Seafoam Socks

So this week, I’ve been feeling like a Real Med Student. I’ve been wearing surgical scrubs around, I’ve been into surgery twice (and assisted both times – although the second time I accidentally un-steriled myself towards the end, which is a very easy thing to do. After you’re all gowned up, you’re not allowed to lift your hands above your chest or below your waist, or touch anyone or anything that isn’t as sterile as you. On the other hand, you are allowed to touch the business end of the surgical instruments, and the like, because you are sterile and they are sterile and it’s all fine). I also spent the last two days in ICU, which was – – as much as the rest of the hospital is a strange environment, the ICU is much stranger. I’m definitely still processing it. One of the things I found is that it’s really hard to interact with patients’ families – it’s easy to forget how big a deal being in ICU is when you’re seeing so many patients.

However. We’re here to talk about sewing, and/or knitting (in this particular case). Look at my socks!

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I am a convert to hand-knit socks. They take a while, but they are so gorgeous to wear! These ones are one of the two that cycle through everyday wear, as they’re the only ones I have that fit snugly. They’re also one of my Beautiful Socks, with gradual colour changes and a swaying pattern. When I made the socks, I wanted a sea-like pattern to match the yarn colour, but also something basic enough to memorise and multitask, and this was pretty perfect.

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I knit these on 2mm needles, only my second pair of socks with that size. Previously I used 2.5s, but I like the denser fabric of this, especially as it theoretically should increase hard-wearing-ness (durability?).

I used this pattern, but apart from the stitch pattern – which I altered – I actually never looked at the pattern again. I decided prior to starting that I wanted to knit these toe-up, and do a French heel – I haven’t found a good pattern for toe-up French heels, so the pair of socks knitted before these were top-down with this heel, and I wrote down exactly what I did so that I could replicate it in reverse. I now have this heel type stored in my brain (I hope – at least, I can work it out again, I have the necessary information for that) and am considering writing it up so other people don’t have to also do it from scratch. I’m very glad that I did it toe-up, in the end – I came very close to using all the yarn (less than 1m left at the end of it all!) and had shorter socks than I expected. So if it had been top-down, I would have run out of yarn and had to start again. Not fun.

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(a good look at that nice heel)

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I almost never knit anything following the pattern properly these days, and it’s become pretty normal to try something and rip it out if it doesn’t work properly; these are no exception. My first iteration of the heel had a too short heel flap, so these are try two. I think I must have a higher-than-normal instep, because this kind of problem always happens to me. They’re also just a smidge too long in the foot, but that is just a thing that happens, better than being too tight.

That’s all about my socks now. Fare well!

Well, I’m back

It’s been a while here. I’ve been sewing a bunch (but nothing with zips or darts – my last dart was in January, until this weekend) but my camera has been out of action (every photo shows up as a big question mark, for no apparent reason). This week I borrowed one from a friend, and took photos of my gorgeous new dress that I am in love with, so here I am back!

(I also took photos of my socks, and the goal is to get a few others this week, so I can catch up with the made things. I can’t even remember half the things I need to photograph now)

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The story of this dress starts with, actually, this one. When I was working in my semester break in June, I was wearing a uniform in the morning, and coming home and realising what I wanted to wear every day was this warm, fluffy merino dress. Which prompted me to start thinking about sewing another comfy wool dress to wear in the winter and feel both warm and fabulous in.

(I’ve succeeded).

Then a few weeks ago I went to a craft market in town with a couple of friends, and did the usual thing of prodding at all the clothes stalls to see if there was anything I wanted to copy, and I came across a shift dress in a beautiful lightweight plaid wool. Chatting to the store owner, she told me where she bought it from, and then said “I think they might still have some, actually.” Which sent me there as soon as I could make it out there. And lo and behold, they had the exact beautiful fabric I was looking for. Isn’t it gorgeous?

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It’s pretty soft, it’s squishy, it’s plaid, it’s some of my favourite colours. Love it.

I did not buy enough for a circle skirt. I bought what I thought was a relatively low amount, because I was being thrifty, thinking I might make the skirt pleated. However, my sister rightly warned me of the dangers of a pleated skirt looking like a school uniform, and through serendipitous factors beyond my control I just (just) had enough to make a full circle out of that lovely lovely wool (I gave up my dreams of full length sleeves for the circle – but who knew that you can cut more out of 60″ wide fabric than 45″? It’s one of those things I never remember to take into account when I’m deciding how much to buy, and luckily that worked in my favour this time).

I am very very fond of this dress. I put it on as soon as I finished it yesterday, and then wore it again today, because it is beautiful.

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By way of lining, we have three different strategies employed (four, if you count just not lining the sleeves). I didn’t think the (loose/soft weave) fabric would hold the fitted shape particularly well, so I underlined the bodice with cotton lawn for stability, then lined the waistband in the normal fashion to enclose the seams, and lined the skirt with a flannelette sheet to add some body and warmth. I know that I don’t like circle skirts when they’re too drapy, because I have something of a tendency to look pregnant in normal life and they exacerbate it (I had two people in one week ask me when my baby was due recently…), but I was super sold on the circle skirt in the plaid, so I really wanted a lining that would make it hold its shape a bit better.

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In terms of pattern, the bodice was from NL 6143 (like this, this, and this – it’s my go to fitted bodice), but I shortened it slightly to add the waistband, which was just a straight rectangle, and adjusted the neck somewhat. There’s clearly something going on in the back bodice, but I don’t see it so I don’t mind about it.

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I had some fun finishing everything fancily, and used rather a lot of seam binding tape on this, which has resulted in rather beautiful insides. The wool was pretty keen on fraying, so this should keep it under control. I also used the seam tape to pipe the edges of the waistband, and my only regret is that I dind’t do this on the pockets as well. And in one of my favourite touches, the zip is matching-but-contrasting. I love it.

In terms of life stuff, next week is my first week going into surgery! This is pretty exciting. I expect to be pretty well busy for the whole next three months, varying slightly on my placement, as we do something different each week. Next week is two days of acute admissions – people who turn up to ED with appendicitis and the like – followed by two days in ICU (which apparently alternates between nothing happening and far too busy for students to do anything, so it’s not a super useful learning attachment, but it still sounds cool). And then I’ll be spending a week with the cardiothoracic surgeons, which is heart and chest surgery – another interesting/exciting place to be for a bit.

And of course, I have plant babies growing. As always. I have one set of succulents who live on my desk, and it’s great to be able to see them so much of the time. I’m very excited for the start of the spring growing season – I got some new seeds to plant today! Tomatoes and chillies and squash and gooseberries!

And one more of my dress.

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Me-Made-May 2016

My goal for this May was to wear two me-made items every day. Last year I got quite frustrated by Me-Made-May, finding it a limitation rather than a good challenge. This year it was much better – wearing two me-mades every day wasn’t hard (especially after I made three pairs of underwear in the second week), and aiming for as many me-mades as possible really helped me to think about what I don’t have in my wardrobe.

(I took no photos, because my camera is having a hissy fit. This also accounts for the lack of recent projects posted, or at least is a handy excuse)

 

I saw recently that Handmade by Carolyn is doing a year of handmade project – only wearing handmade items, including shoes and jewellery (look at her latest shoes! They’re amazing). I’m considering taking this on as a challenge for 2017 – I doubt that I’d go as far as shoes, but aiming for 100% handmade in my clothing (probably with the exception of particularly special items handmade by someone else or inherited). I have quite a long list of things I’d need to make to achieve this, but May helped me to clarify and form the list.

The new types of garments I’d need are: Leggings, coats (wool coat and rain coat), bras, and pyjamas.

Things I’ve made before but need more of: Warm undergarments, socks, underwear, cardigans.

Actually, that doesn’t look that bad! Coats and bras are clearly the most difficult, but I think most of the other projects there are pretty manageable. It will certainly be a challenge, but perhaps a doable one.

 

I remember two years ago reading sewing bloggers talking about their move from sewing pretty, frivolous dresses (when they were new to sewing) to making things they actually wear, and thinking “well I’m making pretty dresses AND wearing them”. I still do wear those pretty dresses from two years ago – most of them, anyway – but I am finding myself trying to fill in the gaps around them, making my cardigans, socks, and whatever else I find to be necessary. It’s amusing to notice myself following the same or similar pattern to what I was reading about when I was a new dressmaker.

 

Birds and Butterflies, B B B

Kia ora folks.

I’m not really wanting to write a post today – I’ve had a busy month, full of class and trips out of town and making four bridesmaid skirts for my flatmate’s wedding – but May starts tomorrow, and I’m doing Me-Made-May, and I want to get my pledge out in the world before the month kicks in.

So here it is: In May, I will wear at least two things I have made every day. I will not photograph them unless it seems like a good idea at the time. I will also keep a record of the largest number of me-made items I manage to wear in one day through the mont.

I wear one thing almost every day anyway, and often on class days it’ll be a top and skirt, because my hospital wardrobe is entirely hand-sewn (I didn’t expect it to be, but found it significantly less stressful to just make my own than to have to actually go clothes shopping. That is not a thing I enjoy). So it’s really only a challenge to wear either hand-made cardigans or underwear on dress days. My long-term goal is to be able to wear entire outfits of me-made things on a regular basis, but I’m still working up to that.

While I’m posting, I’ll show a few photos of what I’ve been wearing lately.

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The top is the Scout Tee from Grainline Patterns. It’s turned out to be a super great top for me. I love the fabric a lot, and although I was a little dubious about the shape of the top, when it’s tucked into a skirt it sits reasonably nicely and makes me feel professional. I feel very comfortable in this top. I also made it really well, apart from an incident with a too hot iron (turns out this scorches – there’s a brown-tinted spot near one seam now), so every time I put it on I admire the french seams everywhere.

I’m wearing one other Scout at the moment (which was actually made first, but is slightly less well loved, due to the sheer amazingness of this rayon fabric, I almost went back to the store and bought more the day after I finished this dress), and have fabric for the next – as soon as I’ve finished these bridesmaid’s skirts!

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it clearly fits wrong untucked, but I never want to wear it this way anyway

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after cutting and sewing, with no remnant fabric – I only bought 1m – I spotted this hole on the back shoulder. Which may or may not have been my fault. It’s fixed now, but only with a black zigzag, not anything beautiful

I’m going to leave it at that, and go to bed, but happy Me-Made-May all those who are participating!

It’s In Our Genes

Hello friends! It’s been a while. I’ve had a super busy but also really awesome month, and sewing has definitely fallen by the wayside (knitting not so much, which is awesome! At least if I have no time to sew, I can still feel like I’m making progress somewhere). Last time I posted it was my first day of my first hospital placement, which is all wrapped up now. I can say unequivocally that it was a fantastic five weeks. I’m stoked with the placement and much more interested in geriatrics than I was a month ago! In terms of learning-exciting-things, I am now mildly proficient at taking blood for blood tests, I can put in an IV line if I have to (although probably successful and unsuccessful are tied at the moment – it’s not my top skill), and I can have a conversation with a patient without stuttering too much (that’s an achievement, I promise). I’m also really enjoying the learning style – there’s an expectation that we go research things that we see ourselves, which means essentially we have free rein over what we’re studying on any particular day (there is some formal class stuff, but it’s the minority) and that is exactly how I learn best. I found the last two years of medical school a bit of a drag at times, so it’s something of a relief to get into the hospital and realise that this is still interesting to me. Plus, the team of doctors I was placed with were all very friendly, welcoming, and good at teaching, which helped a lot when I was lost and didn’t know what was happening.

So, back to the making of things! Like I said, I’ve had very little to sew (although I have some January makes waiting for photos – but in the little free time I’ve had, sewing has been prioritised) but I have had an hour in the car every day to and from placement. Which means: Hoorah for the knitting.

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These socks started out with the yarn – a merino/possum blend, with nylon for strength, which claims to be recycled yarn. Now on the one hand, I am fully in support of new possum-fur yarns – possums are a serious pest in NZ, so having a possum fur trade is ecologically pretty great – but on the other, recycled yarn is also a good idea, and also it was $10/ball at the yarn store sale. My sister and mother also picked up some of this and started their socks before me, and on looking at the beautiful bloom of the possum I decided it would look really nice with some cabling up the side of the foot. Failing to find a pattern I liked (apart from one in German), I tried to work out if I could design one, and remembered seeing a cabled DNA pattern somewhere. Perfect! I thought. What more could a medical student want?

As it turned out, the DNA pattern was too wide for my tastes. After a lot of playing around trying to modify the pattern (these socks took me 6 weeks to make, but 2 1/2 weeks was just swatching and trying things several ways), I settled on a pattern only 2 stitches narrower – still too wide for what I’d imagined, but the best I could do and have it actually look like DNA. I’m fairly happy with the result, and it’s the most complicated pattern I’ve ever made myself, so I’m very stoked with that.

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I started these toe-up, because I’m enjoying the control over leg length I have that way, but got to the heel and realised I know no toe-up heels that I actually like. After much research I used this one from Knit Better Socks (which is a pretty useful resource, by the way), but ripped it back and altered it because I didn’t like it, and ended up with a slightly-better-but-still-not-great heel. As seen here.

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Can you see the bulbousness around the corner? I can, and it bugs me often. Next time I make socks, I’m planning to do a top-down French heel and write down exactly what I do so I can replicate it backwards – I’m not over toe-up socks, but I am firmly in favour of French heels (here’s a picture of one, if you’re interested). They’re by far the best fit of what I’ve tried.

On the other hand, this is an overall satisfying sock. I made up the pattern, following what the yarn wanted to do, and I ended up with something warm and attractive and wearable. I am feeling accomplished as a knitter right now.SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

And, since I have a new house which is also beautiful, here are just a couple of photos for a taste of it.

That’s all, see you next time!

Blackberry River Socks

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Last year I almost didn’t knit. I made the owls sweater, but that was the only time I set yarn to needle all year. I’d been knitting furiously just before the end of the year, to finish my mums Christmas socks (which were a pretty well perfect gift, she wears them tons) and I was out-knitted by the end, I needed a rest time. That lasted until June, when I picked up needles for my sweater, but after that I knitted a couple of lone socks (or possibly one lone sock and one half-sock? I’m not entirely sure) and ran out of wool, and nothing more. When it came to the end of the year I had started dreaming about knitting again though, so my Christmas present from my parents was two projects worth of glorious wool.

I fell in love with this wool when I walked into the store. The colours are amazing! I tried very hard to get a good representation of it, and I very much failed. The closest I got was this:

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In truth, it is more purpley and darker, rather than the blue-tinged purple you see. It’s rich and wonderful and slightly variegated and I love it.

The next challenge was finding a pattern to do justice to the yarn. I trawled through Ravelry (that is an amazing site) and discovered the Magic Mirror pattern. I loved the lace pattern, and the idea that my socks could be complementary rather than identical. I still love the lace pattern, but I’m not entirely convinced of some of the construction details in this sock. The heel type left way too little room for my instep, and I needed a more elastic cuff (that was easy enough to add though), and I think I’d do a longer stocking stitch toe before starting the lace pattern  if I did it again. However; more detailed notes are on my Ravelry project page (all the things I wish I’d known before I started knitting it…) so if you’re truly interested you can head over there, and if you aren’t I don’t need to burden you with details. Just photos.

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It is hard to take photos of your own feet. I wanted to show off all the details, but it is very hard.

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I admit that these aren’t technically 100% finished. I have to still sew in the ends and reinforce the heel and toe areas. I discovered after knitting the sock that this yarn is not always that good at resisting wear, despite how beautiful it is and how nice it was to knit, so I am going to add some padding by darning in some more of the yarn and some ordinary sewing thread to the places that get wear, as this can help protect it, and I don’t want my beautiful socks to die early!

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I’m now halfway through my next sock. Knitting is definitely what I’m into at the moment! I have a commute for the next few weeks, too, with someone else driving, so I’m anticipating a lot of knitting time in the car. You see, I started my first hospital placement today! It’s super exciting. My team were lovely, there were a couple of awkward moments but on the whole it was pretty great, and I’m on a rehabilitation team so it’s very non-intense for a first placement – my classmates were sprinting off after cardiac arrests and the like today, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that just yet. I feel like I’ve already learned tons, on day one, and I’m sitting here trying to assimilate it all. I also moved into a new flat a week ago, so I’ll try to get some photos for you next time I post.

See you next time!

A Pocket full of Peas

Hello all! How are you doing? I’ve just had my first week back at class for the year – it’s the first year that I’m on placement, too, which is exciting, but so far we’ve been confined to introductions and practise with our clinical skills. However, it’s been a pretty full on week (the expectation for class time this year is that most days we’ll be at class 8.30-5, and there may be outside study as well) and I was ready for the weekend (I woke up at 7 this morning, started to work out what I needed to do to get ready for class, realised it was a Saturday, and then five minutes later went through the whole process again. Clearly one week has been enough to programme my body’s alarm clock!).

Over the last month I’ve sewed and knitted a fair bit (I barely knitted at all last year – I think one project in the whole year – but that might change this year, I have a ton of projects planned). I’m pretty excited about all of what I’ve made this month, so hooray for that. Coming up I’ve also been asked to make skirts for my friend’s bridesmaids – that will be an exciting endeavour! We have the fabric, but are working on pattern, and I don’t know what size they need to be.

Anyway, on to the made things!

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I’ve been delaying posting about this dress, because I’m not entirely sure that it’s finished, but it’s also not looking especially likely to get more finished in the next month or so, so I guess we’ll just roll with it as it is. I’ve been wearing it enough anyway!

This was my birthday dress this year. The last two years I’ve had a new dress finished the day before my birthday; I was determined to have a gorgeous new dress for the day again today. This dress was inspired by the dragon dress of last year. I love that dress; the fabric, the colour, the shape, the new neckline… so I tried again, in a different colour of exactly the same linen (from The Fabric Store). I don’t wear completely plain dresses, so naturally I had to come up with some sort of embellishment for it. I went for embroidery in a natural thread – I think it goes well with the colour and texture of the linen. The embroidery is what I think isn’t yet finished. I want to embroider it with plants from my garden – so currently, what it has is a pea plant, but I want to add perhaps chamomile beneath it and something like a pumpkin vine along the bottom. It is a work in progress – I can add something more any time I feel like hand sewing for a while.

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The other exciting thing about this dress is that I tried my hand at converting darts into princess seams – I mentioned in my goals post that I want to learn some more pattern manipulation, and this is the first try at that. It worked out pretty well – there’s a small wavy area over my right breast, but the left one is nearly perfect. Next time I can make it even better! I do like the look of princess seams, and the way they can be perfectly fitted, so this was fun. I had one problem where my side front and side back pieces ended up looking nearly the same, for some reason, and I accidentally sewed a side-back to the centre front. I spent some time confused as to why they didn’t quite fit together properly, but didn’t actually work it out until trying to sew the side front to centre back pieces… Other than that, it was a pretty straightforward sew.

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I do have two different secret fabrics in this one. The lining is cut up sections of an old dress, which I loved for a while but which ripped horribly a few years ago. I mended it, it lasted about a year, and then it reopened, at which point I gave up and chucked it in my fabrics box to use at some point in the future. It had a pretty wide skirt, so I had plenty of fabric to cut the lining from so long as I didn’t mind some pieces being on the cross grain. The pattern meant it was essential I keep it on the inside though – I was super careful with my understitching! It was too flimsy to make good pocket bags, though, so enter the second secret fabric: the bamboo dress remnants. The poplin is a bit sturdier than the cotton lawn for the lining or the linen shell, so it holds its shape and holds weight better. It also more-or-less matches the embroidery thread – so if it is visible, it’s not as much of a problem.

I pretty well love this dress. It’s been somewhat stinking hot here for a couple of weeks, so I’ve been in need of beautiful breathable fabrics, and wearing this as often as I can get away with (it got up to 28C on Wednesday, which is the hottest we ever get, and I was in this, loving the breeziness). It’s a gorgeous shape, it hangs nicely, it is all round wonderful. Very much a sewing success! Being linen, it does crease a bunch, but they tend to be soft creases which bother me less, and it’s just a thing to live with.

Oh, and it goes perfectly with this rayon scarf I was given on my birthday – not a combination I would have picked, but most certainly one that works.

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(As you can see, it was a wonderfully windy day when I took the photos. There are rather a lot of photos of me arguing with my clothing!)

Top 5 Reflections and Goals

Hello again, happy new year!

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Here’s the promised second half of my reflections from the year – general sewing reflections, and goals for next year. Given that the reflections inform the goals, I’ll start there.

2015 Reflections

1: 2015 Goals

Looking back at my 2015 goals, I aimed to sew a semi-professional wardrobe for next year (started, although I’d like do more of the same), sew shirts/shirtdresses (two of each – although only one successful garment of each type), build an arsenal of new techniques (sort of – I’ll call that a success, because there are things like collars that I was scared of and am now confident, and I use french seams almost all the time now) and participate more in the online sewing community (eh, maybe). We’ll say that’s about 75-80% success, so that’s good – especially since I’d forgotten all but one of the goals!

2: Colour

Turns out I like red a lot – here’s a few things I’ve sewn in that colour this year. The dark reds are what call out to me most – I bought wool for another knitted sweater recently, and I had to carefully avoid making one exactly the same as the last – but I enjoy brighter reds as well. I’ve also had a fair bit of success with dark blue and purple, and I’d like to have more charcoal grey and chocolate brown garments to put in there. I am wearing paler colours in summer, but those are what sing to me.

3: Making for others

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I’ve made a few things for friends and family this year – from memory, about three dresses, threeish quilts (one’s not finished and one was made as a team effort) and one dressing gown. I really love making things for others, although only for people who will appreciate it – it’s super exciting to know you’re making the exact right thing for someone, and the satisfaction of seeing them wear or use it is incredible. (The quilt above, showed up in the first baby pictures I’ve seen of the baby it was made for – I’ve not met him yet, but I’m glad they’re using the quilt!)

4: Sewing vs. Buying

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Somehow, accidentally, at some point this year, my mentality switched from “I need x clothing, I will buy it” to “I need x, I will buy fabric for it”. This was most noticeable in underwear and cardigans – them being the really and truly wardrobe necessities that I worked out making this year. This has, at points, led to a little wardrobe stress – I feel like I ought to make things if I can, but sometimes I buy the fabric and fail to actually make the garment, so I don’t have what I needed but I also don’t feel like I can buy it. Working on that one, next year.

5: Relaxation

For me, sewing is a fun thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s also a relaxing thing. I’m sure you’ve all hit the stress of a project turning out wrong, or having to unpick repeatedly, or giving up and finishing a garment shoddily because you’re sick of it. I find machine sewing exciting because you can see the garment coming together, but hand sewing and knitting are what put me in a calm place. So long as I don’t have a looming deadline. I’ve actually knitted very little in 2015 – time for some more this year!

 

2016 Goals

1: Sustainability

My goal for this is to pay more attention to making and wearing sustainably next year. To pay attention to where my fabric is coming from – insofar as that’s possible – and get more wear out of old garments by repairing them where I can (whether homemade or bought).

2: Self-drafting

I’ve done more of this than I thought this year (see the statistics footnote), but I’d like to work on making my own knitting patterns as well as playing around a bit more with details on sewn things – though I don’t think I’ll bother making a sloper from scratch given that I’ve got a couple of basic fitted bodices that fit me well already. I found a beautiful library book for doing this with knitting patterns, and I’m so keen!

3: Learn other textile crafts

What I call this to myself is “other ways of playing with fabric”. I want to try spinning or weaving this year, and maybe some embroidery or an art quilt. I have no intentions to try all of the above, but it would be fun to do one or two of those – I love sewing, but I also just love playing with beautiful things, and new ways to do that are always welcome.

4: Make a coat

I have the fabric. I have the buttons. I have the lining. I just need to actually do it. My goal is to do this before June, so as to be able to wear it in the winter.

5: Make my own wardrobe basics

I alluded to this before, in saying I’d started to buy fabric instead of items. My goal this year is to make my undies and cardis in a more timely fashion than I have been, and work towards making my own socks (they take a while to knit, though, so I don’t expect to knit all my socks this year).

 

Ok, see you around in 2016, and good luck with your own goals!

If you want to see other Top 5 round ups, head over to Crafting a Rainbow. And if you like numbers, see below!

 

Footnote for those who like statistics

I made a spreadsheet of things I made this year. I’m not entirely sure it’s complete, but it’s at least an indication of what I’ve done. So here’s a few charts of what I’ve made (there are 22 items included in these charts, by the way).

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No surprise: that more than a third of what I made were dresses. Surprise: that 45% of what I made was self-drafted – almost all the self-drafted things were knits, though, and there were repeats of the same pattern in there. Well over half of what I made took a week or less, but two things were two months. The shortest was only an hour – underwear.

 

 

 

Top 5 Hits and Misses of 2015

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Hi all! Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow is again holding a top 5 for the year, and I thought I’d join in the fun. Today is my top 5 hits and misses, and I’ll write another post with reflections from this year and plans for the next soon.

So without further ado, my top 5!

(in no particular order, because that was too hard)

1: The red owls sweater:

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I love this thing so much. It’s sized perfectly, sits snugly, has a lovely neckline, is super warm and comfy, and is the perfect colour (after some dying adventures). My mum and sister have both asked me several times for one, although the first time my nana saw it she told me the neckline was too low. I think the best bit, other than the colour, is the snugness of the wrists – I hate cold wrists, and also hate baggy sleeves, so this is just right.

 2: The stars quilt:

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I just realised I never titled that post, whoops. Too late now. Anyway… This was my first foray into quilting in quite a while, and I love the bright colours of it, and constructing the blocks was so much fun – all the joy of choosing fabrics for a project, twenty times over. I’m pretty proud of this.

3: The tui dress:

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This dress gets hands down the most compliments from random strangers. Especially if I wear it into a sewing or craft shop – which I am prone to do, given that I’ve worn it approximately once a week since I made it. It makes me super happy to wear – a combination of the fit, which is great, the finish, with a near-perfect zip insertion, and fabric, which is cheerful and beautiful. Also, bonus: I discovered later that I made a non-English-language pun in my first post about this, titling it ngā tui o taku kahu – the birds on this are called tui, but tui also means stitches or sewing. Therefore the title can allude either to the birds on the dress or the fact that I sewed it. I got so excited when I discovered I made an actually relevant pun in another language!

This photo also contains my favourite single outfit of the year – the dress, sweater, tights (merino! Wonderful!) and (not shown) my beautiful red shoes.

4: The linen dragon dress:

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This was a slight surprise favourite. Halfway through it I thought I’d ruined the fabric – before I cut down the neckline to the V (it was boatneck) and shortened the skirt (I attached the whole width, so I could decide later how long to hem it) it was looking decidedly frumpy. However, after making the changes, I fell in super love with it. V-neck! Dragons! Red! (yes, there’s a theme to my favourites) In fact, I am going to make another with exactly the same cut, and the same linen, in green – it’s my latest fabric purchase. Literally the only things I am changing are the colour and the hem decoration – I’m thinking maybe a lace border, or hand-embroidery (am I mad?).

5: The floral Granville:

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This is my latest Big Project (there are a few other small projects on the go, I don’t normally sew as many things at once as this). My main favourite thing about it is how perfectly it’s made. All seams are frenched, I’ve used a white lawn as contrast on all inside pieces (for some reason contrasting insides are a thing I truly love), the collar is actually attached well… I am just so proud of my workmanship on this. I haven’t worn it yet, as it’s designed for when I have to look semi-professional, not for normal life, but it is perfect for that.

 

And the misses:

1: Birds Hawthorn

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This dress was wrong for a few reasons, but largely the sleeves. There’s too much of a vibrant print, and the sleeves just don’t fit right – they’re too tight. It’s also too loose across the bust, so it sits weird there – I’m considering removing the sleeves, but the bust would still bug me, so I’m not sure what else. Bonus: I’ve been to a few different hair dressers since I cut it short August last year, but this was my least favourite cut.

2: Cream Granville

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It’s nice enough, but the collar’s strange and the bust pulls, and I’ve never worn it.

3: Red Linen Skirt

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It’s nice. I’ve just worn it… once. Then the zip broke. I replaced the zip after a couple of months, but it wasn’t inserted as well (which is a strange thing to change my opinion) and somehow in the intervening months it had fallen from my affections. Maybe I’ll wear it more next year – I hope so!

4: Dandelion Dress

Technically I think I made this last year, but it was blogged this one. It’s semi-copied off a favourite dress that started falling to pieces, but I copied the skirt wrong so I had to belatedly add panels at the side, and it’s a wee bit low cut (although held together by stitches). It’s also both pilling and fraying – the fraying is mostly around the zip, as everything else is french seams, but I had to restitch the zip the last time I wore it. I’m not sure if I can do anything to make this more wearable – the zip will probably give up altogether soon, and the panels of the skirt are too small to cut something new out of. Very disappointing.

5: Various costumes

I’ve made a couple of costumes for various things (mostly unblogged). None of them are bad, they all do the trick and look at least more or less like I imagined, but most of them are pretty shoddily made because of time pressures. It’s in the nature of things, I think, I prioritise the things I want to wear regularly so the costumes don’t really happen. I don’t mind that much – but I’m not wearing them again…

 

Overall, it was harder to find misses than hits, so that’s a very good place to be. I sewed a lot more than 2014, and loved most of what I produced, even if not all was a success. A good year, I hope your 2015 went as well!

Floral Granville (plus skirt)

Hello there! It’s been a while – I’ve been sewing almost non-stop, but I packed my camera in a silly place and only unpacked it a few days ago (I do live in a place where there are other people with cameras now, so yes, I could have got someone to help, but I didn’t. Maybe next time).

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These two garments are the last I sewed in Dunedin and the first in Wellington. The skirt was a quick make – I wanted something I could sew in between packing, that wouldn’t take too much brain power or time, but would be satisfying; so I went through my (actually rather small) stash and found this rayon twill that my (step-)grandmother gave me. She ran an antique store until recently, so this is one she’d picked up for that, but she gave me free choice of the fabrics she had lying around.

It’s a hastily drafted half-circle skirt, on a somewhat slithery fabric, so the lines were not actually all that straight. I corrected most of that in sewing, but it’s still got a wee bit of inaccuracy. However, it does what it’s supposed to – I wanted a plain, nice skirt that I could wear for semi-professional occasions, without feeling like I was impersonating someone else. There is not much else to say about it.

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The shirt, on the other hand, there is a lot to tell. This is my second Granville (the first is here) and it is ever so much better. To be honest, the first one isn’t bad, except for the collar (which is slightly disastrous) and some slight pulling at the bust. I did an FBA to fix that, and moved a bunch of the waist shaping to the back seams instead of the side, but could have done more actually. So the fit is slightly better, and the collar was entirely solved by following this tutorial over at Four Square Walls. I’m pretty well proud of my collar. And all the constructions. French seams everywhere! Perfect collar and pretty decent sleeve plackets! All is going well!

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I had a lot of fun taking photos in my garden at home for this, and have also been having fun choosing the most dramatic ones. Since I’m in Wellington at the moment, there’s always some wind, which is perfect for showing off circle skirts.

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You may have noticed that these are a little more formal than what I normally make. There is a reason for that! Next year I’m going to be based in the hospital for my studies, and there is a loosely semi-professional expectation. I’m expecting that a lot of what I wear day-to-day currently will fit that, but not all, so I’m trying to make a slightly different wardrobe to fill the gaps, based around half-circle skirts and tops to tuck in – something that still feels like me, while being less frivolous (than, say, dragons on the skirt).

Have I mentioned yet that I love it? I don’t know how comfortable I’ll feel in it, at least at first, but I think I did a pretty amazing job on constructing it, so there’s that. This is the single best-constructed item I’ve ever made. In fact, I was going around telling people how amazing my shirt was before I’d even finished it. Looking at the photos is actually pretty good for my comfort levels – looking through them it’s easier to go “ah yes, is nice” instead of “ooh not sure how I feel about this” which I sometimes do in the mirror.

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So, the details:

Skirt – rayon twill gift, zip from a second hand shop

Shirt – cotton lawn from a Lincraft sale (some $10/m), buttons from Mum’s jar.

And some guts shots:

Merry Christmas guys!