Friday, April 28, 2017

Me-Made-May 2017: plans and my pledge

I, Katherine of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item, not counting underwear, each day for the duration of May 2017.  In addition, I will devote all of my sewing and knitting time to making things for myself, with a focus on improving and expanding my work and cold-weather wardrobe.

I'm excited for Me-Made-May this year!  I've been in a bit of a sewing funk the last couple of months, partly due to limited sewing time, which paradoxically made me waste the sewing time I did have without actually sewing anything.  I've also felt kind of bogged down by several gifts I've been making for people - according to my blog, I've made exactly three things for myself in the last year: my Adelaide dress last June/July, the grey cardigan I finished last October (which I wear a lot but don't totally love), and the half-slip I threw together this Spring.

So I'm really excited to focus on making for myself next month.  I've been noticing a lot of gaps in my work wardrobe this year:  I'm set for slacks, but I don't have enough tops that I really like, and all of my dresses are short-sleeved or sleeveless.  First up on my list are a woven t-shirt and a long-sleeved lady skater dress, both in fabric I got from the Hancock's closing sale last Summer.  If both of those get finished next month, I'm thinking about a long-sleeved button-up in a beautiful light-orange voile I've had in my stash for a while and a sewn cardigan in a purple scuba knit (also from the Hancock's sale).

I'll try to keep a list of what I've worn each week.  I think this project will be helped by the fact that my semester is over as of this weekend, so I won't feel the need to be quite as dressed up at work (almost all of my work wardrobe is ready-to-wear, mostly hand-me-downs or purchased second-hand).  The one thing that could put a wrench in my plan of wearing me-mades every day is the weather - so far we've had a pretty cool spring, too cold for me to wear most of the clothes I sewed for myself in the Texas heat.  If all else fails I guess I'll wear a lot of sweaters!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Singer 66

About a month ago, Robert and I were visiting family during our Spring break.  His father and stepmother live just a few blocks from a street with several really awesome thrift and consignment shops.  I needed new-to-me jeans, so I walked over one morning to see what I could find.  I came home with not just the perfect jeans (long enough, not tight in the thighs, and with a waistband that doesn't gap in the back - the waistband facing is elastic!), but also two bread baking pans and a 1949 electric Singer 66 sewing machine!
The sewing machine was $85 and in good condition, with a new power cord.  It sews really smoothly.  It's my new everyday machine, and I'm enjoying it a lot.  It's a table model - its undersides are exposed, so you can't put it anywhere else and expect it to sew (it came with the table).  
I love that it has a really big harp space - it feels really luxuriously spacious compared to my old little Brother machine.  It has a low straight shank, so the darning foot from my Brother fits on it, and I've already done some FMQ on it.  It's a straight stitch only machine, although it does have a backstitch (apparently it was one of the first Singers to have a backstitch).  I'm hoping I can get a zig-zagger and a buttonholer for it.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Modern Arizona Wedding Quilt

One of my best friends got married last June.  I wanted to make a quilt wedding gift, but what with my graduation last May, I didn't get it started until the beginning of June.  Of course, I didn't have time to finish it before their wedding (I think I got the top finished), and then we moved cross-country in July and then I started my new job, and I finally finished it in February.

I made up the quilt pattern based on a picture of a quilt I had seen online.  I like it because it looks sort of like a double-wedding ring, but without the crazy template piecing.  I used two jelly rolls of Arizona-themed fabric from connecting threads.  I picked this fabric because my friend and her now-husband met and still live in Arizona.  It was a happy coincidence that several of the fabrics are a kind of coral-ish orange color, since our bridesmaid dresses were coral/orange!
My favorite fabric is this adorable cactus print:
I quilted loops in each row of the quilt, and bound it with leftover jelly roll strips.

Here's my sketch of the quilt blocks.  It's a twin-sized quilt (I didn't measure it after I washed it, but the blocks finished at 30" by 30", and it's two blocks wide by three blocks long).

Friday, April 14, 2017


When we lived in Texas, I used to wear skirts almost every day.  But in the midwestern winter (even the mild one we just had), it's much too cold to have bare legs, so I ordered a couple of pairs of Smartwool tights.  They are wonderful, but almost all of my skirts and dresses are un-lined light-to-medium weight cotton, and they ride up when I wear tights. I only have one skirt that's heavy enough to wear with tights and no slip.

So I made myself a half-slip using some Bemberg rayon I had bought for another project that I'm not sure will ever get made.  I followed Gertie's tutorial.  I cut two rectangles, each 25" wide and 19" long (which is wider than the tutorial suggests for my hip measurement, but I was worried about wearing ease, and I think I made the right call - I need to be able to walk to work, climb stairs, and generally feel comfortable walking around while I'm teaching).  I used French seams and a double narrow hem at the bottom.

I used a bit of lavender picot-edge elastic that I had leftover from making several pairs of undies, and I didn't use any lace or bows.

The rayon is super slippery, and the slip works really well!  It was kind of difficult to cut and sew the rayon accurately, but given the non-public nature of this project, I don't think it matters that it isn't perfect.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Another Sketchbook Shirt

This was a Christmas gift for my nephew, who was 18 months old at the time.  It is another Oliver + S sketchbook shirt.  The first two were short-sleeved, size 12-18 months, and the second one had a 1/4 inch broad shoulder adjustment.  This one is a long-sleeved 2T with the same broad shoulder adjustment.
I was looking for a nice plaid flannel, but the fabric I ended up finding at my local quilt shop was more like a homespun kind of thing than a true flannel.  I did all french seams, including the armscyes, and cut the yokes and pocket on the bias.  I used this tutorial from Really Handmade to figure out the plaid-matching at the plackets and side seams.  I think it turned out really well!

Friday, February 24, 2017


This is the first of the handmade Christmas gifts I made in 2016.  A wowligan for my niece, who turned 3 last fall and loves animals, buttons, and the color yellow.  This yellow sweater has 12 owls and 27 buttons.
I bought the worsted-weight yarn before I settled on the pattern, and it is significantly heavier than what the pattern calls for, so I had to wing it on the sizing.
The circumference ended up being 24", and although I haven't seen her wear it in person, from pictures it looks like it fits.

The biggest problem I had was with the buttons that fasten the sweater closed - I forgot to do a thread shank when I sewed them on, and they were way too tight.  I couldn't even get the buttonholes around them, so I cut off the buttons and re-sewed them.  They were much better the second time, but there still wasn't really enough room between the buttons and the button-band.  Next time I'll try to do better ....

Pattern: Wowligan
Size: 24", but I used the stitch counts for the smallest size
Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Worsted (100% superwash wool) in Buttercup, 2 skeins
Needles:  US size 8, I think
Started/Completed: December 2016/December 2016
Modifications: Used worsted rather than sport weight yarn.  I used the stitch counts for the smallest size and the length measurements from one of the larger sizes.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Scarf and Mittens

I am way behind on posting the things I made last fall!  When we moved to what Robert affectionately calls "the frozen North" last summer, I promised to make Robert a scarf and mittens.  He previously owned a pair of leather gloves and a fleece hat, but not a scarf or mittens, and we knew he would need them for the winter.

The scarf is a ribble pattern.  I had Robert page through my stitch dictionary to see what he liked, and then I suggested the reversible cables as something that would be thick and warm, and not too much of a pain to knit.  I cast on 86 stitches, knit a few rows of garter stitch, then switched to ribbles with a 3-stitch garter border on each side, knit until it was as long as he is tall, and finished with a few more rows of garter.  I was somewhat reluctant to knit a scarf because I remember them taking forever and being pretty boring, but I was pleasantly surprised that this came together quickly - and he loves that I made it for him.

The mittens have a ribble cuff to match the scarf.  I spent a lot of time browsing Ravelry for free mitten patterns.  Although I have a really fun mitten book (Knit Mittens!), all of the patterns in it are pretty fancy, and I wanted something plain.  I eventually settled on this vintage pattern.  I also came across this stranded pattern on the same site - I'd love to make those in the future!

I originally wanted to make a matching hat to go with the scarf and mittens, but I didn't have enough yarn.  I only bought 3 skeins of yarn, and only have about 75 yards left.  Maybe next year I'll get another skein, hope the dye lots are close enough, and make the matching hat.

Pattern: My own brain for the scarf, vintage pattern for the mittens
Size: N/A
Yarn: Valley Yarns Northampton in Denim Heather (100% wool); 2.7 skeins = 270 grams = ~675 yds total
Needles:  US size 9 for the scarf, US size 5 for the mittens
Started/Completed: I don't remember - Fall 2016
Modifications: Ribble cuff instead of plain cuff for the mittens