Red Chunky Knit Sweater

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Finally! I finished my New Year’s sweater. It only took nine months to make a sweater that I whipped out last year in two days…sigh. There is no excuse other than procrastination. At least I’ll be ready when the cold weather rolls around. Anyway, I love a thick chunky knit. I also like to have a January knitting project to help me wile away the post-holiday winter blues. There’s nothing like staying inside on a cold January day with a knitting project, a warm cup of tea, and the five-hour BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.

Last year, I tried out the Lillium sweater, a kit from We Are Knitters. I had been in such a knitting slump, and thought a kit would help. Here’s the result from last year:

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Big hair, don’t care!

I decided to make another Lillium sweater. This time I wanted it to be a neutral or cool-toned red. In the interest of my budget, I purchase eight skeins of Lion Brand Heartland Thick & Quick yarn in Redwood (113). Using a combo of coupons at Joann’s, the total came to right around $36, just under the $40 budget I set for this project.

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I hacked the style of this pattern to make it look different from the other one. The top half of the front and back pieces are in reverse stockinette and the bottom half are in regular stockinette:

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The front and back pieces are identical
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The front and back are attached at the shoulder seams
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Sleeves are attached
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The sweater in finished and it’s being blocked

It’s a simple design, but adds visual interest to a basic piece. I doubled the yarn in order to get the proper gauge on number 19 needles (which the pattern calls for). I won’t detail what I did out of respect for the pattern designer – I don’t want to give her work away for free. But I will say, the Lion Brand yarn is a nice substitution of you already have the pattern. The result seemed to come out a little longer and narrower than the first one, but I like that it looks like a completely different sweater. The sleeves needed much more adjusting than the bodice – I’m not sure why… I cast on 8 more stitches per sleeve, but otherwise followed the same instructions as before. I’m happy with the result!

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Things I Make

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Project Planning – What’s on the Horizon

Well, I wrapped up my Summer projects, and now I’m gearing up for the next round of sewing. Of course, no matter what I plan, it will inevitably change as new inspiration, new thrifted fabric scores, and random ideas come along. That’s the nature of the beast. But I already have some things cut out. These are my plans so far, in no particular order:

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I’m making the top on the right, but cropping the sleeve to the length of the one on the left.

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This skirt is going to be midi length, with all the facings made from a cute print I found in my mother’s scrap bag.

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I’m so excited about this one. The blouse in View B is going to serve as the bodice for a retro, button-front shirt dress. I’m self-drafting the skirt, and the rust-colored cotton is going to be the contrasting collar.

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I’m making my Fella a short-sleeved version of the shirt in View A, complete with pearlized snaps and classic Western detailing.

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I’m making the hoodie in View C. I’m not much of an athleisure person, but the shirred sleeves and the color and Southwestern print of the fabric won me over.

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This is going to be the blouse in View B. The face print will serve as the main body of the blouse, and the challis print will become the sleeves and ruffles.

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This chiffon will become View A. I think this is going to be perfect with my wide-legged jeans.

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I’ve already partially assembled the dress in View D, but since the fabric has no stretch, I’m adding a back zipper.

Well, we’ll see what happens. I’m constantly being side-tracked by other projects. In the meantime, I need to replace a broken zipper in the Fella’s dress pants. Not the fun sewing I want to do, but far more important. Better get it over with!

Thing I Sew

#MakeNine2019 Part Four – Summer Wrap-Up

Well things have been pretty quiet here on the blogging front, especially when it comes to sewing, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I didn’t feel like I’d been productive, especially since I spent a week of August on vacation, but I really surprised myself. Here are the results of August and the first half of September:

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This is the breakdown:

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Left:  Simplicity 8375 with a self-drafted, bias-cut yoke on both front and back, and a faux placket with button details. Made from thrifted fabric and buttons.

RightSimplicity 8601 View D, upcycled from an older make (a tunic dress) and the scarf that I made from the leftovers.  

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Left:  Butterick 6563 View C, a Gertie retro pattern, hacked into a Western-style blouse using vintage McCall’s 2118, a men’s pattern from the 1950s. Made from thrifted fabric.

Right:  McCall’s 7959 View A, made from thrifted fabric.

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Left:  Briar Tee from Megan Nielsen Patterns, hacked into a bow blouse by using the neck facing as a neck band, then adding a tie to the front. Made from thrifted fabric.

Right:  McCall’s 7360 View A, with pearlized snaps. Made from thrifted fabric.

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Left:  McCall’s 7961 View D, made from black stretch poplin, a 5 yard for $5 fabric from Walmart.

Right:  Another Butterick 6563 View C, made from thrifted corduroy, with pearlized snaps.

I didn’t write a blog post about most of these pieces, but I did go into detail on Instagram. For more details, the links to each item are on the ‘Things I Sew‘ page. See the link at the bottom of this post.

I’m so ready to move on to Fall. I absolutely LOVE Fall. How about you? If only the weather would cooperate…

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Things I Sew

Don’t Fix Me

Don’t fix me
I’m not a problem to solve
For I am not you
My path is my own
It’s okay that I’m not okay

Tonight I make camp
In a place called Unknown
A vigil I keep in the moonlight
You fear the moon
For the shadows it casts
Searching for somewhere to hide

You shine a light that can never replace
The sun that has yet to rise
You blind my eyes
But I must see the night
There are things
I am here to discover

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About Me

Show Me Your Eyes

“Show me your eyes.” Earlier today I was walking down the street in Santa Fe with my Fella. A vendor stopped me, telling me how much she adored my style. I won’t lie – it was a good accessories day. I have been looking forward to this vacation for a long time and packed accordingly. We arrived last night, and I was so excited to finally be here. My guard was down, so when she said, “show me your eyes,” I lowered my sunglasses, thinking we were discussing makeup. We weren’t. She proceeded to point out all the little puffy places and lines and all my tiny flaws. I felt the inside of me shrink. She had a product to sell me. And, like every effing other thing corporate America wants to sell, it requires me, a woman, to be painfully aware of my supposed inadequacies and hate myself, so I’ll buy products I don’t need in my search to feel like I’m enough.

I was already feeling conspicuous and vulnerable at this point, so when she asked, “What products do you use,” I froze. No matter what I said, she was going to tell me how they were inferior to whatever it was she had to sell me. Here’s the thing – I make all of my own products. I have years of experience and education behind it, too. So, in addition to being made to feel like there was something wrong with the face in which I already felt pretty, and the complexion of which I am quite proud, I was not going to subject my wellness expertise and years of hard work to her harsh scrutiny. Eff that. EFF. THAT. “You know what,” I told her, feeling mad at myself for not stopping this interaction sooner, “This is all just designed to make people feel bad about themselves. I need to leave.” I felt embarrassed and deflated. The truth is, I have just passed through some very difficult months. My eyes are puffy because I’ve been sick and that’s just the way it is when your body has multiple infections going 24/7 and you’re too broke for the rich people medicine. What I needed more than anything was a vacation. What I didn’t need was some vendor chick pointing out the one thing about my appearance that I WAS feeling bad about but was perfectly okay with having in my life regardless. I don’t have any driving need to measure up to any standards. Quite frankly, I don’t have the precious life force energy to give to that sort of mental torture. I’m okay with looking like a real person with real life struggles. What I’m not okay with is someone else using this to bring me lower and take advantage of my vulnerability. I do not give my consent.

And, you know what? For eff sake, I’m a 46-year-old woman. I’m a human being. I’m allowed to be tired and look that way. I’m allowed to have genetics. I’m allowed to love myself despite the struggles. Hell, I’m allowed to love myself even more because of them. I AM NOT required to erase anything because I’m female. My boyfriend was right beside me, eyes puffier than mine, and no one cared. Why not? Why wasn’t he subjected to this scrutiny? Because I’m pretty, I’m female, and the assumption is that this is the thing in which I find my value. Cha-Ching. We walked to the end of the block, and as he pulled out the map to look for the Georgia O’Keefe Museum, I grabbed his arm. “Stop,” I said pulling him to the side. And I cried. I stood right there in the middle of the sidewalk and let the tears flow down my cheeks right in front of other people. I let him hug me, comfort me, and tell me I’m pretty. I wiped my eyes with his Star Wars bandana as other middle-aged ladies walked past me looking concerned. But I really only had two choices: Push the feelings way down inside along with the millions of others that I have had to shelve over the years in the interest of decency, sanity, professionalism, appearances of emotional stability, yada ya…or just get them out of my body and into my boyfriend’s handkerchief. My body is already enough of a battlefield. I’m already fighting a hundred tiny battles at any given moment. I don’t have any room in my heart for this.

Later – longer than I care to admit – I stood in the museum gift shop looking into the wrinkled face of a very elderly Georgia O’Keefe on the front of a post card. I made peace with myself; gave myself permission to continue being my eccentric self. Gave myself permission to be messy in public and let that be okay; permission to give a crap about this stuff and have feelings about it. Sometimes doing the strong thing as a woman means you may look weak in the moment to other people. But it’s okay to be misunderstood sometimes in order to take care of yourself, to heal yourself. There will always be someone who cuts you just so they can sell you a Band-Aid. No thanks. I’m a woman. Women are healers. I can tend to these wounds just fine, thank you very much. I’ve had plenty of practice. Show me your eyes. All I see is strength.

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About Me

Black/Grey Sheer Tie-Front Blouse

Sometimes a project is challenging because it’s a complex design. Sometimes the design is super easy, but the fabric is a pain to work with. This was one of those projects…

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I bought this chiffon fabric five years ago at Joann’s. It was one of those moments where you’re browsing, something catches your eye, and you spontaneously buy it with absolutely no plan in mind. I bought about 2-1/2 yards of this 45″ wide yardage. Having no plan, I decided to make a simple tunic. I basically made a boat-necked, sleeveless tunic that hit mid calf, with two side slits. It was the most basic garment I could possibly have used this fabric for, and it looked great belted with sandals over a simple black slip. I knew when I made it that this garment was a placeholder for a better idea, I just didn’t have any other ideas at the time. This way, I got to wear the fabric, yet preserve the yardage for future projects.

I had some yardage left over, so I used it to make several scarves, an opportunity to practice using my narrow hem and differential feed settings on my Serger. Many scarves were made at that time. The differential setting on the overlock machine is magical and addicting. I ended up with a large square scarf and a fun ruffled version:

Amazing what a narrow hem and chain stitch can do!
Scarves are a great scrap buster.

I only wore the tunic twice. It was pretty but not very easy to wear. Apparently, stretch is key in a long, straight fitting dress. The first time I wore it was to a Catholic mass. Can you imagine doing all that standing/sitting/kneeling in a dress like that? It wasn’t easy to sit or move in, and I ended up wearing the scarves far more often. Lesson learned. What a disappointment, considering how much I loved the fabric! It deserved to become something better.

A few months ago, I bought Simplicity 8601 for use with another fabric I bought that fateful day five years ago (story for another day):

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I was all set to use View A, when View D caught my eye:

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Was it possible to squeeze a blouse out of the tunic and square scarf? Guess what! It was exactly the right amount of fabric for this blouse. Finally, my awesome fabric got to become something pretty. And I still get a pretty scarf out of it.

This is the before and after. It’s hard to tell, but the photo on the left is a LOT of yardage draped around my neck. I basically used the tunic as a scarf during the colder months by wrapping it around my neck several times and using the arm holes to loop the ends through, then I threw the gathered scarf over my shoulders to make it look like the whole thing was ruffled. Not a bad way to get off-season use out of a piece of clothing, but the fabric deserved better. The photo on the right? I get to wear the better-looking scarf AND get a blouse out of it! Can’t complain.

So, like I said, the pattern was simple, the type of design that you can whip out in a few hours. But considering that this is chiffon (all slippery and drapey) and that the main body of this blouse was cut on the bias, I struggled. It took an entire week. I worked in small sections, little by little, completely unmotivated by the process. I’m thrilled with the outcome, but in no way did I enjoy making it. That’s the way it goes sometimes. These sleeves were the bane of my existence to assemble, but they came out so pretty.

Here’s the result:

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Moral of this story? It’s important to pull things out of your closet if you aren’t wearing them. It’s worth the effort to re-make a me-made item into something wearable. It sucks to take a seam ripper to something you already put time into, but if you aren’t wearing it, can you really consider the garment finished? I say not. That being said, I’m currently in the process of making more things over. Stay tuned…

Thing I Sew