Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fluffy Fibers: Episode 07: Break It Up

Plaid Torsadé - WIP

An episode in honour of the Autumn/Spring Equinox! Besides my current and upcoming sewing and knitting projects, I share tips on how to stay on top of your sewing plans despite a busy schedule. I give a mixed review of The Semi-Detached House, and talk about a modernist novel that I started.

You can download the episode (52:58) here, or listen directly from the embedded player below (if it works on your browser).
Here is the direct feed for the podcast, and you can also find the podcast on iTunes.

~Episode 07 Shownotes~
1. Sewing Projects; 2. Sewing tips; 3. Knitting Projects; 4. Literature

(Episode recorded on Friday, Sept. 23.)

1. Sewing projects (2:50)
   1.a Completed (or nearly so)
- I finished my early maternity summer dress, Simplicity 2580. Pictures and review in this blog post.
- This week I started and almost finished a long-sleeved version of Jalie 2804, the Empire Crossover top. Shoutouts to Christina for inspiring me with her own versions from 2010, and for linking in her posts to tutorials on how to tweak regular top patterns for maternity wear. That was very useful. 
    1.b Coming up next
- Zippered cover for my cork-filled support/nursing pillow. (I didn't want a polystyrene-filled pillow). The stuffing is tiny balls of cork, and you have the option of purchasing just the pillow, and the pattern for the cover (not that drafting this would be difficult - I just wouldn't bother!).
- Long-sleeved knit dress for the impending turn of the weather.

2. Sewing tips: how not to feel daunted by your sewing plans (13:11)
- Break it up into small, undaunting, manageable tasks
- Sew regularly, even if for a very little while, to keep your reflexes and sew more quickly
- Take some breaks to avoid mistakes - which eventually will lengthen the project. Take time to smell the roses :)

Touring by Lang Yarns
3. Knitting projects (25:18)
- Have only one sleeve left to knit on my Vitamin D cardigan.
- Working slowly my way through Sunnyside Baby Cardigan. The yoke is done.
- Started on a blanket for the baby: Plaid Torsadé by la Droguerie (pictured at the top of this post). Knitting this in Lang Yarns Touring, which I find to be a great yarn for baby stuff. Here's the colour card.
Something I didn't make clear in the recording is that this is a Swiss brand (not French as my phrasing might have inferred, since I compare it to other French brands).
- Dear friend Nicki (luluminstrel) generously sent me two fat skeins of fingering yarn (pictures upcoming on ravelry) which I believe will be perfect for a Daybreak.
- Next I plan to start the Clara Dress by Karin Vestergaard Mathiesen. Seb bought me the kit the day we found out we were having a girl. I've been wanting to make this dress ever since I saw Itty Bitty's version.

4. Literature (39:40)
- Finished listening to the Librivox recording of The Semi-Detached House, by Emily Eden; read by Elizabeth Klett. I have mixed feelings about this novel after listening to the second half.
- Started reading Dusty Answer (1927), by Rosamond Lehmann. I'm sensing common points with Virginia Woolf's The Waves (1931), which further piques my interest. Characters mentionned in the passage I read are: Judith (through whose point of view the narration is rendered); Charlie and Mariella; Julian; Miss Pim; and Roddy.

Credits: Music: Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, mvt. 3 by Joseph Haydn, played by Mario Ajero.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Last of Summer - Simplicity 2580, maternified

Simplicity 2580 - maternified
(16 weeks in these pictures)
The story:
I got Simplicity 2580 months before I was pregnant (aside: even though it was very much in the plans, I decided to keep on planning my next projects without taking a possible pregnancy into account, no matter how hoped-for it was - not wanting to jinx things or anything. This explains why my latest knitted garments, started not long before the pregnancy, are very fitted, and won't be wearable for at least another year. I finished them as I was already 2 months along, to the mirth of my younger sister, who suggested I should simply give them to her. ;))
I'd long been attracted to the cowl neckline in view D, and as I was drafting my pregnancy wardrobe plans and looking at my patterns, I thought it would be a good candidate to alter into maternity wear, while still looking good in the years to come.
As you may recall from my wardrobe plans, this project was directly inspired from this dress, from a French maternity RTW store:
I made my changes accordingly, i.e. to match the shape and style of this dress.
Simplicity 2580 - maternified
- What I did to accommodate my growing belly into this initially very fitted dress, is cancel out the taper from thighs to waist, which gave me a rectangle for the skirt. I then gathered the top of the skirt before assembling it to the bodice.
- I didn't have to raise the waistline, as this is an empire dress to start with.
- I added a tie as in the inspiration picture; I feel this accents this dress (and the belly) in a nice way.

That is all I did as far as alterations are concerned. I cut a size 8 at the back (one size larger than usual, to account for expanding ribcage) and a 10 at the front. I basted everything before doing the actual sewing, but didn't need to change the fit.

I stitched the hem by hand, for an invisible hem (catching only one strand of fabric for each stitch); but the fabric, a viscose knit from Tissus Reine, is thin, so the stitching shows. Since it is regular, though, I don't think it matters.
Simplicity 2580 - maternified

- I love the cowl neck, which is a particular favourite neckline of mine; I also really liked that the front bodice is very neatly finished, as it is lined upon itself; this really beats the more sloppy finishing of New Look 6470, (i.e. pattern I used in the posts linked just above), where the front top edge is left unfinished.
- What I wish had been different (and what I'll be altering if I make this again), is that the back, on the other hand, isn't lined. My fabric being a little on the slim side, and maternity underwear being what it is, it doesn't make for the smoothest of looks:
Simplicity 2580 - maternified - back
(note, however, the matching Ficcare, that I'd gotten secondhand only a few weeks before! Matching my hair accessories with my clothes is quite a little obsession of mine).

Now I was feeling pretty proud with this altered design and with the result; but the funny thing is, as I was browsing patternreview to check links when putting together my wardrobe article, I noticed Trena's version. I had admired hers when she made it months ago. Looking at it again, I realized she'd done the same alteration of widening the skirt at the waist to add folds and fullness. Even though I didn't consciously copy her, it must definitely have stuck in my mind! I guess I hadn't added two and two together because her dress is long-sleeved, and because the clever way she sewed on the ties makes it closer to the body (so flattering!). The good thing is, it confirmed that this dress should also look good on me in future years.

I kept the best picture for last: my younger sister Hélène came to visit from Paris last week, a rare and wonderful treat; we celebrated her arrival by feeding the baby ice cream! Note the extra cone for the baby (or it may simply have been that I was holding Seb's ice cream as he was handling the camera;))
The baby wants ice-cream!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Autumn-Winter 2011-12 Wardrobe: Pretty Pregnancy - the Plan

Warning: picture-heavy post!

In case you didn't know quite yet how much of an organisation freak I can be, the following should dispel any lingering doubt.
Here is what I am hoping to accomplish, depending of course whether my back/overall condition allows me to cut patterns and fabrics for another few months. Currently, it varies from day to day. ;)
I'm aiming to finish a garment every 10 days or thereabouts.

Wherever applicable, pictures of ready-to-wear inspiration and patterns are linked to their corresponding websites.

1. Cowl Neck Dress

Pattern to adapt:
Simplicity 2580, view D, knee-length skirt
Alterations: make fuller skirt
Notes: to make in turquoise knit.

2. Mock-Wrap Dresses

Pattern to adapt:
McCall's 5974
Alterations: raise waistline
Note: make shorter hem to compensate for flat-heeled shoes.
One in a solid colour (antique mauve or black), one in a print (purple/black/white knit). 

1. Twist Top
Jalie 2788
Notes:Make a sleeveless version, in deep purple knit; make a 3/4-sleeved version with lengthened hem to account for bigger belly in later autumn/winter.

2. Criss-cross top

Jalie 2787
Notes: Long-sleeved version, with lengthened hem to account for bigger belly in later autumn/winter.
In pink knit.

3. Ruched top

Christina's fabulous versions!
Jalie 2804
Notes: Time allowing, make one sleeveless for early autumn (white cotton jersey); make another with long sleeves, and lengthened hem, to account for bigger belly in later autumn/winter.

4. Wrap Top


Megan Nielsen's Wrap Maternity Top
Notes: should have enough red fabric for this.


(Love the raspberry shade!)
Manteau trois-quart from French book Les Intemporels pour Futures Mamans
OR/AND (depending on time/state/fabric availability):
Manteau ceinturé from French book Les Intemporels pour Futures Mamans
Note: second coat shouldn't take too long to make; useful for early winter. First coat for colder season.

IV. EXTRA LAYERS (knitting)

Vitamin D by Heidi Kirrmaier (Pipibird). In a denimy blue.

Idlewood by Cecily Glowik MacDonald. Knit longer, as a dress.
(Time allowing... not holding my breath on this one, as there is so much I want to knit for the baby!) 

1. Zipped cover for support/nursing pillow
2. Slippers (to knit and felt, or to sew - I lean towards knitted and felted).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pretty Pregnancy Wardrobe - Jalie 2788 Twist Top

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

Hello, everyone!
Shocking, I know - 3 posts in 4 days! Thing is, I really need to move along with sharing my projects, or this blog will never be up to date with my current projects. This post is 10 days overdue! ;)

First Maternity Top - Jalie 2788

Here is the first item in my maternity wardrobe (which I'm calling "Pretty Pregnancy", and that will be its label on the blog). As I explain in my latest podcast, I'll be concentrating on tops and dresses, because my older sister generously lent me several lovely pairs of maternity trousers, among which are the white linen trousers I'm wearing in the pictures (merci, Catherine!).
For this first top, I used the Jalie Twist Top pattern (Jalie # 2788).

First Maternity Top - Jalie 2788 - bump view :)
(Pictures were taken 11 days ago, and people have been telling me I've popped even more since then).

Pattern review
Pattern description (from the pattern envelope): "V-neck top with a fashionable twist along the cleavage line and tie at back neckline. View A has a three-quarter sleeve, View B has a puff sleeve and View C is sleeveless. The pattern includes optional front flounce and modesty panel for more coverage. The hem can be finished with a wide stretch lace trim."
Designs elements I liked: I like twist tops - they have this "designer" touch while not being over the top, nor hard to make at all. I liked the modesty panel in this one, which is quite necessary for this to be work appropriate given my cleavage's, ah, current condition.
I didn't use the front flounce because I didn't have enough fabric, but may use it some other time.
Changes: I made this a side bigger than usually (Jalie offers a lot of sizes - I made size 7 instead of my usual 5 or 6). I ended up having to take the top in at the shoulders seams.
I initially added 6 cm to the hem for extra belly coverage; but ended up chopping 5 out of these 6 cm, thereby only lengthening the top by 1 cm. I am short waisted, and guess in more "usual" circumstances, this top would look really long on me.
Looking at the pictures, I realize I could do with a little more coverage at the front armholes. I'll have to tweak the upper front panels next time to add more width.
I really like the way the knot turned out:
First Maternity Top - Jalie 2788 - knot detail
(Necklace is a handmade gift from a forum exchange - love it. Earrings are handmade as well - came from a little shop in Hartenstraat, back from when Seb worked in Amsterdam 3-4 years ago. I can't believe I still remember the name of the street!)

Conclusion: I love this top and have been wearing it pretty much every day that it's not been in the wash :) Definitely need to make more! I'll be making long-sleeved options for the cooler weather. This is another Jalie winner.

Bonjour, tout le monde !

Eh oui, tout arrive : 3 articles en 4 jours ! Il me faut vraiment me remuer un peu, autrement ce blog prend trop de retard par rapport à mes projets. Ce message a déjà 10 jours de retard !

First Maternity Top - Jalie 2788

La rentrée étant bien commencée, je n'aurai pas le temps de faire toujours des articles complètement bilingues, il faut être réaliste. Je me contente donc ici de l'essentiel : il y a un peu plus de détails en anglais.

Voici donc le premier projet dans ma garde-robe de grossesse (que j'appelle "Pretty Pregnancy", et ce sera sa catégorie sur le blog). Je ne sais pas si ça intéresse certain-e-s d'entre vous que je fasse un article sur le détail de ma garde-robe (tout est prévu !) ; pour faire bref, je vais me concentrer sur les hauts et les robes, car ma grande soeur m'a déjà gentiment prêté de jolis pantalons de grossesse, donc le pantalon de lin blanc que je porte sur les photos (merci, Soeurette !!)

Le patron est le Haut "twist" de chez Jalie (Jalie # 2788).

First Maternity Top - Jalie 2788 - bump view :)
(Les photos datent d'il y a 11 jours ; il paraît que je me suis encore arrondie depuis).

J'aime bien la façon dont le noeud s'est formé dans ce tissu fluide :
First Maternity Top - Jalie 2788 - knot detail

Conclusion: J'aime beaucoup ce haut et je le porte tout le temps ; il faut vraiment que j'en fasse plus. J'en ferai aussi à manches longues quand il fera plus frais (ce qui ne semble pas près d'arriver...). Comme toujours, de suis ravie Jalie (super slogan, non ?).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fluffy Fibers: Episode 06 - New Ventures

Sept. 7, 2011 - my first handspun

In which I share exciting new adventures.

You can download the episode (54:21) here, or listen directly from the embedded player below (if it works on your browser).
Here is the direct feed for the podcast, and you can also find the podcast on iTunes.

Podcast Powered By Podbean

~Episode 06 Shownotes~
Intro; 1. Thank yous; 2. Sewing Projects; 3. Knitting Projects; 4. Spinning Ventures; 5. Literature

1. Thank yous:
- My friend and fellow podcaster Rebecca (rebeccawip on Ravelry) gifted me the new and very lovely Rosy Days collection by Cecily Glowik McDonald, to make the start of term easier :)
- Martha kindly sent me the beautiful Acer Cardigan, a design by Amy Christoffers, as a thank you for the podcast.

2. Sewing projects (5:37):
- First I mention the Knitmore Girls, as Jasmin and Andrew are expecting as well.
~ 2. a. Planning a wardrobe: my motto is Functional, Fitting, and Fun!
- Functional: shades and styles that work together. Check out the Pattern Review contests, where they often have wardrobe contests (not at the moment though), whose rules can help you build your wardrobe on other occasions.
- Fitting: your occupations, your complexion, your shape, your personal style - it has to be you!
- Fun: in making and wearing these designs and fabrics. You will get so many moments of joy wearing your wardrobe and remembering the making of these clothes everytime you put them on.

~ 2. b. My pregnancy wardrobe: 
- Right now in casual occasions, I'm wearing skirts with elasticized waistbands that I made earlier: bias skirts (which I contributed to the One Yard Wonders book), and ruffle skirt.
- Jalie Patterns.
- My blog post on Paris addresses to shop for fabric; the shops I mention in the podcast are Tissus Reine and Le Marché Saint-Pierre (Tissus Dreyfus), both of which were grimly deficient in knit fabrics when I visited.
- Mamzelle Fourmi (= "Miss Ant") online fabric shop. French, and offers good quality fabrics - hurray!
- My first maternity top is Jalie 2788. Pictures forthcoming very shortly.
- I also just adapted Simplicity 2580 into a maternity dress.

I can share my detailed wardrobe plans in a separate blog post, if there is some interest.

3. Knitting projects (32:00)
- Have the sleeves left on: Vitamin D, by Heidi Kirrmaier
- Finished project (knit in the Peak District): Cardigan à empiècement arrondi (= "round yoke cardigan"). From Astrid le Provost's Tricots intemporels pour bébés (= "Timeless knits for babies"). Knit with Guéret merino wool, by Fonty (French brand).
Similar designs in English are: Round Yoke Toddler Sweater; Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater; Baby Willow Set.
- Sunnyside Baby Cardigan by Tannis Lavallée. I'm knitting the lace version, in the alpaca by La Droguerie.

4. Spinning Ventures (42:50)
Sept. 7, 2011 - my first 
My lovely wheel is the Sonata by Kromski, which is foldable, and I couldn't be more pleased.
The dealer I bought it from is Alysse Créations. Sandrine, who takes care of the fiber part of the shop, is also a fantastic knitter and spinner, meaning she truly knows her business. Her fibers are lovely, and great value. I got a bit of several fibers to test them: Blue-Faced Leicester, Falkland, Shetland, and some of her coloured merino rovings.
I spun merino in the Céleste (= "Heavenly") colourway as my first try (shown above and on top of the post). Overspun, but my spinning friends at the local knitting group tell me it's usable, and I am excited.

5. Literature (51:04)
Currently listening to a Librivox recording: The Semi-Detached House, by Emily Eden. A fun, lighthearted novel of the late 19th century, wonderfully read by Elizabeth Klett.

Credits: Music: Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, mvt. 3 by Joseph Haydn, played by Mario Ajero.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Feet the size of seam allowances ~ Un encours au long cours...

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

The vast majority of us sewists have a distinct, intrinsic sense of exactly how much a seam allowance measures; it is something we instinctively visualize, to the point we can eyeball them when working on a garment.
It probably won't surprise you that, when told of feet that measured 1.5 cm (5/8”), I couldn't help immediately thinking of a seam allowance. You know, all the fruit analogies just weren’t doing it for me – I mean, can’t a lemon’s size vary significantly depending on where and how it’s grown? And, er, what’s a kumquat?

But give me a measurement of 1.5 cm, and I can immediately visualize the size not only of the feet, but of the whole little body attached to it. For the first time I really, really got a clear and intimate sense of the size of our baby.

Everything's going fine so far, and happy does not begin to describe how we feel!
The due date is very early March (it would be late February by English, American, or indeed most other standards, as the French health system adds a week to the pregnancy from I believe most of the world: a pregnancy here lasts officially 41 weeks). Seb's hoping for a birth on Feb. 29th! I am 15 weeks along right now, so the exhausting first few months are over.

You can imagine I have TONS of creative ideas, both for my pregnancy wardrobe and for the baby. For those of you who listen to the podcast, you will now understand why I was so excited about my fall-winter wardrobe in my last episode - it is indeed going to be a bit special this year!
I couldn’t start on my sewn wardrobe as early as I’d wished because of sciatica, but the pain is starting to abate and I was able to finish my first top yesterday (fortunately, it was cut out before the pain started, as I don’t feel up to cutting out patterns and fabrics quite yet). I did start on belly-friendly knitwear, though, and the baby already has a first little cardigan all knit up and blocked, which only needs buttons.
I don’t think any other project has ever made me quite so happy as knitting this little cardi – apart obviously from this other ongoing, (and indeed way longer than) 9-month project!

Bonjour à tou-tes ! Vous l'avez sans doute remarqué : je ne poste pas souvent de photos d'ouvrages avant qu'ils ne soient terminés... Aujourd'hui, cependant, je fais une exception pour un en-cours... au long cours !

C’est quand on m’a donné la mesure de 1,5 cm pour les pieds, que j’ai automatiquement pensé à une marge de couture, et que j’ai tout de suite pu visualiser la taille, non seulement de ce peton, mais de tout le petit corps qui y était attaché ;) Je dois avouer qu’avant cette révélation, les analogies fruitières ne m’évoquaient pas grand-chose (la taille d’un fruit, ne dépend-elle pas de la façon dont il est cultivé et de la latitude à laquelle il pousse ?).

Tout va pour le mieux, et la naissance est prévue pour fin février-début mars. Inutile de vous dire ce que nous ressentons : c'est d'ailleurs difficile à exprimer par de simples mots !

J’ai des tonnes d’idées pour ma garde-robe et pour le bébé. Une sciatique m’a empêchée de me mettre à la partie couture de ma garde-robe aussi tôt que j’aurais aimé, mais la douleur s’étant un peu calmée hier, j’ai pu terminer mon premier haut (heureusement, le tissu était déjà taillé, car je ne me sens pas encore prête à couper patrons et tissus). Côté tricot, j’ai commencé un gilet spécial bidon qui s’arrondit, et le bébé a un premier gilet qui n’attend plus que la pose des boutons.
J’ai beau chercher, aucun autre projet ne m’a autant enchantée que ce petit gilet... Sauf évidemment cet autre projet en cours si particulier, et... qui ne durera certes pas que 9 mois !