Completed: Armande

According to my notes I started this project in March and finished it yesterday. I’m not normally a slow knitter, but this year I took a long break from the needles due to health issues. The cardigan was finished about a month before Christmas, but I’m a disaster to sew in buttons. These were in fact the third set I bought for this cardigan. The first buttons were flat and too wide, and I was afraid that they were going to stick out when buttoned up. The next buttons were better on that sense, but a bit more pink. I liked them but when I had four or them installed, I realized I was missing one, and the shop where I purchased them was a bit far and I was in a hurry since I was leaving the day after for my mother’s place, 600 Km away. I decided to go to a close by shop and I got these buttons. I like them a lot, but the shaft doesn’t behave all the time.

I made size XS and the only modification was adding buttons and buttonholes all the way to the top instead of just just till the chest. I like the original pattern but I get cold very easily and in some cases I will need to close the cardigan all the way up. I was not sure if this was going to work, but seeing these pictures, I like it.

I almost shortened the sleeves by one or two inches but I finally knitted them as instructed and I’m happy with the result. They are really snugly.

I was a bit worried about the end result since my ribbing tends to be on the loose side and I always have to go two size needles down. Here you have ribbing and regular stockinette on the same row so changing needle is not an option. I think it looks ok and doesn’t feel too loose.

I love pockets in my cardigans. These ones are constructed just like the ones from From A to Z. I love how clever Andi‘s designs are.

I love Andi‘s designs in general, but I see this one especially wearable if you’re a trousers girl like me. It gives a nice low back coverage and it protects your neck from cold drafts. And it has a retro look. What else could a girl want?

My Ravelry page here.

Completed: Another Owls Sweater

This sweater was one of the victims of this year’s incidents. First, this wool started as an Aiken, but after knitting most of the sweater I discovered that I didn’t have enough wool (ugh), so I unravelled it and started this owls. What can go wrong with an owls sweater? Soon I also discovered I was going to have the same problem here, but Ingrid came to my rescue and sent me a skein. I checked our ravelry messages and it all started in January. I worked on the sweater and a bit after working on those owls the project stalled. It was the time I couldn’t eat and my eczema was at its worst.

This is the first picture I have from when I was working on the sweater, and it’s from the beginning of March. Gerry was 5 months here and he made knitting in the evenings difficult because this usually happened.

I did the same mods than on my first owls (shaping on the sides instead of the back as the pattern instructs you to do) but I made it a tad longer, since with the other one I have problems covering my lower back while sitting.

This Artesano Aran is my new favorite yarn. It’s very soft and squishy, and things knit fast with it. It has 50% of alpaca, so beware those who are allergic to it. This is going to keep me warm this winter!

Excuse the mess on the table, but I’m working on three sewing projects and I’m taking advantage of having my own sewing space. This would have been impossible last year in our little living room. I love our new apartment. Gerry was a bit moody here and tried to bite me several times. I think he hates my lipstick.

Published also in my Ravelry page.

My take on Gertie’s 40s style blouse

I’ve been looking for some time for the perfect pattern to make a 40’s style blouse. I secretly (and not so secretly) admired Liz and Tasha‘s blouses and I wanted to make something like this. Last year, for the Fall for Cotton, I modified a pattern, and after lots of sweating and swearing I got a blouse that I more or less liked it, but that sadly got very little wear. I think the reason is that it’s too short, the collar is a bit too small, and the hem is a bit too flared. Anyway, I wanted to have more of this kind of blouses, but it’s very difficult to get vintage patterns in Spain and the shipping from the US makes it quite pricey. But then Gertie released her new book and I decided that I needed to try her blouse pattern.

Lately I’m having a nightmare of work. Some people are on vacation, others ill, and work is piling up like crazy. This is why I’m not sewing as much as I’d like. When I finish by working day I’m so exhausted that the only thing I can do is sitting in the couch and knitting some stitches while staring at the void or watching a scify b-movie from the 50s. So with this blouse I committed the sin of sewing it without making a muslin. I measured the pattern pieces and it seemed to be fine, and a blouse is more forgiving than a dress or a pair of pants. The result is good enough, and you can see Gerry here posing like he was a vintage brooch.

One of the things that I wanted to accomplish with sewing (and knitting) is making my own style clothes. I hate clothes shopping, and mostly is because I just don’t like what I see. I dislike the style and it also makes me feel that we all should wear the same clothes and walk out of very loud stores like robots wearing the same clothes. And somethings are just plainly not flattering, but it’s like people are blind (or brainwashed). I hate consumerism, and having to buy new clothes because the ones at the shop are low quality and their style changes from season to season, and apparently wearing the pants from last year is a mortal sin. I never fitted in the box. I tend to wear jeans/pants almost everyday, paired with tshirts. Many of my tshirts are on dark colors, often with skulls, rock’n’roll messages and similar things. Sometimes I feel that tshirts is the only thing I’m wearing and it would be nice to dress up a little bit without necessarily wearing dresses (I get cold easily and as I’ve said, my going outs are mainly to the grocery store). I think a nice blouse comes in handy here, and this one is as comfortable as a tshirt.

With sewing, unlike with knitting, I feel things happen faster, projects get finished in less days and we have constantly new patterns tempting us almost everyday. I think, finally after two years of sewing, I’m finally focusing more on what I really want to sew, on my own style.

This shirt will look a bit nicer paired with a garment sitting on the natural waist, unlike this pair of RTW jeans. Anyway, it’s not really formal and it looks quite good like this too. Many of my tshirts have a similar length. The only mod was skipping the pocket. The print is crazy enough so this was a bit unnecessary to me.

I think Gerry doesn’t like my lipstick. He also bit my nails when I used to paint them red. I rarely wear lipstick lately, sadly just when I’m taking pictures for the blog. As I’ve said, we barely go out, and I try to avoid makeup to no stir my already hyperactive mast cells.

As you can see, I placed snaps here too. This take on the 40s blouse is quite personal and not really vintage so I took the liberty of installing snaps, which took less than 10 minutes and was done just before going to bed. I don’t want to imagine what could have happened if I decided to have regular buttons and buttonholes.

Like with my Nemesis blouse, the back is a bit baggy, but I guess this is what you get when using tucks to shape your blouse. I really like this print, and it also matches my current style. I’m not good with words, especially when in big groups or with people I don’t know, and I’m getting worse due to lack of training. I like that sewing lets me make what I want and let my clothes speak for me.

I really like how this blouse came out and I have already planned many more. I just need to finish a present for my niece Paula and have more time for selfish sewing.

BTW, I changed location to take pictures because on the previous one there were some patches of sunlight. Seeing these pictures, I also like this one, and you can see where I work on my sewing. What do you think?

Fall plans: Coziness and stashbusting

Summer came and went fast and my knitting and sewing plans more or less fell into pieces. I stopped knitting to make sure wool was not causing the eczema on my hands. Anyway, I was not very motivated at all to invest time doing things that I enjoy. I preferred to invest it reading about histamine, angioedemas and immune diseases. This didn’t make me closer to the truth but knowledge is power. So I’m now a powerful ill person.

I had lots of plans for sewing, including making Gertie’s bombshell dress, which course I purchased already last year. I even had the fabric, but I didn’t have the heart… nor the weight. I finally recovered 3 out of my 10 lost kilos and I’m more or less stable, so that means I can start sewing for myself again. Another factor is that we moved to a bigger apartment in August, and now I have a dedicated sewing space and a large living room where I can cut fabric, tape patterns and leave things to be able to work on them the day after. Before this was unthinkable. Our tiny living room served as dining room, office, living room and sewing room. If I started sewing, cutting or tracing, I had to remove everything if I didn’t have time to finish at that moment. I also got an ironing board and my creases are a lot more crispy.

As I said, last year was full of plans but I didn’t have the infrastructure to make all happen. That didn’t stop me from dreaming, purchasing fabric or refraining myself from any wonderful bargain I happened to stumble upon. Luckily we had planned a good stash storage for our new apartment, and I stopped feeling that my wool and fabric were going to eat us.

And this is the story about how I started sewing and knitting again. I was working on two sweaters when my life stopped. I recently finished an Owls sweater but I still have no pictures because I need to add buttons. The other one is Armande, from Andi Satterlund. I resumed this one when half of my brain was still busy with medical concepts and had to unravel a section a couple of times. Yes, I know, this is a very simple design, but as I’ve said, half of my brain was focused on my health and the other half was simply tired.

Things are going now better knitwise and I hope I will finish this cardigan very soon.

And about sewing, I finished a couple of things when my health issues started but I haven’t shared them with you. Honestly I didn’t even took pictures and I don’t feel like wearing the bikini I made to show it here. Probably for next summer, I promise. I have a couple of blouses and a skirt that I could show you but I haven’t found yet the perfect location for pictures in the new house. To be honest, I haven’t worked on it, I still need to unpack my tripod. Please bear with me.

What I did was sewing accessories. The weather is a bit warm again, but there were some very cold days that caught us completely by surprise. I even turned the heating on since the pain in my finger joints was starting to be unbearable (and that for knitting is a no-no). So I decided that, even I wanted to sew wonderful dresses, I needed some basic warm garments and accessories to survive the coming winter.

And I’ve made slippers! I’d toyed with the idea of making them for a long while. I even bought the insoles last year and they were there, waiting to be used. I used this tutorial but made my own pattern using some scraps of paper. It’s the same idea that’s explained here, but I didn’t have this site in front of me since I felt lazy while measuring my foot and sitting on the floor.

And they fit like a glove.

Please excuse the sock marks on my feet. I was wearing something else before taking these pictures and I was in a hurry to make them with natural light. I’ve used faux leather for the sole, an old fleece scarf for the lining and some remnants of my first Thurlow trousers (I’m scared of trying them on because I know they won’t fit anymore). The faux leather was on sale because it was a small piece with some stains. It cost around €2 and I don’t mind the stains at all when they are going to face the floor all the time. Anyway, they are almost invisible.

The fleece scarf was a present many years ago from one of my aunts. I never quite liked this scarf and it was in the back of my closets in all the apartments where I lived since then (Vigo, Leuven 1, Leuven 2, Brussels, Madrid 1, Madrid 2). I don’t know why but I was attached to it because it had been a present, so I’m glad that it finally started to have a useful life. It has a vibrant yellow color with some pink and blue flowers. Beautiful for slippers lining but not so much for a scarf.

I really like how they came out, but if I were to make them again, I should probably design them slightly larger if I plan to wear thick socks with them.

And then Gerry joined the fun. See how beautiful his wings are. I see lots of birds on Instagram, and most of them have clipped wings. It makes me very sad because if birds should do just one thing, this is flying. Their metabolism, lungs, bones and digestive system are designed to facilitate this. Why do people clip their wings? They are birds, they should fly. Clipping their wings to make them obey better is cruel, coward and lazy. And if it’s done when they are very young, it prevents them from developing normal muscles. When we took Gerry to the vet last month (for a check up) she congratulated us because he is a very healthy and strong bird.

Another pattern that I had my eye set on was Maria Denmark’s SuperSocks. This is a very easy and quick project, and you can use leftovers since it takes very little fabric. I’ve used a piece from my Skull Fleece Renfrew and still have a lot left.

It’s an easy and straightforward pattern. It’s true that it fits quite well, but next time I would probably make left and right slightly different to have the toe fitting more closely and being actually able to use them inside shoes.

They are very nice and cozy though, and ideal to hang out on the sofa while knitting and watching an episode of our favorite series. I’m actually watching “Call the Midwife“, and I’m really enjoying it. It’s truly beautiful, you should see it.

 

It was not on purpose, but as I cut both pieces together, there’s almost continuity on the design. You can almost see the complete skulls if I place my feet together.

If the sole is substituted for a different material (faux leather) or if we use some non-slip glue, then they could become more versatile and be also used as slippers.

I’m thinking that this could make a quick Christmas present. I still have some Winnie the Pooh pink fleece from my niece’s hoodie, I’m sure she’ll love it.

 

 

Completed: The Brasilia Dress

Some time ago, when Rachel of HouseOfPinheiro requested some testers for her new pattern I joined in without thinking about all the projects I had in mind and the little time I normally have. Because this dress is beautiful. With elegant lines that hug the body one can’t help but feel classy in it. When I was trying it last week to ask for Koen’s opinion, he said that it would be good for a Sci-Fi convention. I guess that those diagonal lines plus the grey color give it a bit of a Sci-Fi flavor. That and the light reflecting on my tummy. The days are getting short and taking pictures with natural light is becoming more and more difficult, and when we get it, it could be sometimes too much, like in this case. I apologize, we had a very sunny day (Madrid Winters are sunny and beautiful, but also very cold).

I had to adapt the pattern to my measurements, quite different from Rachel’s (bust: 88 cm; waist: 67 cm; hip: 98 cm), do an FBA (for a B cup) and a slopping shoulders alteration. For the resizing I used the slice and tuck (or spread) method described in zillions of places, but I checked the Colette sewing book just in case. The FBA of this pattern is a bit special due to the bodice structure and the placement of the darts, but even though it didn’t pose any problems. I used my personal pattern blocks to compare dimensions during the process and I have to say that it sped things quite a bit. I had to shorten the bodice by 3 cm (Rachel is sooo tall) but I left the original hem length (I don’t look good in mini-skirts).

What I’m not very happy about is the fabric I used. The weight and elasticity are fine. For this project I would recommend a fabric with a little bit of elasticity so that it hugs the body, but I guess a regular cotton should work also fine. I wouldn’t recommend a knit fabric, since some structure is needed. When I complain about my fabric I don’t mean that it behaves wrongly. It doesn’t if you don’t disturb it. But I have to say that after prewashing it I notice some shrinkage when pressing it. It’s a polycotton with more poly than cotton I’m afraid, that I had leftover from Koen’s cosplay pants. It doesn’t press well, and if you insist it starts shrinking irregularly (even without steam). Therefore you can see some wrinkles especially on the front where I wanted to “tame” my seams. The skirt would need a good press but I was afraid of what could happen. I think I’m going to wash this again and see how it comes out.

I finished the neckline and armholes with bias tape but you could also apply facings. I was just a bit lazy and short of time, and anyway it looks fine like this.

I have to say that before making it I liked this dress, but now that I’ve made it I absolutely love it. You had to see my face the first time I tried on my muslin. I was amazed. The bodice lines are so flattering, and the side pieces create the illusion of having a wasp waist. Congrats, Rachel, and thanks a lot for allowing me to test this. I love this design and I’ll make it again with some better fabric.

Estelcon 2013

Yes, I’m still alive and still trying to recover from the past couple of weeks, during which a lot has happened, a lot was sewn, knitted, and I even got the time to get a new capoeira corda and to get ill twice. But this post is just about that Tolkien Society convention I’d previously mentioned. I wanted to write a couple of updates already before but in the frenzy of sewing and trying to finish our costumes I didn’t even find enough time to sleep enough (just to get ill, ha, apparently we always find time for that).

This was me just in the evening three days before leaving for the convention. As you can see I still need to attach one sleeve, finish and attach both oversleeves, sew some “silvery” details and hem the skirt. As I didn’t have a lot of time I decided to be “creative” and convert the muslin I’d previously made to lining. It’s cotton batiste, so the inside feels nice.

Please don’t look at all the clutter and rubbish around. I promise I put that silvery fabric away at the end of that evening.

Once I got the sleeves attached to the bodice I realized that attaching the oversleeves was going to be more complicated than I thought (yes, I was not very awake and the antibiotics didn’t help), because once the sleeves are sewn, how do you machine stitch something over it. Yes, my dreaded loathed simple technique: hand sewing. To keep the top from fraying I zig-zagged both lawyers and sewed it by hand while watching some Doctor Who Confidential. If I have to hand sew, at least I need to do it with something pleasant.

After attaching the oversleeves I machine sewed some silvery braids to conceal the join.

I am not sure if I’ve already mentioned it. I drafted the bodice using my personal block and I drafted the bottom using the Lonsdale skirt. I then modified it to remove the front seam, inserted eight pleats (four on the front and four on the back) and lengthened it. Now that I think of it, Cynthia’s dress didn’t have pleats, but when I was working on it I though it had. They give it a nice touch though. Matching them with the seams was extra work, but I think it makes the whole dress a little bit nicer (I prefer to think that since I realized about this too late).

I ran into the same issues as Cynthia due to the low neckline, and off course, I solved them in the same way as you can see.

Well, that was me finishing my dress, but I still had to make a little pouch for Koen and narrow his pants. This last think never got to happen. At least, in my illness, I had to skip a couple of classes, so that meant more sewing hours. Thanks to that I could complete almost everything in time.

The convention was in a village close to Barcelona, and we had a whole monastery for ourselves. The only downsides were the food, the rooms and the extreme cold. This picture was taken the last day we were there, after everything was cleaned up so the only thing you can see from the convention are the flags. It had been quite windy the night before.

There were multiple activities: a live role playing game, a tales reading, a musical with Queen songs adapted to Tolkien’s world, conferences, and writing workshops. We watched the movie Born of Hope, available on YouTube and Kate Maddison, the director was invited to give a talk. She also acted in the movie and later on she came dressed with the same clothes used when filming. At the end of the talk Koen and I were talking a bit with her, since I was curious about this whole subject due to my past working in the audiovisual sector. She’s working now on a new fantasy series for the web that looks very promising: Ren the series.

At the convention here were also workshops for the little ones. Some people have been attending this convention for years, starting when they were teenagers and now they bring their families with them. One of them was a girl nicknamed Goldberry. We met (over the internet) around 15 years ago, when I first heard of this Tolkien society and I was young. As I’ve already explained, I’ve planned to come then and I even bough some beautiful blue fabric to make a dress for the occasion. At the end it never happened, but while I was still convinced that I was going to make it I was in contact by email with this person. She could hold the title of Costumes commissioner if she wanted, because she helped so many people with tutorials and explanations. I think almost every single member of the society has made a cape based on her tutorial. She spent a lot of time with me, helping me to design a dress and she even made a tutorial especially for me based on a dress her grandmother had made for her many years ago. She even was so kind to send me that dress by mail so that I could see how it was built. And all that without really knowing, without meeting me in person a single time.

That’s why it was so special for me to see her in real life for the first time and meet her husband (her boyfriend back then) and their two sons. and we got a picture together to remember those years already past. She had the most stunning dresses and robes and I think she managed to wear like two different dresses each day. Off course her husband and sons were also appropriately dressed.

Then we got our picture with Kate, the director of Born of Hope. She was wearing here the same clothes she was wearing in the movie, that hadn’t been worn since then.

Here you can see more people at dinner. Those in the center were part of the organizers team.

And here you can see Kate again and also Goldberry with her oldest son ready to watch one of the convention traditions: the flans race.

As soon as Koen saw the flans and before really knowing the goal of the game, he said: “I would be good at that”. So when they asked for participants he had to be there.

This is one of the few pictures I have from the back of the dress. It’s not a great photo but I had to include it since it’s the best of them. I have to say that I got compliments from several people about the dress and the chain used as a belt. One came from the same Goldberry and value it immensely.

And now a couple of pictures to show several details that we forgot to shot during dinner, and also the dorms, which had 5 bunks each one. These two pictures are not very good (the first is indeed quite bad) but each one has something that I wanted to show you.

It was freaking cold in there. The past weekend the temperatures dropped considerably and we were at the mountains. With those enormous sleeves there was no way I could wear a normal sweater so the Thick Chill designed by Teresa Gregorio saved me big time.

I also wore the cape that I made 15 years ago following Goldberry’s instructions. It’s not great and as it’s made of elastic velvet so it doesn’t really drape uniformly, but the brooch is beautiful and I’m very fond of it. Sadly it was not really suited to those low temperatures and I had to wear the Thich Chill, my coat and the cape to go to the restaurant. And not only that, because people, I’m going to confess something here. As I’m not used to wear dresses in Winter and we’d prepared our bagage in a hurry, I didn’t pack tights with me, and again, it was freaking cold. So, even if you don’t see it, and only Koen knew, I was wearing my trousers underneath, my Thurlows to be more precise 😀

You can see Koen here after dinner (around 3 pm and very tired) without his vest. It’s the only picture I have where you can see the front cord. He’s in fact hiding our toothbrushes behind his back.

As I’ve said before the hardest parts of this convention for me were the extreme cold and humidity. I’m very allergic to dust-mites and have asthma, and I had lots of breathing problems all day long, especially in the dining hall (not the restaurant where we had the special dinner), the theater and the dorms. My asthma inhaler was my best friend during those days and if it wasn’t for that it would have been an almost perfect weekend. Because of that it was difficult to get enough sleep and in the mornings we were woken up with the sound of a blowing horn. Something like this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVbEswv6TVg

Another problem we had was that, as we were using common showers, some clothes got lost. Koen came out of the shower just to find that his clean t-shirt and underwear were gone. He had to come back to the dorm with just his towel and he was lucky that he had prepared an extra set of clothes just in case (he got dirty or sweaty).

We were quite tired most of the time due to being sleep deprived, but we had anyway lots of fun.

You can see our costumes here. Koen’s t-shirt is based in the Strathcona Henley and his pants in the Jedediah Pants. He chose the fabrics himself and you don’t want to see my face when he chose a knit fabric to make a warrior shirt. He wanted to be a plain warrior so he dismissed any thought about capes or ornaments.

About my dress I would say that the fit is quite good, although you can see some wrinkles here and there. I guess that with a little bit more of time I could have come with something a bit better, but I’m very pleased with what I made in very little time. In hindsight I could have lowered the waist one or two inches, I could have adjusted the neckline better and shorten the skirt by an inch, since walking was a bit difficult with this length. I used almost all the fabric I had bought 15 years ago and I’m very happy to have found finally a good use for it quite similar to the one I initially thought for it.

More pictures on my Flickr.

Andi’s pattern ‘From A to Z’ is finally released!

As I’ve previously mentioned, testing for Andi from Untangling Knots was a real pleasure. The moment I’ve laid eyes on this cardigan I fell completely in love with it. With that retro look and imagining how good it could go with my dresses there was nothing else that I needed. I was hooked and I needed to make it. Period.

I found the pattern very well written and the construction immensely clever. As I’ve said before, this is a nice project to try intarsia, since it’s used for the pocket bands. Ideal for a first try but not overwhelming. I would definitely say that if you want to try to see how intarsia feels, you should try this pattern.

The pocket construction is different from the one I did on Émilien, but it’s also very well designed and it was one of the things that made me fall in love with this cardigan. And there’s no sewing involved! No mattress stitch, no blanket stitch, no stitch at all!

And you can stuff your hands in them, or your keys, or some coins. They are ideal and usable pockets.

I love seamless sweaters. I have to say that I don’t really enjoy sewing by hand, and joining sleeves and other parts to my knitting projects is not really my cup of tea; but sometimes it’s nice to escape from the typical raglan construction. And this is a construction that will surprise and please you. Again, it’s so clever! The final project looks like a traditional cardigan with joined sleeves, but it uses a seamless construction. I really want more of it.

As you can see, the cardigan is fitted, enhancing the female figure. The sleeves were also a nice surprise, since most of the time I need to modify them and make them narrower than what the pattern says, but this was not the case. The sleeves were just right for my arms.

It looks nice buttoned and unbuttoned, and it feels so cozy that I want to wear it all the time (that is, if the temperature is not 40 ºC).

The pattern includes charts to double stitch each letter in the alphabet. A nice and unique touch to make your cardigan really custom made.

When making the arm bands I thought about using jogless stripes, but those only really work if they are wide, since at the joint the stripe is one row thinner and it would look too evident in this case. I thought about using travelling jogless stripes, but that meant my rows travelling 4 stitches and I was not convinced. I tried them anyway and decided it was not worth the hassle. Again, Andi was right.

This is by far my favorite cardigan until now. Bravo for Andi and her really clever construction.

If you want to make this beautiful cardigan you can get the pattern on Ravelry.

Here my project page in case you want to take a look.

New cardigan sneek peak

Let me introduce you to the new cardigan designed by Andi Satterlund.

I’m wearing my Hawthorn dress underneath, all wrinkly from my suitcase, sorry.

I’ve been working on it during the last month and I can say that I feel very fortunate to have tested this pattern. The design is vintage and feminine, ideal for wearing with your favourite dresses during the cool spring and autumn days; though it would also look super nice with a pair of pants and a scarf for winter. It’s a fitted design with perfectly functional pockets. The design reminds a little bit of those cheerleeders from the 50’s, which makes it retro and gives it a flavour of youth.

This pattern will be available very soon, so stay tuned.