Stitching in the Summer

The view from my "knitting" chair looks a little different these days . . . 


I blame this . . . 


I follow embroidery designer Nicki Franklin on Instagram. She creates the most charming embroidery designs for herself -- and for her UK business, The Stitchery. After drooling over her stitching kits for a couple of years, I finally succumbed and bought one. (Well. Actually more than one.)

I learned to embroider even before I learned to knit or sew, and I've always loved just sitting and stitching. I did a lot of cross stitch for a while back in the late 80s/early 90s, but I really prefer the texture of embroidery. Other than a few simple embroidery projects lately, though, I haven't done much stitching for a few years. 

So I decided I'd need a little practice with my "fancy" stitches before tackling my new kit.


Lucky for me, Nicki Franklin has a charming sampler/practice kit, too!

Although I won't be setting my knitting completely aside for the summer, it is going to have to share stitching time - and space on the table next to my "knitting" chair - with my embroidery. Stay tuned!


How about you? What are you making these days?

Two For the Price of One!

How about a little knitting . . . and a little sewing . . . all in one post!


First, let's talk about the knitting!

It's this shawl . . . and it's pretty wonderful (especially once I got into the rhythm of that linen stitch section). I used Rowan Felted Tweed from my stash. (Kay and Ann over at Modern Daily Knitting are right when they say that any color combination of Rowan Felted Tweed will work together. I had a lot of fun figuring out my color scheme from what I had on hand.)


I really like the size! I know I'll wear it a lot when it's cold. But I hope I don't wear it much until next fall . . . 

Sometimes Tom and I have a little too much fun when doing these photo shoots. I was whipping that shawl all over the place as he was taking photos and making me laugh.


In fact, I was laughing so much - and being so goofy - that we never got a good shot of my sewing project! Which is the grey top I'm wearing UNDER the shawl . . . 


It's a Toaster Sweater (#2) from Sew House Seven, and I really love it. Although we did . . . have Some Moments together. The pattern is well designed (it's very Eileen Fisher-y), and the directions are very clear, but it's for knits . . . and that always ups the stakes. I made mine from a merino wool knit that looks and feels divine. But it was on the pricey side (so I cared a lot), and ohmygod . . . it rolled like crazy, so it was a pain in the patootie to work with. But. I wrangled it into shape and even used a twin-needle to (successfully) hem the damn thing.



That's two winning projects in one post! I'm hoping, though, that I can pack both of them away until fall. (Anyone willing to make a bet on that???)


How about you? What are you making these days?

Perfection in Sweatshirt Form

Not much knitting going on (and what I am knitting is very slow these days), but I've been doing some sewing.

A couple of weeks ago I made a super simple something that I've been wanting to sew for a couple of years now.


It's this pattern - The Sidney - from Merchant and Mills . . . a super oversized sweatshirt that is perfect for cozy layering (which is my preferred "style" of dressing, don'tchaknow). 


I used Merchant and Mills' Makers Jacquard Cotton for my sweatshirt. It's divine stuff . . . a layer of cotton backed by a layer of gauze with yarn-threads in the middle - and then quilted. I love it (although sewing with it was kind of messy - lots of lint; just sayin).

As spring (slowly) arrives, and I pack my wool sweaters away for the season, this sweatshirt will be a constant, comfortable companion out in the garden and around the campfire up north.


It's truly perfection . . . in sweatshirt form!

(And for all of you showing off your daffodils? You can see mine . . . just poking up in my garden now. Those little green bits.) (Yep. It'll be awhile still. . . )


I got a comment yesterday from Linda . . . about Young Mungo . . . pointing out that it's currently available for Kindle for $9.45. I just wanted to pass that along in case you're interested. (And thanks, Linda!)

Catching Up On Stuff: Sewing Aprons

I've spent a lot of time lately talking about silly feather hats and and brown-blob sweater knitting (I've started the first sleeve, by the way, so yay) . . . and I never did share my Christmas apron sewing.

Four aprons.
Using this (free and amazing) apron pattern from Helen's Closet.

I started with these two . . . for Brian and Lauren. I used medium-weight canvas fabric, and I really love the way they turned out. (Bad winter lighting in my basement sewing room . . . but you'll get the idea.)



Erin and Keith asked for a bit of whimsy for their aprons. I used the same type of medium-weight canvas . . . but I jazzed them up with some fun pockets. Aliens for Keith. Kitties for Erin.


If you're leery of "indie" patterns - or free patterns, generally - let me assure you . . . Helen's Closet patterns are REALLY good. Her directions are clear and helpful -- for those at all levels of sewing experience, with all required techniques carefully explained and diagrammed in the body of the pattern directions. There are MANY excellent tutorials available on the Helen's Closet website (really --- great tutorials for all kinds of techniques). The little finishing details Helen includes in all of her designs and patterns make for really nice finished products, and she does a great job creating wearable designs flattering to all body types. (She carries an extensive size range, too.)

That said . . . the Sam Apron pattern is promoted as being suitable for "Beginners." And I suppose that, technically, it is. I would qualify it, though, for very adventurous beginners -- or at least for advanced beginners -- with a fairly decent sewing machine capable of handling several layers of thick fabric with ease. The pattern itself is not difficult (and as I said above, the directions are clear and well diagrammed), and there are some really good techniques that would be helpful for beginners to master. It's just that there are finishing details (topstitching, bar tacks) that I think might be challenging for most beginners. These little details really "make" the apron, but they might be tricky for newer sew-ers to manage.


Still. This is hands-down the BEST apron pattern I've ever used (and I've sewn a lot of aprons in my days). It's fun to sew, it ends up looking very professional, and my kids all seem happy with their new aprons.

How about you? What are you making this week?



From the Sewing Department

I did a little sewing over the weekend. Nothing fancy or special. Just a plain, long sleeve, v-neck t-shirt.



(And, yes. The lighting in my closet is . . . not great.) (Tom was away this weekend, so you'll see that all of the photos from today's post are rather . . . lacking.) (Oh well. You'll get the gist of it.)

This is the Tabor V-Neck from one of my favorite indie sewing pattern companies, Sew House Seven. I really love their patterns. (I've made several different designs from their portfolio - some multiple times.) They always have clear directions and plenty of helpful tips. This shirt, for example, includes a little trick for lining up a perfect v-neck. I'm thrilled! (This old dog is always up for learning new tricks.)

Anyway, this shirt is a wardrobe basic that I'll wear over and over. The fit is great, it's super comfortable to wear, and it didn't take long to put together either. I'm already plotting my next version(s).


I know a lot of people avoid working with knits . . . either because they think it'll be "too hard" to work with them, or because they don't have a serger. I'm here to tell you  . . . you don't need a serger to sew knits! I don't have one. (In fact, I've never even used one!) And unless they're "slippery" knits, they aren't hard to work with either. You just need to pay attention to what you're doing, and be careful not to stretch things out while you stitch. 


I love finding basic patterns that are easy to sew and easy to wear. 
(And, my. Sewing is so much faster than knitting, y'know?)


How about you? What are you making this week?


If you're looking to sew up a quick and useful holiday gift (or maybe even 4 of them?), Helen's Closet (another of my favorite indie pattern designers) just released the Sam Apron. It's even a freebie! All you have to do is sign up for the Helen's Closet newsletter. I'm planning to give this pattern a try . . . really soon!

Finishing A Little Something

Just in time for the end of summer, I finished my very whimsical little embroidery project.


I loved everything about this project.
The design.
The colors.
The stitching.
The whimsy and charm.
The getting back to my crafting "roots" as an embroiderer. 


I think what I loved the MOST about this project . . . was just working without a net. Not really following directions. Just kind of . . . free-forming it to see what would happen IF.

I loved that.


This little project awakened my desire to keep embroidering; to do MORE of this kind of thing.
So stay tuned! (Because now I'm kind of inspired.)


And how about you? What are you making these days?


PS - For details about this sampler, you can read this post from earlier in the summer when I talk on and on about it.

Finding Some Whimsy

Well. First I've just got to thank you all for your kind words and support . . . after I spilled the beans about my RA flare yesterday. I got a little teary more than once, reading your comments and emails. I should know by now to trust in the support and comfort of this crafty, book-loving, bloggy community, but . . . wow. When you feel the love here, well. It really does just kind of knock you over a little bit. So thank you. Thank you so very much.

Let's get back to "pretty" though now, shall we?


Way back in January, as I was setting my "intentions" and what-not for the year ahead, I claimed that I wanted "more whimsy" and "less stodginess" in my life this year. What did I mean by that? What was I going for there? I don't exactly know. But I think it probably had to do with the darkness and slogginess of 2020, and wanting to break free in this new year.

Besides. It's kind of fun to seek out whimsy in the world. (And to write off anything that smacks of stodginess.)

Anyway. I have been following Rebecca Ringquist, the artist behind Dropcloth Samplers, for a while on Instagram. I'm always charmed by her embroidery samplers! She creates designs that resemble very artsy doodles that are engaging and accessible, but she doesn't assign colors or stitches (except, of course, in her stitch-teaching kind of samplers). It's kind of like . . . she's created "coloring books" for embroiderers! And let's just say they most certainly fall in the Whimsical Camp.

I've spent many a moment dreaming about which of Rebecca's samplers I might order for myself . . . someday. Embroidery is really my "first craft." You may remember my story when, as a 5-year-old, my Great Grandma Strom patiently taught me the outline stitch by writing my name on a piece of scrap fabric and allowing me to practice the stitches while she sat nearby. (Which I stitched right to the little skirt I was wearing. Ah, the lessons we learn.)

I never did decide on a sampler to order from Rebecca, though . . . until this summer when she introduced her new Picnic Sampler. I was hooked from the first time I saw it fly across my Instagram feed! It lit up every part of my stitching brain: Color! Flowers! Gingham! Summer! And . . . it just drips charm and whimsy . . . with not even a slight hint of stodginess. 

It was an immediate "add to cart" moment.

And now I look forward to grabbing my little sampler for "patio time" with Tom in the evenings before dinner. It's a lovely way to end the day. (And except for my worst RA days, I usually can manage at least some limited stitching time.) (Thank goodness.)

I love being able to just . . . "color" my sampler with embroidery thread and stitches . . . in my totally free-form, fill-in-the-blanks way. (I'll bet this brings an eye-twitch to those of you who prefer carefully charted designs and floss suggestions. Each to her own, I say! Embrace your preferences!)

It's a lot of fun. I love picking it up and stitching a bit each day.

DEFINITE whimsy, here.
(And so far, I've avoided stitching the sampler to anything I'm wearing, so BONUS . . . )


How about you? What are you making this week?


Do check out other Unraveled posts today over at Kat's!


They Say

. . . that laughter is the best medicine, right? Well. Here's a little sewing project "comic strip" for you . . . 


I have been dreaming of a pair of Sew House Seven's Burnside Bibs for a couple of years now. I just love the look of them . . . That easy-breezy, kinda beachy, pants-as-apron look. Comfy. But sort of fashion-y, too. Definitely "on trend." And there are photos of them all over the place. Sewing blogs. Instagram. It is a very popular pattern, and the bibs look great on everyone, every body.


The back view has always tripped me up and kept me from actually making a pair. Because, really. Who is flattered by a big, old gathered butt??? Who is comfortable always messing with long, criss-crossing ties??? That's a whole lotta . . . fuss . . . back there. And rarely does anyone show photos of their Burnside Bibs FROM THE BACK.

And now we know why!

I really do love the look (from the front). And as I wore them around the house over the weekend (to see if the gathers might "settle" with wear) (they did not), I can attest to their comfort. Seriously . . . pants-as-apron. But that back-tie-gathered-butt? It's tragic.  (Tom, always so supportive of my efforts, thought I had made some big mistake. He commented that they looked "awfully bunchy.")

I don't think there's really anything to be done about them at this point. I've thrown them in the washer and dryer three times so far -- hoping to soften them up and "calm" the gathers. It's working somewhat . . . maybe? But I think that back view is just a bridge too far for me, and I know I can't wear these bibs without constantly fussing with those gathers.

I will point out that the pattern includes a dart-and-zipper option, which might resolve some of the gathering, and could potentially reduce some of that goofy "poofiness" under the belt loops. I thought about it long and hard before deciding to forego the zipper option -- mostly because the gathering is STILL pretty extreme, even with a zipper and darts. But it may make enough difference that the bibs would fit better in back.

(Not these, of course, because too late now.)
(But for any future Burnside Bibs I may attempt.)
(Which is not likely, though.)
(Just sayin).

If nothing else, they're good for a laugh.

Leisurely Pursuits

In the summer, I get busy in my garden, and with the back-and-forth of going up north . . . and my "making" slows way down. And . . . I'm really just fine with that! Stitching, after all, is just one - of many - leisurely pursuits for me.

But I actually finished something recently. Way back in May, you might remember I showed you this photo . . . 

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I was going to stitch up this top.
Months ago, now.

Finally stitched it up last weekend!


Now . . . I don't always like to wear woven tops or shirts. (I prefer stretchy knits and t-shirts for comfort and easy movement.) But I'm gonna tell you, this Remy Raglan pattern has kinda changed my thinking. When I got finished sewing, I did a try-on . . . and ended up wearing the shirt all day long! In total comfort and ease. (See above.)

Now I'm plotting and scheming to make more!


(Still needs a button.)

This pattern is (fairly) quick to make (I always hesitate to make that statement, because I'm an experienced seamstress and your mileage may vary). The instructions are clear. And there are some nifty techniques that really finish this shirt off "professionally" (all the seams are French seams, for example). Also . . . the possibilities for "playing around" with this design are endless. (Just take a look at the #remyraglan hashtag on Instagram for some true inspiration.)

Anyway. Great outcome for this top! I'm glad I finally made the time to stitch it up.

In knitting news . . . well. I'm still plugging along with the same old thing


Slow Leisurely progress is progress all the same.


How about you? What are you making this summer?

No Stopping Me Now

So after the overalls . . . I've kinda gotten back into the sewing thing. (I lost all my sewing mojo last year after sewing all those masks.)


This week, I stitched up something that's been on my radar for a couple of year now . . . Meg McElwee's Hinterland Dress. I think it would be a great casual dress for summer (especially the sleeveless version), and I have a very nice piece of gingham linen that might work really well sewn up in this pattern. But . . . I didn't want to chance it with that nice linen right off the bat.

So . . . I sewed a "gauge swatch." In Sewing World, this is called a "muslin." (Or a "toile" if you want to sound European . . . or a little bougie.) Basically, sewing a muslin means you sew something up (or a part of something) in a fabric you don't care much about in order to see if you like the fit or need to make some adjustments. The goal - just like with gauge swatching in knitting - is that you end up with a well-fitting garment that you actually like and can wear when you're finished. If you're lucky, and things all turn out, you might end up with a "wearable muslin" . . . meaning you can actually wear your test-garment, too. (Unlike knitting . . . if you're not happy with the finished result you've sewn, you don't have the option of ripping out the yarn and re-using it for another project. Once you've cut it out and sewn it up? It's hard to repurpose.)

Anyway. I'm never really sure about what size to make when I'm sewing. I have broad shoulders . . . and no boobs . . . so a lot of times the fit is off and the darts end up in the wrong place. So I cut out just the bodice pieces of the Hinterland Dress to see how it would come together. It worked, so I cut out the facing and the sleeves and added those. Still good. So I cut out the front bands and tried them. Still good. So I cut out the pockets and the skirt. I also added the optional ties, because things were looking pretty . . . roomy.


Checking the fit . . . 


I could've gotten away with making this at least one size smaller, maybe two. Let's just say . . . I'm happy I added the ties. I definitely got a "wearable muslin" out of the process. And I think it'll look a lot better once it's had a chance to loosen up a bit after a few rounds in the washer and dryer. (Also when I'm not wearing it on top of workout clothes.)

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(And, yep. There's a wonky buttonhole in there. I got an eye twitch for a minute there, thinking about ripping it out and re-doing. But then I reminded myself . . . muslin! . . . and just let it go.)

Anyway. I think I'm ready to cut into that nice piece of linen now, and make another. Smaller size. Sleeveless.

But, first . . . this!


There's no stopping me now.


How about you? What are you making these days?