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Monthly Archives: January 2013

I’m playing catch-up, as resolved, and sharing some of the things I’ve made lately… or not so lately. I actually made this dress in mid-December, but lack of light (and, really, laziness) put off the taking of good pictures until just the other day. So please pardon this slightly used dress, since I love it so much I couldn’t not share it!

Simplicity 2281

I clearly have a problem. I’m a knitaholic. While I suppose most people would think a knitaholic can’t stop knitting things (my actual knitting count: 1 and a half items), I’m defining it as someone who cant help but make any pattern with a knit fabric. “Oh what a cute design!” I’ll think. “But so fitted… surely it would be more comfortable in a knit?” That’s right, I seem to exist solely to turn fancy dresses into sweatshirts. And it’s awesome.

Now, I can’t take credit for the idea to knitify this pattern, Simplicity 2281 (a Cynthia Rowley design – can’t you tell by the giant midriff and dirndl skirt?) That came from Andrea at foursquarewalls, who made the pattern up in a red doubleknit last summer, and when I saw it I immediately wanted one. Since immediately for me means “sometime in the next 16 months”, I finally got to it in December. And of course I had to shamelessly copy her, so I searched for a while for a rust-colored ponte knit before finding one at Michael Levine in LA. I also had the advantage of her detailed rundown of all the reasons this pattern was totally unsuitable for knitifaction. But dammit, I was going to make it work!

I started by choosing the long sleeve version, both because I wanted a winter dress, and also because that meant I wouldn’t need the bodice lining to finish the armholes, avoiding the too-thick-seam problem. I omitted the bodice lining entirely and lined the midriff in a thin rayon jersey from the scrap pile (it’s purple, but whatevs, they’re complimentary colors). No lining meant I had nothing to gather the neckline to, but I just measured the lining piece and gathered the bodice to that measurement. I bound the neckline as the pattern indicated, but halved the binding piece lengthwise so it was just a single layer folded over. At first I was going to leave the slit in the back and fasten it at the top with a button or snap (since I didn’t want to do the tie closure), but the slit stuck out funny in this fabric and when I pinned it closed I could actually get it on over my head, so I just sewed the back up all the way.

Simplicity 2281 back

Having sorted out all the lightweight-woven-to-heavyweight-knit fabric issues, I sewed up the side seams (I left them for last, of course, for easier fitting) and tried it on, and realised the last problem that I hadn’t considered: a long sleeved, high necked doubleknit dress in a solid color can be a little overwhelming, to say the least. As in, I looked like an Amish pumpkin. So, resolved as I was that this unlikely dress would work, I set about reducing the amount of fabric covering me. I took in the sides for a better fit, shortened the sleeves to 3/4 length, and took a good 5 inches off the skirt. It wound up being a smidge short (making this a leggings-for-sure dress, which is fine, ’cause it’s been cold!), but it did actually make it cute, I think. It’s amazing how hem length can change the look of a dress totally!

Simplicity 2281 has pockets!In the end, I really really like this dress. It’s like wearing a really comfortable but fashionable sweatshirt. And did I mention the pockets? Pockets! It’s even cozier when there’s somewhere to put your hands! And I can ride a bike in it, something that would almost certainly be impossible in the woven fabric version of this pattern. So yes, this dress is totally fueling my knitifying addiction… but I’m okay with that.

My review of the pattern can be found here.

One gripe, though, with the fabric. It wasn’t too helpfully labeled in the store, but I’m pretty sure it’s the ubiquitous Sophia Doubleknit that you can get from fabric.com and others. It’s poly, which I don’t mind, except it pills like the dickens! I’ve worn/washed this dress maybe 5 times and it’s already pilling like crazy. And the dress I made from the turquoise Sophia two years ago (this one) is basically a textured fabric now. It still looks okay from a foot away, but it’s not anywhere near as nice to wear. Any suggestions on how I can delaying the pilly demise of this dress, or recommendations of doubleknits that don’t pill? I think doubleknits are my new favorite winter fabric, but they need to last more than one winter!

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Well hello there.

What’s that you say? I’ve taken much too long a break and it’s rather too late for some kind of yearly wrap-up post? Ha, nonsense! The fourth week of January is the perfect time for a new year’s retrospective for the consummate procrastinator. Which I obviously am.

It’s funny, I’ve been kind of (or more than kind of) avoiding writing a post like this (and therefore not posting at all, since somehow I thought a recap should be my first post of the year – I mean, I couldn’t just ignore the turn of the year, right?), because I thought it’d be a pain, or take too long, or because for the last few weeks all I’ve been wanting to do is stream old episodes of How I Met Your Mother while knitting (man I knit slowly). I’ve sewn a few things, but nothing that I’m excited enough about to motivate me to blog. But now that I’ve finally started to think about my year in sewing, it’s actually reinvigorated me. Look at all the things I made last year! They look so pretty all together! Hey, I want to do that some more!

2012 collage 1 2012_collage_22012_collage_3

Observant followers may notice some pictures of things here that I never blogged (no, actually, I don’t expect anyone to be following so closely that they’d remember all my makes – that’s why I’m confessing it!) Like what is happening currently, at some point over the summer I made a bunch of stuff in a row and never took the time to write it all up. If there’s something you spot that you’re absolutely dying to know about, do let me know and I’ll try to dig up the details.

I tallied up my totals for the year – I made:

  • 21 dresses
  • 17 tops and 1 tunic
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 pairs of crop pants
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 2 jackets
  • 1 pair of pajamas (plus 2 unphotographed pairs of pj pants)
  • 3 bags and a camera insert

So, not bad! Looking at my closet now, even though I added 20 dresses to it this year, I still find myself wishing for more. I think that’s because only a handful of the dresses I made land in that sweet spot of nice-enough-for-work-but-not-too-nice, especially now that I’m generally commuting to work on a bike and I need dresses with some stretch. I like making tops ’cause they’re quick and a good use of just a yardish of fabric, but my sad lack of well-fitting pants means they hang in the closet unworn most of the time.

All the same, it’s actually hard to pick a favorite item of the year. I’m particularly proud of my Anthro knock-off tank and of my whole Mini Wardrobe. My Minoru has been seeing a lot of action in the last couple months (rainy season), and all my knit dresses are in regular rotation. My biggest fails this year were definitely my sad rushed poly dress and an unblogged maxi dress that I wound up cutting in half and turning into a top and a skirt. And as far as least worn goes, although I like them, the two sacks-with-belts I made this summer will likely languish in the closet in favor of some of the fancier knit dresses I also made.

Which brings me to the lessons-learned-and-applied section: Thinking about what made me happiest to sew this year, I’ve realised that I’m really a practical sewist. I like to make things I wear, and I want to wear-it-NOW-already! So taking six weeks to craft a complicated, perfectly fitted fancy woven dress is just not my thing at all (sorry, Gertie’s Bombshell Dress Course, I don’t think I’ll ever get around to you). Now, that’s not to say that I only want to make boring garments – I love color, prints, and unusual construction details (I’m so on board with all the twisty jersey dress patterns I’ve been seeing), and I rarely make the same pattern twice. So I suppose my goal for the new year is… more of the same. Wow, ambitious, right? Well, I’m the first to admit that I’m honestly not that interested in stretching myself too much – this sewing lark is supposed to be fun, after all. But I do want to keep improving my skills: getting better at choosing appropriate fabric for patterns, getting more confidant with my routine fit adjustments, getting faster. And I do want to sew some more complex things this year – pants and coats, for one. But only things I can really see myself wearing every day.

I also need to get a handle on the Stash Monster. Fabric has literally taken over our office, to the point that there’s no place to sit anymore and the cat has to vault straight from the floor to get to his sleeping spot on the back of the futon because of the teetering piles of fabric that have taken over the seat… To that end I’m joining Cation Design’s Stashbusting Sewalong for sure. I can’t swear off buying fabric altogether (that’s just setting myself up for failure), but I do want to stop buying fabric online. I have a bunch of knit fabric in the stash that I ordered that is staying unused for some reason, mainly because it’s thinner than something I would have picked out in a store. So my only stash additions this year will be from my local 99 cent bolt end store and from any incidental vacation/special trip fabric shopping I may do (LA garment district, I’m looking at you!). I love nothing more than browsing fabric online, but I’ve learned that the fabric I’m most likely to use is the stuff I touched in person before I bought it.

My last big nebulous goal for the new year is to not let myself procrastinate this blog into nonexistence. I think the key to timely blogging is to not let finished projects build up. I just need to get into the rhythm of finish a project, write it up, start new project. Once a few things build up, it’s hard to motivate myself to sit down and blog because it seems too daunting and I’d rather just keep sewing. I want to try to keep sewing and blogging together as more of a unit so I can write about things while I still remember what I did!

So that’s my year in sewing, and my sewey goals for this year. I do feel like I should mention what else went on in my life last year, since thinking back on it now it actually was fairly eventful. In May I left my job of nearly 7 years and transitioned into a job closer to home, eliminating my hourlong commute and also decreasing my work hours each week (which did translate into more sewing, but not more blogging, as discussed above…) I’m still figuring out my new schedule and how to not just spend my extra time each week perusing cooking blogs (though I have been cooking a lot more, which is great). Happily, the job shift has also allowed me to spend more time with my friends, and has resulted in the growth of some great friendships. My year in biking was certainly eventful also – I rode almost 5,000 miles and climbed over 300,000 feet in 2012. I rode 5 organized rides: two full centuries (100 miles), two 70 milers, and 90 miles of the Death Ride. If you’d asked me two years ago if I thought I’d ever participate in any kind of organized athletic event, let alone something as challenging as Death Ride, my answer would have been a resounding “are you crazy?” But much to my surprise I really enjoy it. And, of course, also this year I had my first major crash and broke a bone for the first time in my life! I hope this year I can ride as much or more, but I’ll do without the crashing, thank you.

But back to sewing, one last thing that was great about last year was just the fun of participating in this crazy awesome online community. I’ve loved getting to know everyone through their blogs, and having the pleasure of meeting a few real sewasaurases in the flesh! And I don’t say it often enough, but thank you all so much for reading and commenting! I’m dreadful at replying to comments, but every time a new comment shows up in my inbox it absolutely makes my day. I can’t articulate how cool it is to find out how much I have in common with people all over the world! Thank you for making me feel so welcome and appreciated! I was even nominated for the Lovely Blogger Award (thanks Adrienne of stitching on the edge!) Rather than make this post any longer by sticking to the letter of the award rules, I’ll just finish up by calling out some of the blogs that really inspired me last year (and I’m sure will continue to do so this year!):

  • Cindy at Cation Designs is slowly convincing me that I may be able to just wing it and make something awesome without a commercial pattern,
  • Andrea of foursquarewalls has given me the baby step option of just altering the heck out of my existing commercial patterns before I try to leap off the patternless cliff,
  • Lisa of notes from a mad housewife has helped me to not be afraid of real coat construction (I hope to apply those lessons soon!),
  • Jess of the Sometimes Sewist has shown me that you really can just jump in to a big complicated project and just make it happen,
  • and Anne of Pretty Grievances has made me laugh harder than I thought possible at sewing related matters.

Thanks, ladies, and thanks to all the other bloggers who I just happily devour whatever gorgeous thing it is you’ve made this week – there are too many of you to list, and that’s the best thing ever!

Here’s one more collage of the things I made last year (a happy accident that occurred as I was trying to figure out the online collage maker). Recap over, back to regularly scheduled sewing (and sharing the things I’ve already sewed before they get away from me!)

skinny_collage

So here’s to a great 2012, a better 2013, and lots of sewing for everyone!