Hey. What's going on?
My how time flies. It's been more than a month since I updated this space. One of the primary reasons I started this blog is to keep track of the projects/progress I've made in my craft(s). Currently, I'm failing at that, and I've got a small mountain of undocumented projects piling up. Those sorts of piles can be daunting. It's silly to waste energy on something so insignificant, isn't it? I thought I might try something a little different. Instead of dedicating an entire post to each project, I'm going to use my posts as a way to catch-up on what I've been doing and making since the last time we got together, like a chat over coffee with friends.
What I made: 1.) Cozy Neighborhood
I've added a Project Archive to the menu bar at the top of my site where each of the projects in this post has it's own little page. If you click on any of the photos in the archive, you can seen additional photos for each project, get quick pattern links, and read about the type of fabric/yarn/supplies I used to make that project.
What I made: 1.) Snug
I've also added quick little links below each of the photos in this post to call out the garment(s) I've made. Those links are directly connected to the project pages for each garment. I fully realize this approach is against the grain of blogging, at least as I've come to know and recognize it. But, this format is going to be my new standard operating procedure. I hope that you'll bear with me, keep an open mind and continue to stop by for a visit every once in a while.
What I made: 1.) Fireside Pullover
Now that we've got the boring details out of the way, "How've you been?" Besides sewing and knitting, lately, I'm filling my free time with a lot of reading. I'm now a regular at my local libraries. I'm incredibly out of habit and would love your book and/or author suggestions. I'm mostly flying blind and choosing titles from the new releases and librarians' pick sections. I've had various luck with this approach. Currently, I'm working my way through Keith Donohue's novels. He's been my best discovery thus far.
In addition to the library, I've been actively frequenting the small shops and restaurants around town. It's become a little adventure to try and seek out new things in our community. We've been able to do a lot of walking with the dogs, because it's been a wildly mild winter. We were reminded how mild when we went for a weekend getaway to Denver. Brrr. We haven't had measurable snow since December, but Colorado was covered. Our weekend out West was a wonderful little reunion with my friends from high school; we're lucky to have all found incredible partners who make it easy for us to continue to get together despite the physical distances between us.
What else? I had a wonderful visit with my best friend from middle school who was in town overseeing a group of students at the MBLTACC conference. We got the band back together (Meg, Josh, Liz, Felix, Mike & Me 'a.k.a.' Paris Pals/traveling buddies) for a brunch date in the city. I joined a new gym and am having various levels of success with motivating myself to actually use it. I'm growing my hair out... again. This time I'm bent on achieving my dream of 70's Jerry Hall hair. And, that's about it for me. I maintain an exhilarating existence, no?
Lately, my relationship with the internet is tormented. We used to be great friends. Over years it's introduced me to wonderful things and incredible people, we spent HOURS together each day, and then it turned on me. For the past several months the internet has been a source of anxiety. I've tried to make our relationship work; instead, things escalated, and I can barely glance at it without getting upset. For the preservation of my own mental health, we needed a break. It's been a rude awakening. I didn't realize how much of my life was spent in front of a screen until I consciously decided to take some time to actively avoid it.
I miss the blogs and stream of inspiration from my fellow makers that I've sacrificed as a result of my internet hiatus. But, disconnecting has been nice. I'm spending a lot more time at the library getting caught up on my reading list. Mike and I have been tackling some of the small projects we left unfinished when we moved into our house. And, of course, I'm knitting and sewing. Avoiding the internet hasn't shielded me from the current state of things; however, it gives me a lot more control over the content and amount of opinion that I'm exposed to.
In addition to breaking from the internet, I've decided that I need a little infusion of joy. In particular, I decided, that I want to work on projects that are more joyful. Less practicality, more fun. Useful, but not for the sole purpose of function. I want to sew the pieces of fabric that I've been holding on to; the pieces that make my heart go pitter patter. I want to sew cake WITH frosting. Lots of frosting. Dammit, I want to feel inspired again.
I love my wardrobe staples. I firmly maintain that I can never have too many Archers. Right now, however, I want to sew patterns that push me: push me to try new things, push me outside my style comfort zone, push me to tackle new techniques. I want to have fun.
It's time to put my pattern collection and fabric stash to work and get a little creative. I can't promise that I am going to blog the way I have in the past. I miss it. I miss you. Truly. I'm going to take a relaxed approach and see where it leads. Without doubt, I'll check-in from time to time, but I'm not able to commit to posting with regularity.
Pattern: Simplicity 7252, View 2 from 1967.
Fabric: Vintage poly/cotton blend purchased at an estate sale.
Modifications: To get the above the knee hemline pictured on the pattern envelope, I shortened the body of the dress below the yoke by five inches. Also, I did a 1/2 inch narrow shoulder adjustment and omitted the sleeve cuff.
Notes: The most time consuming aspect of this pattern was aligning, pressing and topstitching my pleats. Overall, I'm very pleased with the spacing and placement of my pleats. They integrated very nicely into the overall pattern of the dress. There wasn't a lot of fitting involved in this pattern. The shift shape of the dress makes this easier to wear. My fabric is a light-medium weight fabric and it works very well with this pattern.
Is it possible to resume conversation in this space without addressing recent events? While these photos are all sunshine and smiles, I've spent the past week processing. I can count on one hand the moments where my world has changed in an instant. Sadly, they've all involved tragedy. Those moments are unsettling shocks to my system and the world around me; they reek of uncertainty, chaos and fear. The silver lining in each of these experiences is that I lived through them. I made it to the other side of those obstacles. And, I like to think that I'm better and stronger for having experienced them. I've debated whether or not to say anything. This is a blog about sewing and knitting, not politics. I genuinely believe that each of us is entitled to our individual opinions, and I appreciate opposition. But, there are some things that are simply impossible for me to wrap my mind around. Still, our best option is to keep moving forward; we can't go back. It's all about where we go from here. We each have the ability to control the way we move through the world. I'm incredibly inspired by the outpouring of proactivity I've witnessed in my intimate group. It gives me hope. And, I know I can count on all of you, my friends in craft, to continue inspiring me in all you do.
On the subject of craft, I have been a busy knitter. I find knitting is my preferred method of therapy. My knitting took a serious upswing over the summer when I began the process of changing jobs. It was a fortuitous upswing, because two weeks after I started my new position, I travelled to Rhinebeck to attend the Duchess County Sheep and Wool festival.
Of course, I knew I needed to knit new sweaters to take with me. This was my first Rhinebeck, and I wanted to do it in proper woolen style. The weather was slightly less than cooperative. It was nearly too warm for wool. But, I wore it anyway. I wasn't alone. I've never seen so many incredible knitted garments in one place!
Unfortunately, I completely failed to document any of the garments I knit for Rhinebeck while I was in Rhinebeck (instead you get to see some of the beauty in my own backyard). I was completely distracted and visually overstimulated most of the time we spent at the festival. It was amazing, and I fully indulged myself while I was there. I bought some incredible yarn from new to me yarn companies and indie dyers. I did my best to see everything, but I know there are things I missed. There were things I didn't know to look for, like exclusive Rhinebeck dye lots and festival specific Jennie the Potter Mugs. I had the good fortune to run into several bloggers, the Ravelry crew and Ric Ocasek! Now that I have a first trip under my belt, I feel better prepared for next time! There will be a next time. In the meantime, our little group has challenged each other to completely knit all the yarn we purchased on this trip before allowing ourselves to return.
Sweater- Pattern: Gillam by Kate Gagnon Osborn, size 38.75
Yarn: Aslan Trends Invernal in Indigo. Purchased at an estate sale
Jeans- Democracy Denim
Boots- Frye Melissa Button in dark brown.
Pattern notes- This is a wonderful classic sweater design. This pattern is nicely written and true to the sizing specifications. The texture and cable patterns are easy to memorize and enjoyable to knit. And, there's a nice balance between mindless knitting and patterning. The pattern suggests 2" of positive ease, but I chose to knit a size larger for more to allow for a more relaxed fit and layering. My finished sweater has roughly 4" of positive ease.
I Am Mine
The selfish, they're all standing in line
Faithing and hoping to buy themselves time
Me, I figure as each breath goes by
I only own my mind
The North is to South what the clock is to time
There's east and there's west and there's everywhere life
I know I was born and I know that I'll die
The in between is mine
I am mine
And the feeling, it gets left behind
All the innocence lost at one time
Significant, behind the eyes
There's no need to hide...
We're safe tonight
The ocean is full 'cause everyone's crying
The full moon is looking for friends at high tide
The sorrow grows bigger when the sorrow's denied
I only know my mind
I am mine
And the meaning, it gets left behind
All the innocents lost at one time
Significant, behind the eyes
There's no need to hide...
We're safe tonight
And the feelings that get left behind
All the innocents broken with lies
Significance, between the lines
(We may need to hide)
And the meanings that get left behind
All the innocents lost at one time
We're all different behind the eyes
There's no need to hide
A lot has happened since we last spoke. I quit the job I worked for the past nine years. I started a new job in a totally unrelated field. I went to Rhinebeck and frolicked with woolly creatures and bought lots of yarn. And, you may have heard, the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. It's a big deal.
The mixed blessing of my new position is that I'm no longer commuting into the city. My acclimation to suburban living has been lengthy. Despite moving nearly three years ago, I've been reluctant to fully accept my separation. It was easy to remain connected, because I spent most of my waking hours downtown in the thick of it. Unfortunately, this arrangement meant I was spending more than 12 hours each week traveling between work and home.
My new position is closer to home. Much closer. I travel half as much in an entire week than I did in a single day. The subject matter of my new job is incredibly lighter than before. The balance between my wok and life is much more aligned. Now that I'm starting to feel more comfortable and adjusting to the initial shock of "change", these things have an incredible effect on the amount of stress I'm experiencing on a daily basis.
The tradeoff is that I'm not in the city. I no longer have immediate access to the people, places and things that had become routine parts of my life. And, when something incredible happens, like the Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years, I have to observe from a distance.
I felt very sorry for myself that I couldn't drop down from my office last Friday to join five million other fans gathered for the biggest celebration in Chicago history. That feeling was short lived when I realized there was only one person I wanted to celebrate with. Cheesy. I know. But, true.
One of our first dates was to a Cubs game. I read pretty deeply into that. Being a Cubs fan is so much more than sports. It's about loyalty, tradition, knowing how to take a loss without quitting, it's about optimism, and it's about shared experience. Mike's love for the Cubs inspires my own. He was raised to bleed blue. Some of his earliest memories are of listening to Cubs games on the radio with his grandparents. I think most Cubs fans have a story. Most of us are connected to the team by someone we love. It's not just baseball. It's memories. I'm so happy to have this one. We did it. We finally did it. We did not suck.
Shirt- Pattern: McCall's M6044,
Fabric: Japanese Cotton Flannel from B&J
Jeans- Banana Republic: Slim Fit
Boots- John Fluevog: Newell, lined, green
Pattern notes- This is my go-to pattern for Mike's shirts. The only modifications we made were lengthening the sleeve and body. I may bump the sleeves up to a larger size in future versions where I'm using flannel or heavier fabrics to increase wearing ease and allow for layering.
First, thank you for your encouraging comments on my previous post; I truly appreciate them. In a way, there's something comforting knowing that some things are shared human experiences, growing pains, that we all work through at one time or another.
I had an especially long weekend with time for some mental recuperation, and I'm heading into this week more centered than I've felt in a while; confirmation that I've been spreading myself too thin and not allowing for proper rebound or appropriately prioritizing my life.
In lighter, blog-related topics, one thing that I've been wanting to do, as silly as it may seem, is get these white jeans OFF my sewing table. I've had these Ginger Jeans cut and waiting to be sewn since May. I knew that if I didn't finish them prior to Labor Day, they wouldn't get sewn until next year ( I'm a little bit of a traditionalist with regard to the taboo of wearing white out of season), and UFO's haunt my subconscious.
These jeans were sewn using white denim from MOOD and the Ginger Jeans pattern. My biggest fit issue with my first pair of Gingers is the waistband. So, on my white pair, I borrowed the construction method from the Birkin Flares and cut my waistband two inches smaller than the waist of my jeans, on the stretch grain of the fabric. It helped. However, I think I was too conservative. Next time I will cut the waistband three-four inches smaller. Also, I think I could benefit from shortening the rise another half inch.
All things considered, I'm very happy with the way these turned out and feel another step closer to conquering my 'perfect' jeans. In these photos, I've paired my Gingers with a silk Wiksten Tank that I sewed earlier this summer. The fabric was purchased at Paron during my first trip to the garment district in NYC....three years in the stash.
So, mission accomplished. Jeans complete. Little goals, right? I finished these with two weeks to spare. I've worn them twice already and will probably wear them again before retiring them to the closet until next spring.
Is it really the middle of August? Is it possible? I feel like I've lost several months in a fog. My level of productivity with personal projects is at an all time low. I've been struggling to find motivation or energy for even the smallest and most enjoyable things, and it's been, overall, very frustrating to feel simultaneously aware of my current condition yet unable to bolster myself up to a better one.
On a high note, I am very aware of the root cause of my state of mind and have been working to find a way out of my current situation. Solutions pending, I'm in a state of constant limbo. More accurately, I feel like I'm on a teeter-totter alternating between high and low periods without the ability to jump off the ride.
When I can, I've been pushing to spend more time doing the things I enjoy, like sewing and knitting. In a weird way, they are my therapy and moment of zen. A huge reason I tolerate the nagging irritation of my weekday hassle is to afford myself the opportunity to have hobbies, after all. But, unfortunately, the scales have tipped against me. I'm finding that I have less and less time to spend in pursuit of those things I enjoy.
I'm sure that a lot of people feel this way about one thing or another. While I'm working on ways to change my status quo, I try to remind myself that it could be worse, so much worse, than it is. But, that only leads to a different sort of feeling, a sort of ingratitude and selfishness and guilt.
Even now, I feel sorry for reappearing, whining and complaining, after more than a month of blog silence. I haven't even stopped to say, "Hello" or ask how your summers have been; fun, I hope.
I have managed to work on a couple things over the past months. I found this lovely cotton print during a notions run at my local Joann store. Something about it immediately caught my eye and I instantly imagined it as an Alder Dress. After a little rummage through my button stash, I found some perfectly coordinating red, vintage, wooden flower buttons to adorn it.
Inspiration fueled me through this project and I sewed it in a single session. The construction was very familiar for me, since I've sewn the Archer numerous times before. Grainline's patterns are always a delight to work with. I find them to be incredibly well done. The designs are simple, but the attention to detail is superb and I always know I will end up with a garment that is beautiful inside and out.
I continue to remind myself that this is a passing experience and keep finding little pockets of sunshine between the clouds at every chance. And, I do hope to get back to my "normal" self soon. I'm at least to a point where I can see an end in sight, so that's encouraging!
I am thrilled to be contributing a project to the lineup of vintage sewing inspiration parading through your blogroll during the #vintagepledge July Extravaganza hosted by Kerry and Marie.
Each day during the month of July, Kerry and Marie are alternating posts featuring the creations of vintage loving guest bloggers.
Each of the featured projects in the July series has been sewn from either an original or a reissue of a vintage sewing pattern.
I anticipate a nice sampling of styles from different decades and fashion eras throughout the month!
For my part, I'm doing my best to channel my inner Diana and bring you some serious style love straight from the 70's!
On the style spectrum, sewing patterns from the 70's have a lot to offer!
Many pattern designs from the 70's are carefree and a little rebellious, just like the decade that inspired them.
To see my July Extravaganza post with links to more infinity dress tie guides and inspiration, hop over to Kerry's blog and check me out! And, stay tuned! Be sure to add Kerry and Marie to your blogroll in order to fully experience all the #vintagepledge fun!
Throughout the month there will be features from:
It's my birthday!
There's not a lot exciting about birthdays in your thirties. No major milestones. No new privileges. So, to mark my thirty second birthday I decided to treat myself to something special and frivolous; I sewed a party dress.
I don't have a lot of reasons to wear frilly dresses, so I tend not to sew them often, but I do have some special occasion fabrics stashed away that deserve to be sewn into garments. When I initially started shopping my stash, it was my plan to use a length of blue and white vintage dotted tulle for the skirt of this dress. I searched for a coordinating bodice fabric and found a length of vintage lace.
I didn't want the design on the lace to get lost or blend into my lining fabric, so I chose to use a nude tone cotton to underline. I gathered my skirt fabric and set it aside. Then, I got to work sewing my bodice. When I'd finished, I was pleased with the way my bodice looked, however, I didn't like the way it paired with my tulle. Fortunately, I was able to reconfigure my original plan; I had enough lace to gather into a suitably swishy skirt.
The really fun thing about sewing with fancy fabrics is having the opportunity to play with some different sewing techniques. On my skirt, I used an overlapped lace seaming method. This method gives the illusion that the lace pattern is continuous around the entire skirt and helps the seams appear mostly invisible and blend into the skirt.
Not only is this dress sewn from vintage fabrics, it's sewn using vintage McCall's 5842. This was my second time sewing this pattern so I didn't make a muslin before starting. My bodice is a little roomy, but it's not overly so, and I don't feel the need to tweak it any.
It was fun and a little silly dressing up with no apparent reason today. We took a stroll downtown for something sweet to eat and walked around town. I felt overdressed amongst the crowds of people in t-shirts, but it also made me feel just a little bit special, and that's what birthdays are all about, right?
The sun is shining and temperatures are rising here in Illinois. Weather like this makes it hard to want to spend any amount of time indoors. Lately, the focus of my productivity is heavily concentrated on yard work and gardening. But, there's nothing like a new pattern release to kickstart the creative engine, and the latest Closet Case Patterns got me really revved up and ready to sew!
Morgan Jeans are a relaxed fit boyfriend jean. They're intended for use with rigid, non-stretch denim fabrics. As a newbie jeans maker, I have a limited knowledge base on denim fabric. Mostly, I'm learning about different fabric characteristics as I sew. The denim I used to sew these jeans was purchased at Vogue Fabrics warehouse sale. The warehouse sale provides a great opportunity to get excellent per yard prices on fabric, with the catch that you have to buy entire rolls in order to purchase fabric at those prices. Fortunately, I went to the sale with a group and was able to split two rolls of different denims with other sewers, but I still ended up going home with a giant pile of fabric. I wasn't exactly sure what I would sew with this denim at the time I bought it. I found a jeans pattern for Mike (that I haven't opened yet) that will work well with this denim. If this denim was raw denim at the time I bought it, I completely "ruined" it by pre-washing it as soon as it came into the house. I can't be certain what weight this fabric is, but I estimate it to be either 12oz or 12.5 oz. It's heavier than the other types of denim I've worked with and the lack of stretch fiber makes it fairly inflexible.
Knowing that this fabric would not allow for a lot of flexibility, I decided to cut them a size bigger than I cut my Ginger Jeans. This pair of Morgan jeans are a straight size ten with the rise shortened by 1.25". They sit below my natural waist, but above the fullest part of my hip curve. I cut the full length version of these jeans, because I knew I wanted to have the option to cuff them. After I'd constructed them, I took a solid four inches length from the bottom of the leg before hemming.
Once I'd sewn these jeans together, I decided to be adventurous and do a little bit of distressing. I have to tell you, this was only slightly terrifying. I've never distressed anything before, and the risk of potentially destroying something I'd spent hours creating lingered in the back of my mind the entire time I worked on these. Before getting started, I did a little bit of research. I settled on methods for dry processing my jeans. This basically means, I didn't use any sort of chemical wash or bleach to fade or distress them. Instead, I worked on my jeans while they were dry using sand paper and a lemon zester. I found it very helpful to look at a variety of different jean fades as inspiration. This website has a nice archive of raw denim fades to flip through to see different wear patterns and markings. And, I found this video very helpful as a starting point for figuring out how to position my whiskers and use sandpaper for hand scraping fade patterns down the fronts of my legs, around the curve of my bottom, and over the edges of my waistband and pockets.
The overall effect of my dry processing is subtle, but I assure you, it's a drastically different look from the solid indigo I started out with. The rest of my distressing was done using a lemon zester, my seam ripper and this instructional. I considered going farther with my distressing, but decided to save that for future pairs. Now that my confidence is a little higher, I don't think I'll have any problems shredding into my next pair of Morgan jeans. There's really nothing to fear; I would advise you to practice with your tools before starting to work on your garment. I practiced with three different grits of sandpaper, hand sanding, and power sanding before settling on a combination of 220 grit hand scraping. I also roughed up scraps with my lemon zester before tearing into my jeans. Also, I caution you to take care when you're sanding over any areas of top stitching. I was careless and accidentally popped a couple stitches.
Up top, I'm wearing a Wiksten Tank. This is one of those patterns I bought ages ago and let sit in the corner. Now, I'm kicking myself, because I could have a stack of these sewn and in rotation if I had been better about organizing my projects and priorities. This is a fabulous summer top! There's nothing fussy about it, which is exactly why it's so great. I sewed this version using a border print rayon purchased at an estate sale. This pattern was wonderful for letting the fabric shine, and the pocket really let me highlight the print. I chose to eliminate the armhole and neckline bindings on this. I didn't feel they were necessary. Instead, I double folded and stitched each, just as I did the hem.
I'm very pleased with the results of both these patterns, and know that I'll be sewing each of them again. Now that it's consistently nice outside, I'm starting to think more about summer sewing. I don't have any specific plans at this point, but I'm leaning in the direction of separates with scattered dresses. I sewed a lot of dresses last year and I think I could benefit from incorporating a bit more variety. We'll see how things play out. What sewing plans do you have set for the shifting season?
It's that time of year! It's MAY! Spring is on its way (in theory) and makers from all corners of the internet pledge to flaunt their Me-Made wardrobes throughout the course of the month!
This is my third year participating in Me-Made May. Already, this year is a little different for me than it has been in years past. I'm proud to say that I've done great work of building a really wearable wardrobe over the course of the last year! Previously, I found myself scrounging in the back of my closet for makes that never see the light of day and struggling to incorporate those garments into wearable outfits. This year, my biggest obstacle is making sure that I keep up with the laundry, because all of my favorite makes rotate through my wardrobe cycle on a regular basis!
I'm also very pleased to say that my efforts to sew more pants are paying off! All of my pants see a lot of love, including the pants in this post. These pants are my second pair of Manhattan Trousers. I cut and sewed this pair exactly as I sewed my first pair. The fabric I used for this version is a lighter weight wool suiting fabric, and surprise, the fit is different than with my first pair. However, that's not a bad thing in this instance. My first pair fit nicely, but I wish I had allowed for more room in the thigh to accommodate for sitting ease. This pair is much less rigid and doesn't feel at all restrictive when I sit. It's just another instance where I'm learning the subtle differences fabric choice makes in the final product. I'm curious to see how the fit changes with cottons and other types of wool. I plan to sew a small arsenal of these pants and already have some other basic bottom weight fabrics picked out of the stash. It's easy to build on a good foundation, and these pants serve that purpose.
Up top, I'm wearing a Grainline Studios Lark Tee. This pattern is just a really great basic tee pattern. Simple as that. A good tee is probably the most utilitarian garment a person can have.
For the duration of May, I've pledged to wear at least two Me-Made Outfit components each day, and I'm posting my daily updates on instagram (tresbienmichelle). Are you participating in MMMay16? What have you challenged yourself to accomplish with your makes this month?