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Gearing up

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Three full weeks after getting back from Hawaii I’m still on a sunshine high, and the current heat wave brushing over New England and Quebec probably has something to do with that. While we enjoy this year’s last summer outbursts, I’m slowly preparing for fall and gearing up for the upcoming holiday season. Since I make most of the presents I offer, makes perfect sense, right?

And this shawl is the first of the season, it’s a free pattern called Glitz at the Ritz from Helen Stewart. I used one skein of Malabrigo sock yarn in the “Solis” colorway and 1 package of blue/green glass beads from Walmart.

Rainforest Shawl

It was my first time actually making a beaded project, and I must say that I’m quite satisfied with the result. I’ve always avoided beaded projects because I thought the beading would slow me down significantly, but it turns out it’s really not that bad, I should have given it a try much sooner. I really liked the pattern, it was simple, straightforward and the instructions were clear. I worked the entire pattern as is, except that I omitted the beads in the star lace section partly because I didn’t want to have to open the second bead package, and partly because I was straight out lazy, but I’m actually quite glad I didn’t because I think it looks beautiful as is – I feel like the beaded and plain sections play very well together and provide a good balance. As usual you can find all the details on my project page, so head over there for pattern and yardage information.

Over the summer I also made a few more reversible tote bags using the Kwik Sew pattern K3700. I’m really, really growing fond of this pattern because I think it’s really versatile – you can make it reversible or not, on a serger or on a regular sewing machine and the shape of the bag is perfect to be used as a handbag, a project bag or a shopping bag, as you see fit. In both cases, I also had enough fabric to make a matching notion pouch with a zipper, that can be used with the bag or independently. Really, this might become an addiction in the near future.

Bags 02

So what’s on your needles, folks?

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Carnage and Destruction

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For 3 or 4 weeks now, Honeybee and I have been living in complete chaos in the house because I decided to undertake a major project – painting the kitchen. This may seem like a menial task for some of you, but I can assure you that we have experienced anything but. Thing is, our kitchen isn’t very big but it’s packed, the cabinets are painted and the entire room is nothing but corners, trim and moldings (ceiling included!). Add to that the fact that we just bought a giant 80” long kitchen table and that I opted for a 3 color scheme for the walls&ceiling and you’ll quickly understand it was simply impossible to paint everything at once so I’ve had to proceed in sections, moving the furniture and the stuff as I go so it’s been slow but steady progress in the last few weeks. I still have to paint the cabinets but things are working out fine, and I’m really excited to see it come together.

Since we’ve been painting quite a bit at home recently (we’re on our third room being painted since this fall) my craft room has been doubling as a storage room for quite some time now, so we could get the furniture out of the way while we were working on the other rooms. Since things are finally starting to clear up a bit, I’ve had a chance to tidy things around in this room for the first time in months, and I took this opportunity to use up some small fabric remnants or finish projects I started a very long time ago.

Among other things, I made a cute baby wrap for a friend who recently gave birth

Baby wrap

There’s also a cute little lunch bag  with a bee cotton print and a large, reversible tote bag made using the Kwik Sew pattern K3700 and some remnants I had in stash. This tote has a really nice shape and feels nice on the shoulders, and the pattern is actually really cool because it provides instructions to build these bags directly on a serger, both with apparent and hidden seams.

Bags

I also made a couple new placemats to fit into the new kitchen and the fabric might give you a hint as to which color I’ve used to paint a portion of the walls. I’ve actually had the fabric cut and prepped for those placemats for so many years now because it was left over from a set I made for my dad and his wife. I made them a set of 6, but there was fabric left over for 2 more placemats, that I never sew together because I didn’t want to offer someone an incomplete set. Since there’s only me and my husband at home right now though, I figured I might as well give it a shot, especially since the leafy green fabric is so pretty!

Placemats

Well that’s it for now folks, wish you all a fun-filled summer 🙂

The WHYs of a month-long hiatus

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I know, I know… Long time no blog. Things have been a little hectic in the last few weeks so I haven’t had any time to write, but I have exciting news folks – my honeybee and I just got married 🙂

mariage
Pictures by Frederic Alogna – www.fredericalogna.com

We both felt really blessed, surrounded by loving friends and family on a gorgeous fall day. We are so glad that regardless of the language barrier, everybody just came together to shared this happy moment with us. Also a big Thank You to our amazing photographer Frederic Alogna for capturing all the feelings and emotions on this special day.

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Photo by Frederic Alogna – www.fredericalogna.com

Now you may be thinking… “Wait… doesn’t this dress look knitted? There’s no way…”  Well yes, I knitted my dress. And that is mainly why I haven’t been able to blog in such a long time! I have been sewing, knitting and crafting all sorts of things in the last few weeks, but I couldn’t share any of it before the wedding as I didn’t want to spoil any surprises!

Now that I can talk about it, here’s the break down.

The veil and the sash both came from Etsy, respectively from here and here. The dress is composed of two parts (both handmade!), a plain silk dress and a knitted lace overlay.

The plain silk dress was made using a 42″ silk charmeuse in color “vanilla” bought on Etsy. It’s fully lined, and I used the same pattern as the black and white cap sleeve dress I made in August (see my last post for details).

dress-lining

Now, the knitted lace overlay. You know… Ravelry is telling me that I started this in June 2015. Don’t worry folks, I haven’t REALLY been knitting this non-stop for 15 months. Actually, a good portion of that time was spent thinking, calculating and altering the chosen patterns to materialize the idea I had in my head. You see, the problem is that I couldn’t find a single dress pattern I liked 100%. My idea was to have an allover lace overlay that would feature a 3/4 sleeve, fitted bodice and a circular yoke. I also wanted a circle or half circle skirt, and all of that had to be knitted from the top down in one piece. Yea… that’s probably why I couldn’t find a pattern. But it’s all fine, because I had found PIECES of patterns I liked! So I started this project by loosely following the instructions for the Cecilia top but modified it to a fitted body with sleeves and worked the body in allover lace. Then, I worked a 2″ seed stitch waistband and transitioned to the May dress skirt. Now this pattern is knitted flat so I first had to transpose the patter to all RS rows to work in the round. It’s also originally knitted from the bottom up and I was working my dress top down, so it means that the lace is upside down but I thought it looked good either way so I didn’t bother trying to reverse it. I worked the skirt like that for a little while, then finally I transitioned to a flare-out inspired by the cecilia top lace. Throughout the dress, I used a strand of Cascade Kid Seta in color blush and a strand of Diamond Luxury Collection Baby Alpaca Lace in color cream knitted together as one. I used about 1500 yards of each, for a grand total of 3116 yards. I am very, very proud of this project, and I’m sure I will happily wear this dress many more times in the future. For those interested, you can see all the details on my my project page.

wedding-dress

That’s all for now folks… Cheers 🙂

 

More Dresses. Really?

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Well, ok… I guess I’ve been re-garnishing my wardrobe lately. I added three fun dresses to my wardrobe in the past few weeks, and here they are.

New dresses

The two sleeveless ones were made using the same princess bodice & circle skirt I have used before from Tanya Whelan’s “Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time”.

The third one, in a black & white abstract print, is a copy from a dress I bought many moons ago and liked very much. I carefully un-stitched the original dress, drew the pattern out then reassembled it.

The dress I made using the drawn pieces is very much like the original, I only made two small little changes. First I removed the belt loops that were on either side because I do not intend to wear this dress with a belt, then I swapped the original 6 panel skirt for a circle skirt. Although the skirt is a little shorter than what I usually wear, I am very happy with the result. Hurray!

Sewing obsession

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Yep, I guess that’s what’s going on. I’ve made 3 dresses in the past couple weeks and I’ve been cataloging, sorting and organizing my fabric, notions and patterns like a mad person so I guess that sounds about right. And you know what started it all? This one little blog post I stumbled upon written by Charity from The Daring Domestic.

Now I know, it’s nothing new… This article was posted a couple years ago, but it’s very new to me. You see, I’ve been looking for a long time for a way to categorize and easily access my ever growing sewing pattern stash without having to go through boxes and boxes of stuff every time. I needed a tool to help me categorize my patterns with pictures and tags to be able to more efficiently find what I’m looking for and know where it is.

The solution Charity suggested was: Evernote.

This is something I honestly never would have thought of on my own and I was a little skeptical at first, but I decided to give it a try since my first few attempts at cataloging my patterns have been utter failures. I checked it out, tried a couple things and Man, oh man! I think this is it. Not only is it free AND accessible from any device anywhere, it’s also got everything I need – tags, pictures, written information and also a shortcut tool to make things even easier. Let me show you what I’m talking about.

FotorCreated2

In Evernote, you can create “notebooks”, in which you can add several “notes”. In each note, you can write a title, type in the text you want, add pictures and add specific tags. I created a notebook for every pattern company I own patterns from, then, in each notebook, I created a “note” for each pattern I have, labeling them with the company and the pattern number. In the notes section, I wrote down the size I have, the date of purchase, the price, the difficulty and a short description then added a picture of the front – I will also add a picture of the back when I get a chance to be able to access the yardage requirements on the go. Once my stash will be physically organized and classified in boxes, I will also add the physical location of each pattern (ex. Box B-1).

There’s virtually no limit to the information you can add in there, so one could also use it to write down the mods or changes they made to the pattern, the fabric they plan on using or things they want to remember for the next time they use that pattern.

FotorCreated

Once the patterns are entered and all the appropriate tags entered, you can search through your notes using the tag function, and that’s what’s so cool about this system – let me explain first for the neophytes. Most people I know organize their sewing patterns by type – dresses together, pants together, etc., that way, when you’re looking something you want to make, it’s easier to narrow it down. But a lot of patterns contain more than one garment in them – separates or coordinates can have all in one a skirt, a dress, a pair of pants, a top and a jacket. And since your physical copy of the pattern can only be stored in one place (unless you have many copies of the same), it can’t possibly be in all those categories at once, so you might miss out on it or forget about it altogether. Reversely, it can also be hard to find said pattern if you don’t remember what category you stored it in. By using tags, you can tag a pattern as “coordinates”, but also enter a tag for all the specific garments it contains, like “dress”, “pants” or “jacket”. That way, if you search using the tag “dress”, your coordinates pattern that include a dress will show up with all the other dress patterns in the search results. Now THAT’S what I call efficiency.

There’s also a really nice feature called “Shortcut” that I find pretty neet. Basically, by clicking on a little star in the top corner of a note, you can link it to your shortcut page. It creates a list of the patterns you link, that you can use as a “To Do” list, or a queue if you will. That way, you never loose track of the projects you want to do next, and you can add information into your note regarding the fabric you want to use, the person you want to make it for or the mods you plan on making.

So, how do you guys organize your stuff?

Sew it up!

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Yep, I noticed last week that I haven’t been sewing much lately other than small clothing repairs, and it made me realize how much I’ve been missing that free creative feeling I get when I chose a pattern, a fabric, imagine the multiple possibilities and make it my own. So over the weekend, I scanned through my bookcase, opened Tanya Whelan’s “Sew Many Dresses, sew little time” book I bought last winter and excitedly started a new project.

SewMany-Dresses

For someone like me who’s 100% self-taught, this book is gold. Not only does it provide clear instructions and patterns for many different dresses’s bodices, skirts, collars and sleeves that you can mix and match to taste, the author also included sound information on fabric types along with several useful tips and tricks on how (and why!) make a muslin, fit a pattern and make different variations for a different look every time.

I’m very, very satisfied by the style and fit of the dress I made, but what matters to me even more is that what I learnt while making this dress is absolutely invaluable dressmaking knowledge that will help me in years to come to perfect my sewing skills and become better at what I do. I will definitely make many, many more dresses using the patterns and instructions provided in this book and, if you guys want to see them, I will happily share my adventures with you here in the future.

Happy stitchin’ guys! 🙂

Dress