Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Knitting Failure

The blog has been a little quiet recently but that doesn't mean I haven't been crafting. I was trying very hard to finish knitting a cardigan before classes started up again in September. Unfortunately, it's a bust.

I was nearly finished with a pattern by Véronik Avery: the Nordique Swing cardigan. I was using grey merino wool by Rowan and was very excited about how it was shaping up...until this happened:

What is that bulbous thing behind my neck?? Let's look at it from another angle:

And here it is laying flat:

Um, yeah, that looks pretty bad. I followed the directions to the letter, so what happened? Well, let's look at the photo of the back in the magazine (Interweave Fall 2009):

She's definitely got some funkiness going on at the back of the neck too. I had noticed this prior to starting the project but I figured it didn't look that bad. I should've known that if it was a little off in the supposed-to-be-perfect magazine spread, it was going to be super fugly in real life.

I wet-blocked the heck out of it, to no avail. And, on top of that problem, I also have this:

Clearly, that part is entirely my fault. I didn't pick up enough stitches to make the button placket ribbing and so it's curling like that. If it weren't for the horrible back neck problem, I would simply rip that part out and redo it. But I will never be okay with the neck.

I looked at knitters' completed projects of this pattern on Ravelry and I saw that some people had turned over the collar in the back, making the front have a shawl-collar effect. I tried to do this to deal with the bulge, but it wouldn't stay tucked under. And I want to be able to wear the cardigan and be happy with it without fiddling. So, it's joined the 'to-be-frogged' bag of shame.

This is the third project that I've tried with that grey yarn; I am beginning to wonder if it's cursed. Or perhaps I just need to listen to the yarn and let it tell me what it wants to be. The first project was the Natalia by Stefanie Japel, but I couldn't decipher her directions for the life of me. Then I tried to do a color work vest (waist coat) but the colors I had weren't working together. So then I chose the Nordique Swing cardigan and thought I had a winner at last, but alas, no.

You may be thinking that I'm depressed about frogging the cardigan after all the work I put into it, and I am bummed, but just take a look at another failed project:

Look at all those tiny cables. I had knit all the way up to the collar, including the sleeves because you join them in the round to the body. And then I had a yarn discoloration disaster that I only saw after I had gone a couple inches above it. This was at the point where I had already been doing decreases for a while and there was no way I could find my place again if I ripped back.

Sigh. And look what I did here, smack in the middle of the front: why did I bind off a few stitches here??

Apparently I mistook it for the armhole:

Here's what it was supposed to look like, gorgeous, non?

It's funny, I wrote at some point that I'm more comfortable with my knitting skills than with my sewing skills, but clearly I have some epic knitting failures. I think that I'm more accepting of a mediocre result in sewing than in knitting. I might work on a complicated sewing project for a month or two, but a complicated knitting project can easily take me a year to complete. And after all that time and effort I really want to love it. So, I prefer to undo something completely and use the yarn for another project rather than wear something I'm not happy with. Perhaps as I become more confident in my sewing skills I'll ask more of my sewing projects too!

Now I just need to find something that the grey yarn wants to become. I was hoping to make it into a cardigan because I need cardigans, but I think it might prefer being a pullover. Hmmm, any ideas?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Starts and Finishes: Project Update

I'm starting with the finish. My second version of New Look 6870: a dainty pink shirt.

As you can see, it is quite windy today, so we didn't venture far for the photographs!

For this version, I went with a uni-color cotton lawn. The first was in a print cotton voile. And this time I went with slightly longer sleeves and a tie closure instead of a button. Oh, and, I added some lace down the front, which I then also used as the tie. :)

Why don't I just show you the first version again???

I don't have much to say, construction-wise. This being my second time through, it was easier. I managed not to twist the elastic this time. Oh, and I converted the front darts into gathers along the bust, as I did last time. And I made the opening slit at the front neckline shorter because I feel it's too low on the first version.

I was hoping to avoid the necessity of a camisole, but the fabric is rather see-through so I'll have to wear one. Here's a close-up on the neck-tie:

Overall, I think I prefer this version to my first one. Although that could just be the excitement of newness! But I really like the addition of the lace and I prefer the tie closure to the button, as well as the longer sleeves.

The pink is super girlie though. I don't think I'll pair the shirt with this skirt in the future. It matches, but I felt like I was dressed up, and not in a good way. So I can't honestly say that I have filled a gap in my wardrobe (to make a shirt that goes with that polka dot skirt!) because I just don't think I'll wear them together.


But it does count as a win for my Colette Spring/Summer Challenge. Clearly I'm finishing up at the end of summer, but I'm still happy to finish the projects and I think they are garments that I'll get good use out of.

And, finishing up with the start of a new project: today I cut out a long-sleeve version of the Negroni in a check fabric. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Stripey Shirt

I completed another item on my list for the Colette Spring/Summer Palette Challenge: a stripey shirt using Simplicity 3842.

T. was kind enough to take pictures for me at a church near our house:

This pattern went together easily and I made only minor changes. I didn't sandwich the modesty panel in with the bodice front and bottom front seam. Rather, I measured where I wanted it to fall and then just tacked it down. I was afraid the neckline would be too low otherwise and that it would be rather useless as a modesty panel!

This was my first time using a pattern with cut-on kimono sleeves and I was quite happy to have one less step! The sleeves do stick out a bit and don't exactly minimize my broad shoulders, but I'm okay with that because it means I have more air-flow in the heat.

The back has some gathering in the middle and there are decorative back ties. The ties really don't pull in the waist when they are tied because they are placed just below the bust, so I consider them a design element. ;)

Speaking of design elements, I quite like the lace that I chose. I think it complements the fabric nicely. (Self-congratulatory pat on the back!) I left it off the hem though; it seemed like overkill putting the lace there too and I wanted to draw more attention to the neckline anyhow.

You can see from the shoulder seam that I made no attempt at stripe-matching. I suppose it would've been good practice before tackling T.'s Negroni, but I felt like the stripe repeat was wide enough apart with this fabric that I didn't really need to try to match it up. And/or, I'm just lazy and felt like I could get away with it. ;)

In other news, I did cut out the pink fabric for my next shirt - another version of New Look 6870, with slightly longer sleeves - but I realized that the lace I planned to use was too heavy for the cotton voile. So I had to go back to the store and get different lace; there wasn't a lot of choice, unfortunately!

That's it - see you soon! You'll have to pretend I'm waving in this photo...somebody, I'm not saying who, cut off my hands.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How are my Me-Mades holding up?: Part I

I want to take a look at my me-made wardrobe and see how the clothes are wearing up, both in terms of wear and tear and whether or not I still wear them.

The analysis cruelly reveals that the first three or four things that I made do not get worn because I'm not comfortable with the quality. Some of the mistakes are pretty bad and not really fixable. So the following things I've put aside and plan to use the fabric in future crafty projects (a quilt????):

There are also a few items that I've recently put aside because the fabric is not holding up. I didn't purposefully choose crappy fabric, but sometimes it's hard to tell in advance. And I wore these pieces every week. They are now looking pretty shabby, but I'm keeping them to use in other ways (eventually).

These projects I don't wear often for various reasons. I need a slip for the dress so it doesn't stick to my tights. The pants stretch out horribly after an hour. I have trouble matching the shirt with a bottom, plus I'm not happy with the button placket.

And then I just have the full-blown fitting/construction failures that I can't really blame on being a newbie...okay, maybe a little bit. :)

However, there are some pieces that I love and that I continue to wear, including some of my early stuff. There are some that I will need to replace for the next season though because I wear them all the time and it shows.

So, what have I learned from the first 15 or so things I sewed? 1)Fabric quality (and appropriateness) is very important; 2) some silhouettes look cute on other people and/or on the pattern illustration, but do not fit in with my style or work with my body type, lifestyle, etc.; 3) if I made a first version and I'm happy with it, I should make another one right away so I still remember the little adjustments that I need to make! Regarding # 3, I take notes on all my adjustments, but it helps to have the fresh muscle memory, as it were. ;)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Finished Shirt: Simplicity 2339

I finished another item on my Spring Palette Challenge this year. I made a shirt with three-quarter sleeves from Simplicity's Amazing Fit pattern line: 2339, view A.

I wore it for its first outing on a visit to the Château de Chambord with my father-in-law, who was visiting it for the first time.

All photos were taken with T's phone, so they are a bit grainy.

Here's a close-up on the sleeve cuff:

I'm really happy with how the shirt turned out. I changed the construction order a little bit, but otherwise, the instructions were very clear and thorough. The only things I did differently were: a) to use French seams for the sides; and b) to use a ribbon in place of hem binding.

I didn't make any fitting changes. I cut a straight 12 and I am really happy with the fit. Normally when I cut a straight 12, I have a lot of fabric pooling in the lower back and it's a bit tight across the hips. But that's not the case here. I have a little bit of fabric pooling in back, but the fit at the hips is perfect.

Here's a close-up on the ribbon, upside down:

I had to put hem binding (or something) because I changed the construction order and made the front button placket before doing the hem, instead of doing the hem first as the pattern calls for.

I can easily imagine making many versions of this pattern. This version actually calls for front chest pockets. I tried to make them but they turned out pretty crappy. Hopefully I'll do better next time.

Here's one more photo, inside Chambord. Look, I match the wall, top and bottom!

Because we have guests this week I don't count on getting much sewing done, but I will continue to plug away at my 2012 spring/summer sewing list. I still have five items left on my original list.

Here's a reminder of my plan. I changed patterns for the first two items sewn.

I think I'll attack the pink fabric next!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Modelled: a Cynthia Rowley skirt for Simplicity

Remember the skirt that I made for my friend out of the blue silk? I used Simplicity 2512. I finished it back in March but forgot to bring my camera when I delivered her the skirt. Well, my friend got some time off work so I went up to Paris yesterday to visit her and I remembered my camera this time!

Without further ado, here are the results of our mini photo-shoot. That day she was actually wearing the red cotton trial-version that I made, so we started with it first. Apparently she gets a lot of use out of the cotton one! I was glad to hear that it has been doubly purposeful :)

Here's a close-up:

And here's the 'real' version in the blue silk:

My friend was a model in her younger days. I think she's still got it, don't you? :)

And here's the skirt paired with a jacket that she purchased to go with it. I think the colors are spot-on and I hope she gets a lot of use out of it come fall.

It's such a pleasure knowing that things I've made for other people actually get worn!

As a side note, after our photo-shoot we went to the Gerhard Richter exhibit at the Centre Pompidou/Beaubourg Museum. We both loved the exhibit and we both noticed that tons of people were taking photos of the paintings. I think I can safely say that this is a no-no at most museums so we were kinda bewildered. There were individual paintings that had no-photography signs, but other than those, the artwork seemed to be fair game and the docents were not reprimanding people. And they do not hesitate to reprimand people if it's not allowed! The Beaubourg building is beautiful and spacious inside and has lovely light (and lovely views of Paris), so we both agreed that we'd use it as a locale for our next photo-shoot, whenever that may be! :)

In other news, I just finished another shirt (for me), so hopefully I'll get some photos of that soon. I've been cooking with gas at the sewing machine lately and I hope to ride the wave to further success because I have a long sewing list! Wow, how was that sentence for mixed metaphors?!