A Year in Review: Hits and Misses

Last December, I didn’t really bother with a year-end roundup since I had only been back at sewing for a few months when all the review posts started rolling in. However, now that I’ve been sewing solidly for the entirety of 2014, I am happy to bring you the year in review! (According to the well-known format by Gillian at Crafting a Rainbow) This will be the “hits and misses” post, and later I’ll talk about the rest.

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So, first off, the fails! I wanted to get them over first, since some of them still kind of hurt…

5. The Giant Purple Sweater Dress. Ok, so I still wear is occasionally, but only when I’m feeling super skinny, which is almost never. It does no favors in the booty or tummy departments…

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4. The Magenta Belcarra Blouse. It’s just too dang big…at some point, when I feel less lazy, I’d love to take it apart and remake it in the right size. But for now, it’s really too big to wear and have it look good.

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3. My Rib Knit Plantain. This is a classic example of a poor fabric/pattern pairing. The pattern clearly states that you need a knit with a fair amount of stretch, but I brazenly ignored it and plowed forward with a sweater knit. So the neckline is huge, despite my trying to interface it with tricot (which I think actually made it worse). Oops. Lesson learned…sort of 😛

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2. My Silk Pendrell Blouse. SO SHINY. That is all.

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1. An attempt at the Colette Dahlia dress . This one still hurts, and there are no pics. Basically, due to a super-warped grain, I had all sorts of weird fitting issues and an oddly misshapen neckline. Plus it ravels like there’s no tomorrow. I’m hoping to salvage it when I return from my holiday travels. But until then…AGH

And now on to the fun part – the major hits of 2014!

5. My Katy and Laney Tap Shorts! I made three pairs of these (including one unblogged but much-worn denim pair), and absolutely loved wearing them all this summer. I usually hate shorts, but these are kind of magic.

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4. The Cat Lady Belladonne. I love this pattern, I love this fabric, and I love the fit! Granted, I haven’t gotten a ton of wear out of it due to it’s rather whimsical nature, but I’m so proud of the way the bias binding compliments the cat fabric. And the fact that I figured out how to apply it :P.

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3. The Pavot Coat. While it’s far from perfect and there are definitely some things about it that still bother me, this was my first attempt at coat making, and I’m quite proud of all that I learned. And that I drafted my own lining! I can’t wait to make more coats in the future :).

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2. My Color Block Coco. This is one of those projects that just effortlessly turns out perfect. I love it and have worn it a TON. And when Tilly posted it on Twitter, my blog got over 500 hits that day! (Which I’ve never gotten even close to before or since :P) Definitely a favorite!

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And #1 is *drumroll* my Anniversary Dress! I’m so thrilled with how this dress turned out (and just generally love the Flora dress!), and I couldn’t have been happier wearing it on my special day.

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So that’s my year in review! Tune in again later for more on reflections and goals for next year!

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Audrey in Awesome

This morning I am off to the east coast for some holiday-with-family goodness! Huzzah! I’ve actually got quite a backlog of projects to share at this point, due to poor photography weather and a great deal of travel-induced stress sewing. I’m hoping to get some nice pics when I’m home in PA – my dad is quite an avid photographer and does a great job with his fancy camera! (Hint hint…:) )

Anyhow, my make for today is from several weeks back. It’s the fabulous Audrey in Unst knitting pattern. After seeing fantastic versions by both Tasia and Lauren, I knew I needed to make one. The process took me a while – I started in June and finished knitting it in September, though it took me until November to sew the button bands and buttons on! But I’m quite pleased with the outcome. It has been the perfect weight for our extremely mild fall weather, and I was able to wear it a lot in lieu of a coat.

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My particular cardigan actually has a rather interesting story. It started life as a different sweater many years ago, which I cast on, knitted a bit, and then put aside. Several months ago I tried revisiting that project, and after looking at my gauge, I realized the yarn was too thick and would result in a sweater that was way too big. Somehow I missed this even though I made a gauge swatch! Ah, well, we all make mistakes :P.

So anyhow, I realized that the yarn would be perfect for the Audrey, and went from there. About halfway through, however, I discovered that I didn’t have enough yarn to finish, and the yarn was no longer being manufactured. Agh! I was resigned to the fact that it might have to have short sleeves instead of 3/4 length, but in a last-ditch effort, I decided to do a little search on Ravelry. Did you know that you can search other people’s yarn stashes and inquire about buying a few skeins? This totally blew my mind, and saved my butt!

I wrote to several folks who had the yarn in the right color in their stash, and Sarah (aka SarahStockinette) replied, saying she would be happy to send me the rest of her skeins for just the price of shipping. How awesome is that?? I’m totally indebted to her kindness, and the dye lots matched perfectly (which was kind of magic, since purple can be a tricky dye!), so I was able to finish the project without a hitch. Just another example of how generous this community can be!

Anyhow, more pics:

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Here you can see the “faux side seam,” created by knitting a purl stitch at each side. It helps the sides stay in place while wearing without the hassle of seaming.

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Lace yoke detail – my favorite part of the knitting, since it went super fast!

It’s probably too cold back east to take it with me for the holidays, sadly, but I know it’ll get lots more wear over in SF when I return!

LBD Moneta to the Rescue!

It’s full-on holiday season right now, my fiends! And you know what that means – parties, concerts, and sooo many other special events that require the perfect dress. After wearing a RTW dress to my husband’s holiday office party last year, I swore to myself that this year I would sew my own. And in spite of some near-disasters, I succeeded!

I started out really wanting to make the Colette Dahlia dress as my holiday dress for the season, and had found the perfect bronze/black damask while in PA during my recent travels. However, the fabric turned out to be horrifyingly of grain (I guess that’s what you get for $4/yard…oops…), which then created all kinds of weird fit/drape issues with the raglan sleeves. At that point, it was four days before the annual office party, and I had nothing but a hot mess on my hands! Agh!!

I went to bed that night with my mind racing through ideas of alternate dresses. I was working full-time hours that week, so I had no time to fabric shop or anything. At the eleventh hour, I remembered a black Telio ponte that I had purchased at Eddie’s Quilting Bee several months ago, and realized it would make the perfect LDB. Although I had hoped to turn it into pants, this was an emergency, so I figured it was worth the sacrifice!

For the pattern, I turned to my TNT knit dress, the Colette Moneta Dress. I didn’t have time for any more fit surprises! I changed things up this time, though, by swapping out the gathered skirt for the circle skirt from the Lady Skater Dress, another favorite. I also added a total of 12″ to the bottom circumference of the skirt by slashing and spreading the pattern – I thought a little more fullness would make the dress just a tad more “special occasion-y”. The result?

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YAHSSSS

Ok, I promise I’m not high in that pic – the company was giving out rainbow sunglasses as party favors. I’m soooooo glad I ended up with this dress for the office party – it was the perfect combo of comfortable, flirty, and semi-formal, and I felt great the whole time. Oh, and another major plus – even after eating all the yummy food there, it was still comfy. Major win!

Here are a few outdoor pics so you get a better idea:

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Note about the photos – I took them myself! With my new tripod! HA! I’ve been determined to take better blog photos, and I think going outdoors helps a lot. And now I don’t have to drag my husband! (Granted, I know I still have a ways to go photography-wise, but it’s a start!)

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This is quickly becoming my go-to “dressy dress” this season. I went to see the Nutcracker at the San Francisco Ballet yesterday, and once again this was the perfect dress! I was especially glad I wore it when I had to walk back in the rain – it’s nice, sturdy fabric that I don’t have to worry about in bad weather.

I’m so glad I pressed on in the midst of failure, because now I have the perfect LBD. Huzzah!

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The (Very Belated) Birthday Pants

So, this post is proof that not only am I a terrible blogger, I’m also a terrible wife. (TOTALLY did not mean to take a three week blogging break! Agh!!) My husband’s half-birthday was this past Monday. And I just finished his birthday gift a few weeks ago, making me a little under six months late. Oops.

In my defense, early June was when I had my terrible kidney stone incident (the stone literally passed on the day of his birthday…I told him that was his gift!), so I wasn’t in a very good birthday shopping state of mind. I had decided to take him on a whale watching cruise as a gift, but then we moved…no whales to see here! I has some red Robert Kaufman stretch twill in my stash, and since he loves colorful, slightly flamboyant pants, I thought this would be perfect for another pair of Thread Theory Jedediah Pants. Now that we’re well into Christmas season, they’re even appropriate for the current festivities!

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I added a little width to the bottom, grading from slightly above the knee to the hem to make them a little less “skinny.” Other than that, I made the pattern as-is, aside from shortening the hem an inch and a half. I really took my time making these. Part of this was procrastination, but part was to ensure that I didn’t rush the details. I’m especially proud of the topstitching on this project, which I occasionally redid several times to make sure it was perfect. Even though my husband doesn’t notice that stuff, I sure do!

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The button was fun – I used a jean button I got from Grey’s Fabric, which I got to use a hammer to install. Gets rid of frustration and looks extra professional – win! As usual, I really enjoyed this Thread Theory pattern – Morgan does such a great job! I’m hoping to squeeze out another of her patterns in time for Christmas; fingers crossed I get it done in time!!

I really wish I had gotten better detail pictures, but I’ve been having a really hard time with photography lately – any suggestions?? In fact, part of the reason I haven’t been blogging as much is because I’m getting pretty bummed about my poor photography skills. So many blogs have such wonderful pictures, but mine feel so crummy! I promise the pants look much better in real life than they do in these pictures :P. So any tips would be greatly appreciated!

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Anyhow, I’m quite pleased with how these turned out, and it think my husband likes them, too! And who knows – maybe if he’s lucky, he’ll get his Christmas present before June :P.