A new cape!

I have had a bit of an obsession over finding the perfect cape recently…well, over the last year since I posted this about the Camden cape by Seamwork.  The cape has NEVER been worn- other than to take the shots for the blog.  So sad.  I recently bought pounds and pounds of Pendleton wool (score!) off of a friend and it inspired me to give the Camden another shot.  I cut the pattern down to a smaller size and tried to fix what bothered me about the first one I made.  I succeeded somewhat and came out of it with a wearable version in Navy wool and lined with a fabulous silky floral print fabric (sorry, no pics).  Unfortunately I am still uncomfortable wearing it out much because it is difficult to move around in- how do you wear a cape like this in real life without feeling like a Dinosaur with tiny immobile arms?  How do you carry a purse or work bag with your arms peaking out of the tiny arm slits? How, how how?

Anyways, I thought I could make it work but here’s how fate intervened…Yesterday was my 40th birthday.  Wow, how am I that old?  To celebrate my birthday I took the day off work and did some of my favorite things- including thrift shopping- when I came across this beautiful pile of size-appropriate patterns.

It was an amazing find to say the least!  I am so excited to start sewing some of these dresses and tops without having to print, tape and cut out the patterns like I have been doing recently with the PDF patterns I have been sticking to – I am looking at you Seamwork!

This pile included 2 cape patterns!  But this pattern immediately jumped out at me as an alternative to the Camden pattern:

Since I had the day off I got right home and got to work.  I paired Simplicity 1775 (View A) with a beautiful deep red wool and a blue/white stripe fabric for the lining.   I whipped this baby up in just a few hours and was ready to wear it out for dinner last night to celebrate!  I believe this pattern is out of print, and is also referred to as Simplicity 0311.  If you can get your hands on it I’d fully recommend it!

Although I complained originally about using a bad fabric for the lining in my original Camden I didn’t listen to my own advice this time and used the only fabric I had enough yardage of to get this thing done.  It is actually a vintage sheet!  Don’t tell anyone.  shh.  I think it looks pretty cute peeking out from underneath though I might change it out once I get some appropriate lining fabric in my stash.  Or, I have enough wool to make another one….I am in love with this pattern.

I love the belt that cinches at the waist and the fact that I can move my arms.  What a novel idea- having full mobility in a garment!  I wore this to work this morning and was able to sling my bag over my shoulder and get in and out of the car seatbelt with ease.  Very important things I can tell you.  I used the XL size according to the pattern other than I omitted the button at the neckline.  I might sew in a snap eventually to keep a clean look at the top, but for now it is working out fine without any closure other than the belt.  This was my first time sewing carriers for a belt and using my machine to make the enlarged button holes for the belt to slide through and it took some practice but I got it and now know how to do a button hole without my button foot- woo hoo.  Not only do I like the fit and function of this much better than the Camden it also took significantly less time to sew it up given the fewer pattern pieces and simple construction.  I really can’t imagine sewing the Camden up in 3 hours as the pattern indicates, whereas this one can certainly be done in that amount of time- which is a big win in my book!

So, there you have it- a cheery red cape/poncho and my first blog post in many many months.  I’ve been pretty busy around here with work/running/life but hope to devote more time to sewing/blogging.

 

PS-Ok, so here is where I explain where I’ve been…as though someone reading this might care or wonder- ha ha.  The summer and beginning of the Fall semester is always crazy…add to that I was sick for a bit, had a death in the family AND I ran a Half-Marathon a few weeks ago!  Woo hoo.  13.1 miles in the books.

I did it and am so stinkin’ proud of myself.  Yay.  It took alot of training and time and often kept me from doing other things because I feel like time is something I don’t have enough of because having kids and working and everything is so hard.  wa wa.  BUT, I did it and can now relax a bit and pursue some of my other hobbies for a bit…until I train for another one next Spring!

 

 

 

Romper: Love or Hate?

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Hmmm.  As you can tell by my last few blog posts I am in LOVE with Seamwork magazine and their digital patterns.  I love getting the email each month and checking out their new patterns (2 each month for only $6).  As soon as I saw last months Layton Romper I knew I had to make one.  Rompers are all over the place now and although I had no idea if this style would actually be wearable on me I had to try it out.  The ease of a dress and the comfort of shorts=win.  Well, in theory at least!  I can’t tell if I absolutely love this on me or totally hate it.  I really can’t decide.  Part of me is proud of the confidence I feel when I have it on, the other part feels embarassed to leave the house.  This is a problem.

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There were numerous problems in the execution of this pattern as well.  I made up an XL as per my usual sizing in Seamwork patterns but lengthened the shorts by 2 inches for fear of them being too short.  I also eliminated the slits in front.  Problem is it came out HUGE.  HUGE.  As in I had to make several alterations- cutting open the shoulder seams and shortening the straps by 2 inches or so, and hacking into the side seams to narrow the bodice and the shorts by a few inches as well.  Unfortunately this wasn’t the only problem..the torso is too short on me as well.  The top is really meant to blouse over and it doesn’t.  The rise on the shorts is too long, and the torso is too short in my opinion.  ugh.  Is it wearable though- sure.  Hopefully.  Here are a few shots of the side and back for blog purposes only- I don’t think I will ever show this view to the public- not without a cardigan to cover it up!

Once I realized this wasn’t working I immediately hacked up the pattern and cut the size Large and sewed up a version in a printed fabric.  I lengthened the bodice piece by a few inches, and kept the shorts as is.  It is not going to be photographed- not a good look!  I am not sure if it is the slimmer size, or the print of the fabric but I feel like a am wearing pajamas…and not in a good way.  I am determined to make this pattern work and will lenghten the bodice a few more inches (again) and try it in a solid again and see how it works!  For now I will wear this with a cardigan and wedges and “think” I look stylish.  Maybe.

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*Kudos to my 6 year old for snapping these pics on my cell phone after school today- not too bad!

More of the same…Seamwork Akita and Hayden

Well, it is pretty sad that it has been so long since my last post!  Crazy that I had no idea it had been so long…where does the time go?  And, here I am once again starting a post talking about how long it has been.  I am really like a broken record.  AND, here I am posting about two Seamwork patterns.  AGAIN.  Wow, Boring.  But not really!  I am going to cut myself some slack here and realize that working full time and having kids and hobbies and activities and running and you know- LIFE doesn’t always support my desire to keep this blog going.  It just doesn’t.  Here I am though making another lame attempt at blogging.  Forgive me.  If anyone actually reads this at this point!

Ok, here I go.  Seamwork.  Super simple patterns designed to be sewn in just a few hours. Easy.  Just what you need when the mood strikes and you want to whip something up.  Which is how I roll these days.  I don’t have time or energy to devote to multiple sittings at my machine to make a garment, and I love instant gratification.  Who doesn’t right?  I am hoping when this semester ends and I am done working next month I will have more time and a longer attention span to try out more complicated and sophisticated patterns but for now I am content sewing quick and easy things for everyday wear.

The first top here is the Seamwork Akita.  Super simple pattern- its only one piece!  No shoulder seams, same front and back and super versatile.  I have made a few of these babies up already and love this one the most.  I recently came back from a trip to Puerto Rico and sewed this up special for the trip…I just love the floral lace of the cotton fabric and feel like it made a really simple silhouette look more special. On our last day of the trip we did a street grafitti tour- so cool.

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I love it equally with jeans or shorts and the fit is spot on in a size 16.  Love it.

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The next pattern I used was the Seamwork Hayden top, a woven tee pattern available in a cropped and full top version.  I made the full top version in a size 18 and realized it was HUGE on me and had to cut it down and make it work.  The top features a separate hem band cut on the bias which also allows you to add in pretty trim as I did with this lace I had on hand.  I used a Gertie swiss-dot rose fabric I had from Joann’s and although my husband noted it looks like an old tablecloth to him I love it.  I think I will wear it a ton this summer with shorts and sandals.  Cute.  The keyhole neckline in back adds a special touch and I know for sure I will be making a few more of these in solids and playing up the princess seams in front with some possible color blocking.  So versatile.  I will try to use the size 16 next time and see if that works a bit better in terms of sizing.  I cut/taped/sewed this top up in just  a few hours in preparation for an evening out with friends last night to visit the local university to hear Sarah Koenig speak about Serial.  Are you obsessed with that podcast as much as I am?  So great hearing her speak on the process and the background of the show.

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Now that the weather is finally warming up around here, and there is light at the end of the tunnel with work ending soon I hope to sew more for myself and keep this blog alive!

Seamwork’s Astoria top

I have completely fallen for Seamwork magazine…I love the articles and the wonderful patterns that focus on simple and easy to sew projects in a short amount of time.  Right up my alley.  This is actually the first pattern I went to tackle: the Astoria top.  I really, really want to like this one.  A retro cropped and fitted top reminiscent of the 50’s is super cute, but hard to wear with any of the items of clothing I currently own.  Did this stop me from making one?  No, instead I made two!  I mentioned this top a few posts ago and that I’d post about it when/if I found an acceptable bottom to pair it with and this is the best I could come up with.  Eventually I’d love to try my hand at a half-circle skirt or some sort of midi a-line paired with boots, but for now this flared black skirt is the best I’ve got.  IMG_5227

Frustrated by the process of posing for these pictures I decided I was just going to be real and post these even though they are pretty ridiculous.  It is hard to pose outside when the girls are continually running in and out of the shot and mocking my “elf shoes” and telling me to make kissy faces.  Those kids.  So, do these look professionally done- no.  Were they taken by my reluctant husband who I forced outside to take them while the girls played in the driveway and my neighbors doing yardwork were probably wondering what the hell we were doing?  Yes.  Whatever works right?

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This turned out to be a super fast and easy sew.  It took less than an hour from start to finish, and the size was spot on except for the arms.  Anyone else have this issue?  The top itself is fitted, but the arms are really loose on me.  IF I make another I will have to take them in for sure- I don’t think the fit works.  I wonder if the top is so fitted because of my large chest and lack of darts obviously.  Maybe I should try sizing down in the sleeve?  I used a nice knit from Joann’s that I picked up on sale a few weeks ago and it is so soft and easy to work with.  I am not normally one to wear animal print but I think this is subtle enough for me to pull off.  Hmm…up close this certainly doesn’t look subtle!  It will take awhile for me to gain the confidence to wear a top this short and fitted, but maybe one day I will pair it with the right bottom and some heels and rock it.  Maybe.

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Seamwork’s Camden Cape

IMG_5196I knew as soon as I saw the new issue of Seamwork Magazine I was going to make the Camden cape.  Not that a cape is particularly useful in my life, or that I thought it would be particularly flattering on me, but I just had to have it!  All logic aside; there is something charming and elegant about a wool cape isn’t there?  I thought maybe I could actually pull it off if I paired it with slim pants and cute boots to modernize the silhouette.   I immediately printed it out and spent the countless hours taping the pages together and getting my pattern pieces cut out.  There are so many pieces to this thing!  My honest opinion?  This is really not a 3 hour pattern.  I swear I think at least 1 hour was spent cutting out my fabric.   I may be slow, but I feel like 3 hours is impossible.  I was determined though! I had the perfect fabric already- a few yards of a deep purple wool I had picked up for less than $2 at the thrift store months back.  Score!  I lined it with another thrifted fabric- a bright berry colored cotton.  I used 5 vintage brass buttons I had in my stash…overall cost to this is around $5.  Wow.  IF I were to make this again the first thing I would change however is this lining fabric- it really needs something something like a satin or other fabric that won’t “stick” to whatever I am wearing underneath it.  I think a different lining fabric would help it drape better as well.  IMG_5179IMG_5172IMG_5203

Now, lets get to the fit.  This thing is ridiculously enormous.  I made a size 18, and I feel as though I could take off both of the side panels and it would still be roomy enough.  I almost wondered if I cut extra pieces and made a huge mistake?  Hmmm. I don’t think so, so I just think I need to size down or hack this thing up and make it smaller.  Also, please ignore that wonky last button…I think it is just the photos, or I might have sewn it on a bit high.  UGH.  I may also need to iron this thing.  I really want to make it work and may try to make it smaller, or even add another row of buttons so that I can cross it over even further and have two rows of buttons like peacoat style? Enough of my negativity…l really want to get this to fit right so that it isn’t time wasted.  And of course I now feel like my wardrobe really needs a cape!   I can’t wait to see other versions of this out there- since the pattern has just been published I was going into this blind.  Thoughts?  Is it salvageable?   IMG_5186

Knitting my heart out…

I’ve been in a real funk lately.  Feeling anxious, stressed out and generally overwhelmed.  Not exactly sure why, but this feeling of constant anxiety has made me want to just curl up in bed under the covers and hibernate…not that I have had the chance to do this AT ALL, but the feeling is there.  I guess the busy fall semester at work coupled with running (and my mentoring) and all of the “duty” that comes along with being a Mom to two busy girls is catching up to me.  Fall is always an especially busy time but this year it feels much worse.  Perhaps I have overcommitted myself  and the girls?  Probably.  Definitely.  Oh well, live and learn I guess.  In the meantime I have been coping by trying to incorporate stress relief crafty activities into my life to try to ease my anxiety and nervous energy.  There really is something to say about the meditative qualities that knitting possesses!  The repetitive motion is very soothing.  A much healthier alternative for me that trying to turn to medication or having a drink for sure.  So, when the stress reliever of running isn’t quite cutting it I have been knitting.  The benefit is obvious….

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I used the Pickles pattern here.  I have been dying to try this pattern out for a few years but was intimidated by the colorwork- I had never even attempted to do any sort of stranded or fair isle or intarsia or whatever you want to call it before and it freaked me out a bit to be honest.  Although I read the comments on ravelry that many people had issues with the sizing I made it up according to the pattern (but only did 4 rows of hearts to decrease the amount of slouch) and hoped for the best.  Unfortunately even though it is an adult size it barely fits my 6 year old.  I had intended it to be for one of my girls anyway, but the tight fit means she may or may not wear it- ugh.  I am going to try to soak it and block the hell out of it soon.  The yarn is a fabulous deep purple madeline tosh I have been hoarding for a few years, and the hearts are made from a few different sources- a hand dyed self striping yarn by 716knit, and a random light pink superwash dk yarn I had laying around.  The self striping yarn is the bright pink and yellow, but I chose to use each color separately so I had to get a bit creative and couldn’t just knit right from the skein or the hearts would not be a solid color.  This just meant more ends to weave in…but it was worth it since I love the bright yellow pop of color!IMG_20151101_082123

In the meantime I have already started a second one and increased the number of stitches by 10 to try to enlarge it enough for my older daughter.  I will also have to be even more cautious of how tightly I am carrying the strands across inside- I am pretty sure that was the main issue here.  Other than this it was a very satisfying knit and I am damn proud of myself!  I am even tempted to make one for myself; but with a worsted weight wool to ensure a better fit for me with the current pattern.  Black with white hearts would look great don’t you think?

Lola, lola…love

I have been in a bit of a sewing slump lately.  So busy with work and the girls school and activities and my running that I have pushed it to the back burner…until now!   I used my lunch hour at work last week to run to Joann’s to buy specific fabric to force myself to finally MAKE SOMETHING.  I knew once I had the fabric and was in my space I would feel great and get my sewing mojo back.  And I did!

I recently subscribed to Seamwork magazine and have fallen in love with several of the patterns and was determined to make an Astoria top and Oslo sweater so I picked up 2 yards of a few different substantial knits from Joanns and got to work.  I have been incredibly frustrated with my serger not working, or seeming to work and then going to hell after 20 seconds.  ARGH.  I finally spent some time in my sewing studio and sat down and worked on my serger.  Sewing knits on my sewing machine is a total pain for me…that little lightning stitch takes forever compared to the serger so I knew I had to figure what the hell was going on to avoid totally getting aggravated.  Turns out it was my needle…or my mistake of buying the wrong needle.  Once I changed it to the correct one I was all set to serge away! I am so happy it was something simple and I didn’t need to take it in for repair, but I am annoyed with myself for letting it sit for so long before I figured it out!

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I sewed up a quick animal print ( so unlike me!) Astoria, and was about to make another with my new fave fabric- this amazing almost woven backed windowpane knit when I switched it up and realized I don’t really need more than one cropped sweater at this point and realized I had enough of the fabric to make my ultimate fall/winter favorite- the Lola by Victory Patterns.  I am so happy with the pattern switch- and I was able to whip this baby up with a bit less than 2 yards of fabric. I love love the comfortable style, the ridiculously deep pockets and the princess seams that give it some body skimming structure.

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It took much longer than the Seamwork patterns, and even though I had made it a few times before it still stumped me when trying to put it together.  It is a simple sew if you actually follow directions and pay attention to what piece lines up to what- but it is constructed of many more pattern pieces than most knit patterns so it takes some patience.  I am very excited that I was able to use the pattern with no adjustments this time.  In my past versions I had to increase the center panel by 1inch on the fold to add 2 inches to both the front center panel and back center panel since my measurements were above the included size…but this time I did not enlarge it and it works great.   I have lost almost 30lbs now and feel amazing.  Running has changed my life and I feel so much healthier and strong than I have in years.  Woo hoo.

I even had enough left to sew up a quick infinity scarf with the leftover fabric=easy future gift!  Once I figure out what to wear with the new cropped top I will blog it- but it is a different style for me and doesn’t work with my wardrobe of leggings and slim plants at this point.  I guess it is an excuse to sew some sort of skirt or get out of my comfort zone to become more comfortable wearing something that doesn’t cover my stomach and shows off my hips and waist.  Hmm.  We’ll see.  So for now here is the Lola.  Love.

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