A DIY Tulle Circle Skirt, Maxi Length

Have you ever wondered why maxi length, DIY tulle circle skirt tutorials are really hard to find? I’m going to explain. But first, you should take a look at any DIY tulle circle skirt tutorial (just google it, there are loads of good tutorials!) to get an overall idea of what I did.

My idea was to get a ridiculously full skirt. I wanted to achieve this by layering 10 tulle donuts and add a visible, elastic waistband. The first problem was the tulle as such. For a knee-length circle skirt, standard-width fabric works fine. To achieve maxi length, you either have to sew together two half-donuts per layer (best idea with fine, soft tulle 😜) or find extra wide tulle fabric. As you can imagine, it took me a while to find something suitable. In the end, my aunt got me some (25 m) 2.8 m wide tulle from Paris.

I cut out quarter donuts from folded fabric, but I had to secure the folds with fabric clips to make sure the layers could not shift while cutting them. In consequence, it took me a while to cut out all ten donuts.

Next, I wanted to preassemble the donuts before sewing them together. This means, I first had to find a large enough space on the floor to lay out a circle of 2.3 m in diameter.

As the tulle layers shift easily on top of each other, I had to pin them together layer by layer, fabric clip per fabric clip. I may have taken a break after this step.

When I thought the worst part was over, I put the preassembled ten layers on the sewing machine. Sadly, even soft tulle puffs up enormously, so I could not see the foot and needle of my sewing machine anymore.

I ended up watching from the side and was sewing at an incredibly low speed to make sure I sew a straight seam catching all layers.

Adding the elastic waistband afterwards was almost a pleasure compared to any of the steps before.

However, I love this skirt and still would not change any part of it. Of course, four layers of tulle would have puffed up enough to make this an impressive skirt. You also may complain about the (intentionally!) missing layer of lining as you can still see my legs through ten layers of tulle, but I am totally fine with it. It is a bit hard to make sure the tulle does not get caught somewhere when wearing it, but it is well worth the effort. Now I am just lacking a bodice to make this my go-to evening gown. I might have something in mind already, stay tuned!

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New Knitting Pattern: Nightshade

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The idea behind Nightshade dates back quite a while to when my aunt asked me to knit her a cropped summer sweater. It should be ridiculously wide and boxy but at the same really short to just cover the breasts. The sleeves were intended to look like long sleeves, but in fact should just reach from the wrists to the elbows and be super tight. Sounds like a challenge? Well, here is the solution!

Nightshade is a lightweight, drapey, cropped sweater. This perfect layering piece for chilly summer evenings ends above your waist so you can wear it 90s-style to a pair of low-rise pants or in a more contemporary fashion to a high-waist bottom. The body is worked flat, the sleeves are worked in the round. All pieces are knit bottom-up and then sewn together. You can easily adapt the body to knitting in-the-round, but I recommend to stick to the pattern as the side seams add structure.

The shape of this sweater is very bold, so I have added minimalist, rolled edges to keep the focus on the shape. The yarn used is The Fibre Co. Meadow, a luxurious, fingering weight blend of 40% Merino wool, 25% baby llama, 20% silk and 15% linen. The yarn is drapey, soft and rustic at the same time with a beautiful semisolid colour effect due to the different fibre types. The surprisingly good meterage of the yarn makes my size M (36-38” bust circumference) sample weigh only 214g!

As Nightshade is my first graded pattern and I had problems finding test knitters, the sizes currently range from 28-30” to 52-54” bust circumference. If you need a larger size, please contact me and let me know which size you are interested in. I am sure we can work it out together. Please also contact me when you like my style and are interested in test knitting future patterns. I have a lot of ideas waiting to become new patterns!

You can buy the Nightshade pattern on Ravelry, as always. Go, show it a little love! Happy knitting!

How to Sew Yourself a Bra

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I am wearing a non-standard bra size which is not available in Germany in case I insist on a modern/ lacy/ not-you-grandma style within a limited budget. I usually order my bras from the UK where sizes for full-breasted women are a lot easier to find. But when it comes to stylish soft bras, things get a lot more complicated.

As this year’s WGT is approaching and I plan to wear some tops with extra large armholes, I need something nice to wear underneath. While browsing sewing patterns, I stumbled upon Emerald Erin’s Jordy Bralette which is a pretty simple design that showcases your cloth perfectly. I turned a non-stretch, olive cotton sateen into a stunning result that sadly is unwearable.

The two cups are attached to an elastic band which is closed with hooks and eyes on the back. In my opinion, this construction makes the pattern not suitable for larger breasts as it lacks the support needed. The straps cannot compensate this. Another weakness of the pattern is that you can of course try on the cups before attaching them to the underbust elastic and straps, but you will not know if this bralette works for you until you have finished it. What a pity!

Before I could work myself up into frustration, I decided to try out Madalynne’s Barrett Bralette pattern. Before starting, I had done a little research if it was suitable for larger breasts and had found some projects that looked quite good. First, I cut and sewed the cups only from leftover scuba cloth. The largest size had a good fit, but the scuba did not give enough support for a 34F bra size. Next, I sewed the cups in a glittery, black cotton sateen containing 5% spandex. This cloth is totally not intended for lingerie, but was the perfect solution to my problem. As the barrett pattern is designed as a pull-on bra without back closure, I had to improvise a back closure due to an intended lack of elasticity. This meant finding the right back band length for my hook and eye closure (the 3XL back band was way too long!) and reshaping the back band to fit the side cup seams on the one side and my closure on the other. In fact, I just drew a line and cut away a triangle for a fast and easy solution. And here it is, my custom-sized, dark disco bralette.

I know that there are a lot of visible mistakes. I also could have added a lining as the pattern suggests, but this version will do for the moment. There still is room for improvement, but I have enough fabric left to sew myself another one. This, by the way, leads to my conclusion on how to sew a bra: just start and iterate the fit until you like it. And please, start with leftover fabric as the first try might not necessarily lead to a wearable result. 🙂

On Crochet Hooks

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Crochet never was a friend of mine. It took me years to understand the concept of one needle only to realise that my hands tire extremely fast even after I had acquired the basic skills.

Well, it seems like the problem was pretty easy to solve. The way I hold the hook just did not match the shape of the handle. While my hands tire and cramp using crochet hooks with thin or cylindrical handles, they do not when I use flattened handles like the Chiaogoo ones.

I deliberately chose bamboo handles as I had one other crochet hook that worked well for me, but whose handle was treated with a soft touch finish. Initially, this was not a problem at all, but the coating interacted with my natural hand cream and became sticky over time.

To test my new hooks and to improve my crochet skills, I decided to challenge myself with a doily. I chose the free Mathilde pattern by Grace Fearon and some cheap, red crochet thread. The pattern is well-written and easy to follow. I had to look up about half of the required skills, but there are tons of good tutorials on YouTube, some are even linked in the pattern. I’m pretty amazed by the result. Maybe, I’ll give crochet another chance.

A Full Intarsia Argyle Sweater

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When my dad asked me to knit him a fingering weight, Shetland argyle sweater, I did not expect how long it would take. I started it in September 2018 as a Christmas gift, but it ended up as a 2019 Easter gift. However, my dad is super happy with it.

I have modified the Jagger pattern by Martin Storey as a full intarsia front with navy sleeves and back. The yarn is Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift, a classic Shetland yarn for colourwork sweaters.

The largest size used about 450g of yarn on 3.5mm needles, 3.0mm for the ribbings.

This was my first large intarsia project, with up to 40 bobbins hanging at the back of each row of the front part. Nonetheless, intarsia knitting is not complicated once you get the hang of it. You may need a lot longer than usually to knit one row as you need to twist every crossing of two colours, but it does not get more complicated. The hard part comes when you have finished knitting and start to sew in a gazillion of loose ends. And that may be the reason why I finished knitting the pieces in January and finished the sweater as a whole in April.

I have to admit, I like the technique of intarsia knitting but I do not plan to knit such a large size in fingering weight ever again. However, I already have cast on the next large intarsia project, but this time a sweater for myself in a heavier yarn weight. At least, this time all pieces will have colourwork. I am already curious to see how much I will regret it.

New Knitting Pattern: The Hipster

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When I improvised a bum bag last year, I knew right away I wanted to publish it as a pattern. Here it is now, The Hipster!

I have designed it to be attached to your favourite belt. It is knit with Schoppel-Wolle Reggae, an aran weight, lightly felted yarn, at a very tight gauge. The resulting fabric is so dense, you do not need to line it. The body of the bag is knit bottom-up as one-piece in the round, the lid is then knit in rows using short-row shaping. The only sewing involved apart from sewing in the yarn ends is adding the zipper. This may seem difficult, but if you pin it in place with enough pins, it will work out easily.

The finished size is approximately 23 x 16 x 10 cm, large enough to fit your phone, your keys, your purse, a powder compact and a lipstick. At least, this is what I have tested it with and there still was some space left. It is a fun accessory to your everyday or festival outfit and a really quick knit. My version used only 58g of yarn. You can buy the pattern on Ravelry. I am looking forward to seeing your versions! Happy knitting!

Leipzig Wollefest 2019

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Last weekend, I attended the 12th edition of the annual Leipzig Wollefest. I love this event as the location, the exhibition centre’s glass hall, and the vendor’s list are both pretty extraordinary. As usually, I will introduce you to my latest discoveries as you probably already know the well-established exhibitors.

The very first booth that caught my eye was Kathienchen, a German hand dyer from Dresden.

She offers complex colourways on a variety of mostly Merino based yarn bases. She also sells high-quality kid silk lace yarns with a very high fibre length.

I have found the perfect match for two other yarns there that needed a third colour to become a shawl for a friend. I could not be happier with my High Twist in Peony!

Mominoki, a Berlin based hand dyer, showed semi-solid colourways on rustic yarns.

This is exactly what I had been looking for for quite a while now, and they even have two different bases, a fingering weight Finnish wool and a DK weight German Merino. Both are available undyed and plant dyed, the Finnwool also has acid dyed colourways.

Apart from those perfect-for-me bases, Mominoki offers some more yarns, an optionally plant dyed, drapey ramie silk, plied Merinos, singly-ply Merino and sock yarns. You definitely might want to give them a try.

Another vendor selling beautiful, rustic wool was Nordische Wolle.

They sell rustic, DK weight Baltic yarns in hanks of about 200g in a large variety of colours, but also ready-made stranded hats. The yarns are collected from the area around the Baltic spinnery, so they are entirely locally produced.

Moi Naturwaren showed handwoven linen and woollen cloths as well as plant-dyed yarns and ready-made caps.

All of their natural products are manufactured using traditional methods and processes as well as natural dyes where possible. I am very happy for every company that dares to follow such a consistent approach in today’s volatile times and hope there are enough customers to support them even in the long run.

Another cloth vendor worth I did not know before is Natur zum Anziehen.

This Berlin based online shop offers natural cloths only along with their own sewing patterns. I am particularly delighted to hear they plan to open a brick and mortar shop in the near future in Berlin.

Do you know the concept of Peace Silk?

This means that the silk worms are allowed to complete their metamorphosis and live, which results economically in a much longer process with shorter silk threads. This does not lead to a lower silk quality, it is just more difficult to produce. It is even possible to weave superfine cloths with a classik silken touch.

Seidentraum offer quite a large range of silk cloths, silk yarns and many more silk products. This is definitely a company worth supporting!

Another ethical company I found is we are KAL, a slow-fashion producer of handwoven scarves, handmade garments, handspun yarns, home textiles and hand knits.

They mainly use local and organic raw materials which are plant-dyed only. The idea is to preserve craft and culture in Ladakh, Assam and Himachal Pradesh by valueing their handmade textiles. I greatly appreciate this approach!

There were quite some local alpaca breeders showing their products. One of them was Starker Alpakas from the Dresden region, who sold handmade soaps, yarns, socks and other products.

Another breeder was Sachsen Alpakas, who sold yarns, spinning fibre, garments and cloths.

What I particularly liked was their faux fur, woven with alpaca fibre. It is super soft and warm and has a fantastic look and feel.

I am looking forward to the next Wollefest in 2020! It is always a pleasure to be there!