Cotton dots

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This dress is a more casual version of the shibori silk dress I posted recently. Bias cut, drop waist, boat neck. It’s a very soft double cotton gauze. The fabric was wider, so there was no need for a yoke and the skirt is slightly longer and cut straight across. I sort of wish I’d done a yoke anyway, since it makes a cleaner neckline. Instead I used my serger’s handkerchief edge, which looks ok but needed a lot of pressing to lay flat. As a dress I plan on wearing to work, it had to have a pocket. The drop waist makes it difficult to do in seam pockets, since the dress is pretty fitted at the point where pockets should go. So instead I sewed down one pleated patch pocket.

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Rosalie’s six paneled skirt

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Rosalie’s made about a dozen of these six paneled skirts over the years. They’re easy to make, have a nicely balanced skirt, and are a great shape for her. These skirts have more seams than a basic a-line, but the pattern is just as easy to make, and the fullness of the skirt is evenly distributed, rather than tending toward the sides.

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To make a six paneled skirt, you will need 2 yards of 45″ fabric, an 8 inch invisible zipper, and the following measurements:

1. Waist – measure all the way around your body wherever you want the top of the skirt to sit
2. Hip/bottom – measure around the largest part of your lower body
3. Waist to hip/bottom – the distance between the previous two measurements
4. Waist to hem – the total length you want the skirt to be

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I like to make patterns on newspaper, but any large piece of paper will do. Fold your paper in half. Divide measurement 1 (waist) by 12 and draw a line this length near the top of your paper, starting at the fold. Measure down perpendicularly from the center of this line by measurement 3 (waist to hip/bottom) and mark. Divide measurement 2 (hip/bottom) by 12 and measure out from the mark by this distance and make a second mark. Connect this new mark with the edge of the waist line with a gentle curve. A straight line will do, but curving it slightly improves the fit. Continue this line out until the total length is measurement 4 (waist to hem). Measure this same distance (measurement 4) along the fold from the waistline. Measure out a couple more points in between and draw a line for the hem. Cut out the pattern, unfold, and cut 6 pieces from your fabric.

Sew the skirt together along 5 of the six seams. Add the zipper to the last seam and sew it up. Finish the top edge with double fold bias tape and fold up the bottom for a simple hem.

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Shibori

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I’ve been making a lot of dresses with yokes lately. I like how they look, but more than that I like the built in neckline and upper armhole facing. With a split back like this one, you can sew the front and back together at the shoulders, then sew the yoke to the lining along the neckline and armholes, and turn it right side out without leaving any extra opening. All edges are now neatly finished and can be pressed flat. Then you sew the bottom edge of the yoke to the top of the dress, keeping the yoke and its lining together. For the back I sewed each half out from the middle so I could line them up the way I wanted, and trimmed the armholes to match. The lower armholes still have to be finished somehow, which I did with the “napkin edging” setting on my serger. I finished the hem the same way.

The dress is cut on the bias, which means I can get into it without any fastener. It’s shaped with bust darts and side seam shaping, but the bias drape also pulls it in a bit, making it more flattering and comfortable (although harder to sew) than the same dress cut on the grain would be. The fabric was very narrow, so I used the yoke to lengthen it from the top, and added a ruffle at the bottom. The bias cut makes it hard to cut a straight hem, so I didn’t try. The bottom of the skirt is angled one way and the bottom of the wedge shaped ruffle runs the other way.

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Inspiration

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My sister Rosalie recently scanned some old photos, including my class photo from 1995 featuring my favorite dress ever. That’s me in the back row, third from the left, wearing The Dress. This dress was so soft and cozy, it made up for having to get out of bed on cold foggy mornings. It had a tiered twirly skirt and ruffles and was, to my 9 year old eye, the most beautiful thing ever. It died a sudden and tragic death in a lunch time football game.

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I never forgot this dress, and a few years ago it inspired another similarly cozy dress. As an adult, I don’t wear a lot of ruffled necklines and tiered skirts, so I didn’t create a perfect replica. I gave it a more adult shape, a simple bias tape bound neckline, and mock cuffs. The skirt is still twirly, but a simpler a-line shape. But the soft buffalo check flannel is the same, and that’s the important thing.

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Neuron pillowcases

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I embroidered these neurons on pillowcases for a fellow neuroscientist’s bridal shower. Embroidered pillowcases are my go to present for situations like this. I found some pictures of neurons, traced them onto the pillows in pencil, and stitched along my sketch. Easy, personal, and pretty fun to make! Just remember to wash the pillowcases before you start so they don’t pull the embroidery out of shape when they shrink.

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Whale dress

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If I cling to the wall a bit in all these photos, it is because the arch I was standing on, while sturdy and substantial, was two stories up. I’m not afraid of heights, but it was a long way down and seemed prudent to keep a hold on something. But the green hills reflected in the windows of this old brick factory was too pretty to pass up, and I like being up high.

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The dress was designed to be something I can wear to work – casual, summery, with nice big pockets. The whale fabric is from Holli Zolinger on Spoonflower. I used two yards of cotton voile, which is a nice light summer fabric, but ever so slightly sheer. It’s ok in this print, but doesn’t work unlined in anything that has large unprinted white areas.

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To make the dress, I cut out two large trapezoids, as wide as the fabric at the bottom and a bit larger than me at the top (my bust measurement is 33″, and each piece was about 20″), each 1 yard long. I added pockets at the seams and sewed up the sides. I cut out a wider neckline than I actually wanted – in the front this meant extending the straight line in the center, in the back it meant cutting out a wedge that went as low as I wanted the back to be but was wider. I gathered this extended neckline until it was actual neckline sized. The yoke is made from from a piece of linen left over from another project. I cut two pieces the same and used one as facing. I sewed the two front pieces together along the neck and armhole, did the same for the back, sewed up the shoulders by putting one tube inside the other, and finally sewed the gathered whale fabric to the yoke.

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Thanks to Prima for taking the pictures and finding the location!

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Sideways sweater

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I knit this sweater sideways from cuff to cuff, casting on stitches on both sides for the body and knitting the two sides separately around the neck opening. It’s purled, except for a 6 stitch band which runs up the arms and splits around the neck. There are cables on that band at the cuff and neck opening. The shoulders and sides are shaped with short rows.

I finished the sweater months ago and took the photos weeks ago, but haven’t posted because I’ve been trying to put together a pattern. I have concluded that this is not a good idea – it’s too difficult to grade and I’d need to knit another one from the pattern to be sure it works. Maybe next winter. For now, this is what I did to make an extra small…

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Finished measurements of the sweater: 23.5″ long, 29″ bust, 36″ hip
To fit someone with the measurements: 33” bust, 24” waist, and 36” hip (as shown in these pictures)

Yarn: Morris Empire 8 ply in smoke
Gauge: 19.5 stitches and 19 rows in 4″

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Cast on 40 stitches for the cuff.
RS: Purl 17, knit 6, purl 17
WS: knit 17, purl 6, knit 17
Work in pattern for 2″, then on a right side row, purl 17, 3×3 cable, purl 17.
Work in pattern to elbow, then increase one stitch on each side every 8 rows to armpit.

Cast on 80 more stitches on each side – this will be the body of the sweater. New stitches will be worked in reverse stockinette (purl on right side rows, knit on wrong side rows). Work 1 1/2 inches, then begin shoulder shaping.

The shoulders are shaped with short rows. Begin with the 40 center stitches (Place markers at the edges) Work only these stitches for two rows. Then, work until 2 stitches before the marker, move marker in and turn. Repeat, making each row 2 stitches shorter than the row before it for 6 rows. Then make each 1 stitch shorter than the row before it for 10 rows. 18 stitches remain. Work all the way across for two rows, then begin side shaping.

The sides are also shaped with short rows so they flare out at the hips. I started the short row shaping a bit above my waist, 18 stitches down from the armholes, because I like that balance between fitted and relaxed. You might prefer to start it at your waist or immediately after the armholes. I moved each row by 5 stitches, but again it really depends on what shape you want. So, I began the short rows at the bottom corner of the front and made each row 5 stitches longer than the row before it until I reached a point 18 stitches down from the armholes. Then I knit across to the back of the sweater, and began another set of short rows at the bottom corner of the back.

Work in pattern for 1 1/2 inches after shoulder shaping, measured along the 6 stitch knit strip. Then, cable these stitches and attach a second ball of yarn in the middle of the cable to work the front and back separately. There should be 97 purl stitches and three knit stitches on each side.

The back is worked in reverse stockinette, except for three stitches along the neckline. Neckline decreases and increases are made in the last purl before the knit band (i.e. the fourth stitch from the edge). I decreased one stitch every row for 2 rows, then one stitch every other row for 3 repeats (6 rows), knit straight for 4″, then increased one stitch every other row for 3 repeats (6 rows), then one stitch every row for 2 rows.

The front is the same as the back, but with deeper neckline shaping. I decreased one stitch every row for 6 rows, then one stitch every other row for two repeats (four rows), knit straight for 3″, then increased one stitch every other row for two repeats (four rows), then one stitch every row for 6 rows.

Rejoin the two halves of the sweater and cable the knit stitches in the opposite direction from the first shoulder. Work for 1 1/2 inches, then work side short rows as on the other side (except this time you will start with the longest row and get 5 stitches shorter with each row). Then work shoulder short rows, beginning with the 18 center stitches and increasing by one stitch for 10 rows, then by two stitches for 6 rows. Work in pattern for 1 1/2 inches, then bind off 80 stitches on each side.

Decrease one stitch on each side every 8 rows until elbow, then work in pattern until 2″ above wrist. Cable knit stitches. Work to wrist and bind off!

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Cropped

DSC06861DSC06802DSC06840DSC06783DSC06823I fell in love with these cut shell buttons as soon as I saw them. There were only seven uneven vintage buttons, with their shanks stuck on at odd angles, but seven little buttons is the perfect number for a cropped shirt. I pulled out all my white and gray scraps leftover from other projects (it turns out nearly all my fabric scraps are white and gray) and pieced them together with princess seams, raglan sleeves, and ribbon edging. It turns out ribbon works pretty well as an alternative seam binding. It doesn’t have the stretch of bias tape, which can be a problem along the edges of an arm hole – parts of the arm hole are cut on the bias and prone to stretching, and the ribbon is stiff, so if the fabric stretches while you’re sewing you can get awkward gaping. The solution is to ever so slightly gather the fabric before sewing it up. The binding you get this way is not as flexible as bias tape, but it’s pretty comfortable and I like the way this grosgrain ribbon with a little gray stripe goes with the other fabrics.

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Curtain dress

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Another attempt to use up some of the mountain of fabric scraps taking over my mom’s house. The top of this dress was a sample strip of curtain fabric which my mom considered for her living room. If she actually had curtains that looked like this, I think I’d feel weird about wearing a dress made out of them, but since she settled on a different fabric, I thought it would make a pretty top. The piece was a very long, 10″ wide strip. I didn’t cut out pieces, just added darts until one end of the strip was roughly me-shaped and cut off the rest. The skirt and trim are a silvery velvet from no-one-knows-where. The dress closes with a side zipper and is hemmed with single fold bias tape, which made for a very easy tidy hem on this thick fabric.

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Corduroy skirt

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This was the first in a series of projects designed to use up some of the closet full of fabric scraps at my mom’s. There were three pieces of this stretchy corduroy: One was large enough to make the back of a skirt, and the other two I pieced together to make the front. I flipped the lower piece around so the fuzz of the corduroy runs up instead of down, which changes the color slightly and emphasizes the center seam. The skirt has darts in back for shaping and a 1/4″ elastic waistband. I hemmed the bottom with a zig zag stitch, and should have done the top stitching the same way – the straight stitch I used means the center seam puckers a little. But other than that I’m very happy with this skirt.

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