Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It Only Took Three Years...

I've finally finished my Jane Richmond Gemini top and it only took me three years to get to this point.

I first cast on Gemini for the 2013 Tops Tanks and Tees Knit Along on Ravelry.  I even finished it during that KAL.  Unfortunately it was a disaster fit wise and I completely ripped it out the very next day.   I was ever so proud of myself that I not only ripped it out, but I cast on immediately again in a size smaller.  But then I made a mistake and ripped out again and restarted, then ripped and restarted and then eventually made a mistake, got confused where I even was in the pattern and tossed it into the deep dark recesses of my closet where it sat for a few years until this spring when I was trying to decide what to knit for the 2016 TTTKAL and found this languishing in a bag.

It wasn't even on needles any more, but the lace panel and a few rounds below were done, so I decided to put it back on the needles and figure it out once and for all.  Things were going swimmingly... or so I'd thought.  Until a few inches from the bottom I tried it on and realize that my gauge had gone to hell again and my top was getting larger and larger.  The bust fit well, but below that was a mess.

I just about threw in the towel then, but after investing so much effort already, I decided it had precisely one last chance.  I ripped back to almost the armholes and restarted again, immediately working a set of decreases along each side.  Then knit two more inches and worked another set of decreases.  Then noticed way back where I'd joined a ball of yarn I'd somehow twisted the stitch, dropped the one below it and goodness knows what else.  It was the ugliest stitch imaginable and stuck out like a sore thumb.  To give you an idea of how bad it was, my husband even noticed it from a distance and gently suggested something should be done about it.  He was right, so I painstakingly dropped down approximately 4" of knitting for two stitches and reworked them back up, which was no easy feat given that it was a stitch at the start of a new ball of yarn, but so worth it.  After that was done, I kept knitting, keeping close watch to make sure I didn't let my gauge go rogue on me again, and finally did a couple of sets of increases for the hips and finished up.

This was the original gemini in it's droopy tent like capacity:

Re-worked and much, much better :

I swear I thought I would never ever see the end of the tunnel with this one and I didn't finish it in time for the due date of the TTTKAL, which was a bit disappointing - I was two days late, but I am really glad that I did slog away at it and didn't give up.  It's exactly the fit was I was envisioning back in 2013 when I first set out to knit it.   Sometimes it pays to be a "responsible knitter" and re-work things until you get them the way you want them, even if it feels like an impossible task at times. To keep going and have something you'll wear, rather than something that languishes in a dark corner of the closet never to see the light of day again.  I suppose like anything in life.  Sometimes it's just good to persevere.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016


I have a new addiction.  It's the latest release from Itch to Stitch* that I was fortunate enough to test.  Vienna is a fantastic little pattern.  Like Kennis Wong's Idyllwild tee that I couldn't stop making in the fall, this one has proved to be just as addictive.  No sooner had I finished my first one, I was cutting out a second one.  Fabric for version three is sitting on my table and version four is in the planning stages.  It's like potato chips.  You can't just stop at one.

I absolutely LOVE this top.  Cute, full of options, great size range, easy to whip up in a few hours max; the perfect warm weather sew.  Vienna is designed for a knit body and woven yoke, but I can tell you that lots of the ladies testing the pattern opted to do a completely woven version and they all turned out looking fantastic.  I can also tell you that almost all of us testing immediately jumped into making a second version as soon as the first one was done.

Another perk with this pattern is that you can use smaller cuts of fabric.  My friend sent me a parcel of fabric delights from Japan recently and one of the pieces was a sweet little cotton lawn print.  I adore the fabric.  From a distance it looks like just a floral print.   Pretty enough alright, but then hello!  Who's that peeking out from the flowers?  A polar bear!!!!  How much fun is that?!?! I only had half a metre of my precious polar bear in the flower garden fabric, and wondered what I could do with it.  With a print that fun I knew I wanted to have it in a garment somehow.  Then the testing call came out for Vienna and I knew exactly what I was going to do!  It was the perfect place to showcase it!

My first version used a cotton/spandex blend t-shirt knit for the main body and a cotton plaid for the yoke.

My second version used a drapey bamboo/spandex knit for the main body and cotton lawn for the yoke.

I highly recommend getting your hands on Vienna, which just so happens to be on sale right now for 20% off, and then run, don't walk to your sewing machine and get some fun new shirts in your wardrobe for summer!!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Me Made May Update

If you follow me on Instagram at all this is pretty much all going to be old news, but for those that don't I thought I'd give a bit of an update on how Me Made May went for me.

Here was my pledge for this year:

I, Sarah Jane, of Prairie Girl Knits, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2016' (not including my bras and handbags as that would be cheating since I only ever use handmade for them. LOL) I also endeavour to discover what "holes" are in in my wardrobe so that I can begin to fill them up.

Just like last year I looked at my Me Made May challenge as a great time to discover what was missing in my current hand made wardrobe.  I was surprised to find that there weren't really any in terms of what I wanted to wear day in and day out.  Something I counted as a big success compared to last year was that instead of repeating an outfit because I'd run out of hand mades to choose from it was a repeat because I just love it that much.  I didn't find it a struggle at all this year to reach for hand mades as I'm realizing the ready to wear is really being phased out in my wardrobe and the majority is in fact hand made at this point.

Other than a couple of pairs of jeans this past winter (that I used a gift card for) I can't remember buying any clothing for myself.  Lisa of Sew Over It often mentions her personal rule of not buying if she can make it and its a sentiment that I can relate to quite a bit.  It's not that I have a hard and fast rule for myself on the matter exactly, but more that I simply prefer to make my own clothes rather than buy ready to wear.

So here's a glimpse of what my month looked like mostly through the eyes of Little Man who was my designated Me Made May photographer.  He was occasionally assisted by Baby Boy and when both little guys were too busy (or fed up, because lets face it, taking Mommy's picture every day gets a bit boring after a while) a selfie did the trick for recording the me made of the day.  There is a photo for every day except for May 1st - I forgot to take a photo of my Me Made that day - off to a rollicking start wasn't I?  Ha ha! And in case you're thinking that I can't count there are a couple of extra photos just because I changed from one me made into another partway through the day because I was going out.

May 2 - 7
May 8 - 14
May 15 - 21

May 22 - 28

May 29 - 31

All in all it was a great month and I made a few happy discoveries along the way in terms of what I had available and what favourites were amongst those choices. I easily succeeded in achieving my goal of wearing at least one handmade item per day.  I really enjoyed keeping up with all the photos on Instagram too.  It was loads of fun seeing what others were making and wearing.  One thing I am kind of over is the whole daily photo thing.  I always feel pretty awkward in front of a camera and so I find the daily photo feels a bit weird and after awhile I start feeling a bit silly posting a "LOOK AT ME!!!!" photo every single day.

I'm continuing on with my own journey of utilizing and expanding my hand made wardrobe.  I just made a new top earlier this week, have a skirt on the sewing desk and top on the knitting needles as I type this, and have plans for several upcoming projects.  In the same vein as continuing on, it occurs to me that I didn't even think about it this morning when I grabbed a hand made to put on when I was getting dressed for the day.  I call that success on my personal challenge!

So that's pretty much it for my thoughts on the challenge this year.  Did you make a Me Made May pledge this year?  How did you feel it went for you?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Operation New Dress Success!

Guess what!!! I did it!!! I am so happy to say that I have successfully completed "Operation New Dress (revisited)!  I put the finishing touches on this afternoon (finishing touches being buttons - everything else was already done).

Love this print and look what arrived in the post last week?!?!
My new Lottas!!! Yippee!!
I ended up choosing the Sew Over It's Doris Dress.  I love the easy feel of it.  Because there's more ease in the silhouette there was a lot less fitting to worry about in the bodice.  I did sew up a muslin because I wasn't sure and didn't want to waste any of my good fabric by messing up, but I didn't make any changes to it other than to add an inch to the bodice and take an inch off of the hem of skirt to compensate. Otherwise this baby fits right out of the envelope (or off the printer as is the case).

The fabric is an easy care, easy wear rayon from Fabricland in the city and after sewing Doris and wearing it I want to make a closet full of rayon dresses.  It was beautiful to work with! I was a wee bit nervous about how I would like the print because it does veer off quite a bit from my usual florals that I gravitate towards, but I really like it quite a bit!  Thanks Agnes!! (she's my go to gal at Fabricland.  She never leads me astray on fabric choices!).

Doris is a fairly straight forward sew and even more straight forward because I opted to leave the concealed side zip out.  I know!  I live on the edge...

I did test it out first of course by basting the side seam and then pinning the front bodice closed and it was easy enough to get on an off  unpinned so whoot, whoot!!!  No concealed  zip for me!  It's an upside of having a less than huge bust/waist ratio. Also an upside of me not liking my clothes to be super fitted as a general rule. Anyways.  I was pretty pleased to skip that step even though it meant I couldn't skip the button holes because they needed to be functioning now.  Lesser of two evils and all - especially given my buttonhole function on my old new to me Pfaff works a treat.

Doris Dress, Vianne Cardi and Low Braid Lottas 
I am so thrilled with this dress and have already started envisioning another.  I have a few other projects I want to do first but rest assured another Doris dress will be appearing here sooner or later!

And would you look at that!  N's pop up restaurant is still three days away and my new dress is DONE!!!

 I am just this happy about my new dress!
(apparently my excitement causes me to take weird angled selfies!)

Saturday, May 07, 2016

So. About That Plan...

This may well be my new favourite outfit for spring!!
Remember how the other day I had a plan?  One month.  One dress.  All I had to do was decide which one?

Well it kind of fell by the wayside.  It wasn't my fault entirely.  It was that I was let loose with some money in my pocket and a fabric store in my sights.  I was still on the straight and narrow of the "Operation New Dress (revisited)" plan at the fabric store for the first bit of my peruse around.  But then I spied a sweet red floral print.  Better yet, the red floral print also had white polka dots.  And there went the plan.  Because that seemingly sweet innocent floral/polka dot print was actually screaming quite loudly that it absolutely NEEDED to become a Sew Over It Susie.

Plans to make a dress. Cuts out a blouse...
(And yes.  That is a can of tuna and a can of black olives doing double duty as pattern weights)
You know how it happens.  You plan to make a dress and instead start a blouse.  Oh the fickle seamstress I am.   But I loved this print and it's lightweight and soft and was a remarkable $3.99/metre.  You can see how I couldn't say no, right?

Like my first Susie, I really adore this one!  I had cut it out earlier in the week and then unfortunately never got a chance to start sewing right away.  It ended up that I actually sewed it up after the little boys went to bed on Thursday evening.  (And Baby Boy didn't go to sleep until about 9:45, darn his little hide!).  Now that I've got the fit down from doing the work prior to my first Susie, it was so quick to put together. For reference, I was hanging my new blouse in the closet and climbing into bed by 11:30pm. So not bad for sewing time!

A Susie Selfie! I ADORE this blouse!!!
I was so glad I stayed up a bit later Thursday night so I could wear my new blouse out for my date with my mama and my daughter on Friday.  Good visit, good food and a comfy blouse.  What more could a girl ask for?

So now that I've got Susie sewing out of my system I will return to my previously scheduled new dress sewing... Honestly.  I will.  Really...

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Operation New Dress Revisited

I've decided to revisit "Operation New Dress" and am hoping to have much more timely success this time around than I did the last time!

I've got one month from today before N's next pop up restaurant and I WILL have a new dress to wear for the occasion come hell or high water.

I just have to decide what the new dress will be.  I've narrowed down my choices and I have fabric at the ready.  I've also made sure I have appropriate cardigans already in my wardrobe as well as shoes.  (well, one choice of shoes is actually not in my wardrobe yet.  I just ordered them, but once they ship, Lotta From Stockholm has super fast shipping so I'm not really worried.) I'm good to go.

So here's my pattern and fabric choices for Operation New Dress (revisited).

The first up is Tiramisu from Cake Patterns.  I've had this pattern for a few years now and am likely to be the last person in the sewing world to jump on the Tiramisu train.  I bought it, I printed out the PDF, and put it in an envelope down in the sewing room and there it's sat.  One of these days, even if it doesn't make the cut for "Operation New Dress" this month, I'll assemble that baby and get to work on it.  The fabric is a nice cotton knit that I found in a bin at Fabricland in the city last fall.  It was a great price and those daisies with their navy blue heart shaped centres make me  smile.  I figure this one will pair great with either my white Miette cardi or even possibly my red Sunshower cardi.

Another choice on the list is another Emery dress version.  Still no gathers.  No way. Not happening. I  am planning pleats again, but this time using box pleats across the entire skirt instead of just the few small pleats I did on my last version (operation new dress, the original version).  I really love the gathered yoke mod I did last time, but am thinking going more with a traditional boat neck might be fun with this fabric.  I'll likely decide using the very scientific  method of "Eeeny Meeny Miney Moe".  Speaking of this fabric, I absolutely ADORE it!  It was an Ebay purchase from Thailand that I was a bit unsure of how it would go, but turned out great!  When it arrived, within record time (I think about two weeks? Maybe slightly more!) I was quite surprised.  Not only with the speed in which it arrived, but also the quality.  I was really happy with how it seemed right out of it's packaging, but thought things might go south when I pre-washed it.  Instead it turned out even lovelier than it's original state.  It's soft and got just the right amount of drape to it.  I can't wait to sew it up!  Again the Miette or Sunshower cardis will fit the bill!

My third choice, (by the way these aren't in any particular order at all), is from Sew Over It.  The Doris Dress has been offered as a class in the past from Sew Over It but just recently they released it as a stand alone pattern and I have to admit I'm pretty excited about it!  I've got it all printed out and assembled and just waiting to be muslined so I can check for any fit issues I might have.  The fabric is a fun rayon print that I got at Fabricland in the city a week or two ago.  It's so different from my usual type of print I gravitate towards that I was a bit unsure of it at first, but I'm going to be brave, branch out and give it a whirl.  This dress, once made, will be paired with the new low braid Lottas and my Vianne cardi.

So there you go!  One month to make one dress to wear to N's Southern BBQ pop up restaurant. 

Before I head off for the day -  the sun is shining, the thermometer is climbing and there is no way I'm staying indoors today - I want to just finish off with my pledge for Me Made May since tomorrow is May 1st!  Here's what I pledged on So Zoe's sign up post.

I, Sarah Jane of Prairie Girl Knits, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade item each day for the duration of May 2016' (not including my bras and handbags as that would be cheating since I only ever use handmade for them. LOL) I also endeavour to discover what "holes" are in in my wardrobe so that I can begin to fill them up.

I'll be back over the next few weeks with some updates as to how my challenge is going as well as hopefully some finished projects to tell you about!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Selfish Sewing Week - The Reality

Selfish Sewing Week is now over of course and as promised I'm back with my reality check post of how my week went.

For a brief bit of time I thought this was going to be an incredibly short post stating, "It didn't happen." However, at the end of the week I was able to get a bit more sewing time in and finish up at least one project in the nick of time.

I'm a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to get all three done that I'd planned, but you know what? I'm not going to beat myself up about it.  I was still having quite a bit of discomfort from my back and hip and was trying to get caught up on all the things I couldn't get done the week that I couldn't do anything at all.   Also, the one item I did get done, was a complete winner.  I absolutely ADORE it! So that is an extra big bonus in my books!

Onto my finished item.  It was, of course, project number one, the Susie Blouse.  It was my first ever time sewing a Sew Over It pattern and I was really impressed.  I did muslin it first and I'm really glad I did as I definitely needed to tweak the pattern to fit properly. I actually did two muslins, which of course also cut into my planned schedule, but I'd much rather take the time to do the leg work at the beginning and finish with a garment I love rather than forge ahead and have a dud sitting in my closet unworn.  Now that I have the size down pat I can definitely see making more Susie Blouses in the future!

I ended up sizing up from my original muslin to accommodate my broad shoulders then doing a sloped shoulder adjustment, and tapering down a size for the waist and hips.  I think in retrospect I could have lengthened the blouse a touch as well for my personal preference, but it'll do alright as is for both tucked in and untucked.  I also could have shaved off a smidge more in the hips, but again.  It'll do.  The only other adjustment I made was to adjust the sleeve cap slightly.  My sloped shoulder adjustment brought the previously drooping armscye up pretty much the perfect amount, but then the sleeve cap was a bit uncomfortable so a quick shave off to make a gentler curve and it was perfect.

The fabric was a great bargain and I've enough left over that I'll likely either make a Tortola Tank or a Sorbetto with the remainder.  It's a polyester with a silky feel and great drape, but was lovely to sew with, not slippery at all. It's showing up on the photos as shiny, but it's actually a matte.  It rained all weekend though so we had to use the flash when taking the photos and maybe that's what accounts for the shine?  I've no idea.

I did finish all the seam allowances with my serger though as I discovered much to my horror how much it wants to fray when I trimmed the seam allowance a wee bit too close on the collar and ended up with it fraying apart at the seam.  EEEK.  Thank goodness for extra fabric!  I cut and new collar and was far more cautious after that.  Also, as you can see in the photos, static cling.  OH MY WORD!!!!  Unbelievable amounts of static in this fabric.  Must find a remedy for that!!

I did manage to also start sewing my Wedgwood skirt but didn't get it finished.  I'm now in limbo on it's construction waiting for my Ebay lace zipper order to arrive.   I'll finish it up quickly enough once the zips arrive (providing I get a dark blue in my "random assortment pack") since I've decided I don't really want to use the red one I have in my stash currently.

As for the Shelley?  It didn't even get cut out, but that's ok.  Its pretty much a no brainer, quick one or two day project at this point.   So that was my Selfish Sewing Week in a nutshell.   Not as successful as hoped, but certainly not a complete bust.

Next on the agenda will be participating in Me Made May!  I just realized that's coming up in a hurry so headed over to So Zoe to throw my hat (or pledge as the case may be) in the ring today.