Is there anything quite like the comfort of a sweatshirt on a cold winter's day? There was a point in my life when I basically lived in over-sized sweatpants and hooded sweatshirts (with flip flops, of course). There was also a point when this became completely inappropriate attire for my day-to-day situation. Now, with the rise of fashionable active wear companies, there are lots of 'elevated' ways to wear sweats without looking like you just rolled out of bed.
Pattern companies spotted this trend early on, and there are SO MANY different pattern options available for those of us who would rather sew our own than shop! The first sweatshirt pattern to catch my eye is the Jasper Sweater by Paprika Patterns. I especially LOVE the striped version shown on the pattern page. (If anyone can tell me where I can get my hands on some striped sweatshirt fleece, I'll be forever indebted!). In particular, the things that drew me to this pattern are the deep cowl neck with button tab, the single welt kangaroo pocket , and the side panels that help provide some fit/shape to a traditionally shapeless sort of garment.
Knowing that I wanted to push my sweatshirt into that spectrum of elevated active wear, I decided to up my fabric game and used a boiled wool knit fabric instead of sweatshirt fleece. I'm so pleased I did! The resulting garment is a fusion of two of the coziest things a girl could wear in the winter rolled into one. It was exactly what I wanted to be wearing after a day on the slopes!
I've sewn a few of these too. I couldn't resist! I feel no shame in admitting that I already have another sweatshirt pattern on my radar; SewingLikeMad 's two versions of the Halifax Hoodie made it easy to rationalize additional sweatshirt sewing. Past, sweatpants wearing Michelle would be so proud.
Historically, most of my sewing energy has been directed at warm weather. I love sewing dresses and skirts, and I wear them often when I can. But, they're not enough to get me through the year. It gets cold in Illinois. VERY cold. If I wanted to continue working towards my goal of a completely self-stitched closet, I needed some winter wear. Pronto. Knowing that I had our Cortina trip approaching was an excellent catalyst towards filling some of my wardrobe gaps, because I had a suspicion the Dolomites would be a great place to take pictures of my cold weather creations.
To get started, I made a list of the types of clothing I reach for when the temperature drops. Layers are key for transitions between indoor and outdoor settings, so clothing that's easy to put on and comfortable to wear over the top of other garments was high on my list.
Right around the time I started making a list of the types of projects I wanted to sew, I saw the Waffle Patterns Dropje on IndieSew. I had gone searching for a similar vest patterns weeks prior to this pattern release, so I took it as a sign from the expanses of the universe that we were meant to be together. If there was any doubt in my mind that I needed this pattern, seeing Lauren's Pendleton version pushed me over the edge!
I love the possibilities for customization with this vest. My goal for this version was to sew a "puffy" vest, that would be suitable for use as outerwear. To do that, I knew that I wanted to use batting and include some quilting lines to keep things in place.
I also decided to fully line the vest and create in-seam pocket bags instead of patch pockets. I had fun with the quilting and chose a few different line directions to stitch varying pieces of the vest: chevrons on the top of the hood, horizontal lines down the fronts and backs of the body, and diagonal lines on the sides. This was the first thing I've ever quilted, so I played it by ear and used a tip I'd read online (painter's tape) to mark my stitching lines. I think it turned out pretty good!
I have a collection of small pieces of wool that I purchased from a milliner's estate and I was really excited to find I could use some of them on this pattern. The pattern calls for 2meters of 55" wide fabric, but I'm certain I had less than a yard each of my main and contrast fabrics.
Spoiler alert, I made more than one of these. The shape of the vest is less fitted than I'm used to, but it's perfect for layering. It's warm too. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
I'm not the only person in my house who likes to have toasty toes during wintertime activities. Sadly, Mike's collection of knitted socks is small. I started this pair of socks months ago, and I really wanted to finish these before we departed on our trip. Having a deadline is good motivation for a project like this, because GOSH men's socks are an endeavor.
I'm mostly certain that Mike's socks require twice as much knitting as my own, and honestly, I don't enjoy knitting them as much as I enjoy knitting socks for myself. I feel pretty guilty about this, because Mike LOVES his knitted socks and puts in requests for more on a semi-regular basis. Somehow, they always land at the bottom of my priority list.
These are Syncopation Socks knit in Wollmeise Sockenwolle. The pattern gets a bit lost in the color scheme, and there's more pooling than suits my preferences, but this is a solid, basic sock pattern. Typically, I would wait a year before knitting Mike another pair of socks, but during my assessment of my own collection, I decided I could let him jump queue. Since, it's my habit to always take a pair of socks to knit during flights I got a jump on his next pair already, which means he's another day closer to that full sock drawer.
Last week, Mike and I escaped for a wintry getaway with our ski club. They let us join even though we're snowboarders; well, Mike is. I consider it a success when I can manage to spend more time on my feet than I spend flat on my back/face. We're relatively new members, and this was our first trip with the club. There were several trips offered this year, but the one that immediately caught our attention was to Cortina, Italy with side trips to Venice and Florence. We'd never been to Italy, and this trip seemed like a great opportunity to remedy that!
Packing for cold weather most certainly involves wool. I HATE having cold toes. I packed an excessive amount of wool socks, including these Plowshare socks knit using Hedgehog Fibers yarn in "Unforgiven" . These were my plane knitting during our previous vacation, but I let them languish and barely managed to finish them before we left.
I wasn't willing to take any chances regarding the warmth of my feet. I packed something like fifteen pairs of knitted wool socks, which is completely twofold. On one hand, I was able to double up and wear two pair of wool socks at once during the days we snowboarded. My feet never felt a chill. It was brilliant. On the other hand, I experienced extreme anxiety the moment(s) I surrendered my luggage to be checked. Airlines lose luggage all the time. Most people can replace the contents of their suitcases, but not makers. Fifteen pairs of socks... that's the knitting equivalent of an entire year of my life. More? And, that's not factoring in the sweaters and clothing that traveled in the same bag. It makes me sick to even think about. This, friends, is as close to living dangerously as I get. What do you think? Is it is worth the risk? Do you travel with your sewn and knitted clothing? Do you take special care when you do? Share below!
HELLO and HAPPY NEW YEAR! I don't know about you, but I hit the ground running in 2016. I've got new projects from new to me patterns to share with you, but first, I have a few things piled up from last year to get out of the way.
First, some old business. This is the last of the M6886 dresses I stitched up during fall2015. I have nothing new to say about this pattern. I love it (clearly). This time, I used a stash fabric to sew. It's a black/white striped cotton jersey that was purchased from an estate sale.
Of all the projects I've made, the dresses I've sewn from this pattern along with the Rachel wrap dresses I sewed during the same period of time have been the most regularly rotating garments in my daily wardrobe. They're instant gratification garments. They're super easy to sew, and super easy to wear. They're great blank slates too, which makes them versatile during season changes and wonderful for accessorizing and layering.
My love for these patterns is further fueled by the flattery and compliments I field each time I wear one of the garments I've made using them. And, then there's the comfort. My goodness; the comfort!
Overall, 2015 was an enormous year for me in terms of sewing in regard to skill building, production, figuring out what I want from my clothing and building confidence in my own abilities. I feel closer than ever to my long-standing goal of a completely me-made wardrobe.
I'm not a "resolutions" person. But, I will say that I hope to continue evolving and developing my skills this year. I want to keep pushing myself to try new things and tackle new types of projects. And, damn it, I am going to make 2016 the year of trousers, I'm determined.
Are you making plans & lining up projects, or are you throwing caution to the wind?
Man, oh man, oh man! Do I have a treat for you! Feast your eyes on those sweaters. The guys wearing them aren't bad either. ;-D
Even before we had finished our Paris project, the gals and I started plotting our next group endeavor. We wanted to switch back to knitting, but with a spin; we decided to knit for the gents instead of ourselves. Up to this point neither Liz nor Meg had knit for their guys, but they were ready to give it a try!
We'd all favorited the Lumberjack sweater by Marzena Krzewinska the same day it was published on Ravlery and thought it would be perfect. It was classic, simple, and it looked easy enough to modify to each of the guys' builds.
Now, I must confess, with sweaters like this, I consider the pattern more of a suggestion than instruction. I've knit dozens of sweaters for myself and several for Mike, so sweaters as simple as this are relatively intuitive for me. Besides, stitch totals and the collar, I didn't pay a lot of attention to what was happening in the written portion of the pattern. That is, I didn't pay attention to it until Meg and Liz started pointing out all the issues they encountered while reading and following the instructions.
The gauge didn't match the stitch counts provided, there were short cuts in the writing, and the proportions were.... unusual. The sizing is bizarre. Mike is a thin guy, and I had to knit him the XL in order to have a sweater that would allow positive ease. His chest measurement is 40", which usually translates to a men's size Medium.
Also, Mike is 6'1", so I usually lengthen the sleeves and body of his sweaters, but I actually shortened both by several inches each from what the pattern instructed. If you look at the pattern page for this sweater, you'll notice how excessively long the designer intends these elements to be. It could be classified as a design choice, I suppose, but as Mike not so subtly stated when I asked him about his preferences, he would feel like he was wearing a dress in a sweater that covered his 'junk'. And, he felt it would be irritating to have a bunchy midsection and sleeves in the alternative.
The removal of the extra length probably explains why we ALL had extra yarn left after we finished knitting. Like, skeins extra. I was actually very irritated by this. I bought yarn specifically for this sweater based on the pattern suggestion, and I had two (plus) skeins of Mulberry Merino left over. That's $48 I could have put toward another project that will now linger in the stash. Not. Cool.
Additionally, I added four sets of decreases(16 sts total) every twelve rows from the underarm towards the waist. I feel this shaping is as important in a man's sweater as waist and bust shaping are in a woman's sweater. Unless your guy is sporting dad bod, he's probably wider at the shoulders than he is at the waist/hip, and shaping give the silhouette of a man's sweater a taper than is figure flattering. Because, yes, guys totally feel self-conscious in ill-fitting, boxy clothing, just like the ladies.
As further indication that I barely skimmed the pattern, I have my collar the opposite direction. I've always used the mnemonic device, " Girls are always right, and boy are left over" to remember that women's garments close right side over, while men's close with the left side over. I don't know if it's applicable in a sweater like this, but like I said... intuitive knitting. I did what I know. All that said, this is the classic sweater we set-out to knit. I would not, suggest this pattern to a knitter looking to knit his/her first menswear garment, but if you have experience with knitting for men, and/or men's sizing it's a perfectly fine outline and it's easy to modify.
At the end of the day, we had three good looking sweaters. As a fun and totally unplanned coincidence, we realized that we had taken photos of our first sweater collaboration at the Lincoln Park Conservatory at the same time of year that we were taking photos of the guys' first group project. With a bit of prodding, they recreated the above photo from that first photoshoot. They're impersonations of us are shockingly spot on, no? LOL.
I think it was a little strange for the guys to be on the opposite side of the camera after all the behind the scenes work they're used to doing with regards to blog photos. And speaking of behinds....
Several months ago, I piled my yarn stash in a giant heap in the middle of the room, binged on Netflix and started matching yarn to projects concentrating on sweaters.
I bagged 13 sweater projects and sorted the rest of the yarn by weight before tucking it away into my cubbies.
Thanks to the wonders of Ravelry filters, I was able to find patterns for a lot of the yarn I've had hiding in the depths of my stash. It's been a lot easier to start projects now that I can grab a bag and cast-on. There's no dumping or digging and far less casting projects to the side now that there's a plan.
Not so surprisingly, I was really excited to start knitting after all that planning. One of the first projects on my radar was Maude from the Autumn 2015 issue of Pom Pom Quarterly.
Maude is a worsted weight sweater designed to be worn with negative ease. I knit size 1, which has a finished bust measurement of 34". The pattern intends three quarter sleeves and a 'mock turtle' neckline. I chose to knit full length sleeves and a crew neck instead.
This is not the style sweater I typically wear or am drawn to. My philosophy with yarn weight and sweaters is usually a direct correlation. little yarn= little sweater, big yarn=big sweater, because I tend to think fitted sweaters knit in yarn gagued above DK add the appearance of additional bulk to the body of the wearer. But, I only had eight balls of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino on hand, and I loved the texture of those rope-y cables, so I decided to try something new.
Ultimately, I do think this style sweater would be more flattering in a sport weight yarn, but I don't mind it terribly and think I'll wear it occasionally (if I can block those sleeves a bit wider through the upper arm...). Also, it was fun to knit. The cables are easy to memorize but keep things entertaining.
I have a few 2015 projects that are going to get carried in to 2016. I tried to get caught-up, but I was better at producing than I was at blogging this year. C'est la vie. I hope to see you all in 2016! I wish you a happy , healthy and productive new year! CHEERS!
This is the third (final) M6886 dress I made Hallie for her birthday.
There really isn't any more to say about this pattern. I've sewn seven of them now, and each one is as great as the one that came before it.
I think a lot of fabrics work well with this pattern, but sweater knits and Rayon knits, like this one are my favorites of the fabrics I used on this particular dress.
And, I particularly love the way a pattern as simple as this dress shows off a good print.
Happy, happy Birthday Hallie!
When I took Hallie shopping to buy fabric for her birthday dress(es), I found myself in that common gift buying predicament of wanting to keep one of the fabrics I'd chosen for her. So, I did the only reasonable thing there was to do; I bought extra yardage. LOL.
I warned Hallie that we would have matching dresses, which made us both laugh a little, because as far back as I can remember, my sister (and sometimes brother) and I have been wearing matching, makes stitched together for us by our mom and grandma, who were both incredibly skilled, as you can see.
Getting dressed to take these pictures was a very 'full-circle' moment for me. Despite being around sewing my whole life, I didn't take a serious interest in garment making until I was an adult. I know I didn't fully appreciate the amount of time and effort that went into the making of all those matching clothes; in fact, I'm sure I resented having to wear them at times.
Of course, I have a completely different perspective on things now. It's funny how that happens.
Look at us! Just like the good old days; except Hallie's a bit taller than she used to be ;-D.
My dress is a Rachel Wrap dress. Hallie's dress is McCall's 6886_ and we bought this marvelous Damask sweater knit at Joann Fabrics. The fabric is double layered and has a nice amount of strech and recovery. Joann is really upping their game in the knits fabric department. I've been finding some really fabulous options every time I stop in!
Alternative titles for this post: Umm, excuse me. My eyes are up here, Can't take my eyes off of you, Ill be watching you.... I'll just cut to the chase. There was no way to get around some awkward pattern placement with this print.
I did what I could. I managed to get the overlapping faces to line up nearly perfectly across the wrap, WIN! But, I ended up with a giant face on my bum, LOSE. I certainly think it would have been worse had I ended up with lips on my... well, you don't have to be Dr. Seuss to know where I was headed with that train of thought.
Truthfully, I've never had much of an issue with people staring at my chest. My build is definitely all about that bass, no treble (which comes with its own variety of objectification), so I think I'm safe(r).
This is another rendition of the Maria Denmark Rachel Wrap Dress sewn using a rayon jersey fabric purchased in Brussels at Les Tissus Du Chien Vert. It's every bit as stretchy as the fabric I used on my first Rachel Wrap Dress.
I didn't make any changes from my first attempt. This pattern makes a great dress. It's incredibly easy to wear, and I feel instantly put together and ready for anything while I'm wearing it. I already made a third version, and I expect that, somewhere down the road, I'll make more.