OAL2015: Ballet Dress and Vianne Cardigan

Dixie DIY Ballet dress in blue and purple floral jersey
Dixie DIY Ballet Dress

Those of you who remember my original post about OAL plans might be a bit disappointed not to see a fabulous dinosaur print Sewaholic Cambie. I’m sorry. As the Outfit Along deadline grew closer and I still hadn’t started my toile I decided that a change of plan was probably necessary. I really didn’t want to rush and end up wasting such brilliant fabric. I’d had the Dixie DIY Ballet dress pattern and the fabric to make one with in my stash since the end of last year and as the colours went with my cardigan and it would take less fitting I went with it.

This is my second attempt at photos. I tried on Sunday with my proper but old (ish) bridge camera but they all came out grainy and rubbish. It did the same thing on my photos of my Simplicity 1418 but it just seems wrong that my phone can take better photos. Though my new phone does have 6 more mega pixies so I should just accept it and always use my phone for photos. Anyway, I’m wandering off topic.

dixie diy ballet dress

I had the day off work yesterday because my Nan is down visiting my mum and my mum has the week off work so I thought it would be nice to take a day off to spend with them. We had a lovely day in St David’s, which is one of my favourite places in Wales because there is an ice cream shop there called The Bench, who sell ice cream tapas.

Ice Cream Tapas
We went for: Salted Caramel, Strawberries and Cream, Rum and Raisin, Malteser and Death By Chocolate

But before we went I got my mum to snap a few photos for me as her garden is so much better for light and photos taken there quite often come with a photobombing Max, which I enjoy.

I’m really, really pleased with my first Ballet Dress and I think it’s the beginning of a passionate love affair with knits. (I already have 4 more planned.) I sewed a size M and the only change I made was to shorten the sleeves. I sewed everything but the hems on my overlocker and used a twin needle on my sewing machine for the hems. The neckband went much better than on my kirsten kimono tee and I only had a teeny bit of puckering on the back and my hair will cover that so who cares.

ballet dress neckline

I bought the fabric on eBay from the Textile Centre but the listing doesn’t say what sort of fabric it is other than jersey and it’s closed now so I can’t check the detail but it’s lovely and soft and swishy. I still have about a metre or so left, which I’ll probably make a t’shirt out of.

The dress was sooo quick and easy to sew, it only took me a couple of hours from start to finish. Seriously, I love knits! I didn’t follow the instructions and just did my own thing, sewing the sleeves in flat and then sewing the side seams and sleeve seam all in one. I found it a bit challenging to sew the clear elastic at the waist seam and I’m also terrible at hemming knits. My stitching line wobbles all over the place but no one will exactly be inspecting it.

Dixie DIY Ballet dress back

Looking at this picture of the back makes me think I might need a small swayback adjustment or it could just be rumpled because of sitting down before the photos were taken. But then I do have quite the plumptious butt so I don’t know why I’m doubting the need for adjustments in the rear – wishful thinking methinks.

vianne cardigan open
Andi Satterlund Vianne cardigan

And now for Vianne. I did finish knitting it just about in time for the OAL (I finished on the 30th July) but I didn’t have time to block it and take photos to upload to the Ravelry thread unfortunately. I am terrible with deadlines and always procrastinate right until the very last minute. I’ve always been the same so joining crafting challenges is probably a bit daft.

vianne and max
Not entirely sure what’s going on here but there’s a Max so I had to choose this one

I’m not really all that happy with how the cardigan fits me. Because I’m short the arms are nearly full length on me, which looks a bit daft but when I push them up I get a lot of bunched fabric on the arms. It just generally feels a little too big but then it fits fine on the waist and the button is even pulling a little bit there. My first button seems higher than on other people’s cardigans I’ve seen online too, so I’m not sure what I did there.

vianne cardigan and max
Attack of the killer growing out fringe

I really like the style of the cardigan and I do plan to knit another one but I’m not really sure how to go about making one that fits me better. Can anyone point me in the direction of some resources on fitting knitting garments please? I was sort of thinking of maybe sizing down but then not knitting all of the waist decreases. Or sod it, just size down and stretch the hell out of the waist when I block it. Or corsetry.

the mesh back of the vianne cardigan
I love that little hellhound

The back is so pretty and I really enjoyed knitting it but I can’t see myself wearing it when I’m so not happy with the way it fits. Though to be honest, from about half way through the first sleeve the idea of giving it to my mum had popped into my head. Mainly because every time she’d seen me knitting it or pictures of it online she’d gone on and on about how much she likes the colour and how purple is her very favourite colour ever etc.

When I got to her house yesterday I’d left it on the breakfast bar in the kitchen while I popped to the loo and by the time I came back she was wearing it. So I just sighed at her – in the long suffering way of adult children everywhere at role reversal stage –  and said, “Wait for me to give it to you, will you?” It fits her better than me because she’s taller and bustier so at least it’s going to have a good home.

Anyone else spent two months knitting something for yourself only to end up giving it away?

OAL update and a tips from a novice

Eeep! There’s these than 3 weeks left of the OAL and I haven’t even started sewing my dress and when I started writing this post (on Friday) I’d only got as far as knitting the first sleeve of my Vianne. I managed to knit the second sleeve head and the first lot of decrease rows over the weekend. I’m sure I’ll finish the cardigan in time, sleeves go fairly quickly when I actually do them, I just hate knitting them as I find them boring so put them off. It’s the dress I’m starting to panic about but PMA and all that. I WILL finish in time. I will, I will, I will.


As a novice knitter who has coped faaar better than anticipated with this pattern, which is by far the most complicated one I’ve knit I thought I’d share some of the things that have helped me.

The part I was most worried about with the Vianne cardigan was definitely the sleeves. I found picking up the stitches for the button bands and neckband on my Miette one of the hardest parts and picking up stitches for a sleeve seemed even worse because you definitely have to to get the right number (for my miette neckband I just made sure it was an even number). Then I read something online that suggested breaking a button band down into smaller sections, which I thought was a great idea for the sleeves. So I measured the circumference of the armhole and as I’m knitting the medium and need to pick up 70 stitches I divided it into 7 sections and then just had to pick up 10 stitches per section. Far easier and less ripping back and restarting. I was lucky with the maths though so I don’t know how helpful this would be if you’re knitting a different size.

vianne sleeve hole
One stitch marker is hiding

The second thing I found super helpful was this tutorial on knitting set in sleeves using short rows from Tasha of By Gum, By Golly. The tutorial is a really in depth look at knitting set in sleeves and the short row section was exactly what I needed as it was the first one I’d found that talks you through the picking up of the wraps as well as the W&T part.

When it comes to general pattern following I’m sure everyone has different methods that work for them, what’s worked fairly well for me is simply keeping a tally chart. I mark down which row of the lace stitch pattern I’m on and have a separate tally for keeping track of where I am in the pattern overall or in a particular set of repeated rows.

In bronze sharpie because it was the only pen I could find

This notepad will make very little sense to anyone but me but the sets of 10 tally marks you can see running down the left were to mark where I was in the lace stitch pattern and then the other sets of tally marks with numbers in front of them were where I was in a given section of the pattern. For example, where it says 52 at the top I had to repeat two rows 26 times so I counted each row.

In other news, I watched the first episode of Agent Carter last night and I am utterly besotted with Peggy’s blue suit. I couldn’t find a good picture online but the skirt is lovely too, high waisted and swishy.  I am fully intending to try to copy it at some point, perhaps for next year’s Cardiff Comic Con.

I want to be Peggy Carter when I grow up
I want to be Peggy Carter when I grow up

I predict by the end of the series I’ll have planned a whole wardrobe of ridiculously impractical 40s suits and dresses. Is anybody else watching and swooning over the clothes and hair?

Outfit Along 2015

Click me to find out more

Or OAL2015 if you prefer.

I’m going to join in this year. I wanted to join in last year but I couldn’t really knit yet so it really wasn’t going to happen. I’m a pretty slow knitter so it might be a bit of a challenge to get my cardigan knitted in time but I’m hopeful.

I’m going to use the official cardigan pattern, Vianne, but not the dress pattern as it’s not really me. I’m going to be making a Sewaholic Cambie (or Cambie mashup) instead.

Lizzy House Natural History fabric
Lizzy House Natural History fabric

Check out that awesome fabric! As soon as I saw it on Instagram (on this dress by Julia from Stars and Sunshine) I had to have it. I couldn’t find any from a UK supplier but managed to find some on Etsy and snapped it up straight away. The pictures of Julia’s dress show the colours more accurately than mine, the fabric has a lot more purple in it than it looks like from the picture above.

The yarn I’m using is Cascade 220 Superwash in Amethyst Heather, which has a lovely mottled blue and purple look to it close up so I think it should look nice with the finished dress (and if it doesn’t, I’m going to rock it anyway).

Cascade 220 Superwash in Amethyst Heather
Cascade 220 Superwash in Amethyst Heather

I cast on my cardigan last night and haven’t gone horrifically wrong yet *touches wood*. I am a bit worried about keeping track of where I am but hopefully I’ll get into the swing of that after a few more rows (I’ve done 3). I’m cluelessleigh over on ravelry if anyone wants to be my friend. I’m a billy no mates over there at the moment.

I had hoped to get my dinosaur dress made in time to wear it to go see Jurassic World but I’m not sure I’m going to get time as I need to make a toile/muslin first. I am reeeally excited about Jurassic World. The other day, the Manfriend said to me, “It’s Chris Pratt* AND dinosaurs, however will you cope?” My answer: I won’t!

*Chris Pratt in a waistcoat no less! I love waistcoats.

Anyone else taking part in OAL2015? Are you as rubbish a knitter as me or will this be a breeze for you? More importantly, how excited are you for Jurassic World and how do you feel about waistcoats?

Miette cardigan and other wooly achievements

Hello! Remember me? I used to sew things and then write about them here. Well I still don’t actually have a sewn garment to show you as I have spent precisely zero minutes at my sewing machine so far this year but I do have a handmade garment.

miette cardigan
Ta dah!

I knit a cardigan. I am ridiculously proud of managing to knit myself something wearable. I’m not particularly good at knitting. I’m slow and awkward. A work friend tried to teach me how to cast on once and I’m pretty sure she was getting so frustrated she wanted to hit me. (I still can’t – and won’t – do it the way with two needles)

I took the Knit Lab Craftsy course toward the end of last year and got a lot more capable and confident. You knit a lacy scarf along with the class to teach you different stitches and techniques. If you don’t knit and would like to, I really recommend it as Stefanie Japel is adorable and it gives a really thorough grounding in the basics. After finishing the scarf I moved on to these lovely fingerless mitten things to practice the techniques I knew I’d need for my end goal, which was always a Miette having seen loads of versions of it all over the Internet. (I originally asked my nan if she’d knit me one but she just laughed at me – apparently she’s not good enough, but she’s a nan, I don’t understand this. So I had no choice but to learn.)

Andi Satterlund fingerless mittens
Mitts are basically just tiny one armed jumpers for your hands, right?

After the mittens I knit a cabled scarf as a Christmas present for a friend – I do like to throw myself into things – but I don’t have any photos of that. I then bit the bullet and bought some cascade 220 and cast on my Miette.

I knit the 38″ size and I think I knit it faaaar too tight as I used a whole skein and a half less wool than the pattern says you need. Of course I didn’t do anything as sensible as knit a gauge swatch before starting. After blocking it fits everywhere but the cuffs, where I cast off too tight. It fits there but it’s not that comfortable. I have seen some mentions of “stretchy bind off” online that I should probably look into a bit further and learn how to do it.

Pratting about trying poses
Pratting about trying poses, I am so awkward in front of the camera

The knitting went okay, I messed up a few things and there were places where my stitch count had wandered but instead of going back and finding the mistake I tended to just do some sneaky increases or decreases under the arms.

Please excuse the terrible quality photos, apparently there is no good light in my garden. These were actually taken back in March before me and Manfriend went out to watch the rugby for one of his friend’s birthday so they were a bit rushed. I will try harder and maybe find somewhere more interesting for my next finished garment. Which I’m hoping will be soon as I’m going on holiday with my family two weeks and I’m going to try to get a couple of things made to take with me. I have a Sewaholic Gabriola skirt cut out and I have plans for some tops. I’ve also started work on a dress I promised my nan before Christmas so hopefully I’ll have a bronzed pensioner in a slinky dress to show you the next time I post. Helloooo, weird search term traffic!