The spring was a tough time for my knitting. I’ve always claimed to be an all-seasons knitter but sewing projects have increased exponentially for me over the last two months. But it’s such a good sign. When the seasons change, I can’t help but want to build my wardrobe. Who doesn’t want to add a summer top or dress when the weather warms up? But I’ve spent so much time here talking about my goals of making more instead of buying, I really wanted to stay true to that. So the more I wanted new clothes, the more I’ve set about making them!
After finishing my first two tops, I thought that I was ready for a challenge. I think I dove in a little too deep, trying a Wiksten Tova top with some fabric that I wasn’t so attached to. I’m not sure if it was my lack of patience or my novice skills but it started getting ugly pretty quickly. I decided to scrap it and go back to basics.
While I urge new knitters to go immediately out of their comfort zones, I couldn’t follow my own advice on sewing. I know knitting is something I could do blindfolded with my hands tied behind my back (try me) so it’s easy for me to say, “Just try a sweater if that interests you! It’s easy!” but there’s just two stitches. You don’t have to know much to get started knitting your heart out. Sewing, I’ve found, has a lot more specifics. There are many secrets I’ve yet to uncover. So I really wanted to get comfortable with the things that I’d already tried before I started adding on.
I’d bought this yellow and white fabric a while ago in an online sale. It’s some kind of cotton blend that has this dimple texture all over it. Luckily, both fabrics are the same just different colors. So it seemed right to pair them together. I’ve seen so many cute variations on simple pieces that are just a contrasting sleeve or bias tape. Little details really make something different so this shirt doesn’t really resemble my first Scout too heavily.
One of the things that I was really trying to master here was the set in sleeve. I won’t say it was done perfectly but it seemed to go much easier and I built so much confidence. The first sleeve was set in excellently and I was so excited. I was wearing my one-sleeved shirt all over the apartment, just feeling proud and admiring my work in the mirror. That’s when I realized I’d done it inside out. Got some more practice, so there’s a silver lining.
I also wanted to up the challenge since the top is relatively simple so I did French seams everywhere but where I set in the sleeve. I do not have the mojo for that just yet. And I really made myself do things right. If it wasn’t perfect, I unpicked and re-stitched. I started this top right after finishing the first season of The Great British Sewing Bee so I was kind of imagining May and Patrick going over my work. I would hate to disappoint them.
I like this top. I’m definitely going to be one of those crazy sewists with 500 Scout tees in her wardrobe. It’s just so breezy to make and it’s great to wear. I know my wardrobe and, while I’d love to make hundreds of different sundresses, my uniform (for work especially) is jeans with a cute tee.
I’m really hoping to make another scout in a knit. I find the shape of the shirt a little boxy and I think a nice medium or light weight knit would be more flattering. I’ve never worked with knits before but I’m told it’s not as challenging as everyone makes it sound. So I’m sure that will go terribly.
Don’t worry, I’m still knitting up a storm! But I’m so pleased to be building my own wardrobe! (I actually stopped myself from buying a cheap shirt the other day. I took a photo so I can try to reproduce it on my own. It felt great to have that power and to say no to something that wasn’t sustainable.)
Do you get bit the sewing bug sometimes? How many Scout tees have you sewn?
“Oh crap,” I say. “Ohhhhh shit.” My mom starts to laugh. We’ve been inside of the store for about forty-five minutes, I’ve already snagged a pattern that I don’t need (oh, but I do) and I’m toting a bolt of cotton I have no plan for ($3.50/yd, I can’t say no) and I’ve finally found a display of all of the especially twee fabrics that are my kryptonite.
This is my third time rounding the table where the bolts are lined up like an ice-cream-colored, floral-and-deer-printed carousel that was at one time my whole paycheck but will soon become the revenue of Fabricland, “New Jesey’s Largest Fabric Sewing & Window Fashions Store!” My mom is following me, practically wiping sweat from my brow like a 1920s boxing coach at a prize fight asking, “When should I stop you from buying things? You tell me.” The most supportive woman in my life, I tell you. All dress fabrics are 20% off. I’m beginning to feel light-headed.
When I asked her two weeks ago if she wanted to go fabric shopping with me, I wasn’t expecting her to say yes. Turns out she was in the market for a few yards of linen. So we set out on this mother/daughter shopping spree to the first fabric store I ever visited. Honestly, I thought it had closed down. When you google “Fabricland” with the corresponding zip code, they are not even on the first page of search results. But she assured me that they still exist*. I wasn’t expecting find much of anything there, the dressmaking fabric tucked away in the rear of the store, behind yards of heavy, ugly brocade curtains and old-fashioned, upholstered armchairs, and so many valances. (Valances, guys. People still buy them. They get them at Fabricland.) I mean, I know I could go to any number of Manhattan stores and find anything my heart desired but I’m going to be completely honest with you here and say that I was incredibly intimidated. I was too scared to go to Mood because there is a huge selection and I don’t know the difference between voile and double gauze (???) and Tim Gunn shops there (not sure if that is even remotely true but I really loved Project Runway back during season one). I figured that if I could find a decent cotton solid or even a funky remnant in a place where no one would judge me as they purchase their custom bed canopies that it would be a good baby step for me. And besides, if I didn’t find anything my wallet would thank me.
But I was wrong. Fabricland is no Mood. It’s certainly not glamorous or overwhelming. It’s exactly what I wanted. It’s got a tight selection of quality fabrics and just about every Simplicity, Burda, and McCalls paper pattern ever manufactured. The prices were right, the sale helped, and my mom has a frequent buyer card (whatever that means. Neither of us know. She has about five hundred frequent buyer cards on her keychain). While there are a lot of novelty prints (potato fabric?) and some others that just weren’t my style (I’m picky), there was plenty to choose from and when we reached this last table, I was really going through the ringer, trying to talk myself out of buying every polka dotted, pastel piece there was. To top it all off, everybody there is nice and they didn’t think I was crazy kick me out even though I was yelling, “I don’t want you to stop me! I want everything!”
In the end, I did good. This was self-control at its best. I purchased two yards of this adorable pink and white striped cotton. I said before, it was on sale so I felt the need to get 2 yards even though I have no idea what it will become. Scout tee? Probably that’s the only thing I know how to make!
The best was this adorable print by Art Gallery Fabrics. It’s got these little tiny Xs on it in pink. I don’t know why but it really spoke to me. So adorable. Since I was holding onto this Simplicity 1693 pattern that I was JUST carrying around but DEFINITELY WASN’T GOING TO BUY, I admitted I had been lying and that I was buying this fabric with the intention of it becoming this very top. The pattern was half price when I got to the register.
The most exciting part was this melon fabric. It’s Robert Kaufman Kona cotton. I decided that I was going to make the collared version of the top and it was going to have to be a matching solid. I was pretty psyched to find a dead match. It’s the little things, really.
It looks like my starting to build a fabric stash. I’m trying to be good and limit myself since I have nowhere to store more material and my yarn stash is threatening to eat me in my sleep. It’s hard to say no, though. I dream about yarn and fabric and thread and buttons. I’m so happy that I made the trip to Fabricland. I was just so pleasantly surprised. Thanks, guys!
Do you have a favorite local fabric shop? What treasures have you uncovered there?
*I remember taking a basic sewing class at Fabricland when I was in high school. I learned to make a cozy for travel-sized kleenex packages. That was the last time I touched a sewing machine until I bought mine two years ago. I’m definitely going to blame that fricking kleenex cozy.
It’s no secret. I’ve been bitten by the sewing bug. I say it every time the seasons change, I’m a year-round knitter. But seeing so many gorgeous Me Made May outfits really got me inspired to enhance my wardrobe. While I always have this secret (unjustified) feeling that knitting is far superior to any other craft (I’m a craftist, I admit it), the warm weather and near instant gratification of sewing is really putting me on a roll.
That being said, it took just about forever for this top to come into being. When I invested in my sewing machine TWO YEARS AGO, I decided that the Wiksten tank would be a really easy beginner pattern to tackle. I’d already made a skirt and infant-sized jacket so this was a piece of cake. While I was trying to start out (and still am) using discount fabrics in case of failure, I treated myself to some beautiful Liberty London fabric. I figured I was safe in using it here. How bad could I screw up a tank?
For once, those weren’t famous last words. I actually think I did pretty swell on it. The thing is, I got the shoulder and side seams all worked out and then threw the top into a box, pins still holding up the hem. I didn’t forget about the top, somehow that impulse that had lead me to purchase the machine and get through my first few projects had left me and I was back to knitting 24/7. I mean, in my defense, I have been getting some pretty serious knitting done since I started sewing.
But when I was once again ready to start sewing, I got it done. I think that it’s not so fantastic in some respects. I didn’t have that much patience when I started the tank and I think I’ve got more of a hang of the process now. In spite of its imperfections, it’s a really great top that’s casual but can easily be dressed up. And that fabric is just great. I’m so happy I splurged on it because it really takes this simple garment up to the next level.
Are you finishing up any UFOs? Are you sewing this season or knitting?
Welcome, I’m glad you could all join us for this week’s meeting. Who’d like to share first?
Hi, I’m Sarah. I have Startitis.
Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the fact that I read two issues of Molly Makes and the new Martha Stewart Living while I was off on Wednesday. I want to do everything. I want to renovate an old house and start a garden and build furniture. I just want to make stuff.
I’m so frustrated because I haven’t had any FOs to share in such a long time. I’m working on everything at once so nothing’s done. I’m just wanting to do it all, I’m exploding with inspiration, I’m running in every direction.
Some of this craft mania is due to the fact the weather is changing. I want to be sewing some summer pieces. I want to get rid of everything in my closet and start fresh which adds this urgency to it. I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing when it comes to sewing. I started working on the Wiksten Tova top. It’s kind of a mess but I really don’t want to get into that. I’m making something.
I’m still working on that Grettir sweater for Jon. There’s a lot of stockinette. ‘Nuff said. I have plans to make something for my grandma’s birthday. (And thanks for all of your helpful suggestions!) I still don’t know what it will be. I think I’ll end up working around my stash because I just did some spring cleaning and the amount of yarn I have should be illegal.
And if you follow me on instagram, you know that I’ve picked up my Zelda cross stitch again. It was hidden away for a few months. (Okay, I forgot that I was working on it.) This project has been going forever but I’m actually quite pleased with how far it’s come. I think it’s actually nearing the home stretch. And every time I look at it, I get excited because goddamnit it looks like the real thing! It’s funny, although this has been incredibly tedious and time consuming and I hope I never try this again, I always enjoy coming back to this project. Something about the simplicity of it after doing an intense knit is really satisfying. It’s intricate, I won’t pretend it’s easy but it’s methodical to the point that it’s meditative. And, like I said, look at the result.
So I have a bit of Startitis. I just can’t commit to any one thing. Maybe once I finish something I’ll feel relieved. Maybe I’ll finally be able to figure out what’s next. But until then, I’m just going to keep stitching away.
Because it’s all about the process isn’t it?
At the end of 2013 I was setting up my goals for this year and they were a little overwhelming. While much of my plan for 2014 seemed unobtainable, the idea of sewing more seemed pretty simple and tangible. So while I was resting my achey hands, I decided there was no better time to start with that resolution than the present. On New Year’s Eve, I started putting together the Scout Tee and when it was time for champagne toasts, I had most of a garment.
I’ve talked about sewing here before. It’s not something I really excel at. I just hate ironing and I still don’t have a proper space to lay out fabric. But I’ve basically stopped buying clothes (aside from pieces from my favorite reputable source, Everlane, and a bridesmaid dress) since I wrote this post so I think it’s time I get my shit together and make a few pieces for myself. (Side note, I’m really proud that I’ve cut back on shopping here. I thought it would be a really difficult challenge for me but I really feel good about it!) Besides all of this, I’ve met some really amazing ladies that I know I can turn to when I hit a dead end. Seriously, I’ve had so many offers for lessons, I know some really lovely sewists!
But I am a bad student. I want to teach myself everything. I’m learning quickly that I need some advice.
So here is my finished tee! I used a fabric that I picked up at Purl Soho (that I can’t find information for anymore). Seems like I’m on kind of an orange kick. Something must be going on in my second chakra. I can’t wear dresses to work so my summer uniform is jeans with a cute top. Scout is the shape for something casual and simple without looking sloppy. I’ll definitely be making another!
It’s not perfect. I feel like I ought to strive a little harder for perfection at the very least so my garments will hold up well but for now I think I just need to get things made so I’m not so discouraged.
When I see a simple garment like this one, it seems like instant gratification. The problem is, even though it’s not too difficult, there are a lot of steps (read: IRONING!) to make each piece look finished. I mean, of course there is the hem and the seams but then there are things like binding around the neckline. Those little steps that I forget about when I dive into a project. I’m obviously still a novice when it comes to planning.
Setting in the sleeve was quite a challenge. Way harder than setting in a knit sleeve. But I decided to stick with how it came out on my first go-round. There’s definitely some gathering since I didn’t quite know what I was doing. I could probably use a better tutorial. That being said, it’s not terrible all things considered and everything fits where it ought to. Good job, me!
This top was the perfect beginner piece for me. It had just the right amount of difficulty, nothing too complicated but enough that I felt myself learning. And, of course, in the end, I’m left with a beautiful garment that fits and that I’m definitely going to wear the crap out of!
I’m already working on my next sewing project while I wait for yarn to arrive in the mail. What should I make next? Have you sewn a Scout tee?
Did anybody guess that the mysterious WIP I posted hints to on Monday was a boat mobile? It was a pretty tough one. In fact, making this thing, I was a little stumped myself.
Jon’s brother just had another baby and I promised I wouldn’t make a big, time consuming gift. That lasted about five minutes. I guess cruising Etsy got the idea of making a mobile stuck in my brain. Jon’s brother is obsessed with fishing so he loves nautical themes. (I’ll take a moment here to admit to the selfishness of giving a handmade gift. While putting lots of time and love into the things that I make for others is very very important to me, nothing beats that rush that you get when the giftee unwraps what you’ve made and likes it!)
I originally wanted the little fishes to be caught on the string by their mouths like some tiny people were fishing them out of their tiny boats but I think that’s a little morbid.
I picked up a pack of fat quarters in different blues at Purl Soho. I did a really rough template for the boats and just started cutting fabric and figuring things out. I ended up sewing all of the sails to the boats by hand. The more I worked on these boats (and by that I mean laying on the floor in front of my sewing machine wondering aloud, “How do I put these together!?”), the more I realized that I am nowhere near as good at sewing as I am at knitting. Sewing is terrifying and unwieldy and I am clumsy and backwards.
That being said, I think the whole thing turned out well and I’m especially pleased with the little anchor.
Putting this all together was a lot of fun. I like to think of myself as a crafty girl but I’m rarely gluing and repurposing things in the projects that I make on the regular. I hot glued cotton masonry twine to the inside of an old embroidery hoop. I like how the twine looks like mini ropes. I threw together some macrame to hang the hoop. I must admit that I never learned macrame when I was in camp. It’s so fun! I’ve been missing out. I decided to use figure 8 knots (and a dab of hot glue, naturally) to attach all of the pieces.
All in all, I’m happy with this guy. I definitely need more practice sewing.
Do you think garments are easier to sew than toys? What am I doing wrong?
I’ve been working on so many secret projects recently, I can’t tell you how hard it is to keep all of these things under wraps! I thought it might be fun to just put out some hints.
All I can say is, this is a sewing and hot glue kind of project. It’s something I’ve never made before. And it’s full of stuffing. Here are some photos:
Any guesses? I’ll have real photos of the whole FO later this week!
ps. Speaking of secrets, check out my post on the Holla Knits blog to find out more about my design for the upcoming collection!
Remember that time that I bought a sewing machine and tried to teach myself to sew? That was almost a year ago! I’ve really slacked off since my first two sewing projects. Like, I started sewing a tank top but then the weather turned cold and I had no motivation to finish it. I’ve promised myself that I will this summer, though! Since I’m not very experienced, I’m not afraid too tackle simple summer clothes like tank tops and dresses so sewing will be a seasonal thing for me, for now.
Although I haven’t touched my machine in a few months, I have been dreaming about stitching a few things. Especially since my big spiel about how I want to add more hand made pieces to my wardrobe due to my general distaste for the current state of the garment industry. There have been multiple occasions over the past few weeks when I’ve thought about buying a tee or a dress and I’ve assured myself that I could just make one instead and then put my wallet away. (Keeping myself from impulse purchases is a victory in and of itself!)
While I’m still learning to sew, I’ve decided that I should really only be making with cheaper fabrics. I treated myself to some Liberty fabric last summer for the yet-to-be-finished Wikstein tank top. But, as I work towards making more difficult garments, I don’t want to waste money in case something goes awry (as is often the case).
So I decided to do some browsing on JoAnn Fabric’s online sale section. I had a few extra dollars kicking around and the weather was just starting to warm up. Why not treat myself to the foundations of a fabric stash?
I’m still really learning about sewing. I’m like beyond a beginner class but I don’t know any lingo or fancy stuff. Not a girl, not yet a woman. I feel like an absolute idiot when it comes to buying fabric but (true to form) I’m just diving in without asking too many questions and I’ll fake it ’til I make it. Like, here’s a good question (that I actually did ask before I spent cash!), how much fabric do you buy to stash? I know I can buy one skein of sock yarn and throw it in my stash or maybe two skeins of worsted weight yarn to make a hat or something. How much fabric should I buy when I don’t have a project in mind? (The answer I crowdsourced was 2-4 yards depending on the width whatever that means – I know what that means, just kidding, kind of. I’ll report back when I have more information.)
I bought four yards of a green seersucker which I think would make an adorable sun dress. Not sure if I’m ready to tackle such a big project or if that’s way too much to get but I bought it. I also bought two or three yards of this yellow cotton fabric that I thought was plain but it actually has a stripey texture to it? I’m thinking a simple t-shirt or tank top with that. Maybe this Mathilde top? It looks intimidating but that’s how I roll! Finally, I bought this really pretty crepe(???)/silky (God, I have no idea what I’m talking about here) pink fabric and, surprise! it has little flowers cut into it. I thought it was printed with a pattern. Guys, dye cut means that there are holes cut in it. Online fabric shopping is just as hard as online yarn shopping. No worries because I don’t think I’m ready to work with slippery fabrics yet, anyway. There’s still time for me to find a pattern that involves sheer fabric with little decorative holes.
Every time I put my toe into the swimming pool of sewing, I’m afraid that sharks will bite me. I totally understand how newbies are so nervous when it comes to knitting. I’m not sure which one seems more complicated (I like to think knitting but mainly because I want to know that I’ve mastered something really difficult!) but there is certainly a lot to learn about both.
What are your tips for buying fabric? Am I doing this right? Do you sew all year long?
What will we do when the weather warms up? That’s what we ask ourselves when spring starts to shine out from behind a harsh winter.
I am not a seasonal knitter. I knit all damn year. I’d knit on the beach if I went to beaches. I am certainly guilty of knitting poolside. A lot of non-knitters laugh when I buy yarn in July. It seems like prime time to cast on a cardigan to me. In fact, I feel the need to rush when I have an opportunity to wear what I’m making so there’s a little less pressure on summer knitting. But if a sweater is finished early, I can wear it to the office to fight off overzealous air conditioning. Of course, there’s nothing like the first cool breeze in October to really make my heart ache for wool socks on my needles. But I certainly don’t slow down when the mercury rises.
Now, when it comes to my other crafts, those are certainly seasonal. In colder months, I can’t bring myself to embroider when there are sweaters to be knit.
I picked up sewing last summer but once the weather turned, I began to neglect my sewing machine. I plan on doing more sewing this summer and I’d like to continue teaching myself into the fall but first I have to learn how to sew sleeves. I don’t see myself making tank tops in December.
What about you? Are you a seasonal crafter?
This was a huge year for Knit York City. I am so excited to be here and move forward and I love sharing my work and my life with you guys. It’s not only been awesome to get feedback and help with my questions, but I feel like putting my energy into this blog has inspired me to spend more time making things. Looking back at all of the pieces I made this year, I think this might be my most productive year yet. It’s certainly been my most adventurous and I have all of you to thank for that!
I knit a lot of socks this year. All of the socks I made this year were my own design which is pretty awesome!
I taught myself how to sew. It got off to a rough start but I managed to make a skirt and an adorable little kimono.
I also practiced my long-forgotten embroidery skills on a wedding present for one of my best friends and a tie for Jon to wear.
I also made a few sweaters this year. I certainly didn’t make one every month but I am quite pleased with the ones that I finished. I really fell for Amy Christoffers’ new patters and I made one of them for a KAL. And I got to meet her this year!
And, of course, what somehow became my most notable knit of the year: The Hamburger Sweater. I love the reaction I’ve gotten from this knit.
On top of everything else, I started a video web series (don’t forget to subscribe!) and I’ve had so much fun meeting so many awesome people. I can only thank my friends again (and again!) for helping make them possible. There will certainly be more episodes in the new year and hopefully I can fulfill my resolution to edit them faster! (It’s been tough with everything else going on so I’m calling in the reinforcements!) Get excited for that stuff.
I can’t believe how much I’ve accomplished this year. I am so proud of myself. And knowing what projects are in the works for the new year, I couldn’t be happier. While I don’t want to set any specific goals for what I make next year, I do want to make more! I will be happy if I keep working hard at it all, keep my fingers busy typing away and shooting videos and clicking needles. I bet that there will be twice as much to talk about by the end of 2013.
What did you make this year? Did you make a lot of sweaters? What are your goals for the new year?
Tags: Amy Christoffers, baby kimono, brooklyn tweed, Cascade Eco Duo, crux socks, design, embroidery, gift, goals, hamburger sweater, hand knit, learn to sew, loft yarn, Maxfield, new years resolution, Pomme de Pin, raglan, sock pattern, sweater, there's no place like home, triangle socks, wedding