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New Dress, New Challenge & New Giveaway

Greetings from the SNOWY south ya’ll! I have been stuck inside for two days with my husband and very bored teenager so you can imagine how happy I am to be able to share my latest make with you.

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This is my third version of the Peony dress from Colette patterns. I used short sleeves on the first one and the second one was a sleeveless version but I wanted this one to have longer sleeves so I could wear it through the winter. The fabric is from Art Gallery’s Splendor 1920 collection and is called Adorneament in Royal. I love the vintage Downton Abbey look of the fabric and plan to wear it for a Valentine’s Day dinner with my husband if the weather eases up long enough for us to get out of the driveway! I bought this fabric last year from Hawthorne Threads along with the fabric for my Date Night dress.  I also still have three lengths of fabric from that order waiting to be stitched up so I hope to show you some more lovely dresses soon!

I did my normal modifications to the pattern:

  • Graded up to fit 47″ bust
  • Used bias tape instead of facings for the neckline
  • Lengthened the skirt by 4 inches
  • Sewed a lapped zipper instead of using an invisible zipper

This time I also opted to add the contrasting sash which was a pain to get a good fit. Since my waist-to-hip differential is so large and I am short waisted, it is hard to get belts wide enough to accentuate without riding up above the hip fluff. I did manage to get this one to fit after a couple of attempts by using snaps instead of a single button.
Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge

Another thing I did when the power and internet were restored was visit my favorite blogs for new sewing inspiration. What I found was not “new” inspiration but “vintage”. Marie of A Stitching Odyssey has decided to challenge herself to finally use some of her vintage patterns instead of merely collecting them. She challenged other sewists to also use their vintage stash and I have decided to join her Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge by committing to use at least three of my vintage patterns this year.

While searching through my vintage pattern stash to determine which ones I plan to sew, I realized I have way TOO many and will not possibly get around to sewing them all. I hope to finalize my vintage sewing list soon but in the meantime, there is a good way to share my love of vintage sewing with you by sending these four patterns to one lucky sewist. Just leave a comment by Wednesday, February 19th and I will choose a winner next Thursday.

Congratulations to the winner of last week’s yarn giveaway: Cathynd95! Cathy, please email me your address and I will get the yarn in the post!

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Winter Olympics & A Giveaway!

Hope everyone is ready to cheer for their favorites athletes in Sochi. I have never been an athlete (unless you count braving the stores on Black Friday!) but love watching the contestants go for the gold.

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I am taking part in the Ravellenic Games 2014 on Ravelry. For the non-knitters out there, the games are a way for knitters to compete in Olympic themed knitting events while watching the actual Olympics. There are even “medals” for completing your items in the stated timeline.

For this year’s games I plan to take part in two events. The first, WIP Dancing, requires me to finish a work-in-process and I actually have two in the category. I’m participating in the Downton Abbey Mystery Knit-Along hosted by Jimmy Beans Wool and also finishing up my first color work sweater, the Top Down Lopi.

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My second event is Sweaterboard Cross which requires an entire sweater to be knit from cast on to bind off during the Sochi games. Both events are helping me meet my 2014 resolutions by expanding my skills and using stash yarn!

As a way to share my excitement I am giving away 8 skeins of Gedifra St Tropez yarn in bright red. Each skein is 50g so there is plenty to knit a full size project. Leave a comment by midnight on Wednesday, February 12 and tell me what projects you are working on (they don’t have to be knitting specific). I will randomly pick a winner next Thursday!

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Top 5 of 2013: Next Year’s Goals

Top 5

Goals: My goals for 2014 are probably similar to many sewists and crafters out there but it never hurts to list them!

  1. Work from my stash! I have only been knitting and sewing since 2011 but the stash is TOO big. I would like to be able to enjoy the process without feeling overwhelmed with clutter so this year I plan to get honest with myself. If I  truly don’t think the fabric or yarn will get used, then it is going to charity. Otherwise, there will be a concrete plan to use it up in 2014!
  2. Complete a quilt. I finished a Christmas tree skirt and loved the process. This may also be a good way to use my stash.
  3. Get my “startitis” under control. I have a bad habit of starting too many projects and never finishing them.
  4.  Learn how to knit cables. I love the fisherman style sweaters but have not ever attempted cables.
  5.  Learn how to line a garment correctly and learn some new sewing techniques. I have a couple of UFOs that need lining so it would be great to learn AND complete them!

Top 5 Reflections and Inspirations of 2013

Top 5

Continuing from yesterday’s post, today I have my reflections and inspirations.

Reflections: 2013 was a good year for expanding my skills. I not only completed my first quilted item, I took part in many sewing challenges. For me the challenges provided an outlet for learning how to correctly install an invisible zipper, sew a hem by hand, successfully draft a pattern, and even how to sew a swimsuit!

Inspirations: My biggest inspirations in 2013 were other bloggers! I learned so much from reading everyone’s blogs and seeing everyone’s finished garments often led me to try patterns I would have overlooked otherwise. My top five blogging inspirations:

  1. Roisin from Dolly Clackett. Her sheer number of dresses is inspiring and her sense of humor is wonderful. I think Roisin’s fabric choices pushed me to buy patterns that make me happy instead of always worrying whether the garment could be worn all the time. Sometimes wearing less often is a good thing because it becomes more special!
  2. Abbey from Sew Charleston. She is a relatively new blogger but her photos are charming and her fabric and pattern choices closely mirror mine. Perhaps it is because we are both from South Carolina but “great minds think alike”.
  3. Alicia from Posie Gets Cozy. I have been following Alicia for years and the glimpses inside her home and life are wonderful. She often shows knitting and embroidery projects and certainly provides lots of home decor inspiration.
  4. Lauren from Lladybird. Most sewists are familiar with Lauren and her mad skills. Her honest personality comes across in her blog and her feisty attitude is fun to read!
  5. Lizzy from Sew Busy Lizzy. Lizzy is both a knitter and sewist which makes her blog double inspiring to me. I especially loved her many versions of the Anna dress. It was her blog that pushed me to buy the pattern and discover the By Hand London company. Though my first Anna dress ended up as a miss, the inspiration is still there!

Top 5 Hits and Misses of 2013

Top 5

Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow had a great idea about posting top five hits, misses, reflections, inspirations and goals of 2013. Since I think that is a great way to sum up my crafting activity, here goes…

Hits: I discovered a new (to me) indie pattern company, Kate and Rose, early in 2013 and went on to make three tops using the Roza pattern. This pattern brought my love of embroidery together with garment sewing and resulted in three of my top five hits for 2013!

monogram rozaRoza version 2100_1567

Also making the top 5 hit list was my Sewing Cake Cabarita top. This was the first time I had sewed anything from Steph’s company but would definitely not be the last. Her original take on sizing is refreshing and significantly reduces the amount of modifications required.

Cabarita Chevron

I also took part in Colette Patterns Laurel contest and ended up wearing this version all summer! This was my most fun challenge all year and resulted in many cool versions of this rather simple pattern.Summer Version Colette Laurel

Misses:  There weren’t many but unfortunately I have to put my Pantone Anna Dress from By Hand London in the “miss” category. I have never worn it and it is a shame. I think the biggest issue was my fabric choice. The bodice flops out a bit which makes the cleavage a bit too pronounced. I haven’t given up on giving this pattern another go since I do think the overall shape is super flattering!

Pantone Anna 3

Another FO making the “miss” list is my Monthly Stitch It’s Elementary My Dear Watson cape. There is nothing “wrong” with it but living in South Carolina doesn’t lend itself to wearing capes often. Perhaps I need to start a new trend…

Sherlock Holmes

Probably my worst fail of the year was the Maria Mexican Folk Dress. I had such high hopes for this dress. I wanted to marry my love of embroidery with sewing but it was NOT to be. Better luck next year!

Maria Mexican Folk DressTomorrow I will continue the list with reflections and inspirations from 2013!

 

A Merry Christmas To All!

If your holiday season has been like mine, there has been absolutely NO time amid the hustle and bustle to simply sit and enjoy the season. That changed in the last 24 hours. All my traveling was complete and I had time to attend a Christmas Eve service with my husband and two of the kids. It is always nice to enjoy evening services and I especially love a candlelit church. Nothing like the beautiful music and Christmas story to remind us of the reason for the season!

Before last night however, I was rushing to complete all my handmade gifts and decor. I got them finished just under the wire and thought I would share.

First up is my Thanksgiving table runner. I got the idea via Lauren’s post and will definitely try this again for other holidays. For my runner I used some leftover burlap and cotton from my son Brett’s Halloween outfit. Nothing like using up scraps instead of letting them languish forever!

Thanksgiving Table Runner

Next up is my first completed quilting project…a Christmas tree skirt! I love decorating for Christmas and have enough ornaments for several trees but never had a tree skirt until now! I followed this tutorial from  Brown Paper Packages and am super happy with the end result. The total cost was around $30 bucks so my DIY version was much less expensive than many I have seen in catalogs. I also learned a lot and am already planning more quilting projects.

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I promise not all my recent projects were for me. I actually did complete a few gifts this season too. My next door neighbor, Shannon, loves to bake and can always be counted on for yummy apple pies. While working on my tree skirt, the middle circle got cut out so there is room for the tree trunk. Instead of throwing away the center, I finished it with bias tape and gave it to Shannon for Christmas. This “pot holder” is pie sized so she can sit pies on the counter to cool without ruining her counter tops.

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In addition to sewing, I also managed to complete a few knitted gifts. I finished a drop ribbon scarf for my Mom’s friend Janet and a silk and wool sweater for my Mom. Forgive the less than stellar photo below but this was after a few glasses of wine. I should get bonus points for matching the gift wrap ribbons and sweater color though!

Mom 2I hope your holiday season was full of family, friends, and handcrafted gifts!

 

The Date Night Dress

I had a bit of spare time this weekend so I was able to finish a dress for the Monthly Stitch Frocktober Challenge. I used The Date Night Dress pattern from April Rhodes. This was the first time I had used an April Rhodes pattern and won’t be my last. Her pattern was billed as a beginner and certainly delivers. April has color photos and clear instructions to guide you through each step.  My favorite part was the flutter sleeves which I think are super flattering. Many patterns require modification due to my larger upper arms and this one didn’t.

date night

The fabric is Amy Butler’s Twilight Peony Rayon in Saffron from Hawthorne Threads. I found the colors to be a vibrant mix of lighter fall hues that should work well by themselves or with a cropped cardigan. The skirt has a high-low hem and I added shirring to the back for a small amount of waist definition. I may also wear a belt and tights when the weather gets colder. This is definitely a pattern I will use again!

date night 2

I’m Baaaccck!!

Sorry for being gone so long but I promise I was up to something worthwhile…mostly watching lots of high school and college football but I did manage to squeeze in a bit of sewing and knitting. First up is my third version of the Roza blouse. This time I embroidered a South Carolina Gamecock and used college specific fabric. I made the same modifications as my previous two by omitting the band around the sleeve but other than that it was straight from the pattern.

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I even managed to wear it over a long sleeve black tee to the USC vs Kentucky game a few weeks back and cheered my team to victory!

USC VS KENTUCKY

This month has also brought a ton of knitting. I finished my Patterns and Notions Swap jacket for the The Monthly Stitch Vintage Pattern Challenge a few days late but was able to wear it once already and can tell it will get a lot of rotation in my wardrobe. The Charlotte Yarn Crawl was from September 27-October 6 and I was able to visit 11 of the 13 participating shops. Of course I couldn’t visit without getting some yarn so I’m now set for about a year! I have almost finished one sweater and cast on for a circle vest. Since it is starting to get chilly here in South Carolina, I am motivated to complete these projects quickly!

Vintage Sweater

I’m going to the Stitch Craft Create Live convention here in Charlotte this weekend with some friends so I fully expect to blow both October and November’s fabric budget before Sunday. I also need to finish my dress for the Monthly Stitch Frocktober Challenge so my next few weeks are certainly filling up with stuff to create!

Fall Sewing Plans

Since school started my days have been a blur of non-sewing activity. The youngest is playing both JV and Varsity football and my college alma mater is also in full swing which has not left me much time to post or sew! After a couple of weeks away from my machines I’m starting to have withdrawals so even though I won’t have a chance to sew much until the weekend, I have spent the last several lunch hours plotting my fall sewing.

First up is the Fall for Cotton challenge being hosted by Rochelle and Tasha. Both ladies are geniuses at taking quilting cottons or novelty fabrics and turning them into wardrobes of art! While I aspire to someday reach that pinnacle, this month I am more interested in using the fabric I bought initially for the Sew Weekly Reunion before the By Hand London Anna pattern swept me off my feet. The pattern was one I received during the Patterns and Notions Swap from Amanda and fits my style perfectly. The pattern Amanda sent me also included a knitted jacket that I have almost completed. I have about 20 rows and then this jacket will be off the needles!

Green/Black Cotton 2013

Green/Black Cotton 2013

Mail Order 9387 Size 22.5

Mail Order 9387 Size 22.5

Though I have already completed my first Anna, the gals at By Hand London are hosting a sewalong so I plan to stitch up another during the next few weeks. The pattern is pretty straightforward but I can always use a few tips on the finer art of finishing so I plan to take advantage of the tutorials being offered.  This time I may use a more structured fabric similar to Lauren’s seersucker version using some blue geometric Ralph Lauren fabric I picked up in Harrisonburg, VA during our trip to Gettysburg this spring.

Blue Geometric 2013

Blue Geometric 2013

Last but certainly not least is Sarah’s Fall Essentials Sew Along 2013. I plan to utilize the corduroy and suiting material in my stash to add some basics to my wardrobe.

Blue Corduroy 2013

Blue Corduroy 2013

Rose Suiting 2013

Rose Suiting 2013

There are several new patterns coming out in the next two weeks and many are definitely going to be on my must sew list for the fall. My current pattern wish list includes:

Are you taking part in any of this month’s challenges and if so what patterns are you planning to use?

The “Pantone Anna” Dress

Pantone Anna 3

The Facts

Fabric: Silky 100% polyester something or other from the clearance bin at Hancock’s $8

Notions: None!

Pantone Challenge colors: Acai, Carafe, Linden Green, Deep Lichen Green, & Turbulence

Pattern: By Hand London Anna $23

Year: 2013

Time to complete: 4 hours (including unpicking the zipper twice!)

First worn: For these photos

Wear again? Absolutely

Total Cost: $31

This is my submission for the Sew Weekly Reunion Pantone Challenge. When the theme was announced I realized I didn’t have anything in my stash that would suit so I decided to check out Hancock’s clearance sale to see if I could come up with something. I immediately snatched up this fabric for $2.47 a yard! Sew Busy Lizzy posted several versions of the By Hand London Anna dress so I jumped on the bandwagon and ordered the pattern from We Sew Retro to cut down on shipping costs.

The Anna dress is deceptively easy to sew. I had to grade up the pieces to fit my hips and make the arm openings about an inch longer but other than that the pattern went together well. Anna does call for an invisible zip but after a couple of tries I wasn’t happy with how it looked (more sewer than pattern!) so I simply stitched up the back and called it a day. I think the main reason my dress didn’t require a zip is because I am extremely pear shaped so it was very easy to get over my head.

Though the fabric colors fit perfectly with the challenge, I don’t usually work with such slippery fabric and it was a P-A-I-N to sew. The fabric also raveled like crazy so I had to serge everything just to get the dress together. I am not completely satisfied with the seams along the waistband so next time I will try my hand at french seaming to see if the look is more streamlined.

Overall though I think the dress is very flattering and I especially love the bodice. The pleats work perfectly to accentuate a smaller waist while giving you enough room in the bust. I already have the fabric for two more Anna dresses and may even try the maxi length with the thigh high split like Heather Lou’s fabulous version! Have you tried this pattern yet? If so, how did you like it? If not, what are you waiting for???

Pantone Anna 4

 

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