Starting the test

After a couple of months not knitting on a daily basis, today I’ve decided to start the pattern test for Andi. I received my wool this week and today we are leaving on a weekend trip to Valencia. The train there takes slightly longer than 90 minutes, so I think I will make some progress. I cast on yesterday evening, counted the stitches four times (I think I was getting sleepy) and knitted two rows. I always need to go down two needle sizes instead of one because when ribbing I use Norwegian purl.

This project has almost the same gauge as Émilien, so I’m skipping that step and plunging ahead. My iPod is full of rock’n’roll music and knitting podcasts and our baggage is almost ready. I’m planning to wear my new bikini for the first time. That will be another test to see if I need to make any mods for the other one.

I love Madrid and its weather, and it would be perfect if it had a beach (well, there’s one at the river, but that’s not a beach BEACH). I always lived by the sea. Well, until I left for Belgium 7 years ago (I should stop thinking I live my whole life in Vigo), and even I was not a beach aficionado, I miss it sometimes. It’s very relieving to walk on the sand after a hard day at work. We’ve never been at Valencia before, but I’m sure we’re going to have a great time there. We don’t ask for much: sun, sea, sand and nice views for a couple of days.

Starting the Hawthorn

Hawthorn Dress Sewalong

I couldn’t help the charm of those lines, the temptation of making a perfect light and fresh summer dress. And with a sewalong going it was impossible to stop myself from buying this pattern, which had 15% discount at that moment. If I didn’t have any reasons before to buy a new pattern, those were enough for me.

I printed the pattern and placed all the pieces together on our living room floor. Good that I was alone at that moment, because it covered almost completely the room floor (have I ever mentioned we live in a small apartment?). After assembling them and cutting them with some allowance, I traced the bodice on tracing paper, just in case I needed to make modifications. I cut the muslin in a very cheap fabric I bought for this (€1/m) which was stained even after being washed. I don’t even want to know where it came from and I just want it to make muslins, so I’m not going to think further about it. My bust size is a 2, waist is a 4 and hips even larger, but since the dress will be loose there, only bust and waist matter. I cut a size 2 to see the effect.

After sewing the muslin, during which process my machine almost gave me a headache, since it started to go only backwards (after unmounting the sewing plate it went to normal again), I saw that there was something wrong with that shape.

I apologize beforehand for the pictures of my muslins. They were taken, as you can see, with my phone camera, and as it was previously demonstrated, it’s a pretty bad one. Anyway, it’s enough to have an approximate idea. The darts are too low there, what makes the bodice look baggy. I raised them 2 cm and the result is much better. In the following picture I have the muslin inside out to be able to pin and check whether it improves the shape.

The waist was not bad, in fact I could stick with a size 2, but probably a bit more room there won’t hurt, so I decided to grade the shape to a size 4 for the waist. Consequently, I’ll make also a size 4 for the skirt to avoid any matching issues.

I’m still not sure about the neckline. I usually like necklines a bit lower than this, but I guess if you lower this one, you will lose a bit the shirty feeling of it.

And you? What are your modifications to the pattern?

Paula’s bathing suit

I’ve lived far from my family for the last… mmmh, let me think, for the last 7 years. New technologies help very much in these cases: phones to talk at any time, teamviewer to repair my mother’s laptop and Skype to see their faces and interact with them. Skype was especially useful to see my niece growing up. It was very comforting that she ended up associating the Skype ring tone to her auntie, and when I went there she even recognized me.

I missed that these last months. We went all together to the Canary Islands in March and them my mother fell very ill and she struggled for more than two months to get better. Then she had some business to attend at her hometown and time passed quickly. I think yesterday was the first time I saw her again after our trip to the islands. She grew up a lot and has the same naughty expression than my sister when she was her age. She is already three and a half and she’s such a smartass! 

I finished her bathing suit two days ago but I was quite busy to be able to blog about it. It’s incredible how much I can get done, and how lazy I can feel afterwards just to upload some pictures and type a text.

Here is my result of the bathing suit sew along. Pulling the elastic through the gap on the waist gave me some work, since my safety pins were too large. At the end I followed my mother’s advice and used a bobby pin with the end bent to be able to make it pass through the small gap.

I’ll give her the bathing suit in mid July, when we’ll be visiting my family there. And not only us. Koen’s parents have decided that it’s time to visit my hometown and meet my parents. They made reservations without asking us, with the intention of doing everything by themselves. In which language they intended to communicate with my family is a mystery to me. We finally managed to get vacations at work for those dates, so we can be there to make the presentations and help them not to get lost in translation.

Rendez-vous in Madrid

Today I had the pleasure to meet my friend Ivana here in Madrid. I first met her at one of our Stitch’n Bitch meeting we held in Brussels. She knits beautiful garments and wonderful hats. I got lots of inspiration from her finished objects, and I confess I started knitting socks because I wanted to make ones like hers.

From my life in Belgium, what I miss most is my group of knitters. I think it was the best way I found to socialise in a place where making new friends was not easy. I remember my first steps knitting and how they encouraged me to continue. I’ll never forget them.

And today it was like living that all over again, but without needles in my hands this time. We just met for lunch and Koen joined us. Ivana started sewing recently too and it was super nice to share those first experiences. She also feels guilty because we are not knitting so much now that we’ve just discovered sewing, and we both have problems to keep the apartment tidy with all the fabrics, threads and pins all over the place.

What about you knitters who started sewing? Have you also temporarily abandoned knitting and felt you were cheating? How do you keep your apartments tidy?

A bikini muslin

Last weekend I finally decided to start working on a bikini. I bought half a meter of two beautiful fabrics (a nice one to make afirst attempt or muslin and a nicer one to make a second  and definitive bikini) and a meter of a fleshed color bathing suit lining. The bathing suit fabrics were on sale at less than €5 a meter and the lining at €6.50.

As I enjoy making my own patterns and it is sometimes the best way to make something that matches your measurements, I followed the instructions described at the Pattern School. I traced first the bottom part of the one piece block and then I started to make the modifications to transform it into cheeky shorts. The patterns looked big on the paper, but I cut the fabric anyway, because in my experience patterns tend to look large when in fact they are not, especially after adding the seam allowances. But the result didn’t work. At all. It didn’t come large, it came huge. I thought of trimming 3 cm from each side but anyway I was not totally happy with how it fitted, so I decided to make my second option, that pattern so much pinned on Pinterest.

I was not completely convinced by the picture since the bottoms looked a bit floppy on the front (to my liking, eh). But after my  completely failure I made the pattern for the bottom without almost any modification. I omitted the front elastic, so I modified the waist front to be completely straight instead of curved upwards to compensate for the elastic placement. I thought of making it a bit higher on the waist, but hey, better to try this one, treat this bikini as a muslin and make the correct modifications for the second bikini.

I had some issues sewing the lycra. I used my walking foot and a stretch needle and, after a bit of fiddling, it was mostly ok, but the real problem came when I had to stitch through the lycra and the elastic (I used bathing suit rubber, the one that smells like new bathing suits). I had a lot of tension issues. Take the bobbin out, make sure everything is fine, put the bobbin in, try with a scrap of fabric, take the bobbin out again, and like this to the infinite and beyond. I changed the waist, placing the elastic in between both fabrics. I don’t know if I really prefer this. I’m still not sure what I’ll do next time. I also didn’t use a different thread for the bobbin and the inside of my waist looks shabby, but it’s just a muslin and nobody is going to see the inside.

I tried to use my twin needles for that part and also for the leg openings, as a finishing, instead of using a zig-zag, but it came wrong. I blame the needles for not being stretch but regular ones, for they kept on skipping stitches. I gave up and made a zig-zag, which looks better than I expected.

For the top I decided to continue with the same pattern. The truth is that I felt lazy to trace the pattern after the fail for the bottom, and I thought I could play a bit with the shape of the already made pattern to adjust it to my preference. I traced my pattern using those instructions and my measurements and I made my first modification. I reduced the sides from 10 cm to 8. Ten seemed a bit too much for my liking and I was right, this mod is not one that I regret.

The other modifications were made along the way, adjusting here and there if I didn’t like the fitting. A clear one was the total length of the top. The fitting was wrong, too loose on my body, so I trimmed one inch from each end. Much better. I tried it once again and the front didn’t convince me at all. It looked floppy, handmade, loose. So instead of having the elastic just at the half  top part, I placed it along the complete front, from top to bottom. Like that it seems to hold my breast much better. Even like that it was like there was something missing to make it complete. After some thought I cut a stripe of fabric of 10 cm x 50 cm with pointy ends, folded it length-wise and stitched along the edge, leaving a gap at the middle. I trimmed a bit the seam allowances and turned it inside-out. I tied this around the middle part of my top with a double knot. Now, this looks much better!

I also made mistakes in my execution, but as this is just a muslin for a second bikini I don’t mind too much. We also need to learn, and for sure we do it from our mistakes.

  • The thread I used for the inside was not the best choice. The main fabric is grey so I’ve used that color thread (in fact it was a leftover from my Thurlows), but it looks bad on the inside. I could have avoided that by placing the lining in the way the pattern described (like for the leg openings), but doing that I don’t know how comfortable it would feel on my waist skin. I still have mixed feelings about that. I will have to wear this bikini a couple of times to be able to make a decision.
  • When following the instructions for the top elastic for the top I cut two pieces for the top of the cups instead for the whole half, so I had to place a new piece of elastic for the the side afterwards, and doing that I think I’ve lost some structure. At the end the top had a bit of gaping on the front top. That I partially fixed by placing the elastic from top to bottom, but for the next bikini I should probably think of making that top elastic shorter, like how I mean to do for the leg openings.

After making this muslin, I know I will definitely wear it before making my second bikini. In part to test it, but also because I like how it came out. Off course I’ll make some mods for the next one, and for now, they will be:

  • The vertical elastic for the top running completely from top to bottom;
  • I’ll make a ribbon again, it looks cute and and with that pink and white ginghan fabric it will be super cute;
  • Shorten the elastic on the leg openings to avoid gaping and rolling;
  • Tweak a bit the back shape of bottoms on the leg openings.

After some wears I’m sure I’ll come up with new modifications. I’ll let you know.

Testing for Andi

Just when I was about to start Miette by Andi Satterlund, she sends a request for test knitters. I know I’m busy with too many projects right now, but I desperately need to knit. Sewing is fun and it’s amazing how nice things can be made in no time, but I haven’t knitted regularly in the last couple of months and my body and mind are asking for it. Knitting is relaxing, it takes time, it helps your mind wander and forget the hurry, the problems, it slows you down. And as I need to slow down, I decide to partake in a test knit. It sounds like a paradox, but it will be the right way to kick my ass and finally cast on. The wool for this project will arrive next week, just in time for our weekend trip to Valencia. Some quality knitting time in the train sounds like a treat.

I can’t say a lot about this project, just that it’s a beautiful retro cardigan like the ones Andi designs. After it I still want to knit Miette. I feel the need of knitting feminine cardigans to go with my dresses and skirts. Summer starts today, and summer knitting starts now! And to celebrate it, Andi is offering today her patterns with a 50% discount.

Bathing suit sewalong

While I am still finishing my first bikini for myself I am already thinking of starting a new project. I have joined the bathing suit sewalong organized by Mayda of 4 en la carretera. This bathing suit is for little girls between 2 and 8 years old, and as you already guessed, the recipient of this bathing suit is going to be my niece Paula.

I bought yesterday some cotton voile that caught my eye and I’ll be cutting it soon. Isn’t this fabric cute?

I am bit overloaded by projects again, but I think this little bathing suit is going to be an easy and quick project. I hope I’m still of the same opinion once it’s done.

My orange skirt

I finished this skirt probably more than one month ago, but we had such a cold and rainy spring this year that I forgot this skirt at the bottom of my finished projects drawer. It’s funny, since the bad weather was the main reason to hurry with my Thurlow trousers, and just when I finish them we are over 30ºC.

This is a self-drafted pattern and I’ve used the knowledge I learned at the A-line skirt Crafty class. I simply took my previously drafted pattern and I sliced it open to give it more volume. I had to make a small adjustment here since I have prominent hips and that part needs to be smoothed out when slicing out the pattern, making the side lines a bit more “straight”, otherwise you’ll end up with two strange “bumps” on the sides. Ah, the beauty of muslins…

It’s made of two different fabrics. I found a thrifted piece of embroidered chiffon for 2 euros and I needed a lining to be able to make something wearable. At first I was looking for a simple white cotton, but after some tests and Koen’s opinion, I decided also orange would work better.

Cost:

  • Orange chiffon: 2 euros
  • Orange cotton: 3 euros
  • Zipper: less than 1 euro
  • Thread: 2 euros

Total cost: around 8 euros.

I worked on it a bit during one of my weekly sewing classes and the teacher proposed to hem both fabrics together. In her opinion, it was going to be easier and it  would look better. I finished the skirt at home and I decided to plow and continue with my initial plan of hemming them separately. I followed this Megan Nielsen’s rolling hemming tutorial without a rolled hem foot and even my teacher had to admit that the result was pretty good.

Today I wore this skirt and I got compliments from the girl working at the local bakery. Well, after so many months seeing me in my jeans uniform, it was quite a change.

Designing and sewing can be sometimes energy consuming, and sometimes I suffer from insomnia just by thinking about what I want to make and how I want to make it. Koen usually gets up one hour earlier than me and before leaving (well, not really before leaving, since in the morning he’s slower than the slowest of women) he wakes me up. I don’t remember if this happened when I was making this skirt or during the Thurlow frenzy, but one morning he came to wake me up and I was mumbling in my sleep about a skirt I had made for him, that it was too long and had to be fixed. Well, you can imagine how hard Koen had to laugh at me that morning. Deeply in my heart I know he’s a bit jealous of my me-made sewn garments and I know that since I started to work on my Thurlows, he wants a pair of pants. Well, I just found out about a pattern that will be released very soon. The Jedediah pants are the answer to my wishes and they are just $8.50. I think I’ll give it a try.

Let me introduce you to my new trowsers!

Last time I talked about them here was just after making my two muslins. I haven’t been very active here lately because I really wanted to have them finished in one week. Sadly that was not possible, it wasn’t a week but ten days. Not bad, I would say, for my first attempt. If you count the pre-process, then it took me longer, but tracing the pattern pieces using our windows is a crafty job.

We live across a school. I wonder if the children were in class while I did this.

Cutting the fabric was also not the most pleasant of tasks. It was not difficult, but after ironing the fabric and cutting during more than one hour, my right thumb went numb for almost five days. My fabric shears cut just fine, but I will probably need to get more ergonomic ones.

The first steps went rather smooth, except for the fact that I placed the pockets lining inside out, but that’s not a very important detail. Even like that they’re more beautiful that RTW pants pockets.

I used what I learned when I fixed Koen’s jeans pocket and finished my pockets like the ones of RTW jeans.

The welt pockets did not pose a problem thanks to Lladybird’s explanations and despite Koen’s fear of ending with pockets that opened up all the time like some we’ve seen on internet (I swear I don’t remember this detail, but Koen was almost obsessed with sleepy-awake welt pockets) they ended up fine.

It’s true that after Koen’s warnings I tried to be especially careful with this and I sewed them close by hand before finishing them to keep the shape during the process.

What almost made me cry was the fly zipper. Even following Lladybird’s instructions, I screwed up somehow (I still don’t know what happened). That night I had troubles to sleep and I promised myself that these were going to be the first and last pants that I attempted to make. The day after I started to see things better, I fixed my issue and I fell in love with my pants again.

The zipper was not the only thing I did wrong. If you remember my muslins, you’ll know that the size 4 was too loose but the butt seemed fine. The size 2 muslin was perfect but the rear was a bit tight, so I had to keep that in mind when I made these pants, and off course I forgot; so when I tried them my butt looked like a Spanish chorizo. As I tried to be very careful and “professional”, that seam was made with a triple stitch, and it took me almost one hour to reap it. I can still see the marks of the old stitches and I hope against hope that they will go away when I wash the pants.

All in all, they look fine and I’m extremely happy with them. With giving more space to my rear I got the waist a bit loose, but as it has belt loops it doesn’t worry me too much.

I trimmed a bit more than 2 inches from the bottom and I narrowed the legs quite a bit. I made them follow my thigh line with a comfortable ease and from the knee down parallel to the seam until the bottom.

The back also looks ok. It wrinkles a bit, what makes me think that next time I could try to alter it with a fish eye dart. But as I look at it again and again, I become more and more happy and I think I will just keep this shape.

And I can move inside them! No more thighs tightness due to my caopeirista’s legs. These pants are a win win!

The fabric was around 18 euros. Not bad, I would say, for a pair of pants.

Bikinis are for Summer

I got an invitation to attend a course about making a bikini. I have to say that for months I was silently ruminating on the idea of making my own bikini. The one from last year (and the year before) is about to break (anytime I see it I picture myself loosing the bottom in front of everybody, what a nightmare!) and the previous one is not better than a saggy bag. But the 60 euros of the course is a lot of money. Off course it’s always nice to attend those courses, not only because you usually meet great people, but it’s also  always desirable to support independent designers and teachers. But still, that’s a lot of money that I could use to buy more fabric and wonderful yarn for my next project.

I recently learned how to sew with knit fabrics, the pattern school has wonderful resources and half a meter of fabric costs around 5 euros. And off course there are plenty of free tutorials on internet, like this one.

Pattern School resources:

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