Monday, May 15, 2017

Vintage Floral Wrap Dress from schneidernmeistern

This is the new 'noch ein Wickelkleid, bitte' wrap dress sewing pattern by schneidrenmeistren. This is the same designer who brought the Karl Dress into the world. She has a talent for making a strong statement that is also completely wearable. This wrap dress is a classic knit wrap dress that is knee length, and has 4 sleeve options. I'm wearing mine tied snuggly at my natural waist, but Monika and the other sewists on the 'notch win Wickelkleid, bitte' blog tour (list at end of post) have some way cooler styling suggestions for those looking for a more laid back urban vibe, or layered look. 
Monika kindly gave me this pattern to sew as I like. In this case what I like, is not my normal chambray, or linen. It would seem that is you're looking for consistency, you've come to the wrong place. This is my muslin, made with a miserable vintage polyester knit. I promise you, I have a characteristically reserved ponte variegated gray knit picked out for this little number, that was well within the typical SweetKM color palette. I took this vintage floral out of the "donate" pile on the sewing room floor so I could confirm fit and construction method before I cut into the good stuff. But every time I tried on the muslin, I liked it more, and more (looks great sleeveless, too!).

I initially hated this fabric. I bought it on Etsy a few months ago intending to make a 90's inspired flowing midi dress. It was miserably photographed to appear to be on a black background, and was described as a cotton blend with nice drape. Neither of those things are true. This is 100% spun plastic. If I stand too near a flame, or sit in a hot car I'm pretty sure this dress will shrink wrap to my body. It doesn't breathe, you can't iron it, it is likely to give me a rash. The fabric has a bit of stretch, but the ground and the print are screen printed on, so when it's stretched you can see the white polyester substrate between the rows of knit. Luckily, the flexible fit of a wrap dress minimizes the need for the dress to stretch that far. With all of these shortcomings the antique pink flowers make this feminine design just as romantic as I want it to be. I feel pretty, even in brown polyester! 

Honestly, I think the great fit of the dress is what turned my opinion of the fabric. It's still crap, but well fitting crap somehow looks good. I'm going to initiate a new rule of thumb, similar to no white after Labor Day. You can use a bad fabric on a well fitting dress, but must use good fabric for a poorly fitting dress. Now, we can all go forth and start flouting that rule. 
Based on my bust measurement I made a straight size 38. Unlike any RTW wrap dress I've ever worn my chest is safe from wardrobe malfunctions making a camisole optional. I normally grade up a size or two at the hips, but the flare of the skirt makes up for my curves. I love the close sleeve and arm opening. This is the 3/4 length sleeve option. I made two tiny changes to Monika's original design. I doubled the thickness of the ties to add to the vintage feel of the fabric. I also doubled the width of the neck edge band. As with most European patterns seam allowances are not included. I knew this, but still forgot to add it to the neck opening. I added it back with the width of the edge band. The open edge of the skirt has a built in facing that makes a really nice finish at the end of the neck edge banding.

Is there a woman alive who doesn't look good in a wrap dress? It's the perfect cure for my pear-shaped affliction. And, so comfortable I never want to take it off. I've been wondering what I'm going to do with that "good" fabric I never cut into, but I suspect it will end up as another 'noch ein Wickelkleid, bitte'!
Quick Links:
- Get the Pattern: 'noch ein Wickelkleid, bitte' wrap dress (it's 15% off during the blog tour!)
- Read Monika's description on her blog
- Check out the hashtag #nocheinwickelkleidbitte on instagram.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Improvised Sack Dress Worn Two Ways

I really like the idea of a sack dress (or is it a shift dress? I just never know.). They seem so effortless, and breezy. My head if full of the Jamie & the Jones Staple Basics Midi Dress, the Elizabeth Suzanne Georgia Midi , and the Ace & Jig Harbour Dress

I have tinkered with sack dresses before by modifying the Lou Box Top (original design by Sew DIY). And, I've made the slightly-more-structured-than-a-sack dress Lodo Dress from True Bias. There are plenty of pre-drafted options out there like the Tessuti Yuki Dress, the MIY Collection Fulwood Dress, the Mariella Walker Maya Dress, and the darling of sewcialists the Named Clothing Inari Tee Dress. I could have used any one of these patterns to similar effect, but propelled by sartorial hubris I decided to make my own. 

I used the arm opening from the Lodo dress, an old school neck facing (shown below in Liberty Tana Lawn) bound at the edge to add a little intention to a dress that could easily be mistaken as thrown together, and the width of my Lou Box Dress with a midi length. There is no shaping, and a straight hem. Laid flat it would be a perfect rectangle. I'm pretty sure the fabric is rayon modal denim from Joann Fabrics. You've got to pay careful attention to the seam finishes to prevent it fraying into a pile of fuzz at your feet, but I think that little extra effort is worth the shimmery drape. 
I like the idea of a sack dress, but they don't lend themselves particularly well to my pear shape. I'm always torn as to whether I should adhere closely to the silhouette that is most flattering, or use my powers of garment construction to make less flattering styles as flattering as possible. Rather than throw all caution to the wind with this dress, I'm giving myself a life line for days when I don't feel very avant-garde. I made a matching obi belt to add a little structure at the waist, and conform to a style I am much more comfortable wearing.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Lodo Dress + Obi Belt

Since the new Lodo Dress by True Bias came out I've been a little bit obsessed. The design is so simple, and so well detailed, allowing lots of room for the sewist to push, and pull the silhouette. Both the arm openings and the neck are faced with woven fabric, and the body is a structured knit (fabric links are affiliates). The body has a cocoon shape that tapers toward the hem. 

The Lodo pattern is written for someone 5'5" with a C cup. I'm 5'5.5" with a B cup. I think the bust difference makes this version a bit too long on me. I should have (and did in a later version) shortened the dress a bit in the middle for the hips to fall in the right place, and the hem to be a bit higher. I didn't have time to alter this one before spring break, but the fabric and pattern merit more tinkering. 
In the mean time, I've been wearing it with an Obi belt I made with Cotton & Steel linen blend on one side and black linen on the other. This was meant to be a muslin for future more subdued Obi belts, but I've been wearing this one a lot. I like the look and versatility of wearing a dress loose or belted (more on that later), and this print goes with absolutely everything I own (including some recovered kitchen chairs!). I guess I was drawn to it for a reason.

The dress fabric is a lovely Telio ponte knit from It has a nice body and drape, and works well with this style. I want one in every color, and am considering this bold blue for a short Lodo. I'm also loving Jenn's stripes, and Adriana's grid version.
Kelli has a good instinct for designing clothes that are easy to wear. She describes the Lodo as an elevated t-shirt, and it absolutely is. Comfortable, wearable and easy to dress up or down. This simple silhouette has sparked a chain reaction of experimentation around maximum garment versatility. 

Dress Pattern: Lodo Dress from True Bias
Dress Fabric: Telio Ponte Leggero Knit from
Belt Pattern: Self Drafted
Balt Fabric: Cotton & Steel Les Fleurs Folk Birds Black Cotton/Linen Canvas from

Thursday, April 20, 2017

SereKNITy + Bento Bag Giveaway (closed)

Thank to everyone who entered the Book & Bento giveaway! I loved reading all of your comments. The winner is @arcticmama1 on instagram. If you would like the book head on over to the Running Press Books website. If you'd like the bag, I've restocked my shop with a small supply of Bentos

For the last few weeks I've been knitting my way through SereKNITy: Peaceful Projects to Soothe and Inspire by Nikki Van De Car. This book includes more than 25 simple knitting, and crochet projects with simple stitch patterns and construction methods that keep your hands busy, and your mind free. There is everything from a tea cup cozy, to a button front cardigan, and lots of scarves and hats in between. This is exactly the kind of knitting I like to do. I like to keep my hands moving while I binge on Netflix, or chat with my husband at the end of the day. These projects leave a little head space for  other things. In the off chance that I'm knitting quietly alone, this is the sort of pattern that lets your thoughts flow, and good ideas come out of hiding. All of Nikki's projects could go to a coffee date, or beer night with friends, and not miss a stitch, or a word of the conversation. Because all of the projects are relatively simple, they are great for the beginning knitter.

I made the Portland fingerless gloves. I had a partial skein of Brooklyn Tweed Arbor left over from my last hat project, and I thought some spring mitts would go well with my spring hat. The texture of these mitts is made using only knit and purl stitches, and a short 4 row repeat. They knit up quickly over our last two car trips. I was a little worried I would run out of yarn, so I shortened them a bit from the instructions (details in my Ravelry notes). All of the SereKNITYy projects leave room for the knitter to improvise.

Because the lovely SereKNITy cover art and my bento knitting bag go so nicely together, I thought a giveaway would be fun! To win one copy of the book SereKNITy by Nikki Van De Car, and the Wholecloth Bento Knitting Bag shown here:

1. Comment on this blog post. Be sure to include an email where I can reach you with the comment. 
2. Follow me on Instagram. Like my post (which will appear later today) on Instagram, and leave a comment there. 

You may enter both here and on instagram, but only one entry at each place per person. Entries from any country are welcome. I will randomly pick a winner at 8pm Sunday April 23, 2017. 

Mitts Knitting Pattern: Portland Knit Fingerless Gloves 
Mitts Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Arbor in Sashiko from Loop Yarn

More about the Bento: Wholecloth Bento Bag
Running Press Publishing provided this book for free, but the opinions are my own. I reviewed one of my friend Virginia's books a few years ago, and was already familiar with what Running Press has to offer. 


Monday, April 3, 2017

Liberty Floral Archer Buttonup & Boreal Fragment Scarf

The Archer Buttonup (from Grainline Studio) is one of my most worn winter styles. My default out to dinner outfit is the chambray Archer View B with booties and black skinny pants. My favorite slightly more put together than usual day time outfit is the brown check Archer View A, tucked into high waisted jeans. I even wear my near disaster 10oz. denim Archer with sneakers and sweats when I'm in no danger or running into the fashion police. After working out every possible fit issue with previous versions of the Archer Buttonup, I figured it was time to splurge on one in Liberty London Tana Lawn. It's what every Archer wants to be, and what every sane sewist wants to make. This print is called Freya B (from Fancy Tiger Crafts), and I love the vaguely 90s tinge to the washed out pinks, and blueish green. Liberty creases like paper, takes the iron like a dream, and comes in so many fetching prints. The only down side is the price, but it's worth it for the right project.
Sometimes I wrack my brain and wreck my closet trying to find two things that go together (which is why dresses are awesome!). And, sometimes I inadvertently shop in color stories. It always feels good when your haphazard pile of recent makes, fabric purchases, and yarn acquisitions add up to something more than a few random garments. Coming up with colors, prints, and textures that work together automatically adds flexibility to my handmade wardrobe. Adding a little hand knit to a sewn garment adds depth to my commitment to making, and extends the garments usefulness to different seasons, and occasions. I sewed this shirt because it is a style I wear a lot. I added a hand knit Fragment Scarf (or 3) in Quince Finch (Boreal) to give myself some options. I may wear it weekly, but it doesn't always have to look the same. I'm going to knit and sew anyway. Might as well make things that go together.

The theme of blush and burnish even extends to some great stud earrings I was drawn to because they are fragments (get it?:), and finally bought because of the glittering echoes of the yarn and fabric color palette in the pyrite and copper.
I started this project with an unrealistic deadline in mind, which I totally missed. The morning of our anniversary night out, I had this shirt complete up to attaching the sleeves. No cuffs, not collar, no button(s)/holes, or hem. I was tempted to just bang it out with the quickest finishes possible, but in the end decided it would be an injustice fabric splurges everywhere.  I found something else to put on my body, and finished this project the next day to the very best of my ability: french seams at the shoulders and sides, particularly careful topstitching of interior collar stand, and the full Archer Popover Variation sleeve placket. The standard Archer placket always seemed like a short cut to me. But the first time (or two) I made it, I was so focused on how to build a wearable shirt, that I didn't waste too much time worrying about the beginner placket. Now I can burrito roll like a pro, and am more than ready to move on to a more professional looking sleeve opening.

I bought two yards of the Liberty print, and probably wouldn't risk it with less. If you're using accent fabric for the inside of the yoke, cuff, and collar stand you could probably get by with a yard and a half (WARNING: This sewist is not responsible for fabric shortages).

I finished Archer Buttonup last week, and have already worn it 3 times (with different hand knits each time, of course). Closet mission accomplished!


Shirt Fabric: Liberty London Tana Lawn in Freya B from Fancy Tiger Crafts 
Scarf Pattern: Fragment Scarf from SweetKM (ahem, me!)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Fragment Scarf : New Knitting Pattern from SweetKM

Last fall I knit myself a little scarf. It's just a triangle of subtle textured fabric that ties at the back like a bandana. It's a tiny little thing, but I wore it all winter long. It straddles the fine line between ornament and essential, keeping me warm in style. It's the kind of thing I'd leave on all day to protect myself from the vagaries of forced air heat. It imparts turtleneck warmth to any crew, and a little panache to a basic tee. Now that spring has made a tentative appearance, it's the perfect compliment to a light jacket. This is the Fragment Scarf, a new SweetKM knitting pattern. 
The Fragment Scarf knitting pattern has been professionally edited, and tested by a group of knitting volunteers. The textured repeat of this scarf is created with an easy to remember stitch pattern. The pattern includes complete written, and charted instructions. I would call this an advanced beginner pattern, but a determined beginner could knit it with a little help from the collective online knitting brain. It's a great opportunity to learn to read a chart, with clear text instructions as a back up.

My sample scarf is knit with Finch in Shell from Quince and Co. I love the chiseled relief of the stitch pattern in this yarn, but the simple design lends itself to substitutions. Different fibers will alter the effect, and drape of the scarf. If you're knitting the scarf for warmth, wool is the way to go, but it also makes a great statement necklace. My first version is knit with Quince Tern. The silk content of Tern makes the scarf drape much more loosely around the neck, at a small expense to stitch definition. I would love to wear a pure silk, or linen version in an eye popping hue.

This fragment of a project is a great opportunity to experiment with different yarns. It's knit with less than one skein of fingerling weight yarn making it the prefect project for stash busting, or a yarn splurge.

Construction: Knit top down with decreases at the sides. Rolled edge band is picked up and knit.
Skills: Knit, purl, k2tog, p2tog, ssk, ssp, yo, pick up and stitches.
Gauge: 24 st and 40 rows in 4in (10cm)
Needles: US size 6 / 4.0mm straight needles or size needed to achieve gauge
Yarn: Quince Finch (100% American wool, 221 yes/50g hank) 1 hank or 163 yds comparable fingerling weight yarn
Notions: Tapestry needle, 2 stitch markers
Size: One size.
Finished Dimensions: 26 1/2x28in / 67x20cm
Instructions: Written & chart

To recap, you can buy the Fragment Scarf knitting pattern right here. If you'd like a discount, or to stay informed on sporadic developments around here, subscribe to the SweetKM newsletter. Between now and April 5th subscribers get a 20% discount on the Fragment Scarf knitting pattern

I would love to see what you make! Share your finished projects on Instagram with #fragmentscarf and #sweetkmpatterns. Or link to the Ravelry page. 


Friday, March 24, 2017

One Pattern Three Ways : Girl's T-shirt

This is a project I did for Petit a Petit and Family last year, but it's an idea I'd like to revisit here. I love the versatility of a good basic kid's t-shirt sewing pattern, like the Oliver + S School Bus Tee. Any basic pattern can be so much more than what you see on the front of the envelope. Modifying a trusted design is a very satisfying way to flex your design muscles without the risk of total disaster. I'm looking forward to doing another capsule set for L this spring, and I'm a little depressed none of this one fits any more (oh, how they grow!). She still wears it all, skin tight, and scandalously short (with leggings of course) though it may be!
I've used the Oliver + S School Bus Tee to make a 3/4 sleeve gathered skirt dress, an A-line dress with front pocket, and a basic cardigan. The School Bus Tee is my go-to kid's t-shirt pattern, but there are plenty of others to choose from. I like this one because the sizing is always spot on, for my kids.
Construction Notes:
1. For the cardigan I cut a few inches off of the length of the front, back, and sleeves, then added knit ribbed cuffs to the waist and wrists. I cut the front piece in half along the fold line, and added a button band to each cut edge.

2. For the gathered skirt dress I shortened the body of the t-shirt to just under the arm opening. I shortened the sleeve by a few inches to make them ¾ length. The skirt is two rectangles joined at the side seams, gathered at the top, and sewn to the bottom of the t-shirt bodice. 

3. The a-line dress is the short sleeve t-shirt made longer, and wider at the bottom hem. The kangaroo pocket is drafted based on the size of my daughter’s hands.
I used the same 3 fabrics on all three garments so the finished pieces could be mixed and matched together. For this little collection I used the Doodles fabrics from Joann:  Navy Flock Dot Ponte KnitPink Butterfly Cotton JerseyGray Ribbed Knit.