Monday, April 20, 2015

Palette cleansers

After the failed experiment that was my 1950s maternity shorts, and the busy prints and fussy bits involved in the previous two projects, I decided it was time for something quick, easy, brainless and rewarding. I dove into the stash and pulled out this odd shade of silvery green linen that I'd been planning to use for a skirt. The drape is gorgeous, and I knew it would be perfect for a comfortable, breezy circle skirt. Now, this is clearly a post-baby project, so I have a few months before I'll be able to get myself into it, but it's exciting to know you have new clothes to wear in upcoming months/seasons as well, and it was nice to sew a real waistband, too.

I used to have a few full-circle skirts in my wardrobe, but over time because of weight fluctuations, aesthetic changes, and overall massive size of wardrobe, I ended up getting rid of all but one. The one I kept was originally a dress that my mom bought at a thrift store in 1973 or '74 and then I wore it until the bodice disintegrated and then made it into a skirt. Judging from the overall shape/style it's probably from around 1950, but the best part about it is the CRAZY print on the fabric. Organ grinders, fisherman, farmers and gypsies. Need I say more? But I digress. I love circle skirts. They're so comfortable and chic, and all that swishy fabric makes you feel kind of glamorous without a whole lot of effort. Since I cleared out my closet I've been wanting more of them, and when I found this yardage in the infamous "communal stash" I knew exactly what it wanted to be. While I wanted to get a jump on another project for the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge, this was going to be a much simpler endeavor, and it kinda sorta counts since it's essentially a 1950s skirt despite being self drafted. I cut the back in two separate panels because of yardage limitations, so there is a center back seam where I put the zipper; my first invisible zipper I might add. It was the only zipper in my stash that was the right color, and it meant I got to try out my new invisible zipper foot as well. Not the worst thing in the world I have to say.

Best of all.....POCKETS! I debated for a while about whether I wanted to do in-seam pockets or oversized patch pockets, but after a little feedback from the ladies at We Sew Retro and considering what I actually wanted out of this project as a sewing experience, I opted for the less mentally taxing task of in-seam pockets. The patch pockets were going to require much more planning and thought than my poor little brain wanted to tackle at this juncture, plus you really can't go wrong with simple, clean lines.

I let the skirt hang for about four days before leveling it, hemming it to about 27 inches in length. This is going to be a real test, since I couldn't try it on myself to check the length and make sure I had everything level visually, but I'm hoping I got it pretty close. I hemmed it about half an inch longer in the back to account for body curvature that Tabitha doesn't have, tapering it out to the side seams.
Since the fabric is so lightweight, and because I wanted to prevent further stretching on the bias, I opted for a fairly narrow hem. I was going to use a bias band or hem tape to finish it, but I didn't have enough of anything to go around all 6 or so yards of hem on this puppy, so I just turned it under. It made things a tad more fiddly as far as getting it to lay smoothly, but since it's linen everything pressed pretty nicely once I had it all stitched.

I've actually gotten started (FINALLY) on my next winter coat project, a self education in couture tailoring techniques, but so far I've just got the outer fabric cut. I also still have a couple of dresses planned for the Vintage Pattern Pledge, but am approaching a VERY busy couple of months around here (and not just a new baby, but more on that later), so I'm not sure when I'll be able to get around to those. I'm planning on doing some more detailed process posts while I work my way through this winter coat, not only so you can see a little more of how I work, but also so those of you unfamiliar with the hand tailoring process can learn a little along with me. I'm hoping to be back in a couple of weeks with more on that.

Have a good week!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Project progress: Hazy mohair

I've got some progress on another knitting project to share with you all today. It's a total departure from the sock knitting I've been doing for the last few months, and it feels nice to get back to what I'm more accustomed to working on....a sweater! I'm making myself a cardigan for next fall/winter so I've got something warm (and new) to wear that is still nursing friendly, unlike the last sweater I made for myself. I love it, but a cardigan is definitely going to be more user friendly for the next year. 

The yarn I'm using is a GORGEOUS, un-dyed mohair yarn that I got at our new LYS, A Yarn Crossing. It's so nice to have a great LYS around again. We haven't had one within a reasonable distance for years and I'm seriously loving this one. One of the things I really love about them is that they have a consignment section for local farmers, spinners, dyers, etc to sell their wares. This yarn is from one of their consignors, H & K Farms. I went in for one thing and then walked around for ages trying to make up my mind once I saw this. I couldn't stop touching it, but the color was not one that I generally wear or that is particularly flattering, so I just couldn't decide. One of the owners finally helped convince me to buy it, though (although it was actually something he wanted for a project himself). It's been working up beautifully, and it feels like silk. 

I wanted to make a simple, classic cardigan, and the pattern I finally decided on using is one from Kim Hargreaves' North which was released this past season. The pattern is called Honesty, and I fell in love with it (and numerous other patterns from the book) as soon as I saw it. 

The simple stockinette body, the subtle shaping, the deep v-neck and the long sleeves were absolutely perfect, and it's actually designed for a mohair yarn. I did decide that I wanted to crop it to waist length, though. While I do love everything about the design as is, I do tend to prefer waist-length sweaters as they work better with the proportions I go for in my wardrobe (my winter wardrobe in particular). Because of the simple stitch pattern it was really easy to shorten, and it's been knitting up pretty quickly. I've gotten the back and a fair amount of the left front finished at this point, although I've only gotten pictures of the back. 

cropped Honesty cardigan back

The color of this yarn is so difficult to capture. It's a really beautiful golden brown color with an incredible sheen to it. This goat has some seriously stunning hair, and it feels like buttah.

Back detail mohair cardigan

Waist ribbing mohair cardigan

The original pattern calls for pressing each piece in it's entirety (ribbing included) since it's a hip length sweater, but since I want a more '50s silhouette I think I'm probably going to leave the ribbing alone and just press the rest of the body and sleeves. I've started thinking about what sort of buttons I want to use for the finished sweater, and while I'm a huge fan mother of pearl/shell buttons on just about everything. They tend to have fairly sharp edges, though, and I don't want anything too abrasive against this yarn. I've been toying with the idea of a brushed gold, or maybe a brass button. I'll have to take a look at a few options against it before I can make any sort of decision. 

I've also been gearing up to start work on some post-baby sewing in the near future. I've got a couple of fabric/pattern options to decide between, and I'm leaning towards another version of my favorite 1940s challis dress in an orange on white floral print.....or I may make a new skirt. We'll see. Hope everyone has had a good week!
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