crafts · finished objects · Sewing

McCall’s 6070

Pattern: McCalls 6070

Fabric: Ity print from and upcycled black rayon knit from an old dress

Notions: 1/4″ elastic (for the shoulders)

This dress… it gave me troubles to start with!  I bought this print from, but I was a bit confounded on how to use it.  I think it’s pretty, but I didn’t like how it looked if the print wasn’t matched (but that’s a huge pattern repeat… no matching unless I was making a mini-skirt!)  I also wished the stripes ran the opposite direction.  I hit upon the idea of using an old dress, which had great quality fabric, to make the top part of this dress out of black.  I made the ties out of the print, to tie the top and bottom together.

I cut the dress fabric on the cross grain, to get more of a vertical stripe.  Since I was only using it for the skirt, there wasn’t any problem with that.  I originally cut the maxi length, as you recall, but I wasn’t happy when I tried it on.  The dress, on me, has far more of an empire line than I thought (I don’t think the envelope photo looks empire waisted, though the drawings do.)  The skirt is a dirndl – ie a gathered rectangle.  I realized that I prefer my maxi dresses with some flair, as I looked oddly like a closed umbrella:

Notice that it was also rather short – I needed another three inches, as it isn’t hemmed in these photos. A maxi should be almost floor length to be the most flattering.  You can also see that it had an issue with mobility – that hem was narrow, and while I’m not saying that I always walk like a dude, I like to have the option, you know?

I removed 15 inches from the hem – it’s about one inch shorter than the length marked for the shorter length dress. Other modifications… I did not use the elastic called for in the waistband.  I made a size 6, where I would I usually make an 8 or 10, and it fits securely without any elastic.  I did use the elastic in the shoulders, which I thought was a very clever way to gather them!

Sorry for the blurry back photo – by the time I realized, it was dark!  I really like the back opening – it’s fun, but not too bare.  And the bra report?  (Because you know I always worry about that!)  I can wear a normal (not strapless) bra with this dress.  The back opening isn’t too low, and neither is the front.

My Mom bought me this necklace, which is made of beads that look like hematite (but are likely plastic.)  I love it, but I would have made it shorter.  I’ve been thinking of trying my hand at beading – if any more experienced jewelry makers have book recommendations I would appreciate it!

I didn’t go anywhere exciting in this outfit – just to pick up my husband from work, go to Ulta for shampoo (thus my terrible ponytail hair!) and to be the most dressed up person to ever eat at a Five Guys.  I recommend the bodice of this pattern – it’s lovely – but I might use a different skirt if making it again.  I think a flared skirt would be lovely, and give an even nicer shape to the bottom.

crafts · Crochet · knitting · Sewing

Mid week updates

I always have trouble updating during the week, because I am never free until so late at night.  Here is what’s going on this week!


I will be participating in the challenge again.  I’m actually pretty excited, because I haven’t really been able to wear my summer things for a challenge yet (and last year I didn’t have that many yet!)  I’m still on the “one item a day” pledge, mostly because that isn’t my goal in life (I enjoy thrifting too much, and besides there are some things I don’t want to make!)

I am already making an effort to wear my knitted/crocheted items more, as I did today:

I finished this capelet in January 2008 – yes, I have been blogging forever now!  This is the Chanson en Crochet capelet, which is from the book Wrap Style.  I don’t own the book, but it was free to download from Knitting Daily (I don’t know if that’s still the case!)  I remember there being a ton of errata on this thing, but it is really pretty (and perfect for our current turbulent weather!)

Moving on… this week’s sewing project is a combination refashion/ new make.  Here are the fabrics I’m using:

The print was a large scale ITY print from, and the black was formerly this dress:

I actually bought this dress new for an audition.  I feel like that sort of banding looks dated now, and the white had gotten all dingy and gray.  So I cut it up, and now I’m using both fabrics to make McCall’s 6070, in the maxi length.

I love the print, but it had problems.  Because it has strong lines running through the print, I thought it looked funny without being matched… but I was not matching that print.  So I’m using the print for the skirt and ties, and the black (a really lovely rayon knit) for the bodice and waistband.  I’m nearly halfway done.  I haven’t had much time this week – I have a writing deadline coming up, and I also took some time to add elbow patches to a friend’s jacket before he goes abroad later this week.  The patches were pretty entertaining – I’ve never done them before, and I’m proud of how they came out!  But it took forever, seriously.  I do not think I have a job as a pro tailor in my future.

That’s my update for today – I hope to be back with a finished dress, and perhaps my crocheted shrug, later this week!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Vogue 8469

Pattern: Vogue 8469

Fabric: Cotton Sateen print from Sawyer Brook fabrics (available here)

Notions: Zipper, 1 yard of black voile for the sash

Here is my pattern review:

Pattern Sizing: I made a size 8 in the shoulders, blending to a 10 in the waist and hips. This ended up a little big, so I took the whole thing in by one size at the side seams.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? I think so!

Were the instructions easy to follow?They were fine, though I did follow my usual order of operations. I also used the seamless method of sewing a sleeveless dress bodice (tutorial here.)

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I thought it looked like a nice basic sundress, and I thought the ties were pretty. As it turns out, the only thing I don’t care for is the waistband. It sits very high – this is definitely an empire fit! It’s also a bit higher in front than in back for some reason. This is obvious when I turn to the side.  And keep in mind, I love an empire waist, so this one must be odd for me to object to it.  I also don’t like the asymmetrical tie (one side is longer than the other.) If I did it again, I would make the ends the same length, and tie it in the back.

I had trouble lining up the back waistband – it’s close, but not perfect.  I used an invisible zip, and three times was my limit for resewing it!  If the ties could tie in the back, it would cover than whole issue – alas, I did not think of that until too late!

Fabric Used:Cotton sateen from sawyer brook, with black voile for the tie. Upon reflection, the voile was a poor choice – I don’t like that it is matte while the sateen is shiny.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:Just the ones mentioned above. I chose to make the sleeveless version, because I was afraid this print would be too precious with the puffed sleeves.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?I won’t make it again – the shape isn’t the absolute best on me, though I do like my dress. Having said that, I do recommend it – just be aware that the waist sits high, and notice think about how you want to handle those waist ties!

Conclusion: I just love this fabric, and I’m sure I will get a lot of wear out of my dress!

crafts · finished objects · knitting

Finished: Audrey in Unst sweater

Pattern: Audrey in Unst

Yarn: Manos Silk blend, 750 yds

Notions:  1/2″ black buttons

I am pleased to announce that I think my knitting dry spell is officially over!  I still can’t say exactly what caused it… perhaps bad associations with my past, or even just burning out – but I’m back again!

This is the Audrey in Unst pattern, from the Fall 2009 Twist Collective.  I wanted to make this sweater as soon as I saw it – the lace was pretty, and I knew the cropped shape would work well with the full skirted dresses that I keep making.

I bought this yarn (Manos Silk Blend) about two years ago, at Loop yarns in Chicago.  I loved the pretty color at the time, and immediately knit part of it up into a shawl… which then sat, unfinished for years.  I frogged it to make this sweater, which I do not regret.  I wore this outfit to a concert I was singing in tonight (chamber choir music) and then out for dinner/wine with choir friends.

The flat shoes are very practical for standing up, and I only took the sweater off when I was actually singing (old stone churches are very cold, even in May!)

About the pattern: I quite liked it.  The twisted rib is really pretty, and I love the overall shape.  I did shorten the cardigan and the sleeves, because I was limited on yarn.  I used smaller buttons than called for in the pattern (my buttonholes came out small.)  It does have some gaping if I button it up, as I mentioned, but for the moment I’m leaving it as it – I do not wear cardigans buttoned entirely!  I will do my buttonhole tutorial on a different sweater, but I haven’t forgotten!

I’m not a huge fan of one piece knitting.  In this case, the body was fine, but I found the sleeves a bit unwieldy.  I would rather knit them flat and seam them in.  The sleevecap shaping is great, using short rows to get a set in sleeve effect on a seamless sweater.  It was a bit hard on my hands though, so I’m not sure I would do it again.

The yarn was lovely in texture and color, but I must warn you – it does pill quite badly!  I’m not sure I would use it again.  I didn’t alternate skeins, though I know you should on a hand dyed yarn.  Even so, I think the skeins all matched pretty closely – even the one line I can see (over the ribbing) does not bother me.

The pattern is highly recommended!  It’s not for absolute beginners, because the sleeves and the i-cord neck binding are both a bit difficult at first.  But if you’ve made a sweater or two, go for it!

crafts · finished objects · Sewing

Vogue 2333: Diane Von Furstenberg

Pattern: Vogue 2333, vintage circa 1979 (the pattern is undated, but this is my best guess!)

Fabric: Navy rayon matte jersey from Fashion Fabric Club, 2.5 yards

Notions: 1/4″ elastic

Notes: I adore Diane Von Furstenberg.  Her dresses are easy to wear and flattering – plus, she seems to love a print just as much as I do!  In the 1970s and 80s, Vogue patterns licensed quite a few of her designs for their catalog.  Some, such as the infamous wrap dress, go for high prices on Ebay.  This one?  Not so much.  I think I paid $5 including shipping.  This style is back again.  I have to say that I’m glad – I think these drapey dresses look great on so many women!  My favorite part is the neckline.

I bought this fabric a few months ago, with this dress specifically in mind.  The designer uses lots of silk jersey for her dresses, and a nice rayon matte jersey is a good sub.  It’s hard to find rayon matte jersey for a good price (I hate the poly stuff) so I snatched this up for $4 a yard!  I was feeling a little frustrated with my sewing this week (though that Vogue dress is now finished, photos to come later) so I wanted an easy project.  I was a bit wary that the pattern said “very loose fitting,” but I liked the photo so I forged ahead.

They weren’t playing around with the ease on this thing – the finished bust measurement is 40″ on a size 10.  However, since part of that is eaten by the cowl and the kimono sleeves, it actually fits quite well.  The neckline is wide, and can be worn that way or with more of a drapey cowl (as in the pattern photo below.)

I made a few alterations to modernize the pattern.  First, I saw that the pattern said it fell “5 inches below mid-knee.”  In my opinion, that’s an unflattering length for a straight skirt, so I shortened by 5 inches before cutting.  I still have the side slits, mine just aren’t as long.  I also chose to use a separate belt, rather than the included belt (the belt pattern is really short, meant for you to use a ring closure rather than tying it together.)  I think it would also look great with a contrasting skinny belt.  I’m on the lookout for yellow and red patent skinny belts to try!

Since I used a knit, I didn’t do any of the called for hand sewing.  My hems are machine hemmed – not my absolute favorite, but I don’t like how a blind hem looks on a knit.  I finished all my seams with the serger, because this knit had a slight tendency to shred.  The instructions were very clear, though I confess I changed them at times (I did not, for instance, use stay tape on the pockets… I just ran a line of stay stitching.)

Should you decide to make this pattern, I recommend not trying it on before adding the waist elastic.  It is… not so flattering that way.  I don’t think it would work to leave it out and just belt it either, because the dress is so heavy that it stretches out without the support of the elastic.

Is it a bit 70s?  Yes, but fashion is enjoying a real revival of these styles.  I’ve worn this dress all day, and it’s both comfortable and flattering. Sometimes vintage patterns don’t go well, but this one is a real keeper I think!

crafts · Crochet · knitting · Sewing

Progress reports

Oops – I didn’t mean to be silent all week!  We have a condo that we rent out, and this week was spent repairing the damage from the last tenants before the new ones got there (today.)  It wasn’t that they were destructive, but I’m not sure they ever cleaned, so it basically took all my free time this week (we also installed several new light fixtures and some plumbing, which takes a great deal of time when you’re me!)

I barely got in any sewing time, in part because I’m in a fight with this dress:

I’m not happy with the midriff band, which sits in an odd place on me.  I’m going to set this aside for a bit to regroup, and work on something else.

I have had some time for knitting and crocheting:

This is the beginning of the Moth Wings shrug.  I have a limit on how much I can crochet at once (about one square a night) due to hand issues, but eventually it will be done!  I quite enjoy using these double ended Japanese (Hamanaka brand) hooks.  I had some difficulty getting gauge, and had to go down several sizes, to a 1.25 mm hook (tiny!)

A non-recent photo of my progress on the Anais sweater.  I have completed the back, and I’m halfway up the left front.  The pattern is really fun, and easy to memorize!

I’m considering my next dress project… probably it will be a knit, as I’ve just had two finicky wovens!

crafts · Crochet · Sewing

Stopping before I even get started…

I think I’m not going to be making Butterick 5600 right now.  This is an example of how frustrating it is when finished bust sizes aren’t printed on the pattern envelope.  When I got the tissue out, I realized that the smallest bust size of this dress would have almost 8 inches of ease on me (and wouldn’t fit in the hips, so I’d have to grade out three sizes!)  I know it’s meant to be blousy, but I know my own frame well enough to know that I cannot wear something with that much ease without looking like I’m playing dress-up.  Belting can only do so much!  So I’m putting that away right now, and thinking of other projects.

This is Vogue 8469, one of their “Very Easy, Very Vogue” patterns.  I bought some lovely black voile from Fabricmart during their sale last week, and I plan to make the sash and midriff in the contrasting color.  If I have a break today (not likely, but you never know!) I will cut the pattern.  I think I can manage without a muslin… famous last words, I know, but here’s hoping!

Another thing that spring brings to mind for me is crochet.  I learned to crochet before I could knit, and it’s something I have always loved to do.  Unfortunately, it’s somewhat hard to find decent crochet patterns.  I personally don’t like crochet in thick yarns, which is what many US patterns call for (I do love to make doilies, but that’s another topic…)  I have a ton (really, a ton) of Japanese crochet and knitting publications, and those have great crochet patterns for thin yarns.  Since I haven’t done much crocheting lately, I’m going to start with a pattern in English (the diagrams in the Japanese books still scare me!)

This is the Moth Wings Shrug, published in Interweave Crochet magazine last year.  I managed to accidentally buy the called for yarn last week – I thought it was pretty, and I thought of making a doily (for my planned “wall of framed doilies,”) but then I realized that this pattern actually calls for this yarn (well, thread really… this is about equivalent to #10 crochet thread.)  I think this will be a lovely topper for sleeveless summer dresses.  It’s made of individual square motifs, which are joined with slip stitches as you go (much better than having a million ends to weave in later!)

So that’s my plans for the week.  I’m also working on that buttonband tutorial – it may be next week before I get it up, as this weekend is the Kentucky Derby, and I live right in the midst of it.  I have a friend coming in town to stay with us for the festivities, and parties to attend (though we will not actually be going to the race… I am not really a racing fan at all, I just like the resulting parties, where people wear silly hats and then remember why they swore to never drink another mint julep.)

crafts · knitting

Buttonbands… ugh

You may be wondering where my Audrey sweater is – isn’t it finished by now?  Well, yes, but I am having some technical difficulties!  All was well until I attached the buttonband.  It looks fine buttoned until you move at all, then this happens:

The buttons and holes are lined up, but I think the band itself is a bit long.  It’s picked up and knitting onto the finished fronts, and I used the pattern ratio of stitches to pick up, but I really think there should be fewer.  There is just too much fabric to stretch out between the buttonholes.  I’m not in the mood to rip back, so I’m going to try reinforcing the band with a grosgrain ribbon first.  I plan to do a tutorial on that, as I have seen a few people asking for one.

On my next sweater I’m going to use my sewing machine to make machined buttonholes.  I know a few people who do, and they don’t have the issues with flimsy buttonholes that I always do!

To make myself feel better, I’m wearing a successful sweater project today:

This sweater is Honey from the Kim Hargreaves book Nectar.  It was fun to knit, and the yarn (all-seasons cotton by Rowan) has held up like iron.  And look – pants!  I don’t like wearing pants anymore, but today I was in the mood for some reason.

Look for another post today with my next sewing project!