sewing

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 🙂

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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.

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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.

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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

Fashion issues

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Today I’ll put the yarn and needles aside to talk to you about something a little more serious. I recently read an article posted by fellow knitter and blogger Lauren, from lollyknits.com on the clothing and fashion industry and I felt like I had a lot to say on the topic, so I decided to post a little something of my own to fully express my views on the subject.

More and more now people present themselves as self-esteem advocates celebrating different women’s body types and shapes, it’s a “trend” that’s catching on rapidly, as we see more people criticizing unrealistic beauty standards presented on television and in magazines. The fashion industry though has been notably undisturbed by it all, sticking to their tried-and-true recipes oriented towards perfect presentation and perfect bodies. Although some companies have decided to accommodate different body types by using a wider range of models, some companies simply refuse to hop the wagon, and continue to ignore the pleas of the public for clothes designed for “real” people.

My take on this is that we can (and should) pressure the fashion industry to make and market clothes that are designed for real women’s bodies, but I think we also have to realize as a society that there is only so much adaptation you can do with mass-produced clothing.

What I mean by that is that there is a lot of different body types in this world. Don’t blindly believe you can only be a “pear shape” or an “hourglass shape” – reality is far more complex than that. Partly due to your genetical baggage, your lifestyle, habits and hobbies, your body can present an astonishing number of features that can vary from one individual to the other. Some are tall, some others are short, some are rounder, or thinner, some others are curvier, some have a long torso and short legs, some others have long legs and a short torso, some have broad shoulders and a long neck, or narrow shoulders but long arms – there’s an infinite amount of possible combinations, and it makes it so that every woman’s body is unique.

With so much variety when it comes to body shapes, how can we expect mass produced garments to fit all of them equally as good? It’s impossible. And this is exactly why so many women struggle to find clothes that fit. There is nothing wrong with your body, there is something wrong with the way we shop for clothes.

I am not an expert on the issue – just a (sometimes unsatisfied) customer who has trouble finding clothes that fit, but I think a lot of other women experience similar issues, which is why I wanted to share my views on the subject and suggest alternatives. I feel there can be a few different ways to solve (or at least minimize) this problem – it’s possible to to have clothes custom made, to continue shopping for generic clothes but tailor them to fit your body, or to make better choices in the clothes you buy and wear/accessorize them in a smarter way.

Not all patterns or alterations are hard or complicated, and sometimes just a little time and patience can eliminate hours of frustration shopping for clothes. You can consult with a professional tailor or seamstress, but you can also try to learn how to crochet, knit, sew or how to make alterations on your clothes yourself. Having a garment that fits will undoubtedly help you regain confidence, and feel more comfortable in your clothes and in your own skin. Please go read this article on Craftsy, talking about the benefits of tailoring and the various classes they offer on the subject.

If nothing here above works for you, I also have advice for the shoppers:

  1. Look for versatile, classic pieces that can be easily matched with different outfits (when you find one thing that fits, wear the heck out of it!);
  2. Choose fabrics that offer a little bit of stretch to better accommodate different body types;
  3. Add accessories to emphasis the things you like about your body (a belt to accentuate a thin waist, gloves for delicate & elegant hands, a scarf to match the color of your eyes, etc.);
  4. Be patient and don’t be afraid to step into stores that are not necessarily “hip” or “trendy” – you might be surprised at what you can find;
  5. If you shop online, try to go to a website that uses real-size models and offer a comment section where people can talk about the shape and the fit of the garments (I personally like to shop at ModCloth), or there’s also some websites who offer tailoring services for a small fee (like eshakti.com) – whichever way, please remember to stay away from any Chinese one-size-fits-all clothing websites.

I sincerely hope this will help some of you, and please feel free to express your opinion or share your experience in the comment box below.

Mock Cable Sweetness!

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There’s nothing that can quite compare to the feeling of accomplishment you get when finishing a big project, is there? There is a project I have been working on since early January that just recently came to an end; what was before a shapeless UFO suddenly became a beautiful garment, right before my very eyes.

What I mean is that I just finished the Evelyn Cardigan I was test-knitting for the lovely Paula Ladd, and I simply love it!

Evelyn

This mock cable design is very delicate and elegant, and it was a pleasure to knit. This cardigan is worked seamlessly from the bottom up, and stitches are picked up and knit at the end for both button bands. The only three mods I made were to add waist shaping, add length and I did not knit the last neck decrease, or else the neck would have been too tight. It was a challenge for me because I generally have trouble keeping myself motivated until the end when knitting bottom up sweaters, but I am so glad I pulled it through because the finished piece is just so beautiful!

I also recently made a set of placemats I gave to a friend as a housewarming gift, and I simply LOVE the color scheme! I think I might use the idea for a few more, and maybe a bag or two 🙂

placemats

And finally, I have been missing my wheel so I worked up a little spin this week. Here’s what I came up with:

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That’s it for me! What have you guys been up to, lately? What are your current projects?

Crafty Effie on Etsy!

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So… I decided to open an Etsy Shop. I know, as if I didn’t have enough projects going on already, but hear me out! I have very good reasons to explain it (or so I think)!

You guys know I’ve been complaining about how I have too much fabric remnants cluttering my apartment and too many started-but-never-finished sewing projects piling up in boxes. Well, I recently decided the best way to solve this issue was to do a little stash busting and make many, many bags, placemats and zipper pouches to try to clear out some space in my sewing room. And even though project or notions bag always come in handy for a knitter, I think there’s a limit to how many bags a single person can use – so I decided to offer my creations to other people who might enjoy them 🙂

So here’s the beast, there’s not a lot of items for now but I will keep adding more as I make them. Please help me out by visiting/sharing/pinning or whatever else, it would mean a lot to me! 🙂

http://www.etsy.com/shop/CraftyEffieCreations

Thank you all!!! 🙂