Saturday, December 27, 2014

Year in Review: 2014

I predicted earlier this year that 2014 was going to be a busy year, but I had no idea just how right I was going to be.

Perhaps every year is busy and formative and life changing, but we never stop to think about it and examine what happened (or at least I don't) so we just move on, thinking that another year flew past us. And really, this year completely flew by. Before I get in to some of the crazy ups and downs, let's start by addressing the goals I set for myself at the beginning of this year:

Circle Skirt and Gray Wrap Top
Sewing Less. I definitely achieved this. I sewed a lot less than normal, but I am SO pleased with the results. I think my finished products are much higher quality than they would have been if I was just zipping through them. While I want to sew more next year, I'm pleased with how my garments turned out, and I like the whole going slow movement.

My cape!
Mend and Refashion. I think I mended zero things this year. BUT I did do one refashion. I was actually going to make a blog post about it - I took pictures and everything - but a few days later I decided I wanted to redo the contrast fabric in something else. I have yet to do it.

My one refashion!

If you recognize the fabric, it used to be this dress that was pretty shoddily sewn. To be fair, it was only my second project! Anyway, I used Vintage Butterick 6647 for the jacket and generally I love it and I'm counting it towards my Vintage Pledge this year. So why haven't you seen a blog post about it? Because a few days after I took pictures of it, I decided I wanted to change it. The gray cotton contrast is lovely, but it feels a bit too much like a robe. I want to switch it out with some charcoal wool to make it a bit heavier, and I'm thinking about adding some cuffs. So this finished object is officially a WIP!

My first knitting design!
New blogs. I started two new blogs this year. The first, Crunchy in the City, is all about food, fermentation, and skin care products I make. I want to do more with it, but I'm pleased with how it's coming along so far. The second, We All Knit Here, is dedicated to the beginner knitter, or anyone who wants to learn to knit from home. I think announced it in March, but apparently it's hard work to create online video courses - my first course launched this month, and you can find it here (and hey, it's half off for the holidays!). Enjoy my bloopers.

RTW Fast. I pledged to not buy any ready to wear clothes this year, as part of Goodbye Valentino's pledge. I'm happy to say I stuck with that pledge with a few exceptions: I bought two pairs of leggings and a bra. In fact, I was actually really happy to have that as an excuse when I'd go out shopping with friends; otherwise I would have spent way too much money on items that I probably wouldn't have worn. It also really made me examine what I need in my closet and what I should be making, rather than just making pretty dresses. Even though I made mostly pretty dresses, ha!

My mermaid inspired skirt - for the Mermaid Parade, of course!
Stashbusting Sewing. I pledged not to buy anymore fabric until the summer, thinking that would make a huge dent in my stash. Or even a small dent in my stash. It did not, and in fact my stash grew. I was given loads of fabric by a few generous souls, I won some contests, and I participated in some sewing swaps. And then, I think in August, I bought some more fabric that I haven't used. I bought more fabric in November, but I'm happy to say I at least made something out of that.

One of my faves, buying this fabric was totally worth it.
More crafts. I failed. I did manage to find time to make art in Central Park this summer, but my goal of crafting once a month was a complete failure.

SO. Those were just the ideas I had for myself at the start of this year. Some stuck, some didn't (isn't that always how it goes?), but generally I'm happy with them. Of course, other things happened as well:

Ruffled Maxi

I found my soul sister in fashion, Ulyana Sergeenko. Are you tired of hearing about her yet? I hope not because I want to create more outfits inspired by her.

I actually have WIPs! Typically I don't move onto a new project until I'm finished, but I've been working on multiple projects at once and actually tossing some to the side.

A photo posted by Kristin (@kristincreates) on
This, as you can see, was supposed to be my Halloween costume. I was much too slow to make that deadline, but as I continued on, I realized that it was much too large. Originally I was going to ignore the size and continue on, as a little extra room in a jacket isn't always so bad, but the arms are so gigantic that I have to go back and take a closer look at it, which I just haven't done yet.

A photo posted by Kristin (@kristincreates) on
These are my Colette Iris shorts. The pattern seems easy and straightforward, but I really hate shorts on me. See, my thighs rub together when I walk and while that creates holes in my fabric when I wear jeans, hose, tights, etc, it makes my shorts ride up into my crotch. It isn't pretty. I thought maybe it would be different if I sewed a pair though. After some investigating, I read that if the shorts are longer that the fattest part of your thigh, they won't ride up. So I made these longer to avoid that, but I HATE how long they look. I could also make them super short, but who wears short shorts? Not this girl. They're also a bit large so maybe taking them in would help? I don't know.

On a more personal note, part of the reason I didn't make as much stuff this year was because I had quite a few ups and downs. I down want to label anything as negative because it's my belief that negative situations tend to be some of the best ways to grow and succeed. I quit the job I hated with every fiber of my being and took 6 weeks off to explore NYC with my sister. It was her first time visiting and we had a blast. It was much needed because I fell back in love with NYC again by the end of her visit. (I mean, I still want to move, but at least I can appreciate it now!)

At the same time, my boyfriend's heavy drinking got way out of control. While that is/was a terrible, awful thing, it pushed me to seek outside help, make new friends, and even take a bit of a spiritual journey along the way. I hope that doesn't sound too corny, but those aren't words I ever thought I'd speak, and I find myself coping with the stress and anxiety of life so much easier now.

And then, because I hadn't grown enough spiritually or something, the universe threw an autoimmune disease at me. I've unwittingly had symptoms for years, but my body decided this year was too much and suddenly I found myself unable to walk and remember how to form complete sentences and sometimes I didn't even have the strength to open my eyes. (PS - if you saw me at a sewing event in NYC this year and I was acting weird or seemed to avoid you, that's why. I promise I'm not angry or ignoring you!) I'm very lucky in that I found some great doctors and while I don't have a diagnosis yet, I am responding to some medications so I can function most days.

My gown - 2 years in the making!
I'm actually not too disappointed about the latter because I finally know what's been causing my weird symptoms all these weird, plus, as my body becomes increasingly intolerant to cold and hot days and as I can really only work part time, I find my dreams of retiring to a temperate climate, becoming an eccentric, and wearing long sundresses within reach. I've been dying to make a parasol for years now, and now I'll have to because I'll actually need to use it. Perhaps I can semi-retire and move to a beach town in Costa Rica next year after all... Or maybe California. We'll see.

Goodness me, this wrap-up is a bit long. Stay tuned for my goals for next year! (And maybe even another project, if I can fit it in this year!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Knitting Fail: Tempting Fate

Guys, I really loved this sweater. I REALLY wanted to make it work, but I don't think I can. (Unless you brilliant ladies can help?!)

Look at the detail! I was so proud of my color work here. And guys, these are MOTHS. Putting moths on yarn sweaters is so brilliant. I was so pumped to make this.

If you recall, I had trouble early on because the size 34 was wayyy too big on my size 34 chest. There were also no decreases in the waist so when I went down a needle size, I added in decreases. They weren't enough so I started over again with even more decreases. I thought I had it all worked out, but look at this.

I'm touching my shoulder. And this is not supposed to be a turtleneck, or whatever kind of neck this has become.

I tried blocking it a couple of times. The last time, this past weekend, I took measurements for everything and pulled and pinched just so, but to no avail.

I mean, has this ever happened to you before? Is there anyway to fix this?

I don't really want to frog this sweater, especially since I've spent so much time on it, but it's unwearable.

Ravelry notes here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Finished: Ursula Inspired Dress for Sew Disney

This may sound strange, but I have wanted to do a Disney inspired outfit for a couple of years now so when I saw that the Sewcialists had November for #sewdisney, my procrastination skills kicked in. "Oh, good," I thought. "I can wait until the end of the year."

And somehow I've finished BEFORE the deadline! I mean, I still have several days left in the month! This is huge for me, you guys.

So let's talk Disney. I love the parks, the princesses, and especially the non-princesses. The villains are usually pretty amazing as well and arguably better than the heroes, but isn't that usually the case?

But something happened when I watched the Little Mermaid as a child. Sure, I rooted for Ariel - who wouldn't want to leave their family and marry into royalty on a French colony in the Caribbean? (That's what was happening, right?)

 Anyway, my innocence was shattered when Ursula had her moment because while part of me was thinking, "No, Ariel, don't do it!!" - the other part of me, most of me actually, was in shocked awe. WHERE DO I SIGN UP TO BE A SEA WITCH?! (For a while, my sister only answered to the name Ursula, so clearly it runs in the family.)

I kind of forget until some point in college, when I rewatched the movie and I realized how many truth bombs Ursula drops in her song. While I don't necessarily agree with manipulation and tricky contracts, she's pretty amazing. (She's also my inspiration for this dress, in case you weren't sure why she's the focus here.)

The hardest design part about Ursula is that she's an octopus. This is only a problem because most people can't see past that, and most dresses have weird bits of fabric hanging down. Like, I'm not trying to look like I have 8 legs, people, thanks.

So I focused on her. She has purple skin and accessories, dresses in black, and oozes sexiness and confidence. She knows what she's about, and she goes after it.

So obviously I had to go for it as well! Party dress in black and purple. I was actually going to buy lace, but the sequins just spoke to me in the store.

And can we chat about sequins? I was panicking about sewing with them, similarly to how I panicked the first time I sewed with lace, and it was fine. So fine. In fact, I didn't even pick the sequins out, just sewed over them. My machine didn't break. My needle didn't break. I did not require a trip to the ER to remove parts from my eyes. (Though I did wear sunglasses, just in case.) I was told that if my machine could handle wool and/or denim (it can), then sequins would be fine (it was).

To be fair, originally I didn't want to chance a broken machine/needle/eyeball, and I sat down with some scissors, seam rippers, and my fabric, and I was going to start taking everything apart, and then I was all HAHAHA NOPE.

So yeah, sequins on mesh and crushed silk.

I used McCalls 6460, view C, and I adjusted a bit. I brought the yoke up, as reviewers complained that it was dangerously low. This also brought my hem line up, and I forgot to adjust for that, which was disappointing as it's a bit shorter than my liking. I didn't want to use bias tape on the sequins, so I underlined everything, which worked out beautifully. I also didn't think a zipper through sequins was smart, so I made the zipper stop with the silk, and attached the sequins at the neckline with a hook and eye.

Because of the neckline/my small ribcage/my ability to stand up straight I had to bring in the back 2 inches so it didn't droop - or I could have slouched, which kind of irritated me. It still gaps a little, but it's SO much better.

Also, I added pockets.

Anyway, I'm incredibly pleased with how it turned out, and I kind of want to make a second one, but I don't know if that'll happen anytime soon.

Bf review (while making it): Why are you asking me? You know I don't like sequins.
Bf review (after): Wow, this is my favorite dress yet! Except... why did you have to ruin it with pockets?

Just for fun, here's Ursula's song. It's messed up in the middle, but stick with it as the second half of the song is clearly superior!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Finished: Slouchy Lace Hat Knitting (And a Giveaway!)

Guys, I knit a hat! 

In the middle of August, when it was nice and toasty here in NYC, I decided to go to an even hotter Florida, and I thought, "You know what? I should knit a hat while I'm there."

(Side note: When I saw the pictures, I was like, "Gahhh, why didn't you tell me my collar was popped?" And the bf responded. "You always do weird stylish things. I've stopped trying to point them out." Thanks, I guess?)

So I took a ball of yarn and tons of different sized needles to Florida and set about experimenting to come up with a pattern for my new hat. 

I really wanted to make a lace pattern, but I was concerned about the holes being a bit chilly during winter. My sister, the queen of slouchy hats, assured me lace was fine so here you have the end result!

I'm really happy with how it came out. It was surprisingly easy, and it makes me want to knit up a whole bunch of hats - but as someone who rarely remembers to put objects on my head when I go out, I'm not sure that's the best idea. But maybe if I start to make them I'll start to wear them?

(Or maybe if it's abnormally cold again this year, I'll remember to bundle up!)

You can also check out the design here at Ravelry.

And, of course, I'm giving away a copy of the knitting pattern here on my blog.

Just leave a comment (and a way for me to get in touch with you) telling me what you're knitting for the holidays (if anything!) and you're entered. You can only enter once (duplicate comments will not count as duplicate entries). The giveaway ends November 9th at 11:59pm EST.

If you just can't wait and want to buy it now, I'm offering the pattern at 50% off for a week (until the 7th of October). Use the code HappyHalloween at checkout, either at ravelry or at We All Knit Here.

Congrats to Bobbi!

And just for fun, here's a shot of me suffering in the heat so I could get a couple photo sessions out of the way at once. Remember my prairie skirt? ;-) (Ooh, last minute costume idea since I'm not finished sewing my current costume idea maybe???)

Hat: My Design
Shirt: My Design
Skirt: My Design
Jacket: The Gap

Friday, September 19, 2014

Finished: Lazy 30s Gown

I bought this fabric, this beautiful soft floral print that I normally don't gravitate towards, last spring (as in over a year ago), and I bought as much of it as I could.

I have been on the hunt for a 1930s ballgown pattern, similar to this McCall pattern, for over a year now. I decided this fabric would be perfect, and since no vintage patterns were falling into my lap (for a reasonable price), I decided to draft my own.

I draped it I imagined it in my head, but I decided that I also wanted to be able to slip the gown easily over my head. And I didn't want it TOO formal, even though it's modeled after a ballgown, because I wanted to be able to wear it out during the day.

I wanted it done by Labor Day, as a birthday present to myself, but then it was raining last Labor Day, and then it got cold, so I put the project away for the winter.

I pulled it out and slowly began working on it this spring and summer, and once again, it's become almost too cold to wear it out. BUT AT LEAST I FINISHED!

Also, since we're in that weird season that we've been in most of the summer, where it's cold at night, but kind of hot during the day, I can still wear it out during the day - perfect!

I attempted to do a mermaid tail, but I overestimated my height (aka I don't really measure most things until afterwards) so I had to cut off most of the tail, but it's still there! You can't really see it when the wind blows - if only I had a roaring fireplace to stand next to...

I knew I wanted an elasticated waist, but I was stumped for the top. Luckily I found an amazing tutorial from Mimi G, where I got a few ideas, like the shoulders, which I turned into a lazy version of sleeves. (And if you're a beginner, I highly recommend her tutorial for her maxi dress!)

Let me know if anyone wants a tutorial, and I'll put one up next week!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tutorial: Ruffled Maxi Skirt

This summer, while I didn't do much sewing, I did take a huge step out of my comfort zone and this skirt is the result.

Shannon, from Shanni Loves, was my spring sewing swap partner and she gave me this amazing floral fabric. While I do like pinks and reds and I have developed an appreciation of floral, I would typically never buy something like this. That said, I was utterly delighted when it arrived, and I knew instantly that I wanted it to be a maxi skirt.

Because I'm also trying out the whole "go BIG and BOLD" but still vintage look a la Ulyana Sergeenko, I was mightily inspired by some of her full skirt designs. I decided I didn't really need such a large ruffle (also I didn't have enough fabric) so I made a little tiny one that suits the skirt just fine, I think.

I started to get worried about it being a bit busy, especially since my style is normally very straightforward and simple. To make up for my uneasiness, I decided to add pockets. Every gathered skirt needs pockets.

Because I actually finished sewing this in July, Oonapalooza was happening and I decided to do something Oona inspired and really crazy (for me). The result was contrasting pockets! I think it's such a fun detail, but to be honest, they probably make me the most uncomfortable - ha!

And then, finally, I worried about the enclosure. I really didn't want to put a zipper in. And since I was doing pockets (and didn't want to rip open the already completed back), I was at a loss. After mulling it over for a week, it finally came to me that a button enclosure would work. Of course, once I put the button in, I found that it was a little loose, and a little loose meant that my contrasting pockets would show (eek!) so I put in a small snap in the corner. Problem solved.

(Is this a known technique? Because I felt like such a genius for thinking of it!)

And voila. I made the gray top earlier this year, and I'm madly in love with it.

So if you want to make your own maxi skirt, here's how I did it.

2+ yards of fabric
matching thread
sewing machine
sewing pins

Seam Allowance: 5/8"

1. Cut out your two main pieces. You're basically going to cut two large rectangle. The waist should be your waist measurement x 3.2. For example, I measured out 89.6 inches for the top and bottom. To find the length, measure from your waist to where you want the length to hit. For me, I stopped 2 inches before the ground.

2. Cut out 2 identical pieces for your waistband. Take your waist measurements and add 2 inches. You want some overlap for the button enclosure. The width is 3 inches. So, for example, the waistband I cut was 30 inches by 3 inches.

3. Finally, you should have just enough leftover for the ruffle at the bottom. My ruffle was 4 inches by 286 inches (89.6 inches from the size of the hem on the skirt times 3.2). I had to sew a few pieces together to make it that long!

4. Cut out pockets. I tend to draw a circle around my hand, and then cut that shape out. You'll need 4 of those.

5. Sew your two waistband pieces together on 3 edges (one long, two short). Press and turn.

6. Sew your pockets into your skirt. If you need a tutorial, I love this one by Sewaholic. Make sure that you do not sew up the second pocket all the way. One pocket needs to be able to open and close to get the skirt over your head. In case you're confused by what I mean, do not place the pocket an inch or two below the waist. It needs to be part of the waist, extending the measurements. (see photo in step 10)

7. Ruffle your waist and bottom ruffle! When you're ruffling your waist, make sure that you do NOT ruffle the second pocket. That's how you're going to in and out of your skirt. I used my serger, and there's are the settings I used to ruffle, though of course you can ruffle however you feel most comfortable.

8. Carefully attach your ruffled waist to your waistband by lining up one end of your waistband to the  back of the open pocket. Pin around the waist. You should have several inches leftover for the button enclosure. After sewing the waistband to the ruffled waist, carefully top stitch the rest of the waistband closed.

9. Attach the ruffle to the bottom. Hem your skirt.

10. Finish the edges of your exposed pocket. Place a button on your waistband and sew a buttonhole. Attach a snap if necessary.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tutorial: Hi-Low Ruffled Pencil Skirt

If you like my mermaid inspired skirt, then get excited because I made a little tutorial for you so you can make one as well!

While it seemed to suit me perfectly for my mermaid endeavors at the beach, it's a fun and comfortable skirt to wear out in general - best of all, it only took me a few hours on my serger!

If you don't have a serger, you can still make this with a regular sewing machine. I would recommend a zig-zag stitch for the seams and your choice for the gathers. (My usual method is here, but I think this new way looks fun to try!)

2-3 yards of stretchy jersey fabric - more if you're a larger size or want to line it
matching thread
serger or sewing machine (or needle and thread!)
sewing pins

1. Measure your waist and subtract 1.5 inches - it's jersey so you'll want negative ease. Cut out 2 long, rectangular pieces with this new measurement in length and 4.5" in width. (For example, someone with a 28" waist will cut out 2 rectangles that measures 26.5" x 4.5")

2. With right sides together, serge one of the long edges together. Turn and press. With RST, serge the two ends together with a half inch seam allowance to create the waist band.

3. Using the below picture as a guide, cut out your main pieces for the front and back sections of the skirt. The widest part of the skirt should be 1.5" less than your hip measurement. Using your waistband as a guide, grade the top of the skirt until it reaches your hip measurement - because jersey is stretchy, you don't need accurate measurements here. From the top to the side hem (not including the waistband), I have 16" and you can see the adjustments for the front and back piece. With the adjustments for the front piece, the center measures (not including the waistband) 14" in length. The center back (not including the waistband) measures 18" in length.

4. Sew the two sides together with a half inch seam allowance. Attach the waistband.

5. Measure around the bottom of your skirt to find the ruffle length and multiple that by 3.19. For example, if your bottom hem measures 48" all around, cut out strips for your ruffle at approximately 153" in length, with 4.5" in width. I like to ruffle on my serger - though if you prefer to gather by sewing machine you may. Gather until have the proper length of your ruffle.

6. Pin your ruffle into place and serge the ruffle onto the bottom of your skirt with a half inch seam allowance. You can finish the seams if you want, but jersey doesn't unravel so I left mine unfinished.