crafts · finished objects · knitting · Sewing

Two finishes: Anais and Beignet

I finally managed to get photos of my most recent projects – luckily they go well together!  I’ll talk about the skirt first, and put the sweater pattern review at the end of the post.

Pattern: Beignet from Colette patterns

Fabric: Rayon/poly/lycra blend, purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics

Notions: 12 7/8″ buttons

I first made this pattern in January 2010.  I loved that version, but to be totally honest it was never that comfortable.  The twill fabric didn’t have any give to it, and it wrinkled really easily.  I decided to make this pattern again, correcting some of the newbie mistakes I made in the original.  I chose to use a stretch woven, and I am a believer in them now!  This skirt is really comfortable – not at all like the other, and making me feel better about the concept of pencil skirts in general!

I chose to make this skirt pretty plain – no belt loops, sash, or lining.  I used self-fabric interfacing, because I didn’t want to lose the stretchy properties of the fabric.  I cut a size 6, but I ended up taking it in a bit, ending with around a size 4, give or take.

The thing that surprises me the most is how flattering it is.  I have always avoided pencil skirts, afraid of emphasizing the imbalance between top and bottom.  It may be the black effect, but I don’t think this does that at all!  It just goes to show that it’s worth trying different silhouettes.  It also shows that, as always, the voice inside your head whispering how terrible you will look in something… well, it may not be super accurate, is all I’m suggesting.  After I finished this I avoided trying it on for days because I was sort of convinced it would be awful.  I liked it so much that I immediately wore it out to dinner!

Now onto the other half of the outfit…

Pattern: Anais by Kim Hargreaves, from her book “Breeze”

Yarn: Cascade Ultra pima, 2.5 skeins

Needles: US 5 and 6

Size:  34

Notes:  I feel like this took ages, but the actual knitting time was short.  I am very easily distracted lately, and I do like to let my hands rest sometimes!  I love this sweater.  It’s exactly what I wanted – the color is rich, it stretches to fit without distorting the pattern, and it went together very easily.

I’m a big fan of Kim Hargreaves, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned about a thousand times – I think her patterns are classic yet full of pretty details.  This sweater will not date, unlike, say, the five swing style sweaters I made a few years ago!  The stitch pattern was easily memorized – after the second repeat I only had to check for shapings.

Yarn:  Love it.  Seriously, I have knit with a lot of cotton, and this is my favorite one.  It’s got a beautiful sheen, it doesn’t pill or split, and it’s soft to the touch.  The price was great for the yardage – something like $9 for 220 yards.   It didn’t hurt my hands, which is an accomplishment for cotton!  I also think it would work well for crochet, as it didn’t split, twist, or otherwise behave oddly.  I used it to seam the sweater up with no trouble at all.  I washed the sweater on the handwash cycle in my frontloader, and blocked it flat.  No pilling at all.  I wouldn’t throw it in the dryer or anything, but it isn’t super delicate.

Alterations:  The back piece is actually from the size 32.  I switched to a larger size for the front and sleeves.  I know Kim’s patterns well enough to know that I need  a larger size in the sleeves than in the back.  I also wanted to make sure that the front buttonband wouldn’t gape.  To that end, I knit both buttonbands plain, and then machine sewed my buttonholes.  Here they are:

The white stuff is leftover stabilizer, as this photo is pre-blocking.  The thread is machine embroidery thread, because it was shiny and matched the yarn.  Here is what I did, in case anyone is curious:

1. I knit an extra swatch of buttonband to practice on – you don’t want to make mistakes on your finished sweater!
2. I pinned wash away stabilizer (solvy) to both the front and back.  I measured my button and marked a buttonhole that was the length of my button plus 1/4″ (this may vary of course!)

3. I reduced the presser foot pressure to almost nothing, and sewed the buttonhole using my buttonhole foot at the automatic setting on my machine.

4. I sliced the hole open using my buttonhole chisel.

I checked that the buttonhole was the right side, and then did the same process on the actual sweater.  I followed with a good dose of fray check just to be sure!

They look nice, and they are secure.  I did cut the buttonhole threads on one hole, and had to hand satin-stitch around it to fix the error.  I would  use scissors next time for greater control.  My machine handled the knit fabric ok, though I did have to encourage the feed dogs just a bit (this is an issue with my machine on all thick fabrics, so I was expecting that.)  I read a few sources that recommended sewing the buttonhole twice for extra security.  I would love to do that, but I cannot for the life of me get the buttonhole in the same exact spot twice.

Would I do it again?  Yes, for this sort of fitted cardigan.  I hate gaping bands, and this fixed the problem.  I would not do it on a loose sweater, or anything that isn’t going to be closed all the time, as it was (no lie) a  whole lot of trouble, and no small amount of terror!

In conclusion, both patterns are recommended, and I’m thrilled with both of my new garments!


45 thoughts on “Two finishes: Anais and Beignet

  1. All is beautiful, the garments and the wearer.
    I think a mean pencil skirt would look all hundreds kinds of sheer awesome on you. You are a gorgeous womam, embrace it!
    Also, this red color is astounding shade for you.
    I too machine stich the buttonholes, after having hand stiched a satin ribbon on the WS. It gives a nice, neat look and adds some structire to the buttoning in general.

    PS. I know I`m late on commenting on the body issue- post, but I think you took a very healthy step in realizing looking too thin back in the days and reacting to the fact. That act alone testifies of a solid backbone. I commend you and would like to add that you truly look astounding.

  2. A fabulous combination. I love the skirt, but oh how I love the sweater. So glad to see you knitting again. Very clever – and brave! – with the buttonholes on the sweater. Gorgeous colour, too.

  3. Both new garments are beautiful. You are such a prolific knitter! I wish I was so productive at it. The buttonholes look gorgeous – I had no idea you could do such a thing. I would be terrified too. Enjoy your new sweater and skirt. They are versatile and very flattering!
    P.S. The shoes rock too!

  4. Two gorgeous garments, and I love them together! Isn’t Ultra Pima delicious? I’ve made two things from it and I want lots more! You’re very brave to chisel buttonholes on your hand-knitting. They look great.

  5. Beautiful!! I love both! I’ll take a look at that skirt pattern because it doesn’t look too difficult. 🙂 You’ll be pleased to know I think I have the pieces cut out for my first skirt! I bought the COMPLETE wrong size package though, so I had an experienced friend come help me add the inches i needed to the pattern pieces. I’m nto sure what I’ll do with the two patterns I’ve already bought. I didn’t realize the size would be so incredibly different! like REALLY different. I’m a size 18 instead of a 12! GAH!

    wish me luck. I hope it comes out as well as yours!

    1. Sewing sizing is just weird. I’m working on a skirt right now where I had to add extra to the waistband, making it a size 14, when usually I am a 10 in patterns (and a much smaller size in RTW.) I think of them like vintage clothing sizing – the last time the numbers were updated was in the 1960s I think, and I do wear a 12 in vintage clothing. Good luck with your skirt!

  6. The sweater and skirt are both beautiful. How do you find time to both knit and sew? I taught myself to knit a couple of years ago and was doing a good job, but then I just fell off the wagon. I feel like it I knit I am missing out on sewing, but when I sew I am missing out on knitting. I wish I could just figure out how to do both.

    1. Thanks! I didn’t knit for quite awhile after I took up sewing, so I know what you mean. I guess that knitting and sewing take up different times for me – I mostly knit when I’m watching tv with my husband, and I sew in smaller increments of time (I work at home, so I am able to grab sewing time during the day pretty often!)

  7. Your machine stitched buttonholes are brilliant. I’ve always been annoyed with knitted buttonholes and now that I’ve been sewing more I’ve thought about doing this but wasn’t sure how. I’m not sure that the my foot’s pressure can be adjusted, though. Do you think a walking foot would work just as well?
    Beautiful projects!

    1. I would imagine it would work, though I confess I’ve never made buttonholes without the automatic foot! The presser foot pressure isn’t the most vital part anyway. I used my buttonhole foot, but if you’re doing manual buttonholes a walking foot might help to move things along better!

      1. So funny but I completely forgot that I’d need a buttonhole foot!. Since my machine has only the automatic buttonhole, I’d suppose the foot would be a necessity. I’ll try it out here this week and see if the pressure adjustment is necessary with my machine. Thanks for your input!

  8. Gorgeous! I love the color combo, and that skirt makes you legs look like they are a mile long! 🙂 And yeah, I’m a recent convert to the stretch wovens too, now that I have realized that using a stretch needle works better than a universal one for them.

  9. Both of these are beautiful, especially the sweater! I love the look of the long line of buttons when they are combined.

  10. I am in awe of your button holes! seriously seriously nice work. lovely sweater and skirt both (and thanks for the pencil skirt encouragement…all the shop ones I try on gape at the waist by the time they fit my behind but being able to make it myself might alleviate that)

  11. Oh, I love that little red sweater!

    I believe you like this skirt because technically it’s an A-line, not a pencil. An actual pencil skirt has the same or smaller measurement at the hem as it has at the widest part of the hip. That is why it’s called a pencil skirt; hold a sharpened pencil as you would write with it and see how it tapers at the bottom. Any flare outward makes a skirt an A-line. A-line skirts are fairly attractive on most bodies as they hide the actual hip measurement and makes the legs look smaller in comparison to the flared out hem. I’m a big fan of them too.

  12. Very impressive outfit! I love that the two pieces work so well together, the buttons are perfectly at center front! you are very talented 🙂

  13. The sweater is absolutely gorgeous. The color combination works really well, and you look stunning in both sweater and skirt.

  14. Love both! Especially the bright red of the sweater. The button band looks nice, but I would be a little nervous about the button holes unraveling. Will the stitching hold up on the yarn? It does look great though.

  15. I am all about stretch wovens for pencil skirts – they’re just much more comfortable. I also agree with your comment about pencil skirts for pear-shaped gals. I don’t think they look all that great on me when I buy them RTW, but the ones I make myself are some of my favorite garments. Not sure if you’d use it, but a simple pencil skirt in a nice really dark stretch denim is now a wardrobe staple for me.

    Lovely outfit all around. 🙂

  16. Very nice, I agree w/ all past posters. Will you post your sweater on Ravelry? There are a few other Anais’ there — yours would make a nice addition.

  17. Lovely machined buttonholes on knitted garment – never thought the twain shall meet !! Thanks.

  18. Lovely outfit. I also stay away from pencil skirts because of the “imbalance” between top and bottom but maybe I should try this skirt – who knows? And thanks for the tip on machine button holes on knits.

  19. Both of them are lovely, especially the color of the shrug… I have seen this skirt and have yet to decide to make it…but the skirt looks absolutely lovely! 🙂

  20. I love Kim’s patterns too. I got given two of her books (Heartfelt & Thrown Together) but I haven’t really given knitting a proper chance so this week I sat myself down and really concentrated on improving my technique in the hopes of attempting some of her patterns. I hope one day soon I can produce a cardi as cute and well-knitted as yours

  21. I love the skirt! I liked it the first time you made it and the up-date is beautiful. Ohh, and I love the sweater, too! Excellent knit!

  22. What a lovely combination! The cardigan is beautiful! I’ve wanted to make a Beignet for ages now, and seeing this makes me push Beignet up on the planning list!

  23. I’m late to the party, but must say the photos in this entry are AWESOME. Also, I saw a lot of black with red in the shop windows in Europe recently. This is a super look on you!

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