not feelin' it

Ok.  So I'm trying to be a little more honest about my blog posting and not try to only post the good stuff.  Sooo many blogs looks so perfect (I am not naive enough to think mine looks perfect - take a look around) and I know many others share my feelings of annoyance and/or ineptitude when we browse these.  The point of this blog was for me to learn, so I have to learn from mistakes.

I'll be honest about this though, taking pictures of mistakes is boring and annoying and that is surely a barrier to posting.

I had grand plans for how these would turn out.  I pictured something that looked a little inside-out, deconstructed, disdressed to go with the soft, nubbiness of this gorgeous yarn.

Yuck.  These are just not what I was picturing.

My knitting usually turns out pretty well from patterns, but when I try to go my own with a design, it just doesn't work yet.  These will be promptly frogged but I'm not sure what they will turn into yet.  Because of the price I only have two 70 yard skeins.

This one probably has more hope, but since I really don't like summer clothes, my enthusiasm for finishing this is waning.  I used this tutorial, and I love the ribbon I made from the fabric, but other than that, I'm not so crazy about the fabric.  I tried to double layer it since it's so sheer, and then silly me, put the under-layer seams on the wrong side.  Then the armhole is funny.  And now it's getting funnier when I try fix the seams.  Avalanche here.

Blah.  I think what this means is that unless I'm going to love the finished product enough to work through the flaws, don't even bother.  I think I just wanted to try this tutorial and grabbed whatever fabric I've had on hand forever.


a kooky gabby

So this is what my "wearable muslin" was for... 

This is the Gabby Dress again with some more adjustments.  But first, how about this crazy fabric?  I got at a yard sale, I think for about $5.  I should tell you that I intentionally placed the little people upside down; in making this dress I wanted to balance some kookiness and some style and I really didn't want a big old doll on my belly like a care bear or something.

Being impatient as usual, I sewed this up the same way as the "muslin" and when I tried it on, found it to be too loose and baggy, forgetting this is how the muslin fit.  Since I was trying to balance kookiness and something else, I wanted this to be a little more of a fitted A-line dress.  So I narrowed the sides some more and cut down the back and added a zipper so that I could still pull it over my head.

I loosely used this tutorial after seeing these very cool exposed zippers at Closet Case Files, particularly on this amazing dress.  Again, I had some colorful zippers that might have looked cool, but somehow wanted to keep this from going too kooky, so you know, exposed zipper in a neutral color = balance?

I mentioned before that I want to start challenging myself; this is not the big challenge, but I was trying to improve my quality on simpler things.  I am not a gentle person and I pull and tug a lot, so I appreciated when this pattern advised being gentle when sewing the neck binding, and you know what?  I think it's my best one yet.

I'm thinking of posting a big "GENTLE" sign above my sewing machine.  But maybe in a gentle font.


um, i do this.

I wasn't going to tell anyone until I saw this picture.

via Knit One, Poet Too, not sure where she got it

Except no one yells at me because I stop when the light turns green.  Promise.  It's the reason I got deco and my socks done in the time I did.

Hey, I drive a lot for work all day!  My mom could not stop laughing when I told her a couple months ago.  I'm an addict.



I have never made a muslin of a garment before.  I have a hard time a) with the patience that would take, and b) making something no one is going to wear.  I tried to tell myself it's like knitting a gauge swatch, but that is much smaller and you can unravel and use it again. 

So, because I cut a pattern that just didn't seem quite right, I used some fabric as a "muslin" that would make a nice accidental garment if it worked out.

I swear to you I ironed it before I put it on, I don't know what happened.  I think I sat down.  But it goes nicely with my crooked necklace.  We are not a J Crew catalog here at Casa Smunch.

This is the Gabby dress and the pattern is super-flared (as described) but also kind of large in general.  I cut the XS (I usually wear a S, but I know these are not US sizes), and then took some off the sides of the side of both the back and the front, starting with a couple inches at the bottom and tapering up to about a 1/2 inch at the armhole.  To compensate with the sleeves, I just gathered them more.

Which came out funny because do you see how the left sleeve has all kind of gathers and the right has none?  Nicely done, smunch.

Since my "muslin" is a little boring AND I already have a navy-blue shift dress, I added a few little buttons.  And fixed my necklace.

The irony of this is this other thing.  I have noticed some impressive handmade garments in the blog world, and reading a bit find out of that some of these sewists have been at it for only a year or so!  What?  I want to push myself a little harder.  So, in doing so I may have to make some muslins, don't you think?

I'm piecing together the pattern for the Chloe dress which has a little more going on, and because I'm way too superstitious I'm worried I may have just jinxed myself if I don't make a muslin for this one first!  Especially because I bought pricey wool for it!  Ugh.


just some socks

After two and a half months of sweater-knitting, a pair of socks in a week was a nice "instant" (loose use of the word) gratification.

Pattern:  simple socks by Madeline Tosh
Yarn: Shalimar Yarns Breathless

Wound up, the yarn looked ballet-esque, pinks, whites, and grays.  I don't think they ended up that way though.  Starting these socks looked like this:

1.  Knit a small swatch and ogle the pretty colors and the way they combine.
2.  CO 56 st with size 3 needles and realize they are too big.
3.  CO 52 st with size 3 needles and angst over the way they start to stripe instead of beautifully blend together.
3.  Start knitting armwarmers but realize they look like a 2-year-old's pink sweater.
4.  Give up and submit to striped socks and CO 52 st again until I realize that the gauge is now too loose.
5.  CO 52 st with size 2 needles and marvel at how suddenly the yarn pattern becomes more like stripey clouds and finish two pairs of socks.

Somehow it felt like more than 5 re-starts.  Maybe I'm missing a step.  It was entirely ridiculous nonetheless.

And guess what?  After I took these pictures I realized I dropped a stitch when I kitchener-ed the toe.  Woops.  One more unravel (hopefully).


surprise! it's a bag.

Going through my Nonna's scraps today, I came across something half-assembled.  I'm still not sure if it was meant to be a bag, or a pillowcase, or a practice of some sort.  Also in the scraps was what looks like a matching narrow curtain panel.  Anyways, I adore anything that was my grandmother's so even though it's not quite my style, it became a quick summer bag (although I guess the fabric is pretty cool).

I lined it with a simple, neutral linen and added a thick, short strap cut from a strip of the "curtain."  I initially got excited when I thought it was something my grandmother made, but the sewing was a little wild so I wonder now if this was something my mom or my aunt made while learning to sew.  Mom?  What do you think?  [Mom:  You can click on " __ Comments" below and respond if you want.  Or call me ;)]



Deco by Kate Davies, raveled here with Chickadee in peacock, by Quince & Co.  I finished this on a peak day of this heat wave, last Thursday, I believe it was 104F, with a heat index of 112.  Perfect timing as always.

  • I added 2+ inches to the body before beginning the Deco pattern in the front
  • I noticed that the waist shaping was a very sharp decrease, designed more for Marilyn Monroe hips than mine (although I wouldn't mind those hips), so once I realized this I only decreased 20 st rather than 24 and I think knit a few more rows before doing the last decrease.  Therefore, I did one less increase as well.
  • I messed around with the number of stitches I picked up for the armhole, doing 1-2 less I think and I did not do the whole breaking the yarn and picking it up later, I just kept knitting around.
  • As all the knitters can tell (and maybe some non-knitters), I ran out of yarn, hence the two-tone sleeve.  I realized pretty early on I wouldn't have enough yarn because of how much length I had to add, but the shop ran out of Peacock.  I ended up liking the two-tone look anyways, I wanted it to be reminiscent of elbow-length gloves.

This is a good pattern, of course, because Kate Davies is a great designer.  I liked the short-row sleeve caps and using fabric on the back of the button bands (I used bias strips from the same fabric as the shirt I'm wearing in the above picture), but I couldn't find snaps that weren't ugly unfortunately!  But I'm intrigued by combining knit and fabric and I want to do more of this...

Oh yeah, after knitting the first sleeve and halfway into the second, I realized I wouldn't have enough peacock to knit to the same point on the second sleeve before switching colors.  Be warned this next part is boring if you're not a knitting dork, so I advise you to skip accordingly. 

So I did some knitting surgery and some unorthodox techniques.  I removed the light blue section of the first sleeve by just pulling out the connecting stitches, keeping the light blue part in tact.  Then, on the second sleeve I knit as far as I could go, then began knitting directly from the first sleeve to the second sleeve.  See the crappy picture below?

I know, how can you possibly make sense of that picture?  Anyways, I knitted them roughly to the same point, then used kitchener stitch to stitch the rest of the first sleeve back together.  But I had to do this three times before I got the right number of stitches on the length of both sleeves.  Fascinating, yes?

THEN, I worried the sleeves wouldn't be long enough so added length to the cuffs.  Lo and behold after blocking, they are a little too long, but not bad.

Happy to finally be finished (I bought this yarn at the Metro Yarn Crawl back in April - thanks for helping me pick out the color Kim!)  I always think I'm going to knit sweaters faster than I actually do.  For this reason, I am knitting a pair of socks now.  Quicker gratification to then shove into a pair of shoes and never look at.  Makes no sense.


wiksten tank, again

I know I've made three of these already (plus one for a friend) but I've had this fabric forever and love it, and that is just the best darn pattern to make a simple tank with.

The fabric is a slinky, scarf-like material with a crazy 70's-like pattern of women (sorry I didn't take a good close up).  Close up my stitching is terrible - I was in a bad mood and have learned long ago not to sew when that happens, and I also need to remember to SLOW DOWN when I'm stitching difficult spots/fabrics/whatever.  I start to go like a madwoman without paying attention and the stitching is all over the place.

The binding was the most difficult to sew, and I wonder now if I should have trimmed the seam allowance and done more of a rolled hem rather than try to fold it over the seam allowance, per the instructions.