Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter Flowers - Purple and Grey Cosmopolitan Dress

Hello, everyone!

I hope this finds each and everyone of you enjoying a happy end of the year, whichever way you like it best!

Here is my last sewing project before Christmas - a Cosmo Dress!

Hot Patterns' Cosmopolitan Dress and I have a complicated history. I have always loved the pattern and this was my first purchase from Hot Patterns. The first time I made it, however, some of you may remember that I was losing my Grandma and I majorly messed it up. I never touched this dress again. The pattern stayed in my pattern drawer for a long time; I glanced at it occasionally, until I was finally ready to dig it up again. This time around, it worked. Cheer with me, friends - I have finally conquered the Cosmo!
That being said, the sewing wasn't exactly a walkover. I cut a size 6 for the back and a size 8 for the front, but I should have made a size 6 all around. The back was a perfect fit. I didn't use a zipper as I was sewing with a knit, so I took out 1.5 cm from the center and cut it on the fold of my fabric instead of cutting two pieces.
(strange posture, but anyway)

The front, on the other hand, was just huge on me, with way too much fabric both horizontally and vertically from the waist up. I wasn't expecting the front to be so big - I usually cut front pieces a size or two bigger than the back, because my back is unusually narrow. Muslin, you say? Finding a pretty knit here is already quite a feat (I got this one online and was really lucky with it), so no - I don't have spare knit fabric for muslins.
The side seams are the last seams you sew, so when I realized the fitting problems, the waist and armhole seams were already serged and there was no way I was unpicking these. I undid the side seams and:
- took in the front bodice at the sides
- made the front darts 1.5 cm deeper.
That really helped, but there was still too much fabric in the bust area lengthwise; again, the sleeves were already set in and serged, so unpicking the shoulder sleeves was not an option. In the end I also made darts below each shoulder seam to pinch in the extra fabric. The print of the fabric is so busy that it is barely noticeable unless you knew it and had your face right against my shoulder ;) - it just looks like an unusual detail IMO anyway, not something that was fiddled with.
I remembered reviews on PR and blogs warning that the neckline was low, so I redrafted the slope of the neckline so it was raised by an inch or so at the center front.
I also changed the finishing for the neckline. This is were I had majorly messed up 3 years ago (though really, what was I thinking back then - facings in a knit fabric?); this time I did one of my favourite neckline finishes for knits: contrasting binding that is sewn stretched out, so as to stay close to the body when worn. I used a black knit fabric for this, that has a bit more body and resiliency than the main fabric.

My last alteration was the sleeves. I wanted neither the scarf-style sleeves - not practical for teaching - nor the huge sleeves gathered at the cuff - way too big for my small frame. I Frankensteined the sleeves from my trusty and much-worn New Look 6429.

One final thing regarding construction: I sewed the side seams and sleeves all in one go, as most of us do when we sew with knits and sleeves do not need easing.

This dress will be wearable in the spring as well, but right now, I am making it work as a winter dress with thermal underwear (and an extra black top underneath if it's really cold), boots and opaque tights (or woolen tights if it's really cold); and it is a great match under my beloved purple coat. My usual accent accessories (oversized cowl, gorgeous cabled fingerless gloves that were a gift from dear Tany a couple of years back, and I'm currently making a matching béret) are grey, so this purple and grey print was just ideal.
(I'll talk more about the cowl some other time, along with some other winter accessories that I've been crocheting for me or as Christmas gifts.)

I have to own up to Trena's inspiration here. I am a great fan of her outfits; the last two paragraphs of this post in particular have inspired me to go out in dresses or skirts almost every single day for the past 6 weeks. A past 6 weeks that have been whoppingly cold around these parts, even here in Southern France. Thanks to Trena's advice I haven't been cold at all - and have been feeling cute at the same time as warm! :)

For a long time, too, I kept drooling over Trena's colourful tights. Up till recently, funky tights weren't something readily available (or at least affordable) in France; happily, this is changing. This will probably sound silly but I was really tickled to find purple tights that were a nice match for the dress. Going back to Trena's post to link it for you, I just realized Trena's tights that day were also purple! I swear this is coincidental. Though you know, with Trena and I being exactly the same size and all - I probably already mentioned that I have regular dreams of raiding her closet for all her adorable dresses. ;)
Excellente fin d'année à toutes et à tous !! Have a wonderful end of the year, everyone.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Violaine Tunic

Remember these?
They became this:
Violaine is a top designed by a French designer, Sylvie Damey - although the instructions are written in English. You'll also find it on ravelry:
I made this top with an informal look in mind; this is definitely not something I'd wear to work, but I made it for these days when I can work from home and want to feel more relaxed (and warm!) but still a bit cute.

I changed the shells pattern from the empire waist down:
Starting row of shells: SH in first sc, *skip 1 sc, sc in next sc, skip sc, SH in next sc*, repeat between * to end;
Following rows: SH in each sc, sc in ch-sp of each SH to end.
I did the first row of shells with a 5.5-cm hook, and the following rows with a 6-cm hook for an airier effect. I switched to a 6.5-cm hook from the low waist down.

If you're interested in making this design and want detailed notes on my alterations, they are on my Ravelry project page.

The top closes with a couple of buttons at the back, a detail I found really cute.

I did block the tunic, but it has grown a bit more since these pictures were taken.

This tunic is lightweight, but the yarn (Tosca Light by Lang Yarns) is very warm. And people - just look at the colours: blue, turquoise and purple (AKA the shades I keep obsessing over) softly, softly merging one into the other... Can it get any better than this? ;)
I cannot praise this yarn enough: I am now craving for it in its purple-red colourway...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Long-sleeved Jalie - un haut Jalie à manches longues

English version: click here
Version française: cliquez ici (et décochez l'autre case)

I finally got time last Sunday to brave the cold and take pictures of a few projects.
With this long and crazy semester finally coming to a close, I am hoping for a little more time to sew, crochet AND blog in the next couple of weeks, so be prepared for a batch of new posts in the days/week to come! :)
First up is a three-quarter-sleeved Jalie sweetheart top.
(The lovely rose pendant comes from my friend Tracy's Etsy shop, which used to be my favourite Etsy shop before it closed. :) )

I was finding my first Jalie top was a little too snug when I first made it, so I cut the next one slightly bigger. By the time I took pictures of the first one, however, I had lost a little weight and the fit was perfect, so this second one is a bit big on me. That's the thing with being able to sew or crochet only in very short increments at a time: there can be days or even weeks before a top is cut out and assembled, assembled and finished, finished and photographed. (I can't survive without getting a little done almost every evening to unwind though: I prefer to get less sleep and get to create a little every day.)
I was also a little freaked out by the tiny seam allowances the first time I made this top, which played a role in my cutting the top slightly bigger. I know the SAs match those on a serger, but I don't like sewing my knits directly on the serger: I always fear the seam won't be sturdy enough (especially for this kind of top, which is bound to get a lot of use and get washed often); so I first sew on the sewing machine, then use the serger, both for added security and of course for a neat seam finish.
I can't tell you how cold I was taking these pictures - I was actually trying to stop my teeth from chattering - LOL! There just isn't enough natural light indoors ATM to make decent pictures in the flat (and I never manage to get good pictures in artificial lighting).

I believe this Jalie pattern is meant to be worn close-fitting, to bring out the details of the yoke and neckline. That being said, this top still looks wearable to me, and the loose fit gives a more relaxed look; I figured it was good to have a more loose-fitting t-shirt in my wardrobe, which I why I didn't take it in.
I love the colourway. Grey-blue and teal - totally my colours. I used remnants from the first top to make contrasting bands. It's a good thing I have such an obsession for blues/teals or purples: it means there's a lot of matching potential in my fabric stash (and it's fun coordinating my outfits everyday!).

Of course as always someone was out to play during the photo session...
See the big fluffy coat she's been busy making for winter? :)

Bonjour !

Je fais cet article en français aussi à la demande de Katia qui m'a charriée que je n'écrivais plus en français ;) En fait, je ne sais pas trop si ça sert d'écrire à la fois en anglais et en français ; y a-t-il des francophones pour qui c'est appréciable ? J'aimerais bien le savoir, parce que ça prend du temps d'écrire dans les deux langues. :)

J'ai enfin bravé le froid dimanche pour prendre des photos de mes derniers projets. Certains datent d'un petit moment ; comme je vais enfin avoir un peu plus de temps après un semestre très chargé, préparez-vous à une petite série d'articles dans la ou les 2 semaines à venir ! :)

Aujourd'hui, une version manches 3/4 du haut Jalie à décolleté à coeur
(Le joli pendentif en forme de rose vient de la boutique de mon amie Tracy, qui avait une de mes boutiques Etsy préférées avant qu'elle ne ferme. :) )

Ce haut est un peu grand. Quand j'ai fait mon premier haut selon ce patron, il était un peu trop ajusté, alors j'ai coupé le suivant un peu plus grand. Mais il s'est écoulé du temps entre le moment où j'ai fini le premier haut (et coupé le 2e) et où j'ai fait les photos, et j'ai un peu minci entre les deux. C'est ça le souci quand on ne peut faire des projets que par mini-séances : il se passe plusieurs semaines entre la coupe et la couture, entre la couture et les finitions, et entre les finitions et les photos...
Et puis je n'avais pas trop aimé les marges de couture très étroites de ce patron ; c'est pour ça aussi que j'ai coupé plus grand. Ces marges correspondent à celles d'une surjeteuse, mais il est très rare que je couse directement à la surjeteuse. J'ai toujours peur que les coutures ne soient pas assez solides (surtout pour ce genre de haut qui se porte et se lave beaucoup), alors je fais d'abord les coutures à la machine, puis je surjette, pour une couture plus solide et bien sûr pour une jolie finition.
Il faisait vraiment froid, surtout avec le vent : j'essayais de m'empêcher de claquer des dents ! LOL. Il n'y a pas assez de lumière en ce moment pour prendre des photos nettes en intérieur, et je n'aime pas l'éclairage artificiel, alors je préfère les prendre dehors.

Bon, même s'il est un peu grand, il me plaît ce haut, et puis ça donne un style plus relax ; je me dis que c'est bien d'avoir ce genre de haut dans ma garde-robe, et c'est pour ça que je ne l'ai pas repris.
J'adore les couleurs de l'imprimé... Bleu-gris et ardoise : c'est vraiment mes couleurs ! J'ai utilisé des restes du tissu du premier haut pour faire des bandes contrastantes. C'est ça qui est chouette dans ma lubie pour les mêmes couleurs (bleus/turquoise ou violet) : il y a souvent des possibilités pour assortir les tissus... Et au quotidien, je m'amuse bien à assortir mes tenues aussi.
Et comme d'habitude quelqu'un a profité de la séance photo pour aller jouer dehors...
Vous avez vu le gros manteau touffu qu'elle s'est fait pour l'hiver ? :)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

A Jacket for Baby Mila

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a new baby in possession of crafty neighbours must be in want of handknits.
Our closest neighbours just had a baby daughter. I really wanted to make something for her.

I very loosely adapted an existing pattern, that I turned into something more elaborate and girly. Just so you can see the difference from the initial pattern, here's a jacket made faithfully from the pattern. Since my sister has 2 boys (Robin, 4, and Florian, almost 1), I haven't had much opportunity to have fun with girly baby stuff. I didn't want to make something overly frilly, but I thought simple shells and scalloped sleeves would be nice.

When I was last in Northern France, I asked my older sister for advice regarding colour, material, etc. She lent me a RTW cardigan that my nephews had used; it proved very helpful to check the fit. I also copied the cardigan's ties system, which probably every parent will agree is more practical than buttons with a wriggly newborn. :)

- I kept the initial raglan-sleeved yoke in double crochet. 
- Sleeves: Finished the sleeves with a scalloped edge:  Ch3, DC in first DC, *sk next DC, sc in next DC, sk next DC, [2DC, ch1, 2DC] in next DC* around
- Body: I crocheted in double crochet until the jacket reached the same length as the portion above the ties in my sister's RTW jacket; I then started crocheting in staggered shells. I forgot to take notes while making it and am currently too brain-dead to reconstruct the whole process, but if someone wants me to guide them through it, let me know and I'll write everything down whenever my brain gets the rest it needs to function properly. The shells themselves are (2DC, ch1, 2DC), alternated with single crochet stitches.
- Ties: I guess the following two pictures are pretty self-explanatory.
This last picture shows how I threaded the chain tie through the last rows of DCs. I made the chain ties with a smaller hook than the jacket (3 mm instead of 5mm).

The yarn is Lang Omega, a plump yarn that yields a sturdy and washable result. Lang Yarns are fabulous - I've always been very happy with them.

I just went to deliver my small gift and meet baby Mila (pronounced mee-lah) - she is such a beautiful, delicate baby... Just like her name. :)