Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Knitting and Sewing

I'm still having fun with Sham's Tablecloth skirt. Here is my version in plaid wool that I've been wearing for holiday parties and shopping---I was asked at a boutique if it was Rundholz!
I needed a red sweater so decided to crochet one from the cover of the new "Crochet Today" magazine. As I've mentioned before for some things I think crochet looks trendier than knitting.
I love making holiday accessories too and put together several funky necklaces (the Nutcracker is my favorite)                                                   
Made several purses from "thrifted" sweaters     
I'm still knitting on my Christmas socks---love this yarn that changes colors to give the pattern-
Oh, and I can't forget my Christmas pajamas!
I'm already thinking about what I want to start after the first of the year for spring. Saw that Pantone's color of the year for 2012 is TANGERINE which I love!     Happy holidays to all.                                                                               

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pumpkins and Tablecloth skirts

I must start with profuse thanks to my friend Shams for sharing her pattern for the Tablecloth Skirt! Most of you already read her blog but if not, check it out here  The last entry shows all the great responses she's gotten but read down a bit and you will see her great tutorial and pics of the original garment.   "Knocking-off" quirky designer patterns is my favorite sewist thing to do, but she was way ahead of me in figuring out this one!

Anyway, I wanted a long skirt to wear this Thanksgiving weekend to go with my new boots and "Pumpkin Necklace"  and this looked like the perfect thing to try.  I had it put together in no time and on this one didn't even add the bottom flaps, so it is just one rectangular piece with an oval waist. I love the complicated and layered look it gives!
I have several more fabrics that I'd like to make up this way.  Shams, you may have gotten me back on a sewing kick!   
On the knitting front I have been having great fun with this book just out----the author has discovered a complete new way to knit a sweater!       "Knit, Swirl"    

          It is acutally a big circle with sleeves (and some fitting). 

You can even wear it upside down and have a bigger collar! This is made from Noro, a Japanese yarn that changes colors, so I didn't have to.
I'm anxious to try more Tablecloth skirts so hope to be back soon with more knitting and sewn items. Happy start of Holiday season everyone!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How I spent my summer (needle-wise)

Thanks to those who have asked what happened to me after my last blog!  Well, when the weather turned hot I turned to knitting and crocheting and limited my sewing to just making basic items to go with the crafted items.  It didn't seem like I was being very creative in the "sewing sense" but as I look back at my summer's products I feel like it was a fun wardrobe to have as I traveled extensively  (visiting fabric and yarn stores along the way).      

I've realized that it's a tremendous advantage to be able to sew just the right thing to "Make an outfit" with a hand-knitted top, rather than have to search for the right color and fit in rtw. Here are some of the summer's outfits:
This is a crocheted sweater (cotton rayon yarn) from the book "Free-from Crochet". It has convinced me that crochet can look stylish---it's not just about Granny Squares any more! The blouse and pants are just basic patterns but it was fun to look for just the right fabric with pink and yellow in it.

This is a knitted sweater in linen yarn by the designer Maggi Jackson. I really liked the rustic, arty look of it.

This is a knitted top made from hexagons that are attached as they are knitted. The designer got the ideas from some lacey doilies she saw.  It was probably the most difficult technically to make but just the thing for very hot days----thin cotton yarn.

Here's the shawl wrap I knitted as a hostess gift for my friend we visited in Colorado.  It's heavy wool but she was a good sport about modeling it on a hot day!

I'm busy now working on my fall knitted/sewn ensembles ---what fun it is to combine my love of  different types of needlework!  later, peg

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Secret Hobby

Not many of my sewing and knitting friends know that when I'm not doing those activities I'm a "long distance" walker. By "long distance" I mean anywhere from a half marathon (13 miles---I've completed 12) to a whole marathon (26 miles---only finished 3 so far).  I started this activity when I turned 60 (4 years ago) and it's made so much difference in my life.

Now, don't think I'm some kind of super athelete, cause I'm not! I've discovered that all sorts of people participate in long distance events and they have age group prizes up to "over 80". The marathon event planners know they will make more money if they allow enough time for walkers to participate, along with the prize winning runners, so some are now allowing 7 hours for a marathon and 4 hours for a half. Many have a Party atmosphere, with bands playing and spectators cheering for everyone, even the last person.

And don't think I walk a huge amount every day either! Marathon training plans call for you to just go a "short distance" (in my case 3-4 miles) several times a week and then on one day of the week (usually the weekend) you go increasingly longer distances til you've reached the distance of your planned event. Right now I am training for a half-marathon in August and am up to 8 miles on my "long day".

I'll get to "clothes" to wear for long distance walking in a minute but first, here are some of the things I discovered I need to have or take along for that increasingly longer day of walking:
A bandana to wipe the sweat away or wet it for coolness, a sports bra, a water bottle holder that has room for keys, phone and bandaids, socks that are made of something besides cotton so they won't get wet and cause blisters, my Garmin forerunner watch that has a GPS to tell me how far and fast I am going, protein bars to replenish yourself after several hours on the road,  GOOD shoes that have been professionally fitted at a Running Store, hat and sunglasses (plus plenty of sun lotion)    PHONE and MONEY for TAXI if you get too tired or dizzy (this has happened)

Now about the clothes (this IS a sewing blog).  The important rule is that everything next to your skin should be polyester with spandex in it. The big companies all have fancy words for their fabrics such as "wick-away" or "cool-something" but we fabric people know it's really just polyester. I know your first thought is that cotton would be cooler, but when it gets wet (which it will even in cooler weather after many hours of activity) it becomes coarse and chaffs the skin.  As a sewer, I've recently realized that I can easily acquire the right fabrics to make my own "work-out" clothes that are much better fitting than the ones I can buy (and cheaper too).     So on my last trip to Fabric Mart I stocked up on ITY knits and other fabrics with spandex in them to start making my own.    I made the top that's in the picture at the first of this blog and using the same fabric I made some pants and a black poly/spandex top.
             These are so much more comfortable than any I"ve been able to buy and I love wearing bright colors.   
    I'd love to get these shoes and make some walking outfits to go with them! (of course I already know that this brand and make is good for my feet.)Keep on walking and sewing is my motto!

Monday, June 6, 2011

FABRIC MART and memories

Several of you asked who the "special friend" was that gifted me the wonderful designer tee-shirt in my last blog. It was none other than the delightful Shams of communingwithfabric when she visited me from the West Coast in April.  One of the many high points of that visit was when we drove to the famous Fabric Mart, along with Carolyn( sewingfantaticdiary) and Noile ( It was a very special time for me and I really missed them all when I made my first trip since then back to Fabric Mart today, though not enough to keep me from buying enough fabric for all of us! The owner Robert remembered our group well and said to say HI--he also mentioned that after they blogged about his linen knit it sold out quickly----BLOGGERS have POWER!

FM started a special sale this week that they have for in-store customers only (might be worth making a trip to Pennsylvania for).  They have a whole front room full of fabrics on round tables (which they call "the rounds"), some of which have been on-line and some of which haven't, either because they didn't have enough to sell it on the web or didn't think it would show nicely when photographed.  Anyway, there is some seriously good stuff there and it's always at pretty good prices BUT from now til June 17 it's 50% off that already low price.   Do you wonder why I stocked up??

I wore the top that I made from their fabrics that I entered in their Julie's Picks Contest:
The rules of the contest were to use some of the fabric from their sample mailers . I did order the basic blue knit fabric from this selection but then sewed together all the little samples and used as strip "piping" in Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8671 top. It was fun to make and all the workers at Fabric Mart came out to see it today since they recognized all the 70+ fabrics in it.

I'll be blogging soon about the new fabrics I bought today and my plans for them. Til then keep on sewing!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

My First Designer Top

Nope, I didn't make this wonderful designer top (from Helia's in Old Town, Alexandria, VA). It was a gift from a special friend. I had seen it and wanted to knock-off the pattern but it was one of those that would be almost impossible to copy just by looking at it in the store (and places like that seem to get suspicious when I turn it inside out to see how it's put together).   I was complaining about this fact and she totally surprised me with this gift.    It's definitely a memory of a special time and I  will LOVE wearing it this summer.  I did make the pants to go with it. They are Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8712 which are my new favorite to make for summer.

I lost a little of my sewing MO-JO after finally completing the "knock-Off" dress for the PR contest but am getting it back now.  I want to make up some of the latest Vogue patterns in the next few weeks before the new ones come out in July.  Happy sewing!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Knock-Off Finally Finished!

And here it is ready on the LAST day of the knock-off contest at Pattern Review:
I can't believe how much time and re-drafting I have done on this pattern! It looked so simple when I started but you readers that have been following my blog know how many "muslins" I've sewed (some of which I like better than the final item!)   It has been a fun experience and I've learned so much about pattern drafting.

This is about all that I have sewed on for the whole month of May! I'm ready to tackle something else now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Knock-Off---Almost there!

Thanks to those of you who have asked if I am still trying to do the knock-off  of this dress:

The answer is YES, but I had to take some time off to think about how I want to proceed to get that middle blue piece to have the crescent-shaped drape like the above image. I have studied patterns that have sort of the right look, and the new Threads magazine even had an article about making a hip drape which helped.

After much thought I decided to re-cut that middle pattern piece. Instead of curving around to fit the other pieces (like the dark line), I just cut it straight from the top (like the green dotted lines).
This worked much better. Since that straight piece was forced to curve it started draping like I wanted rather than laying flat on the body.     Here is the result
Don't know how much you can tell from the pic but there is a huge difference from my former "muslins" in the way that middle printed piece drapes nicely, just like I wanted.
Now I just need to re-cut the pattern so it will have the same proportions as the inspiration design.  Maybe I'll do one more "test model" before cutting out the REAL fabric.  I need to get to work if I'm going to enter it into the Pattern Review Knock-off Contest as it ends next week!   More later.                                                                           

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Still knocking-off

Thanks so much for all the comments and suggestions that I've gotten in my attempt to knock off this design:
I've incorporated many of your suggestions into this next muslin attempt.  I changed the grain lines (green arrows) and "slash-and-spread" lines (pink lines) so they were going the same way that the drapes I want  go in the design.
Although I really like the resulting dress and will wear it a lot it still doesn't have the long diagonal draping in the blue middle piece that I want.  My method of adding draping with "Slash-and-Spread" does not seem to be working.

I am now re-thinking the entire cut of the Blue piece.  Instead of being curved to fit I am going to try making it a long straight piece (beneathe the neck and sleeve cutout) and sewing it to the curved pieces on each side.
Do you think that will work?  Please continue to give me any suggestions you might have.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Knock-Off Contest Update

I'm so glad I'm blogging this endeavor because I got some great suggestions to improve my knock-off attempt of this dress
First though I want to give a shopping report. I went to one of my favorite fabric spots called "Pennsylvania Fabric Outlet" today to look for the 3 fabrics I want to use. I had previously tried out different ones in my stash but they were either the wrong color or type of fabric.  Since the inspiration dress is made of silk I wanted a "silky" fabric that would drape nicely.   Here is what I found:
These are all a good quality polyester woven and I think about as close as I'm going to come to matching the original  (I'd never find silk in the right colors even if I could afford it!)

All of the comments I got had do with the fact that my last attempt seemed TOO drapey above the side inset seam and NOT Drapey enough below and I have to agree!
Shams of communingwithfabric  suggested that I add a "slash-and-spread" to the bottom piece to give it some drape on the left too.     Do you all think it would work if I "s&s" on each of the dotted pink lines in this drawing?  Do they have the right angle?
I will incorporate these changes in my next muslin but meanwhile I've made my first stab at putting the 2 different inserts on the left side:
I can tell from this that the small insert is the wrong shape and the crummy yellow knit is not a good choice for nice draping!  In my next muslin I will try to use woven, silky fabrics like I plan to have in the final design, plus adding more draping.   Still having fun!  more later---                                                                              

Knock-off Contest design Part 3

After getting side-tracked with my last attempt to "knock-off" this design  for the Pattern Review contest I was anxious to try again:

Although the inspiration model as 2 different colors of drapey "insets" in the left side I decided to start with just one.   In order to give it more "drape" I used the following pattern idea to cut out the inset (adding seam allowances and markings on the curved edges)

I "slashed-and-spread" on the lighter blue lines which added 4-5 inches to the length of the side seam of the bodice, which would hopefully give it enough "drape".

Here is the result which I'm more satisfied with---I think the "Slash and Spread" is the right way to make an asymmetrical drape
My next step will be to put another smaller inset in the larger inset.  Today I'm going shopping to try to find the right colors of blue and grey that match the inspiration picture----fabric stores here I come!                                                                           

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Knock-Off Contest Part 2

After much thinking I've begun work again on my entry to the Pattern Review "Knock-Off Contest" in which I will attempt to copy this design

. After my last entry, when I was able to reproduce the asymmetric neck and shoulder line, I decided to put that part of the pattern aside and work on the drape on the left side of the dress and began thinking how it could be done.

Using a basic 1 piece dress pattern  (Butterick 5211) I first attempted to make one side "drape" by enlarging the pattern on the side like this (dotted lines)
I made it up in a stripe, thinking that it would really show up the drapy side
This was a disaster! It just looked lumpy and droopy on the left side instead of the graceful drape I had envisioned. But because I am trying to make all my knock-off "muslins" into something wearable I quickly cut it up and came up with this top which I like a lot better.
This is a fun shirt with that funky look I like, but I have gotten off track with my knockoff design!

I've decided I need to make an inset on the left side of the pattern like the inspiration design has. I will cut out an inset like this
       Then, after adding seam allowances and careful markings to each piece I will "slash and spread" the pattern on the light blue lines.  This will hopefully give me the "drape" I want on that left side .     Stay tuned for my next muslin attempt in this "knock-off" contest----I having SO much FUN!!                                                               

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Knock-Off Contest Part 1

I have always been interested in "knocking off" unusual designer looks so was delighted when Pattern Review announced they would be running a "best knock-off contest" from May 1 to May 30.

Here is the design I want to knock-off:
       We can't do any actual work on it til May 1 but I started selecting fabrics today.  I went through all my blacks, dark blues, and greys to see which would be closest to the color of the dress, at least when photographed.   Here's what I have to choose from:
I like the black on the top background and the grey on the bottom right. None of the blues seem the right shade so I might shop around some more for that.

Of course there is no pattern existing that is remotely like this so I'm going to have to experiment with some drafting and draping.  First though, I wanted to get something that had the right neckline and sleeves. I used these patterns for inspiration for the off-center v neckline and different length sleeves.
I made up a muslin out of black knit, being sure to make the neckline vee point the same way as the original design.
         I plan to use the pattern I made of the asymmetrical neckline and sleeves for my knockoff.  This was the easy part though!   Now I just have to figure out how to put that unusual drape with the blue and grey onto the dress----stay tuned for the next report.  I'm loving this challenge!                                                                                 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Almost a WADDER

Even though I've been sewing almost 50 years I still have my share of "wadders" (sewing language for a garment that is so bad it is WADDED up and thrown away), but they are usually about the wrong fabric/pattern selection or something that I knew was an experiment anyway.  Rarely do I have a problem with fitting but that changed bigtime yesterday!

It all started with this poly/spandex fabric I got on my trip to Jo-Mar in Philly with some fellow sewing bloggers:

This is a scrap that has been cut down the middle but the large pink circles go down each side. It's pretty splashy but since I'm quite tall I usually like a big print.  I did know that I'd have to pick a pattern carefully as I wanted something that didn't cut up the design very much. Also I wanted something asymmetric, with the pink running down just one side and NOT in the middle.

When I saw my friend Carolyn's blog post on the new Vogue Donna Karan dress 1250 I knew that's what I wanted to use.C's blog  It was a simple design but an unusual pattern with just 2 odd shaped unusual pieces.                                                                       

Carolyn always explains just how she adjusts the pattern and her final garment looked great so I cut mine out and started sewing.  Though the size 20 should have fit me fine I even added some at the back seam since my fabric didn't have quite as much stretch as the pattern called for  (note to self---This MATTERS!)

As she and others on Pattern Review had reported it was super easy to sew up, which I quickly did. There was really no intermediate point to try it on so I finished all the main seams before putting it on.  What a NIGHTMARE!  It was way too tight from the middle hip down. The cowl dropped down over my flattish bust making my waist appear to be the biggest  point of my body.   Since there were NO seams to take out through the skirt and I knew I'd never wear something this tight, it almost became the dreaded WADDER at this point. ( Guess I should have taken a "before" picture at this time but I couldn't stand to even wear it.)

After calming down, I decided it would be a great challenge to make it wearable so went back to the cutting table.  I cut completely open the left side below the armhole and added a long godet---starting with about 4 inches at the bottom and tapering to nothing under the arm. (I had enough of the brown background fabric and the godet seams are barely detectable)  This made a GREAT difference in the fit of the dress and I began to have hope.  I also added bands to the capped sleeves, giving a little more width through the shoulders and covering more flabby upper arm.

Here's the result which I'm actually quite pleased with.  I'm showing 3 ways of wearing the dress, both belted and not and with the cowl collar hanging loose and then secured on the side.   Which do you like best?

Belted with cowl hanging down naturally which gives that horizontal fold just above the waist

                       No belt (hem pinned higher), cowl neck pulled over and secured on my right

                            Belted, cowl secured on my right side------------does it still need to be shorter?
I'd appreciate any comments and opinions you might have about belt, cowl and dress length----thanks!