Tag Archives: fall

Craft Fail: Seamster Rose Hip Tights in Double Brushed Polyester

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Craft Fail:  Seamster Rose Hip Tights in Double Brushed Polyester

Hey, everyone! Long time, no post! That was unexpected, but we’re all fine over here. One week Flickr (where I store my blog photos) was down when I needed to upload. Then our computer showed the blue screen of death and was out of commission for awhile–luckily that has been fixed. And then it was school vacation week. Life! What are you going to do? Oh, well. Thankfully I’m back, and while it’s been a surprisingly busy week, I really wanted to get this post out.

It’s been awhile since I had a real craft fail, but these tights are definitely that! And it’s not the fault of the pattern. Oh, no. It was a combination of user error in the form of a serious rookie mistake and a miscalculation on my part about how stretchy my fabric was and what that meant for the pattern.

So let’s dive in! I made tights! Yes, I actually MADE TIGHTS! You don’t see a lot of patterns for tights, although it’s not hard to imagine that you could combine a leggings and sock pattern or something, but as someone who loves sewing from a pattern more than drafting or hacking patterns, I wanted a tights pattern. After making my fun wedding guest outfit back in October, I realized that the cost of awesomely-colored tights could really add up. I started to wonder if there were any patterns out there to make your own. That’s when I stumbled on this blog post from Lauren Taylor’s blog, Lladybird. A long time ago, she had tried out the Rose Hip Tights by Seamster Patterns.

Seamster Rose Hip Tights
Seamster Rose Hip Tights

This is an “old” pattern as far as modern indie patterns go, and it came out before there were a lot of indie patterns on the market as we know them today. That made it a little hard to track down because Seamster Patterns seems to have disappeared in the mid-twenty-teens. I thought I had hit the jackpot when I found the pattern on Kollabora, so I bought it and tried to download it.

Here’s a PSA for any of you that think that is a good idea–don’t do it.

I couldn’t get the pattern to download on my computer. It seems the site had made me a mysterious login and password which I hadn’t chosen and couldn’t access. After searching the internet, I started to see forums and discussions pop up where other people had tried the same thing, paid money, and gotten no pattern and no response from Kollabora. I had also e-mailed both Kollabora and a blogger friend who had once made the pattern to try to find out what happened, but had gotten no response from Kollabora.

Then I remembered reading an article by the Craft Industry Alliance about the founder of Kollabora and her newest venture, CraftJam, so I e-mailed the help section of CraftJam to see if they could assist me, even though it seemed like a bit of a long shot. Around the same time, my blogger friend sent me a copy of the pattern, since I had paid for it and didn’t seem to be getting a response from Kollabora.

Luckily, CraftJam was both very responsive and kind enough to dig up the pattern and send it to me. Their customer service was amazing and they really went above and beyond since they are a different website from Kollabora altogether.

As for Kollabora, while it’s still around, it isn’t really active at this point. That’s a long, drawn out story, but I wanted to share it in case anyone else has the same issue that I did. I don’t recommend flooding CraftJam with questions about Kollabora. I just wouldn’t try to buy any patterns from Kollabora at this point since it seems to be largely inactive at the moment. Maybe someday a new company will buy it and revitalize it, but as of this writing I don’t think that has happened.

All of that means that I’m now blogging a pattern that is more or less unavailable, which is an interesting choice. I know. I still want to discuss it, though, because some of you may have this pattern, but have never tried it, and I have a not-so-good memory, which means I might just forget I made these tights if I don’t blog them! Haha. Sad, but true!

So let’s get to it. This is the first time I have ever tried a Seamster Pattern, and this one is really cool. The Rose Hip Tights have options for thigh high stockings, low rise tights, and high rise tights. I decided to make the high rise tights. It’s clear that the designer put a lot of thought into these. There are only four pattern pieces–the main leg piece, the foot, the crotch gusset, and the waistband (or leg band for the thigh high stockings). The seams are strategically placed to look nice and not chafe, which is cool, and there are instructions for how to adapt the pattern to your fabric depending on your height, foot length, and the fabric’s stretch. The sewing is not too difficult. I think I did all or almost all of it on my serger. (I’m struggling to remember since I made these in fall 2021). Overall, it was a nice, quick project. And the thought that I could have tights in whatever color I wanted was pretty appealing.

I decided to try the pattern out first with double brushed polyester (DBP), which I bought from Cali Fabrics. I got some in mustard yellow and some in lavender. DBP is, as far as I can tell, what they make those super soft leggings everyone loves out of. And the nice thing is that the fabric is usually not very expensive. Seems like a win, right? Well, it could be…if you don’t mess it up like I did. Hahahaha. Here’s where the rookie mistake comes in.

When you cut out a pattern piece on folded fabric, you are actually cutting out two mirrored pattern pieces. When you cut a pattern out on a single layer of fabric and need two of a pattern piece, you need to cut one with the pattern right side up and one with the pattern upside down to get those mirrored images. Well…in my mustard fabric I cut two right side up. Yep. I’ve been sewing for a respectable number of years now, and I totally did that to myself. And the real kicker is that I didn’t even notice until I was sewing the crotch seam, almost at the end of the process! I was very confused for a moment there! Haha. Then I figured it out, but I was so close to the end, that I just decided to finish them so I could at least check the fit. Guess what? Perfect fit! Too bad one leg will always look inside out.

Seamster Rose Hip Tights
Yep–one leg is sewn correctly with seams on the inside and one has the seams on the outside.

Sadly, the purple pair is also a bust.

Seamster Rose Hip Tights
Rose Hip Tights–front view
Seamster Rose Hip Tights
Rose Hip Tights–back view

These two fabrics had a slightly different amount of stretch to them, and using the calculations in the pattern, I decided to sew an XL and lengthen the yellow by 4″ and shorten the purple by 2″. I did not change the foot length. Figuring out exactly how much to shorten or lengthen was the one part of this pattern that I found confusing. I managed to cut the purple fabric out correctly and the sewing went great. When I put them on, however, the crotch of the tights was probably about 2″ too low. Looks like I didn’t need to shorten them after all. Ugh. I knew I would never wear these as tights if they fit like that. Another fail! (A pretty funny fail, just like the last one, but a fail nonetheless.)

On the plus side, I tried one pair of tights with optional elastic in the waistband, and the other without, and I liked both options. The feet fit great, and it was a cool pattern with a great fit overall.

Seamster Rose Hip Tights
Here’s what the feet should look like (above)
Seamster Rose Hip Tights
At least the inside-out foot helps you see where the seamlines are
Seamster Rose Hip Tights
Seams wrap around the ankles, under the ankle bones, avoiding uncomfortable chafing
Seamster Rose Hip Tights
At the heel, the seams join together in an upside-down “Y”, with one seam running up the back of the leg

After telling my mom about it, she suggested cutting off the feet and using them as footless tights, leggings, or pajamas. This seemed like a brilliant idea (Thanks, Mom!), so I did that and just used my regular sewing machine to make a little bar tack at the edge on the serged seam so it wouldn’t come undone. After testing these, I found they wouldn’t work as regular leggings for me, since they are a little see-through. On my daughter’s purple leggings (blogged here), there is a bit more ease, and they really aren’t see-through. With the tighter fit of these on me, though, they are. So, they could still be pajamas (the yellow) or footless tights (the purple). And maybe the feet could make some “interesting” socks? I don’t know. In all honesty, these may not stay in my wardrobe for long, but we’ll see.

Seamster Rose Hip Tights

And despite the total failure of this particular project, having this pattern in my pattern library really is a win. It’s a good pattern with real potential. I also appreciate a good laugh at my own expense once in awhile. 😀

That being said, if you have a great tights sewing pattern or fabric recommendations for sewing tights, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

‘There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing’: Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

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‘There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing’:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

We’re in the last few weeks of fall, winter starts on December 21, and the temperature is dropping! Time to work on cold-weather clothes. Yay! Now, I’m not talking about coats. That’s an area I haven’t yet explored. I’m talking about the clothes you wear throughout your day.

I don’t live in the coldest place in all the world, but it does get cold here in Massachusetts. We usually have a respectable amount of snow, and the temperature spends plenty of time below freezing. I get cold. But the Alaskan proverb I used as part of the title of this post has proven true for me. I have learned how to layer, and in order to do that, I need clothes with some room in them, unless they are made of stretchy, warm fabric. So let’s talk patterns and fabric that will work for winter and winter layering!

Tops

During the cold months, I typically wear a camisole, t-shirt, sweater/sweatshirt, and then sometimes another sweater, vest, or flannel shirt over that, if I’m really cold. I love the idea of wearing cute woven tops, but I always reach for the knit t-shirts. If you find that you do the same, here are a few to try:

Woodley Tee from Thread Theory

This t-shirt is “a classic relaxed fit t-shirt sewing pattern”, according to Thread Theory’s website. It looks like the perfect everyday t-shirt. Thread Theory pays meticulous attention to detail, so you know that any pattern from them will be high quality. They also have a men’s version of this pattern here.

Not only am I excited about this pattern because I know Thread Theory creates great things, I’m also excited that it’s being shown as a pattern you can do real work in (check out the other pictures in the pattern listing on the site to see what I mean). No, I don’t work on a farm (at least not yet), or on a construction site, but I still like clothes I can “get things done” in. I work in my home, and I need to be able to do a million different jobs in my everyday clothes, not to mention that I love quality workwear as a clothing type for its design and durability.

Another pattern that I have long wanted to try, but haven’t yet is Vogue 8950, which is one of their “Very Easy Vogue” patterns.

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

This pattern would be great with leggings or if you need a shirt long enough to tuck in. It could also help you use some smaller off-cuts of fabric you might have around for the back, chest, and shoulder sections.

Another top that you could take in a lot of different directions (base layer, fancy top, everyday shirt, sweater) is Burda Style 6990.

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

This raglan top can have a wide or narrow neckline, mock turtle, turtle neck, or cowl neck, as well as a few different lengths. I wish Burda Style’s size range was more expansive, but regardless, it looks like a good pattern, and is listed as “super easy”.

For a raglan with a few different options, but more expansive sizing, check out the Visby Henley from Itch to Stitch.

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit
Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit

I made this last year, and found it to be a great pattern.

Itch to Stitch Visby Top in Wool/Polyester Waffle Knit
My Visby Henley in wool blend waffle knit

Pants and Leggings

I like two types of bottoms in the winter: either woven pants with room for long underwear underneath or leggings–the cozier the fabric, the better.

The woven pants I’m excited about this winter are from Simplicity 8391*, a pattern I have really grown to love.

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

The pants in this pattern are cropped, but it’s easy to add length. My last pair was made from denim.

Sailor-Inspired Pants!  Simplicity 8391 in Denim

It would be a cinch to add another inch or two and make these from velveteen or wool (lined, of course), both of which I have in my stash. Keep the decorative buttons, like I did on my denim pair, for a cute sailor-inspired look, or leave them off and make straight/wide leg dress pants. It would be no problem to wear a pair of long underwear pants, leggings, or tights underneath for added warmth.

For an (almost) all-in-one option, what about the overalls from Kwik Sew 3897*?

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

I had sort of written this one off as not quite what I wanted until I saw Martha’s version of it on her blog, Buried Diamond. I absolutely love her overalls. In fact, I highly recommend her blog for some major sewing and bright color inspiration.

Now, let’s think about leggings! My favorite leggings in the colder months are the ones made from stretch fleece, like Polartec Power Stretch. I source most of my Polartec fleece online from Mill Yardage. My husband got me their complete swatch pack, since Polartec makes so many different types of fleece, and it has really helped me choose the right fabric for various projects, even when ordering from sites other than Mill Yardage. Power Stretch is one of my favorites.

I think it would be great used in the free Peg Legs Pattern from Patterns for Pirates.

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

From what I have read, they fit like compression leggings, so if you want that fit, use your size according to your measurements. If you want a slightly more relaxed everyday fit, go up one size.

I really can’t believe I haven’t tried this pattern yet. Not only is the the basic pattern free, they have created an add-on pattern with different options like side pockets, colorblocked side panels, a contour waistband, etc.

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

They also have a maternity add-on,

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

and a colorblock pack, with even more options–all for free!

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

Things to wear over those t-shirts

Now we need something to wear over the t-shirt or over the sweater that’s over the t-shirt. I’ve got it covered! (haha, no pun intended)

One very intriguing sweatshirt/sweater I found is Vogue 1635.

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

I hadn’t even noticed this pattern until I saw Lori’s version of it on her blog, Girls in the Garden. It’s a really interesting pattern that uses a zipper as a design element along one sleeve and up into the collar.

Just about the only woven shirts I wear when the weather gets cold are flannels and shirt jackets. Simplicity came out with a unisex pattern in three lengths that looks really cool. It’s Simplicity 9388, and I’ve already seen the longer version making the rounds on a few different blogs.

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

McCall’s 7913* is great if you have a pre-quilted fabric or if you want to quilt your own. This one is also unisex and has a shirt jacket or a vest option.

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

I love a good vest. Right now I’m in the process of making the Men’s Santiam Vest from The Green Pepper Patterns for myself, since the size range in the women’s version was a bit smaller than what I wanted.

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

I’m pretty excited about this one, but I seem to be sewing at a glacial pace these days, so it’s coming, but it’s not ready yet. I’m planning to use some insulated Carhartt canvas I got at Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI this summer, and I’m going to line it in a curly Polartec fleece from The Rain Shed and add wool accents. So exciting!

I’m also interested in The Green Pepper’s pattern for the Plush Polar Jacket and Vest (#507). I have a gray fleece vest from L.L. Bean that I got in high school, and these days it’s a little snugger than I would like. I’d love to replace it with one that fits me better in a fun color. Someday!

If I wanted to dress up, I like Burda 7769, which I have had in my pattern library for a long time, but have never made.

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

It looks like they have reissued this pattern with updated photos. Wouldn’t it be cool in wool or velveteen? Yes, it would! I don’t need too many nicer-looking clothes these days, but I do need a few, and this would be fun.

One last vest that you could make look sporty or dressy is Simplicity 1499.

There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter
There is No Cold Weather, Only Cold Clothing:  Sewing Ideas for a Cold Winter

I made this once from a quilted flannel I upcycled, but I have never tried View C. That style could easily be made nice for when you want to look a little more put together.

Hopefully this has given you a few more winter things to try. I always love seeing pattern round-ups and people’s ideas of different patterns for different seasons. What are you sewing that you are excited about this season?

For past winter pattern round-ups, check out my “Winter Sewing and Knitting Ideas!” from 2020, and “My Favorite Fall and Winter Sewing Patterns” from 2019

*For any patterns no longer listed on their company’s website, I have linked to Pattern Review, so you can see a picture of the pattern with line drawings. This usually means the pattern is out of print. Out of print patterns can often be found on third party websites like Etsy and eBay.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats: Successes and Failures

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A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

Hi, everyone! My blogging has certainly slowed down a bit, but I’m back today with a whole bunch of knitted hats I made over the last year or two that have yet to make an appearance on the blog. So uncharacteristic! Luckily, this means I have a good-sized group to share, some of which were real successes, and some of which missed the mark. Since my knitting skills are not as advanced as my sewing skills, this is pretty much par for the course. I love knitting hats, though, because I like wearing hats, and they are a smaller project, so they don’t take as long to knit as a sweater or something larger might. If you’re a knitter, maybe you’ll discover a new pattern here. Let’s dive in! First up, successes.

Hats that Worked!

Pattern: High Cliff

Pattern source/designer: the book Plum Dandi Knits by Alicia Plummer and Melissa Schaschwary; this pattern is by Melissa Schaschwary

Yarn: bulky; I used a really beautiful hand-dyed 85% wool/15% mohair yarn that I got from Pindrop Shop on Etsy during last year’s Black Friday sale.

New technique: I tried cabling without a cable needle a few times, using Andrea Mowry’s video

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

Of all the hats here, this is my most successful and most recently made hat. I checked this book out from the library, and chose this pattern because I have been wanting to try cables again, and this just has one big one. It turned out to be really fun, interesting, and fast. I made this hat in three days of very occasional knitting. It probably helped that I made it an inch and a half shorter than the pattern calls for.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures
A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

As for the yarn, it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to use it for, but it was perfect for this hat. To my delight, the yarn sort of faded from one color to the other, reminding me of decorative corn where each kernel is a different color.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

I still have to decide if it needs a pompom.

This hat fits great, and I have already worn it a lot. I love it!

Pattern: Ribbed Watchman’s Hat

Pattern source/designer: Channah Koppel

Yarn: worsted; Encore by Plymouth yarn, which is 75% acrylic/25% wool and is machine washable; I got this at Yarn on Front in Dowagiac, MI

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

This hat is actually a gift (shhh!), but I think I’m safe. I don’t think the intended recipient reads my blog. This was knit to said intended recipient’s requirements: a ribbed hat that is machine washable in yellow with a fold-up brim.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

I’ve been really into the Twisted German Cast On lately, so I used that to cast on, and I knit to 11 inches before decreasing, rather than the 9.5 inches in the pattern, so that the brim could be turned up. This took me awhile, but not forever, and I think it turned out pretty well. Hopefully it’s well-received!

Pattern: Vintage Prim

Pattern source/designer: Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits

Yarn: fingering; Sock Yarn by Birch Dyeworks in colorway Pixie on a Bender, which is 80% superwash merino wool/20% nylon

Perennial by Kelbourne Woolens in Purple, which is 60% superwash merino wool/25% suri alpaca/15% nylon

Both yarns came from Pintuck & Purl; the Birch Dyeworks yarn was actually given to me by Maggie, the owner, for some socks we were going to knit together that we…uh…never really completed. I think we knit about half an inch before calling it quits. Haha.

New Technique: BRIOCHE KNITTING!

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

I am so proud of this hat. I had never successfully knit brioche before trying this hat, so I was barely hanging on through this whole pattern. There are a ton of mistakes in it, but due to my inexperience with brioche, I wasn’t sure how to fix them, and sometimes I’m sure I didn’t even notice them! Somehow, though, I made it through, and I love this hat. I think it is probably a little slouchier than it should be, but I don’t even care.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

It’s really a testament to Andrea Mowry’s great patterns and YouTube video support that I even completed this. Someday I will have to try another brioche project to really get the technique down. One of my favorite things about this kind of knitting? It’s reversible!

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures
A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

As for the yarn, I love, love, love both of these yarns. Mary, the owner of Birch Dyeworks is a real artist who has an amazing eye for color, and is excellent in several crafting arenas. There are a lot of beautiful hand-dyed yarns out there, but Mary’s are some of my favorites. And the Perennial is soft and lovely. I have it in a few colors and definitely need to use it more. If I were to do this pattern again, I don’t know that I would use this exact color combination, but I would definitely look for colors that contrast like these do to really make the design stand out.

The Hat that Worked Some of the Time

Pattern: Eva

Pattern source/designer: Wild Honey Design on Etsy; no longer available

Yarn: the blue and light pink hats are made from Comfort DK by Berroco in colors 2705 (light pink) and 2753 (indigo blue); this yarn is 50% super fine nylon/50% super fine acrylic; I got this at Coveted Yarn in Gloucester, MA

the purple, gray, and white hat is in worsted weight 100% Shetland wool yarn from Yates Farm in Vermont many years ago

This wasn’t a well-written pattern, but the color chart was a lot of fun. The pattern says to use Alafosslopi yarn, which is a bulky weight, but I have tried it in various yarns with various needle sizes to adjust the sizing. It looks like I didn’t take as many notes as I should have, but my first try in DK yarn gave me about a toddler or teddy bear sized hat. I often (though not exclusively) like natural materials, and before buying this Berroco Comfort DK, I confess to being a little bit snobby in my heart about yarn, only wanting to use wool or alpaca or something. This yarn really changed my mind. It is a delight to knit with and washes and wears great!

For my second try, I used larger needles and came up with a larger child’s size.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

After that, I tried some of my worsted Shetland yarn that, for me, with my looser knitting, typically knits up to a bulky gauge. It worked, but the brim let the wind blow through while the colorwork section was pretty warm.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

If I were to do this again with the same Shetland yarn, I would double the length of the brim so I could fold it up, and go up one needle size for a better fit in the colorwork area. I absolutely loved the look of this purple and gray hat, but in the end, I gave it away because I could tell I wouldn’t wear it if the wind blew through the part over my ears, and I was too lazy to alter it! I don’t like to go back into old projects. I’m still coming around to the idea that I can unravel knitwear that didn’t work out the way I wanted.

Despite the sparse directions, I have made enough of my own notes that I would definitely make this again. I love knitting hats and I love stranded colorwork, so this is a good project for me.

Hats that Did Not Work

Before we get to these, I’ll admit that these failed due to user error. I’m definitely still learning!

Pattern: Chunky Walnut

Pattern source/designer: Katrin Schubert

Yarn: worsted weight 100% Shetland yarn from Yates Farm in Vermont; this pattern calls for chunky weight yarn and this yarn knits to a bulky weight, plus I am a loose knitter, so that probably adds up to chunky, right?

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

This pattern looks so cool, and I dove in with some of my worsted weight Shetland yarn (I seriously have so much), but somewhere around Round 15, I messed something up, and I could never figure out what I had done. The hat fit fine, but it bugged me. Whatever mistake I had made obscured the design, so I gave the hat away.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

I would love to try this again at some point. It’s a really cool design.

Pattern: Urban Jungle Hat

Pattern source/designer: Rachel Illsley of Unwind Knitwear

Yarn: white mystery cone yarn given to me by Maggie of Pintuck & Purl; I did a bleach test and it is a natural fiber–I’m guessing wool, maybe superwash; it’s fingering weight

Perennial by Kelbourne Woolens in Neon Coral, which is 60% superwash merino wool/25% suri alpaca/15% nylon; fingering weight; this also came from Pindrop Shop on Etsy during last year’s Black Friday sale

hand dyed lace weight yarn in Lilac Dreams from YouKnitIDye on Etsy; this is 72% ultrafine mohair/28% mulberry silk

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

So…you’re supposed to use DK weight yarn and lace weight mohair in this pattern. I didn’t have DK that I wanted to use, but I was excited about the colors I had in fingering weight with the mohair, so I held my two fingering yarns double to equal DK. That should have worked, in theory, but the Neon Coral yarn is definitely thinner than the white yarn. Also, I’m a loose knitter who doesn’t do gauge swatches for hats.

My hat came out huge. HUGE! It sort of looked like a toadstool hat when I was done with it. I probably should have only doubled the coral and not the white or just used fingering with the mohair. Oh. And I shouldn’t have made the large slouchy version.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures
A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

I did eventually (after putting the hat in a long time out) unravel this one. The yarns were a little too special to just get rid of a hat that maybe no one would even want to wear. It was a beast to unravel, though, since I was unravelling five strands of yarn at once. Ugh.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures

You know, I usually never like leopard print, but I do like it in this hat. The colorwork chart is very interesting. It’s possible that I will revisit it someday. It’s definitely a cool pattern, even if I didn’t make it very well.

Whew! Now I’m all caught up on blogging my knit hats! Hopefully you will find a hat or two you might want to knit, or maybe you can laugh at my mistakes.

On the sewing front, I was actually starting to lose my sewjo, which has never happened to me before. I could never understand how people just stopped wanting to sew, but it began to happen to me. You know what I think it was? My work space was buried under piles and I had a million ideas, but hadn’t committed to a single one.

A Bevy of Knitted Hats:  Successes and Failures
My work table, filled with piles of projects, materials, and ideas!

So, I cleaned up my space, and chose and committed to my next few projects. Then I made a plan to work on them a little bit most days. Now I’m back up and running, so I hope to have some projects to share with you soon. 🙂

Wedding Guest Outfit: Fibre Mood Mindy Dress…Plus All the Extras!

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Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress…Plus All the Extras!

It’s finally time to show you what I have been slowly working on since September! This was a fun project!

My husband and I were invited to a wedding at the end of October, so way back in August, I began to think about what I would make. As someone who sews primarily “every day” clothes and who is extremely casual, weddings are fun opportunities to make something a little bit fancier than what I usually wear. That typically just means a dress that I can add to my wardrobe and wear again after the wedding, but a dress is dressing up for me.

So, after considering my options for quite awhile, I decided to make the Fibre Mood Mindy dress from Fibre Mood magazine, edition number 10, in some beautiful kelly green linen.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

The Fibre Mood Mindy has been on my radar to make for over a year, so this was a great opportunity. I love the big sleeves and easy fit. I thought that adding a wide ruffle to the bottom would make it the perfect dress for me.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras
Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

I bought my fabric this summer at Field’s Fabrics in Holland, MI, and it was love at first sight. The fabric was crisp and lightweight and beautiful.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

I originally thought I might make another True Bias Roscoe Blouse with it, as it’s definitely a shirt/dress weight linen. While thinking about a Roscoe and testing out some trims with it, I put this vintage trim next to the fabric, and even though the ribbon doesn’t have any kelly green in it, I loved them together. I didn’t have a lot of it, but I thought it would be best at the neckline and maybe the waist of this dress. I think the ribbon is from Brimfield many years ago, back when I first began going to the flea/antique market, and it’s been waiting for its chance to shine ever since.

Once I put these together, this fabric + trim combination was my color muse, and I began to work on all the little details that would make up the outfit. It was such a fun project. The aim wasn’t so much to stand out at the wedding, but just to put together an outfit that I really loved, filled with interesting details and color. And in the end, what I came up with really surprised me in a good way!

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

I’ll give you all the details on the outfit, with the sewing details*** at the end of the post for anyone else who is making this pattern.

None of the websites or links in this post are affiliate links–I just want to share where I found everything in case you need any of these types of things for projects of your own.

I found some clog-type sandals in gold on eBay for a great price. They are originally from Boden, and they were in good used condition.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

Unfortunately, the straps were a bit tight over my toes. I had ordered them early, so I cleaned them up, and shoved some wooden shoe forms down in the the toes to stretch them out. After awhile, I wore them out for coffee with a friend just to see how they were doing. Good news! The stretching seemed to be working! I put the shoe forms back in, and kept stretching them and testing them out until the wedding. Phew! What a relief.

October in coastal Massachusetts can have variable weather. I remember the end of October being in the 40’s F as well as in the 70’s F, so a short-sleeved linen dress was a risk. I decided I needed some sort of shawl, and as I worked on my dress, I sometimes set it next to another bit of fabric that was teetering between light blue and mint green. It was a set of colors I never would have put together, but I loved them! That was the color I wanted my shawl to be! I looked on Amazon and ordered one, but it was too green, so I returned it. The next one was just right, though!

The color is a bit off in this picture, but you get the general idea.

It was thin, but the wedding and reception were inside, so I hoped it would work!

Also in case of cold, I wanted some tights. There aren’t many tights patterns out there, and while I did find a pattern, I didn’t end up making tights for this dress. I found some in the perfect color on the We Love Color website.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

I was inspired by Blair Eadie of Atlantic-Pacific, who often pairs colorful tights with her outfits. My “Color” board on Pinterest features a lot of her bright and beautiful outfits on it. Of course, now I want all the colorful tights, so sewing tights may well be in my future. Wouldn’t double brushed polyester tights be cozy?

I added a slip that I had made from Simplicity 8545 for another (secretly colorful) layer and some opacity,

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

and I also made my other undergarments. I won’t show those, but having made them and having them fit is its own win, so I wanted to at least mention them. If you are looking for some patterns to try, I recommend Megan Nielsen’s free Acacia underwear, available in two size ranges, and Orange Lingerie’s Marlborough Bra. Both are excellent.

Now for accessories! Thanks to the sister of a friend who was giving away samples from her sales job, I had a gold leather envelope clutch that was perfect. It is from russell + hazel, and the leather is so soft.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

I found little gold and rhinestone earrings in my jewelry box that I have had since I was 14, but have probably never worn, since I don’t usually wear gold. They were perfect for this.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

And lastly, I picked up a bottle of essie nail polish at CVS in the color “good as gold“.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

I was ready!

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

The afternoon of the actual wedding was not too warm or too cold, so the whole outfit was perfect. I felt comfortable and colorful. The wedding was beautiful, and it was so much fun to go on a date with my husband to an actual party with friends.

Now I think it may be time for some cold-weather sewing and gift sewing!

***Sewing Details

Here are my notes on sewing the Mindy dress for anyone else who is thinking of making it.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras
Mindy dress, front
Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras
The back of the Mindy dress, which looks almost identical to the front

My bust size put me at a US 16 (UK 20/EU 48) in this dress, but I cut out an 18 for a looser fit, since I could always take it in if it was too loose. I wanted to sew the dress largely as drafted, with the puffy sleeves rather than the butterfly sleeves, but with the addition of pockets and a bottom ruffle. Before cutting out my fabric, I also checked to see if I needed to change the dart height (nope!) or make a broad back adjustment (nope!). Those things noted, I added 5/8″ seam allowances everywhere except the hem, where I added a 1.25″ hem allowance. The pattern called for 2.75 yards of 55″ wide fabric. I had three yards of green linen at approximately that width, so I cut things out hoping I would have enough for my pockets and bottom ruffle. In the end, I did! I just had to cut my back facing on the cross grain. I was left with only a few narrow strips of fabric, but I got everything cut out.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras
Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras
Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

This pattern has you construct the front of the dress and then the back before adding sleeves or joining the front and back together. I made sure to add my bottom ruffles as I was constructing the front and back. I checked my fit before adding the invisible zipper by pin basting the sides together. Everything was looking good, and a bit loose, so I decided that I would use slightly larger seam allowances and take things in a bit when I sewed the sides together. I guess I could have made the 16.

As for the zipper, I put it in, but I have never needed to use it. If I made this again, I think I would omit it. It’s easy to slide this dress on and off over your head. Attaching the straps came next. Everything was fine until you attach the strap + sleeve to the dress and then it got confusing. Is the strap supposed to be at an angle or perpendicular to the front? Mine ended up being more or less perpendicular. Make sure that when you get everything attached in step five and have to finish the raw edges together that you don’t trim any seam allowance off or it will impact the seam allowance when you attach the front facing.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

Just before step six, which is sewing the front and back side seams together, I decided to attach my trim to the bodice and sleeve straps. I had figured things incorrectly when I was looking at the width of the sleeve straps and trim. The trim was wider than the sleeve straps, so after asking Maggie at Pintuck & Purl for her advice (she being my most advanced garment-sewing friend), I took the straps off, widened the pattern piece, and recut the sleeve straps out of scraps so I could try again. I wanted them to be just a little bit wider than my ribbon.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras
The finished width of the strap is actually half the pattern piece minus seam allowances

Then I reattached everything and very carefully, using instructions from The Vogue Sewing Book (revised edition, copyright 1975), I sewed on my trim, even mitering the corners.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras
Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras
Look at those mitered corners!

After that, I only had enough ribbon left for the front of the bodice, so I sewed it on there, but when I tried it on, it looked…maternity-ish.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

So, I moved the ribbon down below the underbust seam, and it made the dress look sort of wide and the seam look uneven. That was that. I took it off, and decided to just keep the trim around the neckline and shoulders.

If I sew this again, in addition to omitting the zipper, I will plan to lengthen the bodice by at least one inch. The same thing happened back when I made Simplicity 4111 in 2018. I think I have a larger and possibly lower bust than what these patterns are drafted for, so a lot of these empire waist seams end up on my bust rather than below it, which can lend a bit of a maternity look to a style that easily leans that way already. Since I don’t need a maternity dress, I would rather not look like I am wearing one.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

Before sewing up the side seams completely, I added pockets. My pattern piece came from Simplicity 8689, as did the instructions I used for putting them in.

After that, it was just my hem left. I decided not to use the 1.25″ hem allowance, since I had accidentally added that to the skirt instead of the ruffle, but instead to serge my ruffle edge and then press it up twice, so I could preserve as much of the ruffle length as possible. This gave me a quarter inch hem and only took off one half inch, since I folded it up twice.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras

Although I don’t love the look of insides finished with a serger, generally speaking, I was soooo glad to have a serger for this project since it kept everything nice and neat inside. The only downside was having to weave in a billion serger tails. I think I will start practicing sewing over my tails when possible in the future.

Wedding Guest Outfit:  Fibre Mood Mindy Dress...Plus All the Extras
Ready for dancing!

Overall, this was an interesting dress to put together and a good pattern. I would consider making it again with the few changes I mentioned, and I’m really happy that I made it for this wedding. It was so much fun to have an outfit with details and colors that I loved–those are some of the best aspects of my favorite garments, and the longer I sew, the more convinced I am that colors and details are a big part of what makes a project go from good to great for me.

Sew It Yourself: Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

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Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

We pick sewing projects for different reasons–something you need in your wardrobe, putting your own spin on a designer garment you could never afford, using a favorite fabric, the desire to try an intriguing pattern. The Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant was my intriguing pattern. I had heard of Elizabeth Suzann, a slow-fashion designer, because of Lauren Taylor (known as Lladybird in the sewing community), who had previously worked for her. Many in the sewing community and beyond loved this brand, and there was a lot of buzz when Elizabeth Suzann decided to close her business, but made some of her garments available as sewing patterns for free. Eventually, she wrote directions for the patterns and re-released them with a pay-what-you-can model on her website.

I kept seeing her Clyde Work Pant pattern and was curious about what it would be like to make and how I would like the huge, curving pockets on the sides. They were so different from anything else in my wardrobe, and I never would have been able to afford a pair or have a chance to try them on when they were only available as ready-to-wear. So, having no money for patterns at the time, I took her up on the pay-what-you-can offer, and grabbed a free copy of the pattern.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

At the time I wanted to make these, it was August. (I made them before the gingham top I shared a few weeks back.) My husband had given me a gift of enough rust orange linen to make these pants, so I printed the pattern and cut them out. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make my size or go up a size to make absolutely sure the waist would pull over my hips. In the end, I made a size 16 in the “regular” height, which is where my measurements put me, although I could have gone either way on the height, since I’m about 5′ 8.5″. I also wondered if the ankles would fit over my heels, but I decided to just jump in and see what happened.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

The instructions were nice and clear with good illustrations. There was no specific recommendation for how to finish your seams, although if you looked closely at a few of the illustrations, it seemed like the edges were serged. Since I love the look of beautifully finished insides, especially in linen, I chose to use a combination of French and flat-felled seams. While this really did create beautiful insides with not a raw edge in sight, it turned out to be a poor choice for the fabric I was using.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant
The pants, inside out

I wouldn’t call my linen a loose weave, really, but after wearing these for just a short time, the stitching holes started to open up a little bit and raw edges began to pop out at stress points. This wasn’t because I didn’t do a good job of finishing–it was just that in this fabric with this pattern, the better choice would have been to serge without trimming or zigzag my seam allowances together, press them to the sides in most cases, and topstitch. That would have left my seam allowances intact or at least not super narrow and provided less of a chance for ends and edges to pop out.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant
Ugh. Edges popped out after only a few wears.
Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

I thought that I would have to start patching my new pants almost immediately, but it seems that just a wide satin stitch has, so far, taken care of the problem, while blending in pretty well. I have the most issues at stress points like the bottom corners of the pockets on the front, the tops of the front seams on the legs, and the right back calf.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

The pants were a pretty quick sewing project, and were not too hard to make, which was great. The only part that was a little tricky/fiddly was the waistband. I really like the idea of how the elastic is inserted, but it can be a little tough to do it well. My advice is to go slowly. I also added a few more pins than recommended, in order to keep everything where I wanted it.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

Also, the pockets really are huge. I could fit a book in there! They’re so fun.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

As for fit, these pants are really interesting. They are definitely comfortable, and I have no trouble getting my waistband over my hips. The rise is really high, which I am guessing might be a way of ensuring that these pants fit many body shapes well, and also makes it possible to wear them at your natural waist or below, as you prefer.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

Thankfully, I had no trouble getting the foot holes over my heels, though it’s a close fit.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

Standing, these are very comfortable.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

Sitting and crouching, I notice that they get more snug around the stress points I mentioned. I suppose that next time I could either size up, or adjust the lower legs to be slightly larger, or try the tall length. I still find them very comfortable, and wonder how they would be in a bottomweight cotton twill or something a bit more durable than the linen I chose.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

As for the fabric…I know it didn’t work out perfectly, but…I just love it. It’s a100% midweight linen originally from Fabric Mart. I love the color so much, and it’s not usually a color I go for. It has been great pairing it with a pink linen shirt in summer and now my purple Wool & Honey sweater (pattern by Drea Renee Knits) in fall. It’s so soft and comfortable too. Is it a doomed love? Maybe. I hope these pants last, and I’m not happy that I may have to keep repairing them, but I love this fabric. These pants are agreat transitional garment between seasons.

This was a really fun pattern with wonderful instructions, and even though I made some choices that gave me a few issues, those weren’t the fault of the pattern, which is excellent. In fact, I would love to make them again, despite my poor track record for repeating patterns.

Sew It Yourself:  Elizabeth Suzann Studio Clyde Work Pant

Field Trip: Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts

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Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts

This month’s outside photography post is coming to you a little earlier than usual because…I still don’t have pictures of my latest sewing project. Sigh. Due to various factors, the pants have needed a few repairs already, and that’s held things up. Hopefully all will be ready soon! I do, however, have pictures of an interesting hike I went on with my family recently.

The North Shore of Massachusetts is filled with all sorts of cool nooks and crannies where you can hike, walk, and explore. Each town has spaces large and small, and it’s easy to live in the area for a long time and still find new places you have never seen. Last weekend, my family and I decided to check out Dogtown in Gloucester.

Dogtown, originally known as The Commons and founded in 1693, was once an inland settlement in Gloucester. The story is that since many of the women who lived there kept dogs around for protection while their husbands were off fighting in the Revolutionary War, the settlement became known as Dogtown. Over time, residents moved more toward the coast and, eventually, Dogtown was abandoned. The woods grew up where the settlement had been, and now it is filled with trails, both wide and narrow, that you can explore. You can still find numbered cellar holes from the old houses, as well as about three dozen rocks that were carved with various sayings during the Great Depression. These rocks, today known as Babson Boulders, were commissioned by Roger Babson, founder of Babson College, in order to provide work for Finnish quarry workers who needed income during the Great Depression. (All this information comes from the Essex National Heritage Area website. Read more here.)

We wanted to stick to some easier trails and check out some of the carved rocks, so we chose to walk Dogtown Road and the Babson Boulder Trail (you can find some trail maps on the Historic Ipswich website here). Dogtown Road is a broad, unpaved road that is easy to walk. We completely missed the initial turn for the Babson Boulder Trail, but since our route was a big loop, it didn’t really matter–we just did the walk in the opposite direction of what we had planned. This turned out to be a great thing because after walking awhile through beautiful woods, it became a treasure hunt as we started to spot some of the carved rocks. Once we turned onto the Babson Boulder Trail near Dogtown Square, the path became a more narrow woods path, rather than a wide road.

Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts

We found about a dozen of the rocks, including a few that didn’t really have sayings, so much, but were still fun to find (Moraine, D.T. Sq., and To Rockport, which I don’t have a good picture of).

Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts

We also decided to see if we could find mushrooms in every color of the rainbow, and we almost managed it! We found them in every color except blue, although our purple one looks a little blue in these pictures.

Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts
Field Trip:  Dogtown Commons in Gloucester, Massachusetts

It was a beautiful walk, but it did take a little longer than we had anticipated. We’re not the fastest walkers, but my husband had estimated it would take us about 40 minutes. It was more like two hours. Oops. I thought it was fun, but we did get a little hangry by the end, and it was a bit long for the kids, even though it wasn’t hard walking. No regrets on going, though! And I would definitely explore more in that area. There were a lot of Babson Boulders we never found, and we didn’t really try to find the numbered cellar holes, although we passed a few, so there’s always that, too.

If you decide to check out Dogtown, make sure to bring a map and maybe a compass–there’s lots to explore.

Fibre Mood Lola Top + Life Lessons from Sewing

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Fibre Mood Lola Top + Life Lessons from Sewing

Today’s project is my last one of the summer. There is one other I have to share from the warm season, but it’s a bit more transitional, so this one is up first! This is the Lola Top from the tenth issue of Fibre Mood magazine, a sewing magazine out of Belgium.

Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top

This issue came out in 2020 with so many good summer patterns, that I had to order it. It took what felt like ages to get here, but it was worth it! It’s only this year, at the end of summer 2021 that I have gotten around to making any of these patterns.

Fibre Mood Lola Top

I approached the sewing of this top with a certain level of arrogance. I don’t like arrogance in others, and I try to stamp it out in myself, but something set me off, and I admit that I started sewing this project with a little bit of arrogance. Maybe it was having to add seam allowances, some of which were one size and some another, sometimes not even a size used in American sewing (1/6″??!!). That annoyed me, so I added 5/8″ to all my seams and 1.25″ to my hems and moved on. And the sizing between the magazine and the online directions was confusing, too–EU/US/UK–you had to figure out what size you were in inches (for me, at least), and find your US size, but make sure you traced your EU size from the magazine. At that point, I made the mistake of thinking I knew better than the pattern.

Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top

In general, I like to trust the pattern. I know the designer has worked hard on their directions, and I like to go on autopilot and sew through those directions after having done the work of tracing, adjusting the flat pattern, and cutting out my fabric. Follow the steps in the pattern, and you almost always get a great garment. But that request for a 1/6″ seam allowance really threw me.

Then there were a few confusing parts in step 3, which made me doubt the directions even more. Arrogance and frustration surged ahead, until I started to question all the directions!

But then…I started to figure things out…and then I saw that the directions were good…I just wasn’t used to them yet. I did need to trust the pattern. It was, in fact, trustworthy, but I hadn’t given it a real chance. Feels like there might be a life lesson or two buried in all of this. 😉

Fibre Mood Lola Top

Luckily, I managed to get rid of my pride and arrogance once I settled into sewing this pattern, and in the end, it came out great.

Fibre Mood Lola Top

That’s not to say there wasn’t an issue or two. Piece number 9, the bias strip for finishing the armhole, should be an inch or two longer for my size (US 16/UK 20/EU 48 bust and US 18/UK 22/EU 50 hip). Luckily I used some silk bias tape I had made for another project, and I had extra, since I originally cut my strips to the size of piece 9, and they were too short.

Fibre Mood Lola Top

Piece number 5, the center back piece, should also be 1.5″ taller to cover your bra band. I added in some decorative ribbon to bridge the gap, but if I made this again, I would lengthen that piece.

Fibre Mood Lola Top
I found this ribbon in my stash, and it was a perfect match!
Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top

Once I got going, though, I really enjoyed making this. I was able to make most of it on a day that I unexpectedly had several hours to sew. I can’t remember the last time that happened! I put on some music and got to it! I was also really excited about this fabric. I’m sorry to say that I have often thought of Joann Fabrics as “the place fabric goes to die”. In the past, they have sometimes had great prints on poor quality cloth, but in recent years, they have started bringing in some better options. This 100% cotton seersucker gingham was from their POP! line for kids. I have found a couple of exciting fabrics (for me) in this line. I love the color and quality of this seersucker, and looking at it while sewing just made me more excited to wear it.

Fibre Mood Lola Top

The pattern is a really interesting, unique design. I managed to finish this project a few days before fall officially started, when the weather was beautiful and warm without being hot. I immediately threw it in the washer to get the sewing marker out, and then ironed it and wore it as soon as I could! I love it! It feels really unique and fun, which is generally how I want my clothes to feel.

So, at the end of this pattern, I can say I did learn a sewing lesson. Trust the pattern until you find out you can’t, and approach your sewing practice with humility. I guess there is a life lesson there, because I think you should also approach life with humility. So there you go–sewing really is more than just a pleasant way to pass the time–it’s also occasionally a font of wisdom. 😉

P.S. Here are a few outtakes for you. My Mom sent us this blonde wig for fun and we clipped on some rainbow hair–it’s a makeover! Haha.

Fibre Mood Lola Top
Fibre Mood Lola Top

Fun Sewing-Related Things: Felt Deer Ornament, Maple Leaf Blanket, and Giant Sewing Props

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Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Felt Deer Ornament, Maple Leaf Blanket, and Giant Sewing Props

Hi, everyone! Today I have a few non-clothing sewing items to share with you. I’ve been holding onto them until just the right time, and since I haven’t photographed my most recent garment sewing project, that time is now! Maybe you’ll see something fun you want to try out yourself. 🙂

Felt Deer Ornament from the Winter Animals Collection by Aimee Ray of little dear

I made this little guy back in January-February (which I only know because I wrote it down!).

Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props

He’s embroidered and made of felt. His antlers are stiffened with Mod Podge/glue, a great idea included in the pattern. This is the second animal I have made with a pattern from designer Aimee Ray of little dear, and it was so much fun! This one is from her Winter Animals collection.

Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props

Her designs are really cute, and it’s so cool to see them materialize as you follow the directions. I also like that this is a pretty quick project. Even though I made this right after Christmas, I attached a string to make it into an ornament and stashed it with my ornaments for future Christmases. We’ll just say I was planning wayyyy ahead. 😉

Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props

The last time I made one of Aimee Ray’s patterns (an opossum), I wanted to use the materials I had on hand–in that case, a felted wool shirt. This time, though, I ordered the felt she uses, which is really beautiful rayon/wool felt from Benzie Design, a store that was new to me. It really is different from the felt I used on school projects or other arts and crafts growing up. You certainly don’t need the higher quality felt, but it was nice to try it out, and one sheet will make a lot of these little guys, since you only use a small amount. Aimee Ray’s animals are a great bet if you want to make a fun and fast craft project. I would love to make more sometime–they would be great Christmas gifts!

Maple Leaf Blanket from the North American Leaf Blanket collection by Twig + Tale

I made another leaf blanket! Are you surprised? I love these things!

Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props
Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props

This one was a baby gift for a friend back in the spring because New England=Maple trees! After making it, I looked at it and thought that it seemed pretty impractical as a blanket, but I’m happy to report that my friend said those edges that stick out like peninsulas are actually great for wrapping around a little baby. Hooray! As with all the leaf blankets I have made, this one was a pleasure to make.

Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props
Guidelines drawn in with chalk before quilting

I love the greens I used–they are quilting cottons from Pintuck & Purl. I have been tempted to buy more of that bright green to use as a photo backdrop for the blog. I love it!

Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props
Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props
Look at that beautiful green!

Also, now I kind of want a Maple Leaf blanket for me. Up to now, I have made the large Elephant Ear, Banana Leaf, Fan Leaf, and two Monstera leaves all from the Tropical Leaf Collection by Twig + Tale, plus this one from the North American Collection and, uncharacteristically, have only kept one Monstera.

Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props
Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props

These blankets are graphic in the best sense and more useful than you might think a relatively small blanket would be. We keep our Monstera leaf on our bed and I often use it when just my feet or shoulders get cold.

Giant Sewing Props

This past summer my church asked me to talk to the kids at Vacation Bible School about sewing. That’s right up my alley, so I said yes! I was both really excited and pretty nervous. I’d love to get into teaching more, but since I haven’t done it enough in a sewing context to get into any sort of rhythm, I still get pretty nervous about it. Anyway…to help me demonstrate the basic skills I wanted to talk about, I made some giant sewing props! Since this was during COVID, it was outside and I had a table between me and the kids, so I wanted something large that would be easier to see than a tiny needle and thread.

I came up with the idea to make a giant spool and needle out of cardboard and duct tape and to use a rope as my thread. It worked out pretty well, and was really fun to use.

Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props
Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props
Me holding the needle for scale

I also put my art skills to work and made some simple illustrations of the two basic stitches I wanted to talk to the kids about.

Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props
Whoops! You can see my other illustration in the background.
Fun Sewing-Related Things:  Maple Leaf Blanket, Felt Deer Ornament, and Giant Sewing Props

Looks like my college drawing classes are still working their magic! Haha.

It was a lot of fun, and even though I was sweating buckets in the sunshine, we talked sewing, and maybe one or two kids will think sewing is cool.

Coming up…

I’m working away over here on some garments that will transition well from summer to fall. I have already sewn some linen pants, and am working on a shirt. After that, I’ll make a dress I hope to wear to an upcoming wedding. Oh! And I’m knitting a sweater, too. These colorful projects have been really inspiring to work on and I look forward to sharing them with you–hopefully soon!

And last but not least, yesterday was my eight-year blog anniversary! It’s been a fun eight years. Thanks for following along!

Have a great weekend!

Winter Knitting: Wool and Honey Sweater in Jamieson and Smith 2 Ply Jumper Weight

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Winter Knitting:  Wool and Honey Sweater in Jamieson and Smith 2 Ply Jumper Weight

If you are reading this post, then it means I have actually succeeded!  Last week, I had some family things to take care of that took the time I would normally be blogging, and this week our computer sort of…exploded?  There were no pieces of metal or plastic flying through the air, but there was a loud bang and lots of sparks.  Thanks to my in-laws, I have a laptop I can use to get everything sorted and out on the blog, although for awhile there, I couldn’t upload pictures or get WordPress to save my post. However, it seems I have finally prevailed (with help from my husband and the internet)! In the grand scheme of things, this is minor, but it feels like an accomplishment nonetheless.  While I’m not bad at technology, it’s far from my first love.  What I really love is fibers I can sew and knit.  Today’s project is of the knitting variety–I made a Wool & Honey sweater!

My Wool & Honey Sweater
My Wool and Honey sweater in Jamieson and Smith 2 ply Jumper Weight yarn

The Wool & Honey sweater is a pattern from Drea Renee Knits (Andrea Mowry).  The first time I saw someone wearing this sweater, I thought it was really cool, but had a very strange shape.  The shoulders and sleeves are fitted, while the body is wide and boxy.  There’s a really cool honeycomb pattern that sits on top of the stitches at the neck, chest, and upper arms.

My Wool & Honey Sweater
Wool and Honey sweater front view
My Wool & Honey Sweater
Wool and Honey sweater back view

I initially wrote the design off as something with interesting details that wasn’t quite for me.  But somehow, as often happens, the design got into my head.  Then I accidentally made a sweater with a similar shape in the fall…and I liked it!

I bought the paper pattern at Pintuck & Purl and decided that I would join in their Winter Sweater Make-Along on Zoom. 

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After researching yarn, I decided to go with Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Jumper Weight, which was both less expensive, even after having it shipped from the UK, and less prone to breakage than the recommended yarn.

My Wool & Honey Sweater
My Wool & Honey Sweater

Once I got all my supplies, I knit up a few “swift swatches in the round” and realized that I was, as usual, knitting very loosely. 

My Wool & Honey Sweater
My swatch from the right side after blocking
My Wool & Honey Sweater
Here is the back of my swatch after blocking–it looks messy, but it helps you swatch quickly in the round.

I recalculated my gauge so that I could knit at the gauge that I got, and found that I would need to make the smallest size, rather than the size I would normally fit into, which would have been the medium or large.  I really had to make it work since I was already using very tiny US size 0 and 1 knitting needles.  Here is where I have to give a huge shoutout to Meaghan over at the Drea Renee Knits (DRK) team.  While I could knit the XS to get a bust size that would work for me, it looked like the arms would be too tight.  I e-mailed the DRK pattern help address and explained my problem.  Meaghan took time to talk through all the details with me, help me with my math, explain that Andrea Mowry drafted these sleeves so they would fit well with anywhere from -2″ up to +3″ of ease, AND she offered to check over all my math once I made my calcuations since her formula was slightly different than the one I had first used.  She really went above and beyond, and I am so grateful.  It made a huge difference in my confidence and in the finished sweater to have someone that knowledgeable to talk things over with.  And as it turned out, the XS was going to be fine with the gauge I got, sleeves and all.

My Wool & Honey Sweater

Knitting this pattern was fascinating.  I had no idea how the honeycombs would be formed.  They are really ingenious. I love that they look like they are randomly scattered over the surface of the sweater and that they grow in size as they go from the neck down toward the waist. 

My Wool & Honey Sweater
My Wool & Honey Sweater
My Wool & Honey Sweater

This is my second DRK pattern, and I am a convert.  Any special techniques I might not understand are explained in the pattern or on Andrea’s YouTube channel.  Knowing I could e-mail someone for pattern help is really the icing on the cake.  This pattern was challenging, but not too hard thanks to the help provided, and it was interesting.  The only part I didn’t love was how long it takes to knit a sweater with fingering weight yarn on tiny needles.  Needless to say, the Winter Sweater Make-Along finished long before I was done with my own sweater, but it gave me the push I needed to get started, and it was fun to connect with other knitters over Zoom.  Just as I really began to think I would never finish, I got going on my sleeves.  Even making them a little bit longer, by the time I got to the sleeves, the end really was imminent (even if it didn’t always feel like it).  I began this in mid-October and finished in early to mid-February.

My Wool & Honey Sweater

I absolutely love this sweater.  In the first two weeks after I finished it, I wore it almost every day.  My family started to laugh at me, I wore it so much.  It’s warmer than I expected for the weight of the yarn, but not bulky or too warm.  

My Wool & Honey Sweater

Here are my takeaways from this project: 

  • I am a total fan of DRK patterns.  They are interesting, fun, and there is great support to help you through the parts you don’t understand.  I have since signed up for her newsletter, which I’m really enjoying.  I even got my mom hooked as we’re knitting Andrea’s Sparks socks pattern together over Zoom. 
  • I love this Jamieson & Smith 2 ply Jumper Weight yarn.  It’s beautiful in color and texture and great to knit with.  It blooms nicely with blocking and it has given me a whole new appreciation for the Shetland yarn I have in my stash from my first knitting phase years ago.  This yarn comes from Shetland sheep which are an old and very cool breed.  I love its rustic look.  It’s softer than you would expect, and while it blooms when blocked, it doesn’t jump right to getting felted.  I would definitely knit more projects with this yarn. 
  • That being said, I don’t love how long it took to knit a sweater out of fingering weight yarn.  I know four months isn’t forever, but it often felt like it took forever to complete even a single round of stitches.  I absolutely love the lightness and drape of the sweater, so I understand why people love fingering weight sweaters.  I won’t say I’ll never knit one again, but I definitely need a break. 

And the boxy body plus close-fitting arm style?  I love it!  I don’t like how it looks with every pair of pants I own, but with closer-fitting bottoms, I do like it, and it’s a dream to wear.  The stretchy sleeves and forgiving fit of the body are also great for weight fluctuations, making this a sweater that should last a long time. 

My Wool & Honey Sweater

I’m so glad I tried this.  While sewing is my biggest love, I have done less of it than I would have expected over the last year, moving at a slow-but-steady pace, while I have done more knitting than I would have expected.  Knitting is easy to pick up and put down, and I have two new knitting buddies in my mom, who has come back to knitting after a long absence, and one of my kids, who is really getting into it. 

I love, love, love being able to make my own clothes.  Knitting gives me one more tool in that box. 

My Wool & Honey Sweater

If I could add any other tool?  Shoe-making!  Maybe one day.  🙂

My Wool & Honey Sweater

Sweater Knitting: The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

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Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

Looking back over the past two or three fall/winter seasons, I noticed something: I have knit a lot of sweaters! I went from someone who had sworn off knitting because I just could not size larger projects correctly back to someone who almost always has at least one project on my needles. I’m still not awesome at sizing. I’m a loose knitter and sometimes my gauge changes as I go along. And I definitely don’t love knitting as much as sewing, but I do like its portability and how easy it is to knit for just a few minutes here and there. Finding affordable yarn in a fiber I like is a struggle, but I’m getting better at that, too.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

All of these things came into play with the Engle sweater by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

I love the colorwork designs incorporated in the different patterns from this designer–they stand out in a way that is really pleasing to me.

The Engle is knit from the top down in a thin but fluffy yarn on larger needles, and incorporates colorwork.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

While looking for an affordable yarn for this project, I discovered the brand DROPS Design, which is based in Norway. They have a lot of different yarns in various fibers (plus lots of free patterns) for an affordable price. The US distributors that carry the full range of their yarns are actually based in the UK. One of DROPS’ offerings is Brushed Alpaca Silk, which has a very similar percentage of alpaca and silk to the yarn recommended by the pattern. I loved the colors, and the yarn was very affordable.

There was a great little line drawing included with this pattern that you could use as a coloring page to try out color combinations.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

I was so happy to see this! On my Soldotna Sweater, I had made my own coloring page, but here was one made for me! After some coloring, I ordered cerise, black, off white, and curry from Purple Sheep Yarns. Shipping was reasonable, and the yarn arrived quickly.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

After swatching, I ended up using size US 8 needles for my colorwork, US 7’s for the stockinette portion, and US 6’s for my ribbing (except on the sleeves, where I forgot). Optional techniques used: Twisted German Cast On (nice and stretchy for the neck edge), Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.

I began knitting my sweater in the summer, I think (maybe July?), but it was clearly coming out too large (my loose knitting was wreaking havoc). I unraveled it and cast on again on August 23, 2020 after taking a break and redoing my calculations. My measurements had put me in a size 4, but with the gauge I was knitting at, I could knit a size 2 and achieve a size 4 (in theory). Unfortunately, with my loose knitting and the lack of elasticity in alpaca and silk, which don’t have the bounce-back that wool does, my sweater was large and grew a bit. It was so beautiful, though, that I kept going, and hoped for the best.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

Now that I knew I was knitting a bit loose and now that I remembered alpaca’s tendency to grow and relax, I got into my groove and decided that I wouldn’t knit the sleeves quite as long as the pattern directed, since I expected them to grow a bit with wear. For that reason, I opted not to do the sleeve color chart, even though I really liked it. It seemed like the colorwork would be a little too close to my yoke.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Inside of the sweater, front
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Inside of the sweater, back; you can see where I carried my yarn down as I went along

By the end of September/beginning of October, the sweater was finished. My loose knitting and the relaxed sweater meant that I didn’t actually have to knit quite as long as expected before it was long enough. The shape turned out a little boxier than I had expected, but I love it! It’s so soft and warmer than you would think. The drape is nice, too, and it hasn’t really grown or stretched beyond what you see here.

Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk
Sweater Knitting:  The Engle Sweater in DROPS Brushed Alpaca Silk

So, while I won’t say I sized this just right, I do love this sweater and have worn it a lot over the fall and winter. Knitting loosely with this yarn creates a very interesting, light, and soft fabric and a beautiful sweater.