Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Slip is Showing:: Violet Beauregard Crochet Skirt from Stitch N' Bitch Crochet: Happy Hooker

The pattern: Violet Beauregard Crochet Skirt from Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker.  While I've labeled this as Violet 2 over at Ravelry, it's technically my third take on this great pattern. Number one fits dreamily, but I don't wear it all that much because I have this ultra-tight zip-up matching slip that's not very comfortable. No. 2, well, I didn't check the gauge until I was done, and it was too small. Much more appropriate for a 10-year-old girl but not a over-grown child like myself. That one I made in a taupe, brown and green colorway. It sits in my cedar closet, unused but not unloved. Back to the pattern: it's very simple. I love how the shell stitch gets larger as you approach the hemline. Now this is a great project to take to the  beach, so if you lose the crochet hook a new one won't set you back too much. Or if water gets on the skirt, no worries. If you worked fast enough, you might even be able to finish the project at the beach. Only drawback; the sunburn. The more engrossed you get in your project, the more likely you are to burn. Anyhow, I think I used the suggested hook and I made the size suitable for 40-inch hips.

The yarn: Berocco Seduce in four colorways. I actually won the yarn in a raffle at Loopy Yarns. It was all color, a dark gray. I started knitting a Berocco pattern, got bored with it. Then I got this idea to swap out the yarns for other colors, which thankfully Vicki, the owner at Loopy allowed me to do. I embarked on the drawstring raglan from Interweave Knits, Summer 2008 (the Margery Winter design, fourth one down on the page). The exact same colorway. Anyway I was working on a set of wood circulars, it was getting frustrating 'cuz the needles weren't slippery enough, so I set it all aside for a long time. Then recently I picked up the whole shebang. I unraveled it and thought! My! I can use it for another Violet skirt! And I so did. I should tell you this yarn is great for crochet, although it seems to lose its luster the more you handle it. I would take special care to wash it in something extra mild.  As finicky and expensive as this yarn is, I plan to use it again. 

As an aside, I should tell you I'm a total sucker for nearly any garment that looks remotely like it was produced by the Missoni family in Italy. The drawstring raglan did, and so does the skirt too. My deep passion for Missoni motifs runs deep and you will find a great supply of zig-zaggy bargello knits in my closet, which I plan to use some day soon.

The Slip: It's a purple one I picked up at a vintage shop in Evanston, Ill. I love it. In another era, I wouldn't have dreamed of letting the lace trim show. But it's the 21st century and we do things like that now, don't we? I was going to make a slip with a square of stretch charmeuse from Vogue Fabrics and lace...but this skirt, ready-made, was a better deal. I've forgotten how much fun it is to wear a slip. I've been wearing this purple one with other outfits now. And I'm so ready to go on a vintage slip hunt at local thrift stores (probably picked over, I know, I'll just head further south and east to get what I need, I will).
The Drawstring: You can't see it here very well, but the drawstring is a purple Baby Phat ribbon. I'll post another pic soon, now that my 3G iPhone has been updated with an even better camera. I could have simply made a drawstring with a flower thing per the pattern, but I really liked the ribbon. So I bought it. Hah!

The Result: I love it. I'd make it again, but three's enough. For now. There are other yarn love affairs to conduct this summer, which you know technically started yesterday and I intend to make last until Nov. 1.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Please Welcome my First iPhone App: ✄ Fabric U ✄

Yeah, this was the big secret project I was hinting about for a month.  While  I was talking it up amongst friends, I kept it on the down low online. It felt weird in that respect because I'm on Facebook nearly nonstop (thanks, iPhone). I just didn't want to jinx the project...which has been incubating in my head for a while.

I had no idea how challenging it would be to write an iPhone app. Really and truly, the hardest part is getting all those photos and I have nearly near 800 of 'em on my app. Most of those I took, the rest are from the Creative Commons section of Flickr.  My task was much easier thanks to my partner, Sutro Media, which has an incredibly easy online interface for uploading images and text. It could not be simpler, really.

For all the years that I've been sewing and manhandling fabric (isn't that what you're doing when you're punching a hole repeatedly into fabric with a sewing machine?), I've learned so much more about fabrics, some of which I take for granted since I see them nearly weekly at Vogue Fabrics. Take Juliette Double knit. Who knew that Jean-Paul Gaultier uses this knit for pull-on pants? Since I'm an exercise nut, I'd like to try that. Or that mosquito netting is so versatile? Or that even cheese cloth, which can be bought by the bolt at Vogue, has a multitude of uses? I didn't and now I do.

What's so neat about doing this app is that there are so many more fabrics to list. Eventually I'd like to have 300 on there. By the time I'm done with that, there will be even more fabrics to add with all the new technology cranking out new textiles daily. It's a terrific gig for me because I never get tired of petting fabric. Never! I'm always thinking about new stuff to make, even if I haven't touched the sewing machine in a while. Yes, I'm thinking about sewing while I'm knitting. Crazy!

And the app world is full of possibilities. It's like a candy store, half  full. I look up potential apps in the iTunes store...only to find that what I have in mind doesn't exist...yet. Yet is the operative word.  These are exciting times, friends. Exciting!

I should add my app isn't strictly a list. You can sort by types. For example, you can sort by Eco-friendly to find everything in that category. Ditto designer. I think my favorite feature to date is the comment section...that'd be handy for say something like "______ is great for Butterick ____!" or "Emmaonesock has a great selection of _____ right now!" So keeping it as real-time as possible will make   ✄ Fabric U ✄  useful for you.

Finally, I should note what my app is not. It's not a stash organizer or a sewing machine.  It's not a talk-show host or a seam ripper. It's not even a pair of scissors, contrary to the dingbats ✄ you see in the name. My apologies. For those of you who have iPhones or iTouches, it's an on-the-go tool. Those of you who are using Loseit! or other apps know what I'm talking about. Others, well, you can listen in and learn.

Anyhow, if you've got one of the abovementioned devices, and you're dying to write a review, let me know and I can send a promo code so you can download  ✄ Fabric U ✄ for free. I've got a limited number of freebies, so act fast.  And pretty please with turbinado sugar on top let me know how I can improve ✄ Fabric U ✄.  Last but not least, you're most welcome to join my ✄ Fabric U ✄ Facebook group (there's a link on the blog sidebar; that's the left side of the page). That's all, happy sewing, friends!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So Close, and So Far: The Gone with the Wind Hat

My Memorial Day weekend was a crafty one, aye.
I didn't swim, I didn't even venture outside of my state, I didn't make it to any parades. However, I got to experience short lines, nearly vacant buses and lots of silence. Oh yeah, boredom. Whoever said boredom is a precursor to creativity didn't have a refrigerator nearby! Empty hands and idle minds....well, they just lead to frequent forays into the kitchen.
Seriously,  I did get outside. The plan was to finish my Stitch in Time sweater and the Gone with the Wind hat.  That was the plan. My hands never even got into the sweater, although I did take my hat over to Arcadia Knitting. I sat that there patiently stitching my hat to the milinery wire. Man, I forgot how unwieldy and wonky a wide brim can be on a hat. The wider the circumference, the more problems in getting the wire to behave. In this case, I wanted the hat to "scoop" downward...but the wire insisted on flipping out so that one part was curved up while the rest was down.  I'd say the hat looked like a Kentucky Derby drunk walked into a wall wearing it. No matter, how much shaping I did with my hands....the wire just wouldn't behave. I was ready to ditch the hat despite all the hard work I did on it. Seriously. Pitch it into the closet where that 1940s crochet with a similar brim resides. That one sits under a pile of sheets, department store cloth bags and other stuff.  It has learned its lesson.
Somehow, I got in my head to dig that one out of the closet after all the frustrations with the latest hat. I thought, "Well, I'll switch gears and finish that!" Like maybe the wire powers-that-be would sit back because they were causing me so many problems with the Gone with the Wind hat. Funny, how the mind magically works that way at times.  I didn't act on that thought though. That was Saturday. That evening I attempted to make a t-shirt. That was a disaster. Drastically, the iron-on I used just left the faintest imprint on my jersey fabric. I also cut out a size too small. I finished the basic sewing, tried the t on. One look in the mirror at the too-small t-shirt  made out of very sheer fabric and I just thought, "Oh, forget it!" No. 2 stalled project. Yesterday,  I put on the Gone with Hat again, fiddled with the brim again for nearly an hour, but I didn't sew anything on it. Finally,  I picked up a crochet skirt that needed its loose ends sewn and cut.  I'm not finished with that part, but it's close enough to being done that I can perhaps say it's the one project that I actually finished this weekend.
For those of you who are experienced at making picture hats with wide brims, what's the secret to getting the brim wire to cooperate with you? In other words, how do you get it to curve downward all the way around? Post some words of wisdom, please! Before I do something drastic with the hat....