Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Annoying Sweater: The Photo Shoot

Folks, I think it's official: I just don't love this sweater.

Sleepy suburban intersection - Main St and Greenvillage Rd
Don't get me wrong. It's ok. I just don't think it's the most flattering style on me.  I generally avoid sewing styles that are boxy or unfitted. Somehow, I didn't realize that's what I was knitting. Or rather, I thought that the boxiness mixed with the cute cropped length would balance my top and bottom without obscuring my waist.

But I think that the shape of the top, combined with the short sleeves that end at mid-bust height, just broaden me across the bust/shoulders/arms. 

And it makes my bust seem, um, larger than in real life, I think, but not in a way that I like.

Yeah, this museum is right in the 'burb I live in.
Now, it may grow on me over time. I don't know.  These photos don't look awful (some of the not-used ones did look awful) and some look cute. But I'm still only so-so about it.

Anyway, I'm home for the next 10 days (hooray!) and there was actually some sewing this weekend (double hooray!) So, I hope to wrap up my McQueen jacket and maybe even sew something seasonally appropriate before I head to London for work and then the NYLON meet up! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Finished: One Annoying Sweater (Preview)

Work travel craziness continues here at casa Clio. Sewing is at an all time low, but I seem to be knitting up a storm. Travel has that effect on my creative output.

I finally finished the sweater that I began knitting during my epic fail weekend back in December. I've come to call it my "annoying sweater" because it's taken so long and, well, there were multiple annoying things about it.


This is Kirsten Johnstone's Amime sweater, a "Wonderfully light, open weave knitted texture – perfect for popping over a tee, dress or blouse. Knit this generously sized top down with unique wide neck with raglan sleeves for minimal finishing." The pattern is easy enough, so I really wasn't expecting trouble. But trouble there was. Here is my list of petty grievances - not with the pattern but mostly with the yarn...

First, one of the two called-for yarns is Habu Textiles' Kibiso Silk. It feels like barbed wire when you knit it. I can't imagine how it would feel on. I promptly decided not to continue with this yarn.

Next, I replaced the offending yarn with a Shibui 60% silk/40% mohair blend yarn. I thought it would look nice, yet somehow I missed the apparently well circulated memo on mohair: it is near impossible to frog or unknit. I learned this the hard way. 

Another lesson I learned the hard way is that the other called-for yarn - Habu Textiles' silk with stainless steel core - has no stretch or give whatsoever. I knew this, but did not quite appreciate the implications. Even though my neckline rows were on gauge and had plenty of mechanical stretch, the cast on row was so inflexible that it wouldn't stretch to fit over my head. Thankfully, I learned this only 10-14 rows in. Awful frogging ensued.

Additionally, this sweater was knit on circular needles and I failed - again - to recognize the impact of the non-stretchy yarn. It knit just fine, but after snaking around the cable of the circular needle, it was impossible to get back onto the needle part to knit the next row. I solved this by knitting the stitches with the correct size needle, but using a smaller needle to knit the stitches off of. Thank goodness I own an interchangeable circular needle set. 

Penultimately, because of my cast on problems, I used the stretchiest bind off in my repertoire. It was still too inflexible. So, I had to unpick the bind off, get the stitches back onto the needle and bind off again, deliberately keeping things very loose. This is an awful job.

Finally, now I think my bind off is too loose. 

Here's a better picture of what the stitches look like.

Aside from my knitting issues, I'm not sure I really blocked this sweater well and it's totally my fault. I set it to soak and walked away for 20 minutes which turned into several hours. I only remembered the soaking sweater at past-my-bedtime and hastily pinned it to my blocking mat. We'll have to see once I decide to wear it.

Have you ever had a project that was incredibly annoying and yet somehow you got thru it?  Did you end up liking it in the end or was it forever a black sheep?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Finished: Sew Sexy Sew Along Lace Dress!

What a gorgeous weekend in the northeast!  Even Phin didn't mind a bit of time outdoors to photograph my Sew Sexy Lace Dress. He suffers more in the Pollen Vortex than the Polar Vortex.


I'm very aware that I only know three poses and all of them involve my hand on my hip.
So, because this is a special photo shoot we tried some new things. Um, er... I tried to be a little more super model sexy. But all I ended up with was "duck face"...

"Duck face"

Anyway, on to the dress! So, this is my submission for the Sew Sexy Sew Along 2014. One of the things I wanted to do was take a non-sexy pattern that isn't revealing, and make it into something I think is sexy.

Front: Pidgeon toed "sexy model" pose.

I frankenpatterned together V8670, a Very Easy Vogue raglan tee pattern (made here and here) for the top half and the slip pattern from V1314, a Tracy Reese dress that I made last spring for the bottom.  This made fitting very easy.

I sewed this up primarily from a Vince Camuto stretch lace (Paron), lined with stretch lining from  Emma One Sock, and accented with illusion mesh.  I'm really happy with the first two. Both sewed up beautifully and easily. The stretch lining, as promised, did not fray or run, is completely opaque but very light, and it isn't clingy.

I'm a bit less happy with the illusion mesh. It tends to bunch and gather in a way that the mesh I used for my BCBG knock off top didn't. It looks less smooth and is not as soft on the skin. However, it did sew up pretty easily.  

On a hanger you can see my constuction techniques.  After basting, all the seams were serged. I then top stitched the serged seam allowances to the inside or down with a twin needle, which is also how I finished the hems.  I used my serger to do a rolled hem on the sleeves.

So, did I succeed? Phin seemed to think yes, and I definitely feel sexy in this dress. So, according to my own definition of sexy, yes! 

And just because I feel great in this dress, here are a few more shots, just for fun...

Hands not on hips

Whether you are participating in the sew along or not, I hope there is some sewing in your future that makes you feel beautiful and confident in your own skin.  


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sew Sexy: Just a Few Days Left

So, with the Sew Sexy Sew Along coming to a close on Monday, April 14, I thought it was worth giving a little update.

A few projects cropped up on line this week. First, one of my co-hosts, Wanett of Sown Brooklyn, has posted her final project. Isn't she divine in houndstooth?

Sew Sexy Sown Brooklyn 

I love that houndstooth isn't normally a fabric that one would consider sexy, but that her fitted skirt and cropped top are so fun and playful. Hot!

And here is Suzanne's sexy top:

Deets at Beau Baby

Suzanne actually wrote the original post in 2013 that inspired the sew along.  I love her polkadot and sheer fun!

Lee of the Slow Steady got in on the action with some fundies!

The Slow Steady
And Seamstress Erin made an awesome ceylon...


So, where do I stand.... Well, I had planned to wear my Sew Sexy Dress to the Craft Industry Happy Hour tonight. But alas, when I went to sew on the sleeves, I realized I had made a major blunder.  Illusion net looks the same on both sides and I mistakenly sewed (serged) together two right sleeves. And I didn't have enough fabric for a re-do. Doh!

So my dress is still not quite finished.

But - lucky me - I have all weekend to get this thing done! Like you do too!

If you are sewing something sexy, let us know when you are finished!  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sewgonomics? Sewing and Back Health

One of the things that has been on my mind over the last year is sewing and ergonomics. There seems to be no good way to mash that into one word, but if you do the first, you ought to think about the second. True?

I tend to sew in sessions rather than every day. But since my 2012 back injury, I get stiff and uncomfy after a few hours of sewing. In fact, after a few long sessions, I inexplicably would have a back ache at night that I tried to attribute to other things. Not sewing!!  But when I took a good hard look and thought about things, I realized that sewing was probably to blame.  My chair - originally part of a breakfast set - was probably the chief culprit. It predates the idea of "lumbar support".

I'm thinking about a Craft Lounge overhaul in the next year and don't want to invest large sums right now. But it is important to have a comfortable work station. So, I decided that it was time to try sitting on a physio ball instead of a chair. I'm pleased to report that my back is much happier.  Seriously, the change was immediate and marked.

Eventually I'll replace the desk, too.

I realize this is not for everyone. It takes practice to sit on a ball; I already use one for core training and so am very comfy with it. The gist is that the ball encourages you to sit straight, supported by your core muscles. But maintaining proper posture while sitting - whether in a chair that does have some lumbar support or on a ball - is the most important factor for back comfort and health.  For "beginners" 20 minutes at a stretch on the ball is what I've seen recommended, and standing at least every 40 min is suggested no matter what it is you sit on. This is pretty ideal for sewing; even if I do things in a very efficient order, frequent switching between sitting at the sewing machine and standing at the ironing board is the norm.

Sitting tall instead of slumping

An unintended consequence is that a physioball is fun. You can bounce when you get excited or a good song comes on the radio. And you can stop and do some stretches, like a supported bridge. 

Anyway, eventually, I'm going to buy sewing specific furniture so that I have a dedicated cutting area (not the dining room table), a better table for sewing and an ergonomic chair.  I'm actually thinking more and more about a sit-stand work station. But in the interim, whether I use it all the time or alternate between a ball and chair, my back is thanking me.

What about you? Are you aware of ergonomics in your sewing space? What are some of your solutions?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Finished: Hypocrisy Socks

Thanks so much for all the great comments on my last post. It's always a little scary to write personal posts; it's harder to hit "publish" for some posts than others. Anyway, on to today's fun reveal. 

I think I've made it pretty clear over time that I'm not into things that are matchy or cutesy. Mother-daughter styles kinda creep me out.  So it is with a deep sense of hypocrisy that I present my latest socks...

... which match Sriracha, my new knit dragon. I love them! Dragon and socks.

In my defense, I picked out the Toshsock for this project before Phin picked out the very same yarn for Sriracha.  In the end, it made sense to buy 2 skeins since I'll be able to squeeze out a pair of socks from the remaining yarn.

Following my new sock philosophy of "more socks, more quickly," I wanted to make simple, but not plain, socks.  So I used Cookie A's Monkey pattern, which fit the bill and has been popular since it's release. I finished these in about three weeks of commuting to and from the office.

The pattern is written for top-down knitting, but was a cinch to flip and knit toe-up.  This allowed me to used the cast on, toe and heel that I like best (details here), and the Monkey lace pattern for the sock body.  

Overall, these were a quick and easy knit and make an attractive sock. Thanks to Carol S for suggesting the pattern. And Toshsock is very nice to wear. I think these will be sturdy and cosy for a long time.

Are you knitting anything?