A Cozy Knit Vest

As we emerge from the coldest February of my life (seriously) I am excited to share a simple, cozy, chunky knit project that helped me survive the plunging temps. It is basically a wool blanket that is chic enough to wear out in public. Is there a wardrobe staple more Canadian than that?

The yarn is Loopy Mango Merino No. 5 in Iceberg. I found it over a year ago at Stash Lounge during a road trip. Some people go sightseeing, I buy yarn. It happens. I loved the soft airy squish and the perfect cool grey tone. I didn’t have a pattern idea yet in mind so I bought 4 balls in hopes I would be able to make something reasonably cozy with it that would be more than just a scarf.

After seeing some cool friends rock the style, I felt inspired to try and make some sort of slouchy draped vest that I could wear over dresses and light sweaters. Instead of searching for a pattern I decided to keep things simple and make my own with basic shapes. I figured that I could make it with one big rectangle for the back and two for the front. The only challenge was how to figure out how long and draped I could make it with my limited yarn. Time to bust out the math.

I began by determining the minimum width I would need for the panels so it would drape over my shoulders while still fitting comfortably, then estimated an ideal length for the relaxed style I was going for. This left me with a back panel that would be 80 cm by 80 cm and two front panels 30 cm x 80 cm. Using 25 mm needles I then knit a 10 stitch x 10 row swatch to get an idea of my gauge. This swatch ended up being about 20 cm by 17 cm, and when I unraveled it and measured that it used around 10 m of yarn. The combined length of my 4 balls was 272 m of yarn. I calculated based on my swatch that I would not have enough yarn for these original dimensions and started scaling back until I counted that I could reasonably knit a back panel that was 72 cm x 70 cm long and two front panels that were 30 cm x 70 cm. This translated into 36 stitches x 41 rows and 15 stitches x 41 rows.

To show off the texture of the yarn I went with a stockinette stitch. It was a little ridiculous knitting with such large needles (and I was told it also appeared ridiculous) but it made for a very quick and satisfying project once I sat down and got to it. Once I finished the three panels I used a large sewing needle and seamed up the top of the shoulders, and the side seams, leaving a 30 cm space for arm holes. Because the knit is so loose and the project is fairly heavy, I am noticing that it pulls funny at the shoulder seams. I went back and reinforced them by looping another row into the seaming but I am not 100% happy with the finish. Also, I tried weaving in my ends, but with such an open knit, I am finding little fuzzy ends occasionally popping up. If any knitters have tips or other methods for seaming and ends, I am all ears!

When all was said and done, I ended up with nearly 3/4 of a ball of yarn left. My math wasn’t perfect and my gauge was a lot tighter than my swatch. The final measurements are smaller than anticipated but not by much. But silver lining, I have some of this amazing yarn for another small project.

Speaking of delightfully chunky knits, I also had this ball of giant roving in my stash that was begging to be knit for so long. I decided to sit down one evening during the cold spell and arm knit the silliest, largest, coziest scarf ever. The thickness made the perfect exaggerated texture. I kind of eye-balled the dimensions, which resulted in re-knitting it about 3 times to get the right length to height ratio. Luckily because it is SO THICK, it took maybe 2 hours, start to finish, even with re-doing it that many times. It is now my go-to winter statement piece.

As much as I still prefer the puzzle-piecing of sewing to the repetition of knitting, I am really happy I made these. They were really fun projects that made dressing for -30 C a bit more of a joy. That, and the fact that I cannot resist the allure of a fluffy yarn.

A Pink Paisley Pencil Skirt // #SewFrosting

For the past month, the sewing world has gotten colorful, sparkly, and oh-so-fancy. Inspired by Heather Lou from Closet Case Patterns and Kelli from True Bias, sewists everywhere are embracing sewing “frosting”. The fun, less-practical pieces that truly exemplifies the magic of making your own clothing, in contrast to (the very essential) “cake” basics of our wardrobes.

As someone whose been sewing seriously for nearly a decade, it’s no surprise that my style has evolved over that time. In the last year or so I’ve been stuck in a weird place, where I have started feeling better and more confident in clothing that I’ve purchased over the things that I’ve made. It’s not the quality or construction of the garments (like my earlier pieces) but a general feeling that I want to feel a little more sophisticated than the wild array of prints, colors and silhouettes that dominated my early 20s wardrobe. This disconnect between my past style and current vision of what I want to wear left me sort of in limbo. I felt I needed to sew with what I currently owned, but if I did, I wouldn’t wear it. Things slowed down.

When I saw the #SewFrosting challenge, I felt the buzz to participate. I had clearly been taking everything to seriously. I took this fabric off my “want to make soon” pile and whipped it up into this skirt last weekend.

The fabric is a special gem from my trip to Britex Fabrics in San Francisco. On the top floor they had all the sale fabrics and “end of the roll” materials and from the pile, this bright neon pink caught my eye. Emerged was this gorgeous jacquard paisley in brilliant swirls of pink and grey. It had to come home with me. With just 2m left on the roll it was made to be.

I anticipated making a pencil skirt with this from the beginning, knowing that the excessive print would probably be *too much* on anything else. Because of the yardage I got, I have plenty leftover from this project to make something else fun in the future.

The pattern is a basic skirt from my vintage stash, Butterick 3882. I love a good pencil skirt and haven’t made one in ages. Since I was using a vintage pattern, there was only one size available in the envelope, and sadly it was not mine. I had to increase the waist by 5cm, so I added 1.25 to each of the side seams. I did grade the pattern back down to the original pattern size from the hips to the hem to keep the silhouette from being too flared. I drafted and cut out an extension to sew a back vent, but after I sewed up the side seams, I tried it on and found I had no problem moving around in it, so I simply closed up the center back seam and saved myself the trouble.

When I make complicated projects I get really lazy about my finishing techniques, in a rush to get things over and done with. However, when a project is as simple as a pencil skirt, I make sure everything is really fancy. I fully lined the skirt, and hand stitched the invisible zipper and inner waistband so everything was smooth and sleek-looking.

Feeling inspired by both this project and the movement online, I got some shiny new fabrics and created a plan for my wardrobe using patterns I already hadve and getting some new patterns that will fit my new vision of my style. We’ll see if the energy keeps up but right now I am feeling excited, rejuvenated and looking forward to this frosting-filled, thoughtful wardrobe.

In A Twist Dress

Last summer I very distinctly noted a desire to wear only comfortable knit dresses, especially when in a heatwave. Naturally, I had only one knit dress at the time. In my seasonal wardrobe planning this year I mapped out a cool, grey t-shirt dress with some sort of fabric detail to fill the void. I felt inspired by the style of knotted t-shirts, feeling like in dress form, it would be the perfect mix of casual and a little dressier.

I found the perfect grey bamboo jersey at Blackbird Fabrics which I set aside for this dress. I hadn’t an exact pattern in mind but I knew the vision I had for it, so I kept my eyes out. Eventually, after some more intentional searching, I found the In a Twist Dress from So Sew Easy. It was was still simple with the right touch of visual interest and detail.

For something that looks so complicated, the twist “knot” was actually the easiest part of constructing this dress! The directions are super clear and the funny looking pattern pieces just seem to fall into place. It has such high impact for low-effort, and I will definitely be using this pattern again.

The difficult parts in the construction came from my own meddling. I wanted to make the pattern a little more casual and t-shirt style. I decided to use the Deer and Doe Plantain tee as the top of the bodice for the neckline and sleeves. I wasn’t sure the best way to merge the patterns together so I began by just lining up the underarm seam and tracing the Plantain pattern above. I noticed that the top of the shoulder seam of the Plantain was about 6 cm higher than the top of the shoulder seam of the In a Twist dress. I wrote it off as extra fabric for the sleeve. But obvious to me now,  the hack meant that the bodice was 6 cm too long, and resulted in the waist knot sitting nearly on my hips. Whoops.

I remedied the situation by unpicking everything above the waist (sooo many little threads thanks to overlocking everything), and retracing the Plantain bodice 6 cm lower than initially planned. After all this frustration (and third time sewing it) my neckline binding was over-stretched and flopping all over the place. This is where we note that sewing late at night, with expectations of finishing a project for the next day, and patience running low is not the best combination. Frustrated at what felt like a failure of EVERY SINGLE neckline I’ve sewn EVER, I basically vowed to quit sewing forever and that’s where this post ends.

I am kidding. Don’t sew while sleepy, friends.

After a few days and mental recovery I cut another neckline binding (and to the advice of the sewing community I cut it on the bias for extra stretchiness and recovery) and it was beautiful. It all came together in the end.

Sadly, summer decided to bid an early adieu. I was lucky to get this out on the town exactly once before the chill. But oh boy, next year I will be cruisin’ cool and comfy alllll the time.

I would like to say that I have a perfect road map of my fall and winter sewing, but I am really feeling like I need to go with the flow right now. I have some fun ideas in the queue (will this be the winter I make my Ginger jeans??) and I am going to follow my inspiration and sew what gets me excited and motivated.

Happy fall!

Refashioning an Old Project // 50’s Circle Skirt

It’s always a little strange looking back on old creative projects. Sometimes it feels like all you can see are the mistakes. Luckily with sewing we have an opportunity, in some cases, to fix those mistakes and revive an old item into something fresh you’ll actually wear.

This project was the outcome of the first vintage pattern I’d ever sewn with, probably back in 2008. I had the chance to raid my grandmother’s pattern stash and while I found mostly late 60s-80s patterns, I found this one gem of a circle skirt from the late 1950s. I swooned at the full skirted silhouette and especially loved the giant pockets on the panels. I instantly imagined myself as the featured girl on the envelope cover (as I tend to do with vintage pattern illustrations…) swirling and twirling to class in university.

For fabric I chose a beautiful teal knit that had gorgeous drape and quite a bit of weight. I made my fabric decision entirely on the color. Sewing the skirt itself was an experience to say the least. The directions were quite vague compared to modern big 4 patterns I had been used to and there were no diagrams. In my novice-ness I made many guesses on how things should be done. Once it was all sewn up, it was wearable and kinda cute. I wore it once to show it off, but the heavy fabric required a crinoline to hold up the volume. I also didn’t have any other retro inspired clothing to go with it so I wore it with modern accessories. It was definitely a LOOK.

Needless to say, I never wore it again.

I kept in in my stash, not really bearing to just throw it away. I was thinking maybe one day I could harvest the fabric into something new since there was so much of it in there. It was only this summer I realized that I could probably just tweak a few things to make it more wearable.

Upon fully revisiting the skirt I noticed a whole host of sewing foibles. Uneven top stitching, incorrect stitch-in-the-ditch, a completely inexplicable insertion of the waistband interfacing and… velcro as a waistband closure. Oy. As humiliating as it is, it’s nice to look back at old errors and naivety as a frame of reference to see that, even though my skills aren’t exactly where I wish they could be, they are a hell of a lot farther ahead than they once were. And that’s pretty cool.

The first step in this refashion was evaluating the areas that had issues and what could be salvaged. Truthfully, I could have probably unpicked EVERYTHING and started from scratch, but ain’t nobody got time for that. The main structural issue was the waistband, and style-wise, the true 50s tea length was not something that I found I could wear on a regular basis, so some of that had to go.

I started by trying on the skirt as is, and pinning up the hem until I found a new length that was more wearable but still long enough to have that retro swing feel to it. I marked the length and measured the new hem length all the way around with chalk. After the big chop I unpicked the waistband and traced a new one from the off-cuts of the hem. The original waistband was just one side and the facing, but I decided I wanted to insert elastic to help hold up the weight of the fabric so I cut out twice the width so I could double it over.

I attached the new waistband onto the skirt, and gave the skirt a final, basic hem. I usually like the look of a deep hem, especially on skirts, but with this much circular volume that can be a recipe for puckers and folds, so I kept it a simple 2 cm.

About 3 hours from the start I had an entirely new skirt. The elastic in the waist makes it comfortable to wear, and the new length doesn’t require a crinoline. This makes it more casual but also shows off the gorgeous drape of the fabric (I swoon at the sight of the light reflecting those dramatic folds… is that just me?). I’ve had the pleasure of wearing this skirt 3 times now already, tripling it’s previous wear usage and love that I’ll be able to transition it into the fall with some cute layers. (hmm…I just realized I have a black turtleneck, maybe I can be that girl on the cover after all…)

To pair with it for summer weather, I made my second Hunter tank! It has that retro nod that complements the skirt without feeling costume-y. After making my first one in white, I wanted to make my second in black and had the perfect soft, drapey fabric in my stash from another project. I had to get thrifty with it though because I didn’t quiiiiite have enough for cutting it all out on the bias. The back pieces needed to be cut out in sections, with little triangle bits at the bottom. I drafted these pieces by tracing my pattern piece on the fabric and with paper underneath where I ran out of space, and cut the paper to make a new template. The effect is nice and subtle, which I am grateful for. I even tried to take photos of the back but you really couldn’t tell at all (black fabric is great on cameras for that), so I didn’t even feel the need to post it.

I used to carry this mentality that once something was done, it was done. So it was a nice reminder to know that changing things up can make them more worthwhile in the end, even if it does feel like sinking more work into something you’ve already spent so much time on. But in the long run, fixing something that’s already done is way faster than starting something new from scratch, and produces less waste! Win win!

If you are seeking permission to cut up an old project and re make it, here it is! Go do it, I promise it will be worthwhile.

I Want To Ride My Bicycle // Sweet Printed Tate Top

A cool fall has come quick and swift to us here this year, which I am somewhat lamenting because I had one last linen summer project in the queue that I was excited to make but I might save until spring, so I can jump into sewing cozy fall things. Luckily, this is not that project and it’s aborable-ness arrived just in time and ready to take on the world.

This summer I overcame many excuses and finally bought myself a bicycle! I love cycling but would only really do so on vacation, and felt like it would be too impractical to have my own bicycle in our chilly Canadian city. However, we are getting more bike lanes and more of my friends were taking two wheels to get around and I finally gave into the urge of having my own.

So, meet Bridget! (Named for the outgoing, athletic Sister of the Travelling Pants). I’ve had the privilege and joy this summer taking her on my commute, through parks and on errands. It’s hard not to feel like a fancy European lady on a pretty little bicycle through town. Naturally, she needed a garment to celebrate her place in my life haha.

I reached for the fabric with bicycles all over it. It is a cotton shirting scored in a Blackbird Fabrics remnants sale many, many moons ago. It may have been the first remnant sale they ever held, if I am being honest. I was obviously drawn to it for the teeny adorable little bicycle doodles all over it. However, a stiffer cotton shirting is like, the last type of fabric I am drawn to. I like things with drape, softness or squishiness, so this structured (but still adorable) fabric sat on the shelf for much longer than usual. I was pretty stumped with how to use it.

Then Bridget arrived and a retro-looking, bicycle-filled crop top seemed the answer.

The pattern is one of my tried-and-true crop top patterns, the Workroom Social Tate Top. A free pattern, I love the simple shape, ease and speed of sewing and it’s wonderful stash-busting capabilities. This is my fourth version of the top. Because of the stiffness of my fabric I carved out a little depth in the neckline, and added a little bit of length so I can wear it with different skirts and pants without showing too much skin.

I toyed with the idea of complementing the fabric with details and notions, like a ruffle or contrast hem. It ended up looking a bit fussy so I just added a touch of sass with these amazing vintage buttons (which I got in this years SVE) and let the teeny print shine.

I don’t know how many more days I’ll have to cruise around with Bridget (or to wear crop tops for that matter) but I am happy to wrap up summer on this very cute note. On to cozier things!

Giant Geometric Ice Cream Cones

As summer reaches the halfway point, I have a cheerful paper craft that I am really excited to share with you. I am often drawn to things that use energetic colors, geometric lines and cute motifs and this project features all three! Giant geometric paper ice cream cones! They are perfect to decorate a fun summer party, to hang over your dessert bar or use as a fun photo booth prop. Here’s how they came to life.

It all started as a project to design a summer window display inspired by ice cream. It needed to be big, bright and eye catching. I’ve recently been into geometric folded paper shapes and origami and was curious if it would translate into a frozen confection.

As most things do, it started with an online search which lead me to the amazing Mr. Printables site and this template for paper ice creams (which I am tempted to also make because CUTE!). This design was exactly what I was envisioning but I knew it wasn’t bold enough at normal scale…could I make these super-sized?

I decided to set my sights on making them as large as craft poster boards, since I knew they’d be the easiest to find in an array of colors and I didn’t have to mess around with getting custom paper cut for larger dimensions.

Based on what was available at my craft store at the time I settled on pink, white and ombre poster boards and got creative to make raspberry and mint swirl cones with white paper and finger painting with acrylic paint. For the cone I found an awesome glittering gold and used reflective tape to make the waffle pattern. Using a sharpie and a ruler would be a faster and just as effective option. I painted the posters and taped on the waffle pattern before cutting out my shapes.

It took a bit of math a bit to scale it upwards based on the template. I measured the size of the poster board and created a ratio based on the size of regular paper.  22″ x 28″ poster is 2.5x larger than an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of paper, therefore when I measured the template, each dimension would be 2.5x larger (ie. a 2″ edge would be 5″ on my version). The cone was pretty easy, it was just a matter of extending the angles outwards from the template piece to the final dimension. The ice cream scoop was trickier because of all the angles and facets. I created a scaled up version of the two styles of pentagon (they are slightly different at the top and on the sides when it’s all folded up) and used those as stencils to trace into the final shape. From there, once I had successfully created one ice cream “scoop” I saved one unfolded piece and used it to trace the remainder.

Unfortunately I didn’t take many progress photos (too much fun folding!) but the assembly is fairly straightforward. Every line is a fold, and is hot glued on the tabs. Start at one side, just gluing one tab at a time and the scoop takes shape until you have one facet left that almost sits open like a lid. Because I knew I wanted these to hang, I thread fishing line through the top panel and glued it in place before sealing everything up. As I was doing this, I noticed this would be a great opportunity for a ice cream pinata,  just leave this facet open until the very end to stuff in your prizes.

From here, you can place the scoops into the cones and hot glue around the edges. You can also make double scoops by gluing two of the scoops together in a stack. There are endless color (flavour) opportunities with different poster boards and bedazzling toppings. I used metallic washi tape and sequins as sprinkles and iridescent confetti that sort of looked like frost. If you are ambitious you could use a mini version of the scoop template to make a little faceted cherry on top. This is where I found things really came to life!

It was a spark of an idea that turned this project into one of my favourite things to date. These giant ice creams just invite a sense of play and make everyone who sees them happy. If I had more space I would have held onto them forever, but since that is not the case, I chose my two faves to squirrel away and passed on the rest to friends who could use them for their decor.

I hope you feel inspired to try making something a little larger than life. Enjoy the last weeks of summer and keep cool out there!

A Sweet Summery Hunter Tank

I don’t know about you, but I find my crafting productivity goes waaaay down in the summer. It’s either that there are more events, outdoor activities, trips, or the fact that it’s just too HOT to do anything besides read in the shade or (let’s be honest) watch netflix. That said, there are a few projects that I’ve chipped away at these past few months. I am not much of a wardrobe planner so most of them are things I need to wear like…right now.

Usually in the heat I gravitate towards breezy dresses, but I have a lot of cute separates that need attention too. The problem is, most of my tops are longer and need to be tucked in. In most seasons, that’s a-okay, but in the summer? That a recipe for a damp waist and lots of creasing. I have a few crop tops in rotation at the moment, mostly Tate Tops, but I needed a new silhouette in the mix.

I’d admired the Jennifer Lauren Hunter Tank from afar for a long time. I love the vintage vibe and flattering shape. Plus I love the detail the ties give to the waist. I really should have made it long ago, but I am a seamstress who sometimes needs external pressure to take action.

My good friend and photographer Dallas Curow messaged me one day this spring, asking if I had made anything new I needed photos of, as the lilacs were blooming and she wanted to take advantage of this. I replied “Yes!” then promptly downloaded the PDF of this pattern. I was lucky enough to find some lightweight white woven fabric in my stash. I bought it to use as a lining for this dress, and miraculously had just enough left for this pattern (even on the bias!).

I wish I knew exactly what it was because it is buttery soft, breezy and slightly sheer (but not embarrassingly so). The pattern itself sewed up quickly and easily, and I was proud of my attention to pressing along the way and my attention to detail. I even tore out the topstitching on the front and resewed it because it wasn’t *quite* right. Who am I??

I am someone who still doesn’t really like bias binding, at least that’s unchanged. While I decided to give it another go and cut out all the binding pieces, I was only marginally happy with the neckline binding, and so I opted out of binding the armholes. Instead I used my tried and true lazy method of folding down the serged edge and stitching there. I also opted for this method at the hem. What can I say, it’s fast, less fiddly and no one really notices anyway.

I am super pleased with the outcome and it has the perfect summery let-me-put-some-flowers-in-the-basket-of-my-bicycle vibes. I like that it goes with everything, and I surprised myself in realizing I don’t really have any white shirts in my wardrobe (oh right…because pit stains! If anyone has tips for that it would be mucho appreciated. I’m almost afraid to wear this if its going to be too hot ahahah). I am looking forward to wearing it much more and have already cut out another in black for a dressier vibe.

Enjoy these lazy, hazy days, friends!

Bright DIY Tropical Paper Backdrop

It’s been a while since I’ve created a fancy wall backdrop craft and I was inspired by our seemingly endless winter (doesn’t it always feel that way in April?) and the desire to soak up some sun. This easy, bright and fun vignette is perfect for birthdays, costume parties or any upcoming Hawaiian-themed events to lighten the winter mood to encourage that warmer weather to arrive.


  • For Leaves:
  • Scissors
  • 3-5 paper poster boards in varying tones of green
  • 8.5″ x 11″ paper in more tones of green (optional)
  • Pencil
  • For Flowers:
  • Hot glue gun
  • Crepe paper in varying colors for hibiscus flowers (yellow, coral, or pink are good options)
  • Paint
  • Floral wire

We’re going to start off by making the greenery. Having a variety of shapes will enhance the ‘tropical forest’ feel of your backdrop, so take to google images and look for island plants and leaves. Sketch out a few of the shapes that appeal to you. For me, that was a big, round monstera leaf, some palm leaves, ferns and a few ‘generic’ looking leaves to fill the space.

With your pencil, trace out a few of your shapes onto the poster board. For high impact, I wanted the leaves to be very large. I started with my biggest leaf, the monstera, and used the whole width of a poster board to draw it in. I also cut my large palm leaves. From here, using the remaining paper from the poster board started drawing and cutting out my other leaf shapes, even saving the edge scraps for some long thin leaves to fill in gaps.

Once you have a starting variety of shapes, sizes and colours, you can start playing around with arrangements and see what “gaps” you have in your collection, whether you have too much of one size or colour, and use your remaining supplies to balance it out.

You can totally stop here, tape it up on the wall and party, or add a few flowers to the mix.

I based my flowers off of this tutorial for making the hibiscus flowers but sized everything up to scale. You’ll cut 5 ‘tear-drop’ shaped petals from your crepe paper and if you want the look of real hibiscus, take a little bit of paint and colour the bottom quarter or so. (I used gouache since it is pigmented but also soaked into the paper a bit. Acrylic would work if you thinned it out a little so it won’t get stiff, and in a pinch even a felt marker would do). Yellow hibiscus tend to have coral centers while the pink and red flowers simply have a darker tone in the middle.

Once this is dry lay them out in a fan shape and hot glue the centers, one petal on top of another. They should overlap quite a bit.

To prepare the stamen that epitomizes the look of the hibiscus flower, cut out two small rectangles from your crepe paper, and with a little bit of hot glue, sandwich your floral wire in between. Then snip into the paper at an angle to create a little fringe. Use your fingers to fluff and fold it out.

Lay your floral wire in the centre of your fan and glue down. Next, carefully fold and twist your petals around the wire and tuck the bottom petal on top of the topmost petal and hot glue. Once dry you can peel back your petals and open your flower. For the rippled effect, gently tug and stretch the crepe paper at the edge of your petals.

To display, use wall safe tape and layer your leaves on the wall. For the ones on the bottom you can tape along the edges if they’ll be covered by other leaves, otherwise use tape loops so it isn’t visible. Bend your floral wire 90 degrees and slide your flowers in between your leaves and secure with tape. Voila! Your walls are ready for a tip-top tiki party. Just add some pineapple and coconuts.

Years in the Making // WAK Classic Sweater

Hello! I can’t believe I am finally, FINALLY finished and ready to tell you about the sweater I started knitting nearly 3 years ago! Technically I finished knitting, seaming and blocking this bad boy last June (which makes it just over 2 years in the works. That’s… better I guess?) but by that point it was clearly summer and way to hot to wear it for more than the 5 minutes it took to take an Instagram photo. Once that was done it was taken from the UFO pile and planted firmly into the closet awaiting chillier weather.

It took until mid-January to we have the kind of cold spell that requires nothing less than a 100% wool sweater and man was I so pleased to have it on hand. (I then waited for a brief reprieve to venture out to snap some photos.)

Sort of…

The project is the Classic Sweater from the We Are Knitters knit kit in a soft single strand wool. As I mentioned in my first post about WAK, these projects are super accessible to the knitting newbie. They supply the required yarn, needles and pattern so you can just open your kit and start stitching.

I chose the Classic Sweater as it seemed like an easy gateway into the world of apparel knitting, basically being two rectangles and two basic sleeves that are knit flat with gradual stitch increases (the most “difficult” element to the pattern). Looking at the photos of the garment, I noticed it looked on the short side and was worried that it would be embarrassingly short on someone who regularly adds 3-5cm of torso length to any garment. Unwilling to take the risk of knitting for years to find out it doesn’t fit, I decided to make some fitting adjustments. Knowing full well I had absolutely no idea how to do so.

My greatest worry was that I would run out of yarn (yes, ordering one more skein would have been the easy solution but shipping to Canada can be an expensive pain in the you-know-what) so I dug out some good ol’ math. Figuring that each stitch used the same amount of yarn I figured if I took some stitches away from the width, I could add it to the length. Using the swatch as a measure I concluded that if I took 8 stitches off each row, I would reduce the width by about 6cm, and could then extend the length by about 10 rows (4.5 cm).

After all was said and done I had an entire skein and a bit leftover so I didn’t need to do ANY of the above and could have just knit up the extra rows no problem. You live, you learn.

When I first basted everything together I was ultimately pleased with the longer, slimmer silhouette but didn’t think ahead to the sleeves. Since they were simple drop-shoulder sleeves and I essentially took away any drop from the shoulder, they were way too narrow at the armscye and I couldn’t put it on properly. Instead of admitting defeat I just picked up the stitches on the top of each sleeve (at 90 degrees to the rows since again, knitting newb over here) and added a few extra rows of ease.  When its all stitched up my little extensions are well hidden on the underarms and no one can really notice. It’s still a little tight at the bicep but I am hoping with time it’ll all stretch out and relax a bit.

After comparing the final garment to the photos and having a whole extra ball of yarn leftover I have to assume my stitches were quite tight and thus making everything a lot smaller than intended. I did knit up a swatch and it looked okay but I think my tension got away from me. This was most evident with the collar. The pattern said to pick up the neckline stitches after seaming the front and back together and make a rib-knit collar but I could not get my needle back in there no matter how I tried. Luckily, I quite like the style of this neckline, but overall a little extra ease might have been nice.

The whole point of this project, besides filling many Netflixing evening with something to do and experimenting with a new skill, was to see if knitting was something for me. Many sewing friends are also talented knitters and the thought of something a little more portable piqued my interest. Ultimately though, I really don’t think it’s my jam. At least apparel knitting anyway. As gorgeous and swoon-worthy the Brooklyn Tweed patterns I have book marked are, the time, repetition and counting was an uphill battle. I have a few smaller scarf and hat projects on the docket (all with fast, fluffy, chunky yarns) but on the whole I think knitting is destined to be a spectator sport on my end.

If only I had stacks of fabric to sew instead. Oh wait.

Summer Perfected // Indigo Sway Dress

As fall rolls in with it’s brilliant colours, cool breezes and cozy inclinations, I feel a bit of a time crunch to post a dress that encapsulates the feel and energy of summer. This Sway dress is light and breezy to accommodate summer’s heat, complete with playful patterns to capture the energy of the goings-on, and a bright, natural indigo colour that pays tribute to the colour of the sky.

This dress is one of my most proud makes to date, not because of any complicated construction techniques or meticulous applique detailing, but because it’s the garment I’ve most had a hand in creating, start to finish. Not only did I sew this dress, I dyed the fabric myself too, using a technique with indigo dye called Shibori.

Shibori is a traditional Japanese method of dyeing fabric and is a resist dyeing technique, which means creating spaces where the dye WON’T reach to create your patterns. This is achieved by tying, clamping, folding, and compressing the fabric so that the dye can’t soak in. You’ll most likely have seen this technique done in the rainbow colours of Tie Dye. While the organic and unpredictable effect of the sunburst you get with tying, I prefer the more geometric outcomes you get with the folding techniques.

For the bodice section of the dress I went with a square fold, so I folded the pieces like an accordion lengthwise, then again crosswise and clamped a cardboard block in the centre to keep the dye only along the edges, creating the square pattern. For the skirt I wanted to balance the patterns with a simple stripe, which meant just a basic accordion fold and dip-dyeing one half. My friend Courtney and I also had lots of scraps and small pieces we also wanted to dye so we played with triangle folds, beads, and ombre effects as well.

The magic of Indigo is how it actually dyes the fabric. Unlike most pigment dyes, instead of penetrating and ‘staining’ the fibres, indigo actually starts out as a neon green liquid and when it is removed from the water and hits the air, it oxidizes and the chemical reaction creates the stunning rich blue you see. The best part is unfolding your creation and watching it change colour before your eyes. For this reason alone I recommend giving it a try!

Back to the dress. This is my second Sway dress and I really love the shape and fit on me and cut a straight size XS once more and created the paneled skirt by slashing the (traced) pattern from the waist line diagonally to the centre front/back seam. Normally, I would not have cut in extra seamlines into a pattern (though I am quite pleased with the results) but this dress was actually originally planned to have been marbled instead. I needed to cut the fabric into small enough sections to fit into the marbling tray. That whole plan was re-directed after the fabric proved not to hold the marbling paint, so into the indigo it went.

It’s been pretty much a year since I actually dyed the dress. Since September brought fall with it so quickly last year, I didn’t end up sewing it (why sew a summer dress in winter if you can’t wear it once it’s done?) and it sat in the to do pile for months. It wasn’t until an upcoming trip to Portland at the beginning of August (with daily temperatures of 30+ ) that spurred me to whip it up in a few days and bring it with me.

It was the perfect dress for the humid, sunny, hot hot heat of mid-summer and Rory and I took it on our visit to the International Rose Test Garden to snap some photos. Portland was such an amazing, creative, fun city and one of my favourite trips in a while. I didn’t nearly take enough photos of the rest of it. Looking back at these photos makes we wish we had just a few more sunny days to soak in summer, but I am already tackling my fall sewing plans, so maybe it ain’t all bad.