Amongst Lovebirds

I bought this fabric on a whim in June last year. In my inexperience I didn’t exactly know how it was going to be like. It’s 95% viscose 5% elastane. And by the way, I also ordered two meters of batic with a similar composition and I have no idea what to use it for since it’s a little bit see-through. Oh, well, I guess inexperience is like this.

One I saw this lovebirds fabric (called Parrots Jersey at the store) I new I had to get it. But you know when you know that your sewing skills are still limited and you purchase that wonderful fabric you’ve always dreamed about? That’s right, you don’t use it, you keep it in the drawer of beautiful but untouchable fabrics and you take it out from time to time to look at it and pet it while you make plans that never become real.

I didn’t have any plans when I purchased this fabric, but once I’ve received it, it was clear that I needed to chose a pattern with few lines to showcase this fabric. I initially was going to make The Tee from Cake Patterns, but after I have made my muslin, a definitive and improved version was released. The muslin was not great great, and this change threw me of balance, so I left the fabric alone again for some time. Then I started to get more ill, lost weight, lost interest in anything except for my illness, and then winter came.

But this year my condition has improved, I feel rather confident about my sewing skills and Koen gave me a serger for my birthday in November. So I am rocking my knits! I decided then to make the Maria Denmark’s Kirsten Kimono Tee. As I’ve made Maria Denmark’s Edith blouse and the fit is quite okay, I decided to jump directly to this fabric and forget about muslins. Sometimes you just need to stop overthinking and start doing.

There’s not a lot to say about this. I made the smallest size with no mods. I used my serger for everything except for hemming bottom and armholes, where I used a twin needle finish. I was going to use white thread but decided that yellow went much better with the fabric. I also used yellow to topstich the neckline. One thing that surprised me is that, after pinning the neckband, it felt quite loose, so I shortened it by 2 cm. It could be because the pattern instructs you to cut the same length of fabric no matter what size you’re sewing, and probably it shouldn’t be like that, should it? At least in other patterns, these bands are not the same length for all the sizes. In hindsight I should have shortened this one a little bit more since the front doesn’t lay completely flat, but it’s not too bad anyway.

Gerry likes all the colors of this top. I think the lovebird in the middle looks a little bit like my Gerry, but Gerry is much more handsome.

Something that helped me set the wheels in motion was seeing that the Monthly Stitch has dedicated the month of April to the theme Put a Bird on It! Well, I always have a bird with me, but now that also applies to one of my garments.

This top is going to be a wonderful addition for warm weather, and I’m sure you’ll see it during Me Made May. Separates are so versatile!

Spring for Cotton: Gertie’s Shirtwaist Dress

As very often happens, when I started this dress, I planned in my mind to finish it off in a couple of days to be able to wear it an event we were invited. I’m always such a naive! I also participated in the last “Fall for Cotton” and like that time, this project took me forever. I’ve been on the search for a shirtwaist dress pattern for a very long time. I had Gertie’s first book since it was released, but the shirring made me avoid this pattern until I saw Caroline’s version and she convinced me that I had to give it a try, that this was awesome.

I used some cotton poplin as I’ve already mentioned, which worked beautifully for the collar and it pressed nicely but the skirt feels a bit stiff. I still think that a more saturated color would have worked better.

I made a muslin to be on the safe side, mostly because as I’m petite, I was concerned about the waist placed correctly. Unexpectedly it was, but there was something weird happening with the shoulders. This was totally unexpected, since I’ve made Gertie’s 40s style blouse without alterations, and I was doing a size 4 here too. As I’ve read later, more people found the shoulders on this dress too wide. In my case I chopped off like 1 or 2 cm. As these are puffed sleeves, I didn’t alter the sleeve cup, but maybe I should, since there are some pulling lines over there.

This must be the year of the gathers for me. If you have followed me for a while, you may have realized that I never gather fabric (I have my personal reasons) but I think this is already my third project this year including gathers. I think the poplin doesn’t gather very nicely due to its crispness so next time I’ll go with my gut (as I should have done) and make a more traditional shirtwaist dress. Oh, well, at least I’ve learned something.

As I avoid making machine buttonholes like the plague (my machine never behaves) I made bound buttonholes. And I have to say that they look neat but they take time, steps and more steps, hand sewing and then more time again. They take a lot more work and time than machine buttonholes but at least there were neither tears nor swearing involved.

One of the reasons for which this dress took forever was the amount of hand sewing involved. Next time, if there is a next time, I’ll attach both yokes to the back using the burrito method. I just don’t get why we are required to hand sew the inner yoke: you take more chances at having it laying wrongly and it’s a freaking amount of work. I also like a lot more the armbands on the 40s blouse as opposite to this ones, and one of the reasons may be the hand sewing involved. I’m just very slow and I know from experience that hand sewing can leave you some ugly scars. This is partly why I machine hemmed the dress. I didn’t think this shape would benefit from adding petersham, and I was anyway doing a narrow hem, so to the machine it went. Before hemming it I cut off 4 cm, and I should point out that I raised the pockets by 2.7 cm, but I wouldn’t have hurt to raise them a little more.

And talking about the skirt shape, it feels somehow out of balance. I don’t know whether it is either a problem with this pattern or the fabric I used. It’s like the non-shirred fabric is pushing the pleated fabric at the hem. I think the pleats and shirring may not go very well together, but I could be wrong.

Something that I noticed is that I had to chop 5.5 cm of the facings, since they were longer than the skirt pieces. I don’t remember seeing this mentioned anywhere so it could be that I missed something in the instructions.

I had some purple buttons in my stash, but after checking with other sewcialists on Instagram, I finally purchased mother of pearl buttons, and I think I made the right call. I really like how they look on this fabric.

I went the extra mile and made a fabric-covered belt. I am not sure how belting looks like but this is what I got at my local haberdashery. The instructions are very straightforward and are also included in the book. I purchased a white plastic buckle at another shop and they claimed that they still have many things from the 40s in store. The buckle had a prong but I didn’t want to overcomplicate things even more so I removed it with a pair of pliers.

All in all I’m quite happy with this dress. It may have some flaws but I put quite an effort on it and I’ve learned new to me techniques: shirring, bound buttonholes and fabric-covered belts. I think in every craft you have to try things to really know what you want to make, and now I know that I want to make a shirtwaist dress with no shirring or gathers.

I want to thank Rochelle for organizing this Spring for Cotton and give us the opportunity to try to go beyond our limits and create unique garments.

I’m wearing here my first pair of Rocket Originals and I love these shoes. They are very comfy for not being flat, and they go wonderfully with vintage dresses.

Knitting 2 sleeves at a time (video + lovebird)

Katie requested a video explaining how this was done. Just excuse the bad quality of my phone camera and the sudden movements and noises. I was home alone with Gerry and he just decided that it was a good idea to zoom using his feet while he was chewing at my phone holder. I don’t own a phone tripod, so I used my car GPS holder attached to a cookie jar (no kidding). I had some troubles recording this because Gerry kept biting at it and he even dropped everything once.

At the beginning of the video you can see a purple marker between both sleeves. There is where I start my round. I then turn mi knitting counter-clockwise. Then I start knitting the other side (it’s just ribbing with a couple of mods). There’s a bad transition just when I start knitting the second sleeve (it’s when Gerry dropped my phone and the holder) and then you (badly) see that I turn the knitting clockwise. We are on the same side where the video started and when the purple marker is reached the round will be done.

I apologize again for the bad quality. One wouldn’t believe that I worked as a video editor years ago. Truthfully I’m a bit rusty and I just wanted a quick fix to show this. I recorded the video with my phone and uploaded to Youtube where I used their editor. If it’s still not clear just let me know and I’ll make another video with my next sweater, since this one is almost done (just three rounds to go).

Two sleeves at a time

My least favorite part of knitting a sweater is the sleeves. They are somehow monotone, and dealing with the magic loop again and again slows down my knitting. Also, like when knitting socks, it takes me ages to start and complete the second item (called SSK – second sock syndrome), and I’m always worried about my tension. Some time ago I used to knit my sleeves with tighter tension than the rest of the sweater. Luckily I’ve learned to correct this, but still, I have to make an effort while doing it, so knitting two at a time is the answer for me to all these troubles. I do it on bottom-up sweaters (the kind where you knit your sleeves separately and then join to the main body) but also when knitting top-down. A sweater at that point ceases to be very portable, so this is not a big sacrifice for me.

This is Marion, one of Andi Satterlund‘s cardigans. I’ve knit the complete cardigan and left the sleeves for the end. I knit separately each sleeve cap and one or two extra rows and then I placed both sleeve stitches on a circular needle. At this point each sleeve is knitted from a separate ball of yarn, but the biggest was winded leaving the center end outside just in case the small one runs out. You can also start a new ball but I prefer to finish the ones I started instead of having a zillion half skeins. I start knitting from two separate balls because it’s more convenient for me, but you could have a different preference. With two balls it’s really easy to avoid your yarn from being tangled. I always mark the beginning of the round (double round) with a marker to know where I am, and that also helps because you have to keep in mind how to turn your knitting when doing this. Usually, when knitting in the round, our knitting turns counter clockwise. If you keep doing that here you will have a problem. The secret is turning counter clockwise after half a round and then clockwise after the other half. Like that your yarn will always be tangle-free.

And you, how do you knit your sleeves?

Horror stories about needles

Some days ago Anneke mentioned that her father used to tell her horror stories about pins and needles. I guess we all were told similar stories in our childhood. My grandmother used to tell me that if I didn’t behave well a witch was going to come in the night to stick a needle to my brain until I dropped dead. I was a good girl, so the witch never came to perforate my brain.

But I also have a real terrifying story about needles. When I was around ten I was hand sewing a dress for my Barbie at my grandma’s, when I finished my thread and I needed to rethread my needle. I was alone in the living room and the needle fell from my hands. I think I was watching Falcon Crest. I went down on my knees to look for the needle and then I felt it. I sat on the floor resting my back on the sofa, lifted my jeans left leg and there you could see the needle butt getting into my flesh as I was straightening my leg. The needle had fell on the carpet with the sharp end upwards and got in my knee when I crouched looking for it. Long story short: They took me to the village doctor (my grandma lived in a village) and they couldn’t get it out. I was taken then to the closest city hospital and I underwent surgery. First they tried to remove the needle from where it entered (it’s where I have the big scar) and as they failed, then they entered from the other side (it’s where I have the small scar). Since then I’m terrified of needles on soft surfaces like carpets, couches or beds. I can be careless about pins  (I use the ones with the big colored head) but I always keep my needles neatly tucked inside a drawer. And by the way, I’m fine nowadays, I just feel the tendon where the needle got trapped when the weather is especially cold and humid.

What’s your horror story about pins and needles? Were you told scary tales about them when you were a child?

Brooch Display DIY

We had some lazy days during the holidays, but I managed to do something I had in mind for a very long time. I love brooches, even though I seldom wear them in winter to avoid poking holes on the wind and water proof fabric of my winter coat. But now that the weather is finally improving them, I am wearing my brooches more and more. I used to keep them in a handmade jewelery box with necklaces and earrings, but now that I have more than a few, they are all cramped together and I never know which one to wear. So last weekend I worked on my brooch display.

I took a cheap Ikea frame and removed the glass. In its place I put a rectangle of fabric the same size as the frame. I used a piece of black cotton sateen left from my black circle skirt, but any other plain fabric would have worked.

I then assembled the frame back with the fabric instead of the glass. As the rectangle of fabric is larger than the glass, there will be some pieces poking out on the edges. You can tidy up and glue this, but I left it as it is and I pull these pieces from time to time to keep the fabric taut.

Just excuse the bad quality of the pictures. I made this in the evening and my phone camera doesn’t behave well in low light conditions. I didn’t get a better picture during the day because I hanged the frame between the two windows we have in our bedroom. I just hope you get the idea 😉

We didn’t do a lot more useful last weekend, but I managed to start my project for Spring for Cotton.

These three pictures are taken from my Instagram. Let’s be friends!

Another Tiki Shirt

Many countries celebrate Easter Monday, but in Spain we celebrate this week Thursday and Friday. It makes for a very long weekend, and people tend to leave the city and visit other places. It’s also when Barswingona is usually celebrated. But we are having a staycation this year. It’s very difficult to travel with my dietary limitations, and Koen really needs a rest from work. He went out this morning with his bike to make some kilometers (it was 136 last time) and I stayed home with the birds, working on my blog and cutting a muslin. I enjoy staycations.

And I made it again. I think it’s already the 5th time I sew Gertie’s 40s Style Blouse, and there is not much new to say about it. Just that I’ve used the same fabric I did in my last dress. Before making the dress I was torn between it and this blouse. I wanted to participate in the Vintage Pledge, and the design was very beautiful; but being realistic, when can I wear dresses like this nowadays? With my condition I can’t eat or drink out, and one of my medications makes me very sleepy in the evening, so leaving the house after 10 pm is unthinkable nowadays. But after checking the fabric against both patterns I realized that I had enough for both, so I decided to give me the pleasure of a nice dress and a very wearable blouse. And I still have like 75 cm left.

It really matches Gerry’s color, it’s comfortable and no mods except for skipping the pocket, as usual.

I’m wearing it with my Angel Bootcut Jeans. I was disappointed with these at first, but I’m wearing them almost daily. I think I urgently need another pair with some fitting modifications. And can you see how beautiful Gerry’s wings are?

We finally have the right weather for these blouses, no more hiding under heavy coats, yay!