Ahoy, Bronte!

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.comAhoy, Bronte! I’m still in love with my first Bronte top and I’ve been thinking that I need some more long-sleeved t-shirts this winter, so a long-sleeved Bronte was a nautical….ahem, natural….choice.

I’ve been obsessed with nautical prints lately. Maybe it’s because I got married on a boat (well, the actual wedding was on land, but the boat took us there), maybe it’s because we almost moved onto a boat last summer. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because nautical prints are super cute and super trendy right now. Whatever the reason, I had anchors on the brain and Robert Kaufman was more than happy to oblige with the Laguna Stretch Jersey Knit in Anchors Nautical Navy.

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.com

Based on my last Bronte top, I knew that I need to cut 2″ out of the hips, so I cut a size 20 in the bust and waist then scaled down to an 18 for the hips. I also knew that I needed to add 2″ in length to the body, so I assumed that I needed to add 2″ in the sleeve length as well. Not so! Once the shirt was assembled, I promptly cut that 2″ right back out, did a double turn hem and still have plenty of length in the sleeves!

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.comMy obsession with the twin needle continues. It just makes such a lovely edge, how could I resist?

Unfortunately, it makes it quite a pain in the butt to unpick it if you make a mistake.

So imagine my dismay when I realized that I had somehow managed to turn my hem the wrong way when I was hemming the bottom of the shirt. Duh! I thought about unpicking the entire circumference of the shirt (which, of course, is how long it took me to realize my error) for about a millisecond before I rejected the idea as ridiculous and just did a triple turned hem instead. The result is a bulky hem and a shirt that is about an inch shirt than I had intended. But you know, that’s still way better than unpicking them hem. Ammiright?

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.comThe other thing I unfortunately struggled with this time was the neckline. In fact, it took me three tries before I got it right! When I sewed my Sangria Bronte top, I had forgotten to transfer the markings for neckline placement onto my fabric, so I kind of just estimated and moved it around until it all fit together. This time, I diligently transferred the pattern markings to my fabric, but when I tried it on for the first time the neckline was gaping so much that I thought I must have sewed it backwards!

Rather than doing something reasonable, like double checking with the pattern piece, I immediately unpicked the whole neckline and switched which piece overlapped which at the shoulder. When I tried it on that time, I realized “Oh. Now this is sewn backwards”.

Unpick, unpick, unpick.

Finally I hypothesized that I just needed to tighten the neckline up a little so I pulled each piece so that it overlapped the other by about an inch more than suggested by the pattern. This meant though, that now the sleeve didn’t line up properly with the armscye. Lucky for me that a little gather makes pretty much any sleeve more adorable because I sure as heck wasn’t unpicking that thing again!

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.comIf only I had noticed, at some point before I sewed it backwards, that I had sewn the whole shirt using a regular needle instead of a stretch needle!

Geeze Louise! As I’m writing this post I’m wondering what the heck I was thinking while I was trying to sew this top!

Unfortunately, you can still see the faint trace of the holes from the top-stitching made during the second neckline attempt when I sewed the front bodice piece over the back (oh yes, I top-stitched that error and everything), most visible in the white of the neckline in the close up photo above. But really, it’s not that noticeable when I’m wearing it. And it certainly doesn’t detract from the adorableness of this top. And I’m hoping it might bounce back a little after I wash the shirt. So there’s still that hope.

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.com

This fabric is a bit lighter weight and has a bit more stretch than the knit I used for my Sangria Bronte, and I’ve found it doesn’t make as much of a flattering shape as my first top from the back view. That’s not to say that it makes an unflattering shape. On the contrary, I think it looks quite nice. Just that it’s not as flattering as the first.

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.com

All in all, I love my nautical Bronte! I think the choice of the white jersey for the neckline really brightens it up around my face and brings attention to the shoulder detail. I’m already pairing my nautical Bronte with my new Miette skirt in my head and wondering if a pair of red tights would make it all just too “outfitty”? Thoughts????

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Willy the Wily….WOLF!!

Crafty Little Secret - Willy the Wily Wolf sweater - www.craftylittlesecret.comIt’s become a bit of a tradition for me to knit my nephew a sweater for Christmas. He’ll be 2 in February so this year I wanted to make him something that he would think was fun. I somehow got it into my head that I wanted to make him a little grey wolf sweater, and the closest thing I could find that was close to what I was imagining was the Willy the Wily Fox knitting pattern. Turns out it’s pretty easy to convert a fox into a wolf.

I really wanted a soft, washable wool that would be nice and warm and feel soft on his skin, but I also wanted flecks of different shades of grey in the yarn. That, apparently, is a tall order. The pattern called for super bulky weight yarn but I just couldn’t find anything I liked in that weight. Why do they make so many scratchy yarns??? I ended up buying something lighter and doubling up the strands as I knit it. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down what yarn I bought so I can’t share that with you. Just trust me that it’s soooooooooooooooooooft.

And expensive. This might be the last year Ben gets a sweater. The little dude grows so fast that I’m sure it won’t fit him next year and I wasn’t that happy with the fit from the pictures my brother sent me. (The hood seems small and tight around his face, though now that I look back at some of the photos of the pattern on Ravelry, I think I should have expected that) It’s a lot of money to spend on something that he’s not really old enough to appreciate and won’t last very long.

Willy the Wily Wolf Sweater - Crafty Little Secret  - www.craftylittlesecret.com

I’m also not sure that I really love knitting sweaters. I don’t know what it is, but I’m truly terrible at assembling them. This sweater looked, ooooooooh about a million times better before I assembled it and picked up the stitches to add the dark trim. I even went through the effort of carefully blocking each piece. I might be a scarf/hat/mitten kinda girl. Hey, kids need mittens too, right? Maybe we’ll be scaling down next year.

Crafty Little Secret - Willy the Wily Wolf Sweater - www.craftylittlesecret.comThe pattern came together pretty well, though it’s a little light on the definitions and instructions. For instance, sometimes the pattern will just jump from Row 17 to like, row 38 or something. That tripped me up and I thought rows were missing until I realized that meant I was just supposed keep knitting as before for those missing rows. But really, how hard would it be to add an extra line that said “18-37: Knit all even rows, purl all odd rows” or whatever? Just to avoid confusion for dummies like me. The pattern did include instructions for picking up stitches and sewing up seams.

Crafty Little Secret - Willy the Wily Wolf Sweater - www.craftylittlesecret.comI used the buttons that I bought in Portland just over a year ago. I think they look cute on a little boy’s sweater and I’m not sure what else I would have used them for.

So there you have it. Willy the Wily Wolf. Cute sweater for a cute kid and would definitely be a great pattern a little more adept at assembly than I.

Happy New Year! #sewingtop5

Top 5 2014

Last year I loved using Gillian’s Top 5 List as an excuse to look back at all I’d accomplished over the year, so I knew I wanted to do it again this year. I’ve loved the reflections I’ve seen on other sewing blogs and am amazed and some of the gorgeous things people have made in 2014, especially when you see them all lined up in a row! (I mean, how does Oona even find the time for this much awesome?)

I’m not going to make any hard and fast goals for next year because I’m still trying to figure out how to keep finding the time to sew regularly now that I’m back to work. I think you can probably expect to see simpler sewing from me. I’ve got a half-made pair of pants on my sewing table that I’ll finish up, but I’ve found I’m just not that interested in complicated projects when I have less time to sew overall. That being said, I still wanted to take this opportunity to look back on the year and to share with you my Top 5 Misses and Hits of 2014.

MISSES:

5? Just kidding! What a nice feeling to look back on what I’ve made in 2014 and realized that I couldn’t quite fill the “misses” column! Here’s my Top four misses of the year:

4. Vogue 1152 Blouse
v1152 sewing pattern front
I’m a little sad to see this one on my Misses List. I fell in love with this fabric at Britex when I saw someone else buying some, and I bought it for myself on a whim. I researched and planned and came up with what I thought would be the perfect use for it as a flouncy blouse. But for some reason I just don’t wear this blouse. I don’t quite know what it is. Could be that it’s colors I don’t usually wear; could be that despite raising the neckline by a couple inches my cleavage still manages to peak out; could be that I don’t have a sweater that fits over the sleeves. Whatever it is, this poor much-anticipated blouse doesn’t get pulled out of the closet too often.

3. Blue Afternoon Skirt
Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon SkirtI think this skirt can be saved, but it’s on the list for now. Unfortunately, I tried to do a yoga pant waistband without doing any research about how to do that or what type of fabric to use. This jersey was nice and stable, but it just doesn’t have enough recovery so after I’ve worn it for an afternoon, it’s stretched out and the skirt starts falling down. But, even as is, it’s a nice around-the- neighborhood alternative to jeans or yoga pants and like I say, I think I can fix it. I just need to come up with a new waist band that won’t add bulk…..

2. Borneo Beret
Crafty Little Secret - Borneo Beret - craftylittlesecret.comThis beret was not long for this world, but it served its purpose. It kept my hands busy on the flights to and from Borneo (hence the name). This just fit my head so strangely, I never even wore it out of the house and unwound it shortly after taking these photos. I haven’t gotten around to knitting another hat out of it but just shrunk my previous knit hat, so that’s good incentive to get knitting!

1.  Mathilde blouse #2

Mathilde blouse front

It is not a good sign when *this* is the face you make when wearing a shirt you made. I look like I’m being held at gunpoint and trying to mouth “Call 9-1-1” without my captors noticing.

I hate this shirt. I wore it once to fill in my Me Made May wardrobe, then never wore it again. I truly don’t understand how a pattern that easily made the 2013 Hits List can so decidedly claim the 2014 Miss List top spot. Oh wait, yes I can. It’s a little thing I like to call “tragic fabric selection”. This is going in the Goodwill pile in the hopes that there’s a pediatric nurse out there needs some new scrubs.

HITS:

5. Tie-Dye Maxi – Vogue 8469

Vogue 8469

This dress was exactly what I wanted this summer. Ok, well not exactly. What I was really obsessed with was indigo shibori dying (which I still haven’t gotten around to trying out despite having a friend who did a ton of it a few months ago and offered to share his dye batch with me), but this dress scratched the itch and made me happy. And the fabric doesn’t wrinkle. So clutch.

4. The Ele-Fun Refashion
Elephant shirt refashion
I was pretty pleased with how this turned out. This is the third iteration of this fabric and it’s definitely the one I’ve worn the most. The only reason this didn’t land higher on the list is because it’s *still* a little difficult for me to wear. San Francisco is such a cardigan climate and I just don’t have one in my current wardrobe that goes with this top. But I’ve worn it under a navy blue blazer a couple times and looked pretty cute. And let’s not forget that this shirt was featured on the Refashionista blog, so that was pretty fun!

3. Oonapalooza: Tangerine Dream
Oonapalooza Sew AlongThank you again, Oona, for the inspiration! I stitched this one up as my contribution to Oonapalooza. This is not a color I normally wear but this dress was a resounding success! It’s a nice light and soft cotton and so comfortable to wear. I’m proud of this dress because it was my first real attempt to alter a pattern and do some fitting. I did a full bust adjustment and lowered the neckline at the back and front. The only thing keeping this dress from being higher on the list are some construction mistakes. I used a frustratingly slippery fabric for the lining that caused for a bit of strange fitting at the front, and did a poor job of sewing the zipper in.

2. Aqua Goodwill Refashion
refashion after frontThis top was definitely a surprise hit. I made it on a bit of a whim, just kinda winging it, and to be honest I didn’t love it when I first finished it. But I wear it SO MUCH. It filled a hole in my wardrobe that I didn’t know existed. It is a comfy, easy-to-throw-on, weekend shirt that just makes me look a wee bit more pulled together than a t-shirt would. It’s currently sitting in my repairs pile as I tore a little hole in it but I’ll definitely be pulling this one out to wear in 2015.

1. Denim Miette Skirt
Crafty Little Secret - Denim Miette Skirt - www.craftylittlesecret.comThis skirt is a newbie to my wardrobe but earned top billing by fulfilling exactly the role in my wardrobe that I wanted it to! I wear this skirt to work at least once a week and it’s a super cute and super comfy alternative to jeans. It’s bound to get a ton more wear in 2015….especially since I got three new pairs of brightly colored tights for Christmas!

 

Denim Miette Skirt

Crafty Little Secret - Denim Miette Skirt, a Tilly and the Buttons pattern - www.craftylittlesecret.com

I’m not normally much of a ‘skirt person’. For some reason I can never figure out how to strike the happy balance between business and casual. But when I saw some denim Miette’s popping up I thought it would be the perfect solution (just in time for fall in San Francisco)!

And gosh darn it, I think I was right!

Crafty Little Secret - Denim Miette Skirt, a Tilly and the Buttons pattern - www.craftylittlesecret.comI wore this skirt around for two days before I took the pictures, so please excuse the wrinkles.

The pattern is the Miette Skirt from Tilly and the Buttons. The skirt came together incredibly easily. Except for the part where I figured that since the Mathilde blouse, which is also a Tilly pattern, is always too short so I added 5 inches to the pattern length.

I then promptly sewed a 5 inch hem. Tee hee! Oh well, I actually prefer the look of a tall hem on this skirt.

Oh. Before I get too far into this I guess I should mention the fabric. I bought this in-store and whenever that happens I never have the full information. But I can tell you that it’s a lightweight stretch denim and boy oh boy does the dye ever rub off! I washed it once before sewing and it turned my finger tips thoroughly blue every time I worked on it. I washed it again before wearing and turned my hands blue every time I put them in those big comfy pockets. Then I washed it again and I think I might have finally got it to a point where it’s not rubbing off on things.

But I’m still not wearing it on my light blue couch. Oh heck no.

While we’re on the subject of those big comfy pockets, let’s get a closer look, shall we?

Crafty Little Secret - denim Miette skirt - www.craftylittlesecret.com

Although it’s not in the instructions, I decided to top-stitch around the bottom edge of the pockets and all the way down all the skirt seams. I think this does two things: 1) it looks a little more polished and 2) it adds a bit more strength and stability to those pockets.

I also lined the pockets with some super cute scraps that I had used to make my mother-in-law a set of cloth napkins.

Crafty Little Secret - Jay-Cyn Designs for Birch Organics, Elk FarmI forget what the color is called, but it is a Jay-Cyn Designs for Birch Organics fabric from the Elk Grove collection. And while this color seems to be gone, there are still some others available on FabricWorm where I bought this.

I also used the same fabric as seam binding on the back flap of the skirt because I thought it’d be cute. But, I dunno. I could take it or leave it. Sometimes I think I would have preferred just a double fold clean edge there. So that is one thing I would caution people about making this skirt is that that back flap hem will be a bit visible, so it should be finished neatly.

Crafty Little Secret www.craftylittlesecret.comCrafty Little Secret - Denim Miette Skirt - www.craftylittlesecret.comAs you can see in the photo below, the wrap-around skirt also sometimes leads to a bit of wonkiness at the hem, but I’d say that’s a function of wrap skirts in general and not this pattern in particular.

Crafty Little Secret - Denim Miette Skirt - www.craftylittlesecret.com

I would say the only thing I struggled with at all during the construction of this dress was really just the waist tie. I think my fabric choice was a bit heavier in weight than Tilly had intended so I found it really difficult to squeeze my tie through the narrow hole left in the waistband. The bright side of that scenario is that it’s really hard to pull the tie back out too so it stays in there during the wash, so, there’s that.

I gotta tell ya. Overall I am pleasantly surprised with how cute I feel while wearing this! And it’s a great excuse to wear these mustard yellow tights that just don’t normally get thrown into the mix.

I’m not sure I’ll make another for a while, simply because how many wrap skirts does one really need?, but I really liked this pattern. You’re 2 for 2 so far Tilly, good job!

Crafty Little Secret - Denim Miette Skirt - www.craftylittlesecret.com

And just as a little side note to all you bloggers out there with a desk job, I don’t know how you do it! The only thing I’m more behind in than my sewing projects right now is blogging about them! I mean, I didn’t even blog our Mr and Mrs Potatohead Halloween costumes from this year! [checks forehead for evidence of fever] And these short days aren’t helping. God help ya if you need to take some photos and you don’t take advantage of some weekend daylight….. That said, hopefully I’ll be posting a little more regularly after the Holiday Season.

Winding Yarn at Home

Winding yarn at homeWith fall in the air and my sewing machine on the fritz, I’ve been picking up my knitting needles more lately.  The other day I was basking in the happiness that is a pile of neatly wound balls of yarn, when I thought I’d share the yarn winder I used at home.

Crafty Little Secret - Winding yarn at home - www.craftylittlesecret.comMy mom bought me this yarn winder (I think the skein holder might come separately) a couple years ago and it has changed my life! Ok. That might be an exaggeration. But it’s definitely nice to not have to loop my yarn around the back of a chair to wind it, or make someone sit there with their hands in the air (especially since my knitting buddy moved back to NYC).

Crafty Little Secret - Winding Yarn at Home - www.craftylittlesecret.comIt’s simple to wind your own yarn. Lay out the skein of yarn and find the knotted parts at either end.

Crafty Little Secret - Winding Yarn at Home - www.craftylittlesecret.comAnd snip those knots off to free up the yarn ends.

Crafty Little Secret - Winding Yarn at Home - www.craftylittlesecret.com

Snag one end of the yarn securely into the yarn winder and thread it through the little metal loop at the bottom (this makes sure it feeds properly as it builds the yarn ball).

Crafty Little Secret - Winding Yarn at Home - www.craftylittlesecret.com

The rest of the skein loops around the skein holder. Then it’s just a matter of the turning the crank and building your ball of yarn.

Crafty Little Secret - Winding Yarn at Home - www.craftylittlesecret.comI’ve found that it’s best to wind slowly as turning the crank too quickly can cause the yarn to slip off the rest of the ball and you end up with this kinda spaghetti mess hanging out the middle of your yarn ball.

To keep track of exactly what each yarn and color lot is, I like to fold up the label from the yarn skein and tuck it inside the ball.

Crafty Little Secret - Winding Yarn at Home - www.craftylittlesecret.comThen I tuck all my newly would balls of yarn into one of those bags that sets of sheets come in.

Crafty Little Secret - Winding Yarn at Home - www.craftylittlesecret.comThis has the added advantage of limiting the expansion of my yarn collection before it gets too crazy. If it doesn’t fit in here, I can’t get more yarn. (Except of course for that yarn my mom gave me that lives in another container…..).

Let’s all look at this pile of perfectly wound balls of yarn for a moment, shall we?

Crafty Little Secret - Winding Yarn at Home - www.craftylittlesecret.comSigh. Isn’t it a beautiful sight?

 

WIPs and WIIs

Works in progress and works in imagination. Or maybe they count as in progress if you’ve purchased the materials????

Crafty Little Secret - WIPs - www.craftylittlesecret.comThe furthest along project first. I’m working on my first pair of dress pants! Well, okay, not my first ever, but my first since I started sewing seriously again and am trying to do things properly. I’m using some fabric I picked up in the NYC fabric district and an old sewing pattern (Vogue 7301). I’m going to have to improvise some pockets because pants without pockets shouldn’t be allowed to exist, but I’m not worried about that.

Crafty Little Secret - WIPs - www.craftylittlesecret.comAnd next….a sweater for my nephew. I’ve kinda started making him a sweater a year for Christmas or his birthday (whenever I finish it). Since it’s only been two years I guess that’s not much of a streak but I’m gonna try to keep it going. Can’t give away too much though because I think he’s parents read this blog and I don’t want to give away the surprise. I just hope they appreciate that I made sure to buy washable wool for a toddler sweater (hand washable still counts, right?)….

Crafty Little Secret - WIPs - www.craftylittlesecret.com

This final one is still very much in my imagination and still needs to go through its “experimental” phase. I’ve been turning an idea for a quilt over in my head (you can check out my Pinterest board here) that would be some sort of shibori-inspired blue and white quilt with embroidery. So when I was at Walgreen’s and saw some Rit dye calling to me, I remembered I had some old sheets at home that I could practice shibori dying! Yay mess!

And that’s all the projects I’ve got going these days, hopefully I’ll be sharing the finished pants with you sooner than later but I’m finding them oddly intimidating right now…..

Contact Me

I’ve received the feedback on more than one occassion lately that I’m not the easiest lady to get a hold of through this blog.

I thought, Oh well, Gee. I don’t want to put my personal email up for spammers to see, and I already have multiple email accounts to balance so I don’t want to add another for the blog. And, well, golly. It just seems like it would be so darn hard to add a contact form for people to use.

But guess what??? It isn’t! It’s sooooooooooo easy! Now I feel like a bit of a dunce for not even having investigated it before now.

All I had to do was;
1) Click on Pages, then select Add New on my WordPress dashboard.
2) Click Add Contact Form at the top of the new page entry.
3) Click Ok.

All done! A link automatically appeared at the top of my home page with the most basic and too the point contact page possible. My point to all this??? Now you can contact me if you’ve got something you’d like to share or ask about outside of the blog post. Just click the new ‘Contact Me’ link at the top of my home page!