Monday, September 17, 2018

Brindille & Twig Onesie

My granddaughter's due date just got bumped 10 days closer, which means I might meet her in two days (gulp!). Still enough time to make a little something to take down south with me, right?

I fell hard for this pattern when I saw it in an email from Brindillle & Twig. That little skirt was just so cute! Guess I'm still all in on the girly sewing.

Brindille & Twig Bodysuit Dress
The Grandson's theme was cactus. I've made him cactus quilts and cactus hats and cactus shorts and cactus shirts. I've also knitted him a barrel cactus and a saguaro. I guess I went a little overboard. Maybe that's why the kids told me they don't really have a theme for Baby #2.


But it just so happened that I came across this cactus print knit in a pink colorway. And it also just so happened that I had used the same print in green to make the Grandson a shirt and a pair of sweatpants.

I just couldn't stop myself.

Skirt seam finishes to the outside, rather than against the kid's skin
I like Brindille & Twig patterns. The styles are cute but practical and they include finishing techniques that are quite nice. This pattern, for example, has you attach the skirt in such a way that the seam is on the outside, hidden away under the gathering, rather than inside against the baby's skin.

I also liked the way they tell you to apply the binding for the edges. It was pretty easy to do and came out nice and neat. The instructions were good, though I had to read through them a few times to grok some of the sewing origami.


The kids live in Southern California, so they have no need for warm clothes. No knitting of little hats or sweaters for me. They do put The Grandson in a lot of onesies, so I hope they'll get some use out of this little number.

This is a fun pattern with a pretty cute result. If you're not into the skirt action, you could easily leave it off and make a nice, basic onesie. Seems like a lot of my friends are graduating to Grandma these days, so I'm sure I'll be using this pattern again.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Shirtmaker's Express, Version 2.0

 Another birthday, another flannel shirt. The Man ended up wearing last year's model quite a bit. He uses it like a light jacket over a tee shirt. Just enough warmth for those chilly evenings when the fog comes in. I went through the details in this post, so I won't repeat myself here. Only just to say, this is a nice pattern for a fitted men's shirt. If you're worried about taking on a project like this, I highly recommend Janet Pray's Craftsy class, Sew Better, Sew Faster. She uses this pattern and walks you through everything.

Front view
One thing I learned about men's shirts from watching the class is that a guy does not like the wrong side of the fabric to look different from the right side. The wrong side will show when a guy leaves the collar unbuttoned, as most right thinking men do when they aren't wearing a tie. My first version of this shirt did use a flannel with a visually distinct wrong side.

Side view
I think The Man is happier with this fabric, which is the same on both sides. The downside is that I did have to pay some attention while sewing, so as not to put anything together backwards.

I used 4 yards of flannel that I got some time ago at Joann's. I did my best to match the plaid, so I used up every scrap.

Back view
Here's the back view. The pattern includes optional back darts to give a bit of shaping. I consider them mandatory, because The Man likes a slim fit.



Here's a close up of the pocket, which has been enlarged slightly to accommodate a Mont Blanc number 8 safety pen.


And here's how my guy likes to wear it; unbuttoned over a tee shirt with the cuffs turned up.

I'm thinking I have the annual birthday present sorted with this pattern. Next time, maybe a corduroy.

My pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Palazzo Pants

My friend, Sharon, has this pair of pants. They're not some fancy designer label, but she's carried them with her for years. Decades, even. She likes them, although they're navy blue instead of black, which makes them tricky for her to integrate into an outfit.

She thought it would be nice to recreate them before they crumble into dust, so she asked me if we could come up with a pattern to duplicate them.

Sharon's favorite pants

And we did!

Son of Sharon's favorite pants
Luckily for me, precise fit is not an issue with a pair of palazzo pants. I had her try on a pair of Loes Hines Oxford Pants that I'd made years ago, just to see if the crotch curve was in the right ballpark. It was, so I traced the inseam and crotch curve from that pattern. I added about 4 inches width in the legs and about 5 inches height in the rise and we were pretty much there.

Sharon's original pants have two box pleats in the front. They do a good job of controlling the fullness over the stomach so the fit is a bit sleeker than elastic waist pants can tend to be.

Close up of box pleats. Almost impossible to see with this crazy print.
We used a rayon print from Hart's. You want something pretty drapey if you're playing around with this much volume. We took our time going through the fabric options. Sharon wanted a print with some black in it. She wears a lot of black tops; hence the issues she had working with her navy pants.

We fondled a lot of nice prints, but the flowery ones veered too far into either "jammie" or "beach resort" territory. We decided this print looked a little more "night club."

Sharon also wanted pockets, so we added some in the side seams.

Hand in pocket
Here they are on me. High waisted pants look a lot better on someone with a waist. Can you see those box pleats doing their thing?


Here's a back view, so you can see how I parked most of the gathering at the rear.


And a side view so you can have the whole 360 degree experience.

The pants are pretty fun to wear. Those legs are 29 inches around, so you have all the swish factor of a maxi skirt.

Here's a parting shot of the pants on Sharon, taken while we were pinning the hems. Gorgeous, isn't she?

Sharon, stylin'
It was a blast putting these together with Sharon. It was interesting to play around with drafting the pattern, if you can call my combo of tracing and fiddling around "drafting."I also enjoyed thinking through the construction process.

I might just make myself a pair of these bad boys! They'd be fun to swan around in on our upcoming weekend in the wine country.

I wrote up a little something for PatternReview.com here.




Thursday, July 12, 2018

Souvenir Knitting

While on our train trip to Chicago I found myself needing a soothing knitting project. Something that didn't have any complicated stitch patterns or confusing structural details. Something that would let me space out while the yarn slipped gently through my fingers. Something that wouldn't inspire the kind of language that would make a sailor blush.

And voila. This is Picovoli, by Grumperina. Top down, one piece, cap sleeved and straightforward.


I used a little bit more than two skeins of sport weight cotton (Berroco Pima 100) that I got at String Theory, a very cute yarn shop in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Picovoli is a free pattern, and it really does knit up quickly. Especially when you're chugging along on the train with lots of prime knitting time.

Hmm. Better concentrate on holding my shoulders back or that dowager's hump will take over.
The pattern includes instructions for a picot edging, but that felt too stressful for me at the time, so I made the un-hemmed version. Even though I knew that that cursed stockinette was going to roll up like a garden hose.

Back view, just the same as the front view on account of back and front are identical
Marina, one of my super-sweet LYS ladies, suggested I try doing an i-cord edging to flatten things out, and that worked a treat. It's my new favorite knitting thing. It's got a tidy, understated look and it tamed those edges nicely. At least they're tamed just now, right after blocking. We'll see how long it lasts.

i-cord edging
Now I'm just itching to knit something with a contrasting i-cord edge.

My project notes are on Revelry here. I'm becoming a big fan of keeping project notes on Revelry. I'm one of those sporadic knitters who will put a project down for months. OK, maybe years. Those notes are a godsend when I'm trying to remember what size I was making, or any little changes (intentional or unintentional) I might have made along the way.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Souvenir Sewing

Souvenir fabric is the best fabric. You have the fun of finding that gem of a store while traveling, and then you get to bask in the memories of your trip while you're sewing it up. And if you're lucky you can also enjoy some sewing chit-chat with the folks in the store. Just about the only thing that beats souvenir fabric is free fabric.

This summer we took our vacation trip via train; up to Portland on the Coast Starlight and then across country to Chicago via the Empire Builder. We made a stop along the way in Rochester, Minnesota to see some of my family.


That's where I found my fabric souvenir, at Ginny's Fine Fabrics.


It's not a huge place, but she has a really nice collection of garment fabric. There were beautiful wools for those frozen Minnesota winters and plenty of light, airy fabrics for those hot and humid Minnesota summers.

Ginny said someone just bought 1/3 yard of this to use as a ruffle on the hem of some pants. 
If you're anywhere in southern Minnesota, say, bombing along I-90 on your way across country, take that short detour up to Rochester to do a little fabric shopping. Ginny's Fine Fabrics is well worth it.

I spent a very enjoyable hour and a half admiring everything before I settled on a cotton linen blend that was just what I'd been looking for to make a pair of cool summer trousers.

BS 05-2103-117

I used an old favorite pattern, Trousers #117 from the May, 2015 issue of Burdastyle. They're supposed to be drawstring trousers, but I can never find a graceful way of arranging my tee shirt over the bow, so I substitute elastic instead. I've also taken the rise up about an inch so that they sit right at my natural waist.

This version feels very cool and flow-ey to wear on a hot day. I think the cotton keeps the wrinkles somewhat at bay, though I confess I hauled out the iron and had The Man shoot a second set of photos once I'd taken a gander at the first round.



The color is a cool grey, which works well as a neutral for me. About 80% of my tops are some shade of teal.


I've made up this pattern at least 5 times by now. It's so great to have a few patterns that you know you can just cut out and sew up and everything will work out fine.


I'm wearing it here with another old favorite, the Kirsten Kimono Tee from Maria Denmark. As I was pulling out my Visa at the fabric store Ginny pointed out a very nice, light grey knit that could make a matching top for my future pants. I popped for a yard, knowing that would be plenty to pump out a Kirsten.


Maria Denmark has come out with a slightly modified Kirsten pattern. I compared the new version to my battered original and I think they're pretty close. The line of the shoulder looks a bit different, but that's about it. I traced myself one size larger this time, partly because I wanted this particular fabric to have a skosh looser fit. I like it.

So I actually have an outfit! That was, like, planned to go together and everything!

My mini pattern review is on PatternReview.com here.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Baby Hats

I set up the sewing machine yesterday to make a couple of sun hats to take down to the kids in Manhattan Beach. I began with an Oliver + S bucket hat for The Grandson.

I made him the smallest version of this hat last winter and he's worn it a fair bit. He lives in a beach town, so a little sun protection for the old noggin is a good thing.


It's gotten a bit small for him now that he's one whole year old, so this time I sized up to the Small (12-24 months).


This is a free pattern, and a very nice one too. It includes sizes Extra Small (6-12 month) through Large (6-8 years), so it will keep your kid's head covered until they're halfway through primary school. Plus, it's a great project for using up scraps of fun fabric.


I hope you're not too creeped out by seeing my hat model in full frontal mode. Believe me, the hat looks a lot cuter on a cheeky baby.

I used a Cotton and Steel cotton lawn called "Owl and Cactus." He has a cactus theme going on in his nursery, so I pick up every piece of cactus paraphernalia I see.

Fabric print close up. Cute, yes?
The Grandson wears his current version with the brim turned up jauntily.


Like so. See, it does look a lot cuter on a cheeky baby.


My exciting news is that I am about to become the grandmother of a girl baby. She's due towards the end of September and I can hardly wait. It's been all boy babies in my family. This is my first shot at crafting things for a girl, so there will be some pink overload going on for the first few months.

Since she will also be basking in that Southern California sun, she will be requiring a sun hat year round. This is the Baby Sunbonnet from Purl Soho, another free pattern. It comes in sizes 0-24 months.

Side view
Prepare to be super creeped out by this next shot. I thought about drawing on some eyes and a smiley mouth, but that would probably be even worse.

Scariest hat model ever
I used a girly pink flowered cotton lawn for this one.

Rear view
Baby things can be a bit fiddly to sew because of all the little pieces and opposing curves. This hat was very easy to put together though.

Lining shot
I lined it with a light cotton lawn in ivory.

I highly recommend both these patterns. They go together easily and both sites include great instructions. Plus, free.

My pattern reviews are on PatternReview.com: Bucket Hat and Sunbonnet.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Summer Sweater

Here on the Central Coast it's generally cool enough to be sweater weather right through the summer, yet it's rarely cold enough to require wool. This sweater pretty much hits the sweet spot for our climate.


The pattern is Wasabi, by Wendy Bernard. This is a blank slate kind of pattern. Boat neck, drop shoulder sleeves. It's basically 4 rectangles joined together. It's knit seamlessly from the top down and it's good social knitting. Not much tricky stuff to distract from a good conversation.

side shot
I used a yarn called Bamboo Pop, which is a 50/50 cotton bamboo blend. It was nice to knit with and the fabric is soft and fluid. Which is a good thing, because a sweater this square could easily be a mite too boxy if the fabric had a lot of body.

back view
I see from my Ravelry notes that it took me about 6 month to knit this up. That's only because it spent quite some time resting in my knitting bag. If you kept plugging away at it you could finish this sweater in a week, I bet.


I bought the yarn at Stitches West because I liked the color. I might call it periwinkle blue. Or maybe cornflower? It's a pretty strong color. I used to be able to wear pastels, but since my hair turned grey I feel like I disappear unless I wear colors with some punch to them.

Color is very washed out here, but look at that diagonal ribbing
The pattern called for knit2-purl2 ribbing at the edges. I made my own little mark by doing a diagonal rib instead. There are some instructions for it on Craftsy here. Basically, you just shift the rib pattern one stitch to the left every other row.


We're getting ready to take a train trip to Chicago, stopping along the way to visit family in Minnesota. Nothing like a train trip for some prime knitting time! I'll be starting on Snapdragon, by Marie Wallin. That's if I can figure out the gauge by next Wednesday.

My Ravelry notes are here, if you're interested.