Vintage Pattern Pledge

Vintage pattern pledge

I’ve collected a few different vintage sewing patterns lately (and knitting patterns too, but that’s another story), but I’ve felt a bit intimidated about sewing them up. I hope to get a few more good contemporary patterns sewn up, so I’ve got a better idea of how things go together. The main thing about the vintage patterns that scares me is the (possible) lack of directions. Patterns today, especially the indie ones, tend to have pretty good directions, and then with the indies, you have things like sewalongs that go into SUCH DETAIL that you almost can’t go wrong. From what I can tell about vintage patterns, this is not the case.

Funny story – I’ve been so intimidated about this that I haven’t opened up any of the three patterns above!

But, I want to make use of them, so I’ve decided to join the Vintage Pattern Pledge! This is a sewalong of sorts co-hosted by Kestrel Makes and A Stitching Odessey.

My personal pledge for this year is simple: to sew up one of my vintage patterns! I have the three shown above, plus a 70s raglan-sleeved collared shirt that I can’t find right now.

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My first Archer Button Up!

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And I say ‘first’ because there will definitely be more! This is the Archer Button Up by Grainline Studios.

This was the most complicated sewing project I’d tackled, and I love the way it turned out! This was a muslin, out of some thin cotton I found at the bottom of my stash bin. It may be quilting cotton, but it is much thinner than the fabric used for my Clemence skirt.

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I sewed the size 4 exactly as written, as that is the size appropriate for my bust measurement. I’m more like a size 8 at the hips, but the pattern booklet generously has the finished garment measurements listed, so I thought I’d risk it.

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As mentioned in the Julia Cardigan post, there is a… shelf behind me for fabric to pool on. ;) It isn’t usually as bad as this photo, but it is a tiny bit snug around my hips. I was staring in the mirror, thinking about how to change this (same size, but grade to a 1/4″ seam allowance  at the bottom of the side seams? Grade the entire pattern to a larger size on bottom?) but then I thought about the length – I want to make the next one 1/2″ shorter in the body, which means the bottom of the shirt will no longer be hitting me precisely at my widest point, so I think I’ll just stick with the same size and see how that feels.

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I did all sorts of new-to-me things with this shirt! I’d never done a collar like this before – the magic of sewing the collar stand together around the button band and collar, then popping them out was as magical as turning a sock heel.

I’d never used the button hole feature on my sewing machine before, and it went quite smoothly. I got a little fancy with the button holes – most are the same taupe-y thread I used for the whole shirt but the top and bottom of the button band are bright blue.* I just trimmed the threads after doing the button holes, but most seem to be unraveling, I guess you’re supposed to tie the threads in a knot before snipping? The manual didn’t mention that, and it was so much dense sewing in the same spot, I thought it’d be ok.

I’d never used my machine to SEW ON BUTTONS! I knew that was a thing that some machines did, but I assumed it was fancier machines than my 20+-year-old Kenmore. But as I was going through the manual to figure out how to do the button holes, I noticed the button page. Luckily, I still had the darning plate (little plastic thing that covers the feed dogs) and you don’t need a special foot, so I experimented and it was amazing. My front buttons had 4 holes, and I could have done an X, but I decided on two horizontal passes instead. Either way would take 2 passes.

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I did the cuff button holes last, so I made them slightly bigger to fit the 2mm bigger matching buttons I had. All the buttons are sewn on with blue thread. All these brown shell buttons that match so well were actually cut off a button-embellished sweater that I got rid of last week!

I tried to see if I could do it just from the instructions in the booklet – for the most part I did, but it was nice to have the Archer sew-along up on my computer to fall back on as well. There is one definite mistake though: my right cuff is wrong. In the placket stage, you press the placket so one bit is on top of the other – I got that wrong, so now my right and left cuffs are the same when you look at them, not mirrored. I only noticed when I went to put it on, and couldn’t figure out why that cuff was so hard to button!

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Before I started this project, I bought myself an edge stitch foot, knowing that there’d be lots of detailed topstitching. I went to a local quilting store and asked helplessly – my machine is a Kenmore, but I’d had luck getting an invisible zipper foot from them. I ended up having to buy (so the lady said, I have no idea) an adapter and an edgestitch foot. The adapter bit has a bit of spring in it, and she said that meant I could use it with other Janome (? I think?) feet that needed the oscillation. No idea, but it worked. I’m not sure if that foot needs the movement, or if that was just the only adapter she had. Nothing was packaged, so I don’t know exactly what they are.

I am absolutely making this shirt again! I honestly can’t quite believe  I made this, even with all the little flaws. I found some lilac chambray the last time I was at Fabricland, so I think that may be my next try.

Changes for next time:

  • Sew the cuffs right. Dur.
  • Shorten the body 1/2″
  • Shorten the sleeves 1/2″
  • Make pockets smaller (1″ shorter, 1″ thinner?). These just overwhelm me, I think. If you could see past the crazy pattern.
  • The sleeves are a good size in the upper arm, but feel big on my forearms. Maybe just change that in the seam allowance? 3/4″ SA on the lower arm?

I want to try snaps at some point, but hubby and I are pretty much on a buying freeze right now, so here’s hoping I have 9 mostly-matching buttons in that button jar! This wearable muslin would actually be pretty great for Stampede week with snaps. I’m not really sure what cowboys have against buttons, but oh well.

Sewaholic just released a collared shirt pattern, and I’m torn about getting it. It has a different placket, and princess seams in the back. After taking a closer look at the storebought button ups I own, they all have those back seams. Oh well, buying freeze, so I guess it doesn’t matter!

*True story: I had planned on the bottom buttonhole being different, and it turned out I had exactly enough taupe thread to sew this whole shirt, minus that one button hole. I felt like a sewing pro. Then I found out I’d sewn the top button hole too small. I doubt I’m going to button it, but by then it was the principle of the thing, so I ripped it, and then had to sew it in blue the second time.

Finished Bronte Top

So in my last post, I was talking about the Julia cardigan I had made. Hiding under the cardigan was a much more recent finish!

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The Bronte top was in the same Pattern Parcel that the Julia pattern came in. I waffled a bit about it – I liked the idea of trying a different t-shirt pattern, but the neckline kept reminding me of baby shirts – you know, you the ones with handy extra buttons for babies’ giant heads? But this week the thought of something in simple jersey sounded like a good way to get back to the sewing machine after a holiday hiatus.

I had just gone through my fabric stash bin; I tipped everything out and refolded it, and reintroduced myself to the things I’d bought! This yellow jersey is the same vintage as my chainlink patterned knit, so about 7 years old!I have a lot of it, I think my plans must have involved a dress. Looking at it now, it isn’t really a colour I’m a fine of. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good mustard yellow, but this Easter-y colour reminded me of baby onesies again. But, I wanted to make a muslin, so I dove right in!

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The jersey feels mostly cotton-y, but is quite thin, maybe even a tissue-weight jersey? Possibly a bit thinner than called for in the pattern, but it worked out. I made the pattern exactly as printed, and while I like the length of the body, this is how long the sleeves are on me:

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It’s funny, I’m so used to sleeves like this from storebought shirts that if there isn’t bunching at my wrists, I start wondering if the sleeves are too short! Plus, the extra fabric keeps my wrists warm. I’ll probably shorten the sleeves a little before I cut it out next time though.

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I dug through my button jar to find appropriate buttons. I love having a mixed-up jumble of buttons just living in a jar! I find it quite satisfying to dump the whole thing out on the coffee table and have a sort through. Every time I do that, I find a few buttons that match, so every time I string a few more together, but the jar is still a fun jumbly mess. These 6 pearl buttons were already on a string together. I was trying to chose between a couple similar pearl options, and some grey ones. I went with the pearl, because I only had two grey, one for each side.

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I actually like this shirt enough for it to be a wearable muslin, which is great! I didn’t think the buttercup colour would grow on me this much. The thing I’m not sure how to fix is the shoulder seams. I am doing all this sewing with a regular sewing machine, so all my seams in knit projects are sewn with a 3-stitch zigzag (I find it easier to control than the regular zig zag). So I sewed the sleeve in, and trimmed down the seam allowance, but what is left doesn’t want to behave, and I can’t figure out how to press it. Even though I trimmed the allowance, the seams have thickness, because of the zigzagging. I tried to press the excess down towards the sleeve, but it just wants to be lumpy. This may be to do with the thinness of the jersey – it shows every lump and bump!

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I do have a little gripe with the pattern. The directions were great, and it was nice and easy to sew together, it was the PDF pattern that I didn’t enjoy putting together. The PDF patterns I’ve used before usually have you trim off the bottom and right-hand margin on each sheet. Then you tape them together, overlapping the edges of the pages. I find the overlap really helps in lining things up straight. This pattern has you trim the bottom and right margins off, but I eventually realized that you’re then supposed to but the edges of the paper together, not overlap them at all. The awkward part of this was that I didn’t notice this until I got to the sleeve cap, and that was the only way the lines would meet up – on the straightaway of the sleeve and body pieces, it wasn’t immediately apparent I’d done something wrong.

For storage, I feel like the patterns that have that inch-or-so overlap between each page are a little stronger. If I know I want to make the pattern again, I tape the backs of the seams of the paper too, for stability.

Have you made this one? I’m definitely going to make more!

Finished Julia Cardigan

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I just realized that I hadn’t posted about this pre-Christmas make! This is the Julia Cardigan by Mouse House Creations – I got the pattern in the Perfect Pattern Parcel I bought back in September or so.

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You’ll recognize the main body fabric from my tent-like Japanese pattern make from back in October. I bought some plain black in the same fabric, knowing I could make something with some sort of trim later.

It is a great cozy cardi pattern, I really like the shape, which is good because I’m usually quite picky about cardigans that don’t have front closures. The shawl collar keeps the draughts off my neck nicely.

Next time I make it, I may go up a size or two (or lots, for a loungey sweater!), because it hits at an odd point across my bum.

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There’s a… shelf for fabric to pool on back there.

I can pull it down, but it always rides back up again.

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It was definitely a good first go at this pattern. I love the pattern with the black trim (something about the collar makes me feel a little tuxedo-y), even though I don’t really love the fabric. It’s soft, yes, squishy, yes, but it is 100% poly-plastic-something, and I do love my natural fibres. As soon as I get a degree or two warmer, the fabric makes me feel sweaty and gross.

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In short, while I’ve been enjoying wearing the sweater (in public too, not just at home!) as soon as I find the perfect wool or cotton fabric for it, I’m making it up again and binning this one. It’s a little sad because I love the print, but maybe I’ll find something else black and white!

Trollbeads Tuesday – Night Owl Trollbeads Fantasy Necklace

Last week, I showed the two beads my husband gave me for Christmas. We’d chosen to keep the presents we gave each other small.

A few days after Christmas, we were doing some errands downtown, when he ducked into a mall, saying ‘we have to go here!’ Turns out we were in Dragon City Mall in Chinatown, and he wanted coconut buns. Who am I to refuse a bun? And who am I to refuse to go into this mall, because I knew there was a jewelry shop that carries Trollbeads! They actually had some on display in their front window, so in we went.

I’ve been coveting a fantasy necklace for a while now, but it was a bigger purchase than we’d been planning to make, so I just kept it on the list for ‘sometime later’. It was also relegated to that list because I knew that if I got one of the necklaces, I would need the Night Owl.

This shop had necklaces and Night Owls, so I tried some on for fun, and to find out what length of necklace I’d eventually want to buy. Both people in the shop were very helpful, and when the time came to totaling the price, they must’ve seen the apprehension cheapness on our faces, because they gave us a deal! The deal was so good we couldn’t refuse!

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Here’s my first creation with the Trollbeads Fantasy necklace (I ended up with the 100cm one), Night Owl, my two Christmas beads, and an Amazonite stone bead that my parents bought for my birthday last year.

FNs are really long necklaces with no clasp, just a big (100cm!) loop of chain, and a finial (I got the pearl, as you can see). There’s lots of ways to wear them – for this one I strung the beads on the chain (doubled, of course, because you can’t open the chain), then laid the chain out in a Y-shape on the table. I used a stopper bead high on each ‘arm’ of the Y, leaving about an inch of loop in front of each bead. Now I have two loops to hook together with my bracelet clasp! My husband actually liked this option best in the store, he said he liked how it looked like I’d layered two necklaces together.

I can’t wait to have more fun with this purchase! On days when I’m typing a lot, a bracelet can get in the way. Handwriting is fine, as I wear it on my left, and I’m right-handed.

Trollbeads Tuesday – Christmas 2014 bracelet

Trollbeads bracelet

Well, I’m only one day off from Tuesday, right?

My husband gave me two Trollbeads for Christmas this year, and I made up this bracelet to wear them for the first time. I have found so far that my Trollbeads style is much more eclectic than a lot of the ones I see around the internet (I follow a few people/stores on Instagram, plus Tartooful and Endangered Trolls blogs). This is mostly due to the fact that I don’t have a giant collection to pull from, and I have pretty eclectic tastes anyway. I’d say this bracelet is fairly balanced at least, and involves a lot of my favourite colours and beads.

Clockwise, from the clasp (the clasp/bracelet is the Elfbeads Treasure Chest) :

  • Trollbeads Azure Bubbles
  • Elfbeads Dragon (limited edition)
  • Trollbeads Garden Snow Christmas 2012
  • Elfbeads Giant’s Causeway
  • Trollbeads Oasis – Christmas present!
  • Trollbeads Magical Lamp – Christmas present!
  • Elfbeads Ocean Earthbead Fractal
  • Trollbeads Lucky Dragon
  • Elfbeads Ocean Earthbead Fractal
  • Trollbeads Silver Mountain
  • Trollbeads Amazonite
  • Trollbeads Jugend
  • Elfbeads Jungle Braid
  • Trollbeads Limited Edition Carved Amber
  • Trollbeads Fossils
  • Trollbeads Day 2014 bead

I had thought that I was a Trollbeads-only purist, but then Great Lakes Boutique had an amazing Elfbeads sale, and I bought 4 beads and got the bracelet, lock, and glass dragon bead for free! I think that was the only way to get the dragons. The Trollbeads I’ve bought in a few different stores – the main place I shop here in town is Suzie Q, and there are a few on here from Tartooful, from my last trip to Vancouver.

I think this Christmas I managed to communicate to my husband that these are a good go-to gift for me. ;) We were out wandering around the mall, then we split up to buy each other gifts, and I made sure to say “And are we stopping by Suzie Q, you know, the Trollbeads store, on the way home?” The wheels turned for a bit, and he said ‘Yes. Of course.’ That was fun, because we went in together and I poked at a few things I liked, and then left him to decide what to buy, so it was still a surprise. I think though, that all the Trollbeads are little works of art, and would be happy to receive whatever he thought I would like, even without my input. It’s know that someone has thought hard about you, and come up with a choice on their own, you know?

Christmas of Socks

My creation

This was the Christmas of socks!

The socks along the top of the mosaic are in order: mine, my husband’s, my dad’s, my mum’s. They’re in reverse chronological order, as I did my mum’s first, then dad’s, and then those two got packed up in a parcel and mailed off. Then I did hubby’s, and managed to finish them completely before he got home from school, so I didn’t have to do any sneaky knitting at home! My pair I started December 18th and finished on Boxing Day. All the details are on my Ravelry project pages, here is a link to a page of all the socks I’ve knit!

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And I’m extremely happy to report that everyone’s socks fit well!

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Christmas 2014

I’m really hoping to knit a good dent into my stash of sock yarn in 2015 – I finished 7 pairs in 2014, and this year I’m hoping for 12.

Craftsy Year-End Clearance!

Craftsy

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Christmas Renfrew Tee

Christmas Renfrew Tee

When I placed my first (and so far only… the shipping to Canada is killer!) Girl Charlee order this summer, I included 2 yards of this AMAZING faux-fair-isle Christmas print. It seemed a little crazy in August, but oh well. I bought 2 yards of this, and a few yards of plain white, with the plan of combining them – white sleeves or collar on something. When I finally pulled it all out, I realized that I could just fit a 3/4 sleeve cowl-neck Renfrew tee in my size (6) out of the whole 2 yards of reindeer fabric, and even do some fabric matching! (the pattern envelope says 3 yards) I cut the front & back body first by folding the selvedges in to the middle, and cutting on those two folds, then I went back to standard fold-in-half to cut the other pieces out.  I thought about which design band I wanted running across my chest – reindeer, obviously. Go big or go home!

There’s been a little detail in all the Renfrews I’ve made so far (3!) that I haven’t show on the blog. I don’t have any 1/4″ elastic or twill tape or anything to stabilize the shoulders, but I do have some pretty printed 5/8″ twill tape I bought on Etsy ages ago. I think I intended it for embellishments on greeting cards.

Christmas Renfrew Tee

My blue Renfrew has a script alphabet tape, I chose the apples for this one as they’re appropriately Christmas-y coloured.

I made sure to line up the underarms on the front and back on the same line in the pattern, and look at this side seam!
Christmas Renfrew Tee

Bam! The other side seam is funny – the Fair Isle bands line up just fine, but as the width of the pieces isn’t something I could change without affecting fit, there’s a weird two-butts-no-head reindeer. I was also pretty successful matching the sleeve caps to the body, and I even ripped one out and did it again to make it match better. Yay knits stretching where you need them to! I chose to match the band of red hearts as the main point on the sleeve caps, because (due to curves) it’ll never be all perfect.

Christmas Renfrew Tee

I also managed to cut the sleeve and hem bands so each one had a perfect row of reindeer prancing along them! I wasn’t concerned with where I cut the cowl pieces from, as it ends up all ruggledy around your neck anyway, although I wasn’t sure which way up things should be pointing. Should the inside piece be the same way up as the body pieces? I think I chose to have the outside bit the right way up, so when I pull it up to my nose and say “LOOK I MADE DIS” I’m a continuous column of reindeer stripes.

I love this season just obnoxiously enough that I will wear this multiple times, and not even only for special occasions/events. How about “it’s Thursday! Let’s wear reindeer!”?

I find it so hard to find jersey here that I probably will make more orders from Girl Charlee, I just have to work up the stomach to look at the shipping costs.

Weaving Weekend at Market Collective!

So, I know I missed Weaving Wednesday this week… I was weaving too hard!
Calgary Market Collective

Because of that my table at the Market Collective looks like this!

Calgary Market Collective

There’s a few little non-wovens as well, just in case that’s your thing. Origami Christmas ornaments, some recycled chiffon ribbon (great for wrapping presents!) and baker’s twine spools.

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OK, and a weaving close-up of a newer one. I love the checkerboard near the top!

If you’re in the Calgary area, come visit this weekend!

Weaving Wednesday

All these weavings will be available at the Market Collective at the Chinese Cultural Centre December 12-14th! None of the weavings pictured have been mounted on hanging bars yet, but they will be by market time.

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I went for simple and graphic for this one.

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This one uses handpainted yarn scraps and a sample of a great wool/mohair roving. It makes me think of tulips and the circus at the same time!

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And for a change, an in-progress shot! I found these yarns all together in a bag at the thrift store, and just had to keep the colours together. They’re all different textures, which is so fun.

Clear that Clutter!

I’ve been on a (very slow) decluttering/simplifying kick for a year or two now. It isn’t that I haven’t bought anything in that time (boy, have I!) but I have been trying to look at what I own critically. Our condo is 900 square feet, which isn’t anything to sneeze at, but it feels crowded.

I’ve been taking things to various resale places fairly regularly, and I keep a bag by the front hall closet that is just for stuff to be donated. I generally take books to Fairs Fair, because they’ll give you store credit, I take my nicer clothes to Rewind Consignment (although they refused an awesome pair of boots a couple weeks ago), and everything else, plus the stuff the first two places didn’t take, goes to Value Village. Oh, and I list yarn and fibre in my for-sale-stash on Ravelry!

I had a few things that I thought were worth something to people, more than I’d get at the bookstore, so I decided to dust off my old eBay account!

For the knitters, I’m destashing 3 Rowan magazines, #34, 38, and 40.

For the paper crafters, I’m destashing 3 Magnolia Ink Magazines (the very first 3, I believe).

For Trollbeads fans (or fans-to-be) I’ve got a plain sterling silver bracelet including the basic lock!

Does getting these 7 things out of my house make it feel any less cluttered? Not really, they don’t add up to much total space, but knowing that 7 (more) things are out/on the way out makes me think of knitting – each tiny stitch adds up to a sweater. Maybe in a few more months it’ll be more noticeable!

And do any Calgary friends know if there is any consignment place for home items? Mixing bowls and the like?

Weaving Wednesday!

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I love the colours in this guy! What I love so much about this one is that I spun the yarn myself! I had some natural roving, and a few neon samples that I spun in randomly. I wove this just as the colours came out of the ball, no editing. The natural wool is so lovely and rustic, I love the contrast with the neons.

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This guy is so fluffy! It makes me think of clouds or something. I used a really neat yarn, that was already a big knitted tube. I think actually knitting with it would be awkward, but it makes great pouffy accents for a wall hanging. Some hangings are on copper pipe, but I loved the colour of a natural dowel for this one.

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The texture on this one is great, it really needs to be seen in person. The navy yarn is luxuriously soft, and the speckled-y oatmeal is fuzzy and curly.

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Come see me at the Market Collective December 12th- 14th!

Feminine Dress Book – View C3

I have 3 Japanese sewing pattern books that I bought earlier this year (like really earlier – February) and when I needed wanted a new dress back in October, I decided to use one of those patterns. I picked view C3, the dress on the cover.

Now I’ve browsed these books a lot, even though I haven’t made anything up to this point. I had tons of post-its sticking out of my copy, because there are so many cute patterns! I’ve also read sewing blogs about sewing these patterns. So I knew that there was ease. And not just ease, but ease. Feminine Wardrobe is different than my other two books (Stylish Dress Book and Sweet Dress Book) in that it has a page where it gives you finished garment measurements. All three books have a size chart that puts me as the second-largest size, an M (they go from XS – L). I knew enough to be skeptical… My bust measurement is only 34″!

The finished measurement of C3 in size M is said to be 37 3/8″. The XS is 33 1/2″, the S is 35 3/8″ (the other finished measurements give are length and sleeve length). I waffled between making the XS and the S – I had decided to use a stable(ish) knit fabric from Fabricland, so I knew there’d be some stretch if I went too tight. In the end I decided to go for the S, for a little bit of ease, as that is how the styles in these books are meant to be worn.

Feminine Dress Book view C3

It turned out pretty cute! I quite like the sleeve, although it is hilariously big before putting the elastic in the cuff casing, I should’ve taken a picture of one arm with, one without. I like the bow at the front, although there are so many layers there, I felt like it didn’t quite lay right. You’ve got your pleated dress fabric (3 layers at the centre), the bow overlay, the facing (I used the same knit fabric, interfaced with a woven interfacing), and both ends of the tube that is the centre of the bow (that’s 4 layers on its own!!). I wasn’t sure what I could grade out or not, so it feels like it is sticking out 6″ from my chest. I also felt like the neckline at the shoulders has more height than an average item of clothing for the same reason.

I wore the dress to opening night as styled above – with a belt. Below, for posterity, is a picture of the finished dress sans belt:

Feminine Dress Book view C3

It’s a tent! I actually did a review of this make on my podcast as well, in Episode 44. It is near the beginning, just in case you aren’t interested in my knitting as well. The largeness really shows up on the video.

The chest measurement of this dress is closer to 39″, not the 35″ promised. That is with the pleats all lying nicely flat, and without the knit stretched at all! Maybe it stretched out from handling before I sewed it?

If I were to sew this again, I’d do the smallest size, and maybe even save myself the hassle of adding seam allowances, and just sew it as is to trim off an inch more.

Have you used Japanese sewing patterns before?

Weaving up a storm

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When I was a kid, my mum ran the Christmas craft fair in our town. I insisted on having my own table when I was about 5, and from then on I did a few different crafts over the years. I started out with origami ornaments, moved on to rolled candles, then poured candles (I was making candles in vintage teacups when I was 11, take that, today’s hipsters! ;))

I haven’t done a fair in years, but I have always missed them. Etsy is lovely, but I do love the atmosphere of selling at craft fairs, even though I’m definitely an introvert, and am not generally in to talking with strangers. If I’m talking about things I’ve made, I can do that for ages!

This summer I discovered the joy of weaving on a lap loom, and I also volunteered for the Market Collective weekend at the beginning of September. I took the entrance fees for a few hours each morning, and it was great to see so many people excited about handmade goods (ok, maybe some were more excited about the food trucks ;))

That weekend, I decided that I’d apply to the next Market Collective I could fit into my schedule. That’s the problem with my job – I’m usually working weekends! Luckily, MC is doing 3 weekends in December, so I could pick one I wasn’t otherwise working on!

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I’m doing the weekend of December 12th – 14th!

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I’ll have my woven wall hangings for sale! I’ve been working away on these, and have decided that to get people excited, and to give myself a goal, Wednesdays will be weaving Wednesdays on the blog, and I’ll feature a few of the weavings I’ve made in the previous weeks.

I’m really excited to go back to craft fairs! I’ve got a Square reader, so I’ll be able to take credit card payments – I still remember mum’s chunka-chunka machine that did the carbon imprint of credit cards, back in the day!

If you’re in the Calgary area, come visit!

Megan Dress (in crazy iris print!)

Iris-print Megan Dress

So almost 4 months ago I said I was ‘so excited!’ to make another Megan dress from Love at First Stitch. I’ve finally started it!

I’m not sure if I can call it a Megan dress though. I’ve used the Megan bodice, but I’ve added a waistband because I want to put a different skirt on it. I like dresses that are fuller on the bottom, I’m never usually comfortable in straighter dresses. I realize that as I’m sewing my own, I could make the bottom a different size to fit me better… but I just like volume on the bottom!

Speaking of volume, this fabric is turned up to 11! As I was cutting into it, it really hit me how crazy it is. I was wishing I had some solid black cotton to use for the waistband, but I don’t have much of a fabric stash, and solids? pfft, boring!

So, to define the band, I pulled out my box of vintage seam bindings and things, and found some ricrac in a grey-ish blue that is in some of the irises. I figured that if the whole dress is already crazy, why not pump up the crazy with some trim? I sewed the ricrac on to the band piece first, lining up a dip in the zigzag with the 5/8″ seam allowance. Then I sewed it to the bodice by stitching exactly along that line. Just the perfect amount of the little triangles show!

So for the skirt, I was originally thinking of using the Clemence pattern I drafted, and made up in cotton from the same line, but now I’m wondering about using the pleated skirt from the Lilou dress in Tilly’s book. I’ve seen a couple of those hacks on Pinterest, so I think it will work.

Last time I made Megan, the fit in the top wasn’t the best, and I was contemplating all these fancy edits and adjustments, but a couple friends talked me in to just making the next size up, which is what I’ve done here, I’ve made the 4 instead of the 3. It is hard to tell with no zip, so I guess I’ll find out.

Oh, did I mention I want to wear this on Thursday?

Clemence Self-Drafted Skirt

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I sewed a Clemence skirt from Love At First Stitch! This ‘pattern’ is not actually a pattern, but a guide on how to draft your own skirt pattern, based on your own measurements! Tilly made it a lovely and clear process. Luckily I had saved a couple old fold-out maps from the recycling bin, when I remembered that this was a pattern I wanted to try, so my pattern pieces are old maps of Vancouver, which is fun.

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I did a contrast waistband facing, and contrast pockets, just because I could. I had plenty of the blue patterned quilting cotton, but I also had some green scraps leftover from wedding projects (this green was fabric I used for leaves on our paper flowers).

I definitely wanted pockets, but I also wanted French seams, so I used this tutorial, and it worked wonderfully! It was a little bit magical to have everything line up and for there to be no raw edges anywhere.

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I was much happier with this invisible zip than the one in my Megan Dress muslin. The big difference? I bought an actual invisible zipper foot, I didn’t try to muddle on through with my plain zipper foot.

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I used quilting cotton, which actually gives the skirt and all those gathers a good bit of body. I have a lot of skirts this shape, because I think they suit me – I’m already bigger on the bottom, what’s a few more gathers? Pencil skirts make me uncomfy. The funny thing about this skirt though, is that it has so much body that it stands out and doesn’t touch the back of my thighs. Storebought skirts in this shape still at least brush the backs of my thighs when I walk, so I know the skirt is still down where it should be. Not feeling that while walking in this skirt had me obsessively checking that I hadn’t tucked it unto my underwear all day!

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Twirl!

Skirts are rectangles. Did you know this?!

Finished Fantasy Renfrew Cowlneck Tee

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After the triumphant feeling of sewing my first knit tee, I treated myself to a paid pattern. I’d had my eye on the Sewaholic Renfrew Tee for a while, because I had heard that their patterns were drafted for ladies with small bust measurements compared to their hips. Basically – drafted for me. And, it’s fun to support a Vancouver-based business, yay Canadians!

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The fabric is from GirlCharlee, and I loved it so much I bought 6 yards! It is a fantasy doodle print, that reminds me of the covers of some editions of Tolkein’s books. There’s mountains, waves, trees, jumping fish, hills, all in a thin black line doodle on a nice heathered medium blue.

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The great thing about the Renfrew pattern (well, apart from the fact that I didn’t have to grade it to 3 sizes larger for my hips) is that they use self-fabric bands to finish all the edges! No trying to keep hem edges straight! No double needle!

I’ve been using a zig zag stitch to sew all my knit seams so far, and one day I was looking through my sewing machine’s manual to try to figure out which tension knobs did what. While doing that, I found that my machine also has a 3-step zigzag, which it claimed was great for stretch fabrics. I’ve been using that stitch, and it is wonderful, and neat, if a bit slow. The difference between zigzag and the 3-step zigzag is that for a regular zigzag, each zig (or zag) is 1 stitch. With the 3-step it takes 3 stitches to zig, then 3 stitches to zag back again. I also find it much neater than the regular zigzag but that may just be because I played more to get just the right tension setting.

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(I think of this photo as a Scruffy Badger face :))

I’m also really happy I bought this pattern because you get 3 sleeve lengths, and 3 neckline options to mix and match! I did the 3/4 sleeves, and cowl neck, although the sleeves are closer to elbow length on me. I cut a size 6 and it was just right. I may make the body 1/2″ to 1″ shorter next time though.

And of course, a picture of me reading my favourite copy of my favourite book:

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Finished Chain Plantain

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I ordered a whole shwack of knits from GirlCharlee.com over the summer, because I was so inspired by all the sewing blogs I’d just started devouring, and by all the tutorials that claimed you didn’t need a serger. Then the envelope of cuddly knits arrived, and I couldn’t bear to cut in to any of them, in case I ruined something. So I dug in my stash box, and found this chainlink knit that I bought 7, yes 7 years ago, the last time I thought I’d get in to sewing.

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The print is a little crazy. Crazy large! I’d seen a DVF wrap dress made out of it, and immediately wanted it. So I have a lot of this mad fabric. And it isn’t cotton, it is slinky and a little sweaty (I so rarely wear anything but mostly-natural fibres, so I may be extra sensitive to that). But I had it, and I didn’t mind cutting right in to it. I decided to use a free pattern for my first attempt at knits, so I used the Deer & Doe Plantain Tee, which is a tee with various sleeve lengths, elbow patches, and a swingy shape.

I cut out a size 38, which seem to fit just right. I had some equally slinky black knit that I used for the neck binding and elbow patches.

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I used a double needle on the hem, cuffs and neckband. I fiddled with the various tension knobs on my machine and some scraps for quite a while, and finally got on with it even though I don’t think things are quite right. The stitching looks pretty even from the outside, but on the inside it is a little crazy. I think the problem is that I know where the tension knobs are on the machine, I just don’t know which controls what, and if higher means tighter, or lower does.

I’m so happy with it! Even if the print is a little cruise-tastic. I LOVE elbow patches, so that little oval is probably going to see some good use. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to figure out where to put patches on sleeves from other patterns though – these were clearly marked, and magically offset so everything ended up in just the right place. To trace the shape on to the sleeve, so I could sew the patches in the right place, I actually cut out that piece on the sleeve pattern piece, then traced around the inside with a disappearing marker, like a stencil.

This shirt was a great introduction to knits, and it really helped that I was working with a fabric I cared less about than the new ones I’d just bought. Sadly, I broke my double needle almost immediately after finishing this top. My sewing machine has the regular setting, where your needle is in the middle of the foot, and one where it is to the extreme left of the hole in the foot (this is where it goes to when it zig zags). The pictographs on the dial look very similar for straight-stitch and straight-stitch-left, so when I went to play with the tension some more, I didn’t notice that the needle was in its left position, so I snapped off half the double needle. First time I’ve broken a needle like that!

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And finally, a pose more often found featuring swimsuit models under waterfalls. I just had to show off those elbow patches some more!

 

What are your favourite knit sewing patterns? I want to sew everything now!

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