Monday, March 17, 2014

Knit Tunic, Take 1

I finished Butterick B5354 in January, but then followed a rough patch (yes, for those of you following along, my last post was a thinly-veiled pregnancy announcement.  14 weeks now, if you care...) so I haven't gotten around to posting it until now. I started this top pre-positive test, but made it with maternity in mind. It's not a maternity top and it certainly won't last all the way to September, but it's a roomy knit and should see me through another month or so. 

I enjoyed this project, it was quick and easy (as promised in the name) but I feel like it's shapely and I love the tuck detail around the neck and the gathered sleeve caps.  

Bump Watch, 2014, is she or isn't she? (she is) 

I am pretty disappointed in my fabric choice though. This is yardage I bought in NYC and it's a surprisingly un-stretchy knit, and very wrinkle-prone.  Like, I had to iron for the photo shoot.  Iron a knit.  It's not right, people. 

This pattern will see some more love, probably a good one on which to try out different types of knits.  How do you know, in the store, or for that matter online, how a knit will behave after it's washed up and sewn? What key words do I need to look for?  (Does this remind anyone else of a terrible "Carrie Bradshaw column"? "How do you know when a knit is right for you?") Seriously, any advice you may have, show some love in the comments.  I think I'll be dealing exclusively in knit fabrics for the next 6 months so I'd better get pretty good at it. 

Including this picture is payment to my photographer...

Holiday-inappropriate.  She is wearing a "who needs luck when you're this cute" St Patty's shirt under this, I swear.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Why We Do What We Do

Do you ever go through a crafting dry spell (say, the length of a physically and emotionally rough first trimester...) and then when you finally sit back down to your sewing machine/yarn/pencil/camera/whatever your craft of choice may be, and, finally, with it back in your hands, you think, oh yeah.  This is me.

Whenever I don't have the energy to make, it's because I've forgotten that making is what gives me the energy.  Creating is what drives our humanity.  The rest is just surviving.

More on this project when I've got it all done, but I have to say that the easy freehand nature of the quilting is so soothing and meditative.  I highly recommend. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Video Tutorial: Transferring Pattern Markings on Knits

I was seriously struggling to wrangle this knit fabric for my next project.  How to lay out? How to cut without wrinkles? How to transfer all of the markings for the ten thousand tucks?  A couple little revelations that really helped me:

When cutting into your knit fabric, lay it out single-layer on a large piece of carpet and then smooth the wrinkles.  The carpet will hold the fabric just as you set it, and now you can lay out your pattern pieces.  Seriously, I spent a long and frustrating time trying to fold my fabric and get the fold smooth enough to cut out my "cut on fold" pieces.  Stop the madness and cut it single-layer! Lay out your pattern piece, cut around, flip it over the "place on fold line" and cut out the other half.  Easy and fast!

My next little stroke of genius came when transferring pattern markings: why bother with sticking pins through each little dot when you've got a fabric "sticky" enough to hold the pattern piece in place? You can see the markings right through the pattern piece, if you fold the pattern right on the markings, you can trace them right beneath.  Maybe this was already obvious to everyone but me, but I kind of blew my own mind with this little shortcut, so I just had to share with you.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pink and Awkwardly Out of Season

This might be my least favorite make, and that's saying something, but I don't want this blog to be a brag-rag, where I only post about how fabulous it is to be me, so here goes.

The original top, a lovely pink silk button-up gift from gap, never got worn, mostly because it was too short and because my life doesn't call for a lot of button-up blouses. The brilliant plan was to use the fabric from the sleeve to make a very wide band instead of a bottom hem, leaving the button placket intact on the top half and allowing it to blouse and bit and then gather into the band. My fave feature of the top is the double-buttons down the front and I wanted to preserve that.

I'll try to condense the whining about this painful process: painstakingly unpick the sleeves, make a sleevecap pattern from them, discover that I do not have enough fabric from the sliced-off bottom to make said cap sleeves and scrap them, attach an existing white tank as a lining but discover that it will not stay rolled into the inside of the shirt and perpetually plays peek-a-boo around the bottom, the exact schlumpy look one tries to avoid by building in a lining, not have quite enough fabric to make the bottom band fit right, cut off the original bottom hem and attach it to the armholes as bias tape, discover that the armholes are too big and should have been shaped before being finished, realize that thread has run out and so this cannot happen, discover that armpits have grown fabric wings and need taken in, decide to f*ck it and throw a jacket over, take the damn picture, and move on to something more inspirational.  You'll note that I didn't even press it.  This one's for the scrap bin, I'm afraid.  Also, I started it in October, when maybe I could have gotten away with wearing it, but it took so darn long it is now New Years and I was shivering for the five minutes it took to snap the photo.  Wow, you must really feel bad for me, it is so terrible to be a tortured home seamstress.

This was an attempt to fill a gap in my wardrobe: right-sized light tops to throw on over skirts, but the fit is just so awkward I doubt it'll see much wear.  Ah well, chalk it up to a learning experience.  I also find that when I attempt a refashion the results don't tend to fit my "oh, this'll be easy, the garments almost done, a couple hours tops..." expectations, and then my inspiration quickly fizzles.  Time for a new project, I think.  You know, the kind where you start at the beginning and at least know you'll have enough fabric for sleeve caps...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Busting Through

This picture makes me so happy...

A mere 2.5 years after buying this house and knowing that we would "sometime soon" get rid of the wall between the eat-in-kitchen and the dining room, the wall is finally gone!  I know that having separate eat-in and formal dining spaces is considered a plus for real estate, but I've just never been able to understand it.  Why do I need two tables? Why have a dining room that doesn't fit my table when fully expanded for family gatherings, and another smaller table on the other side of the wall? One of those tables is going unused, people.  We went another route and just never got a table for the eat-in side, using in as ballroom space (read: empty and useless) figuring we'd be knocking down the wall "any day now".


The "ballroom"...oh that peach color! Thanks previous owners...
Well, with the relocation of Jon's sister and her hubby back to Michigan, our hand was finally forced: the family would not fit in the dining room so it was knock down that wall or relinquish Christmas hosting rights.  And I was NOT going to give up Christmas!  After getting a few estimates that seemed a bit steep, we decided we could DIY.  With three weeks till Christmas, Soph and I headed to my mom's so Jon could start demo.  We received a call from my handsome handyman shortly thereafter: "I found pipes.  And I think it's load-bearing."  Ruh Roh.

The offending water pipes

The During
The contractor graciously re-accepted us and showed up a shockingly quick 5 days later, pulling down the wall (it wasn't load-bearing after all), moving the pipes,  spiffing everything up with drywall.  It was really amazing how quickly we were "squeezed in"!  Jon even got the space painted before Christmas eve!  I somehow neglected to get a shot of Christmas dinner, with 10 adults, Soph, and a glorious Christmas spread fitting in with room to spare, but I will tell you that it was awesome! There is still work to be done: the original dining room has wood floor and the eat-in has tile, with different levels and a gap between where the wall was.  But seriously, this got done in 2.5 weeks and it looks just like I've been imagining for 2.5 years. :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013


My mother and I both get Better Homes and Gardens, and we both devour it the moment it hits our front doors.  Then follows a series of texts: "did you see the kale recipe in BHG?" "BHG page 72 for your dining room" etc. 

This month BHG encouraged us to create holiday centerpieces with trash from the yard local trimmings, and, when Mom said she was going to do it, I obviously had to step up.

The project was fun and almost free: I picked up the red berries from Whole Foods, everything else is from our Christmas tree and yard.

Lacking florist foam or a flower frog, I improvised by popping old jam jars into my buckets (stolen from a shelf elsewhere in the house) and crisscrossing washi tape over the mouths of the jars to give my vertical elements some stability.  I started with the berries and sticks, filled in all around by just shoving in tree trimmings until it looked lush, and then wove in a little ivy to hide the tape.

The front stoop got a similar treatment, with flower pods instead of berries and lots of trailing ivy.  This brass container is an antique Union Pacific spitoon, gifted to Jon by his parents when he worked at UP.  We've never known quite what to do with it, fabulous though it is, but I think it works really well in this application.

Are they really beautiful? I'm not sure, but they're a lot more interesting than the NOTHING that was there before. According to the article, "using greenery that reflects your naturally beautiful, of course."  All righty then. Of course.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Around Here/November

Our biggest piece of news this month was that we high-tailed it outa Michigan for a few days in Sunny St Pete's, Florida.  It was gorgeously 83 degrees and a great opportunity to focus just on each other.  No housework, no outside pressures.  Just our full attention on play and our little family.