Changes

Life is still changing here. Marvin, another rescued lovebird, joined Billy, Daisy and Colin. The group dynamics still need some more time but they are progressing favorably.
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Billy is being treated right now for a bacterial hepatitis. He was not himself lately so we decided to pay a visit to the vet, and after an X-ray and a blood sample he confirmed the diagnose. He’s been on antibiotics for almost two weeks and he’s much better now.

And Colin, the most lovable bird in the world.

Colin says hi #lovebirds

A video posted by @elena_knits on

We will moving soon again. If you remember, we moved about a year ago but this apartment never lived up to our expectations, apart from being freackingly expensive and quite far from Koen’s work. Also the landlord is the most irresponsible person I’ve ever known. We had continuous toilet clogs since the beginning of spring and had to wait days with the whole mess in the bathroom. So we’re leaving. Soon. We went yesterday to see a beautiful apartment. It will be available at the end of the year, but we don’t mind waiting since we need to give a two months notice at the current apartment.

As I’ve said before, my sewing and knitting mojo left with my beloved Gerry, but I made an effort for two important babies:

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Koen’s newest nephew

 

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And of my friends from university’s first baby

I used the Peekaboo Lullaby bodysuit pattern. As I made them already some time ago, I don’t remember a lot, except that my sewing machine chewed up one of the sleeves when hemming it, so I decided not to topstitch the neckline to avoid making a mess. I do this more and more with knits, as my machine is quite unpredictable on them. Probably I will get a new one when things are settled down (I have my eye on the Elna 3210).

And as I had quite some fabric leftover I made another Kitschycoo Barrie Briefs. I barely wore the other two I made this summer because the double fabric made made me sweat (we had the hottest summer in the last 10 years), but for fall and winter they are nice and cozy.

Aren’t they nice with their knights and dragons?

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Grieving

It’s been a while since I wrote something here, and also the same for visiting your blogs, my dear readers. I have a good excuse, something that has prevented me from knitting or sewing, and I can say that not even a single stitch has been produced since then. On May 27th, due to a neighbor and a plumber, Gerry escaped through the bathroom window. He was inside his cage when the plumber was at home, but then I was asked to go to the neighbor upstairs to request him to flush, and then it all happened. Gerry escaped from his cage, crossed the stupid curtain that we installed in the living room and went to the bathroom looking for me. He found two strangers and left.

I was able to see him perched on the window of another neighbor, but when I tried to get there he got scared and flew away. A couple of hours later I heard him on a tree on the square in front of our place so I asked some neighbors in the building closest to the tree if I could go upstairs. I could see him there, overexcited about all the images and sounds. He screamed at me a couple of times and flew away over a high building. That was the last I saw from him.

We walked the streets with birds sound, played birds sounds on our terrace for more than a week and put papers on the street. It was kind of hard because the street cleaners remove them almost everyday, but we at least try. There were a couple of false alarms, but Gerry did not appear.

I can’t express with words how all this made me feel. It still hurts in a way I didn’t experiment for a very long time. It may sound very strong, but I felt like I was losing a child. My child. My beloved child. He was already with us when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I couldn’t go out a lot but I didn’t care because he was with me. I usually work from home, so we spent all day together. I spent more hours with Gerry than with my own boyfriend. He was wild in his own way, but he allowed me in his little world in a way that he didn’t allow anybody else. He was a mommy’s boy, my mommy’s boy. And now he’s lost. And time goes by, and I’m losing hope.

The first think I wanted, of course, was for him to come back. The second was losing my memory, because continuing with my life remembering all those moments together was unbearable.

There are a couple of parks in Madrid where escaped parrots live, but I can’t know if he made it there. They are about 2 km from my home. I also don’t know if somebody caught him of if he got inside an apartment through an open window (it’s very warm here). I don’t know anything, and the uncertainty is killing me.

I guess I can only expect to heal from this but for now I can’t imagine how I’m going to do it. The first week I couldn’t stop crying, and I didn’t sleep a night without waking up with a racing heart at least three or four times. I was prepared to share at least 15 years with him, but that is not happening.

My baby is gone, and I don’t know how to cope with it. Who’s going to scratch his head in the way he likes?

I can’t even bear to watch pictures of him, so I won’t share any in this post.

The house felt too empty that we decided to adopt two baby lovebirds. We need to feed them several times a day and they keep us busy (and sane, I hope), but they can’t replace my Gerry, because Gerry was my baby, my love; and we shared so many things that I couldn’t even start to write them down. Every day there was an anecdote that made the day special. We had a special connection, and now I’m lost.

So if you don’t see me commenting on your blogs, please excuse me, I am not even able to function normally, and I can’t knit or sew because I miss my sewing buddy. Even nowadays I surprise myself from time to time with some cry bursts. We installed a door where the stupid curtain used to be. But it’s too late. Too late for me, too late for him.

How to mend a broken heart?

Another Lady Skater Dress and a new cardigan

During Me Made May, making the effort of wearing many different garments will teach you why you never wear some of them. But if you’re lazy like me, you’ll recognize a pattern and may even find your uniform. We are just over two thirds of the month, and I’m almost embarrassed when I realize that most of the time I’m either wearing either my Angela Wolf Bootcut Jeans or one of my Lady Skater Dresses. Going for one or the other it really depends on the weather. I’m just like that: practical, basic, boring. As we are having an unusual hot May (we almost reached 40ºC – 100ºF -) I’m heavily rotating my Lady Skaters. I thought of wearing once my Cambie Dress, but since I just go out to the grocery store (I work from home), I felt like I was going to be overdressed. I wore one my the Lady Skaters instead. Why? Because they are so easy and comfy to wear, almost like pajamas. But they are also very flattering, and the A-line skirt is ideal for pear shaped gals. Being made with knit fabric means that they won’t wrinkle, no ironing, and you can fold them to a very small size. And they are so easy to make. No interfacing, darts or zipper. Little pressing. It’s really a win win (no, Amanda hasn’t contacted me to write a post about the Lady Skater Dress).

So with all these reasons, it’s just natural that I was going to make at least another one. Let me introduce you to my new favorite dress.

I bought this fabric during my visit to Vigo around Christmas. I think I paid €4 for a meter and a half, it’s what you get buying fabric by the kilo. It’s a stable knit that would have been much more expensive in different conditions. I didn’t know what I was going to make when I bought it but I also got the same fabric in purple tones for the same price. This May it was clear that this had to be a Lady Skater Dress.

I didn’t try matching the print, but I did try to place it carefully so that the result would be harmonious. The print is centered in the bodice and skirt in the same way. Even the sides look good. What I did was using a skirt piece to cut the other one.

I usually turn in the instructed inch (2.5 cm) for hemming, but here I reduced it to 1.5 cm, and I like this length a lot better. The bodice is shortened like my previous Lady Skater dresses and that length was added to the hem of the skirt.

It’s incredible how the fabric can transform this dress from casual to something more elegant. I usually pair my LKD with a belt but this one I like it just like this. Maybe a thin belt would be nice. Black or matching color with a cardigan.

Not sporting a belt here but you get the idea. This is the Marion Cardigan by Untangling Knots. I love Andi’s designs, and it seems this year I’m only knitting her sweaters.

I like how it looks from the back combined with this dress.

I knitted the smallest size with no mods this time, apart for including an extra buttonhole. It took me ages to finish it, part due to my own mistakes and forgetting to count, and part due to this little prick 😉

And what are your current knitting/sewing plans? What’s your TNT pattern?

Another Edith Blouse

I was not convinced the first time, but I knew this fabric was not meant to be a Gertie’s 40s Blouse, so I tried again the Edith Blouse. As I said, I was not in love with my first try, but the blouse was so easy and comfortable to wear that it grew on me. So I changed my mind and made another one (modifying the collar a little bit since my first was too large).

This fabric composition is unknown, probably a cotton blend, since it doesn’t press as nicely as the other one. It was a bargain that I got with the Call the Midwife Skirt fabric. I think it was something like €6 for a meter and a half.

Apart from the collar I didn’t modify anything else, but for my next time I will probably lower the armscyes a little bit to avoid those wrinkles and make the collar even smaller.

All in all, I’m very pleased, and I even wore it on Friday with my Armande cardigan. What’s with me and purple this year? It’s also happening with green. Unbelievable.

I’m not one to plan too much ahead so this was just a happy coincidence.

And you? Do you plan your outfits or just knit and sew as you please? I’d love to read your thoughts on the matter.

Brooch: Luxulite

Two Lady Skaters from the past and some briefs from the future

My first Lady Skater dress was a complete success, but it was made with cheap jersey and the waist needed to be raised by 3 inches, so it’s was just natural that I had to make another one. This one was even better, and I loved the steampunk print.

I wore this dress to death during the warm months last year but I never came around to blog about it. A shame I may say.

This dress is ultra comfortable but at the same time it doesn’t make you feel underdressed. The A-line skirt is flattering even for pear shaped gals like me. The dress is meant to be shorter, but as I liked the length on my first, I lengthened the skirt by the 3 inches that I removed on the bodice. Perfect!

I loved this dress so much that I needed to make another one in a crazy print. Last summer I ordered this jersey online and cut the dress pieces. Then my health took a turn for the worse and this dress didn’t get sewn. Until now.

When I was sewing it last weekend I didn’t know how I came up to buy this crazy fabric, more appropriate for my 5-year old niece than for a grown up woman in her mid 30s. But I wore it today to run some errands and the injection of color made me feel awesome!

I need more Lady Skater dresses in my life, and I already already some fabric waiting.

Since I had some spare fabric and time I also made another Barrie Briefs. I wanted to test this pattern with a better fabric and I think this bands feel firmer than my previous. The other bands were made with a fabric that seemed to have elastane but it was donated by my sister years ago, so I cannot completely vouch for its composition. I still have to wear these new Briefs for a complete day if I can convince Gerry to let go of them. He sure wants a pair for himself!

The Barrie Boy Cut Briefs

I made this little number two weekends ago, but I wanted to test it a couple of times before writing a post about it. I always wanted to try to make my underwear. I finally succeeded in sewing with knits and I’ve even made underwear for Koen twice. I tried to make a pair of knickers some time ago but sewing the elastic resulted in a red hot mess (featured in #bpsewvember). No idea why I could make bikinis without major issues. So when I heard that Amanda released a pattern of a pair of knickers without using elastic I didn’t think it twice.

It came up quick and easy. There’s not a lot to say about the construction, since it’s very straighforward. I was in between sizes 3 and 4, and as all the knickers I’ve tried to make always came up too large (probably because I have most of my volume at the top of my thighs but not so much at my hipbones), I went with size 3.

I used the remnants of my Camas Blouse. I wanted the bands in white but I thought that since this is was my first try, I was going to use all the orange fabric left, but after placing the pattern pieces on top of it, it was clear that I only had enough for the main parts. I used my serger for everything except for basting the gusset to the main piece.

And now some real pictures of how it really looks like when wearing it. It offers a bit more coverage than any bikini bottom I own, so I hope nobody gets scared when they see my bum on the internet.

The fit is very good, and the first time I wore them (last Saturday) I was impressed about how good they felt. It was like wearing sweat pants instead of jeans, if you know what I mean. It felt kind of weird not having elastics around the usual places. That day I stayed mostly home wearing loose yoga pants and I noticed that the back sides rode up a bit when I sat down. I mostly felt it when I got up and I saw myself putting it back in place several times. Not that they gave me a wedge, but I guess I like when my knickers hug my bum. That day we also danced a bit of lindy hop. I wore jeans and I have no complains there.

The second time I wore them was yesterday. I worked from home wearing my Margot Pajama Bottoms (made of cotton flannel) and it felt a bit better than with my yoga pants. I went then to do pilates and wore lightly tight yoga pants and the back sides were riding up again. That day the performance was worse with jeans than on Saturday. One could think that if they do that is because they are too small on the butt, but I digress, since when I stand up again I get some wrinkles at the center back and therefore the gusset too, and believe me, these last ones are not comfortable and it’s what ruins this underpants for me.

I have the feeling that elastics give underwear more durability. I don’t know yours, but my underwear gets quite stretched over time (I put it in the washing machine) and at some point what still holds it in shape is the elastic (before they get tossed out). These Barrie Briefs feel really wonderful the first time you put them on, but I am afraid they won’t perform so well after some washes, and even at the beginning I had issues with them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Hulk thighs 😀

Edited: I made another pair in a better quality fabric (at least known composition) and they seem to hold much better. I’m not addicted to this and I’m planning to make more 😀

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).

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!