Sewing with Knits: Elmira Wrap from Seamwork :)

Ever since I started sewing back in April, I’d heard that sewing with knits (versus woven fabrics) was a lot more challenging. As a result I have been avoiding patterns working with knits and had built it up in my head to be something so challenging that it would take a long time to be ready for it.

But then along came the Elmira wrap by Seamwork–I fell in love with it and decided to give it a shot. I picked out a marled gray lightweight knit from Fabric Outlet in San Francisco, where good deals are abundant 🙂

Seamwork patterns are designed to be completed in 3 hours or less, but being fairly new to sewing it takes me much longer! I’d been working on this wrap almost every day since last weekend, and finally did the finishing touches this morning. I’m so happy with how it turned out! Turns out working with knits isn’t so bad after all 🙂

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Tips that helped me

One of the biggest things that helped me was using ballpoint pins and needles–these have slightly rounded tips that help prevent the fabric from tearing.

Another helpful tip was using a zigzag stitch rather than a straight stitch, which helps prevent the seams from coming out.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Sleeve cuffs: This pattern has sleeve cuffs that are sewn on, but I had a hard time keeping them even because my seams wouldn’t be exactly straight. The first cuff I sewed the edge of the sleeve slipped out from the seam, and when I tried to salvage it, I accidentally made the sleeve way too small. The pattern instructs you to stretch the fabric slightly as you go, but I forgot to do that. In the end I spent almost an hour taking off the cuff (I had already finished the seams!) and re-doing it. Neither sleeve cuff was perfectly even, but at least they weren’t too small anymore.

Back neckline: This was the first time I sewed with a twin needle, which is really simple and gives the garment a more professional look. I misinterpreted the directions though and folded the back neckline over just a quarter inch too much, which meant that the shoulder seams didn’t exactly match up. I ended up with small gaps on each shoulder and decided to hand stitch them. It looks a little messy but it’s not very noticeable anyway.

I love that with each new pattern I make, I learn new skills. With the Elmira wrap I not only learned to sew with knits, but also how to sew with a twin needle, and how to make a thread chain (for the button loops).

AND knowing now that I can sew with knits, this opens up so many more opportunities of patterns to try! Can’t wait!

Foggy San Francisco Day Outfit

The (only) downside to living in San Francisco is the unpredictable weather–which often means foggy summers. This summer was typical, with foggy and misty mornings and evenings, with little bits of sunshine in the afternoons. While most of the country is wanting a break from the heat, I’m busting out the sweaters…

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I love this sweater from Maison Jules–the lace detail at the bottom gives it a feminine touch. It’s also light enough to wear in slightly warmer weather. I’ve even worn it with shorts on a cool summer day.

Thankfully, the sun has come back to San Francisco, and now that it’s officially Fall, it’s hitting 80 degrees here 🙂

So many reasons to love Modcloth!

To everyone around me, it’s no secret at all that I adore Modcloth. It’s been about 3 years since I’ve started shopping at Modcloth, and I’m still going strong. Not only do they have adorable, quirky, unique clothes for reasonable prices, but they also are committed to celebrating women of all body shapes, sizes, and races. Above all, they really aim to empower their customers to be true to themselves.

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The Modcloth Style Gallery  allows users to submit their own outfit photos, showcasing a number of different personal styles, body sizes, races, and lifestyles. Every so often, a frequent Style Gallery poster will be highlighted in an interview for the blog, like this recent travel post of Sumeyye, and this #Fashiontruth post of Rye. What I love about the Style Gallery and the blog series is that they celebrate people being authentic to themselves, and how their personal style is a part of that.

Another really cool, empowering feature of Modcloth is their Hot Tub Round Table series, which features Modcloth founder Susan Koger having personal conversations with other women on topics such as body image and empowering young women. How cool is that?? Especially coming from a clothing company. What an important role model!

I spent 2 years volunteering for a San Francisco-based non-profit called About-Face, which does media literacy workshops to help young women and girls understand and resist harmful media messages that so often affect their self-esteem. Each year About-Face holds a fundraising event called the Embody Awards, which honors individuals or companies that are a positive role model for young women and girls in the media. This year, Susan Koger of Modcloth was an Embody Award recipient! How appropriate 🙂

I literally have dozens of items from Modcloth by now, so I’ll be posting more outfits soon 🙂

Simple Wool Knit Beanie

Almost immediately after finishing the chain link slouch beanie, I decided to knit a hat for my brother’s birthday. He’s not much into fashion and likes only wearing very simple things, so I tried to find a very basic hat with no “fancy” stitches that would be too much for him 🙂

I chose this lettuce knit bulky hat from Love Knitting. This was a quick knit, and I finished knitting everything except the the very end on a cross-country plane trip:

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I didn’t have scissors or my darning needle with me on the plane (obviously!), so I quickly finished this after I got home:

Finished product!
Finished product!

The yarn I used was Rowan Big Wool (100% Merino Wool) purchased from Imagiknit in San Francisco. I used US 13 16in circular needles, and US 13 double-pointed needles to shape the crown.

This uses the stockinette stitch all the way through, so it is easy to do fairly mindlessly. Without a brim, the end rolls up a bit.

Next up, bootcuffs! 🙂

Embroidered Alice dress from Tessuti Fabrics

After making two versions of the Alice top from Tessuti Fabrics, I finally made the Alice dress!

I recently took an intro class on embroidery at Workshop to complement my new sewing skills, and had been planning to embroider this dress before I even made it.

Dress: self-made, shoes: Jeffrey Campbell

Continue reading Embroidered Alice dress from Tessuti Fabrics

San Juan Island: Orcas, Alpacas, and Lavender!

Last month we were lucky enough to take a second trip up to Seattle. And this time, we added a trip up to the San Juan Islands–a cluster of beautiful islands about an hour ferry ride off the coast of Washington and close to Victoria, British Columbia.

We drove up north from Seattle for about an hour and a half to the Anacortes ferry terminal. You can make a reservation to bring your car on board, which is what we did. That made it pretty easy to get around the island. It took about an hour to reach Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, the most commercial of the San Juans.

There is endless beauty on this island! My favorite spot by far was Lime Kiln State Park on the southwestern edge of the island. Orcas are frequently spotted here (though we didn’t spot any from there)!

Lighthouse at Lime Kiln
Lighthouse at Lime Kiln
Slightly outside of Lime Kiln, but a beautiful spot on the coast
Slightly outside of Lime Kiln, but a beautiful spot on the coast

Although we didn’t see any orcas from Lime Kiln, we did a 3 hour long whale watching tour and spotted several members of the J-pod, one of the resident orca ponds in the area! They were absolutely incredible, breaching the surface quite often and putting on a show for whale watchers all around. The guides on the tour were able to identify many of the orcas we saw, including J-2 Granny and little J-49 T’ilem Inges. Granny is the oldest known living orca (estimated to be about 105 years old!) and T’ilem Inges is a young one, about 4 years old.

The orcas travel together in their extended families (called pods), and hunt for salmon. Very sadly, the salmon supply is at extremely low levels due to dam construction and the southern resident orcas are endangered as a result. The whale museum in Friday Harbor has a whale adoption program to help support orca research. We very happily adopted little T’ilem Inges and now receive monthly updates about the southern resident orcas 🙂

Another highlight of the trip was visiting the beautiful Pelindaba Lavender Farm. Rows and rows of lavender make for amazing photo ops:

Pelindaba Lavender Farm, Friday Harbor
Pelindaba Lavender Farm, Friday Harbor
Matt in the lavender fields
Matt in the lavender fields
Me in the lavender fields
Me in the lavender fields

Pelindaba also has a gift shop with endless lavender goodies: tea, soaps, lotions, essential oils, cleaning products, you name it! Definitely worth checking out.

A surprise fun trip on the island was the Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm. I didn’t even know it was there until we happened to drive by it!

Matt Crystal Acres Alpaca Farm
Matt at Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm

Apart from watching the alpacas graze on the fields, the farm also had a nice gift shop with knitted goods and homespun yarn from the alpacas onsite! I of course had to get some to knit a few things 🙂

Yarn from Crystal Acres
Yarn from Krystal Acres
Pleased with my purchases :)
Pleased with my purchases 🙂

While wandering around the little Friday Harbor downtown, we stopped in the Griffin Bay bookstore, since we’re both suckers for bookstores. The store featured a collection of books and novels about the region, and I stumbled upon a gem called “Eliza Waite” by Ashley Sweeney. This novel takes place on Cypress Island (in the San Juans) during the Yukon Gold Rush. It has quickly become one of my favorite books of all time, telling the story of a young widow who has endured and overcome so much tragedy and has essentially been cut off from her family. I cannot recommend this book enough! I finished reading it in just a few days and have been raving about it to anyone who will listen ever since 🙂 Another unexpected pleasant surprise from this lovely trip <3

 

Sewing: Alice top from Tessuti Fabrics

I’ve only been sewing for a few months, and started by taking two different classes at Workshop in San Francisco: one on sewing machine basics, and one on introduction garment making.

After that, I started trying out sewing from patterns on my own with this book, “Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking.” This book is great because it walks you through everything you need to know for learning to sew, starting with machine basics. It includes several patterns with detailed instructions, each with increasing difficulty so you can begin to build skills. After making a headband and pajama pants from the book, I decided to try out a pattern on my own, the Alice top pattern from Tessuti Fabrics.

Being a pretty novice sewer, there were some parts of this pattern that were difficulty for me, including the yoke (which had 2 layers), the gathering in the front and back, and the armhole bands that had to be sewn in. Luckily, my mom was able to help me with the hardest parts the first time around with the yellow eyelet fabric I used to “practice” this pattern, before using the seersucker I had originally bought for this pattern. But it turned out great, even for a “practice”!

Yellow eyelet topYellow top_flat lay

And now I just finished up the same Alice top, using seersucker this time:

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Next project: making the dress from this same pattern, and then adding some embroidery on it (after I take an embroidery class at Workshop)!

Waffle knit hat <3

I’ve been knitting for about 8 months now, and with each new project I’m learning new skills. Learning how to knit a hat sounded intimidating at first since it involves double-pointed needles, but with a little patience and practice I’ve mastered it!

I decided to go with this bulky waffle hat pattern on Ravelry. As usual, I got my yarn from Imagiknit in San Francisco 🙂 I chose an off-white yarn that required the same size needles mentioned in the pattern, US 10 (circular and double-pointed).

As the pattern calls for, I did a 2 x 2 rib stitch for about 2 inches, and then a waffle stitch until the piece from the cast on edge measured about 7 inches. Then I started shaping the crown (with double-pointed needles)!

Shaping the crown
Shaping the crown

And soon enough…

Bulky waffle knit hat
Bulky waffle knit hat

…the finished product!

I decided to fold up the brim of the hat, otherwise it’s too long to wear unless it slouches a little at the top. Still looks cute though 🙂