Friday, 25 September 2015

Tinder Cardigan

Wow, it feels like forever since I've held knitting needles, and I love every moment of it.  Knitting was the first craft I learned.  I was obsessed with knitting at age 8 or so when I first learned. Recently,  I've had to take a break because of pain in my wrist.  So, I just have to be careful not to knit too long or too frequently.   Anyways, this is my Tinder Cardigan, a project I just started.  It's a cozy warm cardigan for autumn.

 I love cardigans.  My Nettle Cardigan has been getting a LOT of use, so I figured I need another one.  This time, I found this lovely pattern by Jared Flood.  It has an allover waffle stitch which I really like.  The sleeves are in reverse stockinette stitch which I don't like because it looks inside out.  Yeah I know I'm crazy but I'm going to do them regular stockinette stitch because that's how I like it.  This cardigan is knit in separate pieces for fronts, back and sleeves then sewn together.  Should be fun as I usually do sweaters in the round.   Apparently seams add a bit more durability and structure.  In other words less stretching out of shape.  We'll see!

The yarn I'm using is Brigg's and Little Regal yarn in light brown which I bought from Ram Wools.  I've actually used this yarn for several other projects in the past.  I really like working with it.  It's fluffy and durable, and I like the heathered look of the colours.

I was happy to bring out the yarn swift.  I've always enjoyed this part.  It's also a good way to inspect every inch of that skein and make sure there are no breaks or knots in there.  Yeah,  actually it's just fun making things spin fast.  I'm easily amused.

Here's the pattern.  I really like the fit.  It's a slight A-line.  More fitted on the upper chest with a bit of ease in the waist and the hip area.  It would be perfect for layering.

I also love the high ribbed collar which makes it jacket-like.   I'm going to take my time with this so as to avoid a repetitive stress injury, but I'll do a post when it's done!

Happy Knitting!

Monday, 14 September 2015

Completed: Deer & Doe Bleuet Dress

I managed to squeeze in one more summer dress before I start my autumn sewing, and I'm so glad I finally sewed this one!  The pattern is Deer & Doe's  Bleuet dress which I've had in my stash for quite a while. This is my first Deer & Doe pattern, and I'm really impressed.  I'm glad I could make good use of my Liberty of London cotton poplin. 

I started with doing a muslin in a size 40 grading to 42 at the waist then back to 40 at the hips, but it was too tight overall.  So I decided to do a muslin in a straight size 42 with no grading.  Surprisingly, it fit perfectly! So, I went ahead with a straight size 42, simple as that.  I guess I'm used to lots of ease in patterns and rounding down my size.   I love the shaping and the details like the bow at the back waist. 

I love the fact that this pattern has a hem facing because it's so much easier to do than all that folding and pressing.  It also looks less bulky.  I zig-zagged the edge of the facing, and I catch-stitched it in place.  The stitches are not visible on the front.

Here's a close up of the collar.  There's actually no button on the collar stand because my machine didn't want to co-operate and make a buttonhole on the bulky edge.  Nevertheless, the collar sits nicely.  I was thinking I could always put a small snap in there that would be invisible on the outside.  

I REALLY love wearing this dress.  I think this is my new favourite dress pattern.   I feel like it was designed for me.  And I didn't even need any fitting modifications.  That rarely happens!  I could totally see this in a lightweight denim.  I may lengthen it to the knee next time.  Either way,  I can see more Bleuet's in my future!

Construction Details!

So this picture shows how the collar stand needs to be pinned.  Because of the three-dimensional nature of the collar, you can't just pin it flat.  I hold the pieces up off the table and pin them in a gentle curve shape.

To get a neat curve, I draw in the seam allowance with pencil first.  Oh and you can see I basted the pieces together first.  I know it takes more time to baste, but I find it helps me have better control over multiple layers of fabric.  Actually, I found sewing the collar stand to the body of the garment tricky.  I got a couple little puckers, even though I hand basted the thing. But it would have been even harder if I had a bunch of pins in there.  At least they are really tiny puckers and are not visible especially because there's a collar covering the area.

Here's my handy point turner.  The curved end actually worked well for the collar stand curve.

Well,  this may be farewell to summer dresses but I'm also excited to start autumn and winter sewing.  I can feel summer beginning to slip away and more cool days being interspersed here and there.  

Here are some of my plants sunning themselves in the remnants of summer heat before they have to come back inside.

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Garden Party Dress

I finally finished my Garden Party Dress.  I initially intended this for a Mother's Day brunch, but it soon became a UFO ("un-finished object" for those non-sewers).  So it feels good to have it completed now.  I'm quite happy with how it turned out.  It fits extremely well, and I feel very comfortable in it. 

Fitting and Alterations:  I made a size 12 C bodice grading to a size 14 at the waist on side seams and bodice front pieces.  I kept the back bodice piece a straight size 12 because the fit of the back was nice.  I thought I had compensated for these changes in the skirt, so the seam lines match but the side front skirt panels did not match the bodice. I still don't know exactly why.   Rather than take the skirt apart and re-cut those pieces after working so hard to underline them,  I just made small pleats in those pieces.  I kind of liked the extra fullness so there we go, a happy mistake!

I raised the neckline by 1/2" just because I thought it looked better on me that way.  I had to take in 1/4" for neckline gaping as well.  I hemmed the skirt at 3/4" instead of 1".

I used a few hand sewing and couture techniques that I think really contributed to the quality of this dress.  I love how the underlining creates beautiful structure in the bodice and body in the skirt.  The bodice is underlined with muslin, and the skirt is underlined with silk organza.

I also did a hand-picked zipper. Let me tell you, this is my new favourite way to put in a zipper! You just have so much more control putting it in by hand.  I used regular polyester thread doubled.  The only thing I would do differently next time is to use a slightly thicker thread.  You can barely see the tiny pick stitches and I think it would be a nice texture if they were a little more visible.  I don't know, maybe that's strange, but next time I think I'll try it.

Fully lined with soft cotton batiste, my favourite lining for summer dresses.  It's cool, soft, and absorbent on hot summer days. Plus,  I love knowing that it looks good on the inside!

Inner Workings:  Here's the stitching of the back lining to the waistline seam allowance which will not show once the bodice lining goes in.

I really enjoyed sitting down and slip stitching the bodice lining to the zipper and the waist seam.  I just love closing it up and making it all neat and tidy!

I trimmed the seam allowances in the hem area down to 1/4" to reduce bulk.  I pulled out all that silk thread I used for underlining, after I sewed the hem.

I hemmed the skirt by hand (another excuse for hand sewing!).  The good thing about underlining is that I could make the stitches completely invisible from the right side by slip stitching to the silk organza underlining.  Once again, yay silk organza my sewing hero! :)

Well, that's it for my tour of the Garden Party dress.   Thanks for joining me and until next time!
Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Sanctuary Quilt Completed!

Ladies and gentlemen, after at least two years, I am proud to announce that I have finally completed my Sanctuary Quilt, binding and all!  Now, I have just been working on it here and there.  Otherwise, I'm sure I would have finished it much sooner.  Yeah,  I get easily distracted when it comes to sewing!

This pattern was from a quilt kit I had purchased from Hawthorne Threads.  The finished size is 85.5"X85.5" which works well for a double or a queen sized bed.  Although, I would have preferred a bit more length to hang down the foot of the bed.

I decided to hand quilt it using Perle Cotton #12, and I switched to Perle Cotton #8 for the border.  I think I prefer the bolder Perle Cotton #8. A good needle to use with this thread, I found was a Bohin chenille needle size 24.  I went with a basic Baptist fan design.  I cut out my own stencils using manila tag folders and traced the design with water soluble marker.  I quite like this design for an all over quilting pattern.  I think the curviness contrasts with the angular block pattern.
And so, I spent many a cold winter evening and many a summer afternoon under the shade of the elm quilting away.  Time-consuming as it was, I found it quite relaxing.

Hand sewn binding!  Yah!  I've always loved this part and I think my stitches have actually improved.  I was aiming for 1/8" between stitches and an almost invisible stitch.  I'm pretty happy with the results.  I love sewing those corners.

Well, after spending so much time with this quilt in my quilt hoop,  I finally get to enjoy cuddling up and actually using it.   It was definitely a fun project, and I would recommend every quilter hand quilt a quilt at least one time!

Thanks for reading my blog and

Happy Sewing!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Quiltmaking by Hand

It often happens that as summer arrives,  I find myself sewing less and gardening more.  It doesn't mean I'm not as enthusiastic about my hobby.  Summer is just so short, and I want to spend as much time possible outdoors.  Summer time can also be perfect for hand sewing or knitting outside on the deck; once the garden is planted, taken care of, and the yard work is done of course. 

I thought I would share an ongoing project I've been working on for a while.  Right now I'll call it my Snowbirds Quilt.  This is from a pattern by Jinny Beyer called Crayon Box.  The fabrics need to be arranged in light, medium and dark value colours. The way the different values are arranged creates an optical illusion, a three-dimensional effect that I find intriguing.

I used a jelly roll of a batik fabric line I liked called Snowbirds.  After cutting out my 60-degree diamonds, I drew in the seam lines with a pencil on the light colours and a white quilt pencil on the dark colours.  I really enjoy sewing theses diamonds together!  Hand piecing gives much more flexibility with all those seam allowances.  I'm not sure how I would sew this block on the machine.  It seems simpler to sew it by hand.  I learned a lot from Jinny Beyer's book Quiltmaking By Hand.  This is an awesome book if you're interested in hand piecing or hand quilting.

 This is the thread that I'm using for piecing.  It's smooth, strong 100% cotton.  It's not too thin or too thick and it grips the fabric securely.

Here's what the block looks like.

Here is the back showing the seam allowances.  There's definitely a system of the direction I pressed each seam allowance.  This block needs to be re-pressed but you get the idea.


I have quite a few more blocks to make.  Once I make it a size I like I will start to make the edge blocks.  I think I would like to hand quilt it using wool batting.  I couldn't imagine machine quilting something I spent months hand piecing.

Thanks for reading my blog and  Happy Sewing!