Knitting Up Summer and the Kindness of Bloggers

Lontue Macrame Shawl

Originally dubbed the Seaweed Shawl because of the colorway, it will always be the Breaking Bad shawl now.

Way back in January, in the middle of a cold gray stretch of winter, Kaleidoscope Yarns sent out an email with a photo of a summery shawl out of Araucania Lontue, a cotton/linen yarn. I wasn’t the only one to be taken in by such brilliant marketing. When I placed my order for the two skeins required to whip up this warm weather beauty, they had already sold out of my first choice of color. Did I want to wait for their supplier to re-stock? Of course not—I needed to start knitting summer right away. I chose another colorway (their customer service is excellent, by the way!) and cast on during a chilly bit of February. This has been my pick up and put down project for several months. My Breaking Bad project. (DH and I started and watched the whole series during this time period, and my level of suspense during many of the episodes required a knitting project to calm my nerves and distract me during certain intense segments.) It’s an easy two-row pattern.

I have a winter shawl to work on when the last half of BB Season 5 begins next week, the Color Affection

Color Affection Beginning

This week I was surprised to find out I won a giveaway from Swell Sewing! Tracey’s post about feeling sentimental really struck a chord with me as I navigate the empty nest. Check out this awesome package I received in the mail.

giveaway Package

Look at the cool fabric and rick rack wrapping! I can’t wait to make something out of the typewriter fabric and that graphic print.

SSgiveawayNecklaceJournal

How cool is that? A sewing machine necklace and an Aneela Hoey journal!

SSgiveawayTeaTowel

I love this diagrammed sewing machine tea towel!

Thanks so much, Tracey! I appreciate the blogosphere love! If you’ve never been to Swell Sewing, you should definitely go see what she’s been up to. She makes lovely garments and recently finished a fantastic quilt.

Do you have any projects you associate with a certain series or program?

Maggie Rabbit

Maggie Rabbit
It’s summer, and there has been a lot of sewing and knitting going on, but… It’s summer! So, not much blogging. I have some catching up to do. This is my version of Maggie Rabbit by Alicia Paulson. I bought the pattern instead of the kit and used materials I had on hand to make her up. The body fabric is from a thrifted fleece that wasn’t flattering on me any more (hmmm, questionable whether it ever was, actually). It was a little more stretchy than I imagine the felt would be, so this makes for a nice cuddly soft toy. I had a lot of fun with this, but wasn’t feeling the boots on this version. I do think she needs a companion and another outfit or two, so this won’t be the last you’ll see of Maggie I suspect.
Maggie Rabbit Pattern

Gingham Iris Shorts

Gingham Iris Shorts

I love these shorts! Another pair of Colette Iris shorts done, just in time for hot summer weather. They are made from Lecien’s yarn-dyed gingham check, which I underlined with a soft white cotton for more body.

A change I made to the pattern this time around was to increase the hem depth. The 5/8″ hem on the first pair just seemed skimpy compared to the other RTW shorts I have. The final hem depth here is 1″ and I’m pleased with that.

Heatproof, but still Flammable…

Oven Mitt

This is the latest addition to my kitchen! After accidentally causing the demise of my favorite pair of potholders by fire, I needed a replacement. I decided to go oven mitt this time, and used the pattern and instructions from Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing book, which was a gift from a friend. The fabric for the exterior was a gift from another friend, and it’s lined and cuffed with other bits of fabric from the scrap bin. Lotta’s instructions call for wool batting, but I used the same cotton batting and Insul-Bright batting sandwich that I’ve been using for my potholders. It was a fun and quick project for a rainy afternoon. I liked machine quilting the swirl. Now to just keep it away from open flames…

Iris Shorts: A First Step Towards Sewing Trousers

Iris Shorts

Check it out! Shorts!

I tried on 20 pairs of pants at a thrift store the other day. Well, some of them I only tried on with one leg up to my knee before rejecting, so this wasn’t as time-intensive as you might suspect. Thrift store shopping itself is an endeavor not to be taken lightly. It’s like a treasure hunt, so of course you know going in to it that you’re going to have to sift through a lot of duds to find that special item. But pants, ai yi yi!

Iris Shorts Side

Hmm. Sorry about the t-shirt shots. Not much of an effort there, huh?

Iris Shorts BackI usually bring a tape measure with me to measure the waist of the pants I’m going to try on, as sizes seem to be so arbitrary, but I’d forgotten it and had to resort to holding up items and hoping I was in the right size range. As it turns out, I’m not sure the tape measure would’ve been that much help. The difference in rises was so different from one pair of pants to the other that it would’ve been hard to read a waist measurement on most of them. The ‘waist’ could really be anywhere from high hip to low hip and most likely not anywhere near your actual waist at all. Then there were funny fabric contents, odd leg shapes, and pockets and embellishments in the most peculiar places. It would have been demeaning if I hadn’t had a sense of humor about it. The whole experience was comical.

Iris Shorts Facing

I used some quilting cotton I had on hand for the facing and pocket lining.

I have had no desire to sew pants for myself in the past, but I’m considering taking the plunge after trying on so many pairs and thinking the only way to a good fit is to make them myself. I am bummed I missed out on Steph’s pants block service that she used to offer. I was in the middle of losing weight when I discovered her business, and by the time I reached goal she had moved on to other ventures. I’m excited about Cake patterns, and hope there’s a pants pattern coming up the pike so we can learn from her pants fitting knowledge!

I bought Kenneth King’s Jeanius course through Craftsy, but now my favorite jeans that I thought I would copy are way too big. I want to trace a pair of well-fitting jeans that don’t have stretch in them so I can reproduce them in corduroy and other fabrics without stretch. I’ll have to dig through some more thrift store piles to find a pair of non-stretch denims. It seems like everything has stretch in it today. Wow, I sound like a cranky old lady: In my day… he he. I’ll keep you posted on that project.

Anyway, since I’m on a Colette roll, I thought I’d try the Iris shorts as a way of dipping my toe into the pants-making waters. It’s a cute and simple pattern. I made the first pair in a solid navy cotton twill. They are comfortable and flattering, even on someone who’s not 20 years old anymore. When I look at these photos, I see wrinkles that might mean something to someone with more pants-fitting expertise, but overall I’m pretty happy with the fit for a first attempt. It’s closer than anything I found in the store, that’s for sure!

I traced from my wider waist size to smaller hip size when tracing off the pattern. I ended up pinching out an inch at the waist and tapering it down to nothing to get a nice fit in the front.

Changes I made:

  • Extended the pocket pieces up to the waistband so they don’t flap around loosely but are anchored at the top.
  • Made the pocket openings 1″ wider.
  • Lengthened the back darts 1/2″
  • Lengthened the legs the tiniest bit: 1/2″

I’m working on a second pair in gingham with the buttons on the pockets. This has definitely boosted my confidence that sewing a pair of trousers that fit could be possible.

Laurel, Laurel

Laurel Blouse and Laurel Jumper

Laurel blouse and a Laurel Jumper

I finished sewing four more Laurels this month. It was a fun personal challenge to plan a few variations that would fit into my wardrobe. My favorite is this little black blouse. LaurelBlouseTweeds DressI took an old dress that I no longer wore but had always felt great in and picked it apart. I was able to squeeze the front, back and binding out of the skirt portion, and cut out new sleeves from the old sleeve section. I got rid of the center back seam and made the blouse longer because I had the extra length to work with, and I really love it. The fabric is a very drapey crinkle rayon, and the blouse looks nice tied and tucked in, or on its own over a narrow pair of pants. I followed the directions in the “Extras” booklet from the Colette website, but modified the keyhole to be much narrower and shorter. The fabric was so slippery and tricky though, it stretched a bit during construction and looks to be about the size the original pattern intended. I’m glad I modified it as much as I did, or the blouse might have been a peep show disaster!

I made the plaid jumper to go with it from the same pattern, modifying the dress neckline and narrowing the silhouette. I added single welt pockets to the front using guidance from Claire Shaeffer’s The Complete Book of Sewing Shortcuts, which is one of those sewing books on my shelves I find myself referring to over and over. I lined the jumper with bemberg rayon, and used this very cool technique from Pattern Scissors Cloth to line up the plaid when sewing the side seams. I am stoked that the invisible zipper in the back is really invisible. I’m quite pleased with this one and, like the blouse, see it getting a lot of use.

Laurel BlueTunicGreen Check LaurelMy muslin to work out the neckline and fit for the jumper was this blue wool tunic, and I ended up liking it so much I decided to finish it off for an arty layering piece. I played with the hemline to find a length I liked over trousers. I drafted the patch pockets to be wider than the pattern and found an old silk necktie at the local thrift shop to cut into bias strips and edge the pockets with. I had enough bias to go around the neckline as well, but held off because I thought it started to look too apron-y. I think it was the right decision and just the right amount of detail. I also lined this jumper with bemberg rayon to slip over layers easily.

And lastly, but actually the next Laurel I finished after my initial flannel attempt, is this green check version. I extended the center front to allow for the addition of pintucks. I am planning a longer tunic version out of linen based on the same variation.

Phew! Now I’m Laurel’d out for a bit, but have several more variations percolating in my brain and will no doubt be inspired by the Colette Flickr group for a while to come.