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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wool jersey dress

I loooooove this dress. The pattern is McCalls 5975. View C without sleeves. I would have put on sleeves if I had enough fabric. I could use a warmish knit dress with sleeves.
The fabric is bright blue wool jersey from Candlelight Valley Fabrics. It is heavenly soft and warm.
I omitted the zipper - no need for it.
The only downside to this dress is the seam at the waist. I mean, it's no big deal, but there's no real reason for it that I can figure. The top isn't cut on the bias or anything and it just makes a little extra fabric seam where no one needs extra fabric. I wore this dress out to dinner with my hubby. I wore a belt with it to cover the seam, but I think it's ok without one too.

Here, I tried to style it a bit more casual for everyday with boots, tights, and a cardi. It's soooo comfy, I want to wear it all the time, but I don't think this look is working. Maybe with a chunkier sweater. I dunno. I guess it would be good for going to the office, but, um, I don't do that. I think it's a bit much for the grocery store, even though I do wear skirts to the grocery store and library from time to time...
One more thing - I think I have abnormally long thighs and short calves or something. The length looks so long, but it's just to the knee. I seem to hem all my skirts above the knee cause I think that's my most flattering length, but a girl's gotta have some knee-covering skirts!

Here is my Pattern Review. :-)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Knitted wrap

What is this? A bolero, I think? A shrug?

Anyway, I've actually had this done and worn for a couple of years now, but I don't think I ever blogged about it. It might actually pre-date the blog. Since I wore it yesterday, I took some pics. I wore this a LOT while I was pregnant last year since it doesn't involve the tummy at all and is really warm considering it's lace and not very covering.

The pattern was a freebie from Elann that I can't find on their site anymore. The pattern was just for a vest. I added the sleeves by picking up stitches at the armhole and knitting down in the lace pattern until I ran out of yarn. Since the stitch pattern is ribbed and lace, the sizing was very forgiving.

The yarn is a really nice merino/cashmere/? blend I bought here in Germany during the first year we lived here. I got it to make a vest for my hubby but quickly realized I hadn't purchased enough for that. Maybe it was subconsciously intentional, because I love this little shrug!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My first burn test

First off, the bad news: I have no camera. I did a little photo shoot yesterday, but I can't find the connector cable to download the pics to my computer. We have another camera... but I apparently left the battery for that one in the States. Oh well. I tried to buy a new cable today but couldn't find one (not a lot of store options for that here). So, no photos until I either find the cable here at home or order it online, or I buy a new battery for the other camera.

Now, the real subject of this post: I did a burn test on the black fabric I plan to make some pants with. It is of such old stash vintage, I had no clue what it really was... feels like wool to me. If you don't know what a burn test is - you can set fire to a piece of fabric, and depending on what the burn is like, you can determine the fiber content. At least some people can. Sounds like fun, no?

I have Sandra Betzina's book, More Fabric Savvy, in which she explains how to do a burn test and what is characteristic of different fibers. Armed with a large scrap of fabric (slight fear of burning my fingers!) and a lighter, I set fire in the kitchen, figuring there's not much nearby in there that could catch fire and burn down the house.

Best I can figure, I've got a wool/cotton or wool/rayon? blend. I've never heard of a wool/rayon blend, though. I think wool blends better with polyester. The burn had the yellow, quick-burning flame of cotton or rayon and the crushable black ash of wool or silk. Oh, and the smell... It smelled like burnt hair - apparently another sign of wool or silk. I have scented candles burning all over the first floor now, so my husband doesn't walk in the door in a few hours and say "What the....?" Maybe it's a cotton/silk blend. I just can't tell at all by feeling it.

Has anyone else tried a burn test? Anyone else more confused after the test than before? :-)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Still kicking

Wow, it's been a while since I posted... it seems like longer than a month and a half. Big news is that after 3 months in the U.S. staying with my parents while hubby was in Afghanistan, we are all back together at home in Germany. Yea! It was wonderful to have our family together just in time for Christmas. I really enjoyed the time with my parents, but I had almost forgotten how nice it is to have my own place. I have a renewed love for my little house.

Christmas was wonderful. It was sparse on the gifting since most presents are still in transit with the USPS/Army postal system, but no one minded. That stuff's secondary to the real reason for Christmas anyway. We had great family time and a yummy dinner with some friends. Um, Santa will be coming next weekend.

I've been knitting and sewing and have a little backlog of finished projects to show, which I have been wearing quite a lot. I need to do a massive photo shoot this week at some point. We'll see if the boys cooperate with synchronized napping some day (we're all still jet-lagged).

I was going to ask for some thoughts on making myself something for New Year's, but I don't think I will. We're going to a party, but I think it's pretty casual, and most of my wintery fabrics are either still in the U.S. or also in transit, so options are limited. I'd be settling for making something just for the sake of making it... doubtful I'd be happy with it.

Instead, I think I'll start on some black wool pants for a SWAP. Not the most exciting, but something I actually need. Here's a little peek at another fabric for my SWAP:

lovely, high quality silk chiffon. I didn't think I liked chiffon (all slippery and flimsy) until I got this.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rediscovering knitting

Ok, I'm not really rediscovering knitting.  I never forgot it or stopped or anything.  I've just been doing it more and enjoying it more over the past week than I have in a while.  I'm sure my recent sewing troubles are the big cause of this.

Here is a baby sweater I cranked out in a week for a baby shower today.  It's a gift for my expecting cousin, but I couldn't resist trying it on my littlest man for photos.  I can't believe he's already 5 months old and sitting up so well!

My other son saw I was trying to entertain Baby with a toy, so he tried to help out.  Awwwwww, he's the best big brother!
The pattern is Aran Pullover from Vogue Knitting's Baby Knits Two.  I'm seeing now that I spent almost 50% more for this book than it's listed for at Amazon.  Oh well, I was supporting my LYS, right?

After finishing the baby sweater just under the wire (knitting until 9 last night and finishing up until 10:30 and blocking overnight), I want to relax with something pleasant and pretty.  Enter Frost Flowers Jacket from Feminine Knits.
I decided to start on one of the front pieces instead of the back so I could see the lace.  Here it is one repeat in... me likey.
Also still on the needles is this cardigan, which is really close to being complete.  Just a few more rows and then a bit of ribbing.  If I can tear myself away from the new lace and the boys cooperate, I'll bet I can finish it during the Eagles game tomorrow.  I think once I finish this, I'll hopefully get a little sewing bug back since I have a divine dark marly brown knit to make a cozy turtleneck for under this.
Hope everyone is having a spectacular weekend!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I've been a bit disheartened by sewing over the past week.  

Remember this cozy and shell I just made?  Well, I made a BIG rookie mistake.  Didn't prewash.  It wasn't even a conscious "well I didn't pre-wash this, but I'll take my chances.  For some reason, I had it in my head that I had pre-washed while knowing fully well that I had not.  So after one trip in the washing machine on cold, hand-wash cycle and air drying, both pieces are unwearable.  :-(  This is no fault of the fabric.  It still looks very nice after the washing.  It just shrunk sooooo much that it would be frighteningly midriff-bearing.

Did I mention in my previous post that I spent quite a few evenings hand stitching the hem the whole way around my cozy?  

Did I mention how beautiful the fabric is and how excited I was about this project?

I just haven't had the drive to sew anything this past week.

I've been working on two things that will be ready to show soon:  knitting a baby sweater for a shower this weekend and using my mom's embroidery machine on a RTW top for my older son.  I also want to show the quilt my mom made for my baby that's almost ready.

If you're still reading, I'm hoping that getting this out of my system and typing it all out motivates me to get moving again!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Simplicity 2603

They're not super pictures, but would you expect anything else from me?  It's just easier to get pics taken in the evening than in the morning.  

This is a twinset from the popular Simplicity 2603 cozy pattern.  Since there are 27 reviews of this pattern on Pattern Review, I didn't add my 2 cents.

Here is view E, the sleeveless shell I posted a bit about previously.  
The cozy is view A, the longest one with long sleeves.  My only change was to make the sleeves about 2 inches longer for my long arms, and when I'm making long sleeved tops, I like them really long to compensate (in my head anyway) for all my purchased too-short sleeves.
The fabric is from Sawyer Brook.  It's a heavenly soft brushed rayon jersey in heathered dark, dark green.
Next time I wear this, I'll see if I can get better pics outside.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cozy shell

I've been slowly working on making the Simplicity cozy.  First I made the shell.  My little man #2 is pulling the neckline, but really, it is even.  :-)

The fabric is here from Sawyer Brook.  It's a rayon knit with a kind of brushed finish.  It is so soft!  I think I'll have the cozy ready to show later this week, but I keep thinking that.  My sewing has really slowed down since I got to the States.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Gray Herringbone Trousers

These have actually been complete for about a month.  I wore them on the plane ride from Germany to the States with this top.  Both pieces are part of my Pattern Review SWAP entry.
The pattern is Simplicity 2700.  They're the first pants I've made not from my TNT Vogue pattern.


These are higher waisted than I am used to wearing.  They come right about at my belly button.  I feel very grown up and proper in them.  Haha!  If I worked, they would be great work pants.  Since I'm a SAHM, they are good for when I want to look a little more pulled together.
Hmmm, they look a little tight on my bum.  Maybe I just needed to tug them down a bit.  Definitely better fitting than many of my RTW pants.  I'm open to comments on how to improve pants fit, though.  I haven't messed with crotch curves at all.  Oh, and a comment on why I'm not crazy about higher waisted pants:  they make my bum look saggy with all that square footage between waistband and legs!

Here they are with the top untucked.
The only alteration I did was to take in the sides about a half inch on each side.  This makes the pocket openings pretty small, so I'll alter this a bit if I make these pants again.
Also, you'll see I messed up the waistband a bit.  The top part is supposed to extend further and the bottom piece isn't supposed to extend at all.  I interfaced the wrong sides and had to improvise.

A look at the cuffs I added.  To keep them in place, I stitched along the side seam line on the cuffs.  The only hand sewing on these pants is attaching the lining to the zipper area.  Awesome.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Wow, I haven't posted in over 2 weeks!  It's taken a while to get situated here in the States at my parents' house.  

I do have new pants to show, but I still need photos.  At least I have photographers on hand now!  I finished them in time to wear on the plane ride here.  They looked really nice but are pretty comfy, too.  I also have been working on the Simplicity cozy.


Actually, I have the shell complete except for the hem.  I haven't started the cozy except to cut it out.  I want to finish it tomorrow or Wednesday.  With the weather we're having, a cozy would be good.

I think I need to do a "State of the Sewing" address and see where I'm at with my SWAP and other fall sewing I want to do.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

SWAP jacket

Yay!  I finished my jacket for the SWAP collection just in time to enter it in the jacket contest at Pattern Review.

My little man just had to try it on after all my checking it out in the mirror.

Here it is!  

The pattern is Vogue 8333, one of the Claire Shaeffer couture patterns.  While I did follow along the couture instructions, I didn't use all of the techniques.  My biggest departure was using fusible interfacing.  This was partly because I knew I wouldn't finish the jacket in time for the contests, but really, I doubt I would have finished it at all, ever.  I just don't have the patience at this point to make a tailored, couture jacket.  Hopefully I will soon, but not right now.
I added a back vent.
and I added welt pockets.  With the pattern's inseam pleated pockets, it was looking a bit too horseback-riding jacket for me.  I wanted a versatile jacket to keep a long time.  I also made pocket flaps, but I couldn't find one when I was racing to finish this yesterday, so they will have to wait for a later date.

It took me a while to decide on buttons.  I didn't want boring old matching navy ones, but gold seemed like a bit much.  I finally decided on these silver ones.  I think it's a nice compromise.  I'm not totally thrilled with my machine button holes, but I'm happy enough with them.
Here's a peek at a pocket.

Functional buttoning sleeve
Back vent
Here is my review:

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted, lined, partially interfaced, below waist jacket has princess seams, slightly extended shoulders, shoulder pads, in-seam pockets with pleats, side panels (no side seams), shaped hem, and long two-piece sleeves with buttoned vents. A: underlined and couture construction techniques.

Pattern Sizing: 6-22. I made a 10.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except for the pockets I changed.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Ok. I followed along the couture directions, but I have to admit I didn't use all of them. The biggest change was I used fusible interfacings. I would love to do a couture jacket someday, but I just don't have the patience yet. The directions seemed easy to follow. Nothing really crazy difficult; just time consuming.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the fitted shape of this pattern. It really nips in at the waist, which is flattering. Boxy jackets just make me look, well, like a box.

Fabric Used: wool with 15% cashmere. It's navy and marled a bit. It almost looks like a herringbone a bit. The fabric is a little bit felted, so it hardy frayed at all, which was super helpful. It also responded really well to steam and pressing.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I lengthened the sleeves 2 inches for my monkey arms. I also got a little too much of an equestrian vibe early on, so I added some welt pockets from Vogue 8087 (another Claire Shaeffer jacket pattern, now out of print) to make it appear a little more blazer-like. I just sewed shut where the pleated in seam pockets are supposed to go. I have the flaps, too... somewhere. I went to sew them on this morning and can only find one. I decided I like the look as is. Maybe I'll sew the flaps on if I find the other one, or I can always make a new one. 

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I might sew this again with the intended pocket style if I find a fabric I don't think will look too riding-jacket-like. Maybe in a fun colored light flannel coating. I do recommend this. The directions are great, and the style is flattering.

Conclusion: A very nice jacket pattern, even if you're not ready to commit to the couture methods.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Started my jacket

My pants really just need buttons, but I haven't been able to get to the store since I've had a sick kid for over a week.  Anyway, I got started on a jacket - a navy wool/cashmere blazer.  It's so pretty.  :-)  I'm really proud of it.  Yesterday, I put on the collar, and I put most of the lining together tonight.  Still need to finish up the lining and put in the sleeves.  A few more days' work.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pants progress

My pants are coming along nicely, and just as the pattern promises, the fit is superb.  They just need a lining, hem (with cuffs), buttons, and buttonholes.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Life is throwing me curveballs.  I guess that's what keeps it interesting.  This does have something to do with my current sewing plans.

So, I'm here in Germany for two more weeks (we were supposed to leave last week for an extended U.S. visit), separated from most of my SWAP fabrics which I've already sent ahead.  My SWAP is changing a lot.  Some pieces are the same, but some are different.  Some are still in boxes on their way to the U.S., and some I have here in my hot little hands.  Here's the new plan.
I made up my storyboard in the form of paper dolls the other day.  Paul was coloring, so why not join in on the fun?  The top two tops are already done and I'm working on the pants on my model right now.  The second blue top is a bright blue wool jersey that I'll make up after moving.  The white charmeuse blouse I can make while I'm still here. The yellow knit top might be replaced with another orange one just because I have the orange here with me now.  The yellowish-greenish tweed is in the U.S. for some more trousers.  I'm keeping the denim skirt as planned and adding in some walking shorts out of the same gray herringbone as the pants I'm currently making.  There was a flaw on the fabric, so I got a lot of extra for freebie!  

I'm just not sure about the topper.  At the bottom of m picture, I drew a cape-like thing for a pale gray sweater knit I'd have to make after moving.  I do want to join the September jacket contest at PR, though.  Maybe I'll just make something non-SWAP related.  With no husband around and good sleepers for kids, I have enough time in the next two weeks to deviate.  Maybe I'll go search the stash again.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Simplicity 3536

I cut this out during naptime yesterday and sewed most of it up after the boys were in bed.  This morning, I just had to sew the hems to finish it up.  The pattern is Simplicity 3536, view A.

The fabric is rayon jersey from Sawyer Brook and is still in stock.  I squeezed this top out of a yard and just had to make the sleeves a tad shorter.  I think I compensated for that by making a really narrow hem, though.
I know I'm usually an abysmal photographer, but these are worse than usual.  Not sure what my problem is.  I welcome suggestions to take better pictures.  I know outside light is best.  Maybe I should start dragging my tripod outside.

You can see my pattern review here.  It's a keeper!  I made it exactly as the directions said and made a straight size 10.

Friday, September 11, 2009

3 new patterns - 6 more days

Sigh... so I was supposed to fly to the States today.  My beloved hubby is in Afghanistan, and I'm going to stay with family while he's gone.  But - we still don't have the baby's passport, so we're here another week.  How to drown my sorrows?  Well, I already shipped almost all my SWAP stuff and my favorite patterns, so get ready for non-SWAP sewing.  Or maybe there will be a revision of the SWAP.

Anyway, I drug the kids to the fabric store today and got three new patterns, all Simplicity.  Yeah, I probably only needed to get one, but oh well.  I was drowning sorrows!

I have a pretty navy/blackish herringbone for these pants.  They'll be beautiful!


I like a couple views of this dress, but first I'm going to lengthen the top part and make a top with the ruffles on the left.  I have cream silk charmeuse.  This will be part of my SWAP.

Simplicity 2724


Finally, for this top I have a dark teal blue rayon knit.  I'm making the version in the top photo.  That should really show off the drapiness of the fabric.

Simplicity 3536


Tonight after the boys are in bed, I'll cut out the knit top and read all the reviews on PR.

I was bummed (and surprised) that none of them had reviews on PR until I looked on the Simplicity website and realized the pattern numbers are different on the German versions.

Time to give my big boy a bath since we're going out for dinner tonight with some friends.  That's one nice thing about our move being delayed a week - no food left in the house, so we have to go out!

EDIT:  added links in case the pics aren't working.  Thanks Rachel!  :-)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I joined a Chanel Jacket Sew Along to make a Chanel-style jacket (that sounds better than "knockoff" to me), and I decided if I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it right.  So... I went to theLinton Tweeds website, which apparently supplies Chanel, and requested some swatches.

The samples came today, and I was surprised.  Per the instructions on their website, I told them the colors and textures I was looking for - light colors in textured tweeds suitable for a Chanel-style jacket.  I received the following with a nice letter saying they are the "latest samples from the couture range and as such are unrepeatable."  

Ok.  I don't know.  Don't get me wrong.  They are beautiful... just not what I was expecting.  Here they are:

First, the ones I'm not considering using.  Although, I do think the bottom black and white plaid would make an awesome knee length coat.

Next are some that I like but I'm still not really considering.  The bottom two are too spring-y and I'm not crazy about the metallic threads in them.  I really like the overall effect of the top-left one, but I'm not crazy about the hot pink threads.  I guess I'm still considering that one, though.

These are the three I'm really considering.  I really like the texture of the red and black, but it's really not the colors I was dreaming about.  The blue is also really lovely and is probably the frontrunner at the moment, but I'm not sure how I feel about the navy background.  The brownish one is really textured and the steel-y blues would look great with denim, but I don't know...

Any thoughts?

Am I being too picky?  Almost all of them are $37/yard, which is less expensive than I expected (a nice bonus).  It would still be $80 for the fabric, though, and I don't want to pick something I don't love.  Maybe I'll go back and ask for some light colored swatches, not from the couture range.