The problem with being an optimistic sewer and knitter

knitting with white cotton

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

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 21.40.02

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

handmade bulky wool sweater

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

ponte knit mesa dress front

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 😉

3 things I liked about the Dior and I documentary

dior at work

dior skirt volumeEven though I am interested in shape, texture, style, technique, garments, making and sewing in general, I am not particularly interested or excited by fashion. There are some (few) designers in the fashion world that have created spectacular garments and shapes that challenge what one knows about sewing, making, tailoring. Dior is one of them.

The documentary overlays a text Dior wrote about himself in his Dior by Dior autobiography with the first couple of months or Raf Simons‘ first couture show as the House’s new Creative Director (the Creative Director resigned last month from Dior).

As a sewing and making aficionado, I would have preferred to see more of the work in the Atelier, but there are three things I really liked:

1. The process of designing the new collection

I really liked how Raf Simons plans the new collection: he chooses 12 silhouettes or ideas and crates a folder of inspiration for each. He gives these folders to his team and then they produce around 100 sketches out of which he chooses the very few that will become real garments.

As a maker who doesn’t want to create unnecessary garments and is concerned with minimalism, but loves experimenting with new fabric, shape, forms and ideas, I find this idea of the folder and the research very interesting. One could create one such folder per month, or per season and develop a mini collection that is well researched and well understood – and produce fewer garments that will last for a long time.

 

2. The Atelier and the wonderful people there

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 22.33.12

I am not sure why it was so great to see 6 people working together over a piece of mesh fabric, applying minuscule beads and an intricate embroidery that covers a full skirt. But it was. To see the people who make Dior, their smiles, their jokes, their hands, their snacks 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 22.32.37

3. The incredible shape of garments

At one point the classical Dior white jacket is looked at closely and you can see that the hourglass silhouette is created not only through smart darts and tailoring, but with tiny over-waist pads that create and control volume.

dior-new-look-in-vogue-4-5_130143580659

Photo sources: above – Vogue, rest Life Magazine Archive: Dior at work, Dior full floral skirt. Screengrabs from the trailer below.

Have you watched it yet? What did you think of it?

 

Knit Pencil Skirt Inspiration

bright orange knit skirt

I am not a big fan of skirts during summer because they tend to be a bit high maintenance. They fly with the lightest breeze, they run up your back while you hurry to get into work, they rebel against you when you bike. Basically, you have to remember you’re wearing a skirt and be a lady.

But in winter, they’re actually great. Worn with tights and leggings, they can be a non-skirt-lover’s best friend. They’re comfortable, easy to make and they bring an easy pop of colour to winter wear.

I’ve been thinking about making a knit pencil skirt and see how much wear it would get. I really like Eleonore Klein’s Brume skirt and I love her Wearability Project. I am so happy she’s back!

dark grey brume skirt

Here is some inspiration for my new skirt! I know I don’t want it to be too tight, but I want it to have a slight pencil shape. I really like this bright version below from Harper’s Bazaar (especially with that t-shirt hemline), but I think I might wear more a black skirt.

bright orange knit skirt

This silhouette: crop top with high waisted skirt worn by Moona and captured by Hel looks is very cool as well. I’m pretty sure I would want my hemline to fall above the knees though.

grey knit hight waisted pencil skirt

This Burda pattern is not designed for a knit, but I saw this print in a thick knit at the fabric store, so I’ll just imagine it is 🙂 This version is shorter, but because it’s not too tight it works.

plaid mini skirt

Jasmin, also captured by Hel Looks is wearing a knit dress here, but you could imagine a knit skirt with a dramatic asymetrical hemline. It looks great!

dramatic asymetrical knit skirt

Last but not least, this Asos knit skirt is more fitted, but it looks like the model can still move, bend, eat a box full of cookies. I like the matching top as well!

printed knit pencil skirt

Best of October in sewing and making

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 12.54.25

October was a good month. Not a lot of sewing unfortunately, but lots of ideas for projects and things to try.

I loved the October Slow fashion movement. I’ve written about the items I wear most and love most, the link between mindful making and slow fashion, and talked about buying pre-loved and mending things you wear. It’s also pretty cool because the end of October and beginning of November mark the eight months I didn’t buy any new garments (with the exception of socks and intimates and 1 blizzard emergency winter layer last March 🙂 I’m more and more interested in reusing materials, from tiny things like reusing paper for printing sewing patterns, to refashioning things you own and visible mending.

I have a refashion idea for a long sleeve I’ve been wearing weekly for some autumn and winters now and I’m getting inspired by the beautiful embroidery I see on Instagram.

I’ve experimented a bit more with knitting and crochet and made this tiny purse. There’s a tutorial too, but I guess I should read more patterns to be able to really write a good tutorial. Or make a video maybe?

I’m a bit impatient with patterns so I tend to just jump in and try things, but sometimes this actually takes more time in the long run because I don’t learn basic concepts everyone knows. On the other hand, it’s pretty cool to understand things like gauge and how to predict the number of stitches you’ll need to create a simple garment, so I’m enjoying that as well.

I’ve sewn some new things as well,  but more about that in a future post :>

Lemon banana muffins recipe: illustrated

Another little change you might have noticed on the blog is the new This Foodie tab, which is a link to my (very small) food blog. So if you’re into food, check it out 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 21.12.27

How was your October?

 

9 embroidery pieces that will make you want to grab a needle and thread

tiny polar bear embroidery beautiful

I’ve been thinking about embroidery lately because I wanted to refresh a thin sweater I wear all the time (including when I’m cooking without an apron). The stain is barely visible, but it’s still there. I am in between doing something big and bold (like big Frida Khalo style florals) or something really tiny and barely visible, almost like a polo logo.

Here are some of the embroidery pieces on Instagram that inspire me most:

  1. This cute otter patch

The advantage of trying this is that I could embroider the tiny otteron another piece of fabric and then decide if it works on the sweater. It looks so delicate and cute!

A photo posted by ipnot (@ipnot) on

2.This fragile and beautiful embroidered boquet I don’t think I would embroider this bouquet on a sweater but I really like how pretty the flowers look. Almost real.  

3. This retro feeling super fun cactus embroidery

I love this embroidery in so many ways! First, the oval embroidery hoop, then the cacti and the 90s vibe. Are you also singing that MC Hammer song in your head right now?

4. This cross stitch on velvet I love how unexpected this traditional cross-stitch motif is on this shiny velvet top. Genius!

A photo posted by @lulubcartersville on

5. This fluffly polar bear

Because it’s impossibly cute. What about sewing this guy on the hem of a pair of pajama pants?

A photo posted by みか (@gankihappy) on

6. This must make shy glasses mini hoop Because it’s a mini hoop with an I’d-Love-To-Meet-You-For-A-Coffee kind of personality. 

7. Another polar bear embroidery. Love the texture

I love the use of negative space in this little embroidery. You have a lot of texture for mama bear and the vulnerable, brand new baby bear sitting in the negative space beside her.

A photo posted by orot2 (@orot2euiseon) on

8. This cubist bear Maybe it’s a sign that this is my third bookmarked bear embroidery but I love the modern and old mix in this piece. I’m also a big fan of embroidery on dark canvas. It pops!

9. This beautiful embroidery thread box

If none of the above will make you want to pick up a needle and thread, like the title promises, let’s try a bit of craft supplies magic.

What is it about supplies that makes one want to drop everything and start making?

A photo posted by True Fort (@truefortthreads) on

Have you bookmarked any embroidery recently? I’d love to see it!

How to knit an easier herringbone stitch

THE HERRINGBONE STITCH from Oversize Me on Vimeo.

I love the video tutorial above by user Oversize Me on Vimeo. I wish they made more videos about knitting because this one is so inspiring. The light is beautiful and the wool looks so fluffly. It just makes you want to knit night and day.

In case you don’t read French, here is the technique as shown above.

This is how to knit the herringbone stitch:

  1. Cast on your stitches for you swatch.
  2. Knit the first row until the end
  3. Knit two toghether (k2tog), then slip off 1 stitch
  4. Purl two toghether (p2tog), then slip off 1 stitch
  5. Repeat

I find this version of the herringbone stitch easier than other versions I’ve seen, but this technique does make a rather stiff, close toghether knit fabric, so if you’re a tight knitter you might want to go down a needle size or two.

I feel it looks beautiful on bulky wool!

Slow Fashion October: Worn

japanese boro

I love things that are worn and loved. I love how things age.

Not all garments and objects age the same, but have you noticed how we tend to go back again and again to that one t-shirt we had since high-school, or that perfect sweater with that tiny stain, or that garment/object/thing that your close friends always tell you to get rid of?

On buying second hand

I know that not everyone likes the idea of shopping pre-owned, but I find it really fun and it makes me proud that I could reuse and even love something that someone else didn’t need anymore. There’s a feeling of rescuing a really pretty/fun/perfect garment from oblivion (=the trash). I like it that I can donate the things I don’t really use for someone else to play the same game.

We bought our bikes from a local charity that accepts bike donations, then rescues, repairs and creates new bicycles. The guys there are great. When we’ll move from here, we’ll donate the bikes back to where they were built. My bicycle is not being made anymore. This is how the gears look like:

Ride into the sunset, bike #nofilter #newplaces # cycling

A photo posted by Sky Turtle (@skyturtle) on

It’s a bit cranky and a bit heavier, but I love her just the way she is 🙂

On mending

We don’t mend anymore. We use and throw away. That’s why I am so inspired by the extreme (and beautiful) mending in Japanse boro, where patches are sewn over patches again and again to create garments that travel and are used every day by generations.

japanese boro

Above, an example of Japanse boro technique from the Amuse Musem in Asakusa, Tokio.

I’ve mended and remade things for myself for a long time, but the most satisfying times I’ve mended something was when I did this for someone else, like when I changed the frayed cuffs of my partner’s favourite jacket – he was amazed that the jacket looked like new. A few months later he was repairing the inner pocket of his coat!

Reusing, refashioning, transforming

Another of my favourite things. There’s a full list, from turning a tank top into a dress, a man’s shirt into a blouse or a shirt to a dress. This week, I’ve done something new, I’ve recycled the wool out of a sweater that had a stubborn stain. It was so rewarding to unravel, make into skeins, wash and dry this wool and I can’t wait to make something new out of it.

recycled yarn

This post is part of Kate’s (Fringe Association) challenge to make October a Slow fashion month. In the past few weeks I’ve also written about the items I love and wear most and about being mindful when we shop for clothes.