Trendy- not exactly a word I would use to describe myself. Still, even an ostrich like me can pick up on the dominate presence of the ombré phenomenon. And, when I read the categories for the Colette Patterns' Laurel contest, I decided to employ the technique for my submission.
Prior to this endeavor, I'd never attempted to dye fiber or fabric, so I wasn't really sure where to start. Fortunately, there are a slew of really helpful tutorials on the RIT website, including this one on ombré technique.
Still skeptical, I headed to Joann in search of a piece of fabric I wouldn't cry over ruining if things went terribly wrong. I had my heart set on fabric with a bit of texture, like the Missoni dress I pinned to my inspiration board, but I didn't have any luck finding a replica. However, I was delighted to find a rayon blend burnout- when did Joann incorporate natural fiber fabrics into their collection?
After a pre-wash I dyed the entire length of fabric, leaving roughly 6 inches at the border white.
I hand washed, rinsed and hung the fabric from the shower rod, light side to dark, to avoid color bleeding.
The colors dried considerably lighter and less saturated than I expected them to. But, the effect was there.
I laid my two body pieces side-by-side, making sure to match grain and color lines between them. The sleeves were cut from the darkest portion of fabric. I turned the sleeve cap to match the coloration at the points of contact, so the deepest shade is at the cuff.
Construction was a breeze. I didn't refer to the directions at all, so I'm not sure whether or not I made any modifications. I did use a self faced underlining on the body of the dress. I left the sleeves unlined, but attached them with French seams, so there wouldn't be any slop peaking through.
I used a lapped zipper closure up the back. And, I machine stitched my hem(s).
I was amazed at how quickly this dress comes together. I waited to start cutting/sewing until Saturday evening, and I had a completed dress Sunday morning.
I wore this out and about during errands and appointments Sunday afternoon. It was easy to wear. Very fuss free.
The sizing on this pattern is worth mentioning. I am fairly out f touch with the sizing on conventional patterns; however, this seems vanity sized-TO THE MAX- I cut a size 4 with no modifications. And, I'm swimming in it. I know there is some intentional ease, but I think I easily could have cut the zero and still had room.
Since I typically use vintage patterns, I was really nervous to be cutting anything smaller than a size 12. And, i haven't fathomed wearing a zero since I was in grade school. Frankly, I find vanity sizing very frustrating. I wish women's clothing would change to a men's sizing system- makes much more sense. Certainly there are other numbers (IQ perhaps) we can weigh heavier than our dress size.
I digress.... You can check out all the contest submissions in the Colette Patterns flickr group. I'm entering under the categories of #laurelcolor and #laurelselfdesigned. Fingers crossed!
Today is a really special day- Today is Michael's birthday! I truly don't believe there is anyone else in the world who knows me better than he does, but if you know me at all, you understand that Mike is an incredibly generous man- the kind of man who deserves accolade for his daily support, encouragement, love and patience. The world is better because he's in it, and my world wouldn't be complete without him.
It's really difficult to get anything finished while I constantly add new projects into the rotation. It's so hard to find that balance between the excitement of starting projects and the excitement of finishing projects. It's not that I don't enjoy the process, because I do. I mean, you couldn't be a garment knitter if you didn't, am I right?!?!? I get a rush at each little milestone along the way. Waist shaping, YEAH! Bust increase, YEAH, YEAH! Sleeves, YEAH,YEAH, YEAH! ...Still, those little progress markers don't compare to the bliss of casting-on or cutting-out pieces for a new project. And, they don't hold a candle to the euphoria of completing a beautifully finished FO.
One used to be enough, back when I started. Then, slowly, I needed more. I'd start a project. I ride the wave of joy associated with the action. Then, I'd sneak a little 'fix' to boost me through to the end. But, it's a slippery slope. At first you just need a little pick-me-up to get by. The next thing you know, you're waking up disheveled with rogue strings in your hair and balls of yarn tucked under the pillow where you put it when you passed out knitting. And, all the while, the desire for "just one more"continues to intensify... Le sigh...
All this to say, I don't have anything completed to show you. So, here's a picture of my latest project in progress wherein I take my first stab at dying fabric. I'm also working on a sweater for which I am fearful I am going to run out of yarn; BIG SHOCK; I know. (I see you rolling your eyes!). Of course, there's this little get-up, that just needs some buttons and a zip. Oh, and I'm working on a skirt forLe Challenge. And, I really want to get some Rosy Lady Shorts finished in time to play along with SewExhausted. And, I still have some work to do before my supplies are completely organized. And, and, and...
While I search for my focus, here is some blogger fun to distract from my madness. Lovely bloggers Stephanie and Jen have nominated Tres Bien Ensemble for a Liebster award. Also, several of you listed me in the Five things meme (Sue was the only one I could track down...) So, I thought I'd combine the efforts (CHEATER) and blend all into one.
1. Tell me a few things about you and why you sew or knit?
I was lucky to grow-up a crafty kid. My mom and grandma used to make a lot of clothes for us when my siblings and I were small, and I think that had a lot of influence on me. I finally decided to learn how to knit because I was bored and needed something to fill my time, and it spiraled out of control. Once I got deep into garment knitting, sewing was a very natural and organic addition to the mix. I continue to knit and sew because I love the utilitarian aspect of making my own clothes. Also, I think it's important to be aware and conscious about the impact that fast fashion has around the world. I aspire to make my entire wardrobe.... I have a lot of work to do before I get there.
2. Why did you start your blog?
I started my blog to archive my project progress and use as a sounding board when I ran into trouble. At the time I started getting into knitting, I didn't know anybody else who did it, so it was cool to have a forum to talk about how cool I thought yarn and knitting are. Also, it seemed like everybody was writing a blog, and I didn't want to miss out on the fun.
3. What is your fashion style? Does it match your handmade style?
It's a work in progress. I see things I like. I admire fashion. But, when it comes to putting myself together, I'm all over the place. I see knitting and sewing my own wardrobe as a way to explore and develop my style.
4. Where do you get your inspiration for projects from?
All over. I love vintage. I love film costume design. I flip through online catalogs at department stores. I spend time on Pinterest. And, LARGELY, I observe YOU! I love to see what you're making.
5. Where did you learn to sew/knit/crochet?
Sewing. I learned the basics from my grandma. I also had home-ec(onomics) class in grade school, and we were required to have some fundamental understanding of patterns and sewing machine use for the purposes of the class. The rest is trial and error. Knitting: I taught myself from a leaflet titled: LEARN TO KNIT IN 30 MINUTES. No joke.
6. What is your process – for sewing do you make a muslin, for knitting do you make sure to swatch? Or do you just make it up as you go?
I'm getting better about thinking gauge and pattern adjustments through prior to starting a project. I like to place pattern pieces up against my dress form so I can get an idea where I need to make alterations to a sewing pattern. I still don't make a muslin and I rarely swatch. Naughty, naughty! This is absolutely a situation where I would advise you, "Do as I say, not as I do". You'll save yourself a lot of headaches. And, while I know that to be true, I just get too darn excited to get going to slow down and do things proper.
7. Where do you buy your fabric or wool?
Everywhere. I love to look for fabric and wool when I travel. There's no better souvenir, in my opinion. I've also gotten a lot of vintage fabric searching local classified ads. I shop online whenever I see a good sale. And, I make the rounds at Chicago stores as well (Vogue, LZ, Fishman's, Windy Knitty, Loopy).
8. What technique or item of clothing are you afraid to make?
First, Trousers. They just seem so complex. And, I know I'm going to have some fit issues dealing with my shorty legs and my big'ole butt. This one is avoidance- all the way. Second, sewing knits. TERROR. I'm so intimidated by them. With knitting, lace shawls. They seem so complicated and daunting. And, we all know how good I am at focusing.
9. What was the first thing you ever made?
The first thing I ever made was a blanket using 12 skeins of Paton's classic merino... I didn't know better (see response to Question 5). When I finished it. It was all sorts of trapezoidal. So, I unraveled and re-knit. It basically took me the whole first year of knitting to get past that blanket. Then, "somebody" put it in the washer and dryer and partially felted it.... I still have it. The dogs use and love it.
10. What is the best thing you ever made?
That's a toughie. I wear my cape more than anything else I've made. So, that might be the most obvious project to choose.
11. Do you work in a creative industry? If not do you plan to eventually make a business out of your crafting or do you want to keep it a lovely hobby?
I do not work in a creative field. I work for a trial attorney, so there are times, when we are on trial, I get to flex my creative muscles and pull together media and presentation productions, but more than anything, I'm pushing paper. I think my 'hobbies' are critical to my mental health, because I need a creative outlet in between hours in the office. I have pipe dreams of branching out in some way to make knitting and sewing a business endeavor, but at this point in my life, I refer to it as my "retirement" project.
OK. I'm supposed to choose a handful of folks to keep these virtual chain letters going. Instead, I've dropped a Linky gadget down below. If you want a Liebster award, leave a link to your blog and write a post answering the same eleven questions I have. Happy Wednesday!
Taking the Pledge.
I'm both a little nervous and excited to take part in Me-Made-May'13. This will be the only Me-Made, Self-Stitched challenge of the year, so I want to make sure I commit fully to participation. It's also my first time accepting this challenge, so I want to push myself to complete the month successfully. As this is a self-determined conquest, I've decided to challenge myself as follows:
I, Michelle of Tres Bien Ensemble, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavor to wear at least one Me-Made item of clothing each day for the duration of May 2013 and document my participation by photographing my efforts daily.
Eeep! It might be a little over-ambitious. I'm starting to doubt myself already as I read the self-imposed challenges of other more accomplished sewers and past participants. But, heck, I'm going for it. Promise you won't judge me too harshly if I end up wearing the same thing every day for a month?
Are you diving in? What sort of goals are you setting for the next month?
Mad Men SAL.
Hello, Betty! Well, Michelle, actually, but I feel like a Betty in my MadMen SAL dress.
I chose Betty Draper, circa season one, as my inspiration- same as last year. Except, this year, I didn't single out a dress to use as the basis for my creation.
Instead, I used some elements of early Betty and applied them to my project: florals, pastels, youthful, full skirts, etc...
Using my fabric stash as a start point, I found a piece of vintage cotton/cotton blend measuring slightly over three yards.
As I scrolled through my pattern boards, it seemed apparent to me that the vintage floral fabric and Simplicity 2105 were begging to be together.
The pattern required 5 yards of fabric, but, I felt certain my standard modifications would help me skate by with the 3ish yards that I had. I adjusted my skirt pieces, removing seven inches from the total length. I took 3/4 inch from the bodice length. Then, I crossed my fingers and laid the pieces on my fabric.
But, it wasn't gonna work. I could either fit four skirt panels and no bodice, or two skirt panels, bodice, with about a yard to spare.
By that point, I had my heart set on sewing this combination. I decided to stay the course and halve the skirt. Each skirt panel measures approximately 35 inches across, giving me 70 inches of material to gather into a 28 inch waist. That's still a fairly substantial skirt.
The skirts on dresses from the 50s are insanely full. I think the forced modification, in combination with the shorter skirt length, makes the dress much more contemporary looking and wearable, actually. That's a plus.
The pattern incorporates a self-faced bodice lining, and I added I lining to the skirt. The fabric isn't sheer, but in the right light, it's a bit transparent and not worth the associated risk.
My poor pattern placement creates enough scandal for me without adding a see-through skirt. Although, I don't think the boobie bouquets are as overtly crude as I feared they might be.
The inside of this dress is tidy. All the seams are French seams. (When I line a dress, I press all the opposing seams in opposite directions so they lay nice and flat on top of each other). I turned under an inch on my hems before securing them, so the raw edges are hidden away. The lining hem is machine stitched, and I did my outer skirt by hand. I also used a French seam at the waist join, in a similar way in which you would do a sleeve. My closure is an invisible zip at the side. Overall, the fit is pretty good. I do feel I need some sort of adjustment between the shoulder to eliminate the small amount of gap there. Otherwise, I'm satisfied with it.
Before I sign-off, today is the 15th! That means, it's time for a giveaway! This month, you can win $25 to Etsy to use towards sewing patterns, yarn, fabric, or anything else your heart desires. This one is open to blog followers only. To enter, let me know how you follow TresBienEnsemble in your comment. Winner will be selected at random and announced on April 30.
Thanks a squillion to our lovely SAL hostess, Ms. Bobbin for organizing another fun-filled challenge! Be sure to hop over to Julia's blog next week to see the other Mad Men sewer project. Au revoir!
Into the World.
This blanket is in the mail. It's headed to a little girl. I don't know her. She lives in the town where I grew-up. And, she's very sick.
I don't do a lot of requests, but when I got an email asking me to knit this particular pattern as a donation to a fundraising auction, I felt compelled to oblige.
Once upon a time, I was a very sick little girl. I was lucky to have the support and help of a large community. I can be certain I never thanked them all. Further, I'm positive there are people whose names I've never known who did things to care for me and my family during all the hospital stays, surgeries and periods of not knowing. And, I know, without question, that all of those things mattered.
I got better. And, I've stayed better for a long time. I hope Katie does too. While knitting a blanket won't cure what ails her, I hope it helps to show that there are people in her corner rooting for her. Keep fighting.
Pattern: Baby Tree of Life Throw
Yarn: Bernat Handicrafter Cotton, Off-White (1.1 skeins)
BOO! Monday. I wish it was Sunday...but, all the wishing in the world won't make it so. It's best to put on my big girl britches and deal with it. For me, there's absolutely no better way to instantly brighten a day than to SQUEAL over pictures of a baby in hand knits. And, since it's likely Monday where you are too, I thought you might be interested in some similar therapy.
Remember back in January when I knit this little get-up? Well, its recipient showed-up to claim it. His name is Finn. And, he had his mommy take pictures of him wearing it for us!
Isn't he handsome!?! I love that little face. And his fingers! He's a really great hand holder and gives great snuggles.
I was especially delighted to see these photos in my inbox, because I didn't get to see Finn last week for our weekly knit night, and I miss him.
He's getting so big!
It's incredible how quickly he's changing. Since I saw him last, he learned how to smile.
If you're not smiling by now, you should check to make sure you have a pulse. Seriously. I'm concerned.
My goodness, Finn, I need to knit faster, because I owe you another knit. Happy Monday, friends!
It's rare to have exactly the right amount of yarn for a project. I'd go as far as saying it's a near impossibility. If you're like me, you have a tendency to buy too little yarn. I typically estimate yardage at the yarn store by rounding to the nearest skein. I NEVER, EVER buy extra. Most of the time, it works out. There are occasional moments of panic in which I begin bargaining with my yarn ball..."PLEASE, just make it to the end of the sleeve", but, mostly, I finish a project with a tiny bit to spare.
Those tiny bits aren't enough to be used on their own projects. But, they're too much yarn to toss.
If you're the opposite of me, and you always make sure to have an extra skein on hand in case of emergency, maybe you don't have this problem. Maybe you use that extra skein in combination with your leftovers to knit hats, cowls, baby sweaters, etc...your foresight and preparedness probably spares you from accumulating odd bits of random lengths of yarn. At least, that's what I tell myself.
As I continue to sort through and organize my stash(es) (yes, still... It's taking longer than I expected) I'm finding that the majority of my storage and organizational issue arise from the partial skeins of yarn I've... hoarded... since I started knitting.
I have a moderately impressive collection of sock yarn stowaways. I've been telling myself they're destined to become a Beekeeper's Quilt, but progress on that has been dismal, by which I mean non-existent.
After the completion of my Oolong and Grace cardigans, I had two more tiny balls of scrap sock yarn ready to take their place among the masses. Yet, adding two more recruits to the army did seen counterproductive to my overall effort.
On their own, neither could amount to much. But, their forces combined, they form an FO. I'm pretty sure I can manage some more of those rogue balls in a similar manner. It's really a shame to have them sitting around taking up space where new yarn could live.
These are a plain old vanilla sock pattern. I improvised the along the way, starting with a Turkish cast-on. I used a short row heel, and threw in a couple increases over the leg length to accommodate my calf width, then I finished with a stretchy cast-off. I knit until I could knit no more. The cuffs are about half as long as I typically prefer, but they get the job done. I had approximately 1/3 more grey yarn than black, so I went with a solid toe/heel/cuff to balance. Also, I set my begining of the round at the center of the foot to remove focus from the jogs. I haven't found a really good way to eliminate stripe jogs in the round. Have you?
Thank you guys for your kind comments and encouragement to wear my Not So Practical dress out and about. You really know how to boost a girl's confidence. I'll wear it and make sure to take a 'rearview' when I do- completely missed that. Have a wonderful weekend!
WINNER: March Giveaway
I know, I know... this post should have been up yesterday. I hope you'll forgive me. I was out of town spending time with my siblings. Then, I needed to make sure I got my Sew for Victory dress posted in time. And... enough excuses.
Without further adieu, the winner of the March giveaway for a $25 gift certificate to Grainline Studios is: JOYATEE! Congratulations!
Thank you to everyone who left a comment. I hope you'll continue to play along each month!
Not So Practical.
Tah Dah! My second Sew for Victory project is finished and photographed! And in the knick of time. Thank goodness for extended deadlines. Thanks, Rochelle!
In contrast to my forties flavored blouse, this dress is about as far from practical as I imagined it would be. Still, I'm OH SO GLAD I decided to sew it. It's pretty fun-tastic and pushed me outside my comfort zone.
If I'm being completely honest, up until I reviewed the pictures for this post, I wasn't sure I would ever wear this dress again. When I first put it on I felt really uncomfortable, and pretty costume-y.
But, there might be an occasion when I could bust this out; I can't think of any off-hand, but it's possible.
There are a lot of things I really like. To start, the silhouette is MAJOR flattering; it hugs and clings in the right spots and doesn't in the wrong ones. Also, the bust line is beautiful and really dramatic. And the color(s).... I think I need to wear more blue; it's working for me.
The fit is good, not great. I have some shoulder gap that needs tightening. Also, I could have benefited from shortening the length of the bodice a smidgen; which I think would have eliminated the wrinkling over the hip (improved posture might also help).
Also, I prefer a more fitted sleeve. So, I would adjust that accordingly in the future.
Construction was fairly straight-forward and fuss-free. I did need to hand sew the bust seam, because it was too bulky to run through my machine. It wouldn't be a problem on single layers of fabric, but the addition of the lace overlay made things too dense to feed under my presser-foot.
My favorite aspect of the way this pattern is designed is that it was created with ZERO facing pieces. This, of course, meant self-bias and top-stitching; a fair trade, in my opinion. The pattern is Companion Butterick 2257. I bought it off eBay a while ago from a seller who found a pile of unused patterns in an abandoned shop (Can you imagine?!?!) It's the only one like it I've seen and I fought to have it. Then, by some strange twist of fate, the post office screwed up shipment of my parcel; the next thing I knew, the seller had refunded my purchase cost AND reshipped the pattern to me. AMAZING. We were meant to be together and we always will.
My main fabric is a rayon faille. I bought it a while back for a project I never got around to. It has a good amount of stretch to it- enough that I was able to completely eliminate the side closure and still maintain the ability to pull this dress on and off over my head. The lace is also a stretch fabric, so it's equally accommodating.
Before I wrap things up, I want to say a HUGE *THANK YOU!* to Rochelle for hosting all of us during the progress of this SAL. It's been fun. Let's do it again sometime! Also, if you're hungry for more forties flare, hop over to the Flckr group and see all the outstanding contributions! I'll be back later with the March Giveaway winner. See you soon!