Posted in Life, Machine Knitting

Craftivism and a Tendonitis Update

It’s not often (read: under duress  and rare circumstances) I make things for other people. I am more than happy to give away clothes I’ve sewn that don’t work for me. But, straight making things from scratch for others — pretty much only happens for Linus and Jordan (and in that order).

That should help you understand my absolute commitment to and love for my friends when I tell you I (with Jeannie’s help) knit 28 Pussy Hats for them to wear to the Women’s March on Washington last weekend.

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I never questioned whether or not I was going to attend the DC March. It was a natural reflection and intersection of my beliefs and politics. When I first read about the Pussy Hat project and saw it was easily adaptable to the knitting machine, I was hit with one thought, “I will knit these for my friends“.

So, I just posted a quick note on Facebook offering to knit hats at cost thinking I’d get a couple of replies. I was gobsmacked by the response. I heard from middle school friends I knew in Germany, high school friends living in Denmark,Spain and San Diego, college friends from LA and Spain, coworkers, most of my amazing and irreplaceable bookclub, Jordan’s bosses, Jordan’s former bosses and more.

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Now, God bless Jeannie. A few weeks after I offered to knit these hats my tendonitis started flaring up.  And, just when Jordan reminded me that I’d essentially entered into a contract with a lot of people (LOL)  Jeannie sent me a note and told me — not asked. But, told me, “I’m knitting hats for you”.  The sense of relief!

Let me tell you this. Walking down to the DC March and seeing scores of pink hats was an overwhelming feeling. I’m a very practical person and have previously thought the idea of craftivism a bit of an eye roll. But, it was visually impactful to see a united sea of pink. This Esquire article does a great job of discussing the historical intersection between fashion and politics.

During the day, as friends started posting photos on social media during and after the March I got all the feels. I was so happy to see the people in my life who support the same causes as I do and irrevocably touched to see them wearing hats made for them.

I wore mine out the night after the March to dinner. The owner of the restaurant shook my hand and said, ‘Thank you’.  A group at the bar nodded, smiled and told me they liked my hat as Jordan and I walked through the restaurant. It was a very long and emotional day and these small acts nearly had me in tears. It also helped me understand the impact of uniformity in a time of disruption.

I wore it in the weeks leading up to the march and I noticed as we got closer women started to smile at me, now after the march strangers are talking to me. Its a powerful thing to see people on the street and know you’re connected.

I read an article that noted that the there are three symbols of the march that are important because they took time, thought and planning, signs, the hats and clear bags. Nearly every woman (and many men)had all three of these things and it brought all 500,000 people together regardless of their skin color, background or religious choice.

— Renee’s friend Liz


Now, for my tendonitis. Thank you so much for your responses and suggestions on my last post about this. I saw a hand specialist at the hospital last Tuesday. It’s still tendonitis. I’d been afraid I might have carpal tunnel too. The doctor administered a cortisone shot to my wrist and my hand hurt like hell for two days (totally normal). Now, the wrist and thumb pain I was experiencing  has gone away.  I can type  with capital letters again! I can use scissors again!  It’s a week later and despite these improvements, my grip is super weak still. I can’t really hold a needle, cut with a knife, hold on to something for an extended period of time or type on my cell phone without problems. But, I feel like I’m on the mend overall. I’m giving it another week to see if my grip improves. I do miss lifting weights :-/ I mean, not really. I hate exercise but like the results.  Heh.


Whew. This post is so long! To wrap up, I’m currently knitting Jordan’s birthday present. It’s a varsity style letterman’s sweater. I have a whole Pinterest board with inspiration if you’re interested. Hopefully that’s what my next post is about 😀

Posted in sewing

Letting Go: Burdastyle Magazine

I received postcard notification a few weeks ago that my Burdastyle subscription was up for renewal. And, I shrugged. Like, straight raised my shoulders up to my ears and shrugged.  Which told me it was time to let my Burdastyle subscription lapse. Grab a small cuppa and I’ll tell you why.

When I first started buying  BWOF (as I still like to refer to it)  ten years ago I was drawn in by the plethora and diversity of patterns delivered every month to my door.  I had a ready archive any time I wanted to sew. The patterns fit my then C cup well (ok, I was probably bigger than a C cup but the rest of me was skinny and I could cram myself into a 38 with no problem). They were easy to modify if need be and not that hard to trace. The patterns were unique and interesting and looks I did not see reflected in the pattern cabinets at my local Joanns.

Back then, you got 30 patterns in the ‘straight’ sizes alone in addition to kids and plus. Now, you get maybe 15 patterns in straight sizes with the addition of plus and kids. There were multiple items in each issue I wanted to sew IMMEDIATELY. Now, I see one or two things that I think I’ll get to at some point.

I once loved nothing more than coming home to a new BWOF, pouring a glass of wine and thumbing through the latest issue. But, I don’t do that anymore. BWOF disappoints me more often than not. I DESPISE the condensed pattern pages but understand why they needed to do so. I understand simplifying the patterns because people want quicker and easier. But, I don’t like that one pattern is repeated two or three times. I don’t like the shapeless look that is better suited for straighter figures or smaller busts which look terrible on me, Captain of Team Busty Hourglass.

The truth is, I also don’t sew as much I used to. And, not because I knit more now. But, because I sewed waaay more when I was single. I also spent two years working in a very casual work environment where jeans and tees were the norm. Now in the last six months I don’t go into an office every day (more like two to three times a week) so I just don’t need as many clothes as I used to.

Finally, I *have * that archive of patterns. I have ten years of BWOF,  25 years of Big Four and a few years of some indie designers I haven’t even gotten to yet. So, the last thing I need are more patterns that don’t make me happy  when there are ten year old items I still think about sewing.

I’d be happy to give BWOF my $90 each year to support the industry. But, I barely look through it anymore and it feels wasteful at this point.  And, if I ever really want to sew something they have, I can download it from Burdastyle or beg someone to borrow a copy.

I’ll still buy their vintage editions because they are the bomb diggity.

So, I’m letting go and trying a trial separation. Have any of you decided to break up with Burdastyle?

Posted in sewing

Beyonce Magic For New Years: Hot Patterns Cosmopolitan in Silk Jersey

Last year we went to dinner for New Year’s Eve at the Prime Rib. It’s a jacket required steak place where Jordan proposed. We had 9 pm dinner reservations and I was dozing at the table by 11. We left early and I was asleep on the sofa before the ball dropped. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

This year we got together with friends to go to a restaurant on top of a museum with a view of the fireworks at the Inner Harbor. I needed something to wear and was about to buy a dress. Then, remembered I have a ROOM FULL OF FABRIC and sewed instead. I binged on The Crown and decided to go all out vintage with a mink hat and cashmere opera coat (and lashes. I’m now ‘Team Lashes’ for going out). Barbara pointed out on IG I needed pearls and she’s right! I don’t know why I didn’t think to put some on.

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This  silk jersey version of the Hot Patterns Cosmopolitan is a bit of a dream project for me. But, sadly a semi fail. I first got this idea from Erica B’s blog like ten years ago. She showcased the Michael Kors dress the pattern is modeled after. And, in 2015 I found the right color jersey at Mood in New York.

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I made a few design changes to the original pattern (I’ve made it about eight times over the years). For the neckline, I did modify it a bit to be a U shape similar to the Michael Kor’s inspo dress. But, it’s too wide and D shape still (I keep altering it a little bit each time)  :-/ I also did an exposed neckline facing based on these directions from Gigi’s old blog, but it’s not done neatly and kind of wonky. Instead of the button cuffs as drafted, I made a simple in-the-round cuff to model the inspiration dress.

I also wish the facing was maybe 1.5 inches vs 1 inch wide. It was a really easy technique that I’d done before on a silk jersey blouse. I think I gave that top to Liz because I no longer have it :-/ I was a little too busty for it.

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I also meant to make a slip to wear with the dress. But, did some hand finishing on knitting and destroyed my wrist (a recurring theme) and couldn’t cut out a slip when it was time.

The seams are left raw inside and I used my blind hemmer to make the hem. And, i should mention… when I was deciding on the neckline dip, I held the patten up to me to make sure it was as low as possible without showing cleavage. So, yay me!

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You’ll see that it’s also tied at the back. I should have doubled the length of the waist ties so it  could wrap around and come to the front with some ‘hang’. I made note of this before and I might actually resew the straps.

So, overall it’s a totally fine dress. It’s a little bit of an expensive venture for me not to be 100% in love with it. But, I do like it a lot. And, can see myself trying again (I’ve already altered the neckline). And, I still had something fun to wear for New Year’s Eve!


 

My Bernina 830 was in the shop for a few weeks. I took it in because I could hear the belts slipping and it wouldn’t sew very sporadically. They tuned it up and replaced the foot pedal. I’ve always sewed on it on full speed. It never occurred to me it should sew slower if I didn’t push the pedal as hard. I’ve never really believed in machine servicing, only if it’s say ‘broken’. Otherwise, I figure you can oil and maintain yourself. But, I have to admit it’s sewing much better.

Posted in sewing

How Do You Measure A Year?

Once upon a time I measured my sewing year in garments made. I haven’t done that the last three years because I not only slowed down my sewing, I wasn’t always motivated or able to get photos of what I sewed. But, I’ve been doing a lot of fun domestic travel that isn’t always documented here.  The lovely thing about traveling and meeting sewing friends is they become real life friends that you talk, text and chat with about all the things. So, I thought it might be fun to measure my year in sewing internet friends as told by Instagram  😀

In April, we hosted Melissa of Fehr Trade and her husband James. She bought Linus THE GREATEST tee shirt ever. Seriously. How cute is he? It’s my favorite shirt for him.

Melissa muled from the UK macaroons to me from Dibs, brought amazing chocolates, beer, cider and even store brand chocolate I asked for (because I remembered eating them visiting family in London as a kid).

While sad to see her go, we were able to pull together a little sewing meet up while she was in town.

I’m often asked about Trena, The Slapdash Sewist who hasn’t updated her blog in over a year. Well, she’s doing great. She hasn’t blogged for a while because she wants a new computer to make things easier and she got married in September 2015. She’s updating her computer at some point where she’ll be able to blog again. And, I’ve been prodding her to at least get on Instagram. If you can imagine, 2017 is our Ten Year Friendversary. Can you believe it? We met through Pattern Review and really are best friends. Crazy. We’ve been trying to decide what to do to celebrate out Friendversary. And, I think we’ve settled on a weekend in Minneapolis this summer for SR Harris fabric shopping. Oh, and she didn’t make her dress below. We found it on the first dress outing. It’s sold at BHLDN as a bridesmaid’s dress. She did make her hat though and she was stunning. My dress is one I had made in China years ago.

 

For my 40th birthday in April, we went to Santa Fe, New Mexico for a week. Conveniently, a friend owns a second home there so it was an easy trip.  While getting off and on Route 66 in Albuquerque, I got to meet and have have fun drinks with with Nancy  from Sew West. I’ve known her for what feels like forever through PatternReview and blogging.

 

This year I’ve made two very dear dear  friends through sewing and this blog. First is Jeannie who authored the 365 Dresses blog. I get a little vaklempt when I type this: Jeannie is amazing. She doles our knitting, career and getting along with your remarried parent advice and doesn’t get tired of talking about any of it. I think I text or email her a minimum of six times a week. Even when she was in Paris! I just treated her like an old school Pen Pal — held captive by my demands for a response. We went to New York in early December and Maryland Sheep and Wool over the summer. And, because she’s here in Baltimore it’s so easy for us to make plans together.  Jeannie has truly been a bright spot in this year. And, it feels kind of miraculous to know her. I mean, what are the odds I’d meet an experienced machine knitter less than five miles from me that I *like*? She’s a true friend and I can’t believe how lucky I am to have her in my life.

 

At MDSW, I also got to meet knitting phenom Dana from Yards of Happiness. She’s also owner of the cutest pair of chihuahuas ever and knits for them regularly. You may remember her from her old blog, The Art of Accessories — which gave me life. As noted here many a time, I can’t accessorize to save my life. I miss that blog, Dana.

 

Later in May, Dibs came in from Londontown! She did not have macaroons with her, lol. Dibs was warm and HILARIOUS. She promised to visit every time she’s in Maryland. Lucky for me, she has family here.

 

In June, I got to meet Jasika from Try Curious. I’d been following her on Instagram and reading her blog for about a year and I was obsessed with her personality. Like, would talk about her to Jordan as though I knew her.  When she had a trip to New York planned, I took the bus up to hang out with she and Marcy for the day. It was one of the best dates I’ve had this year. I’m happy to tell you that she’s *exactly*  who she presents herself to be. She’s got a sharp wit, a beautiful spirit, nuanced reasoning and a true sense of herself. The US presidential election was really really rough on me. Who am I kidding. It’s *still* rough. But, a tiny bright spot was getting a note from Jasika the day after checking in on us.  Without having talked about the election, she knew I’d feel like the world I knew was closing in on me.  She may have also mailed cookies at Christmas that we managed to eat in less than 12 hours. We have no shame in the Rosensamuelfeld house. Seriously though, ALL THE HEART EMOJIS for Jasika.

 

Found two things I was looking for in the #garmentdistrict: @jasikaistrycurious and Ankara swim fabric

A post shared by Renee (@missceliespants) on

 

We wrapped up the 2016 Internet Sewing Friends Tour with a trip to Kansas City. Jordan’s college roommate lives there and we went to visit he and his fiancé. Jordan is no longer surprised when I tell him I ‘know’ someone in random parts of the country. In KC, I got to   meet with Mel and Ody who I knew from Pattern Review back when I joined in 2002. They were so kind! They took me all over town! Zoolee’s Fabrics was closed when I was there. But, I ended up ordering some really great lingerie sewing notions from her online.  I was really interested in seeing how Fabric Recycles worked too.  I didnt’ get a lot of photos. But, I think if you sew it’s worth checking out. Not for the fabric. But, for the vintage and modern notions. I bought a pressing mit, Japanese made walking foot, a Jean-a-jig, and vintage Fur tags. And, it was all for a song.

 

 

If you’re wondering where is next… I’m not sure! We’ve noodled going to Boston for a long weekend this year. But, we’re really saving for a big trip to the west coast in January 2018 for Jordan’s milestone birthday. We don’t know if we’re starting in Seattle / Portland or further  south. But, the plan is to take two weeks to drive the coast and definitely hit Los Angeles and San Francisco where Jordan’s brother lives. If anyone has done this, I’m totally open to suggestions.

We *are* going to Chicago in March to see Hamilton and I’m planning on checking out  the Mainbocher exhibit at the history museum.

There’s also a big family reunion on my mother’s side of the family in Carriacou, Grenada. I think I might go this summer for a few weeks. I hear there’s internet on the island now so I may not be bored totally out of my mind!

** I obviously need to make more tops. Am I wearing that green Burda top in 75% of the photos?  And, the jeans are unblogged Jalies. The coat is Butterick 6224 and the red sweater is a 2012 Burda.

Posted in sewing

Sewy Isabelle Bra or Random Complaints About My Chronic Disorganization

I’m not the neatest person (massive understatement. i am a huge slob). A few years ago I couldn’t place my hands on my Rebecca bra pattern from German pattern maker Sewy. I decided to re-order the pattern and of course, my original turned up a few months later.

Last month, after spending a small fortune on RTW bras, I decided it was time to make my own again after a three year hiatus. I started tracing my Rebecca bra in my new size (75G vs 70G) only to discover I’m missing half the pattern. Not just half the pattern, I’m missing BOTH page twos of my pattern. I’m so annoyed with myself. But, after stewing about it all night, I just couldn’t bring myself to order a third copy. That Europe to US shipping is no joke.

Solution: take a stab at my Isabell bra from Sewy instead. I’ve had the pattern for two years and a fabulous English translation thanks to reader Marianne. I made a plea for help and she offered to translate it.

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Anywho, back to the pattern. I can’t even show this on my dressform because my dressform back is wider than mine and not as malleable.

I guesstimated my size in Isabell. When I made the Rebecca bra, I was a 70G. But, had to pinch out some volume from the lace cup and reduce the length of the band. At the time, I was a RTW 32F. Right now, I measure between a 34G and 36H. I can wear both, but neither comfortably. I figured going up one band size and one cup size would get me close. And, it turns out it was spot on with no further alterations.

Notions: size 44 wire (34F), findings from BraMakers Supply, fabric is scraps from this wrap dress. Lace is from a warehouse sale locally and like a $1 a yard.

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These straps were purchased in Amsterdam from Kantje Board. They are plush and wider at the center and narrow at the bottom. I only bought two but wish I’d bought a dozen!

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I’m severely out of bra sewing practice. So, my finishing isn’t nearly as neat as I would like. But, I do quite like this bra and wear it frequently.

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I’ve started a second one in beige. But, need to dye some findings to match to finish it up. Dye purchased. Just shear laziness in play.

I really hope the rest of my Rebecca pattern turns up :-/  It’s sized for non stretch lace and most of my haul from Kantjeboord two years is ago is non stretch.

Also, when checking around for reviews of Sewy Isabell, I stumbled on  Brina’s Sewing Room– a German language sewing blog – that talks about taking classes at Sewy and the store they have. Have a peek at her blog post and photos. I for sure thought Kantjeboord outside of Amsterdam must be the only store of this kind. But, based on their photos, it looks like Sewy near Colon offers the same stock.