Sunday, July 14, 2019

Here's a purse

I finished this new purse!

Making bags and purses is really fun. It's such a different thing than garment sewing. This one is made from two Japanese linen/cotton blends, interlined with plain linen, lined in leftover yellow denim. 

I didn't use any fusibles in this one at all, and there is nothing synthetic except the zippers. I've always preferred natural fibers, but right now I'm trying to eliminate as much synthetic stuff as possible, including interfacings.

I based the pattern on the last purse I made, but made it ever so slightly larger and curved the top edge a little. Here's the last purse, from 2014:

And again after 5 years of use (it obviously only really lasted 4, and it's been in rags for the last year!):

Here you can see the scale. I like a fairly big purse that I can fit a ton of crap in when I need to! Also I love this pic because my hair looks real big. :)

Goofy faces at my daughter as she was taking pictures of me.

I used the same concealed top zipper method as my last purse, which I learned in the book The Bag Making Bible by Lisa Lam - I definitely recommend this book if you want to sew bags!

For this technique, you sew two nicely finished strips to the sides of the zipper, and hide the end with a little fabric tab. Then you attach that whole unit to the lining a couple inches down from the top edge. 

I got this metal zipper for free while ago; I think it may have originally been a separating zipper but it had the end cut off and sewed over. I like the heft of the metal teeth!

The front pocket is ONLY for keys and lip balm, like the last purse. No digging for my lost essentials in the bottom! It has darts in each corner to give it more space.

Hopefully this purse lasts me another four years, like the last one!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Free Pattern: Knitted Elbow Patches

I tend to be pretty hard on my sweater elbows. I made the first pair of these last year for the hole-y elbows of a fine-gauge machine-knitted sweater. Since then I've had lots of people ask me about them so I decided to write down the pattern! It's so simple!

I used pretty much matching yarns but it would be fun to do a pair in stripes or contrast!

Knitted Elbow Patches

Yarn: Cascade Yarns 220 or Knit Picks Wool of the Andes worsted

Needles: US size 6

Gauge: 5 stitches per inch (but gauge is not crucial)

Notions: Small hand sewing needle, matching cotton sewing thread

K2tog - Knit two stitches together (decrease one stitch)
M1 - Make one (increase one stitch)
SSK - Slip, slip, knit (decrease one stitch)
Stockinette stitch: Knit one row, then purl one row. Repeat.

Cast on 10 sts (I prefer long tail method)
Purl 1 row
Next row (increase row): K1, M1, knit to last stitch, M1, K1
Repeat last two rows until you have 16 sts.
Work even in stockinette stitch until piece measures 3” from beginning.
Next row (decrease row): K1, K2tog, knit to last 3, SSK, K1
Purl 1 row
Repeat last two rows until 10 sts left
Bind off all stitches on next row. (This is a purl row but you can bind off either knitwise or purlwise.)

Make 2. The edges will be curly so block if desired.

To help place them symmetrically on each sleeve, use a measuring tape to measure up from the cuff to edge of patch, and over from patch to sleeve seam.

To keep pins from getting stuck, slide a wide clear quilting ruler or small hardcover book inside the sleeve, then use straight pins to pin patches in place. Uncurl the edges as you pin.

Here you can see the patch pinned in place, getting ready to sew, and the clear ruler in the background.

Sew onto the elbow holes of your sweater with cotton sewing thread. I put an extra-large wooden darning egg (available here) inside the sleeve, but if you don't have one, just put your hand inside, or keep the clear ruler or small book inside.

Use an overcasting stitch to attach: scoop a little of your sweater fabric, then come up through the patch from below, letting the thread wrap around edge of patch.

If you make them, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Year of Mittens: April

In April I only knitted one mitten. Not one pair, just ONE! 

This pattern was basically just the chart. There's about four lines of "directions" and otherwise you just get to puzzle it out. If you've made this style of mitten before, no problem! If not... well, it took some digging in other patterns and books for me to make this whole thing work.

So far I'm pretty pleased. The fit is good, though I could've made it longer, and I really like the dense fabric this made. On my March mittens, the thin fingering weight yarn made a pretty soft, light mitten. This mitten was knit in Wool of the Andes Sport on size US 2/2.75mm, so it's firm and hefty without being too thick.

Now I just have to knit another one!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A Handsewn Little White Regency Dress

I finished this dress and wore it to a ball!

I posted some of the progress here. After that post, it was just finishing up the hem and wearing it!

I didn't anticipate getting the best photos at the ball, so I took some afterward when I got home. Probably should have made time to do photos first because the light was bad and I was tired. Alas!

Yes, I realize I am in front of a bunch of Terry Pratchett novels, not the most period setting, but whatever, it's what I've got! If you squint it looks historic!

I wore this dress over a linen shift, my regency stays (from the Laughing Moon pattern), and a bodiced petticoat with tucks at the hem.

I accessorized with gold-tone earrings, a necklace of rose quartz beads, white cotton gloves, a red paisley shawl, and red flat shoes (just barely visible in the first picture).

Being dramatic. You can giggle; I did.

The hair was pretty simple. I mostly-followed this tutorial at The Fashionable Past and made this hairpiece.

I put my own hair into the simplest possible bun, then wrapped the hairpiece around.

I liked the hair okay, but my forehead felt pretty big and obvious. In retrospect I could've worn the braided hairpiece lower on my forehead, or made a few curled bangs in the middle.

A few details:

I used the pattern from Janet Arnold and handsewed this dress completely. It's white cotton dotted Swiss, with the bodice lined in linen. It is made in drop-front style and closes with pins.

The back (outside) with the ties visible.

The little pad at the inside back. The effect is subtle, but if you look at the standing profile view above you can see how it fills out the upper back skirt and prevents it from collapsing into the small of the back.

The drop-front. I did try to take some "how to get dressed in the drop-front dress" pictures but they came out a little immodest for sharing on the internet! So here is a rough idea on the hanger.

The linen flaps that pin across the CF underneath the drop-front.

One side of the drop-front "bib" pinned in place on the shoulder strap, lifting the other.

The drop-front "bib" lifted and pinned into place on both sides.

You can see a little more of the construction in my progress post.

Plus here are a couple from the ball! I ran up to the balcony to take a quick pic of one of the dances, while it was being taught.

My husband wore his wool late 18th c suit. I didn't bother making him a regency suit because I love this one on him (and I don't think regency would really suit him anyway). And late 18th century is close enough!!

And of course, the dessert table!

Final thoughts: I'm still not the biggest fan of wearing white, but I liked this dress. It was fun to make and wear, and the little white dress seems such a classic example of regency era fashion. I look forward to wearing it again.

Year of Mittens: March

For March I made the second mitten from the pair I began in January.

I was pretty pleased with how this pair turned out. The yarn is Knit Pick Palette fingering weight wool, which is the smallest yarn I've made mittens with so far, and the smallest yarn I've done stranded colorwork with too.

The pattern is Mittens to Order, a free Ravelry downloadI adjusted the pattern to add length, both because my row gauge was short and because the math seemed to be a little off in the pattern. This involved adding more pattern repeats to the chart; when I got to the last row of a main motif, I went back down the chart a few rows and started again. I also lengthened the thumb gusset and the thumb itself.

The first mitten I knitted (right hand) fitted very well! My mods worked and it was a smooth, perfect fit, just snug enough. But the second mitten came out much smaller!

This was very frustrating as I was so careful about measuring and keeping notes. I have never had a gauge so irregular, so I have to believe I just wrote down the wrong needle size. I must have knitted the first one on a US 3 and the second on a US 2.5.

Blocking helped a little but there's really no changing the size difference. The left one is slightly small for me, but not too small to wear. I still like them!

They are VERY thin, though, from being made with such lightweight yarn. I do love the intricate designs you can make with finer yarns, but I think for future mittens I might stick with sport and worsted.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Year of Mittens: February

I finished one pair of mittens for February, which means I'm right on my goal, but after a more productive January I feel behind now!

I knitted these fingerless mitts at a pretty leisurely pace and finished them just as February ended. They're going to be a birthday gift for The Man in a few weeks.

They were a pretty simple knit once I got going. The hardest part was following written-out directions when I am so used to charts. When I started knitting I never thought I'd say that! But the language just felt so cumbersome and random.

The back of the hand is patterned in a broken rib which has a great texture I love. These next two photos are post-blocking.

The palm side is knitted in a slip-stitch pattern that gives the look of a chunky rib and also has the effect of pulling the knitting in and shaping the mitt over the curve of the hand. You can see below how the palm side is a little shorter and it's drawing in. I'm not sure if that's intentional in the pattern but I like it.

I used Wool of the Andes Worsted in Garnet Heather. It took just over one skein, so I now have an extra 90% of the second skein hanging around.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Year of Mittens: January

I finished my first month in my Year of Mittens challenge!

For January I'm ahead of my goal of one pair per month! So far I'm having a blast making mittens! They're small and pretty quick and I can try out all kinds of new styles and techniques.

Each month, I'm planning to do a mitten review post of what I knitted. I'll give Ravelry links to my projects (where most of my detailed notes are!) and direct links to patterns if available.

The first pair I finished was made with thrums - little pieces of wool roving that you twist and knit into a stitch. This makes a super fluffy, warm inside!

Unfortunately, they ended up super duper huge for me, so I gave them to my husband, who loves them. 

I used Cascade 220 and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes roving. Pattern is a free Ravelry download.

Next I started a pair with a stranded colorwork pattern. I love this one so much! But it was a little slow with the finer yarn and needles and so far I've only made ONE!

The yarn is Knit Picks Palette and the pattern is Mittens to Order, a free Ravelry download.

This is still a UFO and I'll knit the other one in February.

After that I made a simple pair with colorblocking. I based them on this pair I saw on Pinterest

They are mostly Knit Picks Wool of the Andes worsted, but I threw in a little Cascade 200 and some Dream in Color Classy from the stash. I love these and they are my new everyday pair!

The pattern is loosely based on Mitts that Fit, which I've used, altered, and re-imagined a dozen times over the years.

I'm excited to keep making mittens!