Thursday, November 5, 2015

Edwardian Skirt Muslin

Guess who got out their sewing machine finally and made something?!

So this is a muslin so it's not super exciting, but I drafted this whole thing by hand (and with some large text blocks as a guide!) before sewing it up, and I have to say this is probably the best sewn object I've ever made.

Was it the material? The fact that I'm older and wiser? The fact that it was a muslin so all pressure was off?

I don't know.

But let's discuss, shall we?

Some background: I really wanted to go as an Edwardian/Victorian lady last year for Halloween. That clearly didn't happen. But I bought a huge excess of material to do a skirt and jacket so I could practice before making a proper piece with super expensive fabric.

(I'm still not done with the jacket. Stupid sleeves.)

This year I decided that I would resume my sewing and wear it this year. And I would have worn it out had my sister not got called into work, thus canceling our plans. Maybe next year and I'll have the jacket all finished in time?

Anyway, I didn't cut the front piece on the bias, which I must do next time. It just flows so much better.

I measured myself and cut out the waist perfectly, but somehow when it's all pieced together, it ended up too large. That seems to be a habit with me, and I'm not sure why. (Initially, I measure it out perfectly, plus seam allowance. Then I cut it out and I panic because it seems too small. I decided to go ahead and sew it together anyway, and then it's way too large!) Does anyone else have that problem?

I also put in pockets, which added to the bulk in the front. As it's supposed to flare out and emphasize the hips, I wasn't too worried about it, but maybe I'll leave those out for the next time?

All of the pleats are in the back, to emphasize the rear. I have a pretty hefty rear in general, but it was not large enough! I have a bit of padding under there, and I'm more than obsessed with the size.

I want to make another one, but I want to make it in more of a lighter, silk fabric and maybe without the butt pad. I'm not sure how it would look, but maybe I'll go for it anyway.

I really love the look of this, but the fabric makes it seem so old fashioned that I feel like I can't even attempt to wear it out in public without being out of place. But maybe the next go around, with more modern fabric, it will look a bit airier?

Has anyone tried this before?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Finished: Fall Hats!

Um, are you guys tired of me posting about knitting stuff here instead of sewing? Because I'm tired of it. I'm sorry.

But this is the last knitting post for awhile, and I know I have some knitters on here so I just wanted to share.

I designed 4 different hats over the last month or so, and I'm super proud of them. They all use Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn and they all use US size 11-15 needles, depending on the pattern.

It hadn't even started to cool off when I started thinking about these, so I was instead imagining what my idealized fall is like: bonfires, back to school shopping, apple picking, and lots of cables.

So with each of those things in mind, I designed hats around those themes, and I just love them.

Arosa Slouchy Lace Hat
Chutes and Ladders Hat
Wild Bramble Hat
Adirondack Basket Hat

AND I mostly wanted to post now because I'm hosting a Knit Along for the Arosa Slouchy Lace Hat. Like it? Want to make it? Want to make it with me?

Check out my post here for all the details, grab your supplies, and sign up to be a part of it. We're starting Monday, September 28th, and all level of beginners are welcome. (I'm even doing some video tutorials for the newbies!)

Otherwise, go favorite the hats on ravelry or add them to your queue. I hope you guys love them as much as I loved making them!

(Also, for the non-knitters, I also make these on etsy!)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Finished: Rockaway Cardigan!

So I'm officially all moved out of NYC. I still have a few things back there, and I plan on visiting, of course, but it's really great to be out of the city. It's not so great to everything on boxes, but hopefully unpacking won't take me too long.

Earlier this year, I came up with the Rockaway Cardigan, and it's one of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe!  It's cotton, so I wear it all the time in the summer and even more now that the temperature is starting to dip. I really love it.

I took these pictures on Coney Island, right before I left and I think they turned out so beautifully. Remember when I used to only model things on the roof? Haha, I really like branching out and finding (unpopulated) locations.

Here's the ravelry page if you want to heart it or queue it up. And if you buy it before the end of tomorrow, you can get 30% off with the coupon code 30FOR30.

OH, so I'm offering the 30% off coupon because I turned 30 a few weeks ago. I've just been so busy that I didn't really have time to celebrate and I kind of forgot about it until just now haha. So the code works for everything in my shop.

Anyway, if you're not into knitting, you can buy it finished in my etsy shop. The 30FOR30 works there as well!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Finished: Catalina Beach Sweater (And a Giveaway!)

So I'm moving in a few weeks, and I've packed away my sewing machine in my mind already, which, oddly enough, makes me really sad, even though I haven't sewn in a few months. I guess the good news is that I'm itching to sew so I should have new objects by the end of September. Maybe.

Anyway, I've been knitting.

This is the Catalina Beach Sweater, and I am so in love with it.

I apparently have a thing for chevrons because that's all I've been knitting lately. This is clearly no exception.

I designed it at the end of July, and I probably unconsciously made it a sweater so I could still wear it for fall. Although, seriously, it's 95 degrees today - it has been for awhile, and I feel like I'm going to die.

But I managed to make it to the beach anyway!

Designed to be worn on those cooler, summer nights, the Catalina is knit with cotton yarn and designed with lace eyelets and chevron.

It’s oversized, with enough ease for you to slip it on easily over your swimsuit – or your button down.

The shoulders are dropped, giving it a casual vibe, and the sleeves stop at the elbows – perfectly cool for all seasons.

You don’t have to retire it at the end of the season. It’s perfect for layering in the spring or fall, over a t-shirt or a button down, and it’s perfect for school or work.

And even though it's 95 degrees, I dressed up like it's fall and modeled it, just for you. I hope you love it.

I'm giving away one copy of the pattern, designed by We All Knit Here (aka my knitting blog), so if you love it as much as I do and you want a copy, leave a comment below saying so!

If you just want to buy a copy and get started today (or bookmark it, whatever you do), here's the ravelry page. Use coupon code CATALINA50 for 50% off until August 25, 2015.

If you don't knit and you want me to make you, I will! Here's my etsy page for that. Use code NEWCATALINA for 15% off your custom sweater until August 30, 2015.

The giveaway ends August 22nd at midnight EST - and I'll contact the winner on Sunday so make sure I have a way of contacting you. Winner contacted - thank you to everyone who entered!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Quick and Dirty Tutorial for my Simple 30s Dress

So I've promised a tutorial on this dress for awhile, and I've been lacking. (And those asking have been so, SO patient, thank you!)

This is a quick and dirty tutorial. I want to do a proper PDF pattern for it, but that's not going to happen until next spring. Sorry, I just can't do any better than this right now.

But the good news is that if you know how to sew and have done a little bit of drafting before, you can pull this together because this really is a simple dress.

So here we go.

Seam allowance is half an inch. I also tell you to use your measurements (and you should), but go up an inch or two because this is meant to skim over your body, not fit perfectly - after all, we're going for simple so there's no zippers.

I sewed this in rayon, and I used between 3-4 yards, as the skirt is cut on the bias. You'll also need 2" elastic that's 2-4 inches smaller than your waist measurement.

#1 is the top. You'll cut out 4 pieces at 12" by 16".

#2 is the waist. You'll cut out four bands. So take your waist measurement, plus 2" and divide by 2. So my band is 3" x 16".

#3 is the front skirt panel. This is cut on the bias! You'll want it smooth across the front - so half your waist, plus 2" (ex, mine again, is 16"). You'll have to measure how long you want it to be/how long floor length is for you. Then, when measuring down, I made a slight taper out at the knees, with a total increase of 10" - 5" on each side.

#4 is the back panel. You'll cut out two on the bias.  Add an inch long dart in the middle, taking out an inch or two, depending on you and your body. Now, this is going to have more dramatic tail; we're doubling the waist at the bottom - again, flaring out from the knees.

For the top, you'll stitch each side together 7" from the bottom - leaving a v-neck (and v-back, and room for the armpit). You can adjust how roomy you want everything to be if you'd like, whether that means more or less coverage for you. Then stitch together the shoulders, gather the seams as much or as little as you'd like, and secure the ruching. (For example, once gathered, my shoulder seams are 6".)

Sew the two pieces of waistband to each other to create a casing for the elastic.

Now, since we're using elastic on the waist, there's going to be some ruching. If you want, you can just sew the waist to the top and let the elastic pull and gather however it may, you can also tuck in the excess fabric on the sides, or you can gather the fabric on top underbust and make it look nice and controlled - it's up to you. But you'll need to attach the top to the waistband - making sure to leave room to insert the elastic. (But don't insert the elastic yet!)

Put in your dart, and stitch the skirt together, and then stitch the skirt to the waistband. You're almost done! Just insert the elastic, sew it up, and there you go!

And, you know, finish your seams and hem and whatnot.

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Magic of Tidying Up - and lots of fabric, pattern books, and more for sale!

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I know I promised you guys some sewing, but it just hasn't been happening for a couple of reasons. Mainly I've been too hot (with the heatwaves here) and/or been too lazy or ill to drag everything out. I'm pretty sad about it, and you should just know that I see each and every item you guys are making, even if I'm not commenting!

So let's chat quickly about one of the things I've been up to: cleaning and tidying. My boyfriend thinks I'm possessed, since I'm not one to do cleaning or tidying, but actually I've been feeling rather discontent with my wardrobe and my life in general so I think getting rid of items helps you get back on track, right?

For those with short memories (or new people, hi!), I have a general disdain of wasting things. I don't buy items on a whim, and I certainly can't throw things away because there's a good chance that one day I might need it. But even though I do tend to hoard things, I don't buy new things either - so there's some method to my madness.

This is my second year as part of RTW Fast - which means I don't buy ready to wear clothing at all. I do go to a thrift store once or twice a year, and I'll allow myself to purchase undies, but that's it. Last year I found that I still bought fabric (unused fabric!) so I put a stop to that, and now I don't even buy fabric until I've gone through a few items in my stash.

Which brings me to: No, I haven't been going through my stash. I have beautiful fabric in there, you guys. I have plans for it. I want to get all fun and creative and experiment - but I'm just not doing it. And this stuff is meant to be sewn up and worn - it's not getting any love from me and I want to give it to a loving home!!

Okay, so, if I haven't lost you yet... I decided to go through my stash and see what I could part with. Big surprise - I decided I needed all of it because... what if?

I felt rather discouraged, but then, THEN I came across a miracle book. It's called the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. When I tell people they laugh, and say, "Is it really magic?"


It's some black magic, I swear. This lady had me pull out every single thing that I owned and sort it based on whether or not it brought me joy. Some things I tossed, some things I kept, some things I'm donating, and others I'm selling.

It's picture time.

Remember how I haven't bought any new clothes in two years? I also move around frequently, including across the country, so I don't have much stuff. Here's my clothes pile, with a cat on top for reference. (He's in the center on top, in case you can't find him.)

My clothes were busting out of my closet, couldn't fit in my dressers, some were in my fabric stash (which also exploded everywhere), and I ended up having two hampers: one for dirty clothes and one for clean clothes that I was going to wear soon and couldn't fit anywhere else.


And here's the after! So check this out -  my bottom two drawers now hold my jeans, my skirts, my tops, and all of my dresses - and I can even see every single item I own - and there's room to spare!!

So what does my closet look like?


Nothing but coats and jackets. I already had to take out 25 hangers - I have no idea how it all fit in there!

Anyway, I'm not going to show you before and after pics of everything, but I did this with my fabric stash, and, well, everything. 

I'm writing this to let you know:
1. This book is magic, and I'm recommending it to everybody. Stop arguing, just do it.

I actually feel kind of bad because I'd love to do a massive giveaway, but I'm listing everything super cheap. I just mostly want to get rid of it, especially since I'm moving at the end of the month - so you'll get cheap sewing stuff, and I'll get extra money to rent a car and head out.

I might go through my pattern stash and list some of my vintage ones that I know I won't get to any time soon, but that seems like an even bigger undertaking - and I feel like moving patterns is easier than fabric and books!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Craft It Forward - Let's Play!

A few months ago, I responded to a post from Nessa from Nessa's Place about a Craft It Forward experiment. She offered to send out a little something to the first 3 people that commented, and I was lucky enough to be one of them! Then I waited patiently. :)

She sent me the most amazing gift!! It's a pin cushion weighted by rice that also has a felt strip for needles. Below that is a pocket where I can slip my sewing materials (no more getting lost in the couch!), and then it has a loop where I can attach a small bag for excess thread and scraps. It's perfect, and something like this has been on my list of items to make - I've just never gotten around to it and now I know why!

She also included a lovely card, some Liberty of London samples, and some Scottish candy - which I ate almost instantly so no pictures of that!

And here's a picture from her blog, which I'm including because my photos skills are lacking:

Thank you so much, Nessa!!!

Want to participate?

Basically, the rules are this: you should have your own blog and you should be one of the first 3 people to respond on this blog that you want in. Send me your address, and I have up to 12 months to send you my own handmade gift. Then, you post the same challenge on your blog!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Why do you knit?

I'll get back to sewing news next week. This week, I want to take a moment and share with you - and it's actually perfect because there's a movement to show that just because pictures look perfect doesn't mean they are, and it's a wonderful reminder that everyone is human.

I try to keep it honest here, and while I don't go into many details, I know I've mentioned some of the obscene comments people make while I'm taking pictures, the sadness I sometimes can't escape in the winter, and the chronic illness that left me out of commission for a few months last year.

However, those are just quick comments at the end of post full of pretty pictures. I actually wrote a longer post about some of my struggles with depression and anxiety, and the Huffington Post published it earlier this week.

I was nervous when I got the email that it was going live. I really just wanted to share my story and maybe inspire someone who was in the same place I used to be in that there's hope out there.

But I was completely blown away by some of the responses I received. Here's just a couple:

I blocked out the names and faces because I don't know any of these people; they were just kind enough to share their own experience with me.

I'd love to know more about you: Do you knit? Why did you start?

(And if you want to start knitting, but don't have anyone to show you, I have lessons up at We All Knit Here. I walk you through everything from picking out yarn to finishing your first project.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Finished: Siren Seafoam Beach Top

I finished this when it was still chilly out, but the weather is (almost) perfect now!

So in the spirit of stashbusting, I went through my yarn to see what new projects I could begin working on, and I found a large stash of Wool and the Gang cotton. It's been hanging out in my stash for over a year now because I couldn't see the point of cotton yarn... I mean, how is it supposed to keep you warm if it's cotton?

Then I remembered a season called summer (that's been getting rarer and rarer around these parts), and so I decided to make a fun top for the beach.

One of the things I dislike about summer tops is all the skin showing. I know, I KNOW. I just made a top with holes in it. But I'm rather self-conscious about my body so I love that this top has some structure and the skin peeking through is more of a peek-a-boo type thing rather than large cut-outs.

The top is cropped, which is perfect since I wear it with high-waisted skirts. I'm still a little shocked that cropped tops are a thing because I never thought I'd see them come back into style after the 90s - but I also never thought the 90s style would come back either. I now understand what my mother meant when she said, "I refuse to wear bell bottoms again. Once you live through it, there's no going back."

But I digress. :)

On a side note: You might think it's cute to pose with ice cream on a boardwalk, but it's not. Ice cream melts everywhere, and it's horrible. Also, dudes think ice cream resembles something phallic. Get your mind out of the gutter!

You can read more about it here, and my ravelry page is here.

Are you working on any summer knit projects?  I have one more that I hope to finish soon!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Finished: Simplicity 1801

In the nick of time!! As host of April's Stashbusting Sew Along, it would be quite in embarrassing not to make anything, right? I thought I could knock out two projects pretty quickly: a jacket that's bright and beautiful and just needs cuffs, a lining, and some buttons and this dress. Both proved challenging in their own ways, but mostly I've just been way too busy to concentrate on sewing.

I sewed up Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 1801, view C. I really love the pattern, I love the lines and the gathers, but I hate that it's for woven fabrics. I mean, doesn't it just look perfect in a jersey knit?!

Anyway, easy enough to remedy. I cut it out a two sizes too small and used my serger to stitch everything up.

 I don't typically wear maxi dresses, but this one is just so comfortable and perfect to throw on when I'm feeling lazy this spring/summer.  Plus, I'm excited to have more colors in my wardrobe. :D

While I tried to make the top look super nice, I didn't bother hemming the bottom. I know jersey tends to stretch over time so I'll just hack it off as it grows.

I did use black thread on a hot pink dress, which could have been bad, but I don't think it's super noticeable.

Look at the gathers in the back!! I think it's one of my favorite projects just for the design.

I spent the day at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and it was just so lovely. I still ache from all the walking I did, but it was one of the nicest days so far this year, and the scenery was just incredible.

Is anyone else making vibrant, spring projects from their stash?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Stashbusting Theme: Vibrant Color

Hey, everyone! Have you heard of the Stashbusting Sew-Along put together by the lovely Emily from Tumbleweeds in the Wind? If not, no worries - I'll fill you in!

Basically, it's a pledge to put a temporary stop to the buying (and hoarding) of fabric and patterns and start using what's actually lurking on your fabric shelf (and closet and dresser and in boxes...). Each month has a theme and a host, both of which are completely optional.

In case you hadn't guessed, I'm April's host and the theme is VIBRANT COLOR.

So if you follow my blog at all, you know I'm not really a fan of the bright, shiny colors. I tend to make and wear dark colors.

But that doesn't mean I don't buy vibrant colors with the intention of making and wearing them one day.

The Stashbusting Sew-Along has been great for me. Some ladies in the facebook group are incredibly productive and make large dents in their stashes.

I am not one of those ladies. I'm lucky if I get one finished project in a month, BUT I really love that I'm not continually adding to my stash by shopping for fabric. I have so many great silks and cottons and jersey that I adore, but because I would go fabric shopping frequently, they'd always get pushed to the back of my closet.

Not this year!

If you want to join in the fun, grab some of your brightest, boldest, and most striking fabric and let's get making! Upload your pictures to the flickr group and I'll do a little roundup at the end of the month!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Finished: Colette Zinnia

 I've been secretly hating on the bloggers who are all, "I see signs of spring and I LOVE IT," but only because I'm jealous and I can't wait for spring.

The temperature has gotten a bit warmer so surely that implies that spring is on the way; however these photos are a lie. It is still really cold, and it snowed the day after I took these pictures.

Anyway, onto the skirt.

I've wanted to make a wool skirt for awhile, probably since last winter. So it makes perfect sense that at the end of February, when the season is almost over, I pulled out my stash and set about making one.

Guys, I am so excited to say that I made this in an afternoon. Typically, I'd get distracted by my phone or computer, or discouraged when I'd have to rip something out... But I just started out by going, "Just cut out the PDF. You don't have to finish." Followed quickly by, "Just cut out the pattern pieces. You don't have to finish."

Anyway, I did it all at once, which is something I have never been able to say.

The skirt is made well, and it's my first finished Colette piece ever.

I feel a little weird about the skirt though because it seems a bit dowdy... but still fashionable. I feel very much like a hip mom in this - not in a bad way. Just like a should be carrying my children to fencing class or whatever it is moms do.

I really want to make another one in a lighter fabric to see if the dowdy factor is still there or if I created it.

Anyway, the boyfriend told me I looked like I just stepped out of a Young Republicans boating event, which means at least he doesn't see the dowdy! ;-)

Skirt: Zinnia by Colette Patterns
Top: The Gap
Cardigan: Banana Republic