Tuesday, July 4, 2017

June In 4 Photos

Galena, IL

US Grant's front door.
Civil War era quilt

At Elgin's Civil War Days, photo by Naomi

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My First Miette

To go with my vintage strawberry dress, I finally finished knitting this sweet little cardigan.

The pattern is "Miette" by Andi Satterlund.
The yarn is Knit Picks Gloss DK in the Cranberry colorway.

The original pattern calls for a cropped cardigan with some shaping to make it close fitting.  I made the cardigan longer and omitted the shaping, which results in a garment with some ease that flows along the lines of my body.

The simple lace carries around the neckline, along the button band, around each sleeve cuff, and again around the hem.  It's a pretty detail that adds interest to the cardigan without making it too difficult.  I think this is a great example of "less is more" ~ the tiny bit of lace framed by a stockinette body means the design really stands out.

I made the sleeves a bit shorter, as my intention is to wear this with summer dresses.  Plus I liked the way the shorter sleeve visually balanced out the entire garment.

The fabric buttons are made from my leftover strawberry dress fabric.  These buttons did me in!  And they are so easy to make ~  a part of me wants to knit more cardigans just so I have an excuse to make more fabric buttons.

Cute as a button ~ har har.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Celebrating Spring With A New Dress

A new dress, featuring a new pattern!  Finally, I tore myself away from my Simplicity pattern and tried Butterick B6448.

The fabric is Michael Miller's "Bed of Roses, Lily of the Valley" ~ a rich gray background with pretty white flowers.  The gray is deeper than how it is showing up in my photo.

With an empire waist and an 8 paneled skirt, there's plenty of swing to this dress.  I love the way it looks and feels.  Very sweet and flirty.  :o) 

Construction of the dress is interesting, and I must admit that I made some changes.

1)  It calls for the upper body to be lined.  I didn't bother and just created a neckline facing.  With the V-neck, the facing was a little tricky for me as a beginner.  Getting everything to lie nice at the bottom of that V has been some effort.

2)  The sleeve doesn't go completely around the arm hole.  If you don't do the lining, you have to do something about the exposed seams under your arm.  I discovered that as I was pinning my first sleeve.  :oD  Whoops!

3)  The order of the construction has you put the bodice together first, and the skirt second, joining at the waist.  I'm guessing that may have something to do with the bodice being lined, but since I didn't do that, I can't say for sure.

I really like being able to save my side seams as my final two major seams to sew.  That way, I can adjust the fit pretty easily...take it in a little or let it out a little.  I don't think it would be quite that easy if I created that major join at the waist.

Sewing a size 14, the pattern took up most of my 3 yards.

Even with the unruly facing and the slight sleeve hiccup, I love this dress and look forward to making more.  I have mystery fabric I found at our local resale shop up next.  I'm a tad suspicious that it's fabric that was originally purchased to become a tablecloth.  But the drape and feel are so nice, I have to try making it into a dress.

The photo shoot with the teenager was especially fun today!  It was cold, windy, and dreary.  She was not thrilled about being outside with me.  Plus we had some distractions, including neighborly noise that caught my attention.  Of course, that shot ended up being the best photo of the dress.  So here it is ~ a better view of this pattern from the front with a bonus, "WTF was that?!" look from me.

And with that, I leave you with some photo shoot outtakes.  The ones I'm willing to post, anyway.


Really windy.

No wind ~ just a bad model.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

You Never Know What's Coming For You

That line from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button has always stuck with me.  And I for one never thought I'd enjoy taking pencil to paper.  I can't draw.  I've never taken a single class.  I can barely make a smiley face.  Yet here I am, looking forward to those quiet mornings and evenings when I can sit with my pad of paper and practice sketching different designs that will hopefully become hand stitched embroidery.


Don't get me wrong ~ these are simple, simple drawings.  But they are mine, and I can bring them to life with needle and thread.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

My Week In Four Photos

My first hand designed and embroidered project

Great Grandma's tea cup from the 1940s

A path taken in the woods.

The sighting of Union boys

Hope your week went well.  :o)

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Union Blue ~ My Windham Fabrics Dress

♪ The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah! ♫

Still on the hunt for great quilting cottons that can be used as dress fabric, I did some searching on the net.  I found a couple of conversations among those who, like me, can't resist the call of these beautiful prints.  The general consensus:  Both Michael Miller and Windham Fabrics had decent enough drape to kinda sorta get away with being made into dresses.

Okay, that's not a firm, "Yes, this brand is practically apparel fabric!", but I don't think anyone is expecting that at this point.  Not from me anyway.  I'm still trying to figure out how to sew a nice hem.

The Conclusion:  Not a huge difference.  This dress feels a lot like my other quilting cotton dresses.  So still pretty.  Still wearable.  Still not even close to apparel fabric.

Some Details:

I have both Windham and Michael Miller in stash, and I chose to work with Windham first.  The design is from the Threads of Time collection, unceremoniously named "Blue 39731-4".  I'm calling my dress "Union Blue" because of reproduction fabric look, and because the little Vs remind me of the chevrons worn on the sleeves of Civil War soldiers to identify rank.  Also, my great great grandfather was a Union soldier.  :o)

Though I still love this dress pattern (Simplicity 1537), I wanted to see if I could modify the neckline.  This was a team effort because though the modification was my idea, my husband is the one responsible for drawing it nicely.  I needed a perfect curve but couldn't draw one to save my life.  He's a woodworker and quite good at curves.  I figured asking him would be the right thing to do, and sure enough, within seconds he had drawn the perfect neckline.

We did this first on tracing paper, then on muslin, so I now have an alternative neckline bodice pattern piece for this particular dress.

Another first:  I chose to hand sew my zipper.

I have to say ~ I think I like hand sewing zippers!  Maybe it's because I was a quilter first and did much of my work by hand, but I loved taking my time and stitching it in place.  I felt like I had more control over the process, I could get into small areas easily, and the fact that the dress is nearly done by this point reminded me of that great feeling of sewing on a quilt binding.  It's the last step of a long job well done.

The zipper isn't really my last step, but it's close!  And the feeling is still good.  :o)

Friday, January 6, 2017

How Did Science Sneak Into My Knitting?!

Learning how to dye yarn has been an interesting process.  There's a somewhat complicated relationship between dye, heat, acid, and fiber that I'm still trying to fully understand.  Mess with even one of those variables, and there will be a change.  That then leads to the following questions:

What did I just do?

Do I like it enough to try doing it again?

Mind you, I'm just introducing myself to color theory as well.  And the first lesson I learned is that when you have a colorway that isn't working out, you can usually save it by making it dark purple or dark brown.  Let's just say my stash currently has a LOT of dark purple and dark brown. 

The above skeins worked out relatively well though.  Still a beginner's effort, but pretty.  You can see with three of them that I was messing with variations of pinky peach.

And that super purple guy third from the right ~ yeah, that was one of those skeins.  There is a fair amount of silk in that particular yarn, and I was quickly reminded that this affects the way the dye is taken up.  Plus I messed with the water temperature.  Things got weird, and I eventually had to call upon of the power of purple to save me.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Voile Underlining Experiment, Dress #5

A basic black, but not really.  It has tiny gray Xs.

The short version:  It didn't work out quite the way I wanted it to.

The slightly longer version

The dress fabric is once again from Riley Blake.  The voile underlining was nice and light, and though it frayed and graced my black dress with what seemed like 1000 little white fuzzies, it was nice to work with.

This dress has some heft to it that the other versions are missing.  I feels higher quality.  It looks much nicer on the inside as well.

However it's not quite doing what I had hoped it would do.  I had hoped that the little bit of extra heft would weigh it down a bit, giving it just a tad more drape to counter balance the quilting cotton.  But no.  Not in this case anyway.  Now it just feels like slightly heftier quilting cotton.  So my dress went from "stiff" to "stiff with oomph!".  It's kinda funny really.

I'll still wear the dress, of course.  I'll report back on the wrinkle-ability (wrinkleyness...wrinkle-ocity...).  Maybe with cotton, I shouldn't even concern myself with wrinkles.  Cotton wrinkles, right?

What I'm very happy about

The zipper went in nicely.  Lined up and everything!

I'm getting better at set-in sleeves.  Not much, but better.  During a moment of frustration, I had considered making all future garments sleeveless.  But I talked myself out of that ~ I can't be a sleeve weenie.  I can do this.

Overall, underlining my first dress was a good experience.  I didn't mind cutting out the extra pieces, and I enjoyed the fact that I was working a little harder and a little longer not only to learn but to add quality to my project.

I now have 4 hand sewn dresses in my closet.  All dolled up and no place to go, essentially.  And since it's currently 12 degrees out, I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

I DO knit, I swear!

Ha.  I realize the last several posts have been solely about my adventures as a beginner seamstress.  Looking back, in fact, my very first craft involved sewing when I decided I wanted to learn how to quilt many years ago.

But as my blog title states, this Boston mama knits more than anything.  You can tell how I feel about yarn too based on my photos ~ the fiber is always in dreamy, ethereal light.  The yarn in the above photo in particular has been my absolute favorite for a few years now ~ Capra DK from Knit Picks.  It's a wool/cashmere blend that is incredibly soft and yields a very comfortable fabric when worked up.

The photo is also featuring the same pattern in 3 different colors.  I first knit up the French Cancan shawl by Mademoiselle C a few years ago in the Cream colorway.  I wanted a cuddly winter white shawl to wrap around my neck and shoulders during the cold months.

I loved that shawl so much, I knit up one in pink and made matching mittens.

Why do I need a third one?  For two reasons:

1) I wear these shawls ALL the time.  Love them.  Will usually reach for them over all of my other knits.  That's a good sign that the project was an all around success!

2)  This yarn was the last yarn Snoopy sat on and wrapped himself up in before he passed away.  I always loved that he thought my yarn was his yarn.  It was.    And I never minded finding dog hair in my knits.  In fact I encouraged it, and seeing little random bits of fur from him in this project makes me so happy.

The pattern calls for the body to be knit in squishy garter stitch.  I did stockinette for the first two, but for this one I am following the pattern as is.  Working on the body is repetitive, meditative, and therapeutic.

The applied border is always engaging, and I swear this is where I will slow down...not because lace and cables are more complex...but because I often stop, pull back, and admire my work.  :o)  If I cut that out, I'd be done in half the time!

I highly recommend this pattern if you're interested in trying lace and cables.  Working an applied border is not hard, and because it's a much smaller amount of stitches, it makes working this short lace and cable pattern very manageable (as opposed to lace and cables across hundreds of stitches).

Oh, and if you haven't tried Capra DK yet, this might be a good time.  Seriously.  You'll thank me.