crafts · fabric · Me-made March · Sewing

Spring fabrics, mmm day 27

This afternoon my serger decided to stop working.  I panicked, imagining myself having to buy a new one, but as it turns out it just doesn’t work correctly with larger cones of thread.  I usually use Guttermann Todi-lock or Maxi lock, but I had bought a large cone of black.  No good – it wouldn’t spool correctly, and repeatedly broke the needle thread.  I had to go to Joann’s to pick up some black serger cones.  They had a 25% off your entire purchase (including sale items) coupon this weekend, and it was madness!  When I got my ticket for the cutting table there were 20 people ahead of me.  I decided to get some fabrics from their new Spring collections, at least the ones that were also on sale – I doubt I will be able to get them so cheaply before they hit clearance!  As I’ve said before, Joann’s seems to be trying to improve their garment sewing game, and the new collections are very nice.  I also got to see the Lisette fabrics, though they were not on sale, and they seem like nice quality to me.  Here is what I got:


Clockwise from top left: 1. Rayon/lycra knit for Butterick 5491.  My obsession with painted looking fabrics continues.  2. Linen/cotton blend print, to make retro Butterick 5603 (the tie shoulder version.) 3. Poly charmeuse to make the new Vintage Vogue reprint 8728.  I am not a huge fan of polyester, but I wanted to make this dress cheaply to start out with.  I do love the nautical print! 4. Stretch cotton sateen for DKNY pattern Vogue 1220.

I also found a yarn in my stash to use for my sweater:

This is Manos wool/silk blend.  I have part of it knit into a tuscany shawl (which will never be finished) and I’m ready to frog it.  I am not totally decided on the pattern, but I’m leaning towards Audrey in Unst.  I think it will look great in this color, and I have just the correct amount of yarn.

Finally, here is my me-made-March outfit of the day.

Sweater: Knitted by me, the “Not so shrunken” cardigan

Dress: Vogue 1225, Tracy Reese design

Shoes: Mia

This sweater is really too big for me, so I’m wearing it wrapped around a bit.  I love this dress (and yes, it still needs a hem… I am so chicken about hemming knits!)

Sweater closeup:

crafts · knitting · patterns · Sewing

Upcoming projects, Simplicity Summer 2011

I made a muslin of the Lisette pattern, and I feel like fitting it would be more than I’m up to right now.  I have a rather narrow upper chest (at least compared to my giant singer’s ribcage) and tend to avoid higher necklines.  This one wasn’t super high, but it definitely needed adjusting.  The darts on the pattern are the sort that don’t close on the top, and I have trouble getting those to lie smoothly (in addition, the darts would need to be lowered by an inch on me.)  I don’t want to do anything complicated right now, so I’m putting it away and looking for another pattern for my city fabric.  Later on I think I will try the cute jacket from the pattern.  In the meantime, I’ve cut this project:

Simplicity 2281

It looks straightforward, but I am going to check the bodice length – it looks to have the possibility of being too long.  I’m not doing the waist decoration, but I am considering piping the waist seam – it depends on how it looks when I baste to fit.  This fabric is a rayon challis that I bought off ebay, possibly vintage.  I love the polka dots!

Since I enjoyed knitting the shawl (and my hands didn’t suffer too much, but I know I have to be careful,) I’m planning to make a sweater next.  These are the two patterns I am considering:

First is Anais by Kim Hargreaves.  The second sweater is Audrey in Unst by Gudrun Johnston (from Twist Collective Fall 2009.)  Which one I make rather depends on which one I have yarn for – it’s going to require some digging!  Both look to be good sweaters to wear with dresses, which is my goal.  I have remarkable few cardigans that I feel like work with the dresses I now favor.

Lastly, Simplicity has released their Summer 2011 patterns on their website.  My favorite is 2178, the Cynthia Rowley dress:

The shoulder treatment is fun.  I have a slightly crinkley rayon that might work for this, in a hot pink/black gingham.  I have been at a loss what to make with it, but this might work!

I also like the two new Project Runway patterns:

They aren’t perhaps setting the world on fire with innovation, but both these patterns are very pretty summer dresses.  I don’t own any similar patterns.  The rest of the patterns are a wash for me – I’m not feeling any of the sportswear, and the other dresses aren’t my style.  There is a rather nice steampunk costume pattern, which I would definitely make if I were invited to the sort of costume party where people actually wear elaborate costumes.

Perhaps today I will get in some sewing – I have much to do to prepare for my recital, but I think I have time!

crafts · finished objects · knitting · Me-made March · outfits · Sewing

Me made March day 25: Damask

Shawl: Damask, handknitted by me

Cardigan: 525 America

Dress: Simplicity2848

Shoes: Bass

This outfit could be called “I have new things, so I wore them all at once.”  I’m trying to break in the shoes (which I would likely not usually wear with black tights, but they are a tad big, so I want to be sure they are broken in before I give them a chance to cause blisters.)

I knit the shawl on size 4 needles (I am a loose knitter.)  It does require attention, because the entire thing is charted, but I would describe it as pretty low stress for lace knitting.  I didn’t get it to block into pretty scallops because I was trying to stretch it larger.  I may reblock it without pins – I’m not thrilled with the points.

I had a heck of a time getting photos of damask:

It’s very, very pink.  Which I actually like.  I wore it out to walk to the coffee shop today, along with my white shoes and this coat:

which is actually even brighter than it looks in this photo, believe it or not.  The guy who made my coffee said “wow, that’s some bright outfit.  You’re like dressed as a cartoon.”  Um, thanks?  Whatever.  I like my bright colors!  Just because, here are the new shoes:

Love them.  I wanted something that had the look of an oxford to wear with dresses for walking.  I don’t really think that traditional oxfords are very flattering to the leg, so I got these.  They aren’t as high cut (don’t go as far back on the top of the foot) as traditional oxfords.  They’re also very comfortable!  I would say they run maybe half a size large – I ordered my usual size, and ended up having to put in heel inserts to make them fit perfectly (they were close enough that I didn’t bother exchanging for a smaller size.)

I have no exciting weekend plans other than sewing – yes, we are social animals around here!  I have my studio recital on Monday night, so I’m putting a lot of time and energy into preparing for that.  Recitals are stressful, and I will be glad when it’s over!

crafts · patterns · Sewing

Vogue patterns, Summer 2011

I was surprised to find an email from Vogue in my inbox this morning.  Summer patterns already?  Yes, please!  Vogue is reliably my favorite pattern company, and I found plenty to like here.

8728 is my pick of the two new vintage Vogues.  It must be from the 1940s.  I love the ruched bodice.   I have a pretty rayon crepe that might work for this dress.  The other new Vintage Vogue is a beautiful ball gown, which I have no use for, but if you do it is beautiful!

1235 and 1236 are both DKNY designs.  They both look easy enough, and are designs that would be flattering on a variety of body types.  I would leave out the pockets in both (pockets bother me unless they are a design element.  I’m forever removing them from RTW clothes because I hate when you can see the pocket bag from the outside.  I think I’m the only one.)  I would make the first design in a jersey print with a solid waistband, and the second in a seersucker (but a more cheerful colored one than the version modeled!)

1249 is by Mark & James (a Badgley Mischka sub line.)  Ok, so I know jumpsuits are controversial, but I really like this one.  The bodice is boned to help it stay up. I think with the right shoes it could be very lengthening.  Plus I like the ruffle, and I’m imagining wearing it under a jacket.  Calls for crepe matte jersey, and I would make it in black or navy.

8723 goes on my list because it uses border prints.  I don’t buy border prints as a rule (because I can never find good patterns for them) but I have one that I really want to use up this summer!

8727 is an easy options pattern that includes this shaped midriff dress.  The pattern also includes a halter option, but I don’t do halter necks (they have never looked right on me for some reason.)

There are some other strong patterns that wouldn’t work on my body type, but I think will look fabulous on others.  Overall a pretty strong collection!  I can’t wait to get started – the 1940s dress is first on my list!


crafts · knitting · Me-made March · outfits · Sewing

Shawl blocking, more MMM

I’m making a real effort to include more handknits in my me-made-March efforts.  Here is today:

Shawl: Shetland Triangle by Evelyn A. Clark.  I knit this quite awhile ago – the photos on my Ravelry page are from before we bought our house!

The rest of my outfit is not exciting – today I have a concert, so it’s all black again.

Cardigan: Style & Co, thrifted

Dress: Ann Taylor, thrifted

Tights: H&M

Boots: Impo

Here is yesterday’s entry:

Jacket: Simplicity 2443

Dress: thrifted

Shoes: vintage

Yesterday it was nearly 80 degrees.  Today? 40.  Yes, that’s what weather is like in March.  I have to drive to Carrollton, KY tonight, so I actually care what to weather is (I am bad, since I work at home, to just adjust my home temperature to however I want to dress.)

And… I finished knitting the Damask shawl.  Yes, already.  I really think my single-mindedness is what kills my knitting mojo.  I cannot work on two things at the same time, no matter how hard I try!  So when I start sewing something, I inevitably forget to work on my knitting.  I made sure to finish this in one go, but I don’t always have the patience.  Here is is unblocked (doesn’t look like much!)

I’m not great at blocking shawls, I know I don’t use enough pins or worry about things being perfectly even.  What’s the use, when I know it’s going to get many layers of cat hair on it while its wet?

Leon would like you to know that he is definitely not thinking about laying on that the second my back is turned… no sir.  What is it with cats and wet things?  Is it only my cat?  He loves to sleep on blocking sweaters more than just about anything!

I will have a finished post for the shawl once it’s all blocked.  I’m hoping it turns out pretty!  After I get back from my concert tonight, I plan to start my new dress (single-minded, I tell you.)

crafts · Me-made March · outfits

Me-made March day 22

March 22, 2011
March 22, detail
Dress: Vogue 8577, cost to make roughly

Sweater: Vintage, thrifted

Pin: Thrifted

Shoes: Keds, thrifted

I’m finally back on track with me-made March.  One thing I really enjoy about the challenge is that it gets me to wear my less worn projects.  I don’t wear this dress often – it used to make me feel costumey (though not anymore… I am used to it at this point) and it attracts lint like mad.  I bought this sweater thinking I would never use it, but I wear it all the time.  It’s the perfect length for me, though I suspect it might be cropped on someone with a normal length waist.

I am so ready for spring now.  Today it is in the 70s!  The temperatures are going to go back down later this week, so I’m enjoying them while they last.  It’s so nice to be out of tights – I don’t mind wearing them, but after awhile it gets a bit monotonous!   I even ordered a pair of shoes to wear this spring.  I got the white color, and I’m anticipating them being nice with full skirts, similar to an oxford but more flattering on the leg.

This is what my hair looks like on the second day of a set of Caruso steam rollers.  I started using them in high school, but forgot about them for years.  I saw them a bit back at Sally’s and got a new set.  I love them – my hair is very fine and mostly straight (I have a little wave underneath.)  These work almost as well as a wet set, but I don’t have to sleep in them.  I highly recommend them!


crafts · Me-made March · outfits · Sewing

Tiny shawls: Me-made March day 21


Milkweed shawl detail

Shawl: Milkweed shawl by Laura Chau, knitted in Socks that Rock mediumweight, 24 karats colorway

Pin: Vintage, belonged to my grandma (and it’s lost one of its pretty green stones, sad face)

Cardigan: Ann Taylor, thrifted

Dress: Ann Taylor petites, thrifted

Shoes: Nurture

Today one of my piano students said to me “why do you always wear weird things?”  I’m not really certain what would be considered “weird” by an elementary school student, but apparently it involves tiny shawls.  I think, all things considered, that I will take the fashion opinions of 7 year old boys with a grain of salt, yes?

I thought I would get out this shawl, since I’m knitting another mini-shawl.  I love to wear them this way, turned around backwards and tied with a pretty pin (I have a ton of brooches… my grandma didn’t have pierced ears, so all of her jewelry obsession came out in pins and necklaces.)

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t use this yarn for another shawl.  It’s very pretty, but it’s so springy and tightly wound that it refuses to hold blocking, especially in the garter stitch.  Even so, I’ve worn this quite a bit.  I hope to wear my damask shawl as much.   I am on row 54.  The great thing about the pattern is that it is knit starting with the long edge, so it gets shorter every row!

I’m also about to start on a new sewing project:

Simplicity 2209 is one of the new Lisette patterns from Simplicity.  The designer kindly sent me one to try, and I thought it would be perfect for this fun cotton sateen print (from Sawyer brook, still available.)  I was looking for a design without princess seams, so hopefully this one will suit the fabric!

crafts · knitting

hazards of travel

I always seem to catch something on long flights.  This time, I managed to get a sinus infection on the way over, and a nasty cold on the way back.  Marc has the same thing, and we’ve been pretty much useless all week.  I’ve only worn actual clothes twice since returning.  Standing up too long makes me dizzy, so I have not even set foot in my sewing room.

But!  I did cast on for a new shawl.

The pattern is Damask (Ravelry link,) and the yarn is Madelinetosh sock in Pop Rocks.  This yarn is actually called “fine sock” and has more yardage than the current base yarn used by Madelinetosh.  So far I’m loving the pattern – It’s just what I wanted, a bit of detail but not too awful.  I also love following charts for some reason.  I’m making the size small, because I find that I am a rather loose knitter, and use more yardage than is generally called for in a pattern.

While I was in Italy I wore kerchiefs or shawls every day.  This inspired me to cast on for some of my own.  I have made two triangle shawls before, and I never wear either in the traditional way – but I love them turned around like a kerchief!

Me-made March · outfits

Me made March: travel edition

I thought I must have been crazy to take the challenge before going on a trip, but it worked out pretty well! I have photos from 6 days of my 12 day trip. An additional 2 days were the same as day 1, as I wore the same outfit to fly every time. I have one day I lack a photo from, because it was so cold I never took my coat off. The rest of the days were days were I only wore my concert black. I sometimes wore my black Jalie pleated cardigan with my black dress, but I mostly wore the other (not me made) cardigan. The weather was decent enough, but inside unheated churches it was often so cold that I could see my breath while I was singing (including the one in the videos posted yesterday.) Here’s what I’ve got!

Day 3 (also days 4 and 14.)

Dress: Vogue 1194

Leggings: Vivienne tam

Shoes: Cole Haan

This was my travel outfit.  It was very comfortable, and easy enough to sleep in on the plane.  This photo was taken in the Dusseldorf airport, and I really could not tell you what is up with the giant monkey hand.

Dress: Simplicity 2443

Cardigan: thrifted

Boots: Alfani

I wore these boots every day, because they were more comfortable than my others.  I also had some trouble with my feet swelling, due to the air travel and all the walking, so these just fit better!  They do not, I would say, exactly go with everything I’m wearing, but you have to make sacrifices when traveling!  This photo was taken in Maiori, on the Amalfi coast.

Dress: Vogue 8667

Belt: made by me

Cardigan: thrifted

Photo taken in Amalfi.

Dress: Vogue 8685

Carigan: Jalie leated cardigan

Scarf: H&M

On the balcony of one of our hotels.  It’s the most beautiful view, and I’m not one who even cares about such things!  This scarf did not make it back.  It was ruined in an unfortunate encounter between me and a glass door in Rome (my nose is not broken, but I did chip my front tooth and bleed all over some very nice Italians!)

Dress: Simplicity 2443

Cardigan: made by me

Scarf: Target

In Florence… I didn’t get any outside photos without my coat on!

Dress: Delia’s

Cardigan: made by me

Scarf: Target

Taken in Montepulciano.

I will do a separate post about my traveling in a bit, so those who aren’t interested can easily skip it.  About the MMM experience – it was great to do while traveling, because most everything in my suitcase went together!  If I had realized how many days I would only get to wear my black, I might have tried harder to get around to making my choir dress.  There were four or five days where I had to wear it all day.  That’s ok though – I feel like I carried the spirit of the challenge through, and now that I’m back home I have access to all of my things!



As of last night, we are back from Italy!  It was a wonderful trip and concert tour.  I did continue me-made-March throughout, and I will have those photos later (after I sort all 500 from the trip!)  In the meantime, I thought I would share some videos of our performances.  We performed in Maiori, Assisi, Monte Porzio Catone, and Naples.  We also performed at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, but those videos didn’t turn out as well.  Here is my chamber group (the Louisville Vocal Project) singing Thou Shalt Know him

I’m the highest soprano part (there is one other soprano.)  Here is another of our group, singing William Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus

We were also traveling with the Bellarmine University Schola, the college choir that I do section leading for.  Here is the whole group, performing Missa Brevis composed (and conducted by) my friend and former professor Richard Burchard.

I hope you enjoy the videos – I love singing this type of music, especially with a small group. I will be back later with more photos and updates!