My Third Arielle Skirt from Tilly and the Buttons–Fall Edition

I just can’t get enough of the Arielle skirt from Tilly and the Buttons. So I made my third version to be a great staple for fall 🙂 I used a medium weight rust-colored corduroy from Fabric.com. It was actually leftover from a dress I’d made for a friend last year, so it worked out even better!

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This skirt is just such a flattering fit that it’s hard to resist. And I didn’t do a lining on this version so it hardly took any time at all.

I made a denim mini Arielle with brass buttons for my first version and I liked it overall, but it’s always felt slightly too big and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. But with the corduroy one I just made, I was careful when marking the spots for the button placements. The pattern recommends putting the skirt on and marking a spot for the buttons through the buttonhole opening, and while I did do that the first time around, I didn’t have the skirt on very snugly, so it ended up feeling a little loose. But this time, I made sure I held the skirt on very snugly while marking for the buttons, and it fits like a glove 🙂

Can’t wait to wear this with all sorts of cute Fall outfits!

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Oh yea and I didn’t post about my second Arielle skirt, so here it is! I made this one with a kelly green cotton twill from Fabric.com, and had a cute floral lining to go with it. Didn’t have the sizing issue I had with my denim version.

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Highlands Wrap Dress by Allie Olsen

I loved this pattern so much that I just had to make two 🙂

The first version I made was a short-sleeved maxi, using a lightweight cotton from Sew Over It. They have the best fabric!

I love the side slits on this dress and the buttons that fasten on the side so it’s not just the ties that hold it together. Perfect summer dress!

This version was mostly smooth sailing, but the waist band for the elastic ended up a little bit more narrow than it should have been, so I had to use a more narrow elastic band so it’d fit in.

I also had a little trouble matching up the side seams of the front and back pieces with the waist band since it was my first time working with elastic, and there’s a little piece of the seam sticking out on one side :/

Yellow short-sleeved maxi :)
Yellow short-sleeved maxi 🙂

The second version I made was a sleeveless midi version, with another lightweight cotton from Sew Over It.

Had no trouble with the waist band this time, woo! I was even able to make the waist slightly more fitted than the previous version I’d made, so the neckline fits a little more snugly and I think is more flattering on me.

Where I did have trouble was with the armbands! I was really trying to rush and get it done so felt really frustrated when I couldn’t get it right. I ended up with armbands that look more like ruffle sleeves. I was annoyed at first but actually think it looks pretty cute as is. Oh well!

Sleeveless midi version
Sleeveless midi version

Polka Dot Bolero by Wendy Bernard

Well I am LONG overdue for some blog updates, so here we go! Prepare for a slew of new posts today 🙂

I got the pattern for this Polka Dot Bolero  from Up, Down, All-Around Stitch Dictionary, one of my first knitting book purchases. I bought it as a new knitter to help me learn some new stitches, but I was head over heels in love with this bolero as soon as I saw it. But it was way too advanced for me at that point, so I waited for just the right time. After I made my first sweater over the holidays, I decided to give this one a go 🙂

The beginnings :)
The beginnings 🙂

This was such a joy to make! I loved the top-down construction and I used the suggested Blue Sky Fibers Melange and loved that also. It was my first time working with Sport Weight yarn and it took a bit of practice, but really enjoyed it once I got the hang of it. It’s so soft! I’m totally a sucker for baby alpaca wool <3

The best kind of Saturday :)
The best kind of Saturday 🙂

I had to size up in needles as I’ve learned that I’m a tight knitter, so I do that with just about every pattern now.

The only trouble I really had was a misread of the directions that ended up making the wrap way shorter than it was supposed to have been. I think it was a part in the pattern that called for an increase on every other right side row and I thought at first it mean to increase on every right side row, as is typical, but it also sounded like not every right side row, but every other. I tried looking at the finished length of the garment and it looked like the shorter version was the way to go. But…I was wrong. So I finished the whole thing and everything and even wore it to work and it kept riding up on me. I was in denial for a little bit but it just didn’t feel right. So I took off the waist tie, undid the cast off edge, and added about 2 more inches to it and felt MUCH more comfortable with the length.

Making progress...
Making progress…

Then of course, I had to add to the finishing of the front edge and at the moment when I just HAD to get it done I didn’t have the smaller needle size with me, so there’s a teeny portion on the front edge that’s slightly bigger stitching than the rest. *Sigh*

Still love this though and wear it so often and get so many compliments when I do 🙂 It’s also a great beginning sweater project since it’s so short.

Love love love so much!
Love love love so much!

Ruby Dress from Tessuti Fabrics

Over the weekend I finished my Ruby dress from Tessuti Fabrics. This breezy rayon challis  was on clearance from fabric.com for $6/yard. Great deal!

I got some more practice with neckline and armhole binding with this pattern. The pattern also linked to a tutorial for joining bias binding but for some reason it just was not computing in my head, so I fudged it a little bit and improvised joining the binding ends together. It’s a little messy but it’s at the bottom of the armhole anyway 🙂 I could still use some more practice with binding…one of the armholes on my dress sticks out a bit.

I also love the keyhole back opening on this dress. It got a little bunched up going around the bottom, but still looks cute!

Keyhole back opening
Keyhole back opening

This dress also looks great styled in different days. The other day it was overcast and chilly, so I wore it with black tights, tall black boots, and my asymmetrical zip black moto jacket. Also looks good with a jean jacket, or with my beige ankle buckle flats. So many ways to wear this!

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Cutest Skirt Pattern Ever: Arielle Skirt from Tilly and the Buttons!

I don’t think I will ever get tired of talking about how cute the Arielle skirt from Tilly and the Buttons is. SO CUTE. Such a flattering shape and actually pretty simple to sew.

I got this beautiful dark denim from Britex Fabrics at Union Square in San Francisco. I love how easy it is to sew with thick, sturdy fabric like this. It doesn’t move around as much so it’s easy to control as you sew.

This was also my first time sewing buttonholes! My machine came with a plastic buttonhole foot that is a bit clunky and makes it hard to see the line you’re sewing. It went fine but could use some more practice. I love the big (brass?) buttons I chose for this skirt! My partner’s mother had a collection of buttons sitting around, so I took some home over the holidays and was looking for the perfect project for them.

The Arielle skirt has an optional lining, but I decided to keep it simple and skip it. The denim I used is so thick and sturdy anyway, that is hangs nicely without a lining.

I finished this skirt fairly quickly and was ready to photograph before I knew it. One little oopsies with the photos…I was wearing the skirt on the wrong side! Buttons should be on my left 🙂 I was wondering why the button flap was sort of gaping between the buttons. Looks even cuter when worn correctly!

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I’m planning to do another Arielle skirt soon…this time in a kelly green cotton twill with a cute floral lining! Buttons TBD… 🙂

Sewing with Silk: Ella top from Liola Patterns

I found this lovely kelly green printed silk at Fabric Outlet in the Mission and thought it would be perfect for the Mimi blouse in Tilly and the Buttons’ Love at First Stitch , but I didn’t have the pattern with me at the time. I thought a yard would be plenty but it was way short of what the pattern called for.

It took some digging to find a pattern that was a good fit, but eventually I found the Ella top from Liola Patterns. It’s a pretty simple pattern, but I had several firsts with this: darts, pleats, and neckline and armhole binding. Not to mention the patience it took sewing with slippery silk. Precise cutting is really important with the binding, and it’s tricky with silk. I read somewhere that a rotary cutter is helpful, so I’ll plan to do that next time.

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The darts and pleats were pretty straightforward, and I was happy how they turned out. Binding could have been better though. I think I gave the neckline binding slightly too much slack, and it hangs down a bit in the front. And I was a little sloppy sewing on one of the armhole bindings when I was like “Get it done, get it done!”…BUT it is still pretty cute 🙂

Close up of Ella top :)
Close up of Ella top 🙂

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Sewing Updates: Invisible Zippers with Clémence Skirt and Zinnia Skirt!

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted, but I’ve been hard at work 🙂

A couple months back I finished the Clémence skirt from Tilly and the Buttons’ book Love at First Stitch. This was my first attempt at zippers! The pattern calls for an invisible zipper, and turns out that sewing an invisible zipper is not just a method of sewing, but also requires a different zipper foot and different zipper altogether. Woops!

But once I was so close to finishing the skirt I just HAD to get it done and was not about to put it off for another day, buy and figure out the new zipper and foot, so I ended up with a sort of hybrid zipper…a regular zipper sewn as an invisible zipper. But whatever, it works!

Other than, my only challenge was getting the inside of the waistband to cover the gathered seam from the skirt. Wasn’t the greatest, but at least it’s hidden inside.

Clémence skirt, before the zipper
Clémence skirt, before the zipper
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Ta-da!

My second invisible zipper attempt with Colette Patterns’ Zinnia skirt, and I’m happy to say it went much better this time! I nearly pulled my hair out trying to figure out how to use the (plastic!) invisible zipper foot, but several deep breaths and hours later, I got it working :).

I used version 3 of the Zinnia skirt, which has instructions for lining. This was also my first time sewing a lining! I was inspired by Colette’s post of sewing with eyelets and decided to give it a try. I found this beautiful eyelet/lace-ish fabric at a small fabric store on Clement Street in San Francisco and absolutely fell in love!

Beauty!!
Beauty!!

And the last important lesson learned here…ALWAYS transfer the pattern markings right away, especially with pleats! I am always lazy with this and turns out it’s best to just do it right away, and NOT after starting to sew the pieces together. I also should not have used ballpoint pen (HA!) for the markings. Since the only other marking utensil I had was white tailor’s chalk, it just seemed like the next easiest thing…luckily I bought a bleach gel pen which was able to get out most of the pen markings. But it’s still faintly there if you look closely :/ Never again!

Beautiful Zinnia!
Beautiful Zinnia!

I now have solid practice with zippers and lining! 🙂

Wiksten Tova Top :)

I’d had my eye on the Tova top from Wiksten for months, ever since I saw this beautiful version from the Craft Sessions. How simple and lovely!

I thought this top would look great in a pumpkin orange–a sort of boho chic fall top. I was thinking a burnt orange cotton with a navy blue leaf or almost paisley print would be perfect, but of course it was easier to imagine than to find. But I found this adorable orange cotton with little yellow umbrellas all over it and it was just too cute to pass up! This fabric came from the now closed Satin Moon fabrics on Clement St in San Francisco.

So I really had meant to get this done for fall, but it just didn’t happen. I actually got it cut out sometime before the holidays, but with it having several pieces to it, it just seems like it took so much more mental energy to sit down and do it.

Cutting out the Tova top
Cutting out the Tova top

But once I sat down to do it last month, it really went by pretty quickly! And what’s great is I’ve now gotten to the point where I can sew on weeknights, rather than just on the weekends. When sewing was still very new to me, it felt like it took so much more energy to work on a project, and I just couldn’t muster up that strength during the week. But with more practice it’s gotten easier, and sewing on weeknights too now helps me complete projects even faster 🙂

The biggest lesson I learned from sewing this top was that I really need to be super precise when cutting straight lines for small pieces like the cuff, collar, and the placket. When I had to turn over just a little bit of fabric and it was slightly uneven on the edge, that made my line of stitches uneven as well. Lesson learned!!

I also didn’t do a great job sewing in the inset–it was a little tricky to turn those corners nicely, and one of my corners is slightly off. I also get lazy with marking the notches, which probably would have helped me out with the inset too.

But…not bad for my first Tova!

Wiksten Tova!
Wiksten Tova!
Closer up look of my Tova top
Closer up look of my Tova top

I’ve seen photos of Tova online in plaid, and it looks adorable! I’d love to make one in plaid sometime. The dress version of Tova is super cute as well. I think I’ll wait until next fall to make a second one though 🙂

 

Cleo dress from Tilly and the Buttons!

I have to say that the Cleo dress from Tilly and the Buttons is by far my favorite sewing pattern! This dungaree dress is super trendy now, and not to mention pretty beginner-friendly.

I made my first Cleo dress back in November. I’d seen this beautiful plaid corduroy fabric at Satin Moon Fabrics on Clement Street (which sadly closed in December), and I just had to have it. As can be seen by my Pinterest board, I LOVE plaid, and this fabric made all my plaid dreams come true.

Plaid corduroy
Plaid corduroy

I had a couple bumps in the road with my plaid Cleo. With my first attempt, I had trouble matching the plaid with the front two pieces. So I ended up having to buy more fabric (which thankfully was still in stock) to re-do the front pieces. But…the second attempt wasn’t much better, so I just decided to leave it.

The second thing that gave me trouble was the curved seams on the sides. One side of my dress got a little puckered, but by that point I was too tired to re-do it, so it stayed 🙂 Overall, I think it’s pretty dang cute!

Cleo Dress, plaid corduroy
Cleo Dress, plaid corduroy

When I first put it on, I wasn’t quite sure I loved how it fit. Because it’s a pullover dress, it fits a little loosely on the sides. But my initial uncertainty may have been partly as a result of staring at it for so long while working on it, because I got over it pretty quickly 🙂 I love this as a winter outfit!

I loved Cleo so much that I just had to make another. I got a lovely mustard yellow corduroy from Britex Fabrics in downtown San Francisco. Sewing this dress went much quicker this time around, except for just one thing: for some reason the needle kept skipping stitches and the stitches were really loose! I couldn’t figure out what it was. I made sure I had a needle for thicker fabric, I adjusted the tension, I re-threaded the machine. I was visiting my family for the holidays, so I used my mom’s machine, so I thought that could be it. Finally, my mom told me she had an even thicker needle. So I tried that, and it worked! I didn’t think that the difference between my lightweight plaid corduroy and medium weight mustard corduroy would make a difference, but turns out it did. Lesson learned 🙂

Mustard yellow corduroy Cleo
Mustard yellow corduroy Cleo

And finally, I made a third Cleo dress for my friend/co-worker. We worked together to pick out a fabric she liked and figure out her measurements. It was a really fun process, and the color totally suited her. And this time, I had two Cleos under my belt and didn’t hit any bumps along the way 🙂

We love our Cleo dresses!
We love our Cleo dresses!

I could honestly have like 5 more Cleos and still not be tired of them! I also thought about doing a black corduroy Cleo, and perhaps a denim Spring version? 😉 But for now, I’m trying out some new patterns, since there’s so little time to sew all the things I want!

I made my first sweater!

It feels like a milestone that I finally finished knitting my first sweater! I started it about two months ago in late October, but didn’t work on it consistently since I was juggling numerous other knitting and sewing projects. But FINALLY, I finished last night 🙂

I had taken a look at a number of sweater patterns, but it just seemed so confusing since this wasn’t as straightforward as a smaller project. Some were constructed top-down, some bottom-up, and I couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around how all the different pieces came together. So I had toyed with the idea of taking a sweater class at Imagiknit or Atelier Yarns, but they weren’t offered very regularly and didn’t always work with my schedule.

Then, I came across this tutorial from KnitPicks: Nina’s Design Your Own Sweater Class! What made this tutorial a great first sweater project is that it not only had a step-by-step video series, but also had blog posts with worksheets attached to each step. It walked you through taking all the calculations for your measurements with easy-to-follow number crunching. I’m so glad I found it!

Starting the torso at a conference in Phoenix. Great opportunity to get a lot of knitting done!
Starting the torso at a conference in Phoenix. Great opportunity to get a lot of knitting done!

Even still, I hit a number of road blocks along the way. The sweater is constructed bottom-up in the round, so it was easy enough (just time-consuming) to knit the torso and sleeves in separate pieces. Then came the tricky part…

Starting the sleeve was exciting. Looks so cute here! :)
Starting the sleeve was exciting. Looks so cute here! 🙂

How do you join the sleeves and the torso?? This part actually wasn’t shown in the tutorial, and it was a completely foreign concept to me. It felt like such a big undertaking too that it was hard to mentally prepare myself for figuring out how to do it. So it sat in the floor for a couple days while I finished sewing a dress 🙂 Eventually though I solved the mystery by piecing together different YouTube videos. Phew!

Torso and first sleeve done. Starting to look like a sweater!
Torso and first sleeve done. Starting to look like a sweater!

But then, there was shaping the yoke and also the neckline at the same time, taking into account the ribbed neckline I wanted to add. So I took it one step at a time and slowly chipped away at the 38 rounds to make it to the top and decreased the correct amount of stitches, which was complicated by needing to somehow switch to knitting flat after knitting in the round. How does that work??! I was thrown off by that and had to set the project aside for a day. I mean, I knew I couldn’t continue knitting in the round after binding off the first stitches for the neckline, as it suddenly had 2 ends, but it still didn’t make sense to me. Finally, I found an online forum with someone asking the exact same question for the exact same project! Sigh of relief!

Sleeves and body joined, yoke and neckline starting to take shape.
Sleeves and body joined, yoke and neckline starting to take shape.

The last major obstacle was adding the ribbed neckline at the top by picking up stitches. I’d kept hearing the phrase “pick up stitches” but I had never done it before. Luckily, there are several YouTube videos that explain this clearly, and it’s actually pretty simple. Then, just weave in the ends and…

The finished product! Knitted with Malabrigo Chunky in black.
The finished product! Knitted with Malabrigo Chunky in black.

Ta-da! All done!!

Overall, I’m very happy with it 🙂 It’s slightly shorter than I imagined it to be, and I wish I had used smaller needles on the ribbed neckline to make it a little neater (or perhaps use a better bind off method). But STILL very exciting 🙂

One fun fact I just realized is how many places this sweater has traveled so far while I was working on it: Phoenix, San Francisco, Sequoia National Park, the DC area, and now the Chicago area. And many flights on top of that!

I’m already looking at sweater patterns and can’t wait to start the next one!