Monday, 4 May 2015

Me-Made-May 2015: My Pledge and Days 1-3

Last year, I really loved participating in Me-Made-May for my first time! I took the pledge to wear one me-made (or mom-made) item per day, which was challenging at the time, but I had fun with it and discovered some new ways to wear old pieces. Here are some of my favourite outfits!

Since then, I've really expanded my me-made wardrobe, especially since I've been sewing with knits more, and I'd like to challenge myself a little more. So...

I, Shannon of Adventures of a Young Seamstress, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item each day for the duration of May 2015, preferably as the main part of my outfit. In addition, I will try to wear every seasonally appropriate item I've made at least once during the month. If I don't wear it, I either have to modify it or give it away.

That was my original pledge, but it's now been slightly modified to say that I'll wear every me-made item that I brought back from Montreal with me, since I'm back in Vancouver now and left lots behind. I tried to pack efficiently, so unfortunately some things that I've made got left behind because they weren't versatile enough (or because they took up too much space in my suitcase!). Even if they would be great to wear during May, I had to pack for the entire summer!

I also wanted to include something about not repeating any outfits too many times, but then I realized that a dress counts as an outfit! Since I plan on repeating my dresses, that wouldn't really work. I'll just try to switch it up and find new ways to wear things as much as possible - even though I haven't really put that into words in my pledge!

I'll also try to be a little better this year about posting regularly - I'm a little behind on this post because I was traveling on Saturday, but from now on, I'll post every Saturday with the week's outfits. Since May started on a Friday, I'll include the weekend's pictures in this one, so that I have more than one outfit to show.

Friday, May 1

Jeans: RTW (Guess)
Belt: bought at a market
Shoes: Second-hand from the McGill clothing exchange (Sperry)

This blouse, which I made from a thrifted muumuu, has gotten so much wear over the year! It's so flattering and easy to wear. The modification to the sleeves that I made (using the Alma Blouse sleeves instead of the Pendrell's) makes it much more wearable. As much as I love the sleeve variations included with the Pendrell, they're difficult to layer over. I've learned that for me to wear something a lot, I need to be able to layer over it!

I'll also point out that this photo was taken inside my new apartment in Montreal! I made it through exams, finished my first year, and moved out of residence and into my own place with a roommate. Unfortunately, I left for Vancouver only a couple days after moving in, so I didn't get to enjoy it much. I couldn't be happier with it though - it's in a century-old triplex in a great area of Montreal. I'm really looking forward to living there in the fall!

Saturday, May 2

Dress: Me-made (Colette Moneta)
Shoes: Second-hand from the McGill clothing exchange (Sperry)

Excuse the over-exposed picture! I guess outdoor photos on sunny days taken with phones aren't a great idea. It was so nice out this day - unfortunately it was the day that I left Montreal! Knit dresses are so perfect for traveling though. I needed to be comfortable on the plane home!

I just remembered when I went to link to my post about this dress, that I never did post about it! This was my third Moneta dress, which I made last summer. I really should blog about it soon!

These shoes are my new favourites - I bought them off the McGill clothing exchange, which is a Facebook group that people use to sell their old clothes. I joined the group when I was looking for a second-hand down coat, but don't usually look through it. These just popped up on my news feed one day and I went for it! It's difficult to find summer shoes that fit the orthotics that I wear, but these did so I bought both pairs that the girl was selling.

Sunday, May 3

Shoes: Second-hand from the McGill clothing exchange (Sperry)

These shoes are my new favourites, which you can probably tell! I bought them off the McGill clothing exchange, which is a Facebook group that people use to sell their old clothes. I joined the group when I was looking for a second-hand down coat, but don't usually look through it. These just popped up on my news feed one day and I went for it! It's difficult to find summer shoes that fit the orthotics that I wear, but these did so I bought both pairs that the girl was selling.

This dress is also quite possibly one of my favourites. It's definitely my favourite Moneta so far - I love the collar, the sleeves and the colour, and the jersey is the perfect weight for the skirt.

I'm back in my backyard in Vancouver for this photo, and it probably wasn't quite warm enough to be wearing this without a sweater or tights! I was used to the Montreal weather, which was beautiful before I left. 

That's it for now! I'll post again on the weekend - it won't actually be on Saturday though because I'm volunteering with my mom at Our Social Fabric's sale. If you're in the Vancouver area, come by and say hi, and pick up some fabric! My mom has been volunteering with them for a while now, and I'm excited to go and see what it's like. It sounds like a really great organization - they resell fabric that would otherwise be thrown away, and for great prices!

If you're participating in Me-Made-May this year, how's your challenge going?

Friday, 17 April 2015

Completed: Muse Patterns Natalie Top

After loving my Jenna Cardigan by Muse Patterns, I really couldn't wait to try another one of their patterns! This is the Natalie Top and Dress, a pattern for knits with gorgeous 40's-inspired gathering, which I made when I was home for Christmas. 

I promise I'll have some more spring-appropriate stuff on the blog soon! I went home for reading week and made a couple things for spring while I was there, but don't have pictures yet. It definitely feels like the wrong weather to be posting about a black long-sleeved top now, since I've been wearing short sleeves and skirts without tights for the past week here in Montreal! My only complaint is that the gorgeous weather makes it difficult to force yourself to study for exams. Only three more to go...

I chose this pattern kind of spontaneously, because I was planning on using this fabric to make another Bronte top, but then I realized that is was really sheer! I guess I wasn't paying attention when I bought it, because it was expensive for a solid bamboo jersey knit. I bought it from a local fabric store where I bought a remnant of the most amazing bamboo jersey I've ever worked with, and when I saw more bamboo jersey in the store, I assumed it was the same! Turns out it's not - this is much thinner and much flimsier. So disappointing! 

Anyways, I needed a top pattern that was a little more forgiving and didn't have any negative ease over the bust, so that it wouldn't end up too sheer. This was perfect - the gathers meant that it wouldn't be too sheer at all!

I really love the dress variation of this pattern, but since I only had a metre of fabric, I didn't really have a choice. I'll probably make the dress this summer!

I'm not a huge fan of PDF patterns, but this one came together pretty easily and quickly. I cut out a size 30 with long sleeves. Since the Jenna cardigan was a little wide at the shoulders, I took in the shoulder seams by 1/4". I also raised the V-neck by 1", which I reduced to closer to 1/2" or 3/4" when I actually sewed it. I omitted the ties in the back, because as much as I love them, I find them really uncomfortable when you're sitting.

This top took a little big longer than some knit patterns, but still not long at all. You need to interface the triangle in the middle with woven interfacing, and then do all the gathering around the bust and attach it. A note for next time: I sewed one with the gathers on the bottom, and the other side with the gathers on the top, and one side looks way nicer than the other. I just can't remember which! I'll sew some samples before making this again to see. I don't think it's too noticeable though, especially from a distance and in black.

The only thing that I found a little more difficult with this pattern was getting the V-neck to look right! I seem to remember attaching the binding was fine, but the topstitching took me a few tries. It still doesn't look that great, but there's only so many times you can rip out topstitching in jersey before going slightly mad.

I'm really happy with the fit of this top - it's super flattering! In the end, I didn't need to take in the shoulders, and I'll probably add the 1/4" back on next time, but other than that, the fit is great. The triangle in the centre sits a little lower on me than it does in the pictures, but I don't have a problem with that, and I'm not exactly sure of the best way to fix that because of how the pattern pieces go together. I'm happy with it how it is, so I probably won't bother!

Looking at these photos, it does bunch up a little in the back, but I think that's mostly because it's getting caught on the waistband of my jeans, which is too big (I think I need to make myself some Ginger jeans).

Overall, though, this top wasn't my best make, even though the fit is great - mostly because of the fabric. It was so flimsy that it shifted a lot when I was cutting it, and one of my sleeves ended up off grain. I also managed to get a hole in one of the sleeves before I even finished it! I sewed it up and put lots of fray-check on it, and so far it seems to be fine. But seriously...

I also found it really difficult to hem, even with Stitch Witchery, a walking foot, and a twin needle, which is my go-to hemming technique for knits. It stretched out a lot, and ended up a little ripply.

What's a little different about this top from other tops that I've made is that I can't really tuck it in, which I usually do for all my tops. Because of that, I can't really wear it with a skirt, which is too bad. Nonetheless, this top got a lot of wear, especially when it was -20 degrees in Montreal, because I could wear it with jeans and merino base layers underneath - perfect for when I needed a break from all the huge sweaters!

I'll definitely make this pattern again, probably as a dress for summer. I'm really impressed with Muse Patterns - the instructions are great, and the patterns seem to be very well drafted. I also love that their newer patterns come one size smaller than the Jenna cardi did, so I don't have to size down (always a plus!). 

Thanks for reading! You probably won't see much of me until after exams. I have an exciting (but very busy) couple of weeks ahead - in less than two weeks, I'll be done my first week of university, and I'll be moving out my residence and into my first apartment! See you all in (me-made) May!

Top: me-made (Muse Patterns Nathalie Top)
Jeans: Guess

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Completed Knit: Marion Cardigan

Allow me to present my favourite finished project ever: my first handknit cardigan!

Despite learning to knit when I was really young, I never really thought of knitting anything other than accessories. Sweaters just seemed so daunting!

After finishing my Pseudo Shibori Scarf though, knit with 3.5 mm needles and kidsilk, I felt like I was ready to tackle my first sweater. Unfortunately, my tendinitis hit just after finishing the scarf, so I didn't knit at all during my grade 12 year. After I graduated, I slowly got back into it, and found that I was okay so long as I didn't knit too much at once. 

I knew that I wanted to make a cardigan, and I've always loved all of Andi Satterlund's patterns, so it wasn't hard to pick out a pattern. I ended up going with the Marion cardigan, because it was mostly stockinette (aka simple), but had enough shaping and cables that I would learn something new and not get bored. 

When I first downloaded the pattern and read through it, I almost gave up then and there. I had no idea what so much of it meant - short rows, cables, picking up and knitting, yarn overs... it was pretty overwhelming!

I ended up just looking up videos on every stitch that I wasn't sure about, and practicing until I felt reasonably comfortable with all the stitches. I'm glad I picked a relatively simple pattern, because it still felt like I had so much to learn!

The yarn I picked is Colour Adventures Sweet Aran, in the colourway Midnight Blues, which I bought from Wool and Wicker in Steveston. It's 100% superwash merino, and comes in lots of colours. The yarn itself is a little pricey, but I didn't need very much so it didn't end up being too expensive overall. I don't know if I would buy it again because since then, I've found cheaper yarn of a similar quality, but it is quite nice to work with, and really comfortable to wear!

I also bought a set of interchangeable needles, which is a great investment if you plan on making lots of sweaters (like I do!). It makes it really easy to change the cable length as needed, and you never have to transfer stitches to holders - instead, you just take off the needles and screw on these little stoppers at the ends of the cables. When I was knitting the upper front and back, I used a 24" cable, then switched to 32" when I connected it all. When I knit the button band, I went up to 40" (or possible 47", can't remember). For the sleeves, I bought a second set of 5 mm tips, and used both circular needles with 24" cables. I tried to use the magic loop method first, but I found it really awkward to use for the short rows at the sleeve cap.

Since the yarn is hand-dyed, it recommends alternating skeins, which I did throughout the body. At first, I didn't know the best way to do this, so I just tied a knot and knit with a new strand every 2 rows. About 10 rows in, I realized that I would have way too many ends to weave in if I kept going like that! Instead, I just kept all three skeins attached and just picked up a new one every two rows, similar to the way I imagine you would do colourwork (although I've never done colourwork, so I can't say for sure). I didn't bother alternating skeins when I knit the sleeves because I wasn't sure of the best way, and I honestly don't notice any difference, so I probably didn't need to have alternated skeins for the rest of it. Oh well! 

Over the summer, the knitting went pretty quickly. I made lots of mistakes and had to frog a lot, but I kept going pretty steadily until I finished the main body of the sweater. In September, though, I pretty much stopped working on it altogether. I did actually find some time to knit, but I couldn't figure out the short row shaping at the shoulder. I knew that I needed a solid chunk of time to sit down and figure out what I kept doing wrong, and I just never seemed to have that time. Instead, I worked on a hat in little bits and pieces, and didn't really touch the sweater until I was home for Christmas break.

Once I figured out the short rows, the sleeves went really quickly, and I finished this within a couple weeks of the start of the winter semester. 

The next part that took me forever was, of all things, buying buttons! I really wanted to go to Rubans Boutons to find them, but when I finally found an afternoon free to go to Rue St. Hubert, it was one of the coldest days in February! I literally just ducked into the first store I saw that sold buttons, and found some that matched surprisingly well. They're nothing all that special, but the colour is a perfect match, and I like the simpler buttons because they keep the focus on the cables.

It took me so long to buy the buttons that I actually started wearing it without buttons for a while! I think it looks good unbuttoned as well, but you can see the cables better when it's buttoned up, so that's probably how I'll wear it most of the time.

I am so proud of this cardigan, but it's definitely far from perfect! First of all, it could be just a little bigger. Despite swatching and measuring my gauge, my gauge when I actually knit this was a little tight, and I never checked it along the way. It's still very wearable and comfortable, but if I want to wear anything bulkier than a camisole or thin t-shirt underneath, it's a little snug. 

Second of all, I really need to work on casting off loosely. The cast-off edges at the bottom edges of the body and the sleeves are tighter than they should be, and this makes the sweater ride up a little. You can see that in the photo below.

Another part that I need to keep looser is the part between the two needles that I knit the sleeve on - I was so worried about it being too loose that I overdid it a little, and ended up with a little bit of a ridge going down my arm where they stitches are way too tight. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who notices, but if you look closely you can see it a little in these pictures. 

Overall, though, I'm really, really happy with this cardigan! I love the colour and really suits my style. I've already almost finished my second sweater - hopefully I'll have it finished while it's still cool enough to wear it!

Ravelry notes are here.

Thanks for reading, and happy Easter!

Cardigan: Me-made (Marion Cardigan)
Camisole: Mom-made (self-drafted)
Skirt: upcycled from an old dress

Friday, 13 February 2015

Completed: Charley Harper Print Bronte Top

Can I just start by saying how much I LOVE this fabric? It really makes the top! The print looks like a quilting cotton (which I love), but it's actually the softest most wonderful organic cotton interlock knit. It's a complete DREAM to sew with, and so comfortable to wear. The print is by Charley Harper, and I bought the last of the bolt at Spool of Thread last summer - it was a little pricey for cotton knit (around $20 a metre), but sooooo worth it.

I mean, polka dots and birds. Come on. 

This print makes my day every time I wear it. I didn't exactly have the greatest week - my foot was inexplicably sore and swollen to the point that I missed quite a few classes because it hurt to walk to them, and I was seriously struggling to finish some choreography for my dance group. It didn't help that I had my first midterm this semester on Thursday, and a couple of stressful labs this week. Wednesday was probably the low point - I barely slept because of my foot, I couldn't make it to any of my classes, I wasn't feeling very good about my impending midterm, and I hadn't finished a dance that I was supposed to teach later that evening. 

BUT, I wore this top, and it cheered me up. That's the power of great fabric.

I'm now taking a short, but well-deserved break. My midterm went well, I managed to finish all the assignments that I put off when I was studying for it, and I'm catching up on my missed classes. My foot is feeling much better, and despite whatever was wrong with it, I managed to finish teaching my dance, and I'm really, really happy with it! I'm really enjoying having the chance to do my own choreography - seeing it come together is so satisfying!

Speaking of my dance group, we are in the midst of fundraising to pay for the theatre that we're renting for our spring show! We have to pay a certain amount upfront, and then the rest we pay for with ticket sales. Since we're a new dance company at McGill this year, our funds are pretty limited! We've been busy with bake sales and plenty of other fundraisers, but we've also set up a crowdfunding site for anyone who wants to support us from afar. If you're interested in helping us out, every little bit counts, and I would appreciate it SO much! (You can also check out our YouTube channel for videos from our winter showcase if you want to see the kind of things that we do!)

Anyways, enough about dance and my stressful week - on to this shirt!

This is actually my third version of this pattern, the Bronte Top by Jennifer Lauren. I made two short-sleeved versions last summer and haven't blogged about them yet! (I'm terrible, I know.) I really love the pattern - it fit me quite well right out of the (digital) envelope, and it's so quick and easy to make. The yoke detail stops it from being a boring knit top, though! 

I cut a size 8, like my second version. According to the sizing charts, I'm a size 6, but I found it to be a little tight around the armholes. I don't like my knit tops super snug anyways, so I just sized up, and the fit is pretty near perfect! The only change I made to the fit of this one is that I graded out a little at the hips - I find that my first two tops ride up just slightly. I added on about 2" total at the bottom, and this gives it almost more of a bell shape when it's untucked, because the fabric is pretty sturdy. Although I'll wear it tucked in most of the time, I love the shape of it! I would probably not grade out quite as much if I made it in a drapier fabric, though.

While writing that, I realized that I completely forgot to get pictures of it untucked... you'll have to take my word for it!

I thought that long sleeves would be too overwhelming for this print, but I didn't want short sleeves, so I made 3/4 sleeves by folding up the pattern where two pieces of paper were taped together, and this ended up being the perfect length!

I hesitated about the contrasting binding, because I thought it might be too much, but I'm glad I went for it - I really love it! It was just some cream-coloured bamboo jersey that I had in my stash - the same stuff I use to line my Moneta dresses. It really highlights the style lines!

Since I've made this before, it came together really quickly. I won't go much into detail about the construction, since it's pretty much the same as my other knit tops and dresses - I sewed all the seams on my serger, and I hemmed using a twin needle and Stitch Witchery. Like with my previous two versions, I took a 1 1/2" hem, turned up once, rather than a 3/4" hem turned up twice. I just used a simple straight stitch for the topstitching, which is what I did on my other two, and I haven't had any problems with broken stitches. 

That's about it for this top! It's a pretty simple make, but the fabric is fantastic, so it's probably one of my favourite me-made tops ever. I got an email a while back from Spool of Thread saying that they have more Charlie Harper knits in stock - I might try to pick some up (if there are any left) when I'm home for reading week!

By the way, I also made the pants I'm wearing in these photos! They are another project I finished last summer, but haven't had a chance to blog about yet. They were my last project before leaving for Montreal, so I never managed to get photos of them until I visited home for Christmas. They should be up on the blog soon!

Thanks for reading!

Top: Me-made (Jennifer Lauren Bronte Top)
Pants: Me-made (soon to be blogged)
Belt: bought from a craft market

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Completed: Cowl Neck Renfrew Top

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to make Sewaholic’s Renfrew Top! I’ve seen countless versions of this top on various blogs, and I’ve been really happy with all the other Sewaholic patterns that I've tried! When I went to the Sewtionary launch party during the summer, there was 25% off all Sewaholic patterns if you were wearing something made from one. I wore my refashioned muumuu Pendrell blouse and my denim Hollyburn skirt, and picked up the Renfrew pattern!

The pattern calls for a medium-weight knit, so I chose this royal blue organic cotton and bamboo double knit that I bought at Dressew (of all places! It really wasn’t where I was expecting to find organic cotton). Compared to Montreal, it was a little pricey at $15 a metre, but I got this top out of under 1.5 metres, so I’m not complaining.

I chose view C, the cowl neck variation, with the long sleeves from view A. I cut a straight size 0, which usually fits me pretty well in Sewaholic patterns.

From cutting to hemming, I finished this top in an evening! The instructions were well-written but brief, as is usual for Sewaholic patterns. I didn’t follow the instructions too closely, since I’m pretty familiar with how to put together a knit top, although I did noticed that the instructions say to sew the cowl with the wrong sides together. The picture, however, shows it with the right sides together, which is the correct way. It’s not a new pattern so I was a little surprised to find a mistake in the instructions, but I might have just bought an older version that hadn’t been corrected yet.

I wasn’t sure if I had any ¼” twill tape to reinforce the shoulders, so instead I used ¼” clear elastic, which I bought lots of for Moneta dresses but don’t use anymore since I prefer the 3/8” stuff.

I sewed all the seams on my serger, and my regular machine seems to have recovered and did a nice job on the topstitching around the cowl. I used a straight stitch rather than the recommended zigzag, because I find that it actually had enough stretch when it’s topstitching a seam that’s already been serged – I used a straight stitch for all the topstitching on my Bronte tops and haven’t had any problems with broken stitches.

Since I tuck in most of my tops, I wanted a less bulky finish at the bottom, so I hemmed it instead of using the band. I didn’t add any length; I simply omitted the band and the length was perfect. I finished the edge with my serger, turned up 1”, pressed with Stich Witchery, and hemmed with a twin needle. Unfortunately, I didn’t use a walking foot so my hem is a little ripply, but since this will usually be tucked in, I’m not too concerned.

I originally hemmed the sleeves this way as well, but I found that they were just a touch too short, and a little too wide, so I cut off the hem and added the cuffs a couple days later. I like them better, I think!

The fit on this is pretty good, but not perfect. I need to take in the shoulder seams about ½”, maybe more, and if I make a version without the cowl, I’ll need to take in the neckline a little since it’s pretty wide. I’ve seen some people recommend making it a size down since the fit is roomy, but I was already making the smallest size and I didn’t really want to size it down. I think I’m reasonably happy with the fit, though! It’s really comfortable and still looks good tucked it – I actually prefer my shirts to be a little blousy at the waist, otherwise they ride up and get wrinkly.

If I wear it untucked, though, there's some pooling of fabric at the lower back. I might look into doing a swayback adjustment for next time.

I will definitely be making this again! I can see why it's such a popular pattern - it goes together so quickly, and I think I’ll get a lot of wear out of it. I just wish I had enough of the wool I bought it Montreal to make a wool cowl neck version, but the cowl takes up a fair bit of fabric, so I don’t think I do. I’m also planning a Renfrew-Moneta hack to make a cowl neck dress - I just love the cowl neck!

Top: Me-made (Sewaholic Renfrew)
Skirt: Not sure of the brand, refashioned from a dress to a skirt
Belt: Bought at a craft market
Tights: Smartwool
Boots: Steve Madden