanted to try machine knitting.

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And, I get to wear it during the fall!

What’s next… a good question. I’m kind of swamped with work the next few weeks. I quit my 9 to 5 back in July and have had a (miraculous) steady ¬†stream of consulting work since then. It’s been extremely liberating. But, not nearly the amount of time I thought I would have with my sewing and knitting. ¬†When¬†things calm down in November, ¬†I’m thinking of either¬†Brooklyn Tweed’s¬†¬†Brighton¬†with a diamond shape tuck stitch¬†or the lovely raglan sleeve¬†Roslyn¬†(both designed by my friend Veronik). But, seriously, at some point I need to start holiday gifts….

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Somewhat more technical notes on my Ravelry page

Posted in Machine Knitting

Sweet Like Carmel Cardi

Way back in May I decided to knit a summer sweater based on the¬†Carmel sweater by Isabell Kraemer. I love most anything with stripes and ¬†decided to make this my third knit garment. ¬†It’s been knit over 1900 times! Over the summer it became a UFO when I was short green yarn and needed to order more. And, then I was entirely distracted sewing tee shirts and work out pants.

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Now, at the beginning of fall, I decided to pick it back up again. It’s a ‘summer’ sweater because the yarn is a¬† DK weight, linen/ silk blend from Colourmart and provides zero warmth. I knit all of it including the ribbing on my Brother 830, a standard bed knitting machine.

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The Carmel pattern is a written pattern (no schematic) only. And, I don’t really read knitting. So, I made a bunch of guesses about the dimensions and drafted away in Garment Designer. For this, I went with the cardigan in¬†a basic shape, boat neckline and 3/4 tapered sleeves.

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If I were to knit it again, I would knit a round neckline, contoured (more fitted) bodice, raise the armhole and keep the sleeves and length as originally drafted. I’d also pick colors¬†with a higher contrast. The colors here are fine. But, I’d love something with a bit more contrast.

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I really learned a lot from knitting this. I had to figure out where my color changes would be, picking the right tension for the ribbing, using my linker to seam the garment and just how very much I hate weaving in ends.

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I borrowed this hat pin from my friend Liz. And, will be on the lookout for some of my own!

Ravelry notes here

My next knitting project is the Corvid Coat from Brooklyn Tweed. I’ve already started it on my bulky knitting machine using a sport weight yarn I bought a Maryland Sheep and Wool. Maybe I can get this one done while it’s still fall!

Posted in sewing

All the Fashion in the Western Reserve

My dearest childhood friend Stephanie lives in Youngstown, Ohio. We met back when our families were stationed in Germany during middle school. She has three great kids and a full time job so we don’t get to see each other too often. She’s just a five hour drive away so¬†Jordan and I took the long Labor Day weekend for a mini break in the Western Reserve. As per usual, I managed to squeeze in as much sewing / fashion related stuff as humanly possible. Since this is a long post with many, many photos, I’ll just help you along here here and let you jump to the parts that might interest you most. I was lucky enough to spend time looking at quilts and knitting at the¬†The Canfield Fair, fabulous performance costumes at¬†the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame¬†and checking out the amazing costume collection at¬†the Kent State Museum.

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Sewing Machine Tractor. Of course.

When Stephanie suggested the¬†Canfield Fair for our Friday plans I was all about it. And, not just in¬†for the deep fried cheese curds.¬† The¬†Canfield Fair is the largest County Fair in the country! I went online and saw they had quilting exhibits in addition to hand and machine knitting. There was fashion sewing too, but I didn’t grab any photos of those.

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While there were just a few items that were machine and hand knit, I was BLOWN away by the gorgeous hand and machine made quilts on display.
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After we left Youngstown, Jordan and I headed up to Cleveland for the remainder of the weekend. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was top of our list.

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As per usual, I beelined for the costume display.

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Oh, Queen Bey. Why did I recognize every single one of the seven costumes on display?

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Also, I totally want to be a Supreme.

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On Sunday, we drove an hour outside of Cleveland to¬†Kent State University¬†so I could see a few of the current exhibitions from their museum’s costume collection.

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Closing this weekend in the incredible Flapper Style: 1920s Fashion. Holy beaded beauty. Flapper Style is a wonderful collection of period pieces. The 40 pieces (mostly dresses and hats) are grouped by themes of Romanticism, Art Deco, Exoticism and Abstraction. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Following the incredible Flapper Style, I went to view the Fashion Timeline exhibit which does a remarkable job of tying fashion to current events. From the advent of fabric production to the invention and adoption of the sewing machine, fashion is tied together.

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They started with the mid¬†1700s and wrapped up with the mid 1960s (You can see the interactive timeline here). As I’ve noted before, I have very mixed emotions when it comes to vintage clothes. For me, it’s important to not look at¬†the amazing fashion of the past and idealize what were¬†generally crappy times for people of color and women. I love fashion and costumes and can deeply appreciate the clothes for what they are. But, it’s odd to stand around and admire an antebellum dress that was afforded on the backs of¬†¬†slave labor (says the girl who holds Gone With the Wind and To Kill a Mockingbird up as her favorite books of all time). Or, love the ¬†details in a dress from the 50s and 60s and not think about the massive violation of civil rights in America. ¬†That said, the exhibit does a good job of noting the¬†part of¬†¬†our history¬†that made fashion possible, like the invention of the cotton gin. ¬†Or, acknowledging that women in the work place influenced and changed style very quickly.

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Here are a few of the pieces from the collection that really spoke to me.

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The final exhibition I saw was Fashion Designs of Southern Africa. While I was originally most excited about this new exhibit, I was underwhelmed in person. Perhaps it’s because I’m admittedly not familiar with designers from Southern Africa.But, I found the selections underwhelming with not enough context.

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So, that wraps up all the ways I turned our mini break into my fashion tour of the Western Reserve :-). If you can make it to Kent State I highly recommend you visit their compact but well curated costume¬†museum. And, if you’re at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, give yourself plenty of time. I could have spent hours and hours in there. We also did a bunch of other touristy stuff including walking and biking tours that I very much enjoyed. I can tell you for sure though, Cleveland absolutely rocks!