Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I'm so in love with this sweater.


The Details:
Pattern: Cassis by Thea Coleman
Needles: US7(4.5mm) 32" Knitpicks Harmony interchangables (and US8 for the cast-on only)
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Oceanic Mix
Size: 36
Gauge: 5.5sts/inch (slightly off pattern)
Cast on: March 14, 2011
Bound off: April 23, 2011
Total # of stitches: 55,918 (give or take for adjustments to the sleeves and length)


After reaching my limit on fiddling with fit with all my sewing projects, I'm glad I picked a knit project that didn't ask a lot in that department. I chose the 36" size going by my high bust measurement, knowing that this sweater doesn't have to close. My gauge was slightly off at 5.5spi, but I figured that there was a fair amount of design ease and that the Ultra Apaca would be fairly forgiving. (Both were true!)

The only real modification I made was to the sleeves. I found them too wide, so I did the decreases on every 4th row instead of every 5th, and did a few extra decrease rows. (I don't have my notes with me, but this wasn't a very scientific process.) I suspect the shoulders are a little too roomy, and a bit long from shoulder to armpit, but it's a loose and comfy sweater and so it doesn't really matter one way or the other! I also added about eight rows to the length of the body.

After blocking, I noticed I made one tiny mistake. One purl stitch in a sea of stockinette. I know that nobody can see it, and so I'm trying to resist the crazy urge to unpick the bind-off and drop the stitch back about 100 rows to fix it. (It's near the lace panel on the centre front.) But honestly, I love the sweater enough to overlook the imperfection!


Special shout-out to my assistant, who managed to not eat this knit-in-progress despite my leaving it unattended on more than one occasion and blocking it in plain sight on the kitchen table. Well done, little friend. Well done.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Naked Pencil Skirt - (Mostly) Finished

Lest you think I haven't been up to anything, I thought I'd share the (mostly) finished pencil skirt. I still haven't hemmed it... and now, you'll see why! (Beware: the lack of pressing may reveal my general apathy toward this garment!)

You see, it had potential:


However, the slightest movement caused this to happen:


Basically, it seems the "problem" here is that the area around the level of my hip sockets is shallower than my stomach and my thighs. As you can see, this "problem" extends all the way around to the back:


(I say "problem" with quotation marks because the real problem, of course, is not my body, but rather my inexperience with fitting/sewing!)

You might remember that I originally posted that it was too small. Well, that was actually mostly the result of my attempt to fix this wrinkling issue. I tried taking in the extra fabric at the side seams, but mainly it just made the skirt too tight without properly resolving the issue. However, after letting that back out, the thighs are still a tad snug at the top.

Anyway, so it's not exactly a winner. That makes me a little sad, because I really did love this fabric. But then again, as I said in my previous post, I'm kind of proud of all the little details I learned while making this skirt. For example...

Invisible zip (not perfect, but not bad!):


(I mostly followed the Cupcake Goddess's tutorial for this, but I omitted the stabilizer. However, her suggestion to press the seam allowance over was exactly what all the other tutorials were missing. Genius.)



(Tasia's tutorial was extremely helpful.)

Adding a lining/facing:


(I used this tutorial from Threads for adding the facing/lining as I did, although if I were to do this skirt again I would omit the facing and just understitch the lining so it didn't show. The facing definitely shows through the front of the skirt in this fabric. Also, I couldn't find a single tutorial that mentioned how the heck to sew the facing/lining down on the inside next to the invisible zip... so I made up my own way, and it worked!)

Adding a back vent:


(I used this tutorial, and this tutorial, both from the Cupcake Goddess.)

And that's that. My little skills-sampler of an ill-fitting skirt. Perhaps one day I'll try tackling the pencil skirt again, but for now I think I'm going to say goodbye to pencil skirts and silk charmeuse and focus on simpler and more gratifying beginner projects. I think "go big or go home" was a good attitude to jump in with, but at this point I'm dying for a finished garment that I'm enthusiastic about!

With that in mind, I'm going to start the Crescent Skirt sew-along. It won't be boring, but it's an easier fabric and a more forgiving style, don't you think?

(Also, for those of you who saw my deleted post about wedding dress size selection, which I'm told was cached in some people's RSS readers after I deleted it: I figured it out. I decided to stop the cycle of anxiety and just go straight to my trusted neighbour/surrogate mom/seamstress and ask her expert opinion. She recommended the smaller size. Done and done!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Quick Update

The pencil skirt is almost finished! Just need to hem it and then I can share some photos. Except, to be honest, I'm not sure I want to hem it... because it's too small! I have no idea how that happened. I'm sure it can be fixed easily enough by letting out the seams a little, but honestly, it seems a lot of effort for a skirt I doubt I'll end up wearing. I'm also considering calling it "the naked skirt," except for the SEO implications. Light beige - not always the best choice for a form-fitting garment! Regardless, I have a lot of affection for this project, because I learned so many skills! Understitching (miraculous!), invisible zipper, drafting facings and a lining, etc. Good times.

In other news, I deleted Twitter from the sidebar of the blog, and I'm going to take a break from it. I realized it wasn't really adding enough value to my life compared to the amount of time I was spending on it. However, I'm not deleting my account just yet - that seems rash. But that's why you won't be seeing me on there for a while. Streamlining!

Everything else is coming along slowly. I'm a bit weary of my sewing machine, to be honest, and I'll probably write a post about my progress so far and thoughts on my hobbies in the next week or so. In the meantime, I'm going to devote a little more time to enjoying the fresh spring air. I left the house at 7:30am in a T-shirt the other day! How great is that?

Daffodils everywhere!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Crescent Skirt Fabric

Just thought I'd share a sneak-peak at the fabric I'm going to be using for my Crescent skirt! I bought this fabric years ago and I still think it's so pretty.


Totally my kind of floral. It was part of some vintage-inspired line of fabric on sale at Fabricland at the time, and I remember having a very hard time choosing between all the pretty prints. I'm 99.9% sure it's quilting cotton, although there's nothing printed on the selvage to identify it. I also bought some plain white voile to serve as a lining. (I had been planning on making a dress, before I knew about the "omg quilting cotton!" issue.) I was even motivated enough to pre-wash everything at the time, so I'm all ready to go! Can't wait for the sew-along to get started.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Knits In Progress

In February I came across the pattern for Cassis and I knew right away I had to knit it. It was exactly what I wanted - something long and cozy, loose yet flattering, and not too bulky. After spending a bit of time lamenting the fact that I couldn't possibly afford to knit it in Madelinetosh, which many other knitters have used to produce some gorgeous, subtly-variegated garments (like this), I suddenly had an "ah-ha!" moment and chose Ultra Alpaca.


I could sing songs about Ultra Alpaca. I could write poems about it, make a shrine to it, take it out for dinner and a movie. We're talking serious love here, people. It's so soft and warm, and yet not too sheddy and totally durable. The colour I chose isn't heathered exactly, but it seems like the alpaca content is green and the wool is blue, resulting in this amazing teal. (Unless that fits the definition of heathered? I got the impression from Brooklyntweed's recent series on yarn mills that it's more complex than that.)

I cast on March 14th and I've been busily working on it ever since. It's knitting up a little faster than I expected, considering the length... although I have to admit that I'm starting to grow a tiny bit weary of knitting it. My wrists are starting to hurt and I'm impatient to wear it!


I've also started a sock project, in an attempt to achieve better knitting ergonomics and prevent repetitive stress injuries. Though, in truth I'm a very project-oriented knitter and working on two things at once is just totally counter-intuitive. I'm not devoting enough love toward the socks, and when I do I feel like they're standing in the way of sweater completion. I keep having to remind myself that they're promoting happy hands. And wrists. (And feet!)

The pattern is Skew, but I don't have an in-progress photo just yet. I cast-on in some Malabrigo from my meagre stash, and got about 70% of the way through the first sock before realizing that A) I'd made a counting error and B) the yarn was pooling pretty badly and C) I didn't really like the yarn at all, actually. (Why on earth did I buy so much red yarn in 2009? I'm really more of a blue/green kind of girl.) So I frogged it, and was completely thrilled to find Koigu on sale for 30% off at one of my LYSs, in a colourway I'd almost bought two months ago!


I've been dying to try Koigu because I love sock yarn with a tight twist... the way the yarn starts to look almost like a strand of pearls... love that. So far, it's wonderful to work with, too! Once I've gotten a little further, I'll take a photo to share.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pencil Skirt Muslin

I put together a muslin for my pencil skirt the other day. I'm working with my first Burda pattern, 8155. It went together in a snap and just needed a few minor changes.

First, there was too much ease in the hips, so I took it in about 1cm there and down the length of the skirt. Second, I had to admit that I just don't like skirts sitting on my natural waist. I'm too short-waisted and frankly, I find it uncomfortable. I decided to just remove the waistband altogether, and that helped immensely. So, this means that I'll have to draft a facing, but that's no big deal.

(please ignore the wrinkles! I ironed before sewing, I swear.)

I'm definitely getting crinkles at the point where my legs meet my torso, which Fit For Real People says can be fixed by simply removing the front darts. I tried unpinning them, but then the waist is too big. I'm not sure if the answer is just to take in the waist a bit at the side seam? (Or, considering I've already taken the skirt in at the hip, just make the whole thing in a size smaller and omit the front darts?)

I was interested to see that at least one person who's made up this pattern noted that it sits higher in the front than the back. I'm not sure if that's a problem with the pattern, or if that person just has a very similar figure to mine, but I noticed this as well. In these photos, I've removed about 5/8" from the front of the skirt and it's now sitting about level.

(the side seam isn't totally vertical, but that's just because of the way I was standing.)

So, I guess my next step is just to play around and figure out how exactly to handle those front crinkles, and then draft a facing and be on my merry way. The good news is, once I removed the waistband and wore the skirt lower, it was actually super comfortable. Old habits die hard, I guess!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Still here...

Just a quick update to say I'm still here, alive and well and all of that. As you might remember from this post, Mr. Modiste is now in Toronto most of the time and I was lucky enough to have him back for four days. Knitting happens when he studies, but the sewing machine is a little noisy and takes up the studying space, so that was put on hold. The good news is, I now have a whole backlog of projects that are partway done, so April should be an exciting month around this blog!