Kalle Shirt Dress

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I started this dress in March, fully believing I would finish it in a week or less. Finally in May, this dress is wearable. March and April were crazy months for me. My husband took a job in Oregon, so during my spring break in March we drove across the country to drop him off. Then, I flew back, leaving the car with him, to finish my semester in St. Louis. April marked the beginning of final paper season, which was intense this year (more intense than past years), and I felt swamped.

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I had little energy left for creativity – and reclaimed crafting requires that little extra bit of energy to address things like stains, yarn substitution, or pattern adjustments.

But let’s rewind, before I couldn’t finish this dress, I did start it – and make it most of the way through the pattern. My kalle is made from an old bed sheet (from Ikea) that had a few very subtle bleach spots. The fabric was in good condition (besides the pervasive smell of bleach) and I knew it would make a reliable shirt dress. It also pressed very well and feels quite stable.

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I knew I wanted to make a change to the pattern. Instead of a box pleat at the back, I gathered the excess fabric. So I have a small section of gathers at the back of my dress (which I love).

This dress hung mostly finished on a hanger in my room for six weeks. The thing that kept me from adding the final touches was one small stain on the back, about the size of a pencil eraser. It looked like a spot of permanent marker. This dark little stain was a huge thorn in my crafting side.

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Finally, due to the pressure of leaving St Louis to spend my summer in Oregon, and the added pressure of not having room to take my sewing machine, I knew I had to finish this dress if it was to ever see the light of day. I sat down with The Geometry of Hand Sewing by Alabama Chanin (which I just realized is a signed copy… woah), and tried to identify simple decorative stitches that would cover the stain in the back.

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I settled on an Algerian Eye variation that looks like an art deco flower design. I tried it out on the pocket and then tackled the back. I had to play around with various layouts for a while, and finally reached this triangle idea with the Algerian eyes in crossing diagonal lines. I was very chill (uninterested) in making this super precise – so one side of the triangle is about an inch higher than the other… but I can’t see it because it’s in the back and anyone who notices it would be far too close to my backside for my comfort.

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This dress has blown my mind. The simple stitching (which maybe was about three hours of work) has transformed this dress from basic to heirloom. I’m shocked with how well it turned out. I imagine I’ll be adding many more hand stitched touches to my dresses in the future.

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Pink Trapeze Dress

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I’m finding my stride with dress silhouettes. This trapeze dress hack of Simplicity 8335 is maximum flow.

I wanted to make a dress appropriate for a summer wedding, and I gave myself about three weeks to do it. While three weeks would be a generous amount of time for my typical sewing speed, final paper season cut my sewing speed in half, and then in half again.

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I changed two things about Simplicity 8335. First, I extended it into a wide a-line shape dress that would hit just above my knees. Second, I removed the sleeves and created a more appropriate (flattering) sleeveless cut around the armholes.

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The first change was easy, I laid the pattern on a piece of old fabric (on the fold) as if I were to cut out the pattern. I then drew a line from the arm hole edge to the selvedge edge. This line was long enough to extend the length of the pattern by about 20 inches.

I made the second change by tracing a ready to wear sleeveless shirtdress I have in my wardrobe on top of the new pattern.

I also took about 1 inch off the center of the front pattern piece – there was just a little too much volume and the neck wasn’t laying flat against my chest.

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The biggest element of this dress are the appliquéd flowers. After sewing most of the dress together, I noticed a stain on the back of the dress towards one of the side seams. I chose to cover this stain up by creating a cascade of flowers down the stained side of the dress. The flowers are cut from an vintage bedsheet and appliquéd with a various simple stitches. I used a running stitch, chain stitch, and blanket stitch in three different pinks to apply the flowers. Appliquéing was a lot of work. I spent about a week sewing these flowers on this dress. In the end, I’m very proud of it. It also moves like a dream – it just floats behind me when I walk.

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I would have loved to do some more complex hand stitching on this dress, however I had to be honest with my abilities and my time crunch. Basic stitches were the only way this dress would be completed in time for this wedding. I do, however, look forward to the slow advance of my embroidery skills.

I’m at the end of a crazy semester, and my imaginative language skills are lacking as a write this, but I did try to express the great joy that making this dress brought me over in this ig post.

What Happened to April – Finished Objects and WIPS

 

Hello Readers,

Before that MMMay18 post, I was pretty quiet (actually silent) in this space for the last month. All that radio silence is my first real period of blog-absence since Reclaimed Craft started in August 2017. I had a great streak of posting at least once a week since that first post appeared, however, April came in and just smacked me in the face.

So what happened to April? Where have I been? What have I been making? AM I STILL AROUND?

Answer: yes, I’m around. I’ve been pretty active over on instagram… I’ve been making a bit, not a lot, and definitely not according to my schedule anymore. I have been writing – final papers. Those thirty page gems that demonstrate my skill as an almost Doctor of Theology and Health Care Ethics (coming 2020 if all goes well). This writing takes WORK – and uses very similar skills to blog writing. All my writing abilities have been zapped up by these papers. But I’m not sorry for my blog absence because these papers will be amazing and all three people who read them better be impressed.

So, more to theme, what have I been MAKING? Well, April left me with a lot of work to do, so honestly my projects have been minimal.

Finished Objects

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This embroidery sampler has really kicked my slow sewing bug into shape. I want to add hand embroidered elements to all of my me-mades. Is it possible? I think so.

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I finished a pair of socks which are (subjectively) the ugliest socks in the world. Rainbow is just not my style. However, I will wear these socks with pride. Also you can just see the final paper fatigue written all over my face – I’m embracing it.

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I finished another GORT! for my friend Carly from scrap yarn. I wanted to celebrate her birthday and her upcoming graduation from seminary with a sweet toy that mixes her favorite color (forest green) and my favorite color (dusty pink). Incidentally, she has hated the color pink for our entire friendship (something about recovering from consumerism… and suburbs), so I have now made it my mission to reintroduce the color to her in a helpful and palatable way. I think it’s working… This Gort is stuffed in a similar way to my last Gort, but with more cut up fabric scraps than yarn pieces – which makes it a bit lumpier and heavier. Yarn scraps are definitely my stuffing of choice when it comes to toys.

WIPS

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I have some Selbu mittens on the needles. They need thumbs.

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I’m working on this wedding blanket for my good friend Veronica. I have not been able to find the right style for this blanket. It has to represent her well and be large enough to avoid the baby blanket look. I’ve knit three different versions, and have finally settled on a log cabin style Mexican blanket inspired look. I will 100% not finish this on time, so it’ll be a late wedding present.

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Finally, I have a Kalle shirt in progress. It’s been languishing for the last month, untouched, for some unknown reason. All I have to do is add the hem binding and the buttonholes. I think the thing stopping me is the stain on the back. I have so many ideas for how to cover it creatively to make it a design feature – but my creativity has really been funneled into those final papers, so crafting has taken a serious back seat.

I’ve also finished one of the most beautiful dresses I’ve ever made – but that deserves a whole post dedicated to its creative glory. Fear not, there is more making to come!

Tour de Sweater: Purple Principesa Dress

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Okay, so this isn’t a sweater.

But it does mark an important milestone in my garment knitting journey. The Principesa Dress was the second garment I ever knit. I took a year off of garment knitting after the green cardigan. I needed to recover, plus I learned so much more about knitting – gauge, swatching, fiber type, all of these things started swirling around my brain and working their way into the forefront of my concern. So, in 2014, when my mother-in-law gifted me with a dress-quantity’s worth of yarn, I started my real education in garment knitting.

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Holding two strands together, I knit this dress using Juiper Moon Farm Findley and Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Lace. I loved working with these yarns. The color changes in the Misti Alpaca kept me interested it the miles of stockinette stitch. I also love the skirt decreases in this pattern. They line up so nicely and really bring out any curves (me? curves? uh…no)

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My gauge was off… typical Jaime. But I knit the entire body of the skirt before trying it on. I sized up two needle sizes to fix this. It certainly fits now, and fits well. Except it’s so see-through… impossible to wear see through (even with a custom made slip which I was to lazy to put on for these photos).

I tried to substitute the lace cowl pattern, but I don’t think I choose very well, and my lace cowl hangs strangely.

The underarm section is also too tight now that I’ve become a regular climber.

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The more I reflect on this dress, the more I want to make it work, but there are a couple of reasons it doesn’t. 1) I am not in love with this color purple anymore, and I might have some purple overload… I’ve been leaning towards pinks and blues and have based my capsule wardrobe on these colors. If a dress is going to be wearable, it should flow with the other garments in my wardrobe. 2) the back is way too low for everyday wear. 3) the see-through and fit problems keep me from reaching for this dress when a fancier occasion does arise.

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I think I have a few options. 1) I could reknit the dress correctly in the exact same color following the pattern. This would solve the fit and see-through problems 2) I could reknit the dress and modify the pattern to have a back (racerback? scooped back?). This would solve the fit, see through, and everyday wear problems. 3) I could reknit this dress with different yarn in red or blue (unravelled from thrift store sweaters) to make it more wearable for everyday with a scooped back and make sure it’s opaque.

I’m leaning towards option number three… I would also have a ton of purple yarn left to use for some gift knitting for a special knitworthy person (okay probably my mom).

 

Summer Wardrobe Round-up

 

Fall classes started last week. I’m already mourning the loss of so much making time. I’ve turned a corner this summer in my wardrobe philosophy. I’m making things that replace ready to wear items, I’m planning my projects, and I’m fixing mistakes rather than rushing to finish.
So, in honor of the end of a season, here’s a round-up of garments I’ve made. I have some thoughts about each item, some were great choices, some weren’t. By cataloging those thoughts hopefully I can learn from my mistakes each season and discover what works!

Total items made: 15

  • Shorts: 2
  • Skirts: 1
  • Dresses: 5
  • Tops: 3
  • Outerwear: 2
  • Sweaters: 1

Shorts

 

 


My first shorts ever (left) might not last into next summer. These were basically my “I know these will be awful but you have to start somewhere” shorts. Pattern is a vintage 1970’s that was two sizes too big. I took in the waist, but the legs are still kind of roomy. The zipper is sort of a fly construction… without the back? There are no back pockets. The waistband is weird. All signs point to “let this pair go.”

Second pair of shorts = 100% success. I love these shorts. They’re perfect. These are the spring shorts pattern from peppermint magazine (free!!) and I used an old linen tablecloth. All good things to say about this pattern.

Skirts

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This has been a great casual skirt. The high slit is a fun detail. However… there are a few mistakes… the hem is super botched, the waistband was cut against the stretch, and there are a few holes growing in the fabric. So I might remake it and turn this one into a cleaning tool…

Dresses

 

 

Takeaway from the summer: I love sewing dresses.

My first Cleo (purple corduroy) was a bit premature – definitely more of fall outfit. So I’m looking forward to wearing it this fall.

My every other day dress is holding its title… every other day. Love it. I haven’t machine washed it, I just rinse with cold water and lay in the sun for less than two hours. It’s stayed nice and bright.

My denim Cleo has also seen a lot of wear. It already has a few dye spots and stains from teaching workshops! I consider that a success since it was an intentional work dress.

My Orla also hasn’t had much wear this summer, it’s kind of a warm fabric. So I’m waiting to see if fall will be its time to shine

The Laneway Dress is so new! It’s perfect for school and I feel super classy.

Tops

 

 

Two Megan Nielsen Rowan Tees. Both huge successes, though the white one almost gave me a run for my money. These are two basic tee’s that will see heavy rotation in my wardrobe. The navy is perfect for all seasons. The turtle neck is a bit warm for summer, but I plan to love it for fall and winter. These are both made from thrift shop bedsheets. The sheets had less stretch than the pattern called for, so I went up a size and they fit perfectly!

Outerwear

 

 

The Mountain Gods vest has really been a dream. All good things so far.

I made the SOI Kimono out of a thrifted silk wrap skirt (the kind with two layers). I need to revisit this – perhaps fix some of the seams that look a little sketchy.

Sweaters

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This sweater has not really seen much action this summer. A little very early on in June, but I was unsure if I really liked it. The sleeves are tiny bit too tight. And I don’t know if I want to lengthen the crop top by an inch or so. Only time will tell if this will survive. I think it’s super cute though, and it’s just calling to be styled with some high waisted black jeans… that I hope to make… someday.

Summer was so productive. I am so happy with all that I made. My biggest lesson learned: I can tell when I’ve rushed through something. If I want my pieces to last and experience wear, I have to make them well and attend to the details. As a big picture person, sometimes I focus too much on my overall goal of a handmade wardrobe and forget that each piece has its own complexities. So, with my autumn wardrobe in mind, I want to work on taking each piece slowly and carefully.

Review: The Laneway Dress

I’m all about stretching my skills and leveling up in sewing. Every time I make something I hope I can improve my sewing and patience… especially attention to detail. The Laneway Dress by Jennifer Lauren Handmade was the perfect chance to up my game. When the review call went out for the Laneway Dress, I was a bit hesitant. The Laneway it all it’s vintage glory isn’t exactly my everyday style, it was definitely out of my comfort zone. But I decided to put my name in the hat for the chance to sew a vintage inspired dress because, who knows, maybe I’ll love it and the worst thing that happens is I’ll get to sew a cool dress.

The Laneway Dress is slightly 1940’s inspired, has an a-line skirt, open ended bust darts, pockets, and three collar options (centered collar, asymmetrical collar, and a classic collar). I gravitated right away towards the classic neckline, which made the bust darts the most noticeable feature of the dress. I was hoping for a classic dress to add to my wardrobe that would be suitable for presentations and lectures as well as something that might be dressed down for more casual wear.

When I got the email about reviewing the Laneway, I was ready to step up to the challenge. My first challenge… finding a reclaimed fabric that would work well with the pattern. I stoped by Perennial, my local reclaimed project supplies store (I hope every city has one of these), and found two options, a poly/cotton blend fitted sheet in a light blue and a cotton geometric fitted sheet in darker blues and whites. I ultimately choose the poly/cotton blend because it had a little more movement to the fabric. The geometric cotton would have made a lovely version, but the overall print would have hidden my favorite feature (the bust darts) and would have made the skirt quite stiff. The total cost of both fabrics was $2.

My next challenge was fitting. I cut out the pattern in a size 10 with a B cup as is, no mods. I constructed the bodice and noticed there was a lot of extra fabric above the bust darts. I stared at this in the mirror for perhaps 30 minutes, trying to decide if raising the bust darts would solve this issue… but what I really needed to do, and ultimately did, was shorten the bodice, which mean recutting. So I unintentionally made a muslin, and I was lucky enough to have more than enough fabric left from the fitted sheet to make another bodice (what a relief). I now know to measure the pattern pieces before I cut to determine if I need to shorten a pattern for my 5’3″ frame

My third challenge came in fitting the sleeve. For some reason, I could not get the sleeve to fit into the armscye. The underarm section (the non-gathered section between the notches) was about an inch higher on the bodice than the sleeve. But, because I have climbing muscles, I always find I need more space in the underarm than patterns usually have. So I considered this a sign and shaved about an inch off the underarm bodice section. I’m happy with this decision, the underarms fit well.

I did not interface the facing with conventional interfacing. Rather, I used a tight woven cotton sheet (same one that’s covering my ironing board). I basted the facing piece and my new interfacing piece around the edges using a 1/8 seam allowance. This certainly provides enough stiffness to the facing for my liking.

Overall I am happy with this dress. The instructions were clear and precise. Because I shortened my bodice and I’m new to fitting, I did have to do some extra research about shortening patterns and redrawing bust darts. But this was all accomplished on the internet and with sewing books from the library. Though I was a bit apprehensive about the vintage-inspired style of this dress, I found that it translates very well into a non-vintage wardrobe. Whenever the dress catches my eye, the first thing that comes to mind is Cinderella on a casual day. Paired with sandals it’s perfect for a picnic or a day at the art museum. With a flannel and boots it’s great for errands or a night at the brewery. I had a lot of fun imagining different outfits for this dress… and that’s probably the most important thing for a wardrobe staple. So, Laneway Dress, you have converted a non-vintage girl to a vintage believer… what a feat!

 

In Progress

It’s halfway through August and I’ve been on a making spree. Classes start on August 29th so I’m trying to work at peak making speed before most of my time will be spent reading academic jargon. 

I have one sewing project and one knitting project in the works at the moment. 

Sewing

I was selected to review the Laneway Dress by Jennifer Lauren Handmade. I’m almost done, just have to insert the invisible zip (my first one!), the facings, and the hem. I’ll be writing a separate post to review the pattern- so look forward to that. 


So far this dress feels very Cinderella to me. Not in the modern massive ball gown way… More like everyday Cinderella pre-prince style. The dress is 1940’s inspired, which, combined with the light blue color, probably contribute to the Cinderella feelings. Also… could use a good press. 

Knitting

I’ve joined the Brooklyn Knitfolk #hipsterKAL. Very excited about the whole theme of the KAL – knit a pattern that has less than 30 projects. I’m knitting the Circlet Shrug by Norah Gaughn in the newest issue of Making (this is the most amazing knitting periodical in existence). It’s a beautiful pattern that uses cables and lace to create a really unique fabric. 


 I’m using unused yarn, Brooklyn Tweed Arbor in the Potion colorway, because this thing requires a ton of yardage… and I was doubtful I could create the right fabric type from salvaged yarn. I’m pretty stoked about Brooklyn Tweed though. I love that it’s 100% American made


Im trying out the KT method of knitting all the parts at once. Rather than knit the entirety of one side, I’m keeping the pattern fresh in my mind by knitting similar sections all together. I’m almost done with the ribbing which means I’m about to start the cables! I feel really excited about this knit. Lots to keep me interested.