My basic slip: Summer of Basics #2

6-19-2017 2-00-43 PM

For another of my “Summer of Basics” projects, I’ve also been considering making layering camisoles and slips to go underneath knitted tops and dresses. I don’t usually wear slips or camisoles, but they’re clearly a good idea to go with lacy or sheer garments.


I found a very flattering, sheer, vintage dress at the Goodwill bins, but it had no slip/underlayer with it, so I plan to make the Lisbon slip to go underneath it. The dress originally had big puffy, flowy sleeves with shoulder pads, but I removed them and hemmed the raw edges to keep the disco vibe but ditch the dated silhouette. The fabric is quite crisp and gauzy, so removing the excess will make it a bit cooler and more wearable in the summer here. The Lisbon slip is another Seamwork pattern, like my Patsy skirt, and I’m going to use some very lightweight pink fabric and peach-colored lace that my Grandma de-stashed to me last summer.


Visible mending and garment rehabilitation

I have a number of articles of clothing that, due to stains, holes, or brand logos that keep me from wearing the garment as-is, are calling out for embroidery.

IMG_8228This dress came from a garage sale in New York about five years ago, and I remember spending $2 on it. This was during a notable peak in my Fleetwood Mac fandom, and all its fringe just screams Stevie Nicks. I’ve worn it at the beach and while performing in a psych-rock blues band (Voodoo Banana) over the summer after I graduated college, and I was able to wear it to work back when I worked at a bead store and could dress much more casually. Somewhere in the last couple years the back shoulder section developed an age stain and frayed section, due to being packed in a box or getting sunscreen spilled on it or it ending up on some floor, who knows.

IMG_8240It’s not too noticeable if I’m going to the beach, but why leave it visible when I can decorate over it?

IMG_8245These are plain old straightforward shorts from Target. I bought them about two years ago when I arrived in Charleston and realized I didn’t own nearly enough summer clothing. It appears that either while cleaning or through a laundry accident, they came into contact with some bleach. This is not the end of their life, by any stretch, especially since I can add a pretty design to cover the faded spots and distract from their awkward placement.

IMG_8249This hoodie, a very generous gift from family last Christmas, is exceptionally comfortable and very warm. I love the shearling lining and the fact that it’s roomy enough to be a fantastic layer. However, I really don’t wear clothes with labels, especially not ones this front and center. I thought about gingerly snipping off the patches and surrounding stitching that came with the jacket, but that will inevitably leave a series of stitch marks (a footprint of sorts) that will never quite go away. I plan to remove the stitching and the patches, then cover them with something a bit more personalized and stylish.

Customizing and personalizing my clothing (and home decor) in order to extend its life or make it more wearable and enjoyable is just as valid as making my own clothing from scratch (or more so, since my aim is to conserve energy, money, and resources)! These are all clothing items that I could  have tossed or let languish in the back of my closet for years, but now I’ll be able to get great use out of them, enjoy them much more, and not buy replacements for them.

June’s Stashdown update

IMG_8235Since the end of April when I last posted an update, I have downsized pretty admirably. In addition to finally knitting up some cotton and silk that have been lurking for over a year now, I’ve removed a fair amount of yarn that I know I just won’t use. Some of it isn’t great quality, but most of it is perfectly lovely and just not my style. My ongoing tally of skeins in and skeins out is here, on a Ravelry project tracking page.

Where did all this mohair come from? And how do I make it go away?!

Mohair (so much mohair!?!), chunky yarn that isn’t Lopi, novelty yarns with sparkles or extra threads… These are things that look nice as yarn, or look like fun to a younger or beginning knitter, or are rejects from someone else’s stash that I ended up adopting but I will never actually use. Most of this stuff has been around for so long that I have no idea where it even came from or what its label said (when it had a label). I’ve definitely had some of it for more than four addresses, perhaps even longer than that. There are plenty of things in my stash that I will use and I am excited to work with, but to these hangers-on, I say good riddance!

My basic skirt: Summer of Basics #1

Well, I spontaneously purchased a membership to Seamwork. I didn’t set out to do that, but I was looking at their free patterns and noticed their membership perks- two patterns for $6 every month is pretty darn good, and if I determine that I don’t like their instructions/layout or if I use all the patterns I think I’d actually like, I can cancel. Seems like a worthwhile deal to me! The first pattern I downloaded was the Patsy skirt, a lovely A-line peasant skirt that I hope will be the right blend of retro, comfortable, and flattering for me. I mentioned looking for a skirt pattern as one of my Summer of Basics projects, and I think I’ve found it!

I love the retro feel of this pattern, and combined with this top, it’s perfection. Also, isn’t she the most beautiful pattern model you’ve ever seen?

I tend to favor a silhouette of fitted, knee-length skirts with boxy tops, but I’m expecting that this will fit into my wardrobe beautifully during the hot months in Charleston. I’ll try to use stash fabric for this one, but I’m not sure I have enough yardage of anything in the right weight. If I need to buy a couple yards of fabric, I will likely look for something with a print, probably stripes or a floral pattern. I’ll also need a zipper and interfacing, which are not entirely new to me but still an adventure. I’m imagining my versions of Patsy as a plaid flannel with leggings and boots for the winter, a light vintage floral pattern with a t-shirt and heels for the spring, a solid color like a chambray with a tank top and sandals for summer, and nautical stripes with a lightweight sweater and flats for the fall. How pretty, and how versatile!

Fading Everything

20170527_150307 The “color melting” feature of the Find Your Fade shawl has totally stolen my heart. I’ve thought about making another shawl based on the Find Your Fade, but a LOT smaller (because mine ended up being gigantic) and perhaps with a heavier weight yarn- a quicker, less repetitive, more wearable knit- and I have a few ideas about sweaters as well.

20170530_133141I’ve also thought almost non-stop for the last few months about making a summer top, in some heavier Noro and fancy cotton that have been in the stash for a year or so now. I started a bottom-up somewhat-“faded” racer-back tank that will be lovely as a beach cover-up or a casual evening top.

20170602_142455The “fading” is pretty subtle, since the Noro is striped, but I really enjoyed working with these colors. The two skeins of Noro were worked in stripes so that the color changes were spread out a bit, and I started the arm shaping/straps once I shifted to the plain turquoise cotton yarn. Since the original pattern calls for sport weight yarn, and I’m using something closer to Aran weight on larger needles, I’m following the numbers for the smallest size but the finished product will be much looser on me, closer to how a large might fit.

20170602_142436I’ve shaped it to be pretty A-line and I did a short-row hem in the back, and I’m hoping the fit will be on point for casual summer wear that is still flattering. When it’s finished and washed, I’ll see how long it is and whether I like the straps, racer back, and arm shaping.

20170528_083626If I do, I think this will be a great pattern for additional color-melting opportunities. I have some other beautiful yarns in quantities that would be perfect for combining (in some fun faded stripes) to make tank tops- two skeins of sock yarn will make a lovely top that’s long enough to be flattering but not so long that it sags.


Summer of Basics

Once again, Karen over at Fringe Association has hit upon something I’ve been considering for a long time, and has turned it into an event! She is presenting a challenge to the internet’s makers for a “Summer of Basics,” where we are invited to make three basic garments over the next three months. I’ve been thinking about stepping back into sewing, and this is the kick in the pants that I need! I drafted a post about Me-Made May 2017, but seeing as it’s June 1, I clearly dropped the ball… I love the idea of Me-Made May, but my sewing game is sadly lacking and I didn’t get any opportunities to wear wool aside from a pair of ankle socks and a shawl while at work.

I still have a fair amount of fabric in my stash, and of course I have all the yarn anyone could ask for, so I don’t think I’ll need to do much shopping (if any) outside of things like zippers. Since I have a desk/government job, my basics will need to be pretty simple and professional. Here’s what comes to mind for basics for me.

  • Knee-length skirt, likely A-line. Something like this from Liesl + Co. would be lovely, though I might want something a little more fitted to go with the boxy tops below. 
  • Flowy maxi skirt, maybe in a knit fabric. I like this one with the waist tie quite a bit. While I’m at it, those wide-leg pants are pretty cute too!
  • Boxy sleeveless top, perhaps a little cropped. This one might be knit, as I’ve been drooling over the Tegna top for a while now, but there are some great sewn options too. Honestly, the white top shown with the maxi skirt above is pretty adorable! 
  • Button-down top, probably short-sleeved. I have this pattern, and I attempted a dress with it last year, but I think the top might be really cute. It would check the “boxy sleeveless top” box as well.
  • Shirt-dress or other knee-length dress. I probably wouldn’t go for a pattern this expensive, but I do love the pockets and the curve in the hem. This is Fen, from Fancy Tiger Crafts.  

I have sweaters and casual clothes, and I have a lot of clothes that I don’t like very much. I don’t shop very often, so things fall through the cracks and I often feel pretty bored by what I have in my closet. Stashdown2017 is going strong in my yarn stash, but the fabric hasn’t been touched yet- so here we go!

Deciding what to make

I am a regular reader of Karen Templer’s site, Fringe Association, and I love her periodic series “Q For You.” She occasionally asks questions that stick with me, and this is one that I’ve thought about many times. How do you decide what to make? What drives the decision to actually cast on a project? Is it the desire for the finished thing, the desire to learn or use a new skill, the desire to use a stashed yarn? Is it a very considered choice, or is it more of a casual, impulsive one?

I’m a process knitter, without a doubt, which can sometimes lead to the creation of things that I will never wear or that are somewhat impractical. As you’ve heard me say many times, I only need so many pairs of socks, so many shawls/scarves/wraps, and so many sweaters, particularly here in the south. I tend to get caught up in the making, rather than considering what that finished object’s place will be in my wardrobe. I think this is why I prefer to knit for others- I feel most comfortable and personally productive when I have a couple projects on the needles, and making socks or dishcloths or hats or other small things for people I care about is a good way to continue knitting, in a productive manner, while not bogging myself down with the hard truth that I don’t need anything new in my wardrobe. I am a fast knitter, and I am a constant knitter, and that unfortunate combination means that I produce more crap than someone who approaches their crafting with more intention and contextual awareness. I make things based on what I have in my stash and what patterns catch my eye, rather than what I need.

This top, the Amors Arrow I made last year, is a prime example. I loved the experience of modifying the pattern, knitting it alongside my dear friend, and I actually think the finished product is quite cute. However, in nearly a year, yesterday was the very first time I wore it. I just didn’t think it was quite my color scheme, and the cut didn’t seem quite right, and it’s a weird weight for the sleeveless style. Could I have made it in a different color or with a different fiber to make it more appropriate for my style? Maybe, possibly, but I wouldn’t trade the experience of making it the way I did. Wearing it yesterday with cropped, wide-leg black pants made a perfectly stylish and comfortable outfit, and now that I’ve actually worn it, I’m a fan, but there’s no question that it was made on impulse rather than out of a considered plan.

Should I adjust my approach to crafting? Should I plan better, consider more, choose more wisely? I’m not sure that I can. I don’t think my brain works that way, particularly since I use knitting (and spinning, to a degree) as stress-relief, and as I finish one project I need to cast another on right away. I feel uncomfortable if I don’t have a couple things going at once, and so I knit whatever comes to mind.