My favorite knits of yore

Phew, this blogging stuff is hard work! Not only do I have to make things, but I have to photograph AND write about them.  Sorry for the radio silence! I actually have been sewing, but it took me until this weekend to get some photos. (I also took a little sewing-related field trip, also yet to be blogged–stay tuned!) In the meantime, I started this post about some of my favorite knits, so I figured I’ll finish this one and save the sewing for blog-fodder later in the week. Patience!

These are almost exclusively baby knits, mostly because projects for babies are small, just like my attention span for any given project, and because in general when I’m knitting for a baby I have a deadline, unlike when I’m knitting for myself. My UFO collection is seriously impressive, but that’s another post for another time (or perhaps a crafty resolution?). Anyway, without further ado, here are some of my favorite knitted makes ever:

Benji’s cabled sweater

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This was a great project I made up in some Debbie Bliss Aran weight Cashmerino. I love that yarn so much. The pattern is from Melanie Falick’s great book Knitting for Baby. Here’s a close up of the hippo buttons (squeal!) and some of the cabling:

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Given that this baby (my cousin’s) is now in kindergarten, it’s not a very recent project! I’ve entertained making it again for many a baby, but I always get distracted by the glut of amazing baby projects on my list.

Ada’s knitted hoodie

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This pattern comes from my newest baby knitting obsession, Vintage Baby Knits by Kristen Rengren. Seriously, I cannot say enough about how much I love this book. I want to knit everything in it. Some lucky lady will be the recipient of this sweater, and another this dress (seriously, I love lace). And the ducky onsie? The cat sweater set? I just can’t. The first project I chose from the book was the Audrey Hoodie. I have some actual action shots of said baby wearing said sweater, but decided to keep little Ada anonymous. Needless to say, it’s even cuter on! This was also my first go at a crocheted shell stitch edging, which turned out well, though I omitted it on the sleeves because they were already really long. I made it up out of another teal Debbie Bliss yarn, this one a cotton (don’t remember which one). Another glamour shot:

Leo’s pirate sweater

More baby sweaters! Let’s make it a trifecta. Though apparently I never uploaded photos of this to Flickr, so you’ll have to go take a look-see on Ravelry. This was my first intarsia project, and a super fun make for my med school classmate’s baby (so also a few years ago!). I’ve never actually seen it on the baby, but I bet it was stinking cute! More Debbie Bliss yarn, this one was Rialto. The pattern is from the precious book Adorable Knits for Tots by Zoe Mellor. This post is really revealing my baby knitting book obsession!

Faux Isle Hat

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Finally, something I knit up for myself! As the above baby knit bonanza shows, I rarely knit for myself. Or rather, I rarely finish things I start knitting for myself. But this hat, THIS hat is one of my favorite projects ever. It’s became my go-to winter topper, gets a ton of compliments, and it was so quick and easy. I don’t even remember what the white yarn was, and all I know about the rainbow is that it’s some kind of Noro. I’ve thought many times about making another, but am always worried I won’t recapture the magic, so I haven’t yet. (Aside: Does this happen to anyone else?)

The Fuzzy Bunnies

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Here’s something I have dared to recreate (shocker, more baby stuff): the bunny pattern from the Lovable Toys collection in Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson. If there has ever been a knitting book whose aesthetic I would like to appropriate into my everyday life (okay, that’s a pretty specific superlative, but still) it’s this one. And this bunny is the first thing I knitted from it. First I made the above fuzzy bunny for the baby of one of my medical school instructors. Then I made a second one for my sister by request. It’s pretty much too cute to be believed and I love it. Next time, the elephant?

Anyway, I have a few new projects in the works (and a TON of UFOs hanging out in my crafting closet), so look for more knitting posts in the near future!

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Sara’s Fall Sewing School

All around the internets, it seems that people are talking about their fall sewing plans, so I figured I’d join in. I’m not sure how autumnal most of these projects are (though who can blame me with today’s 97 degree temperatures?!), in part because I spent all summer making a mental catalog of all the things I wanted to sew, and I have quite a backlog!

So instead of focusing on sewing for the season, I’ve selected these projects based on two principles: things I’d like to wear, and things I’d like to learn. With these two guiding principles in mind, I think I’ve come up with a sewing plan that will keep me busy for the next few months, teach me a ton, and spruce up the old wardrobe. Let’s check out the list, shall we? We shall!

Lesson 1: Dotty chambray tank dress

The fabric: Dotty Robert Kaufman Union Chambray

The pattern: M6744 (except with the racerback), view B (c) McCall’s

This is probably the most summery (summeriest?) project in the works, given its very lightweight fabric and racerback cut. But it’s also the closest to being ready to wear this Indian summer, with the pattern traced and cut out. Instead of the narrow hem in the pattern, I’m planning on finishing the neck and arm holes/racerback with bias tape facing. I’m also thinking of adding a faux button placket to add some interest to the front.

Skills to be practiced: so much bias tape facing, making my own bias tape

Lesson 2: Mo’ chambray, no problem shirt dress

The fabric: RK Union Chambray in slub indigo

The pattern: M6520, view A (c) McCall’s

Can you tell I’ve been on a bit of a chambray kick? I’m planning on making up view A (or maybe B if I choose to embrace the season) in this Robert Kaufman slub chambray. My biggest concern is it might turn into a bit of a sack given the relative lack of fitting, but I like the shirttail hem and open neckline, so I’m going for it!

Skills to be practiced: buttonholes!

Lesson 3: Parenthetical potpourri skirt

The fabric: Anna Maria Horner field study linen/cotton blend

I’d been drooling over this fabric for months, but it wasn’t until I saw this skirt (which I could not love more) in the Hawthorn sew-a-long contest, that I knew I had to make it mine. I’m still undecided on what pattern to use, though I have two main ideas. One is a slightly less full version of Tilly’s Picnic Blanket skirt, which would be more buttonhole practice and keep the waistband element of the inspiration skirt. The other idea I had was to do an A-line with a few interesting design details, like this number with a fly front and contoured waistband:

The pattern: M6361, view D (also, what’s with her bracelet?!?) (c) McCall’s

I have to say, this doesn’t seem to be the most modern cut, a suspicion confirmed by reading some reviews of the pattern, but I think that if I lower the waist by an inch or two it should update this classic design a good bit. Will certainly be making a muslin for this!

Skills to be practiced: either more buttonholes or a fly front with zipper insertion

Lesson 4: Sorbetto fitting school

The pattern: Colette Pattern’s Sorbetto (c) Colette Patterns

I’ve already made two sorbetto tanks (yet to be blogged) in two different sizes, and neither of them fit. Woes. I gave up in a fit of pique. I knew enough to know what I needed to solve the problem: a full bust adjustment. But I just got overwhelmed at the mere thought. So before I make more garments that are fitted through bust, I know that I must embrace the FBA. With its simple construction and just one dart , I figure the Sorbetto is a great place to start. I’ve bought Kathleen Cheetham’s Adjust the Bust class on Craftsy and a few fun Lisette cotton voiles on clearance at Joann’s, so once I get my nerve up, I’m ready to go!

Skills to be practiced: did I mention I need to embrace the full bust adjustment?

Final exam: Fabric TBD Traveler dress

The pattern: Lisette Traveler dress (S2246), view A, (c) Liesl and Co, Inc.

I have a passion for a good shirtdress (see lesson 2), and this one is no exception. In fact, this is the first sewing pattern I ever bought, and I think it will be such a wearable garment for me. It will also be a nice place to bring together the skills I’ll have practiced in the earlier projects, especially those buttonholes and fit adjustments. I have a few fabrics in my stash that would work, but I may also pick something totally different that says fall. An excuse for more fabric shopping!

And there you have it! A solid, if ambitious, plan for sewing and learning. And there are so many ideas that didn’t make it into this list. We’ll just have to see if I stick with it or if other projects make their way in (I’m sure they will).

How about you? Any suggestions for great, wearable patterns for building sewing skills?

My denim Meringue skirt

Hi there, friends! Here I am to cap off a fantastic weekend with a post about my favorite project yet, the Meringue skirt from the Colette Sewing Handbook. Besides the clear and thoughtful instruction on so many sewing techniques, it was this pattern that made me want to buy the book in the first place, and I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

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Slightly sassy pose for a slightly sassy skirt! I made this up in a very lightweight dark denim I found at G Street Fabrics in Rockville. I have a more traditional denim skirt that is one of my go-to bottoms, so I thought a denim Meringue would be a great workhorse addition to my wardrobe. The casual fabric, classic lines, and show-stealing hem detail combine for a skirt I can easily see myself wearing for work or play (or for walking awkwardly towards the camera in an off-center roof deck photo shoot):

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In terms of construction details, the pattern was simple but interesting to make up, with great instructions. This is the first time I’ve made a muslin, which ended up fitting quite well (or well enough for me…), so no adjustments. If I were to make another, I might grade down a few sizes from the hip line to the hem for less of an A-line, as I’ve really noticed looking at these pictures that the skirt is fuller than what I imagined while making it. Overall, though, I like the shape and fit, displayed here in the bum view for your viewing pleasure.

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As for of changes to the pattern, I did add a lining, because the fabric is a bit thin, and I think it makes the final piece a lot more fun. It’s a deep purple rayon Bemberg I picked up at Joann’s, and while it was not as difficult to work with as I thought it might be, I did manage to cut the hem very crookedly and a bit shorter than I meant to. Oops.

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Hello, toes! Anyway, I cut the lining pieces from the skirt body pattern and then trimmed them down to account for the waist facing and the scalloped hem, but my changes at the lower end in particular were somewhat…lacking in precision. At least the lining covers where the hem facing is attached to the skirt body (where there is some excellent and well camouflaged catch stitching, if I do say so myself). I scoured the internet for how-to’s on lining the Meringue skirt and saw a number of linings that were attached to both the waist and hem facing, which I didn’t totally love; I ended up deciding to attach the lining to the bottom of the waist facing but leave it free at the bottom hem, which I think was the right choice.

I was a little nervous about the scalloped hem, but in the end, going slowly sewing the curves and grading my seams well made for relatively easy work. This mini scallop tutorial from Tilly was also really helpful. I didn’t get any photos that I think totally do the hem justice, but here’s my best effort:

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I was also more nervous than I needed to be about sewing the lining to the invisible zipper; I didn’t hand sew anything on the zipper, but it still looks neat enough to me. My only issue there is that the facing/lining seams don’t line up on either side of the zip, but I think that’s more a feature of uneven cutting on the facing than the installation of the zipper itself.

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Excuse the evidence of my ineffectual ironing on these lining photos. The inside photos were taking after wearing the skirt for a day, and that lining wrinkles like nobody’s business.

Phew, that’s a lot of writing about one little skirt! But it’s been an exciting project for me, and one that makes me feel like this whole “sewing clothes I like and will actually wear” thing might actually work out. Fingers crossed!

Feels like the first time…

Because it is! The first time I’ve sewed a dress, that is. And here she is in all her glory:

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Some of you will likely recognize this as the Staple Dress. My obsessive/thorough reading of the sewing blogs this summer turned me on to this dress, a beautiful and relatively simple pattern by April Rhodes that seemed to be sweeping the internets. I, too, was swept away, and decided to make it one of my first projects ever. I made it up in a fun cotton voile by Anna Maria Horner I got on sale (hurray for savings!).

I actually LOVE the way it looks on the hanger, and I learned lots from making it: pockets, shirring, and adding this kind of narrow facing at the neckline and sleeves. I could feel myself improving with each step of the pattern construction, which was pretty exciting. Plus, who doesn’t love a high-low hem! Actually on my body, though, I have to admit I don’t love it quite as much.

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Issue 1 is a pretty big one, which is I don’t think this style and fit are totally flattering on me. The bust has no shaping, and while bust adjustments (which I assume are in my future as I start to make more fitted garments) intimidate me, it definitely creates some fitting issues. Exhibit A for the prosecution:

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I’m most irritated by that little bit of pulling across the middle of the bust and the extra fabric at the armpits. I think I also could have used a little more width at the hips. I knew this at the outset but decided to go for it anyway without any pattern adjustments because I thought going a size up would have resulted in more of a shirred-waist mumu, and I was too lazy to make an adjustment of my own.

Issue 2 is the positioning of the stripes. I will say that I think I did a good job of centering the stripes, and I like the chevron effect at the hip and the stripe placement on the arms. But in retrospect, I think that centering the more dense purple stripes would have been a better choice, and I wouldn’t have these bright pink stripes running down my behind. Exhibit B:

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(Excuse my facial expression, which is saying “camera timer, you still workin’ over there?”) The stripe down the butt really is straight IRL, but I think the twist here shows the unfortunate ways it can distort while being worn. Oh well, live and learn. And I certainly learned that getting a printed fabric straight and aligned well is just as important as thinking about where the elements of the print will fall on the body!

Issue 3 is that the insides are not so pretty, but that I can live with (it’s my secret, shh), and assume it will get better with time and practice.

All in all, though, I think things are off to a pretty good start for my first wearable finished garment ever, and so I’ll leave you with a final photo that highlights my favorite features of the dress: the hem, the pockets, and the neat chevron at the side seams. Looking forward to sharing more makes with you!

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I made a bag!

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First things first for this first real post: apparently I need to claim my blog on Bloglovin’ so you, my (currently imaginary) readers can follow me. So click and follow away!

Now let’s get down to business. Back in June, I ordered this kit to make the Everyday Tote from Purl Bee. The kit comes with some duck canvas, chambray for contrast, webbing, and, most importantly, neon bias binding. Friends, I am really and truly obsessed with Purl Bee, and this is a beautiful kit.

As it happened, this practical tote became my first “up until the wee hours sewing, sleep is for the weak, must finish this project” project. And here’s the finished product (photographed just this weekend after two months of toting and beach trips):

My everyday tote, well loved

My everyday tote, well loved

I think this photo is teaching me that this blog will document lots of learning about sewing, but some learning about photography, too. Bear with my mediocre photos!

Here are the beautiful neon pink insides, my first adventure into bias binding:

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And finally, here’s a side view, because I ended up pretty proud of how everything lined up (pats self on back):

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I must admit, like all the beautiful things at Purl, this kit was not cheap, but it was a fun and easy project, and the result is something I really love using, in contrast to my other early projects (pajama pants and an elastic waist skirt in a novelty fabric that will forever remain unblogged, *shudder*).

Anyhoodle, that’s it for post number 2. Watch this space for a full report on my first real foray into apparel sewing!

Hello, friends!

Welcome to my new blog! Long-time knitter, first-time* sewist here, eagerly setting out into the online crafting community. Allow me to introduce myself! I spent my childhood dabbling in many a craft (basket weaving, jewelry making, cross-stitching, balloon animals, you name it) until settling on knitting after graduating college. Never satisfied with just one crafty hobby, I entertained starting to sew and quilt many times, going so far as asking for (and receiving, thanks, parents!) a sewing machine for Christmas over five years ago. But several moves and a lost foot pedal later, all I had was a very dusty and non-functional sewing machine.

That is, until fate stepped in, in the form of a well timed trip to London this spring. There I stumbled upon episode 2 of The Great British Sewing Bee, the single greatest reality TV program of all time. I will brook no argument to the contrary. If you’ve been living under a rock and missed this sewing sensation, stop reading and start watching; it’s on YouTube. I loved how the program focused on the technical skill of the contestants and the craft of sewing. I wanted to befriend everyone on that show. I wanted to have tea with them between challenges and rifle through their wall of fabrics and haberdashery and have that delightful 40s music be the soundtrack for my life.

I got home from vacation, mainlined all four hours of TGBSB in one epic YouTube marathon, ordered a new foot pedal, and set out to learn how to sew. Since then, I’ve been following a LOT of sewing blogs, and after some close reading I’ve realized that some of my favorite bloggers, like Tilly and Ginger Makes started as beginners, so I thought why not give it a go and start a blog of my own. I intermittently get tragically busy with work, but I realized this year that having more creative outlets in my life makes me a happier person. So, hopefully busy or not, this blog will support my goal of doing more sewing and knitting with the time I have. Excited to get started!

*Okay, first-time is not 100% true. I did have a brief sewing career in my middle school years, punctuated by two weeks of sewing camp at G Street Fabrics where I made a fully lined vest, the height of fashion for teens and tweens in the mid-nineties (here’s incontrovertible proof, I cued it up for you), and as much Home Ec as they’d let me take. But seeing as that was (gulp) approximately 17 years ago, I’m going to consider myself a newbie.