Meet Briar, Briar and Briar!

Guess what? I’m in love with making T-shirts! I basically wear them all the time – when I’m not in dresses – and I usually pair them with shorts for casual wear or either with skirts for work. I’m wondering, why did I wait so long before starting sewing my own?? Yep, because of the damned clear elastic drama. I’m proud to say that I’ve surpassed that stage and I can now sew all the t-shirts I want, Oh yessss!!
So, after my delightful first attempt (the Scout Tee by Grainline Studio), I bought another pattern, Briar by Megan Nielsen and more knit fabrics of course and I’ve already sewn three versions in less than a week!
Sizing wise, I cut an S slimming down to an XS at the hips and I’m very happy with the fit. It’s the second pattern I sew from Megan collections and I find the drafting and fit impeccable so I can only recommend them to everybody who wants to sew great patterns.

Don't ask me what I was doing here...

Don’t ask me what I was doing here…

 

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For the first Briar I’ve used a more stable knit, a nice dark gray Ponte de Roma and I’ve gone for the long sleeves/long body version as I wanted something similar to a sweater. I’m very happy with it and I’m sure I’ll wear it a lot.

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The second Briar is made out of a very light poly knit with a kind of tropical print. Of course I couldn’t stop myself from buying pink stuff! The drape of the fabric is perfect for the high-low hem, resulting in a soft and sweet look and is also great for summer! For this version I choose 3/4 sleeves and cropped body.

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For the last (for now) Briar I opted again for cropped body but with short sleeves instead. The fabric is still pretty light, but slightly heavier than the tropical one, and it’s pale beige with gold glitter all over it. I think it’s the perfect weight for this pattern and I love how it turned out. What I don’t love is the crinkle effect of the fabric – I’ve tried to steam it and press it but nothing changed. That said, I can happily live with it.

I’ve sewn all of my three Briars in the same way: zig zagged first the seams and then I finish them with the overlocker. I know it would have been enough using the overlocker only, but I’m not confident doing so as my serger is pretty old and usually does funny things, so better play safe. Also I’ve used a twin needle for the hems.

I really like the Briar pattern and I’m sure I’ll sew it again and again, maybe I could even go up a size to get a more relaxed and boxy look. There are really heaps of different cute possibilities!

Also in these photos you can see two of my many Hollyburn Skirts. Both of them are a size 6 and view C with the shortest hem. The red one is cotton twill and the gold one a stretchy unknown fabric.

My Pink Sheep!

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Hello from Italy, folks! I’m home and very happy to be here!!!

This is part #2 of the Outfit Along 2014 organized by Lauren and Andy. I knit this cardigan to go with the last dress I made, the Floralex.

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As you may imagine, I’ve used CY Traveller. A very sad note: Cephalopod Yarns is closing down and it’s happening right in these days. I’m extremely sad about it, I’ve been knitting exclusively with CY in the last two years and I didn’t expect something like that. I know I’ve heaps of Traveller, but I wish I had bought even more to be safe for few more years. I’ll miss all the gorgeous colours CY staff created constantly and all the excitement about updates and limited editions – I truly, deply miss it all. Anyhow I wish all the best to all the squidlets and I hope they’ll dye yarn again one day, to give us knitters more amazing colours. The colours I’ve used this time are: Stranger’s Home (blurple), a couple of pink Oddities, Hokunoshima (second pink from the top) and Bamfield (the last very pale pink at the bottom). I’m in love with this colour combination – I think all these pinks complement really well the blue-purple tones of Stranger’s Home.

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Pattern wise, I’ve used Rililie Dessine-Moi un Mouton but I’ve changed the construction a bit. I wanted a cardigan, not a pullover and also something a little less boxy so I changed the number of stitches for both front and back and added a steek at the centre front which I then cut open. For the edgings I’ve opted for twisted ribbing and icord bind off with built in buttonholes. I think it all worked pretty well. Basically, after cutting the steek open, I’ve picked up the stitches for the left front, ribbed for a couple of cm and left them on hold, then I’ve done the same for the right side, and finally for the neckline (the stitches of the waist ribbing were already on hold). I then knit a row with one of the pinks (RS) joining together on the same needle all the stitches left on hold, binding off two stitches every 4 cm or so for the buttonholes, along the right front side. For the icord bind off, which is worked on the wrong side of the garment and all in one swing, I’ve switched to a different pink (I’ve first provisionally cast on 3 stitches and then started the bind off and once I’ve reached the end of the round, I’ve grafted the two ends of the icord *almost* invisibly). To create the buttonholes, once I reached the two stitches gap done on the previous row, I’ve turned the work on the RS and cable cast on two stitches, turned again the work back to the wrong side and kept going with the icord bind off and so on. And there you go, you’ve pretty and hidden buttonholes!

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I’ve used icord bind off along the sleeve cuffs too, to keep the work homogeneous – I’m not a fan of mismatching edgings – but I did something special, as Dessine-Moi un Mouton has pretty special cuffs and I wanted to keep them that way. I’ve basically start knitting the icord before doing the bind off and kept knitting it after, creating two tails which I then tied in a little tiny bow on each sleeve. Sweet, isn’t it?

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To hide the steek I’ve used some matching bias binding which I’ve hand stitched to the wrong side of the ribbing once the cardigan was already washed and blocked. When doing so, make sure you don’t stretch or pull the binding (or whatever you decide to use to cover the steek – ribbon, gros grain, fabric) otherwise the line of stitches will be pulling towards the wrong side and will be visible on the right side. When catch stitching, try to do not pull the thread too much and space the stitches evenly, catching the purl bumps on the wrong side of the garment right in the middle so that the stitches won’t show on the right side.

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Steeking and cutting the knitting is always a bit scary and I usually run way too many rows of stitching on the steek bridge, but I guess it’s just because I don’t do it often and I’m not sure yet of how the wool will behave. But hey, better too much than not enough, right? That said, Traveller did a very good job and nothing bad – unravelling – happened.

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Dessine-moi un mouton is a very easy pattern (Rililie instructions are super detailed and very beginner-friendly) and the broken seed stitch and stripes are very fun to knit. Colour possibilities are endless and, speaking for myself, I could knit a “sheep” for every day of the year – just wish I had the time to do it! True is, I’ve already started another one and I’m trying to stick to the instructions and knit a boxy pull as per pattern, I think it’s gonna be a nice addition to my never-worn-winter wardrobe! Also, the top down saddle-raglan sleeves construction is just perfection: it suits my frame very well and way better than a regular raglan would so I really need another Mouton!

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Did you try any of Rililie’s patterns yet? What do you think?

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My ravelry page for this project is here.

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P.S. I finally bought my first pair of Melissa designed by Vivienne Westwood and I looooooove them! They are perfect for this dress!

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Grainline Studio Scout Knit Tee

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G’day everyone! Today on the blog, my first (wow, heaps of firsts lately!) successful garment sewn in knit fabric. To be honest, I’ve already tried sewing with knits a few months ago, a Lady Skater to be exact, but I threw everything in the rubbish bin after few failed attempts in applying the clear elastic to the shoulder seams. Screw you, clear elastic! Probably the full dress would have been fine and I could have finished it without using the clear elastic, but by then I was too pissed off so I decided to get rid of the whole damned thing.

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So, what brings me back on trying to sew with knits (apart from all the gorgeous patterns lately launched by indie companies)? Well, a pair of new running shoes. Yep, you read it right. I sew because I like to match my clothes with the shoes I buy – or vice versa. I’m sure I’m not the only one, come on! Anyhow, I bought this pair of orange-pink fluoro Nike and I wanted a Tshirt to go with them but couldn’t find one anywhere so I thought I could give the knits another try and sew one myself.

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The fabric is a striped cotton poly knit with pink and red stripes – they aren’t the exact matching for the shoes, but close enough.

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I chose the super easy Scout Tee by Grainline Studio and cut a size 8 for the bust, grading down to a 6 for the hips. No other adjustments required. Great! I followed the instructions step by step and found them super clear and easy to follow. Jen posted a great tutorial on her blog too on how to sew a stretch Scout Tee (the original pattern is for woven fabrics) and everything is explained very clearly there as well. Great job!
All the pieces went together pretty easily, apart for the neckline which I think I cut a teeny bit too short so it’s stretched in some places, but I don’t care, I’m still very happy with my first T-shirt.

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I didn’t stabilize the shoulder seams for this first version, I might try with some twill tape next time (if you have any tips about sewing with clear elastic, please write everything down in the comments, every suggestion is very much appreciated – I’ve tried using a Teflon foot too, but it didn’t work either! Damn clear elastic!).

But hey, look at that stripe matching at the side seams!

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I’ve used a ball point needle and zig zag for the seams, but I serged them too – just to be sure ahah! For the hems I’ve used a twin needle – another first time and I love the look of the double line of stitching! – and two different thread colors as I didn’t have two spools of the same one. I like colorful stitching!

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Well, now I’m on a roll and I want to sew all the knits (and all the Grainline Studio patterns too, have you seen Jen’s latest pattern, the Alder Dress?? It’s amazing!) and I’ve already been fabric shopping ahah!

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My quilted quilt!

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Do you remember the quilt I started about a year ago? Well, I’ve finally finished it! Wow, I can’t believe it myself it’s finally done and dusted! It has been hiding in a suitcase for all this time and as I’m going home very soon – it’s a kind of present for my mum – I HAD to do it! I’ve asked help to my friend and super seamstress Mary, who kindly and patiently helped with the final steps of the process and let me use her huge table too (such a big difference it makes!). She’s such a good sewer and she always has an answer to all my sewing questions – and believe me, I’ve many! I think I wouldn’t have finished this thing if it wasn’t for her: basically my sandwich was ready to go but then I feared I couldn’t do it by myself and forget it all about the quilt (please remind me, next time I decide sewing something completely new to me, to size down a bit – baby quilt maybe?). So, all we needed to do was lay the different layers on top of each other and quilt!

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For the batting, I’ve used Matilda’s OWN 100% cotton and I’m very happy with the beautiful quality of this product. Also, it has been easier to quilt with this kind of wadding as the cotton “sticks” better to the fabric and kind of help the layers from shifting.

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For the quilting, I’ve opted for horizontal parallel lines. I spaced them *about* 5cm apart (I’ve eye-balled every single one!) and I’m pretty happy with the result. Maybe, if one day I’ll decide to sew another quilt, I might try to do a more dense quilting, I really love the look of the stripes.

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The binding isn’t perfect, but I just wanted to get this quilt done so I didn’t bother hand stitching it and everything has been done by machine instead. Still, it’s nice and I don’t think mum will notice the imperfections.

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For the backing, I’ve stitched together the off cuts of fabric I had left from the front, keeping the three main different colors together – reds, pinks and oranges – and now that everything is done, I like the back better than the front! That’s another thing I love about quilts, you can have two completely different “faces” and if you get bored with one side, all you have to do is to flip it over and enjoy the other side!

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I love these colors together and I love the quilt too, so probably one far far away day I will make another one. Probably. One day. Far far away. Yes. I really loved mixing and matching colors, trying to find the right fabrics and I’ve enjoyed the quilting itself too. What I didn’t love was the cutting part, I’m not a fan of cutting – I don’t like cutting clothes patters either – but I guess it’s part of the deal.

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Anyhow, now that the quilt is out of my way, I can concentrate back on sewing dresses and dresses and more dresses! Yeah, life’s is good again!

:: BHL Floralex ::

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I’ve done it again, I’ve sewn another Flora! After a Flora Dress and a Flora Skirt, here it is the Floralex – or rather when Elisalex bodice meets the gorgeous Flora skirt.  It’s the first time I mix (successfully) two different patterns and at the beginning I was a teeny bit apprehensive, but no fear was needed as BHL patterns are pretty much interchangeable straight out of the envelope. Just a few small adjustments were necessary and I was very surprised by how easily you can swap the two bodices around. The front princess seams of the Elisalex bodice matched straight away the pleats of the Flora skirt. For the back I had just to reduce the depth of the skirt pleats of about 1cm so they could match nicely the princess seams and trim about the same amount off each side of the centre back pieces of the bodice – basically the back bodice was slightly bigger than the back skirt pieces. That’s all, easy breezy!

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Few months ago I’ve sewn my first Elisalex (confession: without making a muslin first) and the fit wasn’t quite right, probably because I chose the wrong size and also because I didn’t do any adjustments to the pattern pieces. And it looks like I need lots of adjustments to get things right! So this time I’ve made a muslin first.

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I’ve cut a size 6 and did …
- a 2.5cm FBA, but sewn a deeper seam allowance from the apex of the princess seam down, going back to the regular 1,5 cm SA before reaching the waist SA (does it make sense, right?).
- I scooped the front neckline a bit more.
- I made the armhole deeper of about 1cm, just around the underarm area.
- 2.5 cm forward shoulders adjustment.
- 1.5cm narrow upper back adjustment and as it wasn’t enough to stop the back neckline from gaping,
- 1cm gapey back adjustment, basically following BHL tutorial here.
Done! The bodice fits me perfectly now!

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The fabric I’ve used is a quilting cotton that I knew I had to have as soon as I’ve seen it. The background is white, filled with small pink flowers bordered in red and tiny navy/purple leaves. As you might know by now, I love pink so I just needed this fabric.

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For the lining I’ve opted for some matching blurple poplin – pink and blurple is probably one of my favorite color combos ever and this is the first time I’ve actually used it so I’m very happy about it! I’ve completely lined the dress and French seamed the skirt pieces. I’ve also used some blurple bias binding to hem the skirt and I’ve made a covered button out of the poplin to sew above the zipper.

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Finally, I’ve made a matching belt. I couldn’t find anywhere a navy belt so I decided to sew one. I’ve used some dusty navy faux suede at which I’ve fuse some pellon to make it stiffer and voilá, I now own a navy bow belt!

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This dress is part #1 of the Outfit Along organized by Lladybird and Andy Satterlund – basically you need to put together an outfit sewing a piece and knitting another one. I couldn’t resist and I simply had to join! Now that the dress is done I can move to the cardigan.

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Please forgive my closed eyes and expression and concentrate on the dress only! ;)

Grettir Il Magno

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Wow, not too much to say about this pattern any more, apart from that I still love it! It’s my fourth Grettir (first, second and third one!) and I’m not quite sure it will be the last one either. I love finding new color combos for the yoke and I could knit this pattern over and over forever.

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This one is for my older nephew who sent me this photo as color inspiration (he chose it from DesignSeeds):

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As usual I’ve used Cephalopod Yarns Traveller. Colors are: for the body Sherwood Gardens, and for the yoke Arctic Circle (undyed yarn), Casco Bay (dark blue) and Borthwick Castle (apple green). It’s a very bright and happy sweater and I hope Alvise is gonna like it.

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This time I’ve gone up in size needles, basically in order to get a bigger finished size garment using the same number of stitches I’ve used in my last two previous Grettirs. So I’ve used 3.25mm for the ribbing, 3.75mm for body and sleeves and I’ve gone up to 4mm for the colorwork section. Knitting at a looser gauge made look my stranding tighter compared to the stockinette section so I had to knit the yoke with bigger needles – this doesn’t happen when I knit with 3.5mm, weird!

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Some numbers:
- Gauge 22 st x rows in 10cm x 10cm.
- CO 216 st and increased to 220 after the bottom colorwork section.
- 20 sts for each underarm.
- CO 58 for the sleeves and increased to 82.
- Total number sts at the beginning of the yoke, after joining body and sleeves together, 304.
- Followed chart men D for the yoke.

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I love knitting stranded garments and I’m very proud of my neat and regular floating going on on the back side of the colowork section.

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And of course, here it is my label-button, sewn on matching apple green satin ribbon…

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Fifth Grettir soon? :)

Megan Nielsen Tania Culottes!

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I made a skort! This term is new to me….I’ve never heard of it until one of the juniors working with me asked on which project I was working on. I said “culottes”, she said “skort”. Same thing, right?

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Anyhow. Here it is my very first pair of Tania Culottes, one of Megan Nielsen’s patterns. I’ve seen heaps of super cute Tanias all around the web so I thought it was time to try them and make myself a pair – and I’m sure it will not be the last one, I love them!

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The fabric I’ve used is a polyester print I really like – a kind of watercolor flowers in lovely shades if navy, blue, teal and acid green. The weight of the fabric is perfect for this project, light but with a nice drape so that the skirt doesn’t look “sad” but “full” instead. Being a light poly I thought it would have been more slippery, instead it behaved very well and it has been very easy to manage and no lining required!

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I cut a size S but following the hem for an L as pretty everybody who blogged about this pattern seam to find it too short. Good choice as I had to trim away quite a bit of fabric to get the hem even and nice. For a casual look I could go a few cm shorter too, but if I had to wear it at work I’d have to lengthen it for sure.

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This skort came together very easily, the hard part was just the hemming – the pattern pieces are cut on the bias and they are very prone to stretch/relax out of shape. I let the culottes hang on my mannequin for a couple of days and then I evened the hem up – I had to do it twice to get it right but at last I did it! For the hem I’ve just serged the edge and then turned it over once and stitched in place.

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I’m very happy with this Tanias and I’m already planning another pair, in a more wintery and heavier fabric, maybe corduroy, so that the fullness of the skort is gonna be even more accentuated.
Thumbs up for Tania!

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