Friday, July 8, 2016

Mini Pearl Bracelet Bettine Dress

I am a big fan of Lizzy House’s fabric designs, so when she announced a dress contest using her fabrics, of course I had to participate. (My Chasing Butterflies Myrtle Dress was ineligible because I made it before the contest was announced.) Even though you could use any Lizzy House fabric, I wanted to try one of her new woven substrates. After much deliberation, I decided on Mini Pearl Bracelet Double Gauze in Periwinkle, as I knew it was a motif, substrate and color that I would enjoy wearing. The dress pattern was harder to decide on. It had to be simple enough to make in time without stress, cute enough to be a contender for the contest, and comfortable enough that I would actually wear it after the contest. I settled on the Bettine dress by Tilly and the Buttons, and was not disappointed.

This double gauze was a dream to work with. I took my time and slowed down to enjoy the process. I used French seams whenever I could. I did stall at the facings for a little bit, as I really don’t like interfacing. I did, however, like that the facings are stitched down nice and secure and out of the way. The pocket bag technique was new to me, but quite easy to follow along. Hooray for pockets!

My dress turned out a little more “blousy” up top because my bust measurement is between sizes, and I went with the larger size. I also graded up another size at the waist to make it match up with the skirt. Speaking of the skirt, based on the examples I saw online, I added 3” to the length. I am glad I did, as it would have been too short for my taste otherwise. Even with grading out to a larger size in the skirt, the hem feels a little constrictive occasionally. Okay, it’s only constrictive when I’m running after my five year old. It’s good for all my grown-up activities.

Next time I make the Bettine dress, I’d like to go down a size on top, and make it out of knit fabric, which should be fun. All in all, I am super happy with how this dress turned out and look forward to wearing it all summer long.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Adjusted Akita Blouses

I was pretty disappointed when my first two Akita Blouses ripped in the same spot in a matter of weeks. Even though I like to keep things positive, I also value honesty, so I mentioned my frustrations with the finishing technique in my blog post and on Instagram. The folks at Seamwork reached out to me and said they would give my feedback to the pattern designer, which I appreciated. A few weeks later, they direct messaged me on Instagram and suggested finishing the sleeve with bias tape. In fact, they recently updated their pattern to completely avoid the “snip the seam” step that so bothered me. While I haven't tried their new solution yet myself, their openness to feedback and willingness to improve inspired me to take another shot at the pattern. 

Using my Staple dress pattern as a guide, I redrafted the side seam. Whenever possible, I like to use French seams on wovens, so that's what I did. Then, I used bias tape to finish the sleeves. It's not perfect, but I am super happy with it. In fact, I was so pleased with my newly tweaked pattern that I made it twice!

For the first adjusted Akita, I used some Gleeful voile, underlined with white lawn. I bought the fabric ages ago from Intrepid Thread when I was vacationing in California. The blue really speaks to me. I have washed this shirt several times without incident and have worn it weekly. I’ve received several compliments on it a work, which is always nice.

As soon as I finished my Gleeful Akita Blouse, I started another. This time, I chose Cotton + Steel's Mightnight Gust rayon, which I purchased from Island Quilter's pop-up shop at the last Pacific Northwest Modern Quilt Guild Meet-Up. Now, I learned an important lesson about this fabric that I want to share with you: follow the care instructions! When Cotton + Steel released their first rayon fabrics, I read blog post after blog post stating that the care instructions were dry clean only, but various bloggers washed the fabric in the washer and dryer and it was fine. As a result, I washed my Gemstone Staple Dress normally. Over time, I noticed that the white diamonds weren't so white any more. I decided that for my Midnight Gust Akita, I would wash the fabric normally once, and then hang it to dry going forward. (I'm not the only one who does laundry in our house, so I wanted to pre-shrink the fabric in case it ever ended up in the dryer by mistake.) After I washed and dried my yardage, I noticed a few light spots on one end. I was puzzled, since Cotton + Steel's fabric is generally high quality, but I figured these things happen. Since I had about half a yard extra, I just cut out the pattern piece from the unblemished section. I stitched it up without any issues, and finished it just in time to wear it on my birthday. It was my new favorite shirt. Then I washed it and hung it up to dry. Can you guess what I discovered when I went to iron it? The spots were back! My previously pristine shirt now sported several splotches. They weren't imperfections in the fabric, they were the result of washing it in the washing machine. Needless to say, I was crushed. I had ruined my new favorite shirt by disregarding the fabric care instructions. Never again!

It's a shame that I more or less ruined this shirt, as it has an additional detail that I really like. I didn't want to fiddle with rayon bias strips for finishing the sleeves and neck, so I used a coordinating Cotton + Steel quilting cotton. Nobody sees it except me, but it makes me smile. I'll probably still wear this shirt under cardigans that covers the spots, or around the house. I like it too much to throw it away.

So far I have made four Akita blouses, and only one turned out well. Despite bad luck with this pattern, I still really like it and plan to make it again. I'll just pay closer attention to the fabric care instructions next time.

Friday, July 1, 2016

June 2016 in Review

June was a really busy month at work, so I held off starting anything new and focused on my existing WIPs. I was thrilled that I managed to finish three things this month.


City Gym ShortsIn 2014, I made my daughter a pair of City Gym Shorts from a free Purl Soho pattern. They were a big hit and she wore them to pieces. Last summer I put off making more, but I was determined to make some this summer. I pulled out my recent apparel fabric remnants and cut out two pairs of the 6-7 size at the same time. Making all that bias tape at once slowed me down, but I managed to finish both pairs this June. They were really satisfying to make and I hope my daughter will get as much wear out of them as she did the first pair.

Unvalentine QuiltMy Unvalentine quilt has been my least favorite WIP for a long time, and I'm so happy that I completed it! You can read more about it here.

Existing WIPs

Baltic Boneyard ShawlRight now, my Baltic Boneyard Shawl is my favorite knitting project. I still find the "make one" stitches to be a little tricky, but with each row, there is more knitting and purling relative to the "make one" stitches, so they feel less onerous. I'm still on the first ball of yarn (out of three), but since I'm enjoying it so much, I'm not impatient with it at all.

Chaos QuiltBack in February, I took Libs Elliott's Embrace the Chaos workshop. She taught a really innovative technique for designing a quilt and I had a blast in the class. I ended up changing my initial plan a bit and making a few more blocks before I was happy with the layout, but I really like how it's turning out. I managed to sew all the blocks into rows this month, so I hope to finish this top early in July.

River Song Honey CowlMy River Song Honey Cowl is still coming along slowly. It's been my travel project since April, and I'm losing interest. I really want to finish it so that I can cast on something in bulky yarn. I don't know what I was thinking having two DK projects at the same time. I'm craving the instant gratification that working with bulky yarn brings.

Temperature BlanketThis is by far my easiest WIP, so it's the one I turn to when I'm too tired for anything more taxing. As a result, I'm now caught up will all of May's rows and have started on June's rows. Not too shabby for starting it 4.5 months late! I do anticipate that I'll slow down on this during the summer months. It's big enough now that I can't really work on it without also using it as a blanket, which is good for fall and winter, but not so good for summer. I also need to buy more Aqua yarn soon. I started this project with 12 balls of yarn (one of each color), but since it will take at least 22 balls to finish, I've been buying a few more here and there as I use up colors. So far Royal and Navy have been the most frequently used colors.

Overall, I am really pleased with my finishes and progress in June. For July, I'm looking forward to making additional progress on my WIPs and maybe making a summer garment or two. Stay tuned!