Blue wool Oslo cardigan

I made the Oslo cardigan! In wool! Who-hoo.

I’ve been thinking about this cardigan for a long time and I am happy I finally got to make it.

I was a bit afraid I was going to fail horribly because my fabric wasn’t stretchy, like the pattern asked. I first did a test version in a dusty pink suede that was on sale for $1/m at the fabric store. This way I could see the fit in another non-stretch fabric and see what alterations I needed to make for the final garment to fit me well.

oslo wool back

Sorry for the badly lit photos!

I have this wool from Barcelona and wanted to make a coat out of it last year but… spring came! I don’t know how to call the pattern on this wool… it’s not plaid… it’s not Jacquard…

I took the risk and just cut a size bigger and sewed it using a 0.7 in (2 cm) seam allowance. I also widened the sleeves because they were to tight at the cuff. I lengthened them a bit and then made the cuffs smaller, even though I like the cuffs in the original pattern.

oslo wool 1

I shortened it as well, so it would fall just above the hip.

The construction was super fast and super easy. I pondered for a while whether I should line it – the wool is itchy and it would have given it a bit more structure – but I decided not to. I’m going to layer this over sweaters and it might look too boxy. I was also lazy to do it, but I might just do it one of these days.

I have another dark blue wool that I bought with this pattern in mind, but I bought too little of it! With the double collar and the cuffs, this pattern needed more fabric than I expected. So don’t even think buying less than 1.8 yards (1.7 meters).

Garment notes:

Sewing pattern: Oslo with the subscription 4 CAD

Pattern notes: because I used a woven fabric instead of a knit. I cut the pattern one size bigger and sewed it with a smaller sewing allowance than suggested because I didn’t want to cut it again, but if I would have to print it and cut it from scratch, I would cut two size larger for a non-knit. I also widened the sleeves and made the cuffs shorter to reduce bulk. I also shortened it to fall above the hip (and save fabric).

Fabric: 1.5 meters unidentified wool woven fabric – in my stash forever so I am not going to even try to reminder the cost 🙂

No notions, thread from my stash.

Final cost = 4 CAD

 

Book review: Practical pattern making

Practical pattern making is the book I wish I had read a few years ago, when I first got interested in pattern making. It takes you from zero to hero in under 250 pages. I really like this book because it’s practical, yet fearless.

Written by pattern makers and fashion designers Lucia Mors de Castro and Isabel Sanchez Hernandez, the book is organized in three sections: traditional patterns, geometric patterns and traditional geometric patterns.

The first section, traditional patterns, includes a basic pattern for a skirt and two advanced variations of a tulip skirt: one when the front includes two overlapping sides (like two petals) and another where the fabric is gathered near the waistband. Two quite striking jackets patterns follow and then we move on to the basic dress shape. Once this is explained, an explosion of shapes and transformations follow: the authors play with a multitude of dress shapes, from oval and organic to pleats and striking geometric shapes. I like how quickly you progress from the basic shape and how well each journey to the couture-looking dresses is explained.

Book review Practical pattern making 1

 

The second section, geometric patterns, makes new garments starting with a geometrical shape: a circle is being manipulated in semicircles and circle sections that become fantastic circle dresses. Squares and rectangles are folded like origami and turned into, among others, a batwing top dress and a wrap-around dress.

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The last section, traditional geometric patterns, combines the techniques learned in the previous sections. One of the five dress patterns in this section is mix between a block bodice, which is manipulated by moving bust darts, and a skirt made by manipulating a rectangle. The others are as imaginative and as fascinating as this one. At the end of the section, one has the feeling that the possibilities of manipulating block and shapes are endless. And that is easy to do.

Book review Practical pattern making 3

What I wished this book had was more commentary and more storytelling. I wanted to be inspired by the authors and know how they started, how they learned, what mistakes they made. The book is very technical and feels almost like a manual. But I missed the teacher’s voice, whispering in my year to love this book and love patternmaking.

For a designer/maker interested in creating and sewing dresses, this book is fantastic. It does not feature a lot of “everyday patterns”, so if you’re looking for basic shapes only tiny steps away from the basic block, it’s possible this book will seem overwhelming. If you’re more adventurous and love shape and fabric manipulation, this book will light up your imagination. If you’re not sure, the book includes basic blocks that you can magnify to use in your own creations, so you can use what you’ve learned to create your own, new garments. The images and descriptions make the book very clear and ready to be put to work.

Book review Practical pattern making 2

 

Note: I was offered a free copy of this book for review, all thoughts and comments are my own.

On “old as new” and not keeping a fabric stash

I’ve been recently having lots of ideas to sew new things. You know how it works: inspiration strikes, you want to go to the fabric store right that moment. Once at the fabric store, you don’t find what you need, and in a fit of despair you buy three-four other fabrics that:

  1. You might want to use someday when you are really going to work on that project you thought about two years ago. This is the perfect fabric for that project. It doesn’t seem important that the project doesn’t seem exciting anymore, this is the perfect fabric for that project. You buy it.
  2. Are simply so fun and cool and you don’t know what you’ll do with them but you love them! (They will stay in your stash for years either because you’ll never figure out what to do with this piece of fabric, or because you love it too much, or both!)
  3. This fabric would be so cute for a shirt (never wears shirts) etc.

You know what I’m talking about right?

So instead, I am trying to force myself to use up my fabric stash. What is the point of keeping all this fabric (and fabric takes space) if you don’t use it?

This is difficult, because sometimes I just don’t have the type of fabric I need for a project in my stash (like a thicker knit) or I don’t have enough. Or the fabric I have doesn’t make sense for the season. Other times I just don’t feel like sewing the project I want to use that specific fabric for. I have this beautiful chambray with tiny white flowers that was a gift from my partner’s mom and I’ve always wanted to make a shirt out of it. But a shirt is still a big investment of time and focus for me.

The second option is to repurpose/fix something I already own, which is not that exciting, unless you have a genius idea or you do a fix that changes your life completely (I might be exaggerating a bit here 🙂 ). The other day I fixed the waistband and took in the sides of a pair of lounge pairs I wear a lot but have always been just 85% comfortable. 10 minutes later they are the perfect lounge pants. Why did I wait six month to do this fix?

I’ve also turned a hoodie into a hoodie-less (?) sweatshirt and sewed in a new neckband. Went from “what’s strange with this hood? Why is it making me feel like I am a giraffe” to “oh, the freedom!” in another 10 or so minutes.

What are the advantages or using up my fabric stash and fixing/refashioning items I already own?

  • More space in an already small home
  • Less stuff without a purpose
  • Less trash (by repurposing/fixing and not throwing things away)
  • More creativity (by challenging yourself)
  • More thoughtfulness (less impulse fabric buying)

I am thinking to give myself some rules. Something like keep the stash to just one shelf or one pile. Or maybe make seasonal stashes? How do you manage your fabric stash and what’s your philosophy around it?

 

 

 

 

A hat that looks like desert ( + Knitting Pattern)

With the temperature dropping to -17 degrees celsius last Monday, I knew I needed a new hat. I had given a previous version of this to a friend and had remained hatless for the season.

I wanted to create a bit of space to tuck my hair in, which is more comfortable than fighting flying locks possessed by static electricity.

I made this hat in an evening. I used a bulky weight off-white acrylic yarn that actually feels and looks quite nice (I lost the label!) and a worsted weight pink wool for accents (also lost the label, I had it as a remnant).

My gauge was 11 sts and 15 rows = 10x 10 cm in stockinette stitch.

This is what I did:

  • Cast on 46 (this is a small size).
  • Knit ribbing for 8 rows (ribbing is knit 1 purl 1 row 1; knit 1 purl 1 row 2 and repeat)
  • Then I increased a stitch for each fourth stitch I knitted and worked it in stockinette stitch for 20 rows.
  • I then started decreasing one for each third on the knit side and just purled through the purl side.
  • I then decreased one for each second and purled all on the purl side. I knit, then purled all the stitches without decreasing for another row.
  • I then knitted 2 together until the end of the row and puled a long thread though and tied the top of the hat off. I sewed the back seam of the hat with a plastic needle (so much better than the tapestry ones I’ve been using and hurting myself with).
  • I then made a pompon and sewed it tightly on!

The hat is warm and comfy!

Let me know if you have any questions about this, I’d be happy to clarify!

 

Green textured knit dress (a modified Mesa sewing pattern)

Happy 2016! May this be the year in which you create a masterpiece. This could be sewn, knitted, crocheted, embroidered and even just imagined in your head 🙂

The post today is about another Mesa dress version. After making my first version and realising I wasn’t very comfortable with that neckline (it’s beautiful, I just think a raised neckline is easier to layer + you don’t need to worry about lingerie straps showing). So I raised it a bit. A bit too much, I think, but this is a cold weather dress, so that’s good.

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I used a beautiful textured dark green/petrol jersey I found at Fabricland in the discount box.  Thick and warm (a little bit too plastic for wearing on bare skin, but perfect for layering.

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Since I had already sewn this, I could quickly make modifications to the pattern, cut it and sew it. In spring, I’ll use this to make a fun and vibrant version. Maybe flowers. Maybe cats. Maybe both (just kidding :)).

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Garment notes:

Sewing pattern: Mesa with the subscription 4 CAD (since I’ve already used it for another dress, I will calculate as 2 CAD)

Pattern notes: after making the pink ponte knit mesa I realised the boat neckline wasn’t the easiest to layer so I’ve redrafted it. I was a bit anxious that I will ruin this fabric as I didn’t make a muslin, but it worked out !

Next time I can lower the neckline a bit.

Fabric: 1.2 meters speciality textured knit 7 CAD

No notions, thread from my stash.

Final cost = 9 CAD

Not too shabby!

The problem with being an optimistic sewer and knitter

I think with knitting, I am always an optimist. I always think everything will work perfectly, even if I don’t swatch and never tried that pattern before. I am a beginner-beginner who doesn’t want to believe it.

No matter how many times I unravel and redo, I always make the same mistake of doing the least possible to make sure my future project will be a success. I just sincerely expect it to be.

And it’s a pain.

I’m trying to remember if it was the same with sewing; if I tried a lot of difficult things that were way too complicated for my skills and failed miserably. I can think of one example at least. I had been only making handbags and altering clothes when I saw a really cool dress pattern in a Burda magazine. It was blue, made with a stretchy lining, a flowy base of Georgette and intricate straps. I remember taking a long trip to buy the fabric, spending quite a lot for a garment and starting to cut the Georgette straight away.

It almost worked. It was wonky and not wearable but it looked like a dress. I haven’t sewn such a complicated dress since this summer when again I tried cutting into fabric without a pattern, trying to redo an interesting drape I have seen on Pinterest and imagining everything will look perfect and that I was a superhero seamstress. It didn’t work.

I must be an optimistic sewer as well then.

I guess this is good, because I am quite brave in my sewing and knitting. But I do fail a lot 🙂

What about you? Are you optimistic or rather pessimistic when you sew or knit?

 

 

 

10 interesting leg of mutton (puffy) sleeve garments

I the holidays are here this calls for some serious funky dress. We want to look stunning. yet be comfy enough to play with the toddlers and (while) helping ourselves with a second serving of cake.

What a better way to draw attention to your beautiful face and away from your happy belly than some truly radical leg of mutton sleeves. Mm…leg of mutton .. anyway!

The first one is also the most striking. “This is not a winter dress! What is this?” you’ll say. But think about it. You can layer it on top of leggings. Wear a coat. I wonder what Oona would have to say about this 🙂

The second and third puffy sleeves are just as big as they can get without causing too much distress to aunts and uncles.

But this one is just genius! I also love the knitted vest on top and the colour (even though I do not and will not own anything in that colour!)

I kind of want to make this see-through one right away. I will probably never wear it like you’re supposed to be wearing it, but I still like it for some reason!

This sleeve is barely leg of muttony  but that extra volume and the sheer fabric? Amazing!

I love everything about this blouse, the fabric, her outfit!

Last but not least, what about a leg of mutton sleeve jacket? It might end up looking like my funny-not-so-funny knitted sweater, but it might also end up looking really good.

Another dress that I love. I always try to do things with velvet and always (but always) fail miserably. But it looks so good.

And last but not least, what about a leg of mutton sleeve lounge top? So cute!

Thanks for reading my puffy sleeve rant :> Would you wear a leg of mutton sleeve top/dress?

The softest and warmest sweater with the very long sleeves

I’ve finished this sweater without trying it on during knitting (bad idea) and never thought about sleeve length + dropped shoulder. You’d think a person who sews would know at least that. Well.

I used 5.5 skeins of Bernat Roving yarn, and made up very simple pattern for the front and back (basically a rectangle with a neckline decrease) and slowly decreasing sleeves. I wanted this to look big and I decided to make it long enough to wear with leggings.

handmade wool sweater unfinished sleeve

Well, it is big. It’s huge. It’s like a sea of soft, warm, fibre. A sea with very long sleeves, that I will have to redo (serenity now!) because I actually want to wear this sweater. And because it was tested (yes with the sub par sleeves) and it’s sooo cozy! 🙂

handmade wool sweater

Instead of sewing the seams I used a crochet but this gave me big, bulky, visible seams, so I will redo that as well.

I didn’t finish the neckline yet.

I didn’t mean to color block it first, but I bought this yarn without knowing very well what I wanted to do with it. I first considered knitting a simple shrug, but I liked the texture of the resulting knitting fabric so much, that I went and bought more. And they were out of my colour of course :((

handmade wool bulky sweater back view

Look how crazy these sleeves are 🙂

handmade wool sweater extra long sleeves

Well, working with this yarn was so pleasant and the fact that I was knitting it while talking over the phone with love ones makes it even more special. Like their goodness is knitted in each loop of the sweater.

Garment notes:

Pattern: self-drafted (it’s really too much to say it’s a pattern. I just knit a 20x 20 swatch to get gauge then used very simple geometry to create this soft monster) – cost 0

Yarn: 36 CAD

Notions: wool needles 2 CAD, I already had the knitting needles.

Total cost: 38 CAD

 

Magenta ponte knit Mesa

I had this thick knit in my stash for a very long time, maybe more than 3 years. It was one of the fabrics that I brought with me when we moved to Canada, because it was beautiful and I wanted to make something I would wear for a long time. When Seamwork magazine introduced Mesa I finally decided to cut into this fabric.

It wasn’t all fun and games though. I spend an entire day stitching and unstitching. Neither my serger and my sewing machine wanted to sew this with the matching thread I had bought for this. My twin needle snapped too.

In the end I had to let it marinate for a week and get back to it with a calmer mood and ready to be ok with sewing it with white thread. I bought a new twin needle. This snapped as well. I might have not been completely zen in the end.

I finished the whole dress in tiny zig zag stitch.

ponte knit mesa dress back

Looking at the photos I notice there’s a lot of extra fabric at the back, any ideas how I can fix this? Would darts work?

This fabric is very interesting, yet so difficult to work with. When you look at it, it seems like a really nice sweater knit with a soft inside and a crisp outside of the fabric. But the elastic fibres in the knit are quite strong (it reminds me a big of scuba fabric) so even though it’s elastic it doesn’t drape too much and it’s quite rigid for a knit. It doesn’t feel like plastic at all though and I am hoping that after a few washes and drying cycles the fabric will loosen up a bit. We’ll see.

Note to self: never again wear this dress with these leggings, the stitching seams are not flattering at all 🙂

Pattern: Mesa with the subscription 4 CAD (since I’ve already used it for another dress, I will calculate as 2 CAD)

Pattern notes: I removed the slits at the hemlines and make 3/4 sleeves. I cut an M because I didn’t remember if I pre-washed the fabric (oops 🙂 and ended up grading the to an S around the waistline.

Next time I want to alter the neckline as I am not completely happy with the boat neckline. It looks great as it is but when you layer, problems happen 🙂 Plus I don’t like my lingerie straps to be showing. Also, I should make a long sleeve version as well.

Fabric: 1.3 meters thick, rich, elastic knit that broke two double needles (aargh!) and was a pain to sew! I bought this from a trip a few years ago and I don’t remember how much I paid for it. Let’s say a 10.

Notions: Doble needle 15 (never buy your double needles at the fabric store!), thread from my stash.

Final cost = 27 CAD

I’ve already worn it twice so cost per use is already 13.5 😉