Christmas Sneak Peek

Suddenly the weather has turned cool and fall-like and I remembered that Christmas is coming.

Scratch that. I have kids so I never quite forget that Christmas is coming. I’ve also just finished (except for blocking – isn’t that an entirely knitterly qualification to make?) a snowflake stole that I’ve been working on off-and-on all summer so it may be that I never stopped thinking about Christmas this last year. I’ve been cataloging ideas all along. I started a whole post listing them before remembering that my husband might (be the only one) read(ing) this and some attempt at mystique should be maintained.

I can mention these adorable Kiriki little animal embroidery kits I ordered from Purl Soho. They are meant for Christmas stockings. Only time will tell if they make it there. I have a laissez-faire attitude when it comes to holiday making. If it doesn’t get done in time for this year there’s always next. Or never. Whatevs.

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Fox box has been tampered with since its arrival

I’ve done loads of cross-stitch, some pulled thread and open work embroidery, some crewel, and knitted lots of toys, but this will be my first time tackling a project quite like this. Time to move from the Christmas-planning to the Christmas-making.

Sunk Cost Fallacy

I may have spent more hours working on this cardigan than it will be worn. By “may” I mean to say “almost certainly”. I harbor no resentment.

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Investment > Utility
Pattern: Saffran Cardigan by docksjö design
Size: 3 months
Yarns: Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Mill Worsted in Chocolate Milk & Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash in Lavendar

Every knitter has had the experience of making mistakes that could have been avoided had she read the pattern in full ahead of time. In this case I didn’t make a mistake, exactly. I misunderstood the scope of the project.

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I’m not a stranger to colorwork or steeking. I know all the extra steps entailed and the stamina required to complete them when a knitter’s brain, after the knitting is complete, is screaming “Done!”. I was ready for that.

This pattern completely blindsided me, however. I finished the knitting and, like the experienced, conscientious, and dedicated knitter I am, put this project in time out for a few months while not dealing with the next set of instructions.

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BOOM!

See that? THIS TINY BABY SWEATER IS FULLY LINED. I know, right? What?!

I didn’t have to do it. I could have sewn the button band steek selvages with ribbon. But the pattern writer made a compelling point about baby fingers getting caught in yarn floats and I had visions of the baby’s mother cursing as she tried and failed to get intractable little hands down these tubes of finger-twisting-peril delicately patterned sleeves. Besides, sometimes once you’re already deep into a project it only makes sense to keep going deeper, however “irrational” that logic may be.

On the one hand, go me! I persevered! I did something I’d never gone before! On the other hand, while the lining may protect sweater and baby fingers from one another it also adds a lot of bulk and removes one of the best properties of the knitted baby sweater – its stretchiness and ease of fit. I didn’t make a sweater. I made a jacket.

And that’s OK. I don’t rue the time invested. I’m not sure the jacket itself is worth it, but I am sure that the recipient and her mama are.

Rad Plaid

A while back I was scouring Google maps for a fabric store that was en route to the in-laws and decided to check out a place called Fabric Recycles (no link because no website). I walked in to discover that this store doesn’t have bolts of fabric, but cuts of fabric rolled up and labeled with the fabric dimensions. There are cubbies full of fabric rolls sorted by color and I swear nary a repeat among them. I was overwhelmed by the mis-match between shopping expectation and experience. I had a hard time taking it in. I told my mom about the store and she said, “I bet there’s some really good deals there!” and yeah, I bet there are, but if you’re a novice sewer like me it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting. I was perplexed and indecisive which always ends, for me, in shopping regret. What follows is the outcome of the fruits of this shopping expedition.

I bought three rolls of fabric.

One roll was blue with an eyelet border I had hoped to make into a child’s dress. Remember when I said the fabric dimensions were printed on the labels? I saw them, but didn’t really think too deeply about them and was surprised to find when I unfurled this cut that was long, but narrow – only maybe a foot and only suitable for a valence. I chucked it.

Another roll was shirting fabric that I immediately regretted. I had some idea of a child’s dress with the stripes on the bodice going a different direction from the skirt, but this fabric was ugly and slippery and not going to work for that. It wasn’t honestly that bad, but it also wasn’t something I was going to use. I made a muslin of the Washi dress bodice and tossed the rest.

The third roll was – you guessed it! – this eyeful. Take it in. How does it make you feel? I am repulsed and attracted to it in equal amounts.

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Pattern: Willamette by Hey June
Size: 6
Fabric: Mystery plaid

This pattern is a marriage between a collared shirt and a blouse that I didn’t realize I was missing until I saw it. I like it so well that this is the 2nd time I’ve made it.

Perhaps I should have tempered the loudness of the fabric by cutting view A instead of view B. Mayhaps I could have combined the views for a business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back look if I was so bullish on seizing every opportunity to cut that plaid on the bias. I wasn’t that forward-thinking. I wanted to make view B and I wanted to use this fabric and cutting plaid on the bias is deeply satisfying. End of chain of thought. Result: a very loud plaid made louder and a boxy pattern made visually boxier.

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And you know what?

I don’t hate it.

I think I do, it doesn’t seem like something I should like, but then I put it on and I’m like, “Huh. Not bad.”

I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the inside yoke, let alone cuffs or pockets. Luckily that yellow fabric scrap Grandma gave me was a good match. Weird how it came in handy on two consecutive projects. It also guided my button selection. That, incidentally, is one spare button down. Turns out they’re occasionally useful after all!

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Notice the no shoes so you won’t know I have no idea how to outfit
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I’ve got things on my mind. Things like “I’ve spent years avoiding the camera and I have no idea what to do with my face.”

You can see how lightweight the fabric is. I may have lucked into one of those good deals Mom was talking about if you can get past the colors. I’m wearing it today to a work party. Hopefully people will be able to hear me over my loud, loud shirt.

Two

A birthday dress! A dress for a birthday! A birthday that’s today!IMG_7694

Pattern: Lotta Dress by Compagnie M.
Size: 2T
Fabric: Cotton something or other. With peacocks!
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Patchy lawn is still a work in progress.

I made this a while ago, but today is its debut. Lovely button details. In the pics they are a little lost in the busy-ness of the fabric pattern, but they pop well enough in real life. Well, that or my eye is lovingly drawn to them in admiration regardless. So adorable.

The buttons are a near-perfect match, but they came in a package of 90 various-sized ombre buttons so now I have 83 leftover. I guess that’s better in some ways than the scads of single buttons I have rolling around my button tin. The buttons, they burden me. Will they ever be useful? Should I just get rid of them? Why do I have so many buttons I love but never a button that matches? How long can I stave off my husband’s requests to sew new buttons on his shirts? When will the day come that one of my buttons ends up in a child’s nose?

Birthday Apron

Back in 2015 I bought yards and yards of fabric to make lots and lots of children’s aprons. I already had so many children’s tunics and so many tiny dresses and so many bucket hats and so little need for any of them that I thought maybe I would try to amass some sort of salable inventory to put up a booth at our church’s annual Kristkindle Markt and possibly earn back some pin money to finance my new hobby. I didn’t make that ill-conceived foggy goal by a wide mile, but it turns out children’s aprons make great gifts. That’s what I tell myself, anyways, to justify the 5 aprons tucked away in a drawer awaiting recipients as my gift-making outpaces occasions for gift-giving.

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Pattern: Simplicity 2555, View A
Size: Childrens Large
Fabric: Windham Fabric, Bake Tools of the Trade.

I don’t have a serger. In the past I’ve pinked and edge stitched the apron skirt to the bib, but it always seemed… unpolished. Then an epiphany: I could take some leftover bias tape and enclose that edge. So much better!

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The yellow strap is a spare bit of something-or-other my grandma gave me when she found out I was sewing. I was going to toss it because there wasn’t enough to really do anything with it, but I’m glad I didn’t – this is the second project in which that spare bit came in handy.

Unlike the other aprons, this one was made especially for an intended recipient. I made all those other aprons out of very cute pink cake fabric in the same line, but I had always intended the blue for this particular little lady.

“You Look Nothing Like a Chicken”

Post title is a direct quote from my husband this morning. My neck seized up while I was drying my hair because that’s a thing that apparently happens to me, now, and I complained that I felt like I was walking around with my neck sticking out. You know, like a chicken.

Chickens, then, are the theme of the day.

Simple and unfussy, this little dress came together like a dream. I had a disproportionate amount of coordinating fabric leftover from making Oliver & S’s Hide-and-Seek tunics – lots of the leafy fabric, only a bit of the chickens – that worked great for this pattern. This project doesn’t feel like a Sewing Accomplishment, but clothes that are easy to get on and off and to wear are the ones I reach for in the morning and I am hopeful it will see a lot of use. You can never tell with kids.

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Pattern: Polly Peasant Dress & Blouse
Fabric: Mayflower UK, Jolly Farm, quilting cotton
Size: 2T
Mod: I sewed the hem facing so it flipped to the outside. More chickens this way!

Epilogue: later my husband called me “sweaty paws”, obliterating all goodwill he had engendered when he told me I didn’t look like a chicken.

Epilogue to epilogue: I finally broke out my camera – here’s a pic of scalloped chickens!

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Volants

Sewing first: buying a pattern in a foreign language! In this case the language = French and the pattern = Les Brunes by Delphine & Morissette. Zoe’s sleeveless version grabbed me and and I went down the rabbit hole. Yes, I am referring to Delphine & Morissette’s unusual styling:

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(image source: Delphine et Morisette)

Undeterred by models wearing rabbit masks or the fact I don’t speak or read a lick of French, I used google translate to write a simple message to procure the pattern and set about typing the pithy instructions into the same to get the broad strokes of pattern construction. I’ve made loads of similar tops and was sure I could wing it if the pattern translation didn’t make much sense which it often didn’t. I am reassured that some jobs can’t be replaced by computers – yet.

This pattern is so simple, I told myself, just a shell with a new-to-me bust dart placement with some ruffles stuffed in. Easy-peasy! Hubris. I trimmed the the ruffles to make them narrower, then didn’t pay attention to the selvage on the shorts ends so they weren’t captured in the seam. I expected the darts to come to a logical point, but they didn’t and I worry I got the angle wrong. I sewed the bias tape to the inside of the garment which isn’t going to work if you’re trying to hide it. There’s a lot of pulling and puckering at the arm-and neck-holes. I think using a narrower bias tape would help with that, but I was done having my ass handed to me by simple sewing and decided to call it good enough and chalk all the annoying mistakes to the growing pains associated with “winging it.”

Here it is and here I am in front of our ugly chain link fence. But look, wildflowers! There are blackberries,raspberries, and gooseberries back there, too, that I planted last spring for beautification and edibles. Some of the wildflowers are as tall as I am. Some of the weeds, too.
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Pattern: Les Brunes
Fabric: Cotton voile from Fabricworm. That’s all know, folks.

I quite like it. Great color, good fit, and I do love those ruffles, I do, I do.