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.

IMGP0550 photo IMGP0550_zpszt51xiko.jpg

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?”

 photo IMG_20170206_204627383_medium2_zpsd62k0asc.jpg

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.

IMGP0552 photo IMGP0552_zpsrrsqnkmy.jpg

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.

 photo IMG_20170314_222844_zpszj6r4vo4.jpg

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.

 photo IMG_20170315_113048887_zpsa0ribtwx.jpg

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.

IMGP0549 photo IMGP0549_zpsq47pjuta.jpg

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.

IMGP0559 photo IMGP0559_zpsw4dewwj2.jpg

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.

IMGP0551 photo IMGP0551_zpsvmfkjeqq.jpg

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.

IMGP0556 photo IMGP0556_zpsqojgc6zc.jpg

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.

DSC_0038 photo DSC_0038_zps1iltvelc.jpg

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.

 photo -_2600x2600-ID136845-_zpstfofeiln.jpeg

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.

DSC_0007 photo DSC_0007_zpsfchpqsvi.jpg

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.

DSC_0005 photo DSC_0005_zpstjm23bzw.jpg

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.

DSC_0006 photo DSC_0006_zpshw59z0iq.jpg

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.

 photo -_2600x2600-ID136855-_zpsfszugxum.jpeg

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.

DSC_0026 photo DSC_0026_zps7tsmbmh8.jpg

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!

DSC_0052 photo DSC_0052_zpstci6waln.jpg

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.

DSC_0054 photo DSC_0054_zps0cwdnlhq.jpg

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.

DSC_0056 photo DSC_0056_zps8afbjz1l.jpg

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

DSC_0023 photo DSC_0023_zpsyz9t6ndh.jpg

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.

 photo IMG_20161231_203115_355_zpst3nlojbj.jpg

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.

 photo IMG_20161228_155624_798_zpsqymw9dhe.jpg

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.

 photo IMG_20161231_231848_876_zpsi8qgmal1.jpg

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!

 photo IMG_0592_zpsuvvnxbtt.jpg

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 Machine Knitting

Brooklyn Tweed Roslyn Raglan Tunic Dress

 photo IMGP0295_zpsa36cqtb9.jpg

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.

 photo Roslyn_01_zpsbkhqbrmk.jpg

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.

 photo IMGP0261_zpseyglcjvx.jpg

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).

 photo IMGP0270_zpszqhhelbc.jpg
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.

 photo IMGP0297_zps2qb6ygvw.jpg

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.

 photo IMGP0282_zpsdifkayqd.jpg

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!

 photo FLAT_roslyn_zps8jpcqane.jpg

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.

 photo IMGP0273_zps4yrvfwkt.jpg

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 😧. 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 sewing

Athletic Wear: Jalie 3462, Cora Leggings

You guys.

You guys.

I made leggings that did not require a full seat, full/forward/muscular/fat thigh nor a sway back adjustment.

DSC_0214 photo DSC_0214_zpsa935ypka.jpg

Don’t adjust your phone screen. What I speak is the truth. Because, the Jalie Cora Leggings are the MOTHER LOVING BUSINESS. Or magic. But, probably just really well drafted if we’re being honest. Yet, still a strong possibility of magic.

 photo 3462_zpswhitsv0c.jpg

When it comes to workout clothes, I’m a big fan of leggings. As my thighs have touched since birth, shorts give me continual chub rub and I don’t like to chafe. Leggings are my friend. I made three pairs of these and I LOVE them. They are stylish and comfotable and I felt totally hawt and fit!

Now, one bit of advice I would give should you choose to make these.  Listen is to your inner voice and DO NOT put the lightest color as the inner thigh contrast. Holy stare at my butt Batman!

DSC_0208 photo DSC_0208_zpsfs5mnwie.jpg
Eggplant, grey, teal with an eyeful of me.

After making this mistake with my first pair, I was far more judicious in my color choices with my  second and third pair – making sure to put the darker color at the center. Most of the fabric is from Suzie Spandex in Montréal – which I bought in purple, grey, black, red and blue during PR Weekend there like six years ago. What’s funny is the Jalie women were on that trip and raved about the Suziplex. The accent colors of baby blue and mint green are Supplex from Stretch House, purchased about six years ago in NY

DSC_0195 photo DSC_0195_zpsdxrljtis.jpg
Black, grey, baby blue w. reflective tape

On my second pair, I added stretchy sew-in reflective tape to the calf and pocket seams (above).  Speaking of the pocket… Do you see my iPod bulging a bit at the back below my waist? It’s a crazy great pocket. It fits my huge android phone, keys and ID too.

DSC_0157 photo DSC_0157_zps43iewvp2.jpg
Chocolate brown and mint green

Of the many many yards of athletic fabric I’ve bought including Under Armor, Nike, and general supplex this Suziplex is the best stuff I’ve ever used. And, it’s sadly no longer being made. Melissa from FehrTrade tipped me off that they weren’t selling it anymore last year and I called and placed an obscene order – tariffs and international shipping be dammed! This of course left me with some odd colors (brown, teal, burgundy, and violet). But, I do not care. I will hoard these until they are sold for a $1 a yard at my estate sale.

DSC_0193 photo DSC_0193_zpsc5ypqq31.jpg
reflective tape

I sewed a size X at the waist grading to a Z at the thigh based on my measurements. That’s it. No alterations. No special tricks. No sizing down. No topstitching the seams. I sewed this mostly mostly on my serger and used my coverstitch for the hemming.  I did add some reflective tape on two pairs for some night visibility.

I do vacillate between feeling really good with how these look on my butt to feeling like they show a lot of my butt. It’s so hurrrd being a  woman.

DSC_0170 photo DSC_0170_zpsrbdbvamm.jpg
reflective tape

That’s it. I love them. Please pardon me while I go work out. Or walk the dog. He clearly is ready to go out.