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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Weekend Reading

Posted on | May 9, 2014 | No Comments

Me Made a May is going well and I’ve managed to keep to my pledge so far. I expect it will get harder by the end of the month, but that just means I’ll have to get more creative with my outfit choices. I even wore my new Macaron this week! Photos coming as soon as I can get an extra hand to help me take a few.

Meanwhile, my sewing machine is now back home, so I hope to whip up a few pieces this weekend. There is a skirt and t-shirt on the agenda.

Finally, Here are a few things that I came across this week that may be of some interest to you. Enjoy and happy weekend!

How To Assess the Quality of Garments Cheat Sheet since I’ve been talking about building a nice wardrobe so much lately, here is a great guide to purchasing quality clothing. Links to the longer two part article are there as well if you have some extra time.

Graffiti Made of Plants: a new take on street art.

Charles James: Beyond Fashion opened today at the Met. I can’t wait to go see it! Here is a fun article about a woman who used to know the quirky designer.

Me Made May 2014

Posted on | May 1, 2014 | No Comments

Since I’m sewing more, I thought it might be a nice challenge to participate in Me Made May ’14. What is Me Made May (or MMM for short)? Well, it’s when you make a pledge to wear a certain amount of hand made outfits throughout the month. The pledge is a personal one and you get to decide how many you want to wear for the month. Here is my pledge:

 ‘I, Melissa of neoknits.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear three me made garments or accessories three times a week for the duration of May 2014′

I thought this might be a really great way to inspire me to wear more of my knitwear as well. I have so many samples that have been returned to me over the last year and I want to figure out a creative way to fit them into my wardrobe. This might be a challenge into itself as many of my sweaters are a little heavier than May weather will allow.

I’m going to try and photograph some of my outfits throughout the month, but no promises. I don’t want this to become more stressful than it needs to be! Stressing less is always nice in my book.

It’s selfish sewing week…

Posted on | April 29, 2014 | No Comments

And my machine is in the shop. Nothing serious, just thought the old girl could use a good cleaning since she was put away for 10 years and I’m using her a lot. This was pretty poor planning on my part, but I’ll survive.

It makes you think though, selfish sewing week. As knitters, don’t we get a full month?

I’ve been doing quite a bit of wardrobe planning the past few days and I think I might be in a good place. I also ordered a few fabrics from Mood that arrived Tuesday. I feel a bit silly ordering fabric from a store across the street, but the selection is a little different online – or so it seems.

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I can’t wait to sew up a dress in this cute Anna Sui star print and the Summer Concert tee in the tie dye jersey. This will be my first foray with jersey on a regular sewing machine, but I think I can make it through. I just picked up the new Colette Guide to Sewing Knits and I’m pretty excited. Other than dresses, I own very few woven garments, so making my own t-shirts has to come in to play. In the meantime, I’ll be saving up for a serger!

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