Thursday, August 28, 2014

WIP: Wonder if I can Proceed?

Having my knitting needles all organized and looking so pretty in my new needle case, I've been wanting to pick up some knitting again.  Recently, I was able to make a few baby hats for some expecting friends, as well as a fall hat for my baby girl.  It's so nice to accomplish something before you face a more daunting task.  The daunting task I speak of is deciding what to do about my two knitting UFOs.

UFO numero uno is the 1950's sweater that I started as part of a knit along on ravelry.  I was making great progress, and even planned to have it completed by the deadline until work went crazy and I was too tired to even knit on the bus.  So with a finished front and almost finished back the sweater sits.

While I really like the pattern, and I love the yarn colors that I selected, but I can't decide if I should forge ahead and finish the project or frog it.  The reasons I don't want to keep knitting are:
  • I made this when I was still working in an office environment.  It was perfect for wearing with all of my high waisted pencil skirts.  Now I never wear high waisted pencil skirts, and this does not really go with my more casual "mommy" clothes.
  • While I have never had a lot of waist definition from having a more boyish figure, my post baby body has even less waist definition.  This sweater is made for that lovely 1950's hour glass figure, and I can see that it just won't suit me so well.
  • I started this as part of a knit along, because I love being part of a community.  The knit along has been over for a year and half now . . .

While these are all legitimate reason to begin unraveling, I can't get past the fact that I have already put so much work into this sweater!  Now that my free time is less than ever, I wonder if it's even possible to unravel this and start AND finish a new sweater from scratch.

My second UFO is the lovely Georgia by Jane Richmond.  This sweater was started when I needed something to do at 2 AM every morning.  Yes, you read that right, 2 AM.  The first four months of nursing, I used to get up in the middle of the night and pump for forty five minutes.  I have chronic low milk supply (it's a real thing), so this was one way to help make up for it.

Just so happens that my gauge at 2 AM is a bit tighter than my gauge during normal awake hours.  I guess I was focusing so hard on not focusing on how much that I was pumping, that I just pulled that yarn tighter and tighter.  I still have my original gauge swatch, prepared during the day, and the gauge on my sweater is much tighter than the gauge on my swatch.  This has resulted in a sweater that is too tiny.  Can blocking correct this?  I've never needed to change a sweater much through blocking.

Look at all that gaping where the buttons should close!  Not looking so good.
So my lovely readers, take a walk in my shoes (actually, I'm barefoot at the moment).  What would you do about these two wips?  Does it make sense to press on and finish?  Rip them out and start over?  Rip them out and start a completely new project?  I am not used to having UFOs, so this is actually very tough for me.  Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Oh, and because I cannot end my post with just negative feelings, I did complete something!  I made my mom a cowl just like the one I made my sister for Christmas last year.  My mom really liked it, and she has always been so supportive of my crafting hobbies that I thought it was about time she was the beneficiary of my work.  Here it is modeled by the best looking person in my house:

Ahh, her cuteness kills me!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

What Gets Worn the Most?

Now that summer is nearing an end and fall is just around the corner, I thought I would take a critical look at my handmade wardrobe and see what truly gets worn.  Prior to mommy hood, all of my handmades got worn pretty frequently; however that is not the case any more.  By taking an honest look at what I wear the most, I want to know how to edit down my "to do" list to only items that will get a lot of wear.

There are two items that currently get worn all the time; my Renfrew top and shirt dress.  Renfrew gets worn a lot because I don't have many t-shirts, yet I often want to wear a t-shirt.  I love the cheery colors in the fabric and a basic t-shirt is a perfect mommy staple.  My shirt dress actually gets more wear than my Renfrew.  It was the first thing I wore out of the house after my daughter was born.  It got a lot of wear this past year because it was my only handmade dress that was nursing accessible.  I also love the nod to the 1950's from this classic style.

Then there are three items that get worn a lot, but not all the time.  I am including my Gabriola skirt here even though it was just made, it gets worn a lot (like I wore it to church two weeks in a row, plus during the week).  I love the way the rayon fabric feels against my skin, and the bright colors are my style.  My Alma blouse actually gets quite a bit of wear as well (though when I was still nursing during the day, I would wear it if I was going somewhere, then change as soon as I got home to make nursing easier).  My 1960's floral shift dress has always been a favorite.  This one gets worn when ever I need to dress up (though like my Alma blouse, it wasn't nursing friendly).

So what trends have I noticed with the things that truly get the most wear?  First, it has to be comfortable and easy to wear - which can be accomplished in fabrics other than knits.  Second, I really do love bright colors, and it seems that pink is a color that I wear a lot of.  Pink isn't necessarily my favorite color, but I do think it looks good on me, and I often find it to be associated with other bright colors.  Third, I like a good mix of dresses and separates - in my top five I have two dresses, two shirts and one skirt.

As I look to start planning a fall wardrobe, I am going to look for patterns that are casual and easy to wear.  I will also look for a mix of modern and vintage silhouettes and fabrics like cotton and rayon.

Have you taken a critical look at your hand made wardrobe before?  What trends do you notice?


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Summer Romance

Oh my word, I am so excited to share my newest sewing with you!  Way back in February, I mentioned that I won a pattern through a giveaway on Vicki's blog.  That Vicki, she is so sweet and kind.  Well, I let her pick out a pattern for me, since I really had no idea what I wanted for myself.  Vicki selected the Gabriola Skirt from Sewaholic.  

I have to be completely honest here and say that when Tasia first released the pattern I thought it was cute, but just not for me.  Aside from my wedding dress, I have never worn a skirt or dress that went past my knees.  Also, I sort of felt like maxi skirts were too trendy for me - like I'm not cool enough to pull one off!  However, when the pattern arrived, I felt that I had the perfect fabric in my stash - and I liked the idea of stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something I normally wouldn't.  I am so glad I gave this pattern a try (thanks a million Vicki!).  I love wearing this skirt.

Part of the reason for taking a while to sew this project up, is that I knew I would really need to concentrate on the cutting of this fabric.  My fabric is a rayon challis, which tends to slip right out of my hands as I cut it.  I wanted to make sure that each of those gorgeous points lined up perfectly, and knew this would require precision during the cutting of my fabric.  The extra time and effort paid off; all of my points do indeed match up perfectly.

Tasia likes to use the word "dramatic" to describe this skirt, but to me it feels very romantic.  Maybe it's the combination of the whimsical floral print and the way the fabric swishes when I walk, but I just feel like I could be swept off my feet at any moment.  Honey, can you put down the camera for a second and sweep me off my feet?

Have you ever been surprised by sewing up a pattern that you didn't think was your style?  Seriously, I think I need experiment with this again.  For now, I am just going to frolic around in my yard and be the princess that lived happily ever after . . .


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pool Party

Hi everyone, guess who just turned one recently?  Yes, my sweet baby girl is now one whole year old.  Where did the time go?  I know I don't typically talk about events that I have hosted when it comes to blogging, but I really enjoyed planning this party and want to share some of the fun with you.

The invites were made using a fun photo I took of my daughter.
I wanted to plan a party that would be fun, but was still simple.  I mean, she's one, it's not like she is even going to remember the party anyway.  Plus, every minute I spent working on the party was time away from sewing (so I texted my invites, grabbed a few frozen pizzas and picked up a cake from the grocery store - haha, just kidding).  

I got some help making the desserts!
Once summer hit, my girl loved spending time in her kiddie pool, so it was an obvious choice to have a pool party theme.  When it came to planning the food, I couldn't believe how easy it was to find some ideas on pinterest.  I really should use pinterest more.  The first idea I came across that I loved was a beach ball themed cake.  It's actually a dessert pizza.  This was perfect for the birthday, because my daughter loves fruit.  Also, I think the cake presents an "ooh-ahh" factor, but it was really, really easy to make.

Yum!  Everyone got to choose a piece with their favorite fruit.
But then, I found a cute idea for making a sand cake.  This seemed completely appropriate since everything goes in my daughter's mouth - including sand and dirt.  We had a guest list of about 20 (and that's immediate family only!), so I decided that two desserts would be okay.  I just cut the recipe in half, so I wouldn't spend the next week eating sand cake.

Sand Cake.
And because I have an insatiable sweet tooth and cannot resist making something that is cute, I decided we needed to have rice crispy ice cream cones.  The idea came from pinterest, though the picture just showed some teeny, tiny ice cream cones in the far back of the picture, and the link did not add much more information.  Luckily, it's pretty intuitive to figure out how they were made, and I already had an ice cream cone shaped cookie cutter.  In the eleventh hour before the guests arrived I found myself whipping up tiny batches of ice cream flavored icing for the bars.  There is peppermint bon-bon (with peppermint extract, tiny chocolate shavings and a bit of food coloring), strawberry (I squeezed fresh strawberry into the frosting, added some finely chopped strawberries and a dot of food coloring), and chocolate (from this frosting recipe).

These were so much fun to make.
We kept the rest of the food pretty simple: colorful veggie tray, chips, salsa, pasta salad and grilled chicken.  To make things a bit more fun, we used sand buckets for things like the sand cake, salsa, pasta salad and silver wear.

The pasta salads hadn't yet been put in the blue buckets.
My last touch were some simple decorations of beach balls cut out of scrapbook paper.  I just used the same general layout from the cake.  We also had two beach balls for the party that were in these colors - so it helped tie things together.

This was a really easy party to throw together, but I think it looks like a bit of effort went into it.  The only money I spent (other than food costs) was $7.00 on buckets and shovels (which are now used as pool toys) and $5.00 on beach balls (also used as pool toys).  

What are some of your party planning secrets?  Do you have any great recipes or decoration ideas to share?


Monday, July 14, 2014

Pretty Mommy | The Nautical Theme Continues

It is completely unintentional that so many of my outfits have revolved around a sort of nautical theme.  I picked up this skirt about a month ago at one of those consignment shops where they pay you for your clothes.  I don't typically shop at these kind of stores, but I was dropping off a few things that no longer fit into my mommy wardrobe and decided to have a look around while I waited.

The skirt is J. Crew from about eight years ago (so it sat in someone's closet for quite a while before they sold it).  I remember when J. Crew had this skirt, because it was right after I quit working there and I couldn't justify buying it without my employee discount.  Bonus, I now got it for much cheaper than my discount would have allowed.  (Plus I am smaller than I was in college, so I have a skirt that fits me now instead of eight years ago).  Can we talk about how fun this skirt is?  I just love the sandy border along the bottom of the skirt and the fun details of the people vacationing.  (Can you spot the water skiers?  There's no boat pulling them . . .)

I rarely accessorize my outfits, especially with jewelry - mostly because I have only ever bought myself one piece of jewelry in my life.  Yup, this necklace is it.  It usually comes out in the summer because of the tropical feel.  I remember when I used to wear it at work, I would get compliments followed by something along the lines of "but, you usually don't wear fun jewelry very often . . ." 

Attacked with baby kisses!
Have you ever shopped at an "upscale" consignment shop?  What's your take on them?


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Like Boden, but Better

Oh my word, I feel like I have been working on this project forever - and I sort have been.  Recently, I shared about how I draw some of my inspiration from Boden catalogs.  When I saw the Emily skirt, I really wanted to buy it, but knew it was something that I could easily replicate.  Well, it was easy in the sense that it was not difficult, but hand embroidering a border of seventy-five inches took a bit longer than I expected.

Close-up of my embroidery and red hem tape.

I started out with a plan to make an exact copy, but as I started drawing out my flowers and looking at the photo of the real skirt, I couldn't help but feel that a nautical theme would be "better."  After spending about an hour drawing flowers, I scrapped that idea all together and starting searching pinterest for nautical themes.  Soon after, I had my little motifs picked out and I went to work drawing them out and planning how they would look on the skirt.

Though time consuming, the embroidery was a perfect project because it was easy to pick up and put down when I only had short increments of time (the story of my life right now).  But with all the work that went into the skirt because of the embroidery, I had really built up my expectations of this skirt.  I wanted to LOVE this skirt, in the end I like it, but I don't love it.

My best attempt at copying the picture from the catalog . . .

My original intent was just to make a gathered dirndl skirt and wing it.  Upon further consideration, I decided to use the skirt portion of the Cambi dress.  I liked the pocket placement of the Cambi, and I've been wanting to sew up this pattern for a long time.  A half dress is better than nothing, right?  Sewing this up has reminded me that I really need a Cambi in my closet.  It has also shown me the importance of choosing a lightweight fabric if I do the full skirt option.  The stiffness of the seersucker makes the skirt feel much fuller, so I will probably sew up the a-line version or use a much different fabric in the future.

Check out the cutie in the background!

Now that this project is done, I am excited to start something a little less time consuming.  My summer sewing list is huge, and I feel like summer is just dwindling away.  Next up is the pattern I received from this lovely lady.  Wondering what the pattern is, well you will just have to cross your fingers that I find the time to sew it up.  What's left on your summer sewing list?


Thursday, June 26, 2014

I've wanted this for more than ten years . . .

Well, I finally do have a sewing project to share with you!  While it is not a garment, it is something that I have wanted to make myself for a very long time.  As in, I've wanted to make this for more than ten years!  I made myself a knitting needle case.

I am one of those people who decides to start a knitting project, and has the yarn and pattern ready to go.  Then I find myself wondering, where the heck is my size 3 circular set?  Instead of finding it, I'll find the little plastic baggy that I bought it in.  Then I'm still left to wonder where on earth the darn needle is.  I'm hoping that by storing all of my needles in this case, and keeping the case in my knitting bag, I will easily be able to find my knitting needles anytime I need them.  I also plan to insert little slips of card stock in the slot when the needles are in use, reminding me which project they are in.

I mentioned that I have been wanting a knitting needle solution for a while, but I am quite glad that I waited until recently to make this for myself.  One reason is, I customized it to the needles that I use most frequently.  When I first learned how to knit, I used larger sized needles, like US 8 and larger.  Now, I love knitting with lace and fingering weight yarns, so I use much smaller needles.

I got the idea for this needle case off of a picture I saw on Pinterest.  I decided that I didn't really need to buy a pattern, because it is basically a series of rectangles.  I wanted something that would hold eight sets of DPNs as well as eight circular needles.  Ta-da!  That is what I made, plus there is a pocket that is perfect for holding my measuring tape, scissors, stitch markers and any other knitting essentials.

I even got fancy and decided to embroider little numbers on each of the pockets to remind me which needles go where, as well as a flower in the corner.  I used tracing paper to trace one of the flowers from the outer fabric, then I embroidered that flower onto the navy fabric.  I really like this added detail.

Having this needle case is going to help me keep my knitting organized, and hopefully will help me to be more productive in my knitting as well.

Is there anything you have been wanting to make yourself, but just haven't prioritized it?  For my knitters out there, how do you store your knitting needles, is it a working solution?  I would love to know.