Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas dress 2011

Hi everyone.

Thanks for the congratulations on my news. My fella and I are so happy and excited, especially after the struggles we have had trying to accomplish what so many people manage to do by accident! The past 18 months have been incredibly challenging and when I look back to this time last year - we had just found out we would never conceive without intervention and I was trying to get my head around having to give myself injections (when I would have fillings at the dentist without anaesthetic just to avoid a needle!) - I can't believe how everything has worked out. I know we beat the odds big time and I will never stop being grateful for that. I dare say next year will be very different again, with a whole new set of challenges and I can't wait!

So, despite weighing exactly what I weighed 16 weeks ago I have gone up by 2 bra sizes and sprouted a pretty obvious belly already.  Something to do with my not exactly having abs of steel to start with I suppose. Regardless, I have found myself with an extreme shortage of clothes, including a party/Christmas dress. Enter Patrones Easy (7) model 31 - this magazine also has some maternity patterns so you may see more from this issue yet.

From the magazine
The fabric is china silk in white with a black, grey and bronze border print, from stash and lined in poplin (bodice) and lawn (skirt) also from stash.

Ugh, sorry for the squinty face

Back view, with breeze!
I made a few modifications to the pattern:
  1. Moved the zip to centre back so I could somewhat centre the border design.
  2. Cut a size 42 bodice and band, and 48 skirt, then just pleated the excess into the band.
  3. Added about 1cm to the length of the front bodice.
  4. Switched the front and back necklines - I think this could be an error on the pattern sheet, as the front is higher than the back, and much higher than the picture if you use the pattern as is.
  5. Narrowed the band by about half or maybe more, and omitted the ribbon and casing. You can see the band still wrinkled with wear but I don't suppose there is much that can be done about that (it's not wonky in real life I promise).

If I was to make this again I would investigate the armhole shaping as it feels a bit wide in the front and narrow in the back - which is quite possibly caused by my arms rolling forward. It makes driving a little uncomfortable but a little scooping out of the curve should fix it. Also the skirt hem comes up a touch in the front, which I knew would happen but I didn't have time to get around compensating for it - I think it is passable.

As to construction I underlined the bodice and band pieces with silk organza (using the lining pattern for the front and mounting the gathered front bodice onto it) and pleated the skirt randomly instead of gathering.

Considering I had to pull this together quickly (I traced, toilled and cut on the previous Sunday, worked an hour or so most evenings the week before Christmas and finished it 10 minutes before I needed to put it on for lunch on Christmas Eve) I am happy with how it turned out and the minor fit niggles are not too bad considering. It was comfortable to eat a big meal on a fairly hot day and I think it flatters the bump without entirely obscuring it.

I am on holidays until the 9th of January and desperately need both work and casual clothes, so with luck I will be able to churn out a few basic before going back to work.  I also have a couple of knitting projects on the go and a backlog of a few garments still to post (waiting to photograph!) so while I have the free time I will attempt to update my blog a bit more regularly.

I hope everyone had a safe and merry Christmas and are looking forward to the new year as much as me!

Monday, 19 December 2011

A very special knitting project

This blanket is very special. If you are not interested in the knitting details then you can skip to the end to find out exactly what is so special about it.

The pattern is the Fertility blanket from Stitch n Bitch Superstar Knitting, but I have just discovered you can now get it for free. I have said it before and I will say it again, this book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to move beyond the basics, or even if you have been knitting for ages (like me) but want to increase your repertoire of techniques. For me, this book was worth every cent and I refer to it often. Plus a lot of the patterns are things I would make (when I get around to it!).

The pattern is tricky at first (as any lace pattern is), but once you do a couple of repeats you can look to your completed work to figure out where you are. I always keep a tally of my rows anyway, but I am a little obsessive like that. It grows remarkably quickly and it’s very rewarding to see it progress at a good rate. I liked that the bobbles are worked over multiple rows so they nestle in rather than single row bobbles, which I find tend to dangle off your work a bit.
This photo is pre-blocking, but you get the idea
The yarn is a mystery ‘organic wool’ that I got in a pack lot from Jo Sharp for $25. It’s probably a heavy double knit or light aran weight and I knit it on the size needles specified in the pattern, which resulted in a fairly light and drapey blanket, but not too loose. I think if I were knitting a jumper with it I would use a 4.5mm needle – but I haven’t tried that so don’t quote me. I used 5½ of the ten balls. I worried it might be a bit fluffy for a baby blanket but after blocking a lot of the loose fibres came away and now it is lovely and soft. The colour is a beautiful soft pistachio green.

When I finished the blanket I wasn’t sure if I would block it as I loved the texture of the stitch, but I figured that is would have to be washed anyway so I did block it in the end. Boy, am I glad I did! The stitch really opened up and, as much as I loved it before, I think it is better now.

I cast this on when I started my first round of IVF back in February, to keep my mind off things and to give me something productive to focus on instead of going crazy with the stress. I thought the name of it might hold some influence and I only worked on it when I was feeling positive so that the whole blanket holds pleasant memories for me. Sadly that round didn’t work ... nor did the next one ... or the one after that. However I am happy to report that the next one did and I am now 15 weeks pregnant. So this very special blanket will be the very first thing I ever made for my own baby, before she was even conceived.

And we just found out we are having a girl, so I get to keep the wildly impractical Jo Sharp granny blanket too! Happy days!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Colette Ginger in denim

Well I jumped on the ginger bandwagon.  There are so many wonderful versions out there, and A-line is my go to skirt shape, so how could I not.  My version is in a fairly heavy indigo denim with topstitching in a sort-of parchment colour. I used standard thread for the topstitching but used the forward-back-forward stitch (triple stitch?) to give it some oomph. I went for the shaped waistband which appealed to me as it looks like a heart. The waistband is lined in quilting cotton.

I made no alterations to the pattern and cut a straight size 12 (I think).  During construction I realised my ridiculously high waist would make the waistband hit the bottom of my bra so I reduced the height by about 1.5cm. I think in future iterations I would lower the top of the skirt and cut a longer waistband so it sits lower on me, not at my natural waist (basically at the bottom of my ribcage) but closer to where I would like my natural waist to be!

Because the denim is very stiff I went with a metal zip instead of the recommended invisible zip which worked great IMO (except you can't see it in this picture so will have to take my word for it).

I love how this skirt came out, it is very simple to make and a lovely shape that seems to be pretty flattering on everyone (and would be on me if I altered it as discussed above).

Unfortunately some medication I have been taking has caused me to lay down some extra weight on my tummy and waist.  This is new for me since ordinarily any weight I gained would go straight to my behind and from the waist up would remain more or less the same.  So that means I can't even wear this skirt right now.  But rather than donate it I am going to hang it in the wardrobe for the day when I can get into it again.  Then I bet I will wear it all the time!