Archive | May, 2013

FO: Eve slippers

9 May

Having learned to knit in December 2011, I’d been looking for simple, quick projects to practice on. When I was at Rocking in the Hutt in February 2012 with D, a camping enthusiast, he mentioned he was looking for thick socks to wear in his tent at night. My craft-gift-opportunity alarm went off and I knew instantly that this was a prime knitting opportunity! Slippers!

I spent a lot of time on Ravelry searching for the perfect pattern. The slippers had to come up to the ankle (so many slipper patterns leave the top of the foot bare, why???), but it had to be free, had to be knitted in the flat, and had to be simple. This was my first make after my doll after all!

I searched, favourited, emailed to Mum for review and approval, settled on a pattern, and bought the yarn.

As it was my first solo knit project, mum said she’d knit the pattern through first so that she could give me advice over the phone. So when I bought my yarn (Naturally Naturelle, 100% wool 14 ply and super thick and bouncy) I bought enough for her as well and posted it up. Mum knocked out the first slipper in about 2 hours, rang me up, told me about the typo and told me to go for it.

Knitting solo was tricky. Mum attempted to teach me over the phone how to make one by picking up the bar below, but I got it wrong. Luckily Google came to my rescue.

I also decided to make the slippers bigger, as D has good sized feet and the pattern was for medium. So I guesstimated how much extra to cast on, tried it out, decided it was wrong, frogged it, re-guesstimated, cast on, decided it was good, made up one slipper (yes, just one), was disappointed that none of my other male friends I could easily access had the right size feet to test it out, and posted that lonely slipper  up to Mum too. Her partner, SB, had the right sized feet and success! The slipper fitted!

I quickly knitted up the slippers proper and really loved this pattern. The short row shaping creates really cool ridges and makes a fantastic shape, and it is fast and easy to knit. I did make one change – the pattern calls for a garter band at the ankle, but when SB tested it he said it made it tricky to get on an off, so I replaced it with a band of rib.

I took this before I added the tape but it's the only front view I have. You can see the clever ridges up each side of the foot from the short rows

I took this before I added the tape but it’s the only front view I have. You can see the clever ridges up each side of the foot from the short rows. I stuffed these with tissue for this photo.

Once I’d made the slippers, I knew I wanted to make them just a little bit special, as D was about to go overseas to go tramping through Europe. He’s a big fan of the MMORPG Eve so I decided to give them “Eve cred”. I know all RPGs have equipment or apparel you can acquire in the game which gives you more points on a particular attribute, so I contacted my great friend Ares, an Eve addict, and got him to help me out. We settled on Rogue CY-2.5. This piece of equipment, in the game, increases navigation skill, which I thought was appropriate for someone travelling alone with little more than a tent, a laptop, and his wits. Another friend, The Sewhpist, used her fancy sewing machine to machine stitch the letters onto cotton twill tape, and I sewed it onto the heels of the slippers, where they double as little loops to help get the slippers on.

The tape after my friend finished machine embroidering it. It took a lot of attempts to get it to work

The tape after my friend finished machine embroidering it. It took a lot of attempts to get it to work

I hand stitched the cotton tape on with silk thread.

I hand stitched the cotton tape on with silk thread.

After the tape but without stuffing to hold them in place. This slipper tends to collapse inwards in an ungainly fashion if there isn't a foot to provide shape

After the tape but without stuffing to hold them in place. This slipper tends to collapse inwards in an ungainly fashion if there isn’t a foot to provide shape

Ares also looked up D’s character and got his character’s address in the Eve world, and provided me with a logo of one of the shops in the game you can buy the equipment from, which I used to make the presentation perfect. I designed a “product insert brochure”  which went with the slippers, wrapped in tissue, into a box. I added an address label, a logo, and a seal to the box and it was done! Gamer geek cred slippers!

The "product insert brochure" I designed, typed up, and glued onto  card

The “product insert brochure” I designed, typed up, and glued onto card

The slippers in tissue...

The slippers in tissue…

...then I folded down the tissue and added the insert...

…then I folded down the tissue and added the insert…

...then I sealed the box by cluing the supplier logo over the opening, and added another supplier logo and his character's address

…then I sealed the box by cluing the supplier logo over the opening, and added another supplier logo and his character’s address. The rubber bands were only on while the glue dried on the seal.

I gave them to the recipient in May 2012 and they were very well received.  I’d call that a win for a knitting project!

Oh and don’t worry – I eventually got around to knitting one more slipper to go up to SB to go with his test slipper. Can’t have the man having one slippered foot!

Ravelry notes here.

FO and MOS 3/52: The seriously yellow pencil skirt

1 May

Being the terrible blogger that I am, I have a backlog of projects with no photos or posts to show for them; a backlog of drafts waiting for photos; and funnily enough some old photos that I never wrote anything to go with.

I had planned to tell all these stories in something resembling a sensible order, but this one got bumped to the head of the queue. Why? So that I could submit it to Cation Design’s stashbusting challenge for vibrant colours.

You see, my skirt, it’s yellow. Seriously yellow. Blindingly, happily, unashamedly yellow.

Outside a school in the inner city, with some amazing art etched into these support poles. paired with turquoise and navy becuase one vibrant colour is never enough. Photo courtesy Kat.

Outside a school in the inner city, with some amazing art etched into these support poles. paired with turquoise and navy becuase one vibrant colour is never enough. Photo courtesy Kat.

So, imagine if you will that I’ve already told you all about drafting my pencil skirt pattern from scratch (this one I actually wrote and WordPress ate it); and all about making my first skirt from it in a Mexican corazones hearts print; and you’ll just have to wait patiently (oh so patiently) until I actually do tell you those two stories.

So this, my second pencil skirt from my self-drafted pencil skirt pattern went together reasonably well. (Ok, fine, spoil the backstory post I have yet to release – the tutorial I followed is here).

It is made from cotton-with-a-hint-of-spandex sateen (one of my favourite fabrics) in yellow covered with a print of dragonflies, stars, and cursive French text in black and grey. This was actually a short turnaround from fabric to make – I think I bought this fabric in November or December! I was enticed by the vibrant yellow and just had to have it. Even though this is a short period (given my oldest stash fabric is 16 years old) it still fits my definition of stash – it was bought with no immediate project in mind and went into the cupboard for “later.”

Thank goodness for the kick pleat so I can bend my knees!

Thank goodness for the kick pleat so I can bend my knees! Also, what amazing school grounds to be right in the city. Photo courtesy Kat.

Overall, this was a fast make for me. I washed, dried, ironed the fabric, cut, and assembled it in the first three days of April, and THEN discovered that Cation’s challenge was vibrant colours! I was so pleased that I’d have this ready in time. But I had to wait for a while to hem it, then to get photos, then to write this up… you know how it goes! So hopefully I just get to slip it in, and I couldn’t have done it without Kat of Modern Vintage Cupcakes to take my photos.

Despite being a fast make, there were, as always, things to be learned along the way. After the hilarity of my first one (yeah, I know, telling it out of order, I’ll get there) I didn’t make any of those mistakes again. I made a whole new set though!

The pattern is straight forward, centre back lapped zip, facings, kick pleat, and it all came together well. This time I did a small sway back adjustment to my paper pattern after noticing that the waist on skirt-one sat high at the back. I did this by just dipping the waistline at the back from nothing at the waist to about 1.5cm at centre back. This has mostly worked really well, although it also appears to have resulted in my side seams now no longer being perpendicular to the floor and I have no idea why.

We found this fantastic old car parked in front of these brilliantly painted doors and decided that more colour was even better. Plus this shows how well this skirt fits my rear. Photo courtesy kat

We found this fantastic old car parked in front of these brilliantly painted doors and decided that more colour was even better. Plus this shows how well this skirt fits my rear. Photo courtesy kat

But, I don’t think I’ve ever combined a lapped zip with a facing. My other lapped zips have all had waistbands, and my faced skirts have all been invisible zips, both easy combos. On an invisible zip, it is really easy to fold the facing to the zip tape. I usually do this with machine and then turn, giving it a beautiful neat finish. But you can’t do this with a lapped zip as the facing would join to the overlap, neatly sandwiching the zip teeth and making them impossible to reach. I spent time Googling and poking at it and getting frustrated at the incomprehensible instructions online before I stuck with my normal facing method and sort of poked the facing out of the way when hand stitching it down. This has left a weird little tuck in the facing but I can wear it and that is what counts. The waist is a little uneven at the very top of the zip but I couldn’t quite get it any better and I’ve decided I don’t care. I did add a wee hook and eye to ensure that there is no gaping at the top of the zip.

Unlike skirt-one which had a vent, this time I tried a kick pleat. I’ve since decided that this wasn’t the best idea as the sateen doesn’t hold a neat crease at the edge of the pleat so it just sort of sits open in a weird way. I might top stitch a pleat into it to give it some definition or open it out into a vent. Or maybe I won’t. Whatever. It was perfectly easy to make though, so yay for making my first kick pleat!

Finally, skirt one, despite being drafted with some wearing ease, was very snug fitting. So, thinking I had learned from that I sewed this one with an extra centimetre at each side seam. But after wearing it once or twice I discovered that this was too much and painstakingly took it back in to the original size. I am not sure if the different in comfort and fit between the two is because this is a stretch fabric where version one was a solid cotton, or if it’s because I forgot to interface the facing (sigh). The reduction in side seam was perhaps the most difficult part of the whole make – I had to unpick the hand stitching where I’d anchored the facing to the side seams, unpick the under stitching on the facing, unpick the facing from the skirt, unpick the turned-up edge on the facing and unpick the overlocking that I’d turned up, take in the facing, take in the side seam, re-overlock the side seam allowances, re-overlock the edge of the facing, re-turn up the edge of the facing, reattach the facing, and re-understitch the facing. I have yet to re-anchor it to the side seams with a couple of rehand restitches.

Totally worth it. It fits so much better now!

Aiming for a pin-up look. Pencil skirts always make me feel slinky. Photo courtesy Kat.

Aiming for a pin-up look. Pencil skirts always make me feel slinky. Photo courtesy Kat.

I also took advantage of the time I spent dicking around with it to peg the skirt, so it tapers from hip to hem. This worked great although there is now a tiny bit of puckering on the side seam that there wasn’t before. But only I can tell (I hope) and I definitely prefer the pegged shape.

Because I drafted this I did something odd with the hip curves and so the hem doesn’t quite match up, so I decided to get it levelled from the ground up and the awesome Sarah and I did a levelling swap (I did the hem on her amazing Victorian skirt). This has resulted in a really weird hem when lying flat; the back is about 3 or 4 cm longer in the centre back than the centre front. Worried that this wasn’t right, I conned Mechanic Man into double checking it and got the thumbs up. So I tried on a RTW skirt that I have and got him to check that. Sure enough, even though the RTW skirt is perfectly level when flat, when on it is shorter in the back than the front. Levelling for the win!

This made me think though about skirts with interesting hem details like gores or godets (my RTW has box pleats the whole way round). One couldn’t really level that from the floor up as the features would all end up out of whack. Then again, I’ve never noticed that my RTW skirt looks terribly odd being longer in the front than the back either. So I’ve decided that all featureless skirts will get levelled from the ground up, and any featured skirts will be hemmed on the flat on the basis the differential isn’t that noticeable, I hope. We shall see anyway!

Vital statistics
Pattern: self drafted
Year: now
Fabric: cotton spandex sateen from Global Fabrics in Wellington
Notions: zip, thread, hook and eye, and forgotten interfacing
Made when: April 2013
Techniques used: lapped zipped and incorrect facing method,
Stash duration: about 4 months
Wearability: comfy, bright, fits my aesthetic love it – it will get lots of wear.
What I learned: don’t forget to interface your facing; a sway back adustment might mess up your side seam angle; the amount of stretch in cotton spandex sateen might be enough to require less wearing ease than an identical skirt in non stretch fabric
Unsolicited compliments: so many at Fabric-a-brac I started to blush!

I do love this old car! Photo courtesy Kat.

I do love this old car! Photo courtesy Kat.

My only remaining gripe is that I think I would have liked it longer, but this was as long as I could get. So overall, I’m pretty pleased with this, and expect to see some more vibrant pencil skirts soon!