Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Autumnal Project #1 - Anthro-Knockoff-Plaid-Blanket-Cape

Plaid Cape

As long-time Maker of Clothing, I frequently hear, "Oh, you must save so much money!"

Look, real talk: sewing and knitting clothing isn't cheap. Especially with the madness of "fast fashion," it rarely makes sense financial sense for me to make something I could get in a store. What money I might save on fabric or yarn (unlikely), I lose in time and tools. Luckily, I'm rarely motivated by finances when it comes to my wardrobe, so I carry on!

This Blanket-Cape (Blankape? Clanket?) is the rare exception. I was perusing a certain Fancy-Schmancy Company's website and found myself admiring the Scarves & Kimonos section.

You know you're Fancy-Schmancy when you have a whole section devoted to kimonos.

I was particularly delighted by this plaid kimono, but not so much the $90 price tag. "I could make that for much, much cheaper," I thought. My initial plan was to source a more blanket-like textile from the flea market, but then on a trip to Joann's for Halloween fabric, this plaid caught my eye. It's light and drapey and autumnal and a little bit witchy and it was exactly what I needed to make my Blanket-Cape dreams come true. It's about 2.5 yards, or $20 of material with the 40% off coupon, with one cut up the middle, and the raw edges turned under. I kept the lovely selvages at the wrist, and fringed the bottom for about 2". I assume more will fall out in good time, but I got lazy.

This plaid witch is ready for autumn in Los Angeles. 

Plaid Cape  Plaid Cape

Monday, October 2, 2017

Embracing the Shape - Thunder Road Bolero

Thunder Road Bolero

So much of what originally appealed to me about making my own clothes was really controlling both the style and fit of my clothing. As a teenager growing up in the Midwest, I was obsessed with vintage styles, but unable to find anything in stores that approximated the look I dreamed about (think Natalie Wood as Maria in West Side Story or Grace Kelly as Tracey in High Society). No capri pants, no fitted sweater or cute flats.

So I started sewing for myself, and later knitting for myself, attempting vintage styles and collecting vintage sewing patterns from thrift stores. Most of these sewing patterns have never seen the light of day, but I love knitting modern, vintage-inspired patterns. For one thing, they work better on my ample-bosomed, 5'8" frame, and modern patterns are very clearly written, easy to follow and fairly fool-proof. And flattering. Let's all just knit things that are flattering, and make us feel good, right?

A few months ago, I stumbled upon this design, the Thunder Road Bolero, from Amy Appel aka PoisonGrrls. Amy's patterns are a delight to knit, and produce very wearable, vintage-inspired knits. This was the first of her patterns that I queued, and a quick, little, 2-week-long knit in navy Paton's Grace Cotton. It's just the thing to make dresses and sleeveless tops work-appropriate. (Not that the look above would be one I'd wear to work...)

Thunder Road Bolero

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Who's Afraid of Ripping?

 Cafe Au Lait Cardigan

This beautiful baby is a sweater that I ripped out. I cast on this second iteration of Cafe Au Lait at the beginning of the summer, along with Andi Satterlund's Outfit-Along. I had a mysterious, sport-weight, probably-mostly-cotton yarn in my stash, and I wanted to use it. A finite, but undetermined quantity, and I wanted it all. gone.

Maybe it's because I live in a rented apartment, and therefore my living situation is, by all definitions, "temporary," but I do not like to have yarn stashed. So having a sweaters-worth of this mystery cotton laying around, when I could have a sweater laying, felt unacceptable.

I cast on this tried-and-true pattern. The grey version of this sweater is a staple in my wardrobe, and the combination of cables and lace are a delight to knit and wear. I blissfully starting knitting the back, from the bottom up. I knit the entire back of the sweater, which probably took 15 hours... and then quickly realized I would not have enough yarn to finish this sweater as-is, and I threw it in a corner, giving up on the Outfit-Along.

But the knitting community is nothing, if not motivating. The FOMO of Instagram led me back to another knit-along, this time Shannon's Summer Sweater Knit Along. And I packed this half-knit sweater and took it on a family trip to Rhode Island. The focus of travel knitting and the motivation of my fellow SSKAL-ers led me to rip out most of my progress, and reknit it again, with a shorter body. Yarn problem, solved. 

I probably spent upwards of 50 hours working on this sweater. When I posted a photo on Facebook, a family member asked, "How much could I pay you to make me one?" The honest answer is something along the lines of, "30 hours wages times mystery yarn cost." Or "a bottle of whiskey and three new episodes of Game of Thrones," aka the time and encouragement it took to rip out hours of work. But I won't quote anyone this price (or really any price), since I didn't knit this for money. 

I think this means I have become a process knitter, right?

After a few wearings, I think I will rip out the cuffs and re-knit them smaller...

Cafe Au Lait Cardigan Cafe Au Lait CardiganCafe Au Lait Cardigan