Saturday, February 6, 2016

Elemental Boatneck Knitted Top

I finally finished weaving in all the ends and today is sunny, so I took some pictures of my handknitted top, which I made using the Elemental Boatneck pattern by Hannah Fettig.  It's from Interweave Knits magazine Summer 2009.  The yarn is Cascade Ultra Pima and was agreeable to work with.  See?  I'm smiling!

It turned out waaay more fitted than the magazine model.  Perhaps I should've gone up a size! But I'm happy with the result.  It's a different silhouette than I was going for, but I can deal with it. 

As you can see, I match my room decor.  Plus, photography with cats!  There's another knitted work in progress just to the right of her.

I had to knit and reknit the sleeves many times, at first because I goofed up the pattern, and then because I ran out of yarn.  I calculated how long I could make them and still be able to finish up the body and seaming.  Turns out I calculated wrong, so I had to unravel them and go even shorter! 

I'd prefer the sleeves to be a bit longer, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. 

A couple of mirror views:

I'm hoping to finish up another nearly-done knitting project soon...just need to unbury the instructions!  Now where did I put them??

Monday, February 1, 2016

February Works

I have lots of WIPs, it's great!  These pants are nearly finished, I just need to do the bottom part.  Made from Simplicity 2656.

This was the second time I've made this pattern, but I completely forgot everything about the construction.  So I had to do several steps twice and there were a lot of furrowed brows.  Frankly, the instructions leave something to be desired.

The trousers were made for a friend and she stopped by today to try them on.  I won't post photos of her modelling them until they're completely done, but I think the fit was good.  Close enough for gov't work in any case!

Using the laundry drying rack as a model, so classy.
Plus an enormous skirt...

I recently discovered the plastic Burda tracing sheets.  They're not bad.  I wasn't convinced at first, but I especially like them for storage.

And a top to go with the enormous skirt...

The top and the pants use fabric from stash, but the skirt was a big purchase: seven meters!  On sale; oh yeah, you know I waited for that!

Sewing with cats, always a pleasure!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Colette Wardrobe Architect: Style Inspiration

The last time I tried to fill out the Colette Wardrobe Architect worksheets I just thought they were so TEDIOUS!  Now I have more free time and am enjoying the process. 

The first worksheets have you think about your style/wardrobe from a philosophical perspective.  But also practical influences.  I am probably like most people in that I have a slightly different style for work than for off-work.  Most of my clothing choices are made to be functional at work because that's where I am most of the time.  Although I do change clothes when I arrive home, so I should think about making some more loungewear.  And I have nothing else to say about worksheet one, so moving on!

The second worksheet is entitled Defining a Core Style.  While doing this worksheet, I have chosen the following women to represent my real AND aspirational style.  So, in no particular order:

Lucy Liu's Dr. Watson from Elementary
Jennifer Morrison's Emma from Once Upon a Time
Jaime Murray's Helena (HG Wells) from Warehouse 13
Katherine Hepburn in real life.

So, I lied; there is some order.  Lucy Liu's character isn't wearing wearing trousers!

I realize that the outfits pictured are all fall/winter appropriate.  That is how I dress for the majority of the year so I'm just going with it.  I can do a spring/summer version later if I feel like it.

So, lately I have been wearing short, fluffy skirts with tights when it's cold, like Dr. Watson.  Combined with boots and a jacket or cardigan or pullover, like Dr. W.  This is a combination that I am comfortable with AND it does double-duty because I can wear the skirts in warm weather too.  I do also wear pencil skirts in a similar combination, but they read as older and more conservative, so I am less excited about them.  But some situations need more gravitas, so I'll keep them alive.

For example, minus the cigarette smoke:

 I have no proof of me wearing a fluffy skirt like Watson; I'll try to remedy that soon.

Emma in OUAT represents more of my off-work style: skinny jeans and/or leggings, plus a cropped jacket and some sort of top.  My tops probably tend to be more tunicy and flowy than Emma's tops (such as those sported by Watson), so I think I can take a lesson from her and try something more cropped.

I often wear flat-heeled boots like those Emma has on below, but I have recently started wearing heeled boots too.  But NOT stilettos or a thin heel.  I prefer a solid, chunky heel and 2 1/2 inches would be perfect.

Again, I lack photographic evidence of me dressed like this!

I read HG's style and Katherine Hepburn's style as being similar: menswear for women.  I like (and wear) wide-legged pants combined with a sharp, button-down shirt.  And a jacket for fancier moments.  I do not have a waistcoat anymore, but I would love to acquire/make one again.

This is a look that I wear both off and on-work.  And I also combine it with a more slim-fitting trouser like HG does here:

I DO have evidence of me sporting wide-legged pants and a button-down shirt...

I know I'm not smiling, but in the smiling photo you can't see the pants as well. Priorities!

As well as another jacket and slacks combo.  And I was on vacation (or dancing) during all of these photos!

So what does all this wardrobe and style analysis tell me?!?  Not much new.  I was already aware that I had those preferences and practices.  I guess this just confirms that I feel like it works for me, so perhaps I should focus on making separates that can go in these categories, and not stray too far out of range. 

We'll see; I think there is room for some other silhouettes in my life.  I will continue to wear these, for sure, but I don't want to pigeon-hole myself either.  In my outfit photos, I only made the Beignet skirt and the plaid sleeveless top.  I can see myself making another long-sleeve button-down shirt, or attempting some wide-legged pants.  But my immediate sewing plans are a little different...

For those of you who have gone through the Wardrobe Architect worksheets, what did you get out of it ultimately??

Plus, here's a sneak-peek of what I'm currently working on:

RAARRRR!!!! We HATE taping together patterns!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Moving Forward

My first post in 2016 was sort of an accident, but I'm leaving it up there, as reference for me if nothing else!  I'm terrible at round-ups and those sort of posts, but I do want to sorta explain where things are headed (I think).

2015 was a transition year for me.  First year post-divorce, for one thing.  And for at least half of the year I believed that I would be soon setting sail for another continent.  Ultimately, I'm staying put for the time being.  I can only say that I'll be here for another year.  Beyond that, maybe not.  However, I was still living with cardboard moving boxes in my apartment because I hadn't wanted to invest in furniture with a move imminent.  I have had quite enough of that.  So, one trip to Ikea later, I bought another bookcase and a nightstand, and things are looking distinctly better. I still have exactly three (big) cardboard boxes in the apartment, but the contents mainly need to be recycled or donated.  So I anticipate getting rid of those pretty soon. 

Yay, shelves!

AND, I'm going to order a sofa.  And buy a rug.  I'm very excited about that.  My places to sit down are currently limited to one armchair, a desk chair, a stool, and my bed.  So it's been a bit difficult to invite friends over like that.  Plus the whole boxes thing.  I don't have a kitchen table or dining room or anything.  I eat on my desk.  It's a studio, yo!  Sooo, perhaps I could buy a side table or coffee table or something to go with the sofa.  Just now thought of that.  Anyhow, so a big priority is making my apartment more comfy and cute.  More like a home.

2015 was not a big crafting/creating year for me.  I worked on things, but didn't finish much.  I mainly worked a lot, ate, and danced.  This year I'm changing priorities.  I worked the max in hours I could last year and still had rather meager earnings.  So, it's crystal-clear to me that I cannot stay in that job if that's my only source of income. 

I'm going about finding a solution to that in a perhaps unusual way.  I am convinced that changing firms won't help.  The profession is simply sadly underpaid.  So I need to prepare to change professions.  In France.  Ha!  One aspect of life in France that I am continually baffled by is the administrative redtape associated with practically every aspect of life.  Things I never could have imagined being regulated by a state/government, are regulated by the state.  Such as changing professions.

Anyhow, so I'm staying true to my American roots and just trying to do my own thing, even when it's unconventional.  I'll be posting a bit about that on the blog as it progresses.

In order to transition to a new profession, I need preparation time, so I've cut down my work hours.  Which also means I have some time again for crafting and being creative in general.  As well as reorganizing my house, cleaning, and doing those basic things that were often neglected last year.

I had time to finish one more project before the end of 2015, my Macaron shirt.  I haven't had time/been inspired to take proper photos of it, but here's a quickie that I took, before hemming:

You can just see some boxes in the crook of my arm there.  Well guess what, those boxes are gone now, yippee!!

Anyhow, I think I said it in a previously blog post, but I gotta stop making tops by Colette.  They just aren't drafted for someone of my proportions.  And I like to minimize the fitting adjustments.  I had a dickens of a time setting in the sleeves, but the second sleeve was perhaps an impovement over the first.  I think that I'm pleased overall with the finished product, but I'll tell you more after I've worn it!

Colette Wardrobe Architect Experimentation: Silhouette 1 - Fall Short Skirt

Fall Short Skirt

Soooo...I finally decided to try Colette's Wardrobe Architect plan.  
I've filled out the first three worksheets and am now doing the part about 
 creating silhouettes.  And I'm trying out Polyvore for the first time. 

So the above is what I came up with for my first fall silhouette.  

A combo of pullover and floaty skirt with tights/boots.  

This is a combo I already wear several times a week.  So I don't know if this helps me. 
I already know that I like and wear this.  Maybe now I should take some pictures 
to see if it's actually a good silhouette for me.

Anyhow, this is a rather brutal post because I wasn't quite planning on blogging it,
but then Polyvore had that option and I wanted to test it out, 
so here we are bam!! 

Welcome to 2016!!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Final Project of 2015

Sooooo, it's not quite finished because my machine has gone on strike and is refusing to do buttonholes.  Don't know why.  Maybe just a tension problem.  I can try to do them by hand if I don't want to wait 'til my friend comes back from vacation to use her machine.

Evidence of crazy buttonhole:

The two I did just before were more or less okay, given the fact that my machine does crappy buttonholes, generally speaking:

Anyhow, this is my third time using pattern New Look 6104.  Here I combined it with sleeves from Simplicity 2365.  Speaking of, I took me at least three tries per sleeve to do the insertions of the sleeve heads.  I guess this is what happens when one takes a long sewing break.  Makes me want to flat-insert them next time.  We'll see.

This was started in February and then put on the backburner when I realized I had incorrect pattern placement for the button placket.  I'm on vacation for the winter holidays and I decided to try to finish this up in 2015!  Now the buttons are stopping me, or more properly, the buttonholes. 

After lots of eating and drinking this evening, we'll see how movitated I am in the few remaining days of would be nice to put this project to bed.

Here are the buttons I chose, from stash:

I had additional complications because of my rounded upper back, or Lady Turtle, as Rochelle calls it.  This was not a problem on my previous two incarnations; I think this fabric must be stiffer.

 I tried putting in darts along the back neckline, but that just made it worse.  This was not even wearable under a cardigan though (believe me, had it been, I would've left it as is, no problem), so I decided to try scooping out the back neckline, since it laid flat lower down the back.

I drew a curve with my handy special ruler:

 And, pre-bias tape neckline treatment, it looked like a big improvement.

 And it passed the under-the-cardigan test after I applied the bias tape...

 It still has a slight up-tick when worn solo, but it's much better and I doubt I'll wear it solo very often.  So I'll call that a fix.

 There is another problem, which I did not fix.  Due to one of my shoulders slumping more than the other, I have a wrinkle in the front.  I think I could fix it by making the seam allowance bigger to sorta pull up the fabric.

You can see the problem here on the right side facing:

 It's exaggerated because of the movement with my other arm, but it would be there nonetheless.  After three or four attempts at inserting the sleeve head, I didn't have it in me to rip that all out and adjust the shoulder seam.  So, I'll try that next time.

 Otherwise, after all that, it's nearly nearly finished.

Why oh why buttonholes?!?  'Til the next time - keep safe and happy holidays everyone!!

P.S.  What's up with the crazy spacing with Blogger?  It doesn't represent what I typed and seems impossible to fix!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Steampunk in Nantes

This is a follow-up on my Halloween prep. blog entry.  BUT it's not photos of the Halloween party!  We went to Nantes this weekend and I took advantage of the visit to reuse some elements from the Halloween costume and do a little steampunk photo session at Les Machines de l'Ile, a Jules Verne-based mini theme-park in the city.  You can check out their website at

I'm the photographer here, so you won't see my costume featured.  But I made the hat decoration, the jabot, and I spraypainted the waistcoat. ;)

The hat decroation took me the longest.  You saw the preparation in the last blog entry.  It took a while for the waistcoat to dry, but the spraypainting part was fast.  However, it really only looks good from far away.  Lots of to be expected from spraypainting an old waistcoat!

And the jabot was simply glued together (it was down to the wire, folks!) using bits of old lace, and then just folded to the appropriate width and pinned on the shirtcollar.

In front of the massive carrousel:

Now overlooking an old vessel in the Loire river, Nantes being an important port on the Atlantic.   I highly recommend visiting the city - there was some very cool stuff to see and do!

The model taking a break, with his very non-steam-based-technology cellular phone:

The only things sewed in this endeavor were some decorative buttons.  Oh the magic of glue!

I took so many photos it was hard to choose!  So I made collages to comprise.  OK, OK, one nice, last close-up:

Bisous from Nantes!!!!