Tag Archives: clothing

why buy when you can make? shapely boyfriend cardigan

Done, my first knitted cardigan is officially finished!
shapely boyfriend cardigan. little home by hand blog.
shapely boyfriend cardigan. little home by hand blog.
Can you tell I’m excited? I absolutely loved knitting this, it was a great evening project to have on hand while watching a series (soo hooked on Game of Thrones).
Started in late December it took just two months to complete. I’d been meaning to knit a cardigan for years but considered it beyond my skills. Why do we always let fear keep us from just jumping in? The Shapely Boyfriend cardigan turned out to be a very easy, straighforward pattern and an enjoyable knit. Not to mention I love the result!
My Ravelry Project page.
shapely boyfriend cardigan. little home by hand blog.
shapely boyfriend cardigan. little home by hand blog.
I knit the size 34 on Drops Nepal yarn in this lovely butterscotch yellow colorway. My knitting got looser after starting on the body and I worried the cardigan would turn out to be too big. My stokinette back and forth knitting is also much more uneven than when I knit on DPNs. Thankfully both issues were improved by washing and blocking and while it is a tiny bit big I’m completely in love with it!

I’m now a sweater knitting convert, I had so much fun making this that I can’t wait to start my next cardigan or sweater. I’ve been browsing patterns on Ravelry for days, trying to decide on my next project.
Buying natural clothing has been my goal for years. Cotton, silk or viscose shirts are not hard to find, but real wool sweaters is another matter. Wool is not only a natural fiber it also keeps warmer than synthetic fibers, important for me as I get cold so easily in winter. Finding that I can just knit my own is such a revelation!

The only changes I made to the pattern was to shorten it by about 10 rounds and to space the buttonholes more evenly between the ribbing (as a result it has only 6 buttons instead of 7)

shapely boyfriend cardigan. little home by hand blog.
Worn with my handmade half-circle skirt. The necklace is by Native Clutter on Etsy.


burda sheath dress

I’m not usually a big Burda fan, but as soon as I saw this dress I knew I had to make it.

I had only ever made one pattern from Burda before, a skirt which I didn’t even finish because it was obvious that it was going to be way too big and hideous. So I had my reservations about this dress pattern which turned out to be totally unfounded. It fits great and I only had to take in the waist seam a bit.
The fabric is a lovely, soft flannel which is heavenly to wear.

I have to admit I’m not fond of adding seam allowances at the cutting stage. It’s probably just that I’m not used to it, but I felt it makes the sewing more inaccurate and in retrospect I’d have loved to do french seams which would have been harder with wonky seam allowances as well. So next time I’ll stick with my usual procedure and add the seam allowance to the pattern pieces before cutting. I finished the seams with zig-zag – not too fond of that either, it looks too messy for my liking. Yep, french seams really is the way for me!
I knew I would need to line the dress, because I’d wear it with tights and the flannel would stick to those. I thought about how I was going to go about lining it for a couple of days until I realized – I can just make a half-slip with an elastic waist and be done with it!

So that’s what I did, using some left over lining fabric (left over from a skirt I’ll post soon, yay). I just took my hip measurement, cut two rectangles and made a casing to thread some elastic through – no pattern, done in 30 minutes. I didn’t even take the time to iron it, obviously. Here’s a good tutorial though if you need instructions. And I can wear the slip with any other dress as well!

Worn with my Salme cropped blazer and a vintage orange coral necklace, another thrift store treasure.
I made two more alterations to the pattern: I shortened the hem slightly (though I think I may have overdone it here) and skipped the back zipper. Yep, skipped. I originally intended to insert a side seam zipper but I found that when the dress was done I could still pull it over my head if I took care.
All in all, I’m completely in love with this dress. It’s flattering yet super comfy and easy to dress up or down. And I’ve had lots of compliments at work for how cute it looks 🙂

salme cropped blazer

Number one from my fall sewing frenzy. Usually a blazer pattern would totally intimidate me, but the Salme blazer seemed easy enough to tackle.

I went up a size (lesson learned with these patterns) and found the pattern to be very straightforward and easy and the fit is great! The only tricky bit is the hem. There is a step missing in the instructions (when you’ve folded it you need to open it up again and fold it to the other side) but other than that much easier than thought it would be!
The fabric is a navy brushed cotton (like flannel but with a bit more body) that goes with everything and worked great for this. The blazer will see lots of wear, I’ve already worn it to work a couple of times.
I made one small alteration in lengthening the hem at the back a little. It really is very cropped otherwise. I originally tried to make this pattern in a flowy navy jersey which was a disaster. My fault for ignoring the fabric recommendations.
The gold colored top is actually another Wiksten Tank I made last year and never got around to blogging before our apartment move. I changed the hemline to make it a cropped tank. The fabric is Free Spirit Voile “Coneflower”.

salme lydia blouse

My last summer sewing project before plunging into fall and winter ideas (to be honest, I’m in waist deep already 🙂 ).
As mentioned in my Kimono dress post, I’ve discovered Salme Patterns for me. I really like Elisa’s designs – simple with a touch of vintage.
So I couldn’t wait to make the Lydia blouse in this gorgeous lightweight cotton/silk mix feather print.

On the whole I’m very happy with this. I did have a few issues with this pattern though:

  • The fit is good, but man, these patterns really do run small! I should have gone up a size, even though I made the size that should have fitted me perfectly. It still fits, but the back is a bit tight and with the thin fabric the seams already look like they won’t last forever. Next time (yes, there’ll be a next time!) I’ll go up a size.
  • The instructions are pretty sparse. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get 11 pleats into the front, so I ended up with less
  • That neckline is a lot higher than in the pattern picture. I don’t think I did anything wrong here and it looks ok but I really wish it was a lower.

Things I liked about this pattern: It was easy and fast to assemble while still teaching me new techniques. The sleeve cuff finish especially is a very interesting folding technique which I liked a lot (I should mention I did blindstitch the whole cuff by hand instead of doing only a few tucks as instructed). I omitted the shoulder detail but I’ll probably make it next time. The pattern comes without seam allowances, which suited me fine since I was free to add my own 5/8 ” and french seam the whole thing. On second thought, maybe that’s what made my neckline so high…maybe I should have added a slimmer seam allowance there.
Using Jen’s great tutorial, I french seamed the sleeve inset and it worked great! Now I’m wondering why I’ve never done it before…so nice and neat!

Now…off to buy fall fabrics!

yet another wiksten tank

Sorry for the long silence folks! I’ve been so busy since coming back from Italy that I haven’t taken many personal photos, let alone edit them.
We got summer and sunshine for a whole week, finally a stop to all the rain and below 20Cs we’ve been having! Which means that I got to wear the latest Wiksten tank, made earlier in the year:

I found this lovely silk chiffon fabric months ago and had to try working with it. It was easier to sew with than I had expected! I absolutely have to wear a white top under it though, because it’s very sheer.

Grey isn’t really a color that suits me but I like to pair it with corals or reds to brighten it up (like this red H&M blazer).

I haven’t actually touched my sewing machine in weeks and weeks but I’m hoping to dust it off today after work to work with a nice bright summer fabric I picked up yesterday.
I won’t complain though, I love all the travelling I have been doing lately and look forward to all those weekend trips already planned! As always I just wish there were more hours in the day though, to make time for sewing and also more time for developing my business (as it is, I’m so busy with photoshoots and editing them that I haven’t found the time to work on my website or the print shop I really wish to set up).
But now, another day at the office and starting the weekend after that 🙂

wiksten tulip skirt #2

So much for my high-flying plans to try out new things in sewing this spring! I always fall back on old favourites it seems…Wiksten patterns just fit me great and the tulip skirt is such a classic piece that I just had to make a summer version (see the winter version in corduroy here).

The fabric is a lightweight linen-rayon mix. Perfect for warm days.

To shake things up a bit I added pockets and a contrasting waistband inside.

I love this pattern…simple and easy and yet so neat with all the handsewn seam finishes. I also love how it sits at my natural waist, which I know suits me.

I hope Jenny decides to make more patterns in future, I can’t wait to sew them up!

handmade wardrobe

I’m still in the planning stages for most of my spring wardrobe. I don’t think I’ll ever get as organized as some sewers, I have too many ideas flitting in and out of my head and I change my mind too quickly.
That said, I’ve picked out and bought some fabrics that I’d love to use for the next few projects:

The floral cotton is the one I used for the most recent Sorbetto top, so that one is crossed off.
I’m terrified of the silk, I haven’t even pre-washed it yet (just cold water and mild detergent? Or is that too much already?). I’m trying to decide if it’ll look better in a more fancy blouse pattern (like Downton Abbey Edith’s blouse…swoon) or a very simple top that shows off its gorgeous drape, like Sybils top. I’d have a pattern for that one already, a dead simple 1950’s top I’ve made once or twice before. I could leave the sleeves short or extend them a little.

Not pictured is a grey and cream striped cotton jersey, my first knit and a take on the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern.
The rayon was an impulse buy, I love the print and rich browns look good on me. There’s a reason rayon is called artificial silk, it’s soo soft and nice to the touch, I can’t wait to sew with it. Same question here as for the silk regarding the right pattern choice. Any suggestions/opinions greatly appreciated, do leave a comment 🙂
The voiles will be simple, versatile blouses that can be worn with anything. I’m drafting the patterns myself, using the Sorbetto top as a basic sloper.

I’ve discovered the beauty of keeping a notebook and jot down ideas on the way to work on the train or wherever. At home I try to convert the scribbles into drawings I can actually work from.

I’m also dreaming of some 1920’s inspired dresses with drop waists…ideally a simple but elegant pattern in a soft, drapey solid.
We’ll see how many ideas make it into actual garments, before a new idea and a new project takes their place in my head. At least the sewing area in our new apartment is much roomier and more inviting than trying to sew between the kitchen table and the hallway, like in our old apartment.

Oh, and did you see the beautiful Tiffany lamp on the table? A thrift store find! Quite pricey at 30€ (that usually buys half the store), but I had to have it and I love the cozy, warm light it adds to the otherwise rather dark room.

floral sorbetto variation

A quick sorbetto top with a twist (or two, or three).

Inspired by this top and this Sorbetto Top variation, I modified the original Sorbetto pattern: Extended the shoulder by a couple of inches (and lowered the armscye) and added length, a button placket at the back and a small collar.

I also made a size bigger than I’d need to have it look a little blousier. The fabric is a lovely light floral cotton (almost sheer but not quite). I have to say I’m quite proud of the buttonholes at the back. I made them with my zig-zag steel monster machine using this tutorial for making buttonholes without a buttonhole foot or feature.

I like how it turned out and how it fits, but I’ll see how much I’ll actually wear it…I have nothing to go with a green floral except jeans. I’ve been looking for a nice grass-green fabric for a while (not cool green, not neon or flashy, just a nice fresh green) but no such luck.
Kind of like this aloe a friend gave me (I did find this lovely flower pot with a pastel green border for it at the thrift store).

I’m working on a couple more spring wardrobe-planning posts, so I might actually get more than one blog post in this week. Somehow a post each weekend sounds manageable and ok, but 4 posts a month sounds like nothing at all! I used to blog every two days when I started, but I have neither the time to write nor to read that much anymore. Most days it feels like I’m fighting my Google reader inbox and for every post I read there’s two more up that I don’t want to miss. Luxury problems I guess 🙂

sewing frenzy

Yes, still sewing here. So many ideas dancing around in my head that it makes me dizzy. And some of it is actually being made these winter stay-at-home weekends.

I joined Jen‘s “Handmade Wardrobe | Spring 2012” flickr group and started off by trying to organize my many ideas by pinning at least some of them up on this new foam board above my sewing machine. Do come join the group as well, it’s still a bit quiet there!
Corresponding inspiration pictures (lots from the wonderful Downton Abbey) are still to come. This beautiful blouse for example begs for a modern interpretation I think.

Some of the things on the board have already been made. The blouse I made last weekend didn’t turn out so well, so I’ll wait to show it until I’ve made some alterations. This weekend’s top is still waiting for its buttons. If I can get it done before the light goes there’ll be pictures (EDIT: I just realized I don’t have the right buttons for it here, so no pictures till next weekend at least).

I’ve really stacked up the patterns these last few months, but I find I keep going back to the keepers, who fit me well: The Wiksten Tova and Tank, the Colette Sorbetto and a vintage top pattern I bought on Ebay. 2012 will probably see me drafting more again and changing these existing patterns, plus trying out a select few new ones. Compared to two years ago (when I first tried drafting patterns) I feel a lot more confident in my sewing abilities, know more techniques and definitely have more of an idea what I’m doing and how I want things to look.

If you’re wondering at the lack of non-sewing related topics and photos: I’ll be making some changes this year, taking my photography elsewhere and focussing this blog more on the handmade side of my life (plus home and barn and cat pics of course). I’ll let you know where to find my photos, not to worry! It’s all still in the making and nothing to show for it yet, so expect more in a couple of weeks 🙂

practice makes perfect

I promised to post more of my sewing and since I can’t really put it off any longer, here are two more tops that got made this summer: a striped blue top from a vintage 40’s pattern (the same as this one) and a Wiksten Tova Top.
I was reluctant to post them because I don’t really like how they came out. The great thing about sewing your own clothes is that you can make precisely the kind of clothing you love. The bad thing about it is that you’re bound to go wrong some time, it’s part of the learning process.

I love the look of the blue top, but it doesn’t really fit me. It’s not very noticable in the picture but the bust area is much too big for me and it looks funny with the tailored waist. I have since learned how to make a small bust adjustment. Also the fabric is too stiff for this pattern, it worked much much better with the light cotton voile I made it from the first time.

The next top is a Tova from a light-weight cotton lawn (maybe, it’s not voile but equally light weight).

I loved the fabric when I saw it and I love it still…just not on me. I don’t do patterned fabric very well, I am finding out more and more that I should stick to solids.

So with each item I make I am still learning and learning. Making clothing can sometimes be frustrating and it will always be very time consuming. But it is also very rewarding and I for one am always thinking that the next thing I sew might just be the perfect item that I have been searching for 🙂