A new tee plus a lot of thoughts


I made something! I actually had to force myself to do it; this sewing block/loss of mojo is intense. I did enjoy it, though, and I really like the top! It’s an October Burda pattern–101 from 2016, minus long sleeves because I didn’t have enough fabric. The fabric is a super light ITY that was not easy to deal with. Finishing is not perfect, particularly the neckline. I may redo it but it’s just invisible enough to not be noticeable.

It’s also the first sewn item toward my newly defined style goal of athleisure. I know that term bothers some, it used to bother me too but I’m used to it now, but it’s what’s happening.

I’ve been having some trouble dressing after starting my new job a little over a year ago, more than I expected. It didn’t seem that different, just a little chillier and more casual than my last office, but I that particular combination seems to have essentially eliminated a significant percentage of my clothes from my daily life. I think that’s why sewing has been a challenge too. My fabric and pattern stash, and more importantly, my dream to-sew list and even styles I favor, supports my former life, not my current reality, which, by the way, is amazing. On good-clothes days I feel so whole and cohesive, not just with clothes and style, but with my job, my location, everything.

I love clothes that can do anything I want to do. I can go hiking or to yoga after work with minimal outfit changes, weekend wear is the same as weekday wear, everyday pieces can be dressed up if needed but aren’t entirely different. My biggest source of inspiration has been Athleta. I had a meeting in the city and took the opportunity to try a few things on in person and look around, and it works. After realizing these types of clothes are what I’m missing, I did order a few pieces off Poshmark and am not disappointed.

There are boxes of envelope patterns to look at, but to start I went through all my burdas and took photos of promising designs, and I’m going through my closet, pulling items that aren’t working. It’s tough because I do like these pieces, they do fit well and are a match with my style, but they simply don’t work anymore. I need to do the same with my fabric stash. I don’t know if I’m going to donate immediately, may just store the clothes and fabric out of my sight so I can better focus on the here and now, and hopefully have some inspiration again.

So here are my current alterations lists and sewing/knitting guidelines.

  • Knits in natural fibers plus rayon/tencel are the focus, except for activewear fabric. We recently got a Class Pass package at work, and taking a yoga class in one of my beloved 100% organic cotton tees was awful! The only other class I’ve taken in recent months is in a drafty NPS building facing the ocean at work, and I totally forgot that you do sweat in the average studio!
  • Unless the fabric is really special, no purchasing of wovens for a while.
  • Whether purchased or sewn, clothes need to have more than one function (work, yoga, hike/run).
  • If an item is not warm enough to wear alone, it must be easily layered. No more long sleeved button downs, as much as I like them!
  • Sleeves on already made woven shirts are coming off. It’s almost never warm enough to go without a sweater and it’s often too warm and bunchy worn under a sweater (seriously, on the Bay Area coastline a difference of 5 degrees can take you from freezing to sweltering, I don’t know why).
  • Sundresses may become something else. I have a couple that I really like that I’ve worn maybe once in the last year. I think they’re destined to be chopped into separates or harvested for fabric.

We’ll see how this all plays out, but I have hope my inspiration drought might end…


Adelaide for the Olympics

When the winter olympics were coming up I was deep into my lucca shawl, and knowing that I was about to watch a lot of distracting television, I cast on a simple sweater: Quince and Co’s Adelaide.


It’s a simple top-down raglan knit in the round with a pretty, but easy, lace panel. At first I was a little disappointed in the pattern. It’s just so simple, I felt like I could have modified something I already have. It turned out to be a good purchase, though–I love this sweater. The fit and amount of ease are absolutely perfect, and now I think this will be the pattern I modify for future variations!


Yarn is just Knit Pick’s basic Wool of the Andes, in a beautiful soft gray. Since I had worsted and the pattern calls for aran, I ended up knitting a size bigger. It’s a rather rough yarn for this elegant pattern, but I actually like the somewhat rustic feel of it. Working and living in the year-round chill of the San Francisco and Marin headlands lends itself well to tough wool sweaters!


Burda of the month… for February

Despite endless planning, this is the first Burda I’ve managed to make this year! I think I’ll get a top sewn for June, but who knows. I have just not been sewing at all, in fact, I even doubt I remember how to sew. I definitely felt that way before making this top (in April…) and then was surprised that I totally did.


This is 2/2018 #120, a very pretty blouse. I think it looks better on me than on the dress form. I hope so, anyway! I feel elegant and put together in it, and the fabric is too comfortable to be polyester. I’m not sure what it is, but I suspect rayon. I had enough left to cut a bralette, waiting in the wings to be sewn.


None of the bands are interfaced, and I did get some minor twisting. I think it’s okay given the softness of the blouse overall. I had some trouble deciphering the directions for the low v-neck in the back, but whether I got them right or not, the slit for the tie is tidy.


So for June, I am thinking about this pleated shirt:


I also think my husband could use a new shirt, and 6/2016 happens to have a mens shirt pattern that goes small enough for him. Considering we’re almost halfway through the year and I have one project down, two shirts is probably too ambitious, but we’ll see!

Dress Like Your Grandma

I love this challenge that Tanya hosts so much, but have felt like I can’t really participate as I don’t have a photo to go on. It’s silly, the sewing community is so inclusive, but it took reading a note that the inspiration photo can come from anywhere that allowed me to give myself permission to participate.

There’s a photo I saved years ago that makes me think of my grandma, who grew up in Minnesota and loved skating. I love skating too, and that link to her seems special to me.

Image from http://www.prettyoldpatterns.etsy.com, where you can buy the pattern. Which I did, naturally!

The pattern is dated from the late 1930’s, when my grandma would have been in her early 20’s. At $3.60 I went ahead and bought it, but am actually on the fence about the sweater. It uses 8 colors, and that’s just a lot of fair isle, especially in confusing vintage instructions. The fair isle patterns are charted, but the pattern doesn’t actually indicate when you should start the chart. I could always leave off the charted design or sub something simpler.

I have a pattern booklet that actually belonged to my grandma, and may choose one of these instead. I love the cowboy sweater, and could extend the arms, and maybe change the motif. Super cute, but I would be self-conscious in real life!


Both the original and the cowboy options look like they’re knit in fingering weight, which means a lot of knitting! Way too much to finish by April 30. I think even a sweater in worsted wouldn’t even get done in time!

I am considering a few other options in heavier weights. These are all modern, and honestly would probably get more wear. Most would need shortening a bit.

Boundary | Grettir | Carbeth | Snowfall

The skirt of the inspiration photo is also knit in fingering weight yarn. That’s not happening! I do want to make a similar a-line skirt out of fabric, though, and I could use one in my real-life wardrobe too.

I don’t think I’m officially entering the challenge, because I do want to knit the sweater and there’s no way I could finish in time. I could whip up a sweater on the serger, though, we’ll see 🙂 Thanks to Tanya for this special challenge!

Fairweather Pullover

After running out of yarn halfway down the second sleeve, I’m finally finished with the Fairweather! This was a fun, easy pattern to knit with interesting details, like the very cool shoulder gussets and sleeve shaping.


Unfortunately, I don’t like wearing it all that much! The neckline is really wide on me, so wide that it’s practically off the shoulder. The model wears a button down shirt underneath, which I haven’t tried as I don’t have a shirt that matches (yet). I also just don’t really like front panels on me in general. I knew this going in, but went for it anyway. Despite these dislikes, I’ve been wearing it quite a bit with leggings and boots in our recent stormy weather. It fills a significant hole in my closet, and I need to look out for other longer patterns.


I do have ideas about fixing it. I may try running elastic around the neckband to give it a little more stability and pull it in a little, or I may put it in a warm wash to felt it up a bit. That’s a risky move, but felting worked wonders for my Mountain High sweater. Until then, I’ll just keep on wearing it!


Finished Knit! The Lucca Shawl


One benefit of having way too many WIPs is that they do sometimes wrap up one on top of the other! This shawl is definitely the more exciting of the two suddenly-finished projects. It’s the Lucca Shawl by Brooklyn Tweed, picked up one day last summer when I had a hankering to knit some lace.


It’s a full circle, knit with lace-weight merino. It is so soft and light, and I am a total convert to lace-weight yarn. I also had a blast with this pattern, and I feel like I can tackle any lace pattern now! It actually was not that difficult, and I even quit using lifelines pretty early on. There are mistakes throughout, but I was able to make one or knit two together on the next round to make the stitch count right, and with all this knitting even I can’t spot the mistakes!

Despite loving it, I’ve only worn it once, to the Bay Area Frocktails last month (which was so fun!). BT’s models make it look so easy to wear, but I find the circular shape awkward. I also wear a backpack to work, which doesn’t help. I may just need to leave it at work for chilly days!


Knitting the shawl was really fun, in part because as time goes by you end up with a big blob of knitting. You cannot really see the lace except in snippets, and it’s impossible to tell how it will look in the end. Then you have the excitement of starting the edging and starting to see the piece unfurl… and then sobering realization that the scalloped edging is going to take forever. It seemed like the edging took as much time as the rest of the shawl!

I can hardly wait to start another lace project, but I am determined to get more projects off needles first. Really. And maybe I’ll start sewing again… I skipped January, but did start a blouse from the 2/18 Burda! I actually wondered if I remembered how to sew when tracing. So far so good 🙂


Ruffled Sweater


Happy New Year! I’m so glad 2017 is behind me. Even setting aside the appalling political state of the US, this has been a year of change, uncertainty, and adaptation for me, and it shows in my creative output. Since my last post about UFOs in September, I made a couple easy christmas gifts, and I’ve cast on two more knitting project to add to the UFO list. Seriously, it’s out of control.

However, on christmas day I felt that long-lost burst of inspiration and energy to make something, and so revisited my December Burdas and chose a raglan sweater with shoulder flounces from the 2017 issue to whip up before heading to the in-law’s for dinner.


The pattern also features sleeve flounces, but that is a step too far for me! I used a spongy wool blend sweater knit purchased from Mood several years ago, which the cat immediately attacked when my back was turned. Placement was tricky, but there was just enough fabric without bite holes to proceed. The flounces are unfinished, and I sewed seams on the regular machine with a zig zag before finishing with the serger. Hems are done with a zig zag. No fuss here.

I love it. Wore it to christmas dinner and then to work the next day. It’s slouchy and comfy, but the texture and flounces keep it a little interesting. The only problem is that it collects pet hair like crazy, and does not release it without a struggle. I did some aggressive lint rolling before taking these photos, and it barely made a dent! Oh well, this is my life now.

I’m hoping this is the beginning of a fun, productive year of sewing. I’m excited to plan out January, the 1/2018 issue is pretty fantastic! I’m continuing my loose challenge of one Burda from the month’s issue (or earlier years), plus one paper pattern, plus one piece of lingerie. We’ll see 🙂