Thursday, September 15, 2016

Manzanilla Sweater by Joji Locatelli

I tried something a little different this time.  I took these photos on my phone instead of with my regular camera, and I uploaded them to Blogger from there.  The funny thing is they look pretty good on my phone, but the colors are totally different on my computer monitor.  They look more washed out and over exposed on my computer than they do on the phone.  Let me know what you think.

Anyway, this is my Manzanilla Sweater.  The pattern is by Joji Locatelli, from her e-book The Authentic Collection.  

The yarn is Malabrigo Silky Merino in the colorway Jupiter, and that is the perfect colorway name for this.  It totally looks like all the colors from a photo of Jupiter, emphasis on that big red spot.  I chose this yarn because that is what is recommended in the pattern, but I didn't realize when I ordered it online that it is a singly-ply yarn.  A little explanation if you aren't familiar with yarn construction:

When yarn is spun in a mill from wool (and silk, in this case), it is pulled out and spun into a strand.  Often, multiple strands are then twisted together to make the final yarn.  The final yarn can be described by the number of strands.  A yarn with 4 strands twisted together is a 4-ply yarn.  Sometimes, though, and in this case, just one, thicker strand is used, and it is called a single-ply yarn,

Ok, anyway, I have decided that single-ply yarns are not really my thing.  The small amount of twist and fuzzier texture means they pill easier in the finished garment and just take on a general fuzzy appearance, and, even worse for me, they pick up animal hair like velcro!  My Seacoast sweater, coincidentally also by Joji Locatelli, and knit in a worsted-weight single-spun yarn, is the worst for this!  I always look like I rolled around on the dog.  So anyway, much as I love this finished sweater, I know I will not love all the time spent with a de-piller, and I will carefully stay away from the single-spun yarns in the future.

Yarn discussion aside, this design is fantastic!  I love the cabled detail on the shoulders and sleeves.  I sized down one size from the recommendation based on my bust for two reasons.  I like a more body-conscious fit than is shown in the pattern, and I thought the yarn was super-wash, which has a tendency to grow (It is not superwash, in fact; are you noticing a pattern?  I really didn't do my homework on this yarn!).  In the end, the body and armhole fit was perfect, but the cuffs of the sleeves were quite snug.  While blocking, I really stretched out the cuffs, and I push them up right above my elbows, and they are fine now.  The only change I made from the pattern was to eliminate the split hem.  I used a regular ribbed bottom.

Overall, I am really happy with this sweater.  The fit through the body is perfect, and it will be a great sweater for fall.  I am considering making this again.  I would definitely use a different yarn - one that is plied and solid in color, to really show off those cables!  Maybe I will do the larger size, too, and just bring it in at the waist a bit.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

McCalls 7391 Lace-Up Shift Dress

Hi there.  Remember when I said I wanted to make McCalls 7391 after I finished my lace-up tee?  Well, I did it.  The fabric is a navy linen/rayon fabric from JoAnn Fabrics.  The laces are a braided rope-like trim, also purchased from JoAnn, but I can't find it online.  I also stitched the trim right on top of my hem stitching, and I love the extra pop.  The eyelets are the exact same ones I used for my tee linked above.

Ok enough talking.  Here it is:

 I found the fit to be ok for me.  Of course I did not make a muslin.  :-)  I ended up adjusting the side seams a bit - taking them in at the bust and letting them out at the hips.  Taking it in at the bust made my armholes a bit smaller, and they are perfect now.  If I hadn't needed the adjustment, I may have found the armholes a bit low.

This design has a subtle shirttail hem.  Very nice.

This has a loose fit, but I don't think it is unflattering.  It skims the curves and is very comfortable on a hot day.

I machine-stitched the trim at the hem with a simple straight stitch down the middle.  I am so glad I didn't hand-stitch it on.  It looks just fine and was much faster!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Lilli Pilli in Primrose Yarn Co Hand Dyed Yarns

I found Primrose Yarn Co a while ago when I was searching for a hand-dyed yarn alternative to Voolenvine, since it's pretty much impossible to get any of that yarn anymore.  I am so glad I discovered Primrose.  This stuff is gorgeous!  My three colors here are Vixen (pink), Angry Ocean (multi), and Titan (navy).  It's like they were made for each other!

The pattern is a wrap called Lilli Pilli, and it is very popular.  There are over 1100 versions of it on Ravelry.  The shape is a long parallelogram, which it turns out is really easy to wear.  The sections of garter stitch stripes and lace are really beautiful together.

This thing is huge, but it is lightweight, so it has been a great layer for those days when I know I'll be in excessive air conditioning.

The lace pattern is very pretty.  I like the bold diamond pattern.

 I tried to get a good pic of the whole thing.  This is the best I could do. :-)

This is definitely my favorite knitted wrap-y thing to date.  It is sooooo pretty and I don't feel like the crazy knitting lady like I do with some shawls.  I am wearing it with my Vogue 1440 blouse and purchased RTW pants.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

McCalls 7429 Twist Dress shortened to a Tunic

This project gave me a bit of stress, but it all turned out well!  This is McCalls 7429, from the recent Early Fall collection.  I almost got this post up before the newer McCalls Fall collection was released, so I was almost on trend.  Oh well.

My fabric for this is a rayon/cotton jersey from Mood Fabrics that is now sold out.  That is very sad because this fabric is a dream, and at $7.99 a yard, the price was right.  I have decided that rayon/cotton blends are my favorite jerseys.  Just enough heft, just enough sheen, and just enough comfort.  The first picture in this post accurately reflects the color - a bright, rich red.

I made a few changes in the end.  I lengthened the short sleeves a bit to hit right at the crease of my elbows, and I shortened the whole dress to tunic length.  Truth be told, that was my plan at the outset, but I was concerned the proportions would not look right, so I made the dress full length first.  It turned out to be uncomfortably short as drafted (I am 5'6", so taller than average, but not too much).  It was several inches above my knee before hemming.  That's when I decided the tunic was happening, and I am really happy with the result.  I think the proportions are fine, and I could use a comfortable tunic top in my wardrobe more than a red dress.

I like the twist detail on this dress.  Twist tops were everywhere 5-10 years ago, and then they were less in fashion.  I kind of hope they are making a comeback.  I think they are really flattering and elevate a basic tee shirt.  This knot being at the waist is a bit different from the usual center bust placement.  As with many twist top patterns, the instructions had me scratching my head a couple of times.  I think there is just no way around it.  Interesting patterns will be a bit more challenging.  I just followed slowly step by step, and everything turned out fine.

There is a center back seam on this pattern, which makes for a great fit, and would make a swayback adjustment simple to do.  Mine fit fine, though.  Oops, you can see the back pockets on my ponte pants through my top.  I will generally wear this over leggings or jeggings, but I was going for a slightly dressier look today for my anniversary dinner.  :-)  Here is my whole look - leopard print pumps and all.

Monday, August 15, 2016

McCalls 7351 Shirtdress

Oh my.  The lengths I went to for these photos!  First of all, it is pretty much always 100 degrees around here until October, so I sit inside, camera-at-the-ready, waiting for a big cloud to block the sun for a bit.  Then, I run out and get set up in front of my favorite Mandevilla bush because - hello, giant, gorgeous pink flowers!

 But wait!  What happened to my giant cloud?  Oh well, press on.

The cloud returned... and then entered the biggest, most-territorial bumblebee I have ever seen.  No joke, this guy decided the bush was his, and he was doing patrols around it so that every time I set the timer for a photo, there he was waiting to scare me off.  I'm not allergic to stings or anything, and I don't even know if this guy could sting, but he was definitely intimidating!  Ok, enough about the bee.  Photographic evidence of that fiasco will come at the end.  First, the dress!

This is McCalls 7351, a popular shirtdress pattern from spring.  I made view D, with the circle skirt and which is used for the sample white dress on the envelope.  This is a fantastic pattern.  It definitely looks best worn with a skinny belt.  I also used this pattern to create my Liberty blouse.

The fabric is this cotton voile from Mood Fabrics.  It says it is "vintage inspired," but it also reads Liberty of London inspired to me.  I was pleased that this voile is substantial enough that it does not need a lining or slip.  The buttons are from JoAnn.  I can't find them online, but I think they were made from a nut shell or something like that.  I like the way they contrast with the flowers.

Ok, on to the funny ones.
Here is my personal favorite of the lot:  Hey, check out my circle skirt!  Oh wait, there is a disturbing-looking bumble bee over there.

Nope, I am not even going over there this time.

Even the dog sees it!

 However, despite multiple attempts, I could not get a photo of the actual bee.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Purse

I was sooooo proud when I finished this purse, and now I am soooooo sad that it didn't hold up.  I got it in my head to make a "perfect purse" for me.  I wanted it to be cross-body and pretty small, but big enough to hold all my necessities.  I wanted to to be colorful but to go with everything, of course.  I wanted professional-looking leather elements and metal hardware.  

I was able to achieve all of these goals, and I used this bag with delight for about a month... and then the problems with a bag made from cute quilting cotton became evident - it was getting dirty and it became so totally floppy as the interfacing got broken-in that I wasn't happy with the way it looked anymore.  I am really happy with how the leather bits turned out, though.  I love the contrasting colors.

I started out with a pattern from the book Zaka Style, but I significantly changed the proportions and pockets.

The only sewing challenges I had was getting that orange pocket to stay straight without being able to pin or even binder-clip it in place since it wasn't on the edge, and the long leather strip just above the orange pocket.  That strip was one of the last things I did, though, and I think I was just getting tired and losing my patience to go slowly.

I was so pleased with my little cell phone pocket on the back with the magnetic snap.

The straps even turned out pretty well.

I really enjoyed picking my fabrics, and not a lot was needed, so it wasn't very expensive to make.  I also had the scraps of leather on hand as well as most of the hardware.

See?  It perfectly held everything I like to lug around.  It is the floppiness that drove me nuts after a while, though.  More interfacing would definitely help, but the issue of it just getting dirty isn't so easy to solve.  Oh well.  I enjoyed it for a while, and then I went out and bought myself a nice little blue cross-body bag that I've been carrying since.  

Monday, August 8, 2016

Snoqualmie Cardigan by Brooklyn Tweed

Ok you get exactly ONE modeled photo of this because the day I took it, it was about 100 degrees out.  We will not discuss why I made a big wool, cabled sweater in summer in Florida.  Some things are better left un-analyzed.  

I actually started this when I stumbled across a knit-along started by Closet Case Files designer Heather.  My plan was to finally make some CCF Ginger Jeans (the low-rise version, of course, because high-rise pants are not welcome here) to wear with it, and I still plan to, but it hasn't happened yet.

The pattern is Snoqualmie by Michele Wang for Brooklyn Tweed.  I would have loved to use the Brooklyn Tweed yarn (like I did for my Cusp) but it so wasn't in the yarn budget, so I went with EcoWool, which turned out to be an excellent substitute.  The wood buttons are from my local JoAnn Fabrics.

I can't wait for fall (which should arrive here in about four more months) so I can use this as my throw-it-on coat.