Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!

With the end of the year quickly approaching, the time to reflect is upon us.  This year was a relatively big year for our household. We've been busy settling in, working on our house, traveling, and improving our health so, the year seemed to fly by.  Between everything else though, I didn't have much time or desire to sew or knit.  I'm planning to change that in the coming year but, for now it's time to take a look at the things I did accomplish.

(Note: as much as I'd love to participate in the "Top 5" posts, I didn't make enough things! haha So, here's everything, in order of completion.)

  • Two chunky cowl scarves - Hooray for learning to knit!! All three of my hand-knit items are huge wins in my book because, hello, new skill! Woo!
  • A diamond-patterned slouchy knit hat - it seems I put this on Ravelry and Kollabora but didn't blog it? Love it though! I'll admit to being quite tickled that it looked like a "real" hat (I never feel my crochet pieces do).
  • Betty's Picnic Dress - Love this too, though I am starting to doubt myself in prints... more on that later.
  • Raspberry Renfrew - This sooo cozy but, not polished so, it's athletic wear now. I'm happy with that.
  • Teacup Floral Sorbetto - Unblogged and I'm still unsure how I feel about it...
  • Brasilia Dress - You know I love this one! Finished in November and worn three times already! I think that's a me-made record :)

So, actually my success rate was pretty good this year.  I like everything I finished, yay! But, of course, new UFOs were added to last year's list. (All of last year's remain unfinished except the simple gathered wool boucle skirt, which, unfortunately, is too short and was never blogged.)
  • An ivory/blue floral silk challis dress - I meant to finish this for the Challis Chalet but, one thing after another came up and then, I started second guessing the fabric for my skin tone... hopefully, new motivation will find me next year so I can finish it.
  • A white/blue Brooks Brother skirt copy (Jo-Ann sold the same fabric!) - I technically finished this one but, I feel it's too short so, I have plans to add a contrast band at the bottom.  Unfortunately, it's polyester so, my motivation to make it wearable has been minimal.
  • A navy cotton twill nautical skirt - I'm roughly half-way through this one and I know I'm going to love it.  I got bored making a "staple" piece though and put it aside to start on a cobalt peplum skirt.
  • A cobalt blue cotton sateen peplum skirt - This one was put aside because we left for a vacation just after I cut it. I hope to finish it next year.
Not as bad as last year but, then again, I didn't finish as many either.

I also currently have two works-in-progress that I'll add to one of the lists above after the new year:
  • A burgundy swing jacket to go with my Brasilia Dress - I made it a bit more complicated than the pattern intended by adding a lining then, we went out of town for Thanksgiving.  When we returned, I was sick, then opted to work on my emerald skirt instead.
  • A light emerald half-circle wool skirt - self-drafted, nearly there, just needs a hem.

As for the resolutions I made last year, it's not looking so good.  In the jar, I pledged trousers and a jacket.  As I mentioned, I do have a jacket in progress and I may finish it in time but, it's unlikely at this point.  The trousers, I decided to postpone because I'm still mulling over what pattern would look best on me.  Being pear shaped, I'm intrigued by the Thurlows but, I'm still warming to the idea of a wider leg.  I also promised Cindy that I would use 8 pieces of my stash fabric, including one for Brandon.  Well, sadly, I didn't make him anything and I only used two stash pieces.  And, I added waaaay more than two pieces to my collection.  Ah well. :-P

Enough about 2013, let's look forward, shall we?  I agree with last year's statement that I need to schedule ~2 weeks for each garment I want to make.  However, I now realize I need structure in order to adhere to that.  So, this year, I hope to find more challenges to participate in to give me deadlines and I plan to keep a monthly planner in my sewing room with "due dates".  The deadlines should keep me motivated and moving forward but, I need to choose my challenges carefully.  I know that I need to plan my queue according to what inspires me and suits my lifestyle, rather than making up projects to fit themes.  As fun as themes are, those garments just don't get worn as much as the ones I chose on my own.

This year, I want to focus on simple, classic garments.  Not necessarily what most would consider "staples" but, tasteful pieces that I know I'll reach for.  The Brasilia Dress really showed me how much I actually love a simple dress in quality fabric.  I'm shocked I love a solid-colored garment so much but, I do!  Running with that idea, I've decided to start 2014 off by (unofficially) participating in SWAP.  I've already selected my 11 garments and I'm excited about each one! More on that to come :)

And since no year-end post would be complete without a few resolutions, here you go:
  • Sew at least one pair of trousers or shorts
  • Sew at least one jacket, coat, etc
  • Learn new knitting techniques (cables, colorwork, and or difficult stitches) 
  • Knit at least one garment
  • Sew 18 garments total! (I could fit 20-25 but, we're planning to travel this year as well and trips really throw off my groove. Also, I expect some projects to take longer.)

So, how did your 2013 go?  Did you meet all of your goals?  Are you setting new ones this year?  Please share!

Happy sewing! x

Finished: Pattern Testing House of Pinheiro's Brasilia Dress

It may be quite easy to guess that my sewing mojo has been next to non-existent this year.  I eventually wondered if it would ever return.  Luckily, I just happened to check my blogroll the day Rachel sent out a call for pattern testers.  I positively loved her "Fall for Cotton" sateen version so, of course I jumped at the chance!

Scarf: J. Crew
Dress: me-made
Shoes: Corso Como
Jewelry: NY&Co, vintage

This dress is just the thing for sewer's block/mojo loss.  It's quick and relatively easy and the absolute perfect balance of a classic silhouette with modern style lines.  I love, love, LOVE the seaming on this dress!  Such a small detail really but, I think it makes a great impact.

Unique bust darts and my first use of piping - this dress begged for it!
(Ignore the slouch, of course)
For my version, I knew immediately I wanted to use a burgundy wool.  Technically, I originally sketched it as bouclé with frayed seam lines but, when I ventured to my local shops, there was no suitable bouclé to be found.  What I did find was a wonderful 100% wool flannel, which made for a sleeker look.

Of course, since I had selected a fabric with no stretch, and the pattern had been designed for fabrics such as stretch sateen, adjustments would need to be made.  I knew I owed it to Rachel, and myself, to really give this dress my all.  So, I started with a muslin sewn up straight from the original pattern (my waist and hip measurements actually match hers).  From there, I made a few narrow-back and sway-back adjustments, took up an inch in the bodice for my short waist, and let out the tiniest bit all around the hip to account for the lack of stretch.  Then, I actually whipped up another muslin (very rare for me), made a few very minor tweaks here and there, and then excitedly cut into the pretty wool.

Mind you, I made it three times (four if you count the lining of the final dress) but, I have to say sewing this dress was quite a breeze.  Rachel has such a great eye for detail and so drafted her inaugural pattern very well.  Everything fit together nicely (though, I would recommend tracing the stitching lines for the inset, just to be safe, particularly for slippery fabrics such as the Bemberg lining) and there's only a handful of seams, making this pattern one you can (and will definitely want to) whip up again and again!

There's so much you can do with a great basic like this, particularly with the fantastic inset detail.  Piping is a great start but you could also fray the seams, play with patterns or color blocking, mix textures, the list goes on really.  It would also make the perfect LBD!  Classic, of course, but with great style.  As for me, my next version is going to be a sharkskin wool with leather! sides.

             Brasilia Dress Back View     Brasilia Dress Bundled Up
Left:  Back view, which would be smoother if I stood up straight ;)  Right: How I bundled up between pictures...it was freezing!!

Seriously, when Rachel releases this lovely gift on Christmas Day, POUNCE!  I'm thoroughly convinced it's going to be universally flattering.  Despite some recent body-image issues, I found it impossible not to feel fantastic in this dress.  Besides, if it broke my rut, it's bound to work wonders for anyone else's enthusiasm. I guarantee you're going to adore this pattern.

Three cheers for Rachel!!!  Thanks so much, Hun, for allowing me to test this great pattern and giving me my mojo back! (Many happy dances ensued :)

Happy sewing! x

Project details
  • Pattern: Brasilia Dress by House of Pinheiro, $0
  • Year: To-be-released later this month!
  • Fabric: 1.75yds (used ~1.1) burgundy medium-weight wool flannel, Gail K Atlanta $21; 2yds biking red Bemberg Ambiance lining, Jo-Ann $10
  • Notions: 1.5yds burgundy braided piping, ~$3; 22" invisible zipper, $2, 2 spools Gutermann #450 thread (used 1), $1.80, lightweight grey interfacing from stash
  • Time to complete: ~1.5 weeks, including two muslins and full lining
  • First worn: for an afternoon of shopping with old friends (funny note: they wore jeans but, I felt so great in this dress, I opted to wear it anyway)
  • Wear again: already have, for photos at Colonial Williamsburg, and will again for Brandon's company party
  • Total cost: ~$38

Me-Made May: Days 19 - 25

Days 19 - 23 - n/a.  May's been a rocky month for me, physically.  This week in particular, left me very unmotivated.  Coincidentally, Brandon was out of the country on business so, there were no occasions worthy of pretty dresses...

Moving on... ;P

Dress: Simplicity 2584, blogged here
Belt: Brooks Brothers Factory Store (Sorry about the weird up-tail. It was wrapped in an infinity but, apparently came undone after lunch.)
Shoes: Clarks
Clutch: Target
Necklace: J Crew Factory

Day 24 - White Lace Shift Dress - Worn to pick up Brandon after his flight and to lunch. It's official. I hate this dress.  That morning, I saw a post on Kendi Everyday where she had paired a cute white dress with casual brown accessories and an olive jacket.  Well, I wasn't about to throw on an olive jacket in the southern heat but, I thought the brown accents would be just the trick to town down the "fanciness" of this lace dress.  It did, I suppose but, I also think it made it look like a county wedding dress... not my thing.  Then, the leather seats in our car alerted me to just how short it is so, apparently said country-style wedding is happening in Vegas... really not my thing.  I've decided I like the idea of this dress but, not this execution so, I'm ripping out the zipper and throwing the fabric in my stash for other uses.  The next time I make a white dress, it will be out of a more casual fabric.  Save for my wedding dress, of course ;) 

Dress: New Look 6886/Butterick 4757, blogged here
Shoes: Clarks
Clutch: Target
Earrings: Target
Bonus shot of the University campus

Day 25 - Betty's Picnic Dress - Worn to a British Festival at a lovely local university and the mall for a bit of window shopping.  Completely contrast to the day before, I love this one!  I knew the fair would be sunny and hot so, I thought a cotton sundress would be perfect for the event.  Save for uncovered, and therefore sunburned, shoulders (ouch!), it was. :)

Previous Me-Made Posts:
Me-Made May: Days 1 - 11
Me-Made May: Days 12 - 18

Me-Made May: Days 12 - 18

Day 12 - n/a
Day 13 - n/a
Day 14 - n/a
Day 15 - "Here Comes the Sun" pleated skirt - I wore this for an emergency run to the vet (no worries, CoCo's fine now :) but, came down with a migraine after and didn't get a photo.  I want to love this skirt.  I  love the yellow but, the pockets will not lay flat.  The skirt seems too heavy for the waistband and when it slides down, the pockets buckle.  I don't know if it would be better to hand sew a waist-stay to the band or to just sew the pockets shut.

Vogue 8380
Dress: Vogue 8380, blogged here
Clutch: Target
Shoes: Brooks Brothers
Jewelry: Target & Ten Thousand Villages

Day 16 - "That Cozy Blue Dress" - I had an appointment for a cut and color so, I needed something comfortable without a collar that could accidentally get dyed.  I still love. this. dress.  It's just so ridiculously cozy.  It's certainly not the most elegant garment I own but, it's perfect for maintaining a hint of polish on days when I just need to be comfortable.  It's also the perfect dress for wearing on cleaner housework days since it could not be less restrictive :)

Simplicity 2582
Top: Simplicity 2582, blogged here
Shorts: American Eagle
Jewelry: Target & Ten Thousand Villages

Day 17 - "Summer Breeze" Top - A lazy day around the house (with a quick pop to Whole Foods) calls for casual clothing.  This is a pretty boring but, typical outfit for me when lounging about the house.  I really should have given more thought to fit when I made this top.  The bodice needs to be lowered by roughly an inch, below the neckline.  Despite the ill fit and sloppy gathers, this cap is too cool (lawn!!) and comfortable to not wear regularly.  I do need to work on what to pair it with though.  I have no idea what bottoms work with an empire silhouette.
Day 18 - n/a

Previous Me-Made posts:
Me-Made May: Days 1 - 11

Me-Made May: Days 1 - 11

My Me-Made May is off to a slow start but, I'm attempting to keep my efforts honest so I can see just how well my self-made wardrobe actually fits into my daily life (ie. no poofy sundresses just to clean the house).

I definitely made the right call keeping my pledge to 4 garments a week.  I just haven't made enough items to do more.  Especially not practical ones...  Here are my thoughts so far:

Day 1 - Nothing
Day 2 - Nada
Day 3 - Simplicity 3571 (unblogged) ... me-made pj bottoms.  Though I hardly count these as actually MMM wears, I do like the reminder that these are some of my favorite pj bottoms and they've actually limited the number of RTW bottoms I've since purchased (That number is 2 btw).  Also, they're some of my oldest me-made items so, it makes me quite happy that they're still hanging in there.
Day 4 - Another Simplicity 3571 (unblogged) Ditto

Day 5 - Zip

Me-Made May Day 6

Day 6 - Raspberry Renfrew - If you caught the post last week, you saw this was a bit of panic necessity sewing.  May decided to throw cooler weather at me and remind me I have a bad habit of sewing sundresses... not so 50F appropriate.  The long-sleeve/cowl-neck combo was perfect for this weather but, looking at the photos, I see the jersey was definitely the wrong choice for the pattern.  The shirt will get worn again (and again) but, it will most likely be an indoors-only top.
Day 7 - None
Day 8 - None

Simplicity 2246Simplicity 2339

Day 9 - Blue Herringbone ShirtdressContrary to Monday, our southern spring is back in full swing.  I needed to be dressed cool and comfortably for a day of chores and errands.  This shirt dress has certainly remained a go-to in my wardrobe.  On occasion, I feel it looks frumpy on the hanger but, I never fail to get compliments on it polish when I opt to wear it out (I always wear a belt).  I'd like to experiment more with accessories to liven it up a bit though.  I really like the tan woven belt with it but, I generally wear tan shoes too and that, in my mind, makes it a bit too traditional.  Classic but, not very youthful.
Day 10 - Blue/White Seersucker Gingham Shirt (unblogged) - Normally, I'd say it's a bit early to break out the seersucker but, we've been doing a fair bit of work on the house so, I wanted to stay cool.  Unfortunately, now that I know more about fit, I realize this shirt doesn't.  We over-fitted the shirt all around and did not compensate for mobility.  If I were to make this pattern again, I'd need to add pleats to the shoulders so I can comfortably move my arms and let out the bust area to prevent the ever-dreaded gaposis.  By the way, Friday's theme was sewing or your creative space so, I shared a little peak into my new sewing room and at an upcoming project :)

McCall 4440

Day 11 - Blue Seashell Sundress - I'm still pretty pleased with this dress and I'm sure it will continue to get regular wear.  It's comfortable, I can wear a standard bra and it's fairly easy to accessorize (the busy print has me convinced minimal accessories are best).  I love the nautical print but, we stopped in Brooks Brothers yesterday (where I did a bit of snoop-shopping for an upcoming project) and I was keenly aware that I was wearing quilting cotton.  I'm sure no one else would have guessed but, I think I'll avoid quilting fabrics for any future dresses.

That's one full week down, three to go!  Is anyone else off to a slow start?

Happy sewing! x

Finished Object: Raspberry Renfrew

So, at 0:00EST on xxxxxx, how many of you heard a giddy squeal?
That was me.
I'd been struggling, trying to think of a project that I could do solely on my serger (the movers packed that in its original box, thank goodness) but, I kept coming up blank.  I know it's ideal for knits but, even knits need hems.  Then, Marianna posted her fantastic Renfrew and it occurred to me - Renfrews don't need hems!  Sure, it would have been optimal to have a straight-stitch available for topstitching and shoulder seams but, who would argue over such teeny details?
Not I!
Instead, I set up my serger asap and set to work on my very first Renfrew!  (My very first Sewaholic pattern, for that matter.)

I starting writing the above post back in January after reading Marianna's post, hit save, and dashed to the sewing room.  But, when I sat down to actually sew to Renfrew in question, I discovered that while the movers had packed my serger in it's original box, they had neglected to pack the pedal with it.  It wasn't until late April that Brandon finally found it.  (We'd unpacked everything but, somehow a few of my sewing items got tossed in an antique steam trunk.  What's really odd is that we didn't inherit said steam trunk until several weeks after we moved...)

By then, my standard machine had been repaired and I was back to working on wovens.  Excited as I was to have my serger working again, spring had pushed the long-sleeved Renfrew I'd cut far out of my mind.  That is, until May decided to bring out the rain and drop the temperature 20-30 degrees.

I know panic sewing for Me-Made May is discouraged but, I'm going to call this filling a gap.  I did state that I would focus on separates this month so, I don't really feel like I'm cheating.  Just ignore the fact that I wasn't able to participate until I finished it :/

My feelings on this garment were mixed throughout the process.  Lately, I've not been much of a t-shirt person.      I purchased this pattern because so many of you made so many great looking shirts but, really, I was concerned it would be too much work for me to want to make multiples of something so casual.  And, on one hand, it was.  To start, I won't tell you how long it took me to sew the elastic onto the shoulder seam (tip: baste the elastic at either end, then sew from the middle out, using a walking foot).  Then, because my jersey was so stretchy and slippery, no amount of basting or pinning could make any of my seams line up.  Ironing this fabric was quite a pain too and it wanted to shine no matter what heat setting or pressing cloth I used.

Then, I tried it on.  So. Frickin. Comfortable.  Seriously, between the oh-so-soft rayon jersey and the cozy (but shapely) cut, this shirt almost feels indecent - like I'm wearing pajamas to the grocery store.  Yet, at the grocery, I was complimented on how "divine" it was.

Now having seen the photos, the fit is as I expected but, not what I wanted.  But, that's what you get when you ignore the bit about "stable knits" and instead grab a drapey jersey because it's a pretty color.  The fabric droops and drags the shirt down a bit and it clings here and there in ways I don't want shirts to cling but, that won't stop it from getting regular wear.  Even if it's just at home doing chores - I need clothes for those days too.

Definitely need a sway back adjustment and a stable knit next time.
SN: I'm not usually a fan of the high bun but, it's hard to argue it's practicallity for rainy bad-hair days ;)

I also see more of these in my future, though I plan to listen to Tasia's fabric recommendation this time ;)  So, if you have store recommendations for natural, colorful stable knits, lemme hear them!

Any other necessity sewers for MMM out there?

Happy sewing! x

Stash/spending notes:
Fabric:  >2 yards Mild Cherry Rayon Jersey Knit from stash - $4.80 from Fabric Mart
Pattern:  Sewaholic 1201  from stash - ~$13
Year:  2012
Notions:  ~8" clear elastic from stash - ~$.06 from Fashion Sewing Supply
Time to complete:  5 or 6 hours over the weekend?
First worn:  6 May 2013
Wear again?  Yep! It's too cozy not to
Total cost:  ~$18

Me-Made-May '13 - I'm In!

I said this last year but, I'll say it again - I love challenges!  They're so motivating!  I have Julia's Mad Men challenge to thank for finally nudging me back into sewing, Lady Katza's Challis Chalet to thank for keeping the momentum going (I have two challis projects headed for the cutting table) and now Me-Made May to thank for reminding me I need to work on separates.

Since I haven't been sewing recently, I almost opted out of Me-Made May this year but, it's just so fun!  So, I looked over my pledge for last year and then over my final thoughts and decided I can make it work. Yay!

Last year, I pledged four items per week and I succeeded but, I was displeased by the number of repeats.  This year, I'm going to keep it at four (since my me-made closet didn't grow much after last May) but, to up the challenge, I'm only allowing two garments to be worn twice.  Nothing can be worn a third time.  This creates a gap of at least five spaces that need to be filled by new garments.

So, here's my official pledge:
'I, Jennifer of The Musings of a Dedicated Housefiancee, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear at least four me-made items each week for the duration of May 2013, allowing only two repeats.'

Goals for this year, based on last year's final thoughts:

  • I will focus my May sewing on separates.  Last May (and in general, really), I struggled with what me-mades to pull out of my closet because I spend many of my days at home cooking, cleaning, etc and prefer comfortable clothes for such tasks.  If my serger pedal reveals itself before then, I'll add a few Renfrews to my plan, otherwise, I'll aim to sew a couple casual skirts (a la Simplicity 2451), tops and maybe a pair or two of shorts.
  • I will make a greater effort to "put myself together".  In real life, I suppose you might say I'm a fairly plain girl.  I prefer to keep my makeup relatively simple (though, I do always wear some when leaving the house) and I wear minimal, if any, accessories.  I've been working on it but, I'm still trying to find the balance between what looks "put together" to others and what looks over-the-top to me.
  • I will limit the number of repeats. (I've already stated this but, last year's bullet summary is proving so helpful, I wanted to keep the same format.)  In an effort to up the challenge this year, I'm limiting myself from relying on my two most comfortable pieces, my Simplicity shirtdress and my Vogue knit dress.  This should help push me to add new comfortable pieces to my wardrobe.
  • I will make a greater effort to photograph each outfit.  Since I often style items differently from the way I did for the original post, it's helpful to actually see how the "daily" styling works.  (This is also why I started posting occasional OOTD posts.)  How something looks in the mirror is not always how it looks to others so, photos help me see that.  It's also great to get feedback from all of you. :)
  • I will make a more consistent effort to document the month.  I blamed part of last year's inconsistency on my poor, slow laptop.  Luckily, the situation has been remedied, as I had hoped.  I've actually laid out a posting schedule for myself for once I'm back to regular blogging and designated Sundays as OOTD days so, it seems fitting to aim for Sundays in May to be Me-Made summary days.
  • (Owing to the aforementioned sewing absence, I'll excuse myself from the goal of having Brandon participate, with the aim to add that to next year.)
So, there you have it!  It will be challenging but, that's the point and I'm totally excited!  Now, who else has joined in?  (If you haven't yet, there's still time!)

Bring on May!! x

Finished Object: Mad Men Challenge - Betty's Picnic Dress

Finally!!!  After a long weekend of marathon sewing, I've finished my first successful garment of 2013!

I'd originally planned to make Trudy's blue party dress for Julia's Mad Men Challenge, since last year's attempt was a bust, but, once again it wasn't meant to be.  Royal blue cotton sateen just wasn't to be found.  Even when I ordered it online, the order was canceled and I was left with no fabric.

But, what luck that I should remember this red and pink floral cotton sitting in my stash.  And, how much I had liked the sundress Betty's wore for a picnic in season 2.  Clearly, I was meant to be a Betty this year.  I'm even taking on a Betty trait... sticking to the older, fuller fashions rather than embracing the cute mod looks so many of you are sporting.

Even browsing through my vintage patterns, I couldn't find one with the right silhouette.  So, I searched every pattern currently available to find a bodice with spaghetti straps and no princess seams (I'm so bad at trimming those).  New Look 6886 was the one and only.  With two muslins, (yes! me! muslins!!) I turned out to be just what I wanted.

The pattern's skirt, however, was too modern.  I planned on using a vintage Simplicity pattern but, when I took out the pieces for ironing, I discovered only the pattern's coat pieces remained!  Oops.  So, I turned to retro Butterick 5747 for its similar style lines.  Once I folded out the button placket, it was a perfect fit.  I just love the box pleats!

In the end, my Franken-pattern, and a tweak or two of my own, have me a comfortable cotton sundress with just the right vintage touches to make me smile.  I couldn't be happier to be sewing again and I feel like this was a huge win.

And, of course...
Not to worry.  No trash was left behind in this park.

Stash/spending notes:
Fabric:  2 yards floral cotton broadcloth from stash – $6 from Fabric Mart; .5 yard white mercerized cotton batiste – $3.75 from Gail K
Pattern:  New Look 6886 for the bodice (with modified straps) – $3.95, Butterick 4757 for the skirt (button plackets removed) – $1
Year:  Contemporary/Retro 1960
Notions:  invisible zipper from stash – $.50?, grosgrain ribbon from stash
Time to complete:  Way too long, as usual
First worn:  22 April 2013
Wear again?  Absolutely!! I believe "enamored" is the word I keep using :D
Total cost:  ~$15*
*Can I just say how proud I am that I shopped my stash for everything but the lining!  Woo hoo... that's 1 down, 7 more to go!

For those interested in more modification/construction detail, I posted my notes on Pattern Review.  (I've really got to get the hang of this blogging thing again!)

Happy sewing! x

Follow Me on Bloglovin

With the demise of Google Reader steadily approaching, I thought it was high time I claim my blog on Bloglovin.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Stay tuned!  I've a finished garment to share and another headed for the cutting table... I'm getting back in the swing of it and I'm so excited!

Finished Objects: Kilmorey Cowls in Moss and Grey

Readers, let me tell you... when you sew a new garment practically every week for six months and then can't finish a single one for another six months, it reaps havoc on one's creative juices!  By the end of the year I was desperate to make something.  Anything.  So, did I hand-sew a dress?  Haha, no.  But, I did decide to take up a new creative hobby!

Lucky for me, my mom is brilliant with yarn and thread and is also a very patient teacher.  So, during my Christmas visit, I asked her to teach me the basics of knitting.  She showed me how to cast-on, knit, and purl and recommended I try a scarf first.  (I think she knew that if I couldn't wear it, I wasn't going to make it... no potholders for me haha.)

In part for practice and in part for near-instant gratification, I chose a cowl pattern using super-bulky wool and rather large circular needles (so large actually, the first two stores I tried didn't carry them).  This worked and after two short evenings of knit two, purl two, I had my first knit accessory.  Mind you, it's knit loosely and would probably look a bit sloppy to someone with yards of yarn experience but, I love it anyway.  In fact, I loved it so much, I immediately made it again, this time trying a little harder to focus on my stitches and tension.

Kilmorey #1, rambling Ravelry notes here
Scarf: handmade, Sweater: Brooks Brothers, Fox ring: Ebay

Kilmorey #2, Ravelry notes here
Scarf: handmade, Sweater: Ann Taylor, Shirt: Ralph Lauren, Skirt: Gap (thrifted)

Here are the deets Sew Weekly style:

Yarn:  ~117 yards Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Grey Marble, $10.60 for two skeins and ~117 yards Loops & Threads Cozy Wool  in Moss Green, $7 for two skeins (funny that I used about the same amount of yarn, yet the grey version is 7 rows smaller!)
Pattern:  Kilmorey by Mrs Moon
Year:  Contemporary
Notions:  Nada. Wait, needles:  Size 19 circulars, ~$4
Time to complete:  if I'm being honest, about 5 or 6 hours for the grey version and probably 3 or 4 for the green
First worn:  January 2012
Wear again?  Both of them, absolutely!
Total cost:  $10.60 for the grey + $7 for the green = $17.60 ($21.60 if you count the needles)

The green one ended up shorter than the grey but, also has seven extra rows so, it's significantly warmer.  Now I have options for cool days when I want a looser scarf and for freezing days when I need the wool wrapped tightly around me (or if it's really, really freezing cold day, I could always layer them... I hope it doesn't come to that though.)  They're so cute and practical, I had to fight a small urge to just keep knitting cowls!  Can a girl ever have to many?  Not really.  Truthfully, scarves are probably my most-worn items when the cold sets in.  I've always had a thing against hats.  Which brings me to my next project: a red hat. Ha!  I can't wait to finish it to see if I actually wear it.  Then again, with Mother Nature being a frigid as she has been lately, I don't think I'll have much choice!

Have you taken up any new hobbies for the new year?  What are you working on to keep out the cold or to stay cool in the summer heat?

Happy stitching! x

A Belated Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

By belated, I obviously mean veeery belated!  A year-end post when February is knocking at the door?  Ridiculous.  And yet, here I am writing just that.  Why?  Honestly, not so much for the round-up part (though I couldn't resist a little collage). Rather, I need help developing and maintaining focus when away from my machine so, I figured it would be smart to evaluate my achievements and goals and compile the sewing resolutions I've made thus far, in order to hold myself more accountable.

Ok, now that I've written that, isn't that exactly why each of you did it? In December?

Anyway, first things first.  Last year was off to a great start.  I had a tremendous amount of fun participating as a Sew Weekly contributor and it really helped me see just how much I could really accomplish when I stuck with a garment and held myself to a relative timetable.

By the time Brandon accepted his new job at the beginning of August (wherein chaos ensued), I had finished 19 20 items (including the petticoat under my houndstooth skirt and a grey lounge t-shirt not photographed) and made a few odds and ends (hair clips, bracelets, not shown).  Not too shabby, if I may say so.

Then, there are those that I started but, never finished for one reason or another:
  • The "Come Back to Me" Dress for the Oscar Challenge/That's Sew Cinematic - sooo much hand sewing but, I'm planning to work on it again this year.
  • The "Trudy" Dress for the Mad Men Challenges - horrible, beyond horrible fit. As I recall, I danced around actually saying this but, we used clothespins to grab several inches of fabric in the back to look ok for photos :/  I don't see this one getting fixed.  It left a bad taste.
  • The "Lilly" Dress for the City Challenge - this one took quite a few tweaks to get the fit right (straight shifts just don't work on my pear shape) and then I got distracted by other projects. I'll come back to this one.
  • A 1940s Spring Floral Top - I loooved where this one was going but, I had done quite a bit of grading and apparently screwed up the collar piece so, I need to go back and fix it.
  • The "Sheerly Jane" Dress for the Literature Challenge.  I was so excited about this one too but, by the time I dyed the fabric and got everything together, the in-laws came to visit and it went out the window. Maybe this year.
  • A white button-front shirt for Brandon's interview - I didn't finish it in time for his interview so, he bought one from Brooks Brothers and the stitching on that one was so smooth, I couldn't bring myself to finish the one I started (My machine, great as it is, doesn't have full adjustability so my stitches really sink into thick layers of fabric.)
  • A Gatsby-inspired grey lace sheath - again, by the time I dyed the fabric (twice!), other things got in the way.  This time it was the selling the house.
  • A J-crew inspired colorblock wool pleated skirt - another one I loooved but, I had sewn the pleats down inside-out and at 3am, I didn't fancy grabbing the seam-ripper.  Then, we left for GA to look for houses...
  • A simple gathered wool boucle skirt - a last-ditch effort to sew something quick and easy while managing the move.  Alas, the movers showed up before I could sew on the waistband and hem.  I expect I'll finish this one this year though.
Hmm, 9 UFOs (plus 2 for crochet) in one year... could be worse, right?

I learned a lot from my year's sewing efforts.  One thing I'm going to put into practice is my preferred pace.  One garment a week was fun but also very stressful.  This year, I plan to give myself two weeks per item.  Since I don't expect to sew until mid-February, that would give me a goal of about 23 garments this year.

Which brings me to my two (so far) resolutions:
To Karen, I pledged I would tackle items I find challenging to include one jacket/coat and one trouser/jean with zip-fly-front.
To Cindy, I pledged to use at least 8 of my stashed fabrics, including at least one which was bought for Brandon (after all, he does buy it so, it seems only fair, right?).

I'm going to expect the jacket/coat to take at least 3 times as long as a normal project and that green dress UFO is likely going to account for two so, my official, writing in stone (ha!) goal for 2013 is 20 garments.  Is it possible?  Absolutely!  Will it happen?  Only the year will tell!

How have your goals changed since last year?  Are you planning to tackle any larger/intimidating projects?  Please share!

Happy sewing! x

Hey there, sewing world!

...Oh, how I've missed you!!

These last months have been so, so hectic!  I'll try not to bore you with too many details but, let's just say moving is stressful.  Moving 560 miles (901 km) away is very stressful.  Moving during the holiday season... is oh.my.goodness.