Thursday, July 31, 2014

orchid/grey cardi details.

Now that the fervor of getting my pictures done for the OAL has subsided, I have a chance to write a bit more about my cardigan.  This is my second knitting project since I started knitting again after a long hiatus.  It's a stash-buster that was inspired by two skeins of silk/merino yarn I bought at Powell's Bookstore a couple years ago when I was knitting a lot of dolly sweaters.

I knew it wasn't really the right weight for doll clothes, but I carried this variagated orchid and rich dark grey yarn all around Powell's because I didn't want to stop touching it and by the time I was ready to check out, I couldn't bear to part with it.

I started some cabled fingerless mitts with the orchid yarn, but frogged them.  Once I started knitting sweaters for myself again, I knew that I wanted to incorporate these yarns into a stripy sweater.  I dug around in my small stash. (Last Christmas, I thought I was probably done with knitting & I had a huge destash and gave two grocery bags full of yarn away to crafty friends.)

I found some lovely oatmeal-grey alpaca and a soft charcoal blue-grey wool/angora blend to go with my two merino/silk yarns.

If this sweater is anything, it's SOFT! And very, very warm. (A little too warm for the 91 degree day it was photographed! However, I did seek it out in an air-conditioned restaurant a few hours later & thoroughly enjoyed wearing it.)

The sweater is a raglan cardigan made from a formula.  The formula turned out really well, except for one thing - the neck is very 'crew' and I normally wear more of a scooped or v-neck shape.  I like to button the middle buttons of a cardigan usually, but that looked weird with such a high neck.  I thought I hated the sweater until I realized that it's actually cute buttoned from the top down to about the middle.

I'm also pleased with the button bands.  I bid on a lot of buttons on ebay and even bought some back-up ones at Joann before I won these lovely Czech glass blue-grey buttons.  I also bought some orchid velvet ribbon when I thought I wanted to do my button bands on the front of the sweater, but after my last one - I decided I liked the ribbon on the inside and velvet wouldn't be right for a lining ribbon. I got some dove grey vintage Petersham ribbon from etsy instead.

I sewed the ribbon on the inside of both plackets.  I knitted button holes in the yarn placket and I machine-sewed button holes in the ribbon, then I used a needle and thread to bind both together.  This is the back and here is the front of the same button hole.

I planned the whole thing more methodically this time and stitched everything onto the sweater by hand. It took a long time, but it was pleasant work and I am very pleased with the outcome.

I used the buttons I had stitched on the other placket as a guide to mark my button holes on the ribbon, then I matched the button holes of the knitted band and the ribbon and sewed the edges together.  For the inner edges, I used my fingers a lot to stretch out each section and easy it in.

This was a very organic fusion of knit fabric and rigid sewing techniques and materials... and I really like the resulting marriage of softness and structure in the band. It was worth the patience.  Here I hold the ribbon taut between two button holes and stitch it down with my other hand.

Once the ribbon was stiched down, it was time to bind the two sets of button holes together.  Here the top hole is finished and the second one is still separated. 

In the end, it created a polished, practically invisible finish on the outer band. I love them because they really stayed buttoned - unlike any cardigans I made before with solely knitted bands.

This is a good thing for me because I always love to wear my cardigans partially buttoned.  Having a messy or ineffective band is a sure way for a sweater to end up in the back of my closet.

One more detail that makes me particularly happy and then I really will desist.  It's the shaping of the sweater, below the bust. It would have been easy to do faux-sideseam shaping, but I decided to try something different, inspired by the Miette.  The Miette has pretty bust darts.  I decided to do something similar, but a bit more subtle underbust shaping.

It's a lot of fun and I think it's an elegant alternative to side shaping.  Both are fine, but the bust shaping just seems a bit more feminine and interesting.  All in all, I love my sweater and look forward to wearing it in the fall. The Outfit-Along was such a great idea - I hope it becomes an annual event. It was a really fun and useful project and seeing the other projects that people have created has been really inspirational.  Thank you, Andi and Lauren!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

OAL complete! (affectionately named: 50 shades of grey)

Pardon me if I look a little peaked in these photos of my completed OAL - outfit-along.  It's just that my outfit includes a wool/alpaca/silk sweater and it's 91 degrees out when these photos were taken.  I'm trying to pretend that I'm in a fairyland of autumnal woodland splendour... but I never have been a very good liar.

I'm actually pretty in love with my outfit, but don't expect to wear it seriously until October, or so.

The sweater is a cardigan from a DIY formula pattern and the dress was meant to be part of my Vintage pattern pledge, but it turned out to be fitted (or possibly just overworked) within an inch of its life, until it resembled nothing further from the vintage pattern.
(I was going to make view 1, without a collar and cutting the front bodice piece on the fold to eliminate the placket.  I made it that way and the fit/style were very strange.  But that's a story for another post.)

All in all, I really like the sweater and dress together.  I wasn't sure for a while... but they've both grown on me a great deal.

Here's a stand-alone photo of the dress, which started out as a 1960's shirtwaist vintage dress pattern and ended up as this... pin-tucks and all.

Here I am a few hours later in much more of my own natural environment - an airconditioned restaurant - drinking a pomegranate cider.

I'll write more about both garments later... for now, I'm just happy that I managed to get a photo of them on my body during a heatwave before the deadline for the OAL.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Knittin' Kitten: a Portland treasure!

Last weekend I had the joy of visiting the Knittn' Kitten in Portland for the first time.

I can't say enough great things about this store - it's a fantastic place that I will look forward visiting again whenever I travel to Portland.

If you live in Portland or you are visiting the City of Roses - it's well-worth the trip up Northeast Glisan to check this place out.    They are tucked away on 7530 NE Glisan Street.

You can also follow the store on Facebook to keep up with their latest finds.  A few of their rarest treasures also go up on etsy.

It's a vintage store devoted entirely to craft supplies - fabric, buttons, notions, patterns, yarn, knitting needles, and lots of other craft supplies for embroidery, beading and more - plus a few cool vintage treasures and some beautiful original artwork and craft pieces.  It's a feast for the eyes in all directions.


The store owner is really delightful and incredibly helpful.  She took so much time to chat with me and offer helpful information and interesting stories about the fabric that I bought.  She is an accomplished and knowledgeable seamstress who can help you track down just what you need for your projects.

I took home lots of treasures.  Five cuts of fabric and lots of notions and little supplies, which you can read all about in just a bit.

If you live in Portland, this would be a great place to pop into instead of Joann Fabrics when you just need a zipper or some bias tape to finish a project.

They've got loads of little things that every sewist needs to finish off their projects - all at significantly less than you'd pay at a box store.  It's a nice mixture of vintage and new, depending on what you like and need. 

I love vintage notions - I think the quality is higher and I love wearing vintage, so it's a special treat for me to create something that incorporates vintage elements.  I usually hoard vintage notions as I find them in thrift stores & hope that I'll have what I need on hand when I'm ready to make a specific project, but the Knittn' Kitten has all those sorts of treasures in spades.  How luxurious that you could come and choose just what you need project by project - I'm a bit jealous of Portland locals!

Since I was coming from a distance, I stocked up on various things I use often - especially metal zippers.  I just love vintage metal zippers.  They are so delicate and sturdy at the same time.  I snagged a bunch for skirts because my collecion was short on short length zippers. 

You can also find totally unique things that will spark your creativity in unexpected directions, like this  really cool fabric-covered elastic sold by the yard. I have plans to use this as the waistband of a dress for fall that will be a knock-off of a RTW dress of mine. 

They have a fantastic collection of vintage patterns, all for around $3-4 each. 

And also a big collection of newer patterns for a quarter each! 

I snagged another boxy 80's top pattern - this one with colorblocking built into the design.  I am thinking of making a few more tops like my Southwest top for fall and this pattern looks like fun.

Oh, and check out the buttons that I found!  Some great shell buttons, including some big chunky ones for cozy sweaters and some lovely Czech glass buttons too.  There is a vast assortment of buttons to choose from!

Besides buttons, I grabbed a couple other things for knitting - some stitch holders and some black vintage Petersham ribbon for buttons bands.  They had lots of really nice wool yarn and other knitting supplies too... but I restisted taking too many knitting supplies home.

They were unlabelled, but I think that bunch of reds and variagated purples in the upper right corner were Manos del Uruguay yarns for $4 each.  What a steal!  I almost bought them, but I'm on a serious "yarn diet" right now!  

The lion's share of my finds were fabric!  I bought five cuts of fabric.  Some cheerful sunshine yellow fine wale coduroy to make a skirt.  Enough soft poly plaid in a beautiful navy/yellow/green colorway for a fall dress, and a cheerful yellow white and navy vintage cotton that will make a great dress.

3 yards of vintage cotton - a red & white plaid shot with metallic gold, perfect for a vintage shirtdress pattern!  

Some lovely semi-sheer vintage cotton voile in shades of green overlaid with delicate pink roses - this will also make a beautiful vintage dress pattern come alive with vintage fabric.  

And my final treasure - some printed bias tape.  My husband loves to tease me about bias tape because as much as I have, it seems that I always need another color or width than what I have.  In my continual search, I've started collecting interesting printed tapes.  I know you can make your own out of any fabric you like, but I still get a kick out of these.  Here's the one I added to my stash from Knittn' Kitten.

And just for fun, here's a picture of the printed tape that kicked off my collection - I've had it almost 10 years and still can't bring myself to use it - but one day I will have the perfect project for it!

What are you waiting for?!  If this isn't an excuse for a trip to Portland, I don't know what is! You are sure to find something really special at the Knittn' Kitten and have a great time in your search.