The Main Reason Is the Mane – Part 2

DSCN0257As I worked my way down the horse’s head filling in the mane, I learned why the author said to use just one strand of yarn instead of two. My horse’s mane was becoming way too full and starting to look too bushy, so I started to put less stitches per row and just spread the strands of yarn out over the head. I also started to space the strands out to help thin out the hair some. At the top of the head I used 14 inch long strands of yarn but as I moved down the head I decreased to 12 inches and then to 10 inches and so on. I saw no need in wasting yarn by using 14 inches lower down on the head and then just trimming it off later.

DSCN0217When the husband saw the horse at what I considered half way done, he yelled, “Whoah! that’s enough hair.” It was enough at that point, but I had planned to do a couple of more rows so that if you pushed the horse’s mane back, you did not see such a bald head. But, the husband was right. This horse needed no more hair. I did add some short strands to the front of the horse’s head to make some bangs on her forehead. So, as long as the horse sits with her mane brushed nicely around her head, she looks great, but lift her mane and she has some bald spots. The next time I will believe the author of the pattern, and just use one strand of yarn.

DSCN0236The husband helped me give the horse a hair cut, and I called her mane complete. Her tail was easy to make especially after completing the mane. I simply cut some strands of yarn and knotted them in a row to the behind of the horse. Then, I followed the picture in the pattern and braided it followed by a little trimming. I tied the end of the braid of with a piece of yarn to hold it tight, then add a red ribbon for fun.

Unlike most of the amigurumi’s I make, this horse took on a feminine personality. Usually my amigurumi’s are male. I wanted to give her a boyish name though so I picked the name Charlie. Even with her bush thick mane, she turned out just adorable. I would gladly make another horse from this pattern. Hopefully, Charlie can find a good home soon and a friend to play with.

Until next time, crochet forth and mane on!

The Main Reason is the Mane -Part 1

DSCN0264Why was my next amigurumi a horse? Well, not to mention the fact that the pictures on the pattern were absolutely adorable, or that the pattern is well written, or that it would be fun to make, the reason for this horse was to try a mane, or long hair. I have over the years made a couple of amigurumi’s with hair, like Woodstock, but nothing as elaborate as the mane of a horse. I have been a little apprehensive about trying hair but it was now time to learn how to do it.

DSCN0196I started the crocheting of this horse with her arms and legs. I love the three color combination of her arms and legs. Next came her body, muzzle and ears. I saved her head for last because of the dual colors of the face. As I started the cream colored yarn on the face, I decided to carry the yarn rather than cut and tie each color change on each row. I thought carrying the yarn would be easier than cutting and tying but it really was not. I had to be careful not to pull the yarn too tight as I worked. I did not want to pull the head together as I crocheted. In fact, I purposely left the carried yarn with some slack to prevent any pulling. This made keeping tensions tight while crocheting a little difficult but I managed to make it through, and soon had all the pieces for this horse crocheted.

DSCN0204The stuffing and stitching together of this horse went smoothly and soon enough, I had a hairless horse. Now the fun part began. The author of the pattern used the same color combinations from the arms and legs for the hair. I really like the multicolor look and decided to give my horse the same color of hair. The pattern did not give much help with the design of the mane. It simply said to do whatever looked good. One thing that the pattern did advise was that the horse pictured in the pattern had two strands of yarn per knot of hair, but that after the fact, the author decided one strand of yarn would have been better. The pictures were so cute that I decided to try two strands and see what I liked better. I picked a starting point on the top of head and knotted two strands of yarn to the right of that point and one strand of yarn to the left. The strands are attached with a latch hook knot but made with your crochet hook, really quite simple to do. After attaching several single and double strands of the mane, I took a look at the one strand versus two strands. I liked the rich full look of two strands instead of just one strand, so I took out the single strands and made them all double strands.

Since this mane was going to take some time to make, watch for the completion of it in part 2.

Until then, crochet on and mane on!

The French Box Top

DSCN0651Having successfully completes the box pleat skirt for the little girls dress that I recently made, I wanted to continue practicing by making more box pleats. With that, I picked this box pleated top as my next project. It only had one box pleat so it would be a fast sew, but I would still be practicing another box pleat. Because I felt comfortable with sewing the box pleat, I decided to finish the seams off with French seams. This top would then give me practice on two sewing techniques that I had already tried, but that I could still use some practice in making.

DSCN0661The pattern for this top was a free one that I found online. I had just enough ladybugs and green cotton scraps left over to make this top with. So I printed out the pattern, taped it together and cut it out. As I cut out the paper pattern, I noticed that the facing and the front pieces of the top did not match up. I knew that if I cut the pattern out based on the pattern pieces, I would have a mess with mismatched facings, and I would get flustered while sewing this together and not get good results. Knowing this, I discarded the facings pieces from the pattern and just used the top pieces to cut a facing instead.

Sewing the top started with the French seams to piece the ladybug fabric and green cotton fabrics together. The French seams came out great! They are clean and finished. Since the green cotton is heavier than the ladybug fabric, I sewed the French seams to the green cotton rather than the other way around.

DSCN0212Next came sewing the box pleat. This time, I sewed the seam down the back of the pleat, flattened the pleat and then stitched across the top of the pleat to secure it. I did not top stitch the box onto the pleat like I did for the skirt. I wanted the pleat to open up if needed on this top.

DSCN0250Next up, I sewed the shoulder seams and then it was time to apply the facings. After reading the pattern guide for how to sew the facings, I decided the pattern guides instructions would not work for me. So I threw the pattern guide away along with the facings pieces from the pattern. I decided to sew the facing to the top as I had learned from making the bodices of the dresses that I had made before. I sewed around the neck and down the back, and then around the arms. Next, I stitched the side seams together. Because the side seams were exposed after the facing ended, I did a French seam for the side seams. But, as I tried to sew the French side seam down, I ran into trouble. The French side seam on top of the French piecing seams was just too thick. I broke 3 needles before I gave up and decided not to stitch down the French side seams. I don’t believe that having the side seams not stitched down will affect the wearing of this top. Next, I hemmed the facing.

DSCN0653Once again because the facing did not extend to the bottom of the top and because I had abandoned the pattern guides instructions, half of the back seams were left exposed. So to finish off the edge, I folded the edge over on each side of the back. This gave me four layers of fabric at the top where the facings are and two layers down below the facings. I did not apply any interfacing to the button placket because of the 4 layers, but as I sewed the buttonholes and buttons to the top, I wished that I had added some interfacing below the facing where the top was only two layers thick, especially on the thinner ladybug fabric. The buttons and buttonholes came out fine even without the interfacing. There was no way my buttonholer would sew over the French seams, so I had to carefully measure and place the buttonholes so that I would not have an issue making them or sewing on the buttons. The last steps were to hem the bottom of the top and topstitch around the arms and neck.

DSCN0655I am pleased with the end results of this top. It was great to practice with the box pleats and French seams, but what I am most proud of is that I was able to identify the pitfalls of the pattern and the construction early on in the project. And that I was able to use my sewing knowledge to circumvent them instead of suffering through them, and to find a better way for me to complete the project. Usually if there is a hard way to do something, that’s my way of doing it, but this time that was not true. I hope I can keep up this forethought momentum as I move on to my next project.

Until next time, sew forth and box top on.

A Monstrous Amount of Scrambled Eggs – Part 2

DSCN0150When it came time to add the eyes to my Egg Monsters, my creative mind was totally overwhelmed. The pattern called for a three layered felt eye. I tried this on the first monsters I made, the purple ones. The layered eyes were fun to design but they took a lot of work and time to complete. I am certainly not skilled at cutting circles in felt. As I started to cut out the eyes for the next set of monsters, I thought of the many wiggle eyes that I had stashed away in the closet.

They would work Perfectly!

DSCN0130Over the years I have purchased a larger and larger variety of these googly wiggle eyes. I have many sizes, shapes and colors to choose from. So I grabbed the tape from my desk and started placing different sized and colored eyes on the egg monsters. What fun! I wanted a three eyed monster so I put three small eyes on the pink monster and they looked great. I wanted green eyes on the green monster but even though I had yellow eyes, the blue eyes looked the best on the yellow monsters. I had to have a girl monster, so the eyelashes wiggle eye was perfect for the other pink monster. Of course, the Bronco monster had to have an orange and a blue eye. Cutting felt circles for eyes fell by the wayside as I placed various wiggle eyes on all the rest of the monsters, even though the husband said the felt eyes of the purple monsters looked the best out of all of them.

DSCN0133Now that the crocheting, stitching and designing were done, it was time to party! Well a glue party that is. The husband was nice enough to attend the party and help me glue these monsters together. Hot glueing is another crafting skill I am not so good at. I learned a lot as I glued the crocheted covers on to the plastic eggs. Some of the first monsters glued have some glue spots visible, and I ended up with a few burns on my fingers. By the end though, with the husband’s help, I felt I had a technique developed and I was getting good results with the glueing process, and less glue where it was not supposed to be and fewer burned fingers.

DSCN0127My creative mind was still buzzing as I glued the last monster together. Oh, on the next one I will give it an antenna, or maybe horns, or how about extra arms or teeth? Wow, the designs I could make seemed to be endless! I reached for more yarn and then I stopped myself. I have so many amigurumi’s that I still want to make, and what was I going to do with all of the monsters that I already had made? Could I find them all homes? So, I put the yarn back in the stash, tucked the wiggle eyes back in the closet, and filed the pattern with my others. I will not part with my remaining eggs though. I see more egg monsters in my future. But not until I try out a few other new designs first!

DSCN0118Until next time, crochet forth and egg on!

A Monstrous Amount of Scrambled Eggs -Part 1

DSCN0141I have another pattern that I need to hide today. Like the pocket pal pattern, I have had a blast crocheting these egg monsters, and just like the pocket pal pattern, I am going to have to hide their pattern so I can get something else done.

I found this pattern around Easter time and I thought it would be a great idea to use up those extra plastic Easter eggs leftover from Easter egg hunts each year. So, after Easter when Joann’s ran all their left over Easter decorations for 90% off, I picked up a couple of packages of these eggs in two different sizes.

DSCN0007Because I had two different sized eggs, I had to tweak the pattern a little so that the crocheted pieces fit the eggs I had purchased. It was not difficult to decide how many stitches and rounds I needed to fit each egg size. It just took some time to figure it out at first. Because I have made so many monsters with so many different yarns, in the end, I got pretty good at adjusting the stitches and rounds not only based on the egg size but on the yarn size and stretch. By the end, I could whip out an eggs cover, or a monster’s body in no time at all and have it fit the egg. And with an added bonus to making these monsters is the time and energy saved but not having to stuff them. Plus, won’t the recipient of one of these monsters be surprised when it opens up and there is candy or a little something fun inside.

DSCN0134When it came to crocheting the arms and feet for these monsters, the feet on the small eggs looked too big, so I made extra arms for the small egg’s feet. Each small egg needed 4 arms to complete it. I learned early on that using less stuffing in the arms and feet was better. Some of the first monsters I made have very overstuffed appendages. When I made the yellow monsters, I did not stuff the arms and feet at all. I stitched them on flat. The husband did not like the flat arms and feet, so I went back to stuffing them again but with much less stuffing. Stitching the arms and feet on became easier with each monster that I stitched. By the end of making so many monsters, I knew right where I wanted the arms and feet stitched on at, making the stitching process much easier and quicker.

DSCN0117As I crocheted the pink monsters, I ran out of yarn. Darn, now what do I do? I know. I’ll give this monster a white stripe. And with that my creative mind went nuts. What other color combination can I crochet into an egg monster? I put white and orange together for a dreamsicle monster. I was planning to make blue monsters, so why not add another color to the blue. Ooo, orange would be good with the blue. Oops, I made a Denver Bronco’s monster. Since I was loving the color combos and the stripes, I finally sat down with black and orange yarn for Halloween, and tried a variety of styles of stripes. I made one large egg and one small egg of the stripe variations, black with orange in the middle, orange with black in the middle, and striped evenly with the black and orange. They all turned out great but if I had to pick a favorite, it is the evenly striped ones.

With the crocheting done, it was time  for eyes.

Until next time, crochet forth and egg on!

A Box Of Ladybugs – Part 3, The Attaching

DSCN0691DSCN0693The bodice looked great with the sleeves attached, and the skirt was just adorable with the box pleats done. It was now time to sew the two parts together. This presented an unforeseen problem though. Because I have a pleat at the center back ok the skirt, instead of a slit, I had no way to attach the overlap of the buttons to the skirt and still keep the lining separate for the stitch in the ditch seam.

I had several options I could use at this point. One was to sew the overlap of the buttons together, making them one piece and skip the stitch in the ditch seam, sew the bodice and skirt together and finish the seam off with the serger. This would have been the simplest way to complete the dress. But you know me, I always have to do it the hard way first. Instead of the easy finish, I sewed the overlap of the buttons as one piece, and cut a slit in the lining by the overlap. This left the lining loose so I could do the stitch in the ditch seam later. I just had to make sure that the slit was folded up in to this seams before I started.

DSCN0696DSCN0697The stitch in the ditch seam did not go well. Even with an application of some seam to seam adhesive, spots were missed and the slit became unfolded. The seam was all over the place on the inside of the lining. The back part by the button overlap was a mess. But, on the outside everything still looked great! Having learned enough from the attaching of the bodice to the skirt, I patched up the stitch in the ditch seam and called it done. And I know what to do next time to get a better seam. I then hemmed the skirt and the lining together to complete this dress. I still do not know which is best, hemming the lining and skirt as one or hemming them separately.

From the outside, this dress was a total success and I really should have embroidered a cute design on the blank front of the bodice. From the inside though this dress is a total mess, but that will not affect the wearing of this dress. I think this dress will look cute on any little girl and I hope that she will enjoy wearing it.

Until next time, sew forth and box on.

A Box Of Ladybugs – Part 2, The Skirt

DSCN0175I started making the skirt with lots of thought and some calculations. After I had sewed the side seams of the lining and skirt together I sewed the lining and skirt together, holding it as one piece. Then I measured, folded and pinned the box pleats. At first, I made a big one inch pleat and separated them by one inch. This was too large, so I cut it back to 1/2 inch. After much fiddling with it, I finally decided to put one pleat in the center front, center back, and each side of the skirt. Then I placed pleats in-between those. Amazingly the pleats just worked out evenly, and what was even more amazing was that the measurement of the skirt with the pleats matched the bodice. I don’t know if I could be this lucky again if I made another skirt or a different sized skirt. Probably not, but with the pleats pinned in place, I moved to the sewing machine.

DSCN0191I first sewed down one side of the pinned pleat, across the pleat and then back up the other side of the pleat to the top of the skirt. I sewed carefully to keep the pleats as even and straight as possible on both the front and back sides. The pleats are not sewn perfectly, but they still looked good. After I completed the sewing, I read that it would have been easier to have held the pleat together, stitched down the back of the pleat, flattened the fold in the back of the pleat and then sewed the box on top of the skirt. Making the seam down the back would have held the pleat even. Oh well! If there is a hard way to do it, that is how I will usually do it. If I do it again I will try the easier way of sewing the pleats.

Regardless of the methods I used, the pleated skirt was now all done and it was just adorable! If I had not already made the bodice, I could have just attached a waistband to the skirt and had a cute little skirt all done. As I thought about that, cute little pleated skirts of various fabrics danced around my creative mind, but I decided to finish this dress first.

Next up, the challenge, attaching the bodice to the skirt.

Until next time, sew forth and box on.