Whale dress


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.


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.


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.


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

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Sideways sweater


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

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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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


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


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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Circle skirt tutorial

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I just love circle skirts. Wearing this one makes me want to spend the whole day twirling. This skirt is so straight forward I feel weird about writing a tutorial for it at all. But it could make a nice first drafting pattern for someone, and there are some useful tricks to know when making a circle skirt.

Note: this pattern is written for 1/2″ seam allowances.

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You’ll need two measurements: your waist and the length of the skirt. Measure around your body where you want the top of the skirt to be: this is the waist measurement. Then measure down from this point to 1″ bellow where you want the hem of the skirt to fall: this is the skirt length. The waistband will be made from a rectangle 3″ wide and as long as your waist measurement + 1 1/2 inches. The skirt is made from two identical semi-circular pieces. Before we draft this pattern piece, you should know that it will have negative ease at the waist. This means you will cut out a piece that is smaller than you are. Not to worry! Because parts of the circle will be cut along the bias and therefore stretchy you’ll still fit into it. And it means that the flare of the circle will start off ever so slightly lower which stops the skirt from puffing out right under the waistband and is a more flattering look. Now, for the pattern. Subtract an inch or two from your waist measurement. I used 1″ here. You’ll want a bit more for lighter-weight fabric and larger pattern sizes. Draw a semi-circular curve half as long as your reduced waist measurement. At each edge draw a line down to the skirt length. To draw in the hem, move the measuring tape along the waist curve, keeping it perpendicular to the waist and mark several points along the edge of the skirt. Draw a semi-circular curve connecting these points. Your pattern piece is done. Use it to cut out two identical skirt pieces. If you want pockets, cut pieces for those as well (I used a lighter weight fabric for this).

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If you’re doing in-seam pockets, sew them to the side seams of the skirt.

Sew up the side seams of the skirt, leaving 10″ unsewn at the top of the right side. Sew in a 12″ invisible zipper in these top 10″. Fold the waistband in half with the right sides facing in. Sew up both short ends. On one side sew in 1″ along remaining raw edge. Turn right side out and press flat. Next, sew the waistband to the skirt: press under 3/8″ on the front of the waistband, sew the back of the waistband to the skirt beginning and ending at the zipper, then top-stitch down the front of the waistband. Sew a button to the 1″ flap at the opening of the waistband and make a buttonhole in the opposite side.


The right thing to do now is to hang your unhemmed skirt for a couple of days to let it settle. Because the grainlines are inconsistent through the skirt some parts will grow more than others. It’s not a huge change and it’s never bothered me, but if you’re a perfectionist, let it hang and recut the hem so it’s actually straight. Now you can hem it. Fold up and press 1/2″, then fold up and press another 1/2″ and sew it down. I do a lot of handsewn invisible hems, but I really don’t recommend it for a circle skirt unless you love hemming. It looks good and the weight of it is nice to twirl in, but it takes hours.


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Ranunculus Market Winter Collection







The day after Thanksgiving, Prima turned up at my door with a trunk full of beautiful winter clothing for a Ranunculus Market photo shoot. We drafted our friend Ariel as a second model, and ran around my neighborhood, snapping photos and ducking into cafes when our fingers started to go numb. I highly recommend checking out the full collection!

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First Snow Pullover


This is very late, but I have a pattern out over at Knitty. This sweater was inspired by my move to New York last year. I suddenly needed warmer clothes than I ever had before, but the winter is beautiful and worth being a little cold for.


This is a sweater for curling up on the couch with your sister and a mug of hot chocolate to watch the snow through the window. This is a sweater for cold Vermont mornings, helping your best friend move into her dream home, and wishing she could find the box with her quilts in it. This is not a sweater for actually going out in the snow without a coat on. That would be crazy.


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Country Mouse Gloves


I’ve said this before, but perhaps the best part of living somewhere with seasons is knitting winter clothes. I don’t really like the cold, but I do like turning soft, colorful wool into cozy gloves and hats. There’s a store in Sydney, Morris and Sons, that makes some of the most beautiful yarn in all my favorite colors. While I lived there I only ever bought the lace weight to make light scarves, but when I went back to Sydney in June I stocked up on Morris Empire in heavier weights (they do ship internationally, but it’s more fun to buy your yarn in person where you can see the colors and pet the yarn).


I wanted to make something simple that showed off the two colors. I went with a garter stitch button band, closed with a big tan button (which perfectly matches the coat I will wear them with when the weather gets cold enough!) and stockinette hands. I liked how they came out so well that I made a second, fingerless pair in Blue Skies Alpaca Metalico (photos to come) and wrote up the pattern. It’s available as a Ravelry download.


Last weekend David and I went out to the country, where it’s really autumn. It wasn’t quite cold enough for gloves, but I brought them along anyway because I’m excited about them (you know how it is with your most recent project) and took some pictures around the autumn leaves. Autumn makes me feel like I’m in a storybook – real trees can’t possibly be those colors.

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Sailor shorts

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I hardly ever use patterns – I’m not very good at adjusting them so I usually find it’s easier to make an entirely new pattern that fits right than to adapt one. But every once in a while I forget that. Most recently, I made these shorts for my sister Isabel’s birthday from Kwik Sew K3854 view B. As usual, I sort of wish I’d just made my own pattern. I made the smallest size, which according to the listed measurements should be much too small for Isabel, but ended up having to take it in quite a bit at the waist. This was somewhat difficult on the side seams because of the odd pocket construction. Why don’t the listed measurements describe the actual dimensions of the finished garment or a person who could wear it? Or at least come within three inches. I don’t understand how they can be so far off. But despite the challenges in making them, I’m very happy with the way they came out and so is Isabel.

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