Summer of ’69

Posted on | July 7, 2014 | No Comments

 

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After a fairly tolerable June, Summer arrived in grand fashion last week in NYC with temperatures in the 90′s. For such occasions, the most I can imagine wearing is a comfortable dress. It’s easy to throw on and as I wait for the subway in unbearable conditions with sweat rolling down my face, at least I look cute doing it.

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The pattern is Simplicity 1878 – the Lisette Diplomat Dress. I wanted a few shift dresses for the summer that had a nice shape with some interesting details and this one caught my eye. I liked that it had a few more details than a simple 60′s shift, but still had nice clean lines.

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I found this tie-dye cotton poplin at Mood and fell in love. The fabric is perfect for this dress and has just a little bit of stretch. I’ve worn it twice already and it certainly passed the comfort test. It’s first outing was to a concert and Sean Lennon’s band was the opening act. Quite fitting for the debut of my 60′s inspired dress, no?

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The pattern went together pretty easily, but I did need to make a few minor adjustments. According to the pattern envelope, I’m a size 12, but I don’t like how much ease is built into the big 4 patterns so I cut a straight size 10. I’m petite, so my biggest problem was the waistline and bust point didn’t hit anywhere near where they are supposed to. I took about 1/2″ length out of the top yoke section and another inch or so between the waist and yoke seam. I thought there was a problem with the sleeve cap at first, but it turned out to be poor sewing on my part. Sometimes I’m a little too eager sewing the sleeves into my muslin!

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Overall, I love this dress! It’s comfortable, fits well, and works well for warm summer days. Typically, I don’t remake patterns, but I have the feeling this one will make it into a second or even third version. Maybe something in linen or solid black?

 

Knitscene Accessories 2014: Pellissier Cowl

Posted on | June 3, 2014 | 2 Comments

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While I hope you’ve found all of my sewing projects interesting these last few months, I finally have some knitting to share! I’d like to introduce the Pellissier Cowl, which is a double-knit cowl inspired by the Art Deco building where I work.

The first time I stepped into my building a little over two years ago, I fell in love with the Art Deco details in the lobby. The radiator covers especially caught my eye.

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Aren’t they beautiful? I wish we still cared this much about good design everywhere just for the sake of it. Every morning I would stare at them knowing that one day they would become a knitting pattern of some sort. When I saw the mood boards for this issue of Knitscene Accessories, I knew it was finally time to dream up something interesting.

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I chose a cowl for two reasons. It offered just enough space to showcase the pattern and it was a small enough project to learn a new technique – double knitting. Since the pattern has a few stripe sections, a regular stranded knitting technique would not work in this situation.

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As with learning any new technique, I was a bit frustrated at first. As I got the hang of double-knitting, which didn’t take too long, the cowl became a lot more enjoyable to knit. If you have never tried double-knitting for yourself, Amy Palmer wrote up a fantastic companion article to show you the ropes.

The cowl is knit up in Lorna’s Laces Honor, an alpaca/silk blend. It was a pleasure to work with and most importantly has a nice drapey hand. Because of the double-knitting, you are essentially knitting two layers at once. In wool or cotton, your cowl will run the risk of being as straight as a board! The colors dye up nice and rich in this yarn base and the two chosen really show off the design well. It’s also nice that since you are working in double knit, the cowl is reversible and you can show off whichever side you’d like. Silvery and light or dark and mysterious. If substituting colors, I would just suggest going with another solid or semi-solid. A variegated yarn might get a little busy in this instance.

Knitscene Accessories 2014 should be hitting your LYS now, or is available as a hardcopy or digital download from Knitting Daily.

 

 

Reflections on Me Made May 2014

Posted on | June 2, 2014 | No Comments

With my first Me Made May completed, I wanted to write up a little recap of my thoughts for the month and how the challenge worked out for me. Even though I didn’t post too many pictures on my Instagram feed, I can tell you that I faithfully met my proposed challenge of wearing three me made pieces every week. On some weeks, I even surpassed that number. Some days I even wore a completely me made outfit. Since this was my first year, I kept the challenge fairly flexible because the last thing I need is one more stressful thing in my life.

Makes for May

This month I also completed three pieces of clothing. Macaron, a pleated skirt, and my first knit t-shirt made the month of May my most productive sewing month yet! My new skirt saw the most wear, appearing every week since it was completed.

What I Learned

It really is easier than I thought to include garments I have made into my normal rotation if I stop to think about it for a minute. I am a creature of habit and it’s so easy to reach for my favorite pair of jeans, a t-shirt and sweater and be done with it. This month took me a little outside my comfort zone and forced me to be a little more creative with my choices. Since I pledged not to purchase any new clothes this year, this month has taught me that even though I don’t have many pieces that I have sewn, I managed to come up with a good selection of outfits. Just goes to show how you can do a lot with just a little.

What About The Knits?

My sweaters actually formed a core part of my outfits for the month. While my sewn selection is fairly small, my collection of sweaters is not. It was nice that the weather cooperated for the most part permitting me to enjoy the cooler weather and allow me to layer my knitwear. I also wore many of my book projects for the first time, which was quite exciting. The two sweaters that got the most love were my Magnolia Cafe Cardigan from Metropolitan Knits and the Solstice Cardigan by Cecily Glowik MacDonald (unblogged). One cardigan is oatmeal and the other is grey which made it very easy to pair them with everything!

What to Focus on Going Forward

Participating in this project did help me to realize where there are gaps in my handmade wardrobe or what I should definitely make more of. Dresses are a given because they are so easy to wear, but I was surprised how skirts are starting to replace my jeans on a daily basis. I would also like to knit a few more neutral colored cardigans. While I love to mix up my color palette when knitting, what it really comes down to is how often I’m able to wear my knits with other things. I’ve always been obsessed with heather grey, so now is my chance to knit all the grey I could possibly ever want without feeling guilty or boring. Finally, I could also use some more knit shirts and a nice spring coat.

If you participated in Me Made May, I’d love to hear how it went for you. If not, do you think you might entertain the idea of participating next year? I’d love to see more knitwear in my Instagram feed!

Weekend Reading

Posted on | May 30, 2014 | No Comments

Here we are again at another installment of weekend reading. I hope you are finding some of the articles and links I’ve posted over the last few weeks interesting or generally amusing. While I skipped last Friday due to the holiday, I’d like to keep up on this and make it a weekly thing. With that said, if you see anything interesting that you think others might like as well, especially knitting news, always feel free to send it my way: melissaATneoknitsDOTcom. Have a good weekend!

 

Book Review: Green Gables Knits – Patterns for Kindred Spirits

Posted on | May 29, 2014 | No Comments

Screen shot 2014-05-25 at 8.44.20 PMI have to admit, I never read the Anne of Green Gables series as a child. The only exposure I had to these books was a movie version that my classmates and I would watch in parts during the winter in 6th grade when we couldn’t go outside for recess. I liked the movie, so why I never picked up the books, I’m not sure. Maybe it was the Nancy Drew kick I was on at the time.

When I heard Joanna Johnson was publishing a new knitting book inspired by Anne of Green Gables, I was curious what it was all about. I have enjoyed all of her illustrated children’s books complete with knitting and sewing patterns and was interested to see her take on a different subject matter.

My first impression was I was thoroughly impressed by the photography. The old school house setting was perfect, the models reflect the characters from the book, the styling is spot on, and the photos are gorgeous. You could see Joanna’s passion for literature and her love for these books come alive by her attention to detail, research, and careful design choices. The layout of the pattern book is also simple, clean and well thought out.

However, this is a knitting book after all. What about the projects?

The book includes eight projects inspired by the characters in the Anne of Green Gables series. My favorite is Anne’s sweater, a seamless open front cardigan with pockets. A very practical garment indeed. There are also patterns for a few accessories and a mans vest, all well designed and suited to the character it was inspired by.

Finally, as a history buff, I was impressed by the inclusion of several photographs from the L. M. Montgomery Collection at the University of Guelph Library, including a portrait of the author at the age of 14. A photograph and quote accompanies each pattern and shows the writers inspiration behind a few places in the series.

Whether you are a fan of Anne or not, this collection of patterns certainly deserves so much more than a mere passing glance. The book is available in both paperback and as a PDF. The paperback (signed!) can be found here. To purchase the PDF, head over to its Ravelry page here.

Full disclosure: A PDF review copy of Green Gables Knits was provided, however all opinions are my own.

Summer Concert Tee

Posted on | May 27, 2014 | 1 Comment

This past weekend officially kicked off the beginning of summer and how fitting that I managed to sew up my first summer tee!

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The pattern is the Summer Concert Tee by Dixie DIY, which I picked up in the Perfect Pattern Parcel #1 (perfect pattern parcels are only available for a limited time, but #3 will be out this week!). The tie dye cotton knit jersey is from Mood Fabrics and was very easy to work with. It’s also extremely soft and drapey, a perfect tee shirt fabric for sure.

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I sewed this top completely on my regular old sewing machine, no serger required. I have to say, other than sewing in my neck trim a little uneven, the machine worked pretty well. The collar probably would have gone a little better if I had waited till the morning to sew it in. I was getting a little tired and patience was starting to wane. I was at that point in the project where I just wanted it done. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about!

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I used a three step zig-zag stitch for the seams, added a clear elastic tape to the shoulders as a stabilizer, and a twin needle for the hem and top stitching at the neck line. I also added some stitch witchery inside the hem to keep it from stretching out of shape when sewing with the twin needle. I was happy that the stabilizer didn’t affect the drape of the hem too much. It’s definitely a little more crisp after heming, but it’s much better than a wavy hem and it still falls nicely when worn.

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This project came together pretty quickly, I completed it in about 4 hours from start to finish. I cut the smallest size, but added 2″ to the front length. I also raised the neck drop a little bit. To make things easier to cut, I traced the pattern on one layer of fabric with tailors chalk instead of on the fold. Knit fabric can be a little tricky to cut, and cutting on the single layer worked out very well.

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I love my new comfy tee! Now that I know knits aren’t as hard as they seem, I foresee a few more knit projects in my future.

A Tasty Floral Macaron

Posted on | May 20, 2014 | No Comments

I finished my Colette Macron a few weeks ago, but it’s awfully hard to get a picture around here lately. I really need to get myself a tripod!

The process of fitting this dress was a little frustrating at first. When I cut out the pattern, I was in a little bit of a hurry and cut to all one size instead of grading at the waist. I added the missing inches back in, but the bust area fit my body terribly. See the gathering under my bust? That’s the problem.

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A terrible iPhone shot in my smoked mirror

After a small bust adjustment, changing the position of the bust dart, and shortening the back by about 3/4″, things were looking good enough to finalize the pattern and cut my fabric.

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And here she is! Macaron, just in time for Me Made May.

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I choose a fine wale corduroy in a floral print from Paron that is not shy by any means. For the contrast, I ended up with a grey cotton/silk from Mood that I couldn’t get the wrinkles out of once I washed it. The wrinkles aren’t too noticeable after a good press, so I try not to worry about it.

The body is almost fully lined in yellow acetate or poly, I can’t remember what I bought. This was a necessity to keep the hem of the skirt in place while walking, especially if wearing leggings.

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Overall, this dress was a huge success! I’m feeling more comfortable when adjusting fit on my muslins and getting back in the swing of things with my sewing. This marks my 4th finished project for my year of no shopping. Summer is coming though and I have quite a few sundresses, skirts, shorts, and tops on the agenda. I had better get going before my living room turns into a sweltering den of heat so thick that I can’t breathe!

Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Posted on | May 19, 2014 | 1 Comment

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“Cut in dressmaking is like grammar in a language. A good design should be like a well made sentence, and it should only express one idea at a time” – Charles James

 

This weekend, I went to the newly opened costume exhibit at the MET, Charles James: Beyond Fashion. I will start off by saying that if you live in, near, or can visit NYC before August 10th and are interested in, design, or wear clothes (in other words everyone!), you really should set aside some time to see this inspiring exhibit.

It was probably the best costume exhibit I’ve seen at the MET in the last 10 years. Yes, there have been some interesting ones: Chanel, Punk, English something or other, but Charles James is what fashion is all about. He constructed his clothes with the mind of an engineer and artist, and took as much time as he wanted to do so.

The exhibit was set up fairy simply in the newly named Anna Wintour Costume Center. The clothing felt very accessible, making it fairly easy to see almost every seam. It’s a far cry from the past exhibits in the costume center with all of the clothing behind glass, somewhat off the ground, and what felt like so far away.

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There were also drawings, scrap books, and dress forms on display. Did you know James came up with a modernized dress form that allowed for movement so fit could be improved?

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The exhibit then continues in a special gallery space on the first floor. This is where his more famous dress creations are displayed. The Clover Dress, Lampshade Dress, and Umbrella dress were all there and accompanied by some high tech gadgets (one camera even went up inside the skirt of a gown!) to give us a seldom seen look inside how these masterpieces were made.

Personally, the high tech element is what made the exhibit for me as a designer. While its nice to look at pretty dresses all day long, seeing how they are made provides a whole other appreciation for James’ genius along with an education. I have the feeling I might be making a second trip sometime soon.

 

Weekend Reading

Posted on | May 16, 2014 | No Comments

Here are a few things I came across this week that I thought were worthy of sharing. Hope you enjoy and have a happy weekend!

How To Remove Food Stains: it’s always good to know how to remove stains. Considering I stained my new skirt with blueberry bourbon sauce last weekend the first time I wore it, I thought this was applicable this week.

I applaud this young lady’s hard work and determination. She started her own company making bras for young girls which are largely unrepresented in the market.

Bristol, England has been turned into Briswool by a 100 or so knitters. So cute! This is more for the photos than the article, I certainly expected better writing from the BBC.

Another little article about the Charles James exhibit. I hope to get to the Met this weekend to see it!

The Saga of the Skirt

Posted on | May 11, 2014 | No Comments

simplicity 2215I’ve been nursing a sinus infection for two weeks and decided I should probably take it easy this weekend. So on Saturday, I didn’t have much on my agenda besides a few chores and sewing up a skirt.

The problem was my meds make me a little loopy and a bit tired. When I’m tired, patience goes out the window. When I’m loopy, all common sense takes a hike as well.

I prepared all of my pieces Friday night and things were going well. I pinned the pockets onto each piece just before headed off to bed. After taking care of my chores Saturday, it was time to dig in. I started with the pockets and the invisible zip.

Oops! Invisible zipper went in backwards. Fixed the zipper. Oops! Put the zipper on the wrong side of the skirt! (It stayed that way.) Put the pleats in the lining! Oops! The lining is too small.

Well, by this point I had had it. It was nap time.

After waking up from my long nap, I went right back to it. I was determined to have a finished skirt this weekend! I worked till after midnight, but I finished.

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I love it! It’s Simplicity #2215, by Cynthia Rowley. It’s probably not too noticeable from the photos, but the pleats were designed to be completely random and uneven. It’s one of those little details that makes the skirt different and special. The pattern also comes with a dress that I will be making up in the near future. I expect a few more skirts will be made up as well. I love this pattern!

Also, I really need to purchase a tripod so I can post modeled shots when the hubster isn’t around. It’s so cute on and was very comfortable on it’s maiden voyage around Brooklyn yesterday. The fabric is an olive green cotton with a nice hand that I picked up from Paron last summer. The fabric is just sturdy enough to hold the pleats, but soft enough to drape correctly. I also added a lining to the skirt. I figure I will wear this year round and there is nothing more annoying than your skirt sticking to your tights.

I forgot what it’s like to have a new piece of clothing finished in one day. What a wonderful feeling!

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