April

With the world not quite making up its mind if it is winter still or summer already, I have both wool and linen stuff to show you today. And lots of words!

The final alpacca shawl

Starting with winter and alpacca wool, this is a scarf with well over a decade worth of history. I could probably write a whole separate blog post on this scarf alone, but here is the short version:
– Bought different colored alpacca yarn in 2004 while at “folk high school“, where everyone knits all the time. I made several long and skinny scarves.
– Started a pair of colorwork mittens, which I didn’t finish until many years later.
– Moved to Bergen in 2005 to study at the University, and freehanded a crochet wrap cardigan with this brown color, which was my neutral at the time. I am still impressed that I just decided to crochet a cardigan with no pattern and little experience. Raglan, and seamed, no less!
– Never wore the cardigan, since the crochet fabric was very open. Frogged it the same year and made a crochet triangular scarf instead that I wore near daily for the next decade.
– Still in 2005, found the exact color brown on clearance since it was being discontinued, and bought the rest.
– Fast forward to 2013. Had lots of yarn left, decided to knit myself a sweater. Thought I would run out of yarn, but I had plenty left.
– Frogged the crochet scarf during Christmas two or three years ago since the yarn was breaking in places. Idea of giant scarf to end All the Brown Alpacca Wool was born.

– Frogged the silly faux colorwork mittens that never fit, and were never used.
– Early 2016 I started a (real!) pair of colorwork mittens with the rest of my Barcelona souvenir yarn. I ended up knitting three mittens as I somehow lost the first somewhere in my apartment. Yeah, no idea how I managed that feat.
– Early 2017 I started the Final Alpacca Scarf (pattern is Close to you). I couldn’t finish the scarf though, as long as the colorwork mittens were underways, and they were taking kind of forever.
– March 2018: Finished the mittens, and subsequently knit the final three rows of the scarf with the very last of the alpacca yarn. Phew! 14 years and three iterations later, I do believe I will keep this one!

Irish Vine Colorwork mittens
Ok, that was not so short after all, but let me make it up by saying the following about the mittens. They are pretty, they took a long time to knit, and I am happy with them. The end. Ravelry notes and more pictures here.

Linen crop top and shorts
Moving deftly into summer, as our weather did – for a day at least. Sustainable sewing is a hot topic right now, and the Love to Sew episodes on this and intentional making were particularly inspiring to me, especially the round-up of ways to use scraps. I was delighted to realize I do a lot of those things already! Refashioning has also been a focus for a number of years, through projects like The Refashioners run by Portia Lawrie. I am mentioning these things as I had a stroke of inspiration one day, eyeing a full length linen sleeveless dress hanging in my wardrobe. It was given to me by a friend who though the color was typical me. Here is a terrible phone camera picture that I snapped at night before starting to unpick everything.

I did love the dusty olive green linen, but the fitted and lined dress was not a style I felt comfortable in. Suddenly I had the idea of using the bottom of the skirt as a crop top, placing the existing vent on the back for a breezy, boxy summer top. Using my trusty self-drafted kimono sleeve top as a template, I traced the shoulder slope and neckline, and added rectangles for sleeves. The neckline facings are pieced from the armhole pieces of the dress, which happened to have the perfect curves.

This was a case of squeezing as much as possible out of the available fabric. For the shorts I used the OOP 3850 Simplicity Built By Wendy Slim-fit pants. I have made shorts (still unblogged, save for a mention of the plans) from this pattern, and they fit alright. I extended the lines as much as I could to get a high waist, and was able to eek out a waistband that is faced with a different fabric on the inside. The front pieces were cut with the dress side seam running down the middle, and the back was pieced. I used the original invisible zipper, just shortened. For comfort and allowing for fluctuations in weight the waist isn’t fitted, but rather has a 1″ elastic, held ever so slightly taut, that keeps the waist in place but doesn’t pinch.

I wanted to make the shorts as high waisted as possible, so I could wear them with the crop top with just the right amount of skin flashing. As you can see, I have to raise my hand quite a bit to show midriff! The vent means the back is more on display, especially when I move, but it is all in balance I think.

I had so much fun turning this unworn dress into something I look forward to using! Having the tiniest of fragments of fabric left afterwards was also fun – I so enjoy the creative problemsolving in projects like these.

Ogden Cami

This post is getting so long – I think I can sum this sewing project up quite quickly. Fast sew, good patterndrafting, I need an FBA (judging by the straps splaying and the wedge popping out near my armpit), viscose wrinkles, I’d like to shorten the straps 1/2-1″, and the strap placement doesn’t cover the top my my bra. I prefer to be able to wear a bra (with straps), so I am not sure that this top will become a staple in my wardrobe. Solid pattern!

IN THE WORKS
Stashing
IMG_20180421_101019237

Alessa of Farbenfreude is moving house soon (congrats!), and was doing a destash on her instagram. This fits right into sustainable sewing, so I am excited to get some new pieces of fabric and exercise creativity in deciding how I can best use these pieces. This gorgeous tweedy wool with multicolored flecks feels maybe like a Belladone dress, I think. And look how sweetly packaged – thank you Alessa!

Christmas brioche scarf
Yes, very late… I am knitting a brioche scarf that was a Christmas gift. In all fairness, I did request color input on a knitting giftcard, so I didn’t start until February. It is grey, will be very long, squishy and warm.

Fåvang kofte
Finally I found yarn to suit the frogged Bayview sweater! The pattern is looking beautiful, and I have made it to the point of dividing for sleeves and bodice. This is one of my #2018makenine items.

M7261
Also a #2018makenine item, a set of running tights and top. The sizing has thrown me off, since many reviews mentions going down a size or even two. In addition, I won’t be using 5/8″ seam allowance (1/4″ is more like it, using an overlocker!). I have cut out the top going down three sizes, hoping for a wearable muslin. I want to order wooly nylon (www.bwear.se is a source for us Scandinavians!), but I need to…  actually order the stuff.

A selfless Sydney jacket
I am making a Sydney jacket in a dark grey felted wool. I have made two for myself, this is the first, and the only one that has been blogged about. The jacket has been waiting for months, all cut up, and shouldn’t be hard or lengthy to sew, which leads me to the next item on my list.

Me-Made-May
I have been thinking of how to participate in MMM in a way that makes sense to me. Using me-made garments each day is something I can easily do, but what is not happening at the moment is sewing time. Almost every project feels too overwhelming and time consuming in this hectic season I am having. I’ve decided in May to spend 15 minutes each day on this sewing hobby of mine. That can mean taping and cutting patterns, gathering supplies, basting a seam, or actual sewing (!). I am hoping this will lower the threshold to just do *something*, even if I can’t set aside longer chunks of time. So – that is how I am participating this year!

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January

Phew, we’re finally at the end of this long, long month. I haven’t felt like writing up separate posts about things I have made lately, so here is a round-up of sorts. While taking these pictures I actually kept finding garments I forgot I had made but not shared, so things are looking good for a similar February-post! :D So, from the last couple of months:

FINISHED

Fern-print maxi dress

Yes, my tendency to make seasonally inappropriate garments is still at large. Last spring I bought this slubby cotton-linen jersey, thinking I might make a jump suit (I have not forgotten the sewing dare I got from Gillian, several years ago!). After a bodice/shorts muslin (free-handed frankenpatterning) I deemed the idea and fabric as not a good fit. A maxi dress, however! Shows off the print nicely with few distractions, and a type of garment I’ve been reaching for more and more. The top is from Tilly and the buttons Bettine dress, with a raised neckline in addition to my earlier alterations. The skirt is a simple slightly flared A-line, as flared as I could make it with the roughly 2m of fabric I had. The back bodice and skirt are both pieced with a seam down the center. Excellent utilization of the fabric, as I had absolutely nothing left! In fact, the neckline binding and waist elastic casing are both from other thin jerseys from my stash.

Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress + freehanded a-line skirt
Fabric: 2 m of cotton/linen jersey blend from Stoff & Stil, looks to be sold out now.
How much fabric is left: None.
How will I use the leftovers: The tiny scraps went into my plastic bag of fabric scraps, destined for H&M’s textile recycling program.

Oversized art teacher sweater

One thing I noticed looking through my pattern stash the other day is that my collection is mostly made up of pretty “safe” garments and silhouettes. None of the exaggerated sleeve shapes, or dramatic coats, or flared pants that have been making the rounds lately. I haven’t decided if I feel like that is boring, or an accurate representation of my style.

Regardless, I had this RTW sweater that felt a little dramatic, in how wide the bodice was. Lots of fabric to fan around in and playing (or being) an art teacher! At the same time, the clean lines and slim sleeves (and for me, typically paired with slim jeans) balanced out the volume and made it a pleasant amount of quirky. I gave the sweater to a dear, dear friend because she loved it, and now I have made a copy. The sleeves are like super-deep cuffs – just folded double. It gives them stability and heft that works really well. I was so pleased with this I wore it to school before even hemming it!

Pattern: Copied from a beloved gifted RTW sweater
Fabric: 1,5 m of  polyester/viscose knit, from Stoff & Stil.
How much fabric is left: From the 2 meters I bought I have an odd L-shape, with 50 cm full width, plus maybe 60×70 cm on one side.
How will I use the leftovers: I’m not sure! There could be enough for a short sleeve top-like thing in my size, but this feels like sweater fabric. So… maybe a sweater for a kid.

Kimono sleeve/print top

This is the third time I use this particular self-drafted pattern. The first was in a grey printed viscose, matching my Named patterns Alexandria pants, and combined to a faux jumpsuit. I’ve also made it up in a knit fabric, but that wasn’t as successful. The casual shape + casual fabric = sloppy looking, in my mind. Much better in this viscose with drape, but still a tiny bit of structure! I love the large-scale and dramatic print of the fabric, well suited to a garment with few seam lines. Still, there is some interest in the cuffs, and a slightly curved hem (front to back). I had just enough for this and an Ogden cami (with some creative cutting, of course), but the cami was very wrinkled so I didn’t photograph it this time. Come back in February!

Pattern: Self-drafted, but the add-on sleeve angle is similar to the Bettine dress
Fabric: I had about 1,5 m of this beautiful woven viscose from Stoff & Stil, and could probably squeeze one of these out of 0,7 m (for a size S-ish). I’m wondering if it is the same kind of fabric as the rayon challis I keep seeing mentioned everywhere?
How much fabric is left: Nothing!
How will I use the leftovers: Well, I’m won’t. Happy camper. :)

Carlilse mittens
I’ve already shown these on instagram, but here they are one month in, felting and pilling like crazy. That’s ok – I think a trim will have them looking nice again, and maybe it is just an initial round before they settle in. The yarn is about the loveliest I have ever knit with. Soft, sort of smooth, lofty, and luscious. The stitches melt into each other to form a fabric in a really nice way too. I am not crazy about the thumb sticking out on the side since it twists the rest of the mitten. All future mittens will have gusset thumbs (is that what they are called?).
Pattern: Brooklyn tweed Carlisle mittens (my ravelry notes)
Yarn: Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool Fine in Pewter and Granite
How much yarn is left: About 25 grams in each color.
How will I use the leftovers: Probably another pair of mittens!

IN THE WORKS
Colorwork mittens (ravelry) – long time in the making, and slow progress from the fingering weight yarn. Also, when you loose one of the almost-finished mittens (sans thumb) inside your house, it sets you back a bit.

Alpacca scarf (ravelry) – at least 90% finished, and just waiting for whatever is leftover of the brown alpacca yarn from the colorwork mittens. It is the ultimate stashbusting scarf that can just grow until there is no yarn left. I’m so excited! This yarn and I have an over decade long history, and I am thrilled to have it almost all knit up.

Chambray sleeveless shirt – I bought a remnant at my local fabric store that I think should comfortable be enough for a sleeveless M7084, but as a shirt instead of a shirt dress. This is also one of the projects I have listed for my #2018makenine. Since I bought this pattern thinking it can easily turn into a repeat offender, I want to put in the effort of tweaking the fit and make a muslin. I also want to skip making a muslin, but the desire for a good fit wins out. Sensible sewing.

A wool mini-skirt – and another absolute perfect fit, in terms of using *all* the fabric! Only tiny triangles left from cutting out the main fabric. It does mean using a different fabric for waist and hem facings, but my stash has proved up to the task. As a detail on this self-drafted skirt I am thinking a pair of slanted single-welt pockets on the front, in addition to the exposed back metal zipper. I am currently auditioning a number of lining fabric candidates from my stash (this is a moment where I am happy to have quite a selection! I keep realizing just how many things I can make using only what is already on my shelves. It is quite exiting!).

How has January been for you guys? Slow going, or sewing up a storm? Feeling inspired by the #makenine? So far it is keeping my sewing plans a little bit more focused, and a little less… overwhelmed by inspiration!

icelandic cabin sweater

I am really in to colorwork knitting at the moment, as well as stashbusting (always!) – which has resulted in this beautiful sweater! For once I have actually completed something seasonally appropriate as well – I do have a tendency to finish summer dresses in the winter and mittens in the summer.

Telja sweater (8)

Longtime readers might think the yarn or color looks familiar, and they’d be right. This is actually the Modum knit jacket from my final collection at design school. I loved designing and knitting this jacket, and the final result – but I did  not love using it (it totally dwarfed me, and not in a cool Berlin-based artist way that I could pull off). Not that you have to use everything you ever make, but this was such gorgeous yarn in one of my absolute favorite colors, that it seemed such a shame to let it stay unused as a jacket. So I frogged it!

Pattern: Telja from Knit.Love.Wool (my ravelry notes here)
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in color Hayloft, and assorted small quantities of yarn I had laying around.
How much yarn is left: Of the Shelter yarn, almost 50 grams. Of the other yarns I just borrowed a bit from full skeins, so there is plenty left of most of it.
How will I use the leftovers: Shelter yarn will be part of a Baby Sophisticate jacket for a new little dude I get to hang out with every so often, and the wild sheep yarn is going to become a traditional Norwegian “kofte” – I am looking at maybe the Fåvang from a book I own.

Telja sweater (9)

Telja sweater (3)

What more do I want to say about this? I changed some things from the original pattern. I skipped the colorwork sections on the sleeves and hem, and I did a rib neckline instead of the i-cord finish. I thought the neckline looked a little open, so I wanted to close it in a little bit, and to my eyes this finish looks more traditional. I knit the colorwork section twice actually – after I dutifully made a swatch, calculated from that, realized the yoke was too big, and ripped back to knit it again pretty much exactly as patterned. Oh well!

Since deciding to knit an Icelandic style sweater from my past project I have pictured this on a cabin trip in the mountains somewhere, hiking, maybe skiing, playing board games and sitting around a fire. Now I’ve been invited to a cabin weekend in November, and I can’t wait to put this sweater to use in what I picture being its proper element! In the meanwhile, it works *just fine* around the house too. My 120-year old apartment building isn’t exactly draft free.

Telja sweater (4)

Telja sweater (10)

Telja sweater (1)

I really enjoyed the colorwork section, and seeing how the yoke was shaped through clever decreases. And, I like the stranded inside almost as much as the outside! It feels similar to a neatly sewn garment.

So, the yarn! Some thoughts on Shelter. I love, love, love the color and the depth and intensity of it. It was really cool to learn about how they blend the colors, by adding different percentages of base colored roving, then spinning them together. Almost a bit of pointillism, in yarn form! It is quite sticky, which made it actually not the most pleasant (or at least, smooth) yarn to work with, and still on this second pass I was picking out little bits of twigs. On the upside it spit-splices like nobody’s business, and it has a really nice pine-like smell that I remember from last time I knit with this. I was amazed that the smell was still there after 6 years of storage and washes and things!

Telja sweater (5)

It’s a gorgeous sweater, in my opinion, and I really liked knitting it. My favorite part of this project though has to be getting use out of something that was just lying around. I feel a season of stashbusting and mindful making coming on!

first foray into bra-making

Well, I’ve joined the ranks of bra-sewers! I am so intrigued by the fact that making your own bras is a thing, and that regular people can actually do it! I mean, I’ve known for years it is possible, reading the posts and seeing the enviable results of sewers like Lauren, Novita of verypurpleperson, and Norma of orange-lingerie. It just hasn’t felt like it is achievable – until I have now achieved myself. Behold, one Watson bra, and one knock-off.

watson_bra-1

grey_bra-1

First off, I have had tremendous help from reading Lauren’s posts on bra-making. This one breaks down the materials and notions needed, and the two-part post showing step by step how she sewed a Boylston bra is just gold. My Watson experience plus these posts totally gave me the confidence to attempt sewing a bra using a traced pattern with no instructions.

Watson bra
Materials:
 Miliskin fabric, lining, hooks and eyes, plushback elastic (3/8″ and 5/8″), and strap elastic from a Blackbird fabrics kit. Lace fabric remnant from stash, rings and sliders from old, dead bra.
Pattern: Watson bra from Cloth Habit, and Grace panties from OhLulu (love this pattern! Success every time).

watson_bra-3

Starting with a Watson bra and a bra-making kit was a very conscious choice on my part to make it easier on myself. The Watson pattern for being a simpler style with a lot of hand-holding, and the kit from Blackbird fabrics so I could skip making by brain hurt from figuring out what to get and where (I just postponed that brain-hurting, since I later decided to try other bra-styles, which needed other kinds of supplies). I actually made two Watson bras, but I’m only showing the one that is wearable. The other ended up in the trash after I salvaged the hooks, eyes, rings and sliders, because really – it was way too small and just not happening. The measurement chart in the pattern put me at a band size 32 and cup size E. I cut a size 3o E (don’t ask me why… mismeasurement?), which as mentioned, was too small. Next attempt I did a size 34 E, which is actually a full two sizes up both in bandwidth, and in cup-size. The fit was much improved. There is some bagginess in the upper part of the cup, which looks like it has to do with shape, or volume distribution, but the cradle part of the cup is fine size-wise.

watson_bra-4

A lot of people have mentioned the comfort and relaxed style of the bra. I can totally see that, and I was really swayed and optimistic about the longline style, but I am getting some migrating throughout the day where I keep having to pull the bra down. Something isn’t quite working for me, and to be honest I don’t think I will try to figure it out. I tend to prefer underwire padded bras, or none at all, so a Watson-style bra honestly will get limited wear from me. It was a great project to get started though, to get familiar with the construction methods, the materials, and fiddly nature of sewing bras. For the second version I tried a few things differently than from the pattern, notably sandwiching the side/back portion between the miliskin outer fabric and the stable lining, to get a clean-looking inside. I also cut a couple of strips of the lining, and used them to finish the seams where the cups attach to the cradle. It worked beautifully and makes the insides look all professional and lovely!

watson_bra-2

Speaking of professional, I can’t get over how good this next bra looks like on the inside. I mean, look at this!

grey_bra-6

grey_bra-5

Grey balconette bra
Materials:
 Fabric from stash, lining and powernet from Blackbird fabrics kit. Foam from MakeBra in Finland, plush back elastic (5/8″) from B-wear in Sweden, FOE from my stash (originally from SewSassy) hooks, eyes, rings, sliders and strap elastic from an old, dissected bra.
Pattern: Traced from an old Change bra, this one.

My preferred bra style is a padded balconette type bra. Almost all my bras right now are from Change, and I have found two of their styles in particular fit really really well. So – since I’ve read that a lot of people end up tweaking and testing and muslin-ing their bought bra patterns, and even recommend tracing a well-fitting bra, I decided to start at that end. I took apart the most tired of my well-loved bras, and traced and cleaned up the pattern. The underwire came out and got reused, since there wasn’t really anything the matter with it. It is really a lot of fun taking these little pieces of fabric, putting them together, and bam! You’ve engineered underwear!

grey_bra-2

grey_bra-3

The pattern I traced is a fairly classic t-shirt bra, with one vertical seam. It has padded straps, sort of like the Boylston bra, which I really like. Since the straps are set quite wide, it feels like a balconette style, though I think it is a tad more coverage than typical balconette bras. The original had a thin synthetic jersey kind of fabric (I really don’t know my bra fabrics yet) covering the foam cups, and the same fabric for the bridge and cradle. It also has a seam at the narrowest point under the cup, meaning that I would either have grey cups and black bridge and cradle, or grey cup and bridge, and black cradle, or grey everything – layering the thin jersey over the bridge lining and cradle as well as the cups. I thought grey everything would look the least weird, so I went for that! Of course, I didn’t have fold-over elastic (FOE) in grey, so I used the black I had on hand. It made for a pretty sporty look I think.

Construction wise I followed Lauren’s excellent tutorial, as well as checking out my dissected old bra. The Boylston bra doesn’t have FOE, so I had to diverge a little there, in finishing one bra cup seam before attaching the cup, and the other after. The strap elastic is also attached straight down, as opposed to becoming the finishing on the top edge of the cradle, leading to the hooks and eyes. I messed that bit up so it looks less professional in that spot, but the function is still fine.

grey_bra-7

I was hoping for a pretty bang-on fit since I copied the pattern from one I knew worked well. At the same time, I’ve seen plenty of people mention that changes in fabric really affects the fit. For a first attempt with a foam cup this bra is pretty damn good, with one area of improvement. While the silhouette from the side is nice and rounded, looking straight down it looks a little pointy. I thought there might be an issue of not enough length from left to right, but I made up a foam muslin after some pattern changes that only seemed to make it worse. My next attempt will be to turn the cup into a three-piece pattern, so volume and curves can be distributed along several seams. Theoretically that should improve things – realistically I am bracing myself for quite some trial and error here! If anyone has experiences they want to share, please do!

For my own sake, I will jot down the changes I’d like to make for the next version. I’m thinking the small remnants I have from this floral Bettine dress would make a fun bra!
– Eliminate the seam directly under the cup, and have one at the side seam instead. That seems more par for the course when I look at other bra patterns.
– Get rid of the tiny dart at center front – I think it’s there to cover the ends of the FOE. I’d rather have a continuous elastic, or a bow to cover up the raw edges.
– Move 3/8″ – 1/2″ from the cup to the band at side seams.
– The slinky jersey has much more stretch than the foam, and since I cut them the same size the jersey is loose. If I cover foam cups with stretchy fabrics I should reduce the pattern for the stretchy fabric with at least 10%.

– Remember to attach the strap elastic to the bottom edge *before* the picot edged elastic. Then do the top edge of the cradle before securing the strap elastic to the top.
– Attach underwire casing before FOE elastic on the front/top edge of cup, to attach casing all the way. Secure ends with zig-zag, cover with FOE.

grey_bra-1A reapeat picture. But I don’t care – I’m proud!

sydney jacket in bergen

sydney_jacket-3

Fabric: About 1.3 meters of boiled woven wool, 1.5 meters wide. I was gifted the fabric some years ago by a sweet fellow sewist, and I’m so glad to finally have found the right project for this dusty colored wool.
Pattern: Sydney jacket, from Tessuti fabrics.
Techniques: topstitching.

sydney_jacket-1Feeling just a *bit* awkward posing with my tripod, on the street in my neighbourhood this past extremely windy Sunday afternoon. Yep, just me and the brunch crowd hanging around!

Oh, man – I love this jacket. It’s maybe not the most year-round kind of jacket, but damn, I feel stylish in this! I’m not quite sure what to say that hasn’t already been mentioned by the many, many bloggers who have made this jacket already since the release last year. I will try. I mean, words usually have to be dragged out of me, so I hope you all are aware of what sort of sacrifice this is for me. (I kid. I have so many words inside me. Just in general I mean.)

sydney_jacket-2I was too impatient to steam the jacket before wearing it out!

The construction is, as noted many places, a little different, but in a fun way. The seams are all overlapped and topstitched down. I ended up doing double rows of stitches just to make the seams more secure, plus I think it looks nice. Starting a Saturday morning in a mad dash of inspiration, I was not about to leave the house to buy me some fabric-matching thread, so I made do with what I had. I chose a warm sable kind of color, which I think went well with the dusty rosy mauve of the wool. It certainly does not match, but it’s not exactly a contrast color either – it just gives a bit of dimension!

This was not a difficult jacket to make. I spent three leisurely hours (including some unpicking and a snack break) one morning after realizing this fabric in my stash was a perfect fit for the pattern I assembled and cut the previous night. I was on my way to pull out a thicker grey felted wool when this softer boiled wool just sang out for my attention. What could I do but obey? Based on other bloggers notes about the roominess I decided to cut the petite size, with the added 1 cm length of the size small. I’m happy with the ease I have in the finished jacket – I certainly wouldn’t want it any larger (I’m 5’4″/164 cm for reference). I have to say… as soon as I put it on I knew that grey felted wool is coming out after all. I want another one! So cozy and warm! I mean, it won’t really hold up to cold days or superwindy days, but I most definitely felt the added warmth of wearing this jacket!

sydney_jacket-6

I can’t get over how pulled together, slightly artistic and cool I felt wearing this. I’m not even sure I know what I think this word means, but I felt chic damnit. There. I said it. Now – go make yourself one of these. I’ll be back soon with some knits I’ve finished, in my favorite color ever. Oh, the suspense! ;)

portside travel set for international travels

Well, really for any kinds of travels – I used it this weekend for a sleepover and a trip to a cabin, and last week going to the gym. But I *made* it for my epic sailing adventure to Belfast last summer!

portside_travel_set (2)

Oh the sheer joy and slight terror on my face! I was so excited, and rightly so – the sailing trip was a wonderful experience. Statsraad Lehmkuhl is a training vessel based in Bergen, with both permanent crew, trainees that spend a couple of years on board, cadets from the military academy that join on the 2-month cross-Atlantic sail each fall, and shorter trips that we mere mortals can pay to go on. It’s work though – two shifts of four hours each every day, where we haul sails, maintain the ship, keep lookout, and steer. And sleep in hammocks, which was… the best. Ever. We were told to avoid packing in suitcases, since space was limited and the lockers narrow. It seemed like a great opportunity to make a Portside travel set!

Fabric: 1-ish meter each of dark navy twill from somewhere in London (bought for a Robson coat), a water-repellent fabric called Dralon from Stoff & Stil (I think it’s the right color, but it might be creme instead of light grey), and lined with some polyester crepe-satin-twill (totally the official description) from my stash, bought on sale at Vogue in Evanston, IL several years ago.
Pattern: Portside travel set, from Grainline Studio.
Techniques: lining, convex curves, zippers, topstitching, webbing.

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I actually managed to only finish the duffle bag before the trip (last-minute too – if I remember correctly I was sewing in the lining the morning of departure!). After the trip I had other projects that took up my time, so it wasn’t until early this spring that I picked it up again. I made a few changes to the pattern. First up, I used lining in more places than the pattern calls for, like to finish the outside pockets, and inside the pouch. To accommodate the length of zippers I bought, and also because I like the look of the tabs between the zipper and the side seams, I added an inch of width to each of the travel set pieces. Only – I forgot I had done so when I had to recut the bottom for the dopp kitt, so it is a bit misshapen. Haha!

Buying notions was a bit of a headache for someone who ends up researching different options to no end, and due to time constraints I didn’t use all of it for this bag. I want to list it here for future reference though. The black zippers with antique brass teeth that I did use came from Etsy shop zipperstop, whom I’ve bought from before and has a mind-numbing number of zippers available. They also do custom stuff (these were custom length), and have been quick, with good customer service. I also ordered some grey donut style pull, also antique brass, from zipstop, which look very nice. From 3DAN I bought the hardware (1 ¼ inch gunmetal D-rings and 1 ¼ inch gunmetal swivel snap hooks) and webbing (heavy weight nylon in deep grey – oh how I agonized over color choice, there were so many to choose from, and computer screens can’t be relied on to show nuanced differences in cool vs warm grey tones!). I ended up using none of the webbing or hardware – it took too long (which really means, I was too late in ordering!), so I raided a bag I was throwing out for the hardware, and used the webbing available at Stoff & stil, a rather stiff and cheap feeling gros grain in grey (ugh, more color choices! Should the webbing match, or contrast? Perfect match, or just “go”?). Now at least I have everything at the ready for the next bag, and I can use the much nicer feeling nylon webbing – it’s more finely woven, smoother, and reminds me of seatbelt material.

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Sewing the bag, the dopp kit and the pouch is pretty straight forward, but a bit fiddly at times. Sewing the bottom in and pivoting at the corners, and topstitching afterwards benefits from a lot of precision, a good dose of dexterity, and a fair amount of patience. Even with all of those some of my sewing was less even, but the pattern is forgiving enough that it still looks *really good*. I’m pleased to no end with these, especially after the addition of an old brown leather luggage tag I found at my dad’s house, and matching brown leather pull tabs.

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I know some people have mentioned the d-ring installation as tricky, and I found this arm sling tutorial helpful in making things less confusing. I’ve used this bag quite a lot since finishing it, and I’m so thrilled that I made a piece of luggage I can use and looks so… real! I’m anticipating getting a lot of use out of the two other pieces too now – the dopp kitt is currently holding a knitting project, and is the perfect size for a baby sweater in progress. Size wise the duffel bag suits a weekend-length trip. I’m sure I could get a weeks worth of stuff in there if I only brought the most necessary, but the weight of the bag is actually was stops me before the volume. In fact, for the next one I might try attaching the carrying straps further down on the bag, so I could wear it on my back. On this one the straps are attached too close to use it that way. I’m thinking also an inside pocket or two could be practical. Clearly I’m planning on making more. I think they would make really nice gifts, for example!

And finally, one more picture of me boarding the ship because I loved the trip and I’m very proud that I traveled in style, and ended up climbing up the rope ladder level to the flag during the course of the trip. Ship ahoy!

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i have plans… OAL-plans

I’m chipping away at my ufo-pile that I posted about last month… um, two months ago (how in the world did that happen?) – I’ve finished the Grainline Portside travel set and just need to stuff it with pillows and photograph it, tackled a few easy repairs, and gotten back into muslin making for the Robson coat. I’ve been telling myself to knock out these unfinished projects before starting anything new, but then Lauren and Andi’s Outfit Along shows up and disturbs all my plans! In the best way, of course.

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Lots of pops of pink on my sewing table! Really my family inherited dining table, but… um, covered in planned and potential sewing projects now. A lovely little corner of my lovely new apartment!

The Outfit Along is a challenge to, between June 1st and July 31st, knit one garment and sew one garment to create a complete outfit. Technically you’re meant to start from scratch, but reading Lauren’s post got me so very inspired to build an outfit around a half-finished cardigan (another Bayview Street Cardigan) that I’ve lacked the drive to finish, so I’m bending the rules as I see fit. :) It took me about ten seconds to decide on a pair of shorts, another ten to realize I had a pattern in my stash that would work well (Simplicity/Built by Wendy 3850 pants), a minute to dig out a fine-waled grey corduroy I think will be perfect, and (I will admit it) a whole day to land on a magenta crinkly chiffon underlined in dark brown-grey chiffon for a sleeveless Pattern Runway Pussy Bow Blouse.

Going through my UFO-pile made me realize I tend to abandon projects when I deviate too much from the pattern or instructions, and run into fitting issues or problems that require a bit of effort to work through. I want to finish these garments that I’m planning, not add to my pile of stuff – so I’ve decided to really hold back on alterations I make to these patterns. For the shorts I’ll raise the center front though, as I’ve seen that is a recurring comment from others who have made it, and for the blouse I want merge the ties and the collar stand instead of having a separate tie. I’ll probably also raise the underarm slightly since the blouse isn’t drafted to be sleeveless.

So, I’m going to finish a longstanding UFO, make two pieces of clothing I’ve been wanting in my wardrobe, using fabrics and patterns from the stash. Win, win, win, win, huh? I’m excited! Anyone else participating in the Outfit Along?