Works in Progress

This morning I managed to successfully talk myself out of attempting to sew two new dresses before next weekend. It was no small feat as it’s always in the last month or so of winter that I start dreaming pretty hard of spring and summer and I start shopping for a piece or two to add to my warm weather wardrobe. This year my goal is that instead of buying that new dress or two, that I sew them. You know, I want to actually do the thing I keep telling myself year after year that I’m going to do, but never get to. This year I have the patterns and I’ve already started printing and cutting out said patterns. I’ve got a stash of fabric I actually really, really like and most of the thread I’ll need. The sewing area in the basement was tidied during our staycation last week. All I have to do is figure out a chair and set up the ironing board. I’ve never been so ready.

All that said, after I’d printed out two new patterns this morning, I came to the cold, hard realization that I’ve got a number of works in progress and before I take on more projects and make a mess in a new area of the house, I really need to trim that WIP list down. Additionally, the original idea to make the deadline that I finish two dresses by next Saturday was a little outlandish. I’m not a very speedy sewist and the idea of setting a goal that pushes me time-wise seems wholly unwise. I’ve always made sewing projects something I need to rush through and the whole point of the sewing area is to alleviate that urgency in the process so it might be more enjoyable. Apply brakes… now.

So what am I working on? Well, remember this photo…

img_5655Yes, well, I have not yet started plying these. That needs to happen.

And before I can ply, I need to wrap up my last singles spin….

img_5672I’m about one-third of the way through the second 2oz of this project. It shouldn’t take too long on the Very Fast Flyer, but still it needs to happen so that I can start the plying extravaganza.

I’m also working on my second project for the Three Waters Farm Susan Ashcroft SAL+KAL…

img_5675This is a Yarn Optimizer knitted in my own Three Waters Farm handspun yarn. The photo is deceptive as it’ll eventually be blocked out into a rectangular cowl — you’ll see, it’s going to be very cool.

As we’ve been working on getting back on track with our menu planning and cooking from the pantry instead of the processed heat & eat meals we’d been defaulting to with the busy holidays, I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen and thus my kitchen spinning has come back into play.

img_5677My friend gave me this awesome little spindle basket that I’ve learned to keep stocked with a spindle project. She got it for me with the idea that I could use it on the trail or when I take the kiddos outside in nice weather to run around. I’m sure I will use it for that also, but it’s perfect for this purpose, too. Kitchen spindling might sound a little weird, but I’ve really come love it since taking up spindling more seriously last year. My hip makes transitioning from sitting to standing painful sometimes, so I often just choose to remain standing if I might have to be up & down a lot. Spindle spinning is the perfect solution for me as I wait for a tray of cookies to bake or the potatoes to boil. It’s quiet & meditative & passes the time and it’s easy to set down and pick up as timers go off and other things need attention. I don’t know if kitchen spindling is a thing out there that normal people do, but if you’re a spindle spinner I highly encourage you to keep a kit in your kitchen. I think you’ll love it!

But I digress.

And last, but not least, I have my re-imagined first pair of sock for the Sock with Sarah KAL going…

img_5673I picked this yarn up over the Thanksgiving holiday at Spin of Door County thinking I’d make some socks for my daughter. Instead, I’m using the yarn pour moi (shhh! don’t tell!). I can sense they will be very addictive. I’ve so been in that potato chip knitting kind of mood lately and these fit that perfectly.

When I write it all out, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. So maybe I can treat myself to one sewn dress? I suppose we should see how the day (and the coming week) shapes up. The good news is I’m poised to make a real go and that summer wardrobe and, as always, there’s not a shortage of works in progress around here.

(Mis)Adventures in Sewing: The Ruby Dress

A continuation in my (mis)adventures in sewing, today I want to start by taking a moment to give my highest praise to Made by Rae patterns. As someone who is admittedly not a great sewist, these patterns are the easiest I’ve found while not sacrificing style. Written so clearly that even I understand them (and that’s seriously saying something!), I especially love that there are lots of tutorials and support available, too. I’ve used the video tutorials for the lined yoke each time I’ve made the Ruby Dress that I’m sharing with you today. I don’t know what I’d do without them!

That said, I used the Ruby pattern last year to make myself some tops.all 3I really do love them and have worn the heck out of them the past year.

Then this spring I made myself this lovely yellow frock…

IMG_8647I meant for this to be a dress, but I hemmed it just enough to make it really not… ahem… decent as a dress. It’s made a lovely tunic over shorts and jeans instead.

This summer/fall I wanted to really attempt to make a couple dresses that I could actually wear as dresses. Putting the dresses together was pretty easy since I’ve become very practiced at this pattern, even the lined yoke, but I took extra time to try to make sure the hem was in my dress comfort zone.

both They turned out so cute! I just adore them!

blue detI made this blue one from a quilting cotton from Cotton + Steel from Alewives Fabrics. I’ve read a lot of reviews that quilting cotton doesn’t drape enough for this pattern, but personally I love it. It’s substantial without being heavy and I find it a really nice addition to my wardrobe.

ruby blue det2I even did the hem and attached the bias binding at the underarm in hot pink. Partly just for fun, partly because I was feeling confidant about sewing a straight line for once, and partly because it let me sew this dress and the second dress assembly-line style.

Speaking of the second dress…

pink detThis is also a Cotton + Steel print, but this time in a lawn also from Alewives Fabrics. It’s definitely lighter wear and drapes beautifully. The print, however, takes the cake. It’s just so funky and fun.

I gave myself a generous enough hemline that I’ll have some options for styling. I can wear either dress as-is or with tights or leggings and a sweater to layer. I can even add a belt if I want to dress the look up a bit. However I end up wearing them, I’m sure I’ll be wearing them a lot as they are just so comfortable and they turned out so cute. I’m making a dent in that fabric pile I’m trying to work through, but I think it’s time to try a new pattern. Perhaps Made by Rae’s Washi Dress or maybe her Bianca Dress or maybe the very simple Maya from Marilla Walker. Whatever the case, I’m sure me + sewing a new pattern will be a story to tell!

(Mis)Adventures in Sewing: The Tiny Pocket Tank

I’ve been dabbling in some sewing over the last month attempting to sew up a giant stack of fabric I picked up in spring. I had high hopes of sewing up a fresh new summer wardrobe, but one thing led to another and my summer wardrobe is now being sewn in September. C’est la vie. Thankfully tights, leggings, and sweaters can be layered so summery clothes can still be worn in the cooler months.

In any case, I started this little journey by printing out my copy of Grainline Studio’s Tiny Pocket Tank and proceeded to cut it out in a muslin fabric to give it a try. I was a little nervous about the pocket & doing the bias neckline since I’ve never tried either, but it’s a simple pattern that is very well written, easy to follow, and has great online tutorials and tips. I was optimistic that I could handle it.

 The muslin I’d purchased at a box store for fabric and although I thought I’d picked a higher quality fabric from their selection, it just was pretty terrible. If I even looked at it, it frayed instantly and a whole lot. I kept going, though, despite the fact that it was not fun work at all. When I got to the bias neckline, I discovered the bias binding piece I’d cut was at least 6″ short. Already frustrated this put me over the edge. Flabbergasted and beside myself, I set it aside for a time-out.

A couple days later I hauled my muslin Tiny Pocket Tank out and tore through the bin of supplies to try to figure out what on Earth caused that bias binding on the neck to be so short. Eventually I discovered that I’d managed to miss taping together the final piece of the bias binding when I was assembling the pattern. Doh! 6inches recovered and mystery solved, I tried it on for good measure. 

It. Was. Huge. 

I’d heard about sizing issues with this pattern so I’d measured myself very carefully, but it was still at least a size too big. I called my efforts to salvage the muslin and tossed that little disaster in the bin. I thought the best course of action was to start fresh. I sized down and tried again with one of the fabrics I’d purchased from Alewives Fabrics in spring.

The results? Meet my new favorite top.

blue det 2It’s far from perfect, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. I managed to sew the pocket on decently.

blue detAnd this time the bias binding on the neckline turned out great. Amazing what can happen when you have the pattern printed properly, isn’t it?

It’s still plenty big, but it’s more of a roomy fit than an ‘I’m drowing’ situation. I find it obscenely comfortable. The bust dart on the side opposite the pocket is a little wonky, too, but I think that’s due in part thanks to my small bust line and my never having seen a busy dart. The fact that I was managing without a proper tailor’s chalk didn’t help either. The rogue dart is still in the realm of things I’m comfortable wearing though, so mostly that’s just me being overly picky, I think. Overall I love the fit and walked away from this project feeling pretty confidant. That’s saying something because I’m really not much of a sewist and my confidence is really not all that in this realm of craft.

I went ahead and attempted to make another Tiny Pocket Tank in a seersucker I also got from Alewives Fabrics. This was kind of an experiment for me since I’d never used seersucker before. I didn’t quite anticipate how stretchy this fabric would be so – I won’t sugar coat it – I found it to be kind of a struggle.

plaidThe stretchy-ness of the fabric really tested both my patience and my skills, but it turned out just fine. It’s definitely not as nice as its blue cousin above, but it’s still every bit as wearable. Looking at the photo, I could have ironed the underarms a bit better there -they aren’t as lumpy in reality as they appear, but I’ve been waiting days to get photos with decent light so we’re going with it. That’s what I get for making my summer wardrobe in September!

blueSomeday I’ll get some photos of these on my person, but for today I’ll just be showing you by way of my handy clothesline. A little bit of trial and error, but I’ve got two new tops to show for it that I really love. I’ll get this sewing thing down yet!

Knitting Sarah Sews a Bento Bag

It’s no secret that I’m a really lazy sewist. Sewing is something I’ve been exposed to and done for almost as long as I can remember, but for whatever reason I do not have the patience for sewing that I do for knitting. These days, I also have two big obstacles. First, I haven’t properly magically tidied up my sewing area yet. Second, the only space for my sewing machine is in the basement. The lighting isn’t great and my beautiful sewing table needs a minor repair (for which I keep forget to purchase the proper piece). My iron and ironing board are stored upstairs.  I have a lot of excuses, as you can see. That being said, every now and then I pull up my big girl panties and get to work and I enjoy the fruits of my sewing labors.

Last Friday, by complete randomness, I decided it would be fantastic to sew myself a little one-skein bento bag. Finally. A few months ago when I bought fabric from Alewives Fabrics for my ‘summer’ (whoops!) wardrobe, I threw in a fat quarter pack from Leah Duncan’s collection, “Gramercy,” for Art Gallery Fabrics because I really wanted to try my hand at some sort of bento bag and I thought the prints included would be fun. Well, *mumble, mumble, mumble* later, I’ve finally done it!

IMG_0448I adore the results!

I used this blog post as a guide — it has a nice and easy to follow photo tutorial which I followed by sight. I admittedly glanced over it, but did not actually read it (lazy sewist, remember?), I just followed the pictures. It turned out well though despite my best efforts to ignore instructions!

The only thing that I did that was unique to this guide was that I used two fat quarters to make my bag. For each half of the bag, I folded the fat quarter into a right triangle right sides together, sewed the sides, and turned them inside out. This allowed me to have the right side of the fabric on both the inside and the outside.  The down side of this pretty aesthetic is that it makes a rather small bag.

Perfect, however, for a single skein project…

IMG_0449This is the bag tied with a full 400yard skein of sport weight handspun inside. It’ll be just about perfect for any hat or sock project, I think.

 Of course, the allure of the sewing machine and all of its magical buttons is strong for the youngsters in my house and I was quickly talked into making another with my daughter using some fabric she’d picked out a little while ago. I was very happy that I’m able to unplug the pedal from my sewing machine and use the start/stop button and speed control so that she could focus on the basics, like sewing a straight line and keeping track of her fingers.

IMG_0452She did great and was very proud of her accomplishment. I’ll admit that I’m pretty proud of her, too.

There was some additional sewing over the weekend that did not pan out. I was trying out a new pattern with a cheap muslin and despite my best efforts there were some pretty major sizing issues. I’m hoping to give that one another try soon as I like the style and even though it’s a summer top, it’ll make a great layering piece over the cooler months. It may be taking months longer than I’d hoped, but slowly and surely I’m going to work my way through my (thankfully pretty minimal) fabric stash. All the patience and good luck you can send my way will be much appreciated!