Thursday, June 30, 2016

Planning a professional wardrobe

I'm starting a new job in the fall, and I feel like I need a whole new wardrobe.  I'll be a real live assistant professor, and the worn-out t-shirts I've been wearing for six years of grad school are not going to cut it - not to mention that the dress code norms (business casual) at my new school (a small private liberal arts college in the Midwest) are much more formal than the norm (full professors wearing shorts) in my grad school department at an R1 research-heavy university.

So I've been buying some apparel fabric and thinking about appropriate patterns ...
 In April, about a month after I signed my contract, I put in an order on sale at and got: 2.5 yards of  charcoal ponte de roma (75% polyester, 21% rayon, 4% spandex) for a long-sleeved Lady Skater dress, 1.5 yards of charcoal Bemberg rayon for lining a Phoebe dress, and 2 yards of teal shantung sateen (100% polyester) intended for a Phoebe dress but on second thought I think it might be too shiny and fancy for this application so I might save it for something else.  Those are all on the left in the picture.  On the right are fabrics I bought a few weeks ago when my sister-in-law and I went to shop the Hancock's Fabrics closing sale.  From top to bottom, they are 2.5 yards of blue geometric quilting cotton for a Megan dress, 1.75 yards of charcoal polyester gabardine for a Phoebe dress, 2 yards of quilting cotton for a McCall's M7285 view C (in the next picture), 2 yards of a navy blue wool blend for a McCall's M6757 skirt, and 2 yards of purple scuba knit for a Jenna cardigan.
I expect to buy a few pairs of warm tights (or make some leggings), and I already own two pairs of black dress slacks (although one of them needs to be hemmed), a yellow cardigan, and a handful of work-appropriate blouses.  I would like to have a white button-down shirt, which I'll most likely buy second hand, and maybe one or two more blouses.  I really want to try the Granville shirt pattern, but I didn't see any good shirtings at Hancock's.  I also have enough of a lovely light tangerine cotton voile with a firefly print for a fabric-hogging dress, so I think I might either make some of that into a Granville or another M7285 (and then still probably have enough left over for a non-fabric-hogging sundress).

With all of that (if I manage to sew very much of it between now and the start of classes) I think I'll have a pretty good business-casual capsule wardrobe!  I'm really excited about making more of my clothing, learning more apparel sewing techniques, and dipping my toes into fitting!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Madder shawlette finished

I finished this little shawlette in April, I think.  It was so long ago that I don't really remember.  After I finished it, it sat around for several weeks waiting to be blocked, and then several more weeks waiting to be photographed, and then the photos sat in my computer for another couple weeks.  I have a whole list of blog posts to write, but the combination of lots of post-graduation unstructured time, lots of moving-related stress and a to-do list a mile long makes it hard to actually sit down and write them.
This was a kit my mom put together for me for my birthday in February.  She picked out a special skein of yarn and included three patterns for me to choose from.  It was a fairly quick and easy knit.  I photographed it on a beautiful secretary-style desk made by my husband's great-grandfather.  Here's a modeled picture to show the scale.  I thought it was pretty small, but it looks almost like a full-sized shawl when I've got it on.
Pattern: Happenstance
Size: One size
Yarn: Abiquiu Dye Studio Abrash in Madder
Needles: US4 or 5 interchangeable circulars.  I don't remember.
Started/Completed: March 2016/April? 2016
Modifications: I added one extra repeat of the main chart before starting the border chart

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Birthday shirt

My nephew just had his first birthday.  I wanted to make him something to wear, like I've done for his sister for each of her birthdays.  I chose the Oliver + S sketchbook shirt.  I made the 12-18 months size and it fit him - I hear he's already worn it twice!
The only modification I made to the pattern was to use snaps instead of buttons.  I figured that snaps are easier for me to put in than buttons and buttonholes, and are also easier for his parents to fasten and unfasten when they're dressing him.
I felt like a sewing rockstar when I put in the collar - I followed the instructions in the pattern, including hand basting the collar to the shirt rather than pinning, and it went very smoothly.  Next time, I will use Nicole's trick of cutting the interfacing for the collar to make it fold more nicely.  I also love the little box pleat in the back.
I think I will be making this one again as my nephew gets bigger.  And it was a great way to dip my feet into shirt sewing.  I plan to work my way up to shirtdresses and men's and women's dress shirts!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Birthday socks

Robert's birthday was just over a month ago, and he had been wanting another pair of handknitted socks.  I knitted them in secret, but I didn't have enough secret knitting time to finish them before his birthday.  I ended up wrapping a package with one and a half socks in it, and then I finished the second sock a few days later.  He's happy with how they turned out, and they will help keep his feet warm in the cold Midwestern winter!
Pattern: From the recipe in More Sensational Knitted Socks (Alternating triangles stitch pattern)
Size: 70 stitches
Yarn: Cascade Heritage Sock in color 5601
Needles: US1 DPNs
Started/Completed: April 2016/May 2016
Modifications: No pattern to modify!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Knot theory socks finished!

I finished the knot theory socks in time to give them to my advisor on the day of my Ph.D. hooding.

As I said in my first post about these socks, the left sock (on the right in the pictures; it has four crossings) is a braid representation of the figure eight knot.  The right sock (on the left in these photos, and with six crossings) is a braid representation of a link: the Borromean Rings.

The Borromean rings are a 3-component link, meaning that it consists of three pieces of mathematical string, arranged in 3-dimensional space, with the two ends of each string glued together.  If we ignore how they are arranged in space, what we have is a collection of three circles.  The special thing about the Borromean rings is that they are the simplest Brunnian link.  A Brunnian link is a non-trivial link (with any number of components) with the property that if you remove any one component, the rest form an unlink.  (An unlink is a link in which each component is an unknot, and the components don't interact with each other at all.)

I think these socks turned out wonderfully.  I want to make a pair for myself!

Pattern: The cables are my own design. I referenced the book More Sensational Knitted Socks for numbers of stitches in the heel and toe.
Size: 64 stitches
Yarn: Knitpicks Stroll Fingering in Blue Violet Tonal
Needles: US0 (2mm) DPNs
Started/Completed: April 2016/May 2016
Modifications: No pattern to modify!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Me-Made-May Second half (and very late) (5/16-5/31)

Here are the me-made items I wore during the second half of May:  (as best as I can remember - I was on vacation for most of this time period, and now I've been home a week and am only now writing it all down)
I successfully finished my challenge - I think I actually wore all of the clothes I have sewn for myself, although not all of the items I've knit for myself.  I learned a few things about my me-made wardrobe.  I favor blue in the things I've sewn for myself (and I have a lot of blue ready-to-wear clothing).  I'd like to branch out a bit in terms of color.  I've also sewn a lot of clothing for warm weather, but not so much for cooler weather.  This needs to change, since we're moving to the Midwest this summer.  And third, most of the clothes I've sewn for myself are either quite casual or are dresses.  This has been perfectly appropriate for a graduate student, but I really want to be planning and sewing the wardrobe I'll need as a new assistant professor, so I'm thinking about more professional things to sew for myself.  One of these days I'll get myself together and write a whole post about that.