Yellow Benedetta & Liberty Print Josephine

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I finally got around to photographing this sweater, which I think I finished back in August. Truthfully, I haven’t worn it too much. It was intended as a springtime sweater, and I do think that’s when I’ll get the most use out of it. The pattern is Carrie Bostick Hoge’s Benedetta. The yarn is Finch in Carrie’s Yellow by Quince & Co. I loved knitting with this yarn. It is so very springy and lovely to handle. I am happy with the fit, except that I do wish I had added one or two more buttonholes. The bottom button pulls a tiny bit, and if there were another button or two, that wouldn’t be an issue. 

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I made up a Josephine top in a Liberty print from Spring 2014 to go with the sweater (I noticed that J.Crew had a top out of the same print for sale earlier this year). I realized that I forgot to snap a picture without the sweater on, but it’s very similar to my prior Josephine (except that I cut the correct size and have all six pleats across the front). I like to have a collection of woven tops for layering. I especially like that I can dress them up with skirts for work or throw them on with jeans on the weekend.

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Separates, separates, separates

Things have changed for me quite a bit in the last year-and-a-half or so. I went from being a law student living in rural Vermont to a sort-of unemployed lawyer in urban Philadelphia, waiting for a job I had accepted back in September 2013 to begin in August 2014. Now, I’m living in a less urban area of Philly, commuting every day 45 minutes each way to Trenton, New Jersey, and working a pretty intense 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. job as a law clerk for a judge. All of this change has required a pretty major overhaul of my wardrobe.

In my current job, I’m in court 3 or so days a week, which requires a jacket. Before I started this job, I had two suits and a slew of ill-fitting and outdated dress clothes from my pre-law-student days. I quickly added a couple more suits to my wardrobe this fall. I also knew that I wanted to increase the separates I had in my wardrobe. In particular, I knew I needed some woven tops–especially silk–to wear under jackets. My goal was to create a bunch of separates that I could easily grab without too much thought when I get dressed in the dark at 6 a.m. I want to look polished and professional because lawyers are on the whole a pretty conservative bunch. But, I also don’t want to completely lose my personality in a sea of black, gray, and navy jackets.

I also have a lot less time to sew now that I’m working full time. Usually, when I get home, I have just enough energy to shove food in my mouth and relax for a little while before bed. I’m also working hard to add physical activity to my routine. And, on the weekends, I am trying to catch up on household related stuff: grocery shopping, cleaning, and cooking a big pot of something that will have leftovers to eat throughout the week. I also, unfortunately, usually spent some amount of time working on the weekends, because seriously, my job is kind of intense and overwhelming. All of this is to say that my sewing time has decreased significantly. Thus, I’m all about simple patterns that I can put together quickly and easily.

Enter the 9 items above–simple basics with a little personality. The green top is the Salme Hannah top made from an off-cut of green silk leftover from a dress I made (also needing to be posted here). It works under a jacket, but the arm holes were a challenge to fit and to wear. I need to re-draft them a bit to make this pattern work a little better for me. The two middle tops are variations on the Wiksten Tova, both from silk prints snagged at Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL last spring. I love both of these. The rest of the tops are all Deer & Doe Datura blouses. I love the yoke of this pattern because it’s a great way to use up leftover fabrics. I also like using it for silks since the yoke means no fiddling around with bias edging.

For the skirts, I made a couple of simple pencil skirts out of cotton sateen: one in plain navy and one in a print. I do have more of the navy sateen to, at some point, make a jacket to go with the skirt. I typically wear the print skit with my navy suit jacket. It’s really nice to be able to separate my suit pieces to make more interesting outfits. Finally, the fuller skirt in the middle is a Colette Zinnia skirt made from a great black and white wax print cotton I bought at B&J Fabrics in New York. I love it and typically wear it with a blouse and a black jacket or sweater.

Believe it or not, I have a few more separates I didn’t photograph above. My love of Liberty of London knows no bounds these days, so I’ve been really enjoying making up a couple Wiksten Tova tanks to wear both casually and under jackets or sweaters for work. I also have another Deer & Doe Dature. All of these items were in the laundry when I photographed the pieces above. I need to keep working on documenting all of my sewing efforts! I also have more plans for more separates as I move into fall and winter. Now, if only there were more hours in the day . . .

Green Lady Skater

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Sometime earlier this winter, I had a fight with my serger and pitched her to the back of the closet. I dug her out again to make up a quick Plaintain tee at some point early this spring, and she performed very well, which gave me some confidence to work with knits again. I can always use a simple, easy-to-wear dress, and I thought the Lady Skater fit the bill. I had this fabric purchased from Emma One Sock at some point about five years ago. I don’t have much exciting to say about this project–you know, it’s a knit dress. It took me maybe 3 hours to construct. I’m pretty happy with it. I did use a new-to-me notion: wash-away wonder tape. I used it to secure the hem, and it worked really great to keep the knit stable for me to use my sewing machine, set up with a twin needle, to make a neat hem. A great pattern for a quick and versatile knit dress!

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Wiksten trifecta

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How is it already May 20? I can’t believe how quickly this spring has whooshed past. So many things–we moved in the middle of a localized flood, we immediately hosted 4 guests for the weekend, and I started running again (to get rid of those pesky winter pounds I managed to gain). Also: I HAVE MY VERY OWN SEWING ROOM. For the first time ever, I have a room where I can keep my machines set up all the time, spread my pattern pieces all over the floor, and keep my projects strewn about. The best thing is having a door I can close on this mess. Seriously, I’ve only been set up in this room for about a week and a half, and it already looks like a tornado of tissue paper and fabric scraps projectile vomited all over the room! Once I get things organized a bit more, I’ll share a photo.

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I actually made up this Wiksten Tova before we moved to our new, awesome place. I made it as a test to see how I liked the pattern. The fabric is some very sheer cotton/silk voile, I think, purchased at Mood circa 2008-ish? It’s pretty and floaty. I ultimately decided that the size I cut this time around was a bit large, so I’m glad I didn’t cut into some precious yardage for this version.

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Confident that I would like the pattern with a few tweaks, I cut into some precious Liberty of London cotton lawn that I’ve been hoarding since our first trip to London in August, 2009. I bought two pieces of Liberty cotton on that trip and have been too afraid to cut into their beauty ever since. Honestly, though, this stuff is so amazing to work with, I don’t know why I ever sew with anything else. (Oh yeah, maybe because it’s about $35/yard.)

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I made a few modifications based on my first version: cut one whole size smaller, added a little waist shaping to the side seams, took about 1″ off the hem and took a deeper hem at 1.5.” I think this will be a great little blouse to tuck into a pencil skirt or to wear more casually with skinny jeans and ballet flats, or under a cardigan sweater this fall.

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Finally, feeling confident about the Wiksten loveliness, I went ahead and made this little tank from this super lightweight cotton/silk voile blend, also from my stash circa 2010, if I had to guess. If I were awesome I probably would’ve double-layered the front piece–it’s a little sheer to comfortably wear without a camisole underneath. The fabric was so sheer, binding the neckline and armholes was a real pain in the butt. It doesn’t look super flattering in this picture, but it works well layered under a cardigan (the one in the first picture above is from Boden, purchased years ago and dug out of the depths of my closet, since I finally have something to wear with it). I think that I’ll be making more of these little woven tanks with a few little tweaks next time around.

Happy spring!

 

 

Moroccon Print Josephine & Ivory Guernsey Triangle

Josephine & Triangle

I really ought to post more often. I have a backlog of items I have produced since last fall. Honestly, it’s because photographing is such a pain. First of all, it means I have to actually put clothes other than my LL.Bean hunting dog print flannel pajama pants and their matching (not really, actually) LL. Bean plaid flannel shirt (the horrors!). Second, it means someone besides my dog Eleanor (who is smart but surprisingly not smart enough to work a camera) has to be home at the same time I am. Third, it means all of those things have to happen when it’s light outside. And, finally, it can’t be bloody cold outside so that I don’t have to stand shivering like a weirdo on the street in our ‘hood, where there are frequently bus-loads of tourists stopping by to check out the “oldest street in America” (which, as someone who lived in New England from 2001-2013 truly can’t believe that such a street exists outside of New England). But, you know, sometimes, the stars align, I decide to move large pieces of furniture around, take down pictures from the wall, and enlist Nico to take a bunch of awkward photos inside our apartment after he got back from a 13 mile run in the snowstorm (yeah, sometimes I feel guilty about the fact that he goes on epic runs while I mostly sit on the couch watching West Wing re-runs, but then I realize that I’m only human, and oh hey, I have a new shirt, so that’s cool).

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Anyway. I made this shirt. It’s from Made by Rae’s new Josephine pattern. Despite the fact that this thing should’ve taken me like 3 hours to put together, it took me like a full week of false-starts because I don’t follow instructions, and sometimes I make stupid mistakes. Mistake 1: missing the fact that the smallest size on the pattern is an XS and therefore cutting out the wrong size (instead of cutting out a small/medium, I ended up cutting out an extra-small/small). Because of this mistake, I had to take out two of the six pleats down the front to increase the size juuuust big enough so I could actually move my arms. Mistake 2: while I was trimming the seam allowances on the side seam to finish in a french seam, I cut into the body of the fabric. Because of this mistake, I had to take out another two of the six pleats down the front, since I had to take a slightly larger seam allowance to cover the fact that I CUT A HOLE IN THE SHIRT. Mistake 3: making this a longer-tunic/mini-dress length, with the hope of being able to wear it with leggings and boots (and a skinny belt), only to discover that I don’t really feel comfortable wearing things that barely cover my a$$ with pants that are basically glorified tights. I wore it this way one day last week and then TORE A HOLE IN IT at one point when I yanked it down to cover my a$$. Seriously. So, I gave it a few days, then chopped off a couple of inches and re-hemmed it to this length, to wear with jeans (and maybe a belt too).

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Despite all of these stupid mistakes, I actually like this top a lot. I think it’s mostly because I really love the fabric, which I probably bought back in like 2007. It’s a super thin silk/cotton blend. Sometimes, when I have fabric that I adore like this, it paralyzes me. I finally decided to just make something simple with it, and I’m glad I did. It will be a great layering piece–tucked into a pencil skirt with a jacket or a sweater, or worn with jeans and boots with a jacket or sweater. Despite the fact that all I seem to be wearing these days is pajama pants and flannel shirts, I quite like woven tops, and I’m happy to add this one to my wardrobe.

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I loooove my Guernsey Triangle. It’s so, so soft! And, when I finished it, I felt so accomplished: I tackled a charted pattern, smaller needles, a larger project, holding two yarns together, the kitchener stitch, and blocking wires! Being a beginner is so exciting and satisfying–with each project, I learn a whole new army of techniques. I just ignore the part where I actually bought this yarn to make a cowl, but then had to scrap that plan when I realized I had twisted my stitches, making a sort of Mobius circle instead of a normal cowl. I didn’t really like how it was coming out anyway, so I just ditched that project and used the yarn for this project instead.

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It’s kind of a weird project, a neck-kerchief, but somewhere browsing on Ravelry I saw some triangular shaped stuff and really got into the idea of a knitted bandana. It sounds weird to me even now, but I really like it. It is a little quirky, but also classic, and most importantly, epically soft! I held Manos del Uruguay’s Fino together with some Silk Cloud, which gives it a delightful haze and softness. As a bonus, I have enough of both yarns to make a delicate little hat, which I’m pretty excited about. More details on Ravelry.