Thursday, January 29, 2015

Here We Go Again!

Cardigan: Made by Me
Top: Banana Republic
Jeans: Ann Taylor Loft
Shoes: Anthropologie

Hello all, I've got simple outfit post and some exciting news to share.  If you follow my blog regularly, you have already seen every piece of this outfit in other posts.  In truth, it's not the most exciting outfit, but it works for what I need at this moment.  And what I need is something that has room . . .

 room for my growing belly and baby!  That's right, hubby and I are ecstatic to announce in the spirit of the more the merrier - we are about to become an even happier family.  I'm currently about 15 weeks along, which gives us another late July baby.  I'm contemplating saying it's going to be an August baby, since our first little darling was nearly two weeks late, but let's just say late July at this point.  (How many 42 week pregnancies can one woman handle?)

So in case you are wondering why my daughter is bundled up like it's January in the mid west, and I'm not.  Well the answer is that it's warmer than usual, but I'm actually freezing my pants off in these photos.  Bump shots don't do much when you have a jacket on, and evenings just produce poor lighting in the house this time of year.

Ha, well now you have an explanation as to why there was a serious decrease in my sewing productivity this fall.  A week after I posted my last sewing project is when I found out I was expecting - and then proceeded to spend the 11 weeks sleeping every chance I got.  I'm slowly finding more energy again, but haven't quite gotten back into sewing yet.  I am going to start pulling out my patterns to see what maternity appropriate clothing I can make.  Hopefully I will have more to share soon.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Congratulations Vicki Kate!

Dearest Vicki Kate, today is the day that some of your blogging friends have decided to throw you a surprise baby shower!  A whole group of us have been plotting and scheming for a few months, thinking of you and your soon to be new bundle of joy.

Of course there will be no games of toilet paper diapers or guess the baby food.  The virtual world also limits the ability to provide a table of yummy goodies - though I may be munching on my current weakness of chocolate covered pretzels as I compose this post.  However, there is one traditional aspect of a baby shower that will be included in this shower - gifts!  Yes, we have all been setting aside hours of unselfish time to make something especially for your baby.

When I set out to make a gift, my plan was always to make a gender neutral cardigan and sew on pink or blue buttons at the last minute before mailing it.  Then I decided that your little one deserved a sweater made just for him or her - so as I result I knit two cardigans.  A blue and cream one if you have a boy and a purple and cream one if you have a girl.

The little boy cardigan is made from a bamboo cotton that washes up so soft and wonderfully.  I love this yarn because you can throw the cardigan in the wash machine and dryer - not needing to worry about handing washing, special detergents, or laying flat to dry.  With a baby, it's nice to just throw things in the wash and treat it like all of the other cotton onesies and receiving blankets.

The little girl cardigan is made from a purple cotton yarn that I received from a friend.  I have been holding onto the yarn and saving it for something special because the color is so lovely, then I decided what would be a better project than a gift for a dear friend?  I tried so hard to find purple or cream buttons to match, but luck would not have it so I settled for grey because I've always liked that way that grey and purple compliment each other.

So Vicki, as you can see I have two sweaters waiting for your little one.  As soon as I hear the news of a boy or a girl, I will be sending out your baby's gift.

For those of you who are curious who else is participating in this little scheme, here is a list of the lovely blogs:

Being Frank
Dottie Doodle
Ginger Makes
Modern Vintage Cupcakes
Symon Sez
Thread Carefully


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Looking Back at 2014

Well happy new year every one!  I wanted to get this post up last week, but life was a little crazy - so here I am one week late with my 2014 round up.

I can't believe that I have enough to even blog about for 2014; six months into the year I had only completed two sewing projects - and only one of those was something to wear!  The next few months proved to be pretty slow as well, but by fall I was kicking out out garments almost as fast as I could plan them (and practically ignoring all household responsibilities in order to make it happen).

I have to admit that I feel a bit proud looking at all of my projects like this!  After having my baby, I really struggled finding the time to sew; I won't go into all of the details as to why - but seeing what I was able to accomplish has made me happy.  The best part is that I have a reason to love every single thing I made.  At least if I didn't produce high quantity, there is definitely high quality.  My fall projects were my favorite and not a week goes by where I don't wear at least one of those pieces, and usually it's more like three or four of them.

Making a cohesive wardrobe that allows for different looks really works.  I remember on Thanksgiving when I wore my brown shirtdress, paired with the tie belt and my Renfrew shirt underneath (as seen in this post), my sister asked me if it was a new dress.  I told her it was the same dress she saw me wearing just two weeks ago at our sister's baby shower (worn then with the green belt and high heals).  She told me it looked like a completely different dress styled this way!  Yes that compliment made my holiday, even more than the pumpkin pie.

Hat.   Cowl.  Sweater.   Hat.

And then, of course, there is the fact that I have someone else to make things for!  I think that the best part about sewing and knitting for my daughter is taking pictures afterwards.  She is so photogenic and fun to take pictures with.  (Am I aloud to brag like that?)  My favorite thing that I knit for her was the cardigan, I just love the colors on her.

I'm hoping to pick up progress on knitting and sewing now that the holidays are over.  December went by so fast that I haven't even started planning anything for 2015 yet!  I'm thinking that I definitely need to do another capsule wardrobe like I did this fall.  Other than that, no specific plans.

I hope you all have a wonderful 2015 and I am looking forward to spending more time with you here in this space.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Purple Fox Goes Sledding

I've got another test knit to share with you.  This time it is from one of my all time favorite designers on ravelry, Lisa Chemery (Frogginette).  I have been favoriting her patterns since I joined ravelry (way before I even thought about starting a family).  She just designs the most darling patterns for little ones.  Recently, I happened to be looking through her group on ravlery and noticed that she was running a test knit for her newest pattern: Silverfox Beanie and Slouch.  People, I didn't even have time to breathe.  I typed my response in so fast I was hardly sure my wording made sense.  Then I spent the rest of the day with my fingers crossed, hoping Lisa would pick me to be one of her test knitters.

The next day I saw that she had picked me to be a test knitter for her!  Luckily, I had already started swatching, because I had high hopes that I might be picked.  I had really wanted to knit up the hat in my Rowan Belle Organic Aran that I had picked up at half off at my local yarn shop, unfortunately I could not get row gauge with it.  So I decided to use my only dk yarn on hand - Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk.  The color is a taupe or khaki, which is kind of blah for a little girl, so I decided to use my purple Rowan yarn for the ribbing and pom-pom to add an accent of color.

Knitting this hat was so much fun.  I had actually planned on doing the beanie version, but when I got to the part where I needed to start the decreases for the beanie, I wasn't ready to be done with the project.  Late in the night, I made the decision to stretch out the project by knitting the slouch version.  Haha, ever had that happen?  Seriously though, the cable pattern was just so interesting that I wanted to keep knitting it.

I was so excited to take pictures of the hat that immediately after attaching the pom-pom I asked my daughter if she wanted to go sledding.  Even at 16 months, I didn't have to ask her twice, I didn't even get my needle put away and she was already standing in front of my with her boots and snow pants.  This girl loves to go sledding (perhaps that is because there is no actual work involved for her, she merely enjoys sitting in the sled while mama runs up and down the hills pulling the sled).  Anyway, I was glad to see that this slouchy had was over sized enough to completely cover her ears, so we took a few more laps around the yard before I got cold and wanted to go inside.

I have to admit that all of this test knitting is doing a really good job of distracting me from the things I want to sew.  No complaints though, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting cozy on the couch with my knitting during nap time and in the evenings.  Have you been doing any knitting lately?


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Curious Waves in the Sea

“My favorite colors are the colors of the sea, blue and grey and green, depending on the weather.” Sarah, Plain and Tall(Patricia MacLachlan).

I've shared this before but I loved reading as a kid, and still remember many of my first chapter books.  I'm not sure exactly why, but something about being a mommy gets me all nostalgic about my childhood.  So, when I saw this yarn on sale and noticed the colors blue, grey and green; I immediately thought of the book Sarah, Plain and Tall and decided that they would be great for knitting a sweater for my little sweet pea.  

I set the yarn aside and waited for the perfect pattern to show up.  Well, not too long ago I decided to join two ravelry groups for patter testers (Free Pattern Testers and The Testing Pool).  I have always been curious about the testing process.  I've seen lots of test projects in the sewing world for indie pattern designers.  On ravelry I've often come across projects that were labeled as test knits.  I assumed that to be a tester you needed to be one of those people who cranked out a new sweater every other week or so, or at least a good friend of the designer.  This is not so!  The two groups I just mentioned are set up so designers share a picture of their upcoming design along with the requirements and then ask for testers.  Shortly after I joined the group, I noticed that Milja Designs had posted a request to test her Curious Baby Zig Zag Cardigan.  I thought about it for nearly two weeks - because I was nervous to offer to be a tester.  I thought I might fail and not meet the deadline.  However, the pattern was so darn cute, and I thought it would be the perfect match for ocean colored yarn - as those zig zags could just as easily be waves in the sea.

Even though she was looking for a tester who had some testing history, Milja allowed me to test her pattern.  I loved this opportunity.  Let me be honest, and confess that the first thing that drew me to testing was to get the pattern for free.  Even though knitting patterns are generally around $5.00 and very affordable, I like the idea of not having to pay for them.  However, as I continued through the test process, I decided that I loved it for so much more than the free pattern.  I loved being one of the first to try a pattern, I loved knowing that I was helping the designer, and I loved that a tight deadline got me to knit my daughter a sweater in only two weeks!

Have you ever wanted to be part of the testing process, but weren't sure how to get an "in".  If you are knitter, joining one or both of the groups I mentioned above would be a great way to get started.  Have you ever been part of the testing process for a knitting or sewing pattern?  I would love to hear about it.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

5 Pieces: 7 Outfits

Hello everyone, so this is going to be my last post related to my fall mini wardrobe plans.  I hope you aren't sick of seeing a few of these items more than once.  I know I'm not, as I have been wearing each piece a lot.  As a matter of fact, these five pieces that I made are getting more wear than anything else in my closet right now (except my favorite pair of jeans).  And here's the reason why: these pieces go with each other and just about everything else I own!

Sweater.  Skirt.  T-shirt.  I actually wore this exact outfit to church the other week.

Skirt.  T-shirt.  I love this casual, cute and comfy outfit.

 Dress.  T-shirt.  I was inspired by this Boden outfit to pair a t-shirt under a shirt dress.  I love the effect!

Sweater.  Dress.  Now that the weather is cooler, this is the perfect way to bring a fall dress into winter.

 Blouse.  Skirt.  Casual and Cute.  Maybe a bit sexy with the red heels?

Sweater.  Blouse.  Skirt.  Perfect fall outfit.

 Dress.  Okay, you've seen this outfit with my original post of this dress, but truly the dress is perfect on it's own too.

I kept the wording simple in this post, as I want the outfits to do all of the talking.  Sorry for all of the photos, just think of this as Me Made May in November (and don't worry, you won't see a repeat of this in May).  I am so happy with how my fall wardrobe turned out, and I definitely plan to do something like this again!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Inside Out

When I posted my Chocolate Shirt Dress, many of you commented on the colorful hem tape peaking out from the skirt in one of the photos.  I love using hem tape as a way to add some color, especially when a garment is made from one solid, neutral color.  I thought I would take a moment to share some things I do to liven up the inside of a garment, or at least make it pretty.

For my shirt dress, not only did I use a cranberry colored hem tape along the hem, I also inserted in two other places.  There is a pop of color along the waist line (which also acts as a way to conceal the raw edges, as french seams are too bulky at the waist).  Another pop of color is inserted where the collar is attached to the bodice.  There is no raw edge to hide here, but it just makes the inside more cheerful.  I like to use french seams where ever possible, but one place where french seams are not always possible is the side seam when a pocket is inserted.  In this case, I chose to make a bias tape out of a closely matching cranberry satin and use hong kong seams along the sides of the skirt.

 For my Colette Beignet I used french seams for the entire construction of the shell and lining pieces.  Many instructions will tell you to notch and clip curved seams, and therefore french seams are not advised.  However, I find that if you make a very narrow seam (less than 1/4"), the seam is still able to press flat.  This was my first time using a Colette pattern, and I was very impressed with how every raw edge is concealed in the construction of the skirt, it makes it easy to have a beautiful inside.  However, I am still glad I used french seams, because I can be hard on my clothes (especially with the washing machine) and I wanted my raw edges to be extra protected.

In sewing up my Belcarra Blouse, it was quite easy to use french seams just about everywhere.  The one place where french seams weren't possible was attaching the binding for the sleeves.  What I did here was fold under the raw edge (of the part that would normally be serged and visible when inside out) and sew along that line after the binding was attached.  Sorry, that is probably a horrible description and only makes sense to me.  The effect is that it looks a bit like a self-bound seam and no raw edge is exposed.

For my Renfrew I had to be a little bit less creative with the finishing.  I don't own a serger, which is typically how knits are finished, and the properties of knits make it so things like french seams and bound seams don't really work.  I sewed each seam with a special knit stitch on my sewing machine (I don't have a serger, but at least my sewing machine is a good one).  The stitch looks more like tiny lightening bolts rather than a zig zag.  To finish the seam, I used another knit stitch that somewhat resembles an overlocked stitch, but not exactly.  I am relatively new to sewing with knits and do not have any other fancy tips here, but feel free to chime in if you have something to offer here.

Lastly, I have my sweater.  So, there's not really anything you need to do to finish a knit sweater - blocking is really the only "finishing" that needs to be done.  I did however throw in one extra with the sweater and that was to reinforce the button band with petersham ribbon.  I love how this give a bit more structure and stability to the button band, while also making the inside a bit more pretty.

Those are the things I have been doing lately to finish my hand made garments.  What are some of the things that you do with your hand made clothing?  Do you like the process of taking your time to make the inside look lovely, or is it more gratifying to get a great fit and move onto something else?