Watching

I wrote this post yesterday, but it somehow disappeared. WordPress, why are you doing this to me?

I finished Extant some days ago and it left me a bit meh. It was at times predictable and I was not convinced by some of the actors. I’m a sucker for Sci-Fi anyway, so I watched till the end. When I finished it I needed another TV show to fill in all those knitting hours, especially now that my sewing machine is being repaired. And I found The 100. I’ve read very good reviews about it so I was impatient to start watching it.

THE-100-1-1024x512

In the future a nuclear disaster exiles the few survivors left to a space station. The resources are limited, so every infraction of the law is punished with death (they call it people being floated). In the case of minors, they are imprisoned until the age of 18 (then floated). 97 years after the nuclear disaster, a malfunction in the oxygen system is discovered and the 100 prisoners are sent to Earth to see it it could be survivable. It’s still 100 years too early according to the predictions, but the oxygen reserves are running low. Don’t worry, I’m not telling you any spoilers here, these are just the premises.

I love Sci-Fi, and I enjoy some dystopia from time to time, but this seems to me sometimes a crossover between Lost (the good part) and Lord of the Flies. I didn’t like this book. I just believe in people, and watching/reading how a group start to behave like savages, enjoy cruelty, and try to kill each other is not how I like to spend my free time. I believe in the good in everybody, and somebody trying to demonstrate that we all are savages at heart really discourages me (this sounded much better in the previous version, sigh). The rhythm of the show is slow sometimes, and it doesn’t seem to feed my curiosity at a good pace (I’m so impatient), but I’ve decided to give it a go and see where it takes me.

The aesthetic reminds me a tiny little bit of Revolution. Now, those premises were good, but the execution was faulty and I didn’t go beyond the second episode.

And you? What are you watching? How do you make those knitting rows seem shorter?

Watching the GBSB outside the UK

sewing-bee

We’re watching the Great British Sewing Bee series 3 and enjoying the fact that there are more men that in previous occasions and they seem quite competent (I’ve never thought Koen would like this show but he loves it). We watched previous seasons on Youtube, but this time we didn’t find it available there, and the iPlayer complains about us not being in the UK.

A British friend of mine (thanks, Katie) told me some time ago about Hola! This little program allows you to access to information that is otherwise not available in your geography.

We have already watched the first three episodes of the GBSB without hiccups. And it’s free. Enjoy!

 

Denim killed my sewing machine

My progress on my jeans was slow but more or less steady. Last week I didn’t have a lot of time for sewing because Koen’s sister was here visiting, but I could still get some short random moments to stitch here and there.

I used part of my lunch break yesterday to start with the back of the jeans and then something terrible happened. I was having difficulties with the topstitching thread but I could sort it out more or less any time it happened. It was always the tension, and I needed to jump it to 7 or 8 to have good looking stitches. But at some point I couldn’t make them look right. And then I started having issues with regular thread and even regular fabric. I tried denim again and my machine was making terrible noises.

My guess is that one of the issues was the upper tension discs, and I removed the parts of the cover that I could and tried to clean them. After several times doing this the stitches improved a bit but I still got loose stitches randomly, and from time to time, the machine is making weird noises again when using denim.

I’ve checked my records and next month my machine will turn 2 years old. I was hoping that I could fix this myself but if there’s something else apart from lint on the discs, then I’d need a professional to take a look at it. It’s the first time my machine breaks and I hate it, since sewing is one of the few things that I could keep doing nowadays.

Completed: the skirt that took forever

jenny09I started this skirt more than two months ago. What was going to be a very simple half circle skirt turned into something that almost did not get finished. If you’ve seen the pictures of my garments on my dress form for the last couple of months, you’ve noticed a pink plaid skirt. That’s the one. I got inspired by Call the Midwife, and the yellow skirt that Jenny used to wear on some of her days off. I didn’t want a full circle skirt, and definitely not a very long one, since when garments tend to be too dramatic I’m not prone to wearing them. I wanted something simple and casual (also by nowadays standards). BTW, Andi has also made a skirt inspired on Jenny’s (great minds…), you can check it out here.

I purchased this wool blend and a pink rayon lining and decided to make this half circle skirt. I used again the By Hand London skirt calculator and squeezed this skirt and a thin waistband out of my meter and a half of fabric. I found the wool a bit of a pain to mark since I couldn’t use my favorite air erasable pen since they are the same color. I also have nowadays a yellow Clover Chaco pen that would have been perfect. It doesn’t matter how many tools you have, it’s a universal truth that you always need more.

After I inserted my (bad) hand picked zip, I tried the skirt to see the effect and I considered it needed more oomph, so I decided to try the high praised horsehair braid, and my local shop has it in many beautiful colors. It was not going to be visible, but I wanted to match the skirt, so I got this beautiful pink braid. Isn’t it gorgeous?

After sewing it to the skirt I went running to try it on in front of a mirror, and I was very disappointed. You can see how it looked here. I couldn’t put my finger on what, but it seemed totally wrong. After a long conversation with JudithMegalunostudio and a long web search, I came upon this A Fashionable Stitch article and, as many times, Sunni has often the right answer: Petersham!

I painfully unpicked the horsehair braid. The thread also matched skirt and braid, so it was difficult to see what I was unpicking, sigh! It was a total pain, and then Christmas came close, so I became busy with presents and then I went to visit my family, and I fell progressively out of love with this skirt. When I came back all I wanted to sew were blouses, so you could always witness this skirt on my dress form along with the garment I was busy at the time.

Since this is a winter skirt and will be worn with tights, I decided to line it with pink rayon, as shown in the picture. The worst parts of sewing this skirt were the horsehair braid unpicking, the hand sewn hem (it took two or three episodes of Extant) and the damn buttonhole. It was just one, but I reaffirm myself in using snaps. Unfortunately a snap was not appropriate for this skirt, otherwise I would have just place it on. I tried making the buttonhole on a piece of fabric and it went fine, then made it on the waistband and all the possible horrible things happened. Several times. My machine does 1-step buttonholes and I think it has problems moving thick pieces of fabric, so to succeed here I had to pass a couple of threads through the end of the waistband to pull and help the machine to move the fabric. Pathetic, but the buttonhole is done.

The waistband is sewn by hand on the inside. I just didn’t want to stitch in the ditch and risk my stitches showing on the outside.

The zipper is also not one of my best jobs, but it’s decent and I matched stripes on both sides of the skirt. And I love how it swirls!

Gerry seems to like my brooch. It’s from the talented Desperate Beatnik. I love her jewelry pieces, and they are very carefully made, but what I like most is how well she takes care of her customers. Seriously, I’m amazed at this girl, and this is not a sponsored post or anything like that.

And you, have you made any half or full circle skirts? What are your thoughts about buttonholes? Are they your nemesis too?

Colors online

I usually avoid trying new yarns unless I’ve read very good comments on them. One spends so many hours working on a garment, stitch by stitch, to have in the end a horrid result, pilling, a bleeding dye and other knitter nightmares. I think pilling is one of the worst for me. I made a beautiful sweater two years ago but very soon it became a fluffy mass of pills. Tragic story. Moral of the story: never use Malabrigo Worsted for a sweater. I came upon Cascade 220 already some time ago. It’s affordable, it behaves quite well and it has gorgeous colors. The only drawback is that it’s almost impossible to find it locally. I used to buy it from France, but the shipping costs have gone from 8 to 12 euros per parcel, so I’m disliking this option more and more. We don’t have great wool brands here in Spain, and it’s a shame, since the merino sheep was originary from here. What you mostly see in shops here is acrylic. And I won’t knit it nor wear it.

Apart from shipping expenses, buying online means that you won’t be able to touch the yarn or see its real color. I have problems with very itchy yarns, and the real colors usually differ from the ones in the pictures. I usually search for a determined colorway on finished projects in Ravelry, and I more often than not, I get an approximate idea. This has saved me many headaches, until this last time. When I purchased the yarn for my Chuck, I decided to buy more yarn for two other sweaters. If I was going to pay 12 euros extra, let it be at least for three sweater yarns. I wanted a pink Hetty and a blue Marion. I didn’t think it through nor I checked the colorways in Ravelry. When they arrived, I loved the red yarn, the pink was beautiful, but the blue was not what I expected. It was more greenish than blue, but I kept a skein out of my yarn drawers just to look at it everyday and see if I got used to it or I could see it as a Marion. It was a nice shade, but it was not blue, and since wearing a green uniform for 10 years at school, I always avoided green like the plague, specially bottle green. Very recently I seemed to come at peace with it a bit with it, tried to make some green garments and I think I could adopt little amounts of green in my wardrobe. But that green skein looked less and less like a future Marion. I gave it some more time and I started to see a possible Agatha, and after seeing Dolly Clackett‘s cardigan, I made my decision. Her shade of green is very similar to mine and I love her cardigan. But I still wanted a blue Marion, and I wanted it to be my next project.

I thought of ordering again from France, but I thought of the extra 12 euros for a simple cardigan and I searched other options. I came then upon a Spanish shop in Dawanda, La Tejetienda. They don’t have many colorways, but they had a shade of blue I liked. In the beginning I wanted to go for a lighter tone, but I learned to love this electric blue.

Another thing I wanted to knit this year was another Miette. I love the one I made two years ago, and it demonstrated to be very wearable during the summer months for those moments under a museum or cafe airco. And to continue experimenting things, I wanted to knit it in green. I made my first Miette in white Cascade Sierra. It’s 20% merino and 80% cotton. That amount of cotton makes this yarn more stiff than pure wool and I didn’t like working with it, but oh boy, I do love wearing it. You can imagine how sad I was when I discovered that Cascade Yarns has discontinued Sierra. Why on earth? And from the available options in the French shop I didn’t find anything that was similar in composition and weight. La Tejetienda had some green Cascade Avalon that was 50% cotton and 50% acrylic. It’s a bit thinner than Sierra and it has acrylic, but it was affordable and the shipping expenses for both yarns (220 and Avalon) were € 3.75. I’ll have to adapt the pattern to the new yarn weight but it doesn’t worry me.

After receiving the yarns, I realized that the previous green skeins matched some fabric a bought last Christmas. I can see an Agatha and maybe a Gertie’s bombshell dress, a garment I wanted to make for already two years.

And this is one of the electric blue skeins, which curiously matches another of my fabrics. And yes, it happens to be the same, but in blue. I’ve already used part of this fabric for my Tiki shirt.

They look quite similar in the pictures, but they differ a lot in real life.

Maybe I can put some of this fabric to good use for the Vintage Pattern Pledge.

There’ll be jeans

After a couple of years of experimenting, it seems this year I’m trying to sew what I need at this moment in my wardrobe. I needed some tops other than my t-shirts, I made blouses. I have two old pairs of jeans, and I need new ones, then I make them. I decided some time ago to stop buying clothes whenever I could make them myself, unless it’s an emergency, that is. So friends, I’m making jeans.

The dark denim (left in top picture) will be a pair of Ginger jeans, while the lighter (not so much) will be a pair of Angela Wolf Bootcut jeans. I will start with the latter for the simple reason that I pretend to make them without modifications, while the Ginger I pretend to widen the leg. I just want my first jeans experience to be as straight forward as possible. That’s the only reason for starting with the Angela Wolf.

As you know, this is a slow process. I had cut and taped my pattern pieces, cut out my size, pre-washed my denim, and I was yesterday ready to proceed with the instructions, when I came upon the sentence: “Before cutting the fabric, wash and dry the denim twice to prevent shrinkage later on and eliminate any excess dye in the fabric“. You read it. Twice. I had everything ready but I needed to wash my fabric again. Bugger! I was tempted to continue anyway since most of the shrinkage occurs lengthwise, but after consulting with Koen, I decided to take the safe road and take things slowly. I used then my time to shorten the main pattern pieces by 3 inches to accommodate my shorty legs.

Remember, people: pre-wash your denim fabric twice.

I’m joining the Vintage Pattern Pledge for 2015

I enjoyed seeing what others have made last year for the Vintage Pattern Pledge, but I didn’t join due to my limited experience and based on how difficult is to get vintage patterns on this corner of the world. I always die of envy when I read other people’s stories just going to the thrift store or a vintage market and getting a hold of several vintage patterns and many times at a very affordable prices. For me the only option is buying online, with all what it adds to the total cost. I bought a couple of vintage patterns one or two years ago, but I found that stories are true, and the sizing didn’t have to do anything with what I expected. Both things were monstrously large, and I didn’t feel like making the alterations to make them wearable. Maybe at some other point in mi life.

But then, thanks to Andi, I heard of vintage reproductions, and almost by accident I saw that few of those patterns were available through Amazon Spain, so I said to myself, let’s join the Vintage Pattern Pledge this year. These are the patterns I bought. And BTW, one of them is also the one Andi is going to sew!

I’d like to thank Marie and Kerry for organizing this, and giving us the last push to some other chicken sewers like me. So here it goes,

During 2015, I, Elena from Elena Knits, will sew at least one vintage pattern or reproduction.

I know that this goal doesn’t sound very ambitious, but I don’t want to put too much unnecessary pressure on myself. I just want to try how this can go, and if it doesn’t go well, no regrets.

And you? Are you joining this year? Let’s play together.

Completed: Bea Headband

I’ve knitted this piece last weekend. It was quite a fast knit and I used just 32 grams of Cascade 220, left from my Chuck sweater. I think the pattern was a bit pricey for an accessory, but result is quite cute. I used 4.5 mm needles and I could have gone a needle size down, since my moss stitch tend to be on the loose side. Something that was new to me was the use of slip stitches at the end of a row. I know that slip stitches are meant to give a smoother edge, but I always slipped them at the beginning of a row. I was not sure if there were any practical differences about doing it at the beginning or the end, and I asked Andi. Her answer is that it is the same, so it’s just a personal preference.

Both sides are knitted almost identical with the exception of the first stitch, and I was having troubles to distinguish one side from the other, so I used a marker to identify one of the sides. Apart from that, the straight section can be knitted completely mindlessly. I had to pay a bit more attention when increasing and decreasing, but those parts can be completed very fast.

I like the result, although I could make it slightly thinner next time. It’s quite cozy and keeps my ears warm, so I’m not sure it’s suitable for warmer weather, at least if it’s made of wool. Maybe switching to cotton can be a good idea for the summer months.

My Ravelry project here.

Watching

I thought there was no life after Spaced (I watched it twice in a row, first alone and then with Koen), but I’ve just become interested in Extant. Produced by Steven Spielberg, it reminds me sometimes of AI. I don’t know if I’ll be disappointed in the end, but at least I’m intrigued.

Off course I’m also watching Broadchurch series 2, Call the Midwife, and others, but just following the weekly pace is not my cup of tea. I could watch complete seasons in one day while knitting an Untangling  Knots sweater. I’m such an addict!

BTW, Spaced is currently (but I don’t know for how long) on YouTube. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHc0VDdhXVQ

Completed: Edith Blouse and a headband

Any time I saw any of Heather’s blouses, I wanted to make one for myself. I think I wanted since I saw her first Edith blouse, but I didn’t sit down and sew it until last week. I think I procrastinated for so long because I was not 100% convinced about the rounded edges of the collar. Anyway, I had to make four Gertie’s 40s style blouses to finally sew this Edith blouse. I loved my 40s style blouses, but I also wanted to test this one to be able to compare them. The 40s style blouse is lovely but a tad too short to wear tucked inside skirts. Not that I’m a skirt wearer, but I want to have the option, just in case.

I have good and bad things to say about this pattern. First, the good stuff. This is a blouse and a dress pattern, and it comes in PDF. I hate tracing, so I often go for PDF patterns, which also saves some money. I quite liked that if you’re going to make the blouse, the instructions tell you which pages you have to print. I think it’s a nice detail that saves paper, ink and headaches.  Now, the bad stuff. I often use PDF patterns because I hate tracing, but if the pattern doesn’t come with seam allowances, then that advantage is completely gone. Why, oh, I wonder why some patterns don’t come with seam allowances. The only advantage I see is that you can add your preferred one, but c’mon, I don’t mind sewing with any given seam allowance, and I don’t understand why I need to do some extra work. Does anybody know why this happens?

Something I noticed is that the shoulder angles are not the same for all the sizes. I would expect them to be square angles, so that you get a straight line when sewing back and front. And if it’s not like this, I would at least expect some consistency and have all the same (it was a square angle for the larger sizes). I cut size 36 as it was but when hemming the sleeves I straightened this part, so I guess I would have gone for a square angle here.

Now let’s talk about the collar. I didn’t like the original one, so I made real corners. I used the 40s style blouse as my model, but I think I’ve over done it here, since the final collar looks more 70s than 40s or 50s. Oh, well, I’ll do it better next time. I think it’s also because the collar of the Edith blouse is much larger than Gertie’s blouse. Jo said some time ago that all Gertie’s collars sit weird. I didn’t have issues with my blouses collars, but it’s true that they are not very visible, especially if you have long hair. This was another reason to test this Edith blouse, I wanted to see if the collar felt better than Gertie’s. Well, I can’t decide, since my collar modification was not completely successful.

There’s also the color of the blouse. I think I bought this fabric to make a handbag, but then I let it sit for a while. I quite liked the print and the sewing and spinning motives. I don’t have many yellow tops, so I thought it would be a nice addition to my wardrobe, even if it was going to be a trial. But you know? I’ve discovered that I don’t look good in yellow. I took these pictures the same day I took my Chuck‘s pictures, exactly some minutes before. Somehow I think I look a lot better in the pictures where I’m wearing the Chuck sweater, and I think it’s partly due to the color. My skin is a bit olive green (especially in winter), and I think yellow doesn’t do me any favors. Curiously, Rochelle has also mulled about color this week.

I was going to make a wearable muslin using this cotton quilt I bought some time ago (don’t remember where) but I didn’t want to throw a lot of work just to have a sack on me, so I tested the fit with a very fast muslin. The fit seemed right, so I proceeded to make my blouse. I cut it on Friday, and made the complete blouse on Saturday (that was fast!), just leaving hemming and snaps for Sunday morning.

Something that felt a bit strange about the construction, is that it tells you to interface the under collar instead of the upper collar like other shirts/blouses I made (Archer, Gertie’s). I finally interfaced the upper collar, since doing the opposite wouldn’t have let me sleep at night. The under and upper collar are from the same pattern piece (unlike Gertie’s) but you’re instructed to trim the three outer sides of the under collar to make it sit right. There’s also a back facing that is not included in Gertie’s blouse. When I made Gertie’s blouse for the first time I was puzzled at this and didn’t get why it was like that. Now that I’ve made this blouse I know why. This facing adds some bulk to the upper back and even after sewing tacks to the shoulders, it doesn’t want to sit flat, and lifting it you will see the collar raw edges. Maybe if it was wider it would be better. I don’t know. I think if I make this blouse again, I’ll skip this facing and turn the collar seam allowances to the inside of the collar. I also want to mention that the side facings are a bit on the narrow side, and it seems they want to pop out when wearing the blouse. Another mod for next time.

I love how kimono sleeves look, but I don’t enjoy making them. I remember the disaster on my Portrait blouse, and I didn’t want the same again, so I was careful and methodical this time. I marked some dots with air erasable pen 5/8″ from the edge (my seam allowance) and I made some cuts “almost” until there on the low part of the armscye, where it’s curved. I pressed then that seam allowance to the inside and then trimmed it to approx. 1/4″. I was afraid that it was going to be a mess and it would fray, so I applied some bias binding. As I was not completely sure about this fabric or the final blouse, I didn’t make any self bias binding, so I used premade. I wanted to apply it to that part of the sleeve hem that was turned in, but the curved and sliced part was tricky, so I used a short piece of wash away quilters tape. I used it for the beginning portion, but not for the straight part of the ending curve since it was not necessary. I don’ t know if you can see it on the picture, but there’s the bias, the quilters tape, and then the hem. The other part of the bias goes stitched on top.

Here it’s how it looks when stitching the bias binding.

And this is the end result. I’m not completely happy with the fact that you could see those seam allowances from outside, but sewing the side seam and then applying the bias binding would be even more fiddly, so I can live with it, and I think the result is quite neat. At least a lot better than what I expected before doing it.

I’m sure you noticed the matching headband I’m wearing in the pictures. I wanted to make a headband for a very long time, but I always had more interesting projects in mind and was feeling lazy. I got a rotatory cutter and a mat for Christmas, so I had no excuse this time, and I completed the project in a blink. I loosely followed more or less the instructions here, but cut my stripes 76 cm by 7.5 cm (1/4″ of seam allowance). Then I removed 2 triangles from each side at the last 12 cm. No need to round it here since I slightly rounded when sewing them together.

After trying it, I think I should make it a bit longer and wider next time. I have mixed feelings about it, but I think it’s the damn color yellow again. Well, at least I’ve learned something.

And I leave you here a picture of my last 40s style blouse to compare. I think I prefer the fit of the Edith blouse, and I could try it with Gertie’s sleeves. And fixing the collar, off course. What do you think?