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!

 

Challenges and Frustrations with Starting an Etsy Shop

A couple months ago, I reached a goal I’d been working towards for about the last year: I opened an Etsy shop! I started knitting about a year ago now, and built up my skills over the last several months, learning something new with each item I made. And then finally, I opened up my Etsy shop in October :).

I started out with just four items because as you can imagine, it takes time and money to knit things! And my photographer friend has been taking the (beautiful!) product photos for me, so I coordinated with her schedule and worked out a day for her to trek out to this side of the Bay. Once we did our first session, I wanted to knit several more things before we arranged another time for her to come out for another photo shoot.

I aimed to have 5 more items Etsy-ready for our second shoot, but the 60 inch long infinity scarf I made took way longer than I had anticipated. And then came Election Day, so…you know… And then I had just a couple days left before our shoot, and I only had 2 things done. I was making good progress on my third product, but then I decided to buy the original color yarn I wanted, rather than the ombre shade that I had gotten online. I just wanted it to be perfect, so I thought it was worth it.

And I am glad I got the color I wanted. But I ended up staying up until 4:00am that night finishing up the product before my friend Alex came to photograph. And it was Thanksgiving weekend and the new Gilmore Girls episodes had just come out! I hadn’t felt that tired struggling to meet a deadline since grad school (nor do I want to repeat that any time soon). I’m happy with how the product turned out, but I actually had envisioned the measurements to be quite different…I just didn’t take the time to knit a gauge swatch when I really should have (lesson learned!).

But I’ve had some good news since then! I’ve made 2 sales, I’ve been re-posted on Instagram by SF Etsy (the Bay Area Etsy team), and I was invited to do a craft show (which I can’t attend), and my friend Gwynessa and I are planning a pop-up craft show in the Mission at the end of January. Small steps :).

I am itching for more though, and wishing I could already have a shop with a wide selection of items ready to go, and enough of an inventory to participate in the holiday craft fairs. But I’m not quite there yet. And I’ve started and almost finished knitting 2 more items recently that I’ve had to undo for various reasons. AND it’s the holidays and adding expensive yarn to my list of things to buy adds up quickly.

On top of knitting for Etsy, I’m also knitting some gifts and making a sweater (my first one!) for myself, and then there are my endless sewing projects.  There’s just not enough time for everything!

I thinking I’ll feel better once I get a couple more things up on Etsy. Until then it’s just relishing the small successes 🙂

How Knitting and Sewing Have Helped My Mental Health <3

A couple years ago I stumbled upon a beginner’s knitting kit at a Barnes & Noble around the holidays. It was on sale and looked like a fun project to start while I had some time off from work.

Learning a new skill is daunting, and it takes some dedication and patience to really get started. So, not surprisingly, it was a few weeks before I even opened the kit. Much to my dismay, it didn’t include any instructions for actually learning how to knit. Instead, it came with a booklet of some patterns. I had no idea what any of it meant!

So I decided to refer to Youtube for video tutorials for casting on and learning the basic stitches. And I was hooked! I was giddy with excitement for learning something new, and was proud of completing even the most simple tasks. I carried my needles and orange practice yarn with me wherever I went, making nothing in particular but simply enjoying the movements of knitting.

But soon eager to make something super cool, I was dead set on learning how to knit the waffle stitch. Unfortunately it was too much too soon, and I just couldn’t get it. Frustrated, I eventually lost interest in knitting for several months.

Last fall though, I came back to knitting with renewed energy and more patience. I took things step by step and gradually built my skills by working on projects with increasing difficulty, but careful not to get too far ahead of myself. And I was hooked yet again! This time, I think it will last 🙂

I was very crafty as a child, but I somehow got away from it as I got older. I used to be chock full of DIY projects: hand sewing pillows, making pencil holders, making magazine holders. I even made a doll house, complete with handmade furniture, out of cardboard!

Once I started knitting again last fall, I feel like I tapped into my childhood energy and enthusiasm/obsession for creativity. The more I knitted, the more I wanted to knit. And I was itching to learn even more! Last winter I bought a sewing machine and took a couple sewing classes, and now I’m sewing clothes for myself too.

I’ve never really thought of myself as artsy or creative, but there’s a real art to creating patterns, combining colors,  selecting yarn and fabric, and naming/describing my Etsy products. The possibilities are endless and the world is a blank canvas waiting to be painted in whatever strokes and colors I choose.

And this creativity instills a new confidence in me. I’ve struggled with depression in the past, and anxiety remains a daily battle for me. I’ve had periods of deep depression for as long as a year at a time. The kind of depression when your whole body aches and it takes so much strength just to get out of bed in the morning. When you can’t bring yourself to eat, and when you find yourself alone every single day, alone with your irrational worries, and relieved when the day is finally over.

But it’s been almost 8 years now since I’ve been hit with a depression like that. I slowly started taking more control of my life: I got into the graduate program I wanted and moved to beautiful Madison; met the love of my life; spent a year living in the incomparable Turkey; moved to beautiful San Francisco where adventures are always awaiting; got a job that is deeply fulfilling and is so connected to the core of who I am; started seeing a therapist; surrounded myself with friends who always have my back. And now I have my crafting to keep my mind occupied and that above all, helps me feel like I have a talent.

Crafting has become my latest building block of resiliency, adding to a wall that is getting increasingly higher as time goes on. As Brené Brown mentions in “The Gifts of Imperfection,” we have the tendency to become anxious and fearful when we feel happy about something, for fear of losing it. But the trick is actually to relish the good times, because holding on to that is what will get us through the inevitable tough times that are to come. <3

I opened an Etsy shop!

Ever since I started knitting obsessively about a year ago, I have been talking about opening up an Etsy shop. I thought I could give myself about a year to get some practice and skills under my belt, and planned to launch this fall (2016), in time for the busy holiday shopping season. And last weekend, I finally launched!

Check out my shop here: www.etsy.com/shop/AnisaJahan

As I’m sure is the case with most crafters, I got so busy knitting gifts for family and friends that I could hardly find the time to devote to knitting things to sell. But over Labor Day weekend this year, I caught up with a friend in DC who had recently begun making her own jewelry and also had plans to open an Etsy shop! We excitedly brainstormed ideas for our respective shops: names, prices, marketing strategies, etc. We set a deadline for a launch date (early October), and also agreed to keep each other posted on our progress. Having a friend going through the same process made it even more fun! (Check out Whitney’s shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MinimalistElegance)

To launch by early October, I had a lot to do in a short period of time. Thankfully, lots of friends gave me some great advice. One who previously had an Etsy shop recommended this book: The Handmade Marketplace. I actually haven’t even finished it yet, but it’s full of great tips for launching a business of handmade items. Another friend has been coming up with great ideas for marketing and promoting my listings. And yet another friend, who is a photographer, offered to do a photo shoot of my products!

Last weekend, my photographer friend and I got together to photograph my items. I had been wanting to learn more about photography anyway, so it worked out perfectly! And now I know a little more about fiddling around with my own camera for the future.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at our photo shoot:

Perfecting the display of the Tahoe Blue Hat
Perfecting the display of the Tahoe Blue Hat (Photo credit: Alex Orozco)
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My sweets adjusting my bangs 🙂 (Photo credit: Alex Orozco)

We thought it would be helpful to not only have photos of the items laying flat, but also some photos of me modeling them as well. As you can see with my recent posts, I’ve gotten my feet wet with modeling outfits, so I didn’t mind modeling my knits at all.

I’m starting out with four listings on my shop, but I will soon have more up, since I knit just about every day :). After I get a few more items completed, my friend and I plan to do another photo shoot.

While opening the shop alone was a huge personal success, it also symbolizes so much more for me…stay tuned for my next post describing how crafting has helped improve my mental health.