The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.
The good: I have made progress on my March sweater project. If this was 50% of a sweater, I think it's safe to say I'm at roughly 70%. The body is done, and I cast-on a sleeve.
The bad: I'm working on the first sleeve. Of two. I could just throw caution to the wind and make it a sweater vest. It might be sexy. What do you think?
The ugly: there are only three (and a half if you count tonight) days left to the month. Two of those days are work days; that's 16hrs gouged out of potential knitting time.
I'm not down for the count, not yet, but it's going to take a miracle, at minimum, obscene amounts of coffee, to have this sweater steamed and seamed (dare I even mention the ends that need to be woven in? Look at them, sweater guts, spewing out.) and ready to wear before bedtime Saturday. And, well, I'm just not sure I have a photo finish in me this month.
It's probably time to start exploring my project options if I plan to have a sweater before April.
The day has come! It's time for the Mad Men Premiere and, the debut of my Mad Men inspired dress for Julia Bobbin's SAL. What do you think?
I had a lot of fun with this project. My inspiration was the floral sundress Betty wears in season1. I used McCall 5842 to sew my version. The dress I sewed doesn't look anything like the dress in the show, but it definitely carries a Betty aesthetic with its full skirt and bold floral print.
I modified the bodice to accommodate zero ease throughout the torso and whacked 6 inches from the skirt length, but, otherwise, stuck to the pattern. The skirt length isn't authentic to the era; it's an editorial modernization that I took liberty with based on my own preferences. The dress fits, nearly perfectly. I'm beyond thrilled with the finished project and see myself wearing this dress TONS this summer.
I had a complete blast photographing this dress, (if you couldn't tell by the obscene number of photos), and trying to "get into character'. Truth be told, I'm just too happy to pull-off a believable "Betty Draper" .
To date, this is my favorite dress I've made. After a success like this, it's hard not to dive head-first into the other projects I have picked out for the sprint/summer season. Meanwhile, I'm trying my hardest not to toss in towel on my current sweater project... but we're growing apart; I'm not sure if we can make things work.
If you've made it this far into the post, you're probably sick of pictures, but I couldn't resist a twirling series. No matter how old I get, swirling skirts is always fun.
That's it for me. I'll be impatiently waiting for itunes to download tonight's episode so I'm able to get my fix; the anticipation is agonizing! :-D Be sure to tune in to Julia Bobbin's on April 1 to see all of the amazing creations contributed to the MadMen Dress Challenge!
I don't want to jinx things, but, gals &guys, it's going to happen. I'm going to have this dress finished in time for Sunday'a premiere of season 5!!! I got my straps attached, my skirt securely in place, and my facing and lining stitched down, which leaves my zipper and hemming.... the hemming...hmmm. There is a lot of skirt there. So much skirt, I feared I would run out of fabric while I was cutting. I had to sacrifice pattern matching to make it work.
When you take into consideration this skirt has four 34inch gores (x2 when you count the lining basted to it), I'm pretty sure there's over a quarter yard of skirt fabric per inch of bodice. It felt like more. I cursed and got supremely frustrated while I worked on this portion of my project.
Still, it could have been worse. I used to have a TERRIBLE time evenly distributing my gathers. I would spend painful hours with the seam ripper trying to get things right, but never felt truly satisfied with the results.
When I run into these types of obstacles, I like to chat-up my grandma. She's got more than a few tricks up her sleeve. You could have pushed me over with a feather when she tipped me off to the way she does her gathered skirts (she also uses this trick when she's setting in a sleeve).
In the off-chance there are others out there running into the same wall, I'll share it with you.
Grandma Charlotte's Secret to Gorgeous Gathers and Stunning Sleeves: PIN FIRST, THEN PULL!
I'm primarily self taught and rely heavily on pattern instructions during the construction process. Patterns will tell you to create your rows of stitching, pull your bobbin thread, and then ease the skirt to the pattern, matching your notches as you go.
Grandma says, create 2-3 rows of long stitching along the gather line (have a back-up to your back-up in case your bobbin thread(s) goes bust), match-up and pin the notches and seams of the skirt and bodice (or sleeve and bodice), THEN PULL THE BOBBIN THREAD.
Because the skirt and bodice are already lined up and pinned where they ought to be, you just need to gather until the fabric fits between the fastened areas.
Here's a shot of the interior. It's almost as pretty inside out as it is with the right side showing!
The progress on my sweater isn't as awesome and definitely not worth sharing. I may have contributed the entire 33% of sock time to sewing instead of dividing it. I also might have cast-on a miniature cardigan... it can't be helped. More of my friends are pregnant than not, and I don't want any of those babies feeling neglected!
I, like many knitters, have small...ish... problems with stashaholism. Most of the time, I have ZERO idea what purpose the yarn I'm buying will serve. I buy yarn, when I travel, as souvenirs. I buy yarn because it's on sale. I sometimes buy rogue yarn to get free shipping... I'm fairly confident, at the moment of purchase, I'll eventually do something with my acquisition. It's not going to spoil. It's definitely the right size. I've never met a yarn I couldn't live with for months...years. (If you're a knitter, you're probably shaking your head in agreement and understanding. It's what we do.)
Like a good little knitter, I very frequently rifle through my stash to plan upcoming projects. Typically, I'll determine which yarn I want to use and how much of it I have, then I'll hit Ravelry and 'filter' my way down to a suitable pattern. There are instances when I see, fall in love with, and specifically buy yarn for a particular pattern. But, my process is usually Yarn first, then pattern.
With sewing. I function entirely in reverse. In fact, I don't have anything close to a "stash" where fabric is concerned. I don't think I've ever walked into a fabric store and been struck by inspiration. If I go to buy fabric without a plan, I'm disoriented; I wander; I leave overwhelmed and empty-handed.
When it comes time to sew. I choose a pattern, then shop for fabric. There's nothing really wrong with this approach, but it does mean I miss the opportunity to load-up during really wonderful sales; it irritates my inner tightwad to know my short-shortsightedness causes me to spend more than I have to.
I've noticed a lot of project forecasting around the blogsphere for upcoming spring/summer sewing... which got me thinking... and ultimately resulted in some organization and planning of my own. A week or so ago, notice of a nice fabric SALE landed in my inbox. With spring/summer in mind, I rummaged through my cabinet and picked out a PILE of patterns I thought I might be interested in sewing sometime soonish and then searched for fabrics to realize them. Here's what I came up with:
Pattern Bureau 2676 and Plaid Rayon Challis
UNKNOWN MAKER 9091 and Grey/White Sateen
Simplicity 4984 and Polka Dot Sateen
Vouge 1220 and Blue Rayon Faille
I didn't buy lining or notions for any of these, but I'm feeling very eager to get started! I hope the excitement sustains until I'm able to make a trip to the store. I am completely aware that, based on the rate at which I turn out garments, this is 6months worth of projects. But, I'm not going to let that get in the way the next time I feel like splurging on a really good deal. Each of these was less than $5 a yard!
How do you plan a project(s)? Does the chicken or the egg come first?
Running on schedule.
CHOO CHOO! Chuggu chugga chugging right along; March socks have arrived.
The pattern is Aquaphobia by Crystal Flanagan. I was inspired to knit these socks when I first saw them on BigMonkeyPie's list of socks to start. A knitter can never have too many pattern options when it comes to pooling sock yarns, am I right?! I really love the texture of these socks. The fabric is substantial and sturdy. And I really like the way the heel flap is integrated into the leg patterning.
I knit with Socks that Rock lightweight, but I seem to have misplaced my tag, and can't for the life of me figure out which colorway these are in. What I can say, it constantly had me craving dessert, like some sort of chocolate, raspberry ice cream something or other.... MMMMmmm....
As you can see, I did still get a bit of color pooling over the top of the foot, but it's relatively minor and liekly non-visible on a shoed foot.
As much as I am thrilled with my newest pair of socks, I regretfully don't think they'll be worn until fall. It's basically sandal weather here in Chicago! (Not that it will stop me from knitting socks through the summer :-D)
Have a wonderful weekend! I'm going to do my best to stay focused, but sunshine and fresh air are hard to compete with!
Divide and Conquer
As I mentioned, this month, I'm hoping to participate in the Mad Men Dress Challenge, which means I'm running against somebody else's clock. Which means I definitely cannot expect to work my standard formula for accomplishment and expect to get a different result than I'm accustomed too (midnight on the 31st, I'm looking at you! )
This month, I decided to try a new approach. I started everything at the beginning of the month, and I'm distributing my time towards each project on a rotational basis. It's not very uncommon for me to have multiple knitting projects on needles at the same time. In a typical month, socks get stuffed into my bag for the commute and sweaters sit on the couch and wait for me to get home from work. But, sewing, sewing usually gets put off until the knitting is done, then squished into whatever time I have left...usually after a couple AADD flights of fancy (because, I, of course, have ample time).
Some part of my brain is completely convinced that sewing is less time consuming and faster than knitting. I'm sure for some people, that's true. For me, it's not. From the first cut, to the last hand stitch, I estimate it takes me 15-20 hours to complete a garment. What's more, I have to pay attention while I sew. I can usually space-out while I knit. My hands know what to do and don't need to be babysat. With sewing, I have to focus. Focus, isn't one of my strongest or best developed traits. So, this process of theory I've implemented for the past year or so, makes absolutely NO SENSE. It's a wonder I've been able to finish anything.
So, new plan in action. I think it's working... I'll find out soon enough. I do have half a lined, faced dress (sans straps) to show you. That feels pretty encouraging. Hopefully, this glimpse answers the burning question, "Which dress did she choose?".
I also have... half???... a sweater. This is not so comforting. I'm not feeling nearly as confident that this sweater will be knit, assembled, and have its ends (all 5,000 of them) woven in within the next 16 days as I am that I will be able to turn out my dress.
Fortunately, I'm making some serious headway on these socks. I fully expect to contribute their 33.3% time to the others before the weekend. That may be enough of a boost to squeak out a 'W' for the home team ...unless... I get distracted. Which, I really try not to do, but it's really hard, and I can't help myself, I don't think.
What are your creative ventures this month?
I haven't exactly (or at all) finished anything I have planned to complete before the end of the month. There is a plan in place and action, but baby knits always manage to trump deadline projects, don't they. And, let me tell you, babies ABOUND in my world right now. It's possible I may throw-in the towel on knitting adult sized garments and devote myself completely to the little people in my life, so long as my friends keep producing them... that is.
I originally queued this pattern for my new buddy Makai who's making his grand entrance late summer/early fall. But, when I heard my new neighbor-to-be had a dinosaur bedroom, it seemed only appropriate that he/she have dinosaur attire, for the instance my neighbors are inclined to dress their new offspring like a stegosaurus. And, well, this hat leaped to the top of the list.
I'm not sure it's going to be very functional, since the weather here in Chicago seems to be decidedly delicious, spring-like and glorious. But, worse case scenario, it can be the dog's Halloween costume (sorry, Penny). :-D
This pattern was surprising and fun to work. There's a really neat ear flap/band construction.And, it was a pretty quick project. I would note, however, that the 'newborn' size as laid out in the pattern, is probably closer to 6mos-1year. (I worked that size originally, and then decided to stash it away for use later ) To make a newborn-3mos sized hat, I dropped my stitch count to 50 stitches, and redistributed when I worked the ear flap so they would be equidistant. I also did my crown decreases a bit differently, I decrease the number of stitches before K2tog by one stitch on each decrease round (Rnd.1: K8, K2tog..... Rnd 3: K7, K2tog.... Rnd. 5: K6, K2tog...etc... ). Oh, and I knit with Simply Cotton. It was my first time using it, but is going to be my go-to for baby knits. It doesn't have the same course inflexible qualities that a lot of cotton yarns have, and I think it produces a better/nicer fabric than the superwash varieties I've tried.
OK. Back to business. Mid-month is tomorrow, which means, I'd better refocus and start hauling some a$$.
Who's with me?
It's really hard to pretend you're eternally young once your friends start having babies (I can only imagine this becomes immensely more difficult when said babies belong to you and serve as constant reminders of your impending senescence), because those sneaky shape shifters transform from tiny little creatures to toddlers in a flash!
Recently, my little buddy L celebrated his first year of living! It doesn't seem possible. I'm pretty sure I haven't gotten any older since he was born; I'm taking his parents' word on time elapsed; they have documentary proof and everything. Also documented, L in the hat I knitted for him (thanks to speedy and skilled parenting and photography!).
I didn't use a pattern. It's one of a kind, just like L.
Make it Work!
My inner dialogue while I'm sewing resounds in the voice of Tim Gunn. And, "Make it Work" was the phrase in loop for this (last) month. I know today is March, but this skirt was totally done in February. I just decided to spare you artificially lit, late night photos in turn for day-late posting. I'm allowing myself flexibility this month, because I'm amazed I sewed anything at all. My attempts were...a spiraling cyclone of disaster.
Originally, I planned to sew Vogue 5347 view B. I had the perfect piece of rayon herring bone fabric stashed ready for it! But, when I spread my fabric out ready to place my pattern pieces, I noticed a repeating water/oil stain down the CENTER! Obviously, some idiot at the fabric store had used the fabric bolt as a cup holder, and the perpetrator penetrated multiple layers. The lighting in the store was crappy enough to disguise the imperfection; I wouldn't have wasted money on something I knew to be damaged goods. But, in natural light, there was no hiding it.
Feeling I had nothing to lose, I stain treated and washed the fabric. No luck.
Then, the bargaining started. I decided I could live without sleeves and a couple inches of skirt length, which made it possible to creatively position all my pieces. I felt like I had regained some ground, in the battle, but I was pretty exhausted and frustrated from the effort, so I shoved the dress to the side until Sunday (Feb 26) evening. I grabbed some stashed lining fabric to finish cutting. I underestimated the yardage readily available. Not enough fabric.
I briefly considered sewing the dress without a lining, but abandoned that idea immediately. I didn't have enough of an allowance for French seams, and I just can't bring myself to sew an unlined garment. (I know it's bound to happen... especially with spring/summer dresses beckoning... for now, I maintain my firm stance). I also considered making a trip to the store after work Monday to buy more lining. But, that majorly gouged the little time I had given myself to sew.
Instead, I turned to my UFO pile and pulled out a project I knew I would have time to fix/finish.
This skirt and the linen blend fabric I chose to make it with are like oil and vinegar. The fabric loves to crease, but hates pleating. Really, almost nothing about this skirt really lit my fire. Still, I knew I wanted to stick with it and turn something out. I'd procrastinated myself into a corner needed to feel like I'd followed through. I decided to top stitch my pleats down from the waist band- 8 inches. Then, I hand stitched a SUPER WIDE hem to help give some weight towards gravity. Ultimately, I think I'll be much happier ripping and turning this into A-line skirt rather than leaving it the way it is.
This month, I'm on somebody else's deadline, so I'm not messing around... hopefully... probably not.