Monday, January 19, 2015

Knitting for Others - X-mas

So I'm still a bit behind on blogging about stuff, but before we begin with the actual sewn garments, I'll show you the X-mas gifts I knitted real quick. :) We don't give gifts in my immediate family (and aren't I grateful - instead we try to spend time together and have fabulous dinners), but there's always a few people requiring gifts: my two grannies, B.'s family, mostly (my tiny half siblings like it better if they get actual toys, not pretend-gifts like me-made stuff).

This is what I made for B's family. The headbands are more or less self-drafted and knit with chunky wool. They're very fast to knit, maybe an hour? Two at the most. The green one was for B's cousin, the navy one for his dad and the teal one for his mom.
His brother got the acid green mittens, he's an IT guy / programmer so I was thinking that mitts he could wear while programming were probably a good gift. The pattern is Maize by tincanknits (free on Ravelry). The fuchsia pair of mittens was for B's grandma, a most lovely old lady. She used to sew and I even recieved some of her stash fabrics some time ago. They're made of Alpaca yarn and the pattern is Cranford Mitts (which is part of the p-hop initiative by Médecens sans frontières).
I also made a pair of self-striping socks for B's grandpa. I bought a book on how to knit two socks at the same time, which is pretty marvellous! Combined with the fact that I used 6 ply wool, these were even knit up within a week, which is definitely a first for me.
The pièce de resistance is the Percy shawl I knit for my granny, though. I started it the fall before last Christmas and didn't manage to finish it in time. It's knit from the apex of the triangle to the base, so every row takes longer and longer to knit... Then at some point, the nupps start, which is where I pretty much gave up last year. ;) First knitting 7 stitches into one, and then purling all 7 stitches together on the back row??! I felt like I almost broke my fingers several times. But I was so happy when I finished it!!! It turned out truly beautiful, and my granny may have shed a couple of tears when she unwrapped it. :)
And because I can't do a whole post just about knitting for others... when there was still some knitting time and yarn left over the holidays, I made a headband for myself. :)
Do you tend to give hand-made Christmas gifts?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sewing Top 5 - Reflections and Goals

I know Gillian has pretty much already wrapped up the sewing top five, but since this post has been half-written for several days (and I really prefer finishing stuff, if possible), here's my last part! :)

I have to say, reflections and goals are not my favorite. I stopped making New Year's resolutions several years ago. I usually just think that stuff went ok and that it's probably going to continue to do so. I mean, I've got stuff like life-goals (like, starting a family before turning thirty and this whole becoming-a-doctor-and-then-a-GP stuff) and very small/short-time goals (like cooking dinner and then taking a bath tonight and seeing "Waiting for Godot" at the theater later this month). Maybe it's that I'm just not all that ambitious about my hobbies? At least not in the I'm-going-to-learn-this-skill-and-then-accomplish-that sense of the word. It's not that I don't want to learn things. I made an Anise jacket last month, complete with welt pockets and bound button holes (yup, still unblogged). I started this trouser thing (similarly unblogged, because unfinished) that I'd like to continue this year. With Ginger jeans, possibly.
Then again, I just looked over my Goals for 2014 (I never looked at them during the year) and realized that, while they were pretty specific, they were actually stuff I worked on. Huh. Seems like I chose goals that was actually more or less sensible. ;-) Let's have a look at it:

1. Close some wardrobe gaps, like making a lacy dress, a slinky top, a denim skirt. No slinky top was forthcoming, but I made several lacy dresses and a twisty, long-sleeved party dress (unblogged) as well as two Moss skirts.

2. Make some clothes for work. No trousers and no collared blouses, but I made some t-shirts/tops that got worn a lot for work.

3. Work on a better fit. Well, it was mostly knits this year, so there wasn't a lot of working involved. Just feels-like-pyjamas garments.

4. Reduce the fabric stash so it fits on my shelves, give the rest away or sew with it. Well. I gave some fabric away and I sewed some up, but mostly I freed up some shelf space to house my new fabric... So that's a no.

5. Try five patterns from the stash that I hadn't sewn up yet. Well, I'm dubious about that. But let's have a look at what I actually sewed this year.

one Simplicity 5421 skirt - already made before (using fabric from stash)
two Moss skirts - from pattern stash (fabric from stash)
six Ottoble raglan tops and a dress - TNT (all using new fabric)
two knit Macaron dresses - TNT (one using stash fabric, one using new fabric)
one Ultimate wrap dress - new pattern (new fabric)
two twisty dresses and a top - new pattern (new fabric)
one Anise jacket - new pattern (new fabric)
two sundresses from Gertie's book - pattern stash (one using stash fabric, one new)
five Lola dresses - TNT (one refashion, two using new fabric, one using stash)
one pair of Espresso leggings - TNT (new fabric)
one Bronte top - new pattern (new fabric)
one unfinished muslin of the Thurlow trousers - pattern stash (stash fabric)
one modified Verity dress - already made before (stash fabric)

Ok, so I used three patterns from my pattern stash that I hadn't used before. I also bought about fifteen new patterns. Well, well, well... That's also eight garments using stash fabric vs. seventeen garments using new (bought in 2014) fabric (and one refashion). Oh well. It's also 25 (point five, counting the unfinished trousers as half) garments in total. Plus five pairs of knickers (from scraps), which I also counted last year. So, 30 garments. That less than last year's 42, but still averaging a bit more than a garment every two weeks, which sounds pretty good to me. :)

Reflections? Well.

1. I like shiny new fabric. And it's best when I use it up right away. There's some stuff in my fabric stash that I'm occasionally grateful for (black jersey, anyone?) but overall, I think it would be better if my stash were smaller and I'd use up stuff before buying new. Because my tastes change, and there's always the lure of new fabric. 

2. I like my TNT patterns best and use them all the time. But it's fun to buy new patterns, too. (So. Many. PATTERNS out there!)

3. I usually sew in bursts, when sewing mojo and free time meet. If I haven't sewn for a while, it's harder to get the mojo up, so I make a Lola dress. Or an Ottobre top. And maybe something else afterwards, because I'm in the zone.

4. I think two garments a month is a pretty sustainable pace of making for me. Enough shiny new things to make me happy, without totally overflowing my wardrobe.

5. I'm too tired to think of another one...

Goals (?)

I really like Gillian's goals, actually. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" So in 2015 I'm going to:

1. continue to sew. As much as is fun.

2. continue to learn and grow my skills. As much as is fun.

3. make stuff. Possibly new stuff, like maybe some trousers. And a bathing suit (Bombshell!). Also, TNT stuff like Ottobre raglan tops and jersey dresses and Lolas. Because. :)

4. possibly find a new battery for my camera remote and actually take nice pictures. Or get one of these funny selfie sticks for my phone? 'Cause B. always pouts when I make him take pictures. (Ok let's be honest, in all probability my photography won't improve this year. I'm not bothered and I hope you can forgive me.)

5. continue to blog. Occasionally, when I find the time. 'Cause I started working at the hospital last week, and there's going to be night and weekend shifts. Thankfully not right away, but soon. So.

Huh. Ok, so I'm not sure if this was quite the note I wanted to hit for a New Year's reflection post. I'm actually still a bit intimidated by my new job, and the challenges that I'm going to face. I'm pretty sure it's going to be alright in the end (and it's just for a year, then it's back to the nice regularity of the doctor's office). So I'm just going to leave you with yesterday's pretty sunset.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sewing Top 5 - Highlights

So I had better blog about the rest of my Top 5 before January is over, right? Not time like the present. :)
The new category this year is non-sewing highlights which I think is a fun category, so thanks for including it, Gillian!

My highlights for 2015:

1. Holding an actual full-time job for the first time in my life.
I did rather enjoy the countless (ok, let's be honest, seven) years of being at uni, wild and free ;) but it's kinda satisfying to actually make money and not rely on the goodwill of my parents anymore. Jarring to not have about 4 months of vacation this year. But it's funny how much more I look forward to those actual free days like week-ends and holidays. Also: I'm a doctor now. (I still kinda feel like a fake when I say that. Lol.)
2. 12 years with B.
I had my 12 year anniversary with my boyfriend B. this year. He's still my favorite person in the world. :) We had a lot of wonderful moments together this year. Spa day. Going to the theater. Macaron baking class. :)
3. Travelling
To Würzburg. To Italy. To Liverpool and Edinburgh. Home. To Westphalia. To the Baltic Sea. Italy again. Hanover. Home.
4. Starting on my PhD
(I think that's what it is. 'Cause you're an MD (physician in Germany) when you finish medschool and do your board exams, right? If you go on to do research and write a scientific thesis/publish papers you get a PhD (Dr. med. in Germany). I think? Systems are so different... ;) )
5. Stuff
Because I think I'm counting it a highlight that I still manage to do the stuff that I love (a.k.a. sewing, choir singing, meeting friends on a regular basis, travelling, growing tomatoes, occasionally writing stories and, on similarly rare occasions, blogging) while still holding aforementioned full-time job. I know, there are people who juggle all that plus family and kids and probably finding a cure for cancer. How'd you do that, peeps?
Um yeah. So maybe not quite the usual sort of highlights. But I feel like it has been a fantastic year overall. Which is pretty much what counts, right?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sewing Top 5 - Hits & Misses

Hi everyone, did you have a good holiday? Mine is still pretty lovely, I've been at my parents' for the last week, mostly eating and drinking and being social (and meeting up with various parts of my family and my boyfriend's family). And knitting. :) It's a good thing that knitting is such a socially acceptable craft, since I managed to make/finish most of my christmas gift after getting here… Blogging, of course, is much more difficult to do in a social setting, which is why there are still some unblogged garments. Oh well. There's thankfully lots of time between New Year's and my first day at my new workplace (Jan. 5). Four whole undisturbed days!

Anyway, since I have a bit of undisturbed time right now, I thought I might join in with Gillian's Sewing Top 5 2014. I love reading about these every year since she started them two years ago. So.

Top 5 Sewing Hits

#1: The award for the garment(s) with the most wears definitely goes to my two polka-dot t-shirts. I wore them at work pretty much all summer long. Almost every day.
(The garment with the second most wears is probably another (yet unblogged) work top: the top with a twist, which I wore almost daily all through autumn…)

#2: The award for the garment that the most time and care went into for construction, and which has seen several days of continuous wear already is my as yet unblogged Anise jacket.
I love it! My very first jacket! Gonna blog about it soon.

#3 and #4: The award for the most unexpected hit this year definitely goes to the two maxi dresses I made. I wasn't sure I'd wear the first one at all, until I finished it and fell so hard for it, I had to make a second one. They definitely get the award for the most effortlessly pulled off perfect look.
Ok, they may have to share that one with #5: the (yet unblogged) Christmas party dress. Yes, it's navy. Yes, it's long-sleeved. Yes, it's jersey. While all of that may scream comfy but boring, it's got a front twist. And a neckline that lets the lace of my slip peek out. It's the dress I never knew I needed. Now I may never take it off… ;-)

Top 5 Sewing Misses

I think I only have one true sewing miss this year. It's the green Lola, made up in an interlock fabric without recovery. I think it may have been worn twice (?) around the house?
I have also ratted out another miss from last year. The plaid Hawthorn never got worn. Maybe twice overall. The fit just wasn't right (I think I mangled my short waist adjustment) and it wasn't quite my color, either. It's now in the to-be-donated pile.
There are a couple more that I'm not quite 100% happy with, that have slight fit or construction issues. I don't love the gaping neckline of the polka-dot dress. The front fly of the floral Moss sits a bit awkwardly. The sleeve length of the (yet unblogged) Bronte top turned out to be completely wrong (but I think I'll just shorten them to elbow length and that will be that).
They do get worn, though, if not quite as much as the rest of this year's wardrobe.
Gotta call it a win, then, this year. :-)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Leftovers of Spring - the Moss Skirt

This is the final post about stuff sewed practically ages ago - yay! If we keep up this pace, I may actually blog about all the garments I made in the last weeks before the year is out! ;)

These two really are from way back in spring, two Grainline Moss skirts I made in April. Since it has been so long, I don't remember everything about the sewing and construction. I do remember that I was happy about the thoroughness of the instructions, and that I managed to correctly insert a fly front zipper on the first try. 

The first version I sewed as a kind of wearable muslin was refashioned from a thrifted button-down dress. At first I thought it was made of linen, but then the tag called it "ramie", which seems to be made from a type of nettle.
Sadly I neglected to take a picture of the dress before I cut it apart... but I saved the golden buttons that went down the front, to use for the skirt.
The pocket linings are leftovers from my Hawaiian Macaron.
And yes, the skirt got worn several times over the spring and summer. It tends to wrinkle a lot, but I really like the bright blue colour!

Version no. 2 was made from a stretch cotton I got in a fabric shop in Cologne last year. I love the rose print on torquoise background so much!
You may remember these pictures, als I already wore the skirt during my Easter holiday in Italy...

Please excuse the wrinkles... This is also the very first jeans button I inserted. I used a hammer. It was very satisfying. ;) I think I had some problems with the attaching of the waistband on this version, because I neglected to staystitch the very stretchy cotton, so the lengths didn't match up. I'm definitely going to remember next time I sew with stretch cotton... So now, as best as I can remember:
The facts: 
Pattern: Grainline Moss skirt, version A in a straight size 10
Fabric: a thrifted Rami dress for the blue version, 1 meter of rose-print stretch cotton for no. 2 as well as some leftover scraps for the pocket linings and waistbands.
Notions: one metal zipper each, as well as two gold buttons for the blue skirt and a jeans button for the flower skirt and interfacing for the waistband.
Time to complete: I honestly don't remember, but not that long. The fly front probably took the longest... ;)
Alterations: I omitted the pocket on the blue version, because I forgot.
Techniques used: Fly front zipper, some topstitching on the pocket, turned-and-topstitched hem, machine-stitched button holes. Overlocked seam finish. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Pair of LBDs

So I'm slowly wrapping up the leftovers of my summer sewing. Here are two Little Black Dresses I made (in July!!). I guess they'd actually each deserve a post of their own but you know how it is - I can't believe that it's Christmas in less than three weeks...

Little Black Dress No. 1
This could also be called my Choir Dress. I've been meaning to make one since we agreed on our current dress code for concerts: a nice outfit consisting of equal(ish) portions of black and either of the following colours: red, green, blue or yellow. I usually go for either red or green, so I could have made a dress in one of those colours, and I may do so yet. But black gives me maximum versatility, and I usually pair it with some coloured tights and accessoires/jewellery and a matching fabric flower.
My choir dress is made of black jersey (because I can, it's so lovely when comfort and style go together - and for optimum breathing ability while singing ;) ). I used stretch lace for the yoke and midriff band.
It took me a while to figure out how to best treat the edges of the stretch lace. Then I had the bright idea of having a look at my one RTW lace dress and do you know what, it's both easy and pretty: a scalloped elastic zigzagged to the edge and then turned under. Looks great and gives nice stability! And so much easier than binding with self-fabric, as I tried with my first lace dress...
The only other "special technique" I included was to iron a knit stabilizing tape to the seam that connects the sweetheart neckline to the yoke, to keep the seam allowance from showing, and also to the turned under seam allowance of the sweatheart (which is then topstitched to the lace). The rest of the dress was made on my overlocker and the hem and sleeves turned under and stitched with a twin needle. (Btw, remind me to never try to sew with black fabric in less than full daylight. Those twin needle hems feature one black and one dark navy line of stitching. It's hard to see and if anybody asks, it's a design featur, but oh boy...)
The pattern, by the way, is my usual knit top/dress pattern, and I used my (modified for fit) Macaron bodice to copy the sweetheart neckline (and the construction method for attaching the yoke).

The dress has held up well for the past few concerts. :)
in-action shot of our last concert :)

Little Black Dress No. 2

Polka-dot LBD! This spring, I got the Ultimate Wrap Dress from Sew Over It and decided that a polka-dot wrapdress would be a brilliant idea. For some reason I very much like the idea of wrap dresses, but in the end I usually have problems with gaping, so I don't often wear them. (The exception to this is Colette's Crepe dress, obviously, which wraps in the back. Such an ingenious concept, maybe I should try that one in jersey, one of these days...)
I'm not quite sure if this pattern gapes naturally, if it's my fabric choice or if my pattern alteration (shortening the bodice by 4 cm right at the point where the wrap ends) aggrevated the problem. The facings definitely didn't help. In the end, I just bought a lace bustier to wear under the dress, to prevent indecent showings of cleavage and it's quite wearable like that, even if the waist ties still sit a tad too low for my taste. I did wear it quite a bit during summer, though.
I'm pretty sure that there will be a next version, possibly even a long-sleeved one for winter/spring. Next time I will try to remember to add an elastic waist stay and I will bind the neckline instead of doing facings, which should help with the gaping. I'm also almost sure that I can go down a size. There are a few more bodice tweakings I'll try: change the angle of the neckline and raise the waist ties. I'm also going to shorten them, since I have a feeling that they're almost ridiculously long... ;)
So that's two Little Black Dresses down. The Choir Dress really filled a wardrobe gap, whereas I'm not so sure about the wrap dress... Is it the fit? Maybe it's just not quite my style? Maybe I should have made the tie in a contrast colour? Anyway. I feel like there might be another LBD (or two) in my future. One a bit classier, because every time I want to wear something elegant(ish) that isn't quite a taffeta cocktail dress (ahem) or a ballgown, I'm a bit stumped... But I have the perfect pattern! Now I just need to find some really slinky black jersey...