Buttoning It All Together

I need a bigger button box! cz4mwl6uy_m

 

Or do I?

My button box is currently full, right to the top. I can hardly close the lid on the darn thing!

So, it must be time to get a bigger box to store my buttons in right?

Or maybe it is just time to stop being lazy and sort and organize my current button box so that I have an easier time using what I already have.

While staring at all of the buttons that were just randomly and haphazardly tossed in my button box, I decided that a bigger button box was not the answer. What I needed was to take the time to sort and organize what was in my current button box.

DSCN4316Looking in my button box, I noticed right away that a lot of the space in the box was being taken up by the buttons packaging, mostly the cardboard cards the buttons were purchased on. So, my first step was to remove all of the buttons from the cards.

As I pulled the first buttons off a card, I thought to myself “This will take no time at all!” Boy was I wrong!

As I pulled more buttons off the cards, the staples holding the buttons to the card were staying attached to the buttons, not the cards. I did not want to store the staples attached to the buttons, and I did not want the staples to scratch the buttons while in the box. So, I started the long and tedious task of removing the staples from each of the buttons.

With the use of pliers, scissors and a staple remover, I slowly worked at removing the staples from the buttons. The husband was even given some buttons to remove the staples from. (That will teach him to walk into the sewing room and inquire what I was up to.) After a couple of hours and some sore fingers, I had all of the buttons removed from their cards and the packaging and all the staples and threads were removed.

DSCN4308Now that I had piles and piles of buttons all over the cutting table, it was time to sort and package them up more efficiently. I started by sorting my miscellaneous buttons from my button can. I matched the buttons from the can with the piles of buttons I had on the table. I was surprised how many single buttons from the can matched with one of the piles of buttons. Next, I retrieved my small jewelry zip lock baggies from the closet. I love these baggies. I use them all the time in my crafting and sewing so I keep them handy in a couple of different sizes. I placed each sorted pile of buttons in its own little zip lock baggie. Any single buttons without mates went back into the button can.

DSCN4317Now that I had several piles of buttons all stored in little baggies all over the cutting table, I started sorting the buttons by color. I was pretty liberal on what color the buttons were as I sorted, and soon I had just a few larger piles of buttons in little baggies of like colors sitting on the cutting table. These piles where then placed in larger quart or gallon ziplock bags to keep them further organized.

DSCN4320Looking at the large ziplock bags of buttons, I was pleased with the cleaning and sorting of my buttons. The large bags easily fit back into my current button box with some room to spare. I was very excited. I really like my current button box and I did not really want to replace it with a bigger one so this worked out great!

I have looked for buttons for a project a few times now since sorting my buttons into the bags and the new organization system has worked great. I merely pulled out the bag of buttons in the color I was looking for, then I quickly sorted through the little baggie inside to pick the exact buttons that I needed for my project. Through the clear bags I can easily see the buttons I have and how many of each of them I have, and since they are not attached to a card, the buttons can easily be placed on top of a project while still in the bags to see how they will look and match. Plus, this baggie system has been easy to keep organized as I add new buttons to my button box.

DSCN4315With the buttons finally sorted and back in the button box, I was ready for my next sewing room adventure!

Until then, sew forth and button on!

Great Balls Of Yarn

images-21WindThere comes a time in all crocheter’s crafting when they have to stop and “wind” a little…

No, not the thing that blows outdoors and makes a mess of our hair when we go outside, nor the drink we must stop and have some of to keep us sane while crocheting, that’s “wine”. And trust me, there is plenty of “whining” and “complaining” amongst us crocheters. But in this case I am talking about “to wind”, as in I needed to wind a ball of yarn. So, the time had come for me to whine about doing some winding.

aid460789-728px-Wind-a-Yarn-Ball-Step-1-preview-Version-2skein-band1As I looked at my buckets of yarn, I noticed many half used skeins of yarn. Skeins that were disappearing from the inside out as I pulled from the center of the skien to make my latest amigurumi’s. Skeins that were floppy and falling apart, no longer holding their once nice new shape. I also noticed that when it was time for me to start another amigurumi, I raced to the yarn stash to retrieve a nice new firm skein of yarn for the project, rather than deal with the half used floppy skeins lying in the yarn bucket from a former amigurumi project. It was finally time to remedy this by winding these half used floppy skeins into nice firm easily used balls of yarn.

TutorialIMG_4310Back when I first started crocheting, I found it very flustering to crochet from a hand wound ball of yarn. As I crocheted, the ball would roll. It would roll off my lap, across the room and down the hall, at which time I would have to stop crocheting, and chase down my ball of yarn. And worse, if I was crocheting in the car, the ball of yarn rolled off my lap and onto the dirty car floor. I quickly learned how to wind a ball of yarn so that it pulled from the center, just like a new skein of yarn. This was great except it took more time and care to wind the ball in this manner. Also as you crocheted from the center of the ball, the ball became half used and floppy just like a skein does as it is used, so you had to stop and re-wind the ball again. But, for me, it was worth taking the the extra time and care to wind the ball with the center pull and then re-wind the ball as needed, so as not to have to chase that crazy ball of yarn around the house.

IMG_3796IMG_4308So, as I sat down with a good movie and my bucket of floppy skeins of yarn and got to winding some yarn balls. When I was done, I had this gorgeous box of yarn balls and my creative mind went nuts. It was like I had purchased a whole new box of various skeins of yarn. I could see all kind of fun amigurumi’s made from these balls of yarn and I could not wait to get crocheting again.

So stay tuned for some fun new amigurumi’s from my great balls of yarn!

Derek The Dimetrodon

Do you remember yarn dye lots? If you do, you might be as old as a dinosaur! (Pun Intended)IMG_3391

But, seriously, I remember the phrase “and make sure it is the same dye lot” from my childhood. Every time I was sent to the store to buy yarn for my mother or grandmother this phase was spoken to me, and I took it seriously and made sure to purchase the same dye lots if I could.

I remember the matching issues my mother and grandmother faced when they ran out of a color of yarn of a specific dye lot in the middle of a project. It was a real problem back in the day, and it took a lot of thought in designing and matching yarns to complete a project when they ran out of a color of a specific dye lot.

IMG_3906For my younger readers, let me quickly explain what a dye lot is. 15 years or so ago yarn manufacturers would dye or color a specific batch of yarn in a specific factory and they would give that batch a specific dye lot number indicating that all those skeins were dyed together and so the color variations would be little to nonexistent.

The next batch they made in that color would have a different dye lot number, and although they would dye with the same dye formula, there might be a slightly different coloration of the yarn depending on how the yarn took the dye. The batches would basically be using the same color but the yarns color would come out different enough that if used in the same project you could see the differences.

IMG_3904Today, because of more modern manufacturing processes, the manufacturers of yarn have the yarn color dyeing process more perfected and so there is really no need to give each color batch a lot number. Because of that, the variations in todays dyed batches of yarn colors is not really noticeable when making something and skeins from different batches are used in the same project.

So, today when you purchase a skein of Red Heart “Buff” brown yarn on Monday and another skein from a different store on Monday five years from now, you don’t have to worry about when these skeins were dyed or if they can be used in the same project. They can. Unless you are using very old yarn that still has dye lots listed on the labels anyway.
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So, what does all this have to do with my latest amigurumi project, Derek the dimetrodon? You see, when I started to crochet the pieces for Derek, rather than digging through my box of green yarn for a new skein of Red Heart Spring Green, I simple grabbed the remainder of a skein from my yarn basket and got crocheting.

I was able to crochet all of Derek’s pieces with this partial skein except for one foot.

No problem. Since there should not be a worry about dye lots, I simply went to my box of green yarn, pulled out another skein of Spring Green and crocheted the last foot.
IMG_3392But as I started to sew Derek’s pieces together, I noticed right away that the fourth leg from the new skein was smaller in size than the other legs.

Had I possibly pulled my tensions tighter as I crocheted the last leg? I decided to crochet another leg and see what size it turned out.

Upon completing the leg, it measured the same size as the 4th leg I had crocheted from the same skein of yarn. So, even though I did not have to worry about the color of the yarn, i.e. the dye lot, the yarn from the two skeins were different somehow and they were crocheting differently.

DSCN4302That is very Interesting I thought to myself. I guess that in using some older yarn and some newer yarn together in the same project together they had been manufactured in slightly different widths or perhaps a slightly tighter twist? I guess that is another question to figure out at a later time. In any case I will do some testing on a few future projects to find out what went wrong.

DSCN4304Luckily, this was a quick fix that did not take a lot of thought or redesigning or matching. I simply used the two smaller legs as the front legs and the two larger legs as the hind legs.

Once all the legs were sewn to the body, it was hard to see the different sizes. Unfortunately, I now have one extra leg from this project. Does anyone out there need a spare dimetrodon leg? If so I have one!

In the end Derek the dimetrodon turned out very cute, even with his smaller front legs. Derek is now looking for a good home and a good friend to play with him!

Until then, crochet forth and dye lot on!

Covering The Board

IMG_3802My ironing board is old. Well old for an ironing board anyway. I am still using my very first ironing board that I purchased nearly 30 years ago! Of course, the ironing board cover has been replaced many times over that 30+ years. An ironing board cover can only have so much iron-on interfacing glued to it before it needs to be replaced. And each time I replace the ironing board cover, I wonder if I should just replace the whole ironing board instead of just the cover.

IMG_3800I ask this because the cost of a nice cover is about the same as an new inexpensive board with a cover. The question I ask myself every time I buy a new cover is “Have ironing boards technically changed over the years and gotten better to where I am missing out on something by not buying a new board?”

So, this time when it was time to replace the cover, I decided to purchase a whole new ironing board and see if I have been missing out on anything over the years.

IMG_0894While standing in the middle of the isle of Walmartia, I found that I had three choices (i.e. three prices) to choose from. I decided to start at the lowest of the prices. I purchased the least expensive ironing board and took it home. Unfortunately, this ironing board was not inexpensive, it was cheap. To start, it only stood on two pole legs and it was very unsteady. It teetered this was and that every time I pushed my iron across the board. I had to keep catching it to keep it from falling over as I ironed.

IMG_0899The cover on this board was super thin with no padding at all and it was drawn tight around the board with a thin string and a clamp. The board itself was not a solid piece of metal either. It was a metal mesh desk with giant diamond holes in it with an attached outside edge. The diamond mesh was very bumpy to iron on, but the lip made by the attached edge caught the iron and interrupted the ironing process. Plus, this board had a very narrow tip end to the full size of the board, giving me less ironing space where I iron the most. This ironing board was certainly not a replacement for my current ironing board, so undaunted I tried again and back to the store I went!

IMG_0893This time I purchased the middle priced ironing board with higher hopes. It was just a little more expensive than a new cover for my old board was, and this ironing board had two legs in each direction, so I already knew it was going to be superior to the cheap ironing board I had previously purchased. It still had the diamond mesh board top, but I was hopeful that it would be made better and have a better cover, plus it had accessories. This ironing board had an iron holder at the end to give you more board to work on and keep the iron from tipping over when not in use. It also had a shelf on the legs.

IMG_0900This ironing board was certainly steadier than the last board and it did not fall over with the pressure of the iron moving back and forth, but the edge of the mesh top still had a lip. I might not have noticed the lip so much if once again, this ironing board did not have the same thin, non padded, tied on with string, cover that the cheap board had. If I kept this board I would immediately have to replace the cover. So, it was up to the accessories to “wow” me into replacing my old ironing board with this one.

I’m sorry to say, the accessories did not “wow” me. I am sure that for some, the shelf attached to the legs of the board is the greatest thing ever, but for me it was not. My ironing board has to be movable and with stuff stacked on the shelf, this board became unmovable. So, for me, the shelf would never be used. Plus, I don’t need another shelf to stack stuff on.

IMG_0897The next accessory was the iron holder. This holder is a great idea in keeping a hot iron from becoming a hot burn. But, what I found was that the holder created more work for me when ironing so I would never use it. When I iron, I mostly use the top half of the board, so I had to take extra walking steps to place the iron on the holder. It did not take long to tire of – iron, take two steps to set the iron on holder, take two steps back, move the garment, take two steps to pick up the iron, take two step back to the garment, and then repeat these steps. Simply put, my iron was not at arms reach, so if I kept this board I would not use the holder. Since the accessories did not work out for me, I saw no reason to replace my current ironing board with this board either.

IMG_3797Upon examining the highest price ironing board at Walmart, I found a duplicate of my current ironing board. Walmart had two styles of the this price ironing board. The first was the same diamond mesh board as the lower priced boards and there was no way I was purchasing that one even if the cover was thicker and nicer because of the previous issues with the mesh boards. The second board looked just like the ironing board I currently have at home in the sewing room, except that the cover was not as nice. So, why spend the money for a new ironing board when it was exactly what I already had?

IMG_3798I guess nothing new and revolutionary has occurred over the years to improve the ironing board. With my new knowledge of ironing boards, I decided I would be keep my same old ironing board and replacing the cover.

As I looked at new ironing board covers, I learned that they are the same as new ironing boards. You get what you pay for with the lowest price covers being thin, non padded and string tightened and the higher prices ones being thicker, padded and velcroed on. With what I had learned from my ironing board experiment, I went ahead and purchased the higher priced, thicker, padded, velcroed cover. The new cover fits my old ironing board great and I am back to ironing on my latest sewing project. Stay tuned to see it soon!

Until then, sew forth and iron on!

Why I Sew Kid’s Clothes

IMG_0016“So, how many children do you have?” I am frequently asked.

“None” is my reply.

This of course always leads to the next question, when the conversation is about sewing, “Then why do you make so many clothes for kid’s?”

Its a reasonable question and I will give you 3 good reasons why I sew so many kid’s clothes even though I have no children to wear them.

P1030369The first reason is my casual style, and that of the husband’s. I wear mainly shirts and pants/shorts. I basically wear 3 styles of shirts. A t-shirt, a collarless v-neck shirt (a baseball shirt) and a collared camp shirt. I don’t wear dresses or skirts regularly.

P1030399The husband wears tab front knit shirts and on the rare occasion a button down the front shirt both with pants and shorts.

So, over the years I have sewn many shirts and pants for both myself and the husband and I have our basic sloper patterns for these items fine tuned to perfection.

Over the years, I have varied the basic slopers with small changes to the designs, but basically it is still the same pattern I have sewn for us for years now.

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So given this, how could I learn any new sewing techniques and expand my sewing skills by just making these same tried and true patterns over and over again?

How could I learn different seam finishes? How could I learn about sewing with different fabric varieties like fur and pleather?

DSCN0533Why would I waste my fabric and my time to make myself a dress or skirt that I would seldom if ever wear just to learn sewing skills and techniques like gathers, pleats and linings?

There are no pockets on my shirts or the husbands shirts, so where would I learn to make different pocket styles?

There is no bias tape used in the construction of our clothes, so where would I learn to make and sew items with bias tape?

 

The answer to many of these questions for me is by sewing clothes for children of course!

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It has been my experience that kid’s are very forgiving when it come to their clothes.

They don’t care if the fit isn’t quite right. As long as the colors and designs are fun, they are willing to wear the item.

So, while I have been learning some great new techniques and skills while making the children’s clothes, even if it isn’t perfect in the end, I still have a usable item that a child will love to wear.

DSCN4123Plus, just how many shirts can I and the husband have with Snoopy or Mickey Mouse on them? I have so many fun embroidery designs and fabrics for fun kid’s clothes that I would probably never be able to use if I didn’t sew for children.

And how could I not sew and embroider up some of these great items for some children to wear and enjoy?

 

Reason number 2 is practice. You could also think of this as making mini muslins.

I wouldDSCN3413 like to make me a spring/fall polar fleece jacket. I want it to have a collar, a zipper, multiple pockets, and for the jacket to be fully lined. I have already purchased the fabric that I want this jacket made from and I have a basic jacket pattern to use as a guide to sew this jacket for myself.

But, I felt that I was lacking in the skills to sew this jacket. Skills that I need to be comfortable and confident using such as working with polar fleece, sewing pockets, inserting a zipper, and lining a jacket without a pattern.

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To remedy this lack of skills, I started out by making some smaller kid’s jackets and vests. I could learn and practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket by practicing first on the kid’s jackets.

I would waste less fabric if it turned out all wrong and I could repeat the skills that I needed to by practicing them first on the kid’s jackets.

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If you are a reader of my blog, you know that is exactly what I have been sewing recently.

I have made several kid’s jackets and vests. And in the process I have learned how to finish fleece seams, and I have learned to sew several different pocket styles, patch pockets, side seam pockets, welt pockets and others. I have practiced inserting zippers and sewing different collar styles.

And, more importantly, I have learned how to line an unlined jacket without using a pattern.

DSCN3898I now feel much more confident about cutting into my expensive fabric to make my jacket and in my ability to successfully sew my jacket together now that I have made all of these kid’s jackets and vests first.

In fact, I only have just a couple of more sewing skills that I want to practice and perfect on a couple of more kid’s jackets before I will finally be ready to make my jackets.

So stay tuned later this fall, as I might just be wearing a stylish new jacket (or two or three)!

Reason number 3 that I sew children’s clothes is that sewing clothes for kid’s is really FUN!

P1030564P1030560I enjoy sewing! A LOT! I really enjoy focusing my time and attention into the creative process and completing a functioning and fun item for someone to wear.

It does not matter if that item is for me, the husband, the house, the garage, or a kid, I (for the most part) enjoy the steps of making that item.

Plus, I enjoy learning. I learn from each sewing project that I make.

And, yes, sometimes what I learn and learn again, is patience!

As I mentioned in reason number 1, I have a lot of fun fabrics and embroidery designs that neither I nor the husband is ever going to wear, so for me anyway, it is just fun to sew and embroidery these fabrics and designs into clothes for children to wear.

DSCN3537DSCN3986As I mentioned in reason number 2, I made the kid’s jackets to learn and to practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket in the future, but each of the kid’s jackets or vests was very fun to design and to sew.

I learned from each project and for the most part I was pleased with what I made and what I learned in making them.

In other words, I really enjoyed the journey, from start to finish.

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Lastly, I really love to make something from nothing. I love to take the scraps from mine or the husband’s shirt and to make something from them for a child.

 

In doing so I feel like I am cheating or beating the odds somehow. I was able to take something that was useless, scraps that I could not use to make something for myself or the husband from, and was able to make a functioning, useful item from them.

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DSCN0389This is extra fun to do when I get to stretch my skills by using my creative process to make the scraps work in almost any situation.

So, that in very long form is my answer to question of “Why do you sew so many kid’s clothes?”.

With this complex of an answer to a simple question, you’re now probably afraid to ask any other questions, but don’t be.

In my own way, I will give you an answer that might be longer than expected, but enjoyable to hear.

Until then, sew forth and ask away!

I Don’t Like Spam!

imageBut I do love my new ham!

Over the years, as my sewing career has progressed, I have found that I iron more and more during the sewing process. This fact has lead me to purchase my first ironing tool, a ham.

When I finally decided to purchase a ham to aid in my ironing while sewing, I went to Joann’s and gasped at the price of the ham, and debated if I really needed one. With the help of a coupon, I purchased a ham for half off and went home to try it out.

imageUsing the ham was an instant success!

How did I ever iron without one? The ham made ironing curves and seams so much easier. I did notice though that using the ham in the ironing process was time consuming.

As you know, ironing is all about positioning. Ironing a little, move the fabric, ironing a little more, then move the fabric. With the ham, there is more moving of the fabric to iron the piece that is on the ham compared to ironing without the ham. But, the end results, the nicely pressed seams and the ease of ironing that seam, are worth the extra time and work of using the ham.

imageSince the use of the ham has been such a success, I have started looking at other ironing tools like a sleeve roll or a clapper. I do see some new purchases of ironing tools in my future.

Until then sew forth and iron on!

Star Wars Senior

DSCN4060DSCN4067“They won’t fit.” That is the reply I got from the husband when I showed him my latest sewing project, the kid’s Star Wars sweatshirts. What do you mean they won’t fit? These shirts will fit a 2 year old just fine. Then, it dawned on me. These shirts would not fit the green eyed husband. So, my next sewing project would be a Star Wars shirt for the husband.

 

Looking at my Star Wars embroidery designs, I picked a maroon colored knit from the stash for the husbands shirt. After laundering the fabric, I laid it out on the cutting table to get started only to find out that the maroon fabric was not big enough to make a shirt for the husband a shirt from it. So, the husband picked a black knit from the stash for the sleeves and the collar. As I cut out the fabric, I was glad that I did not have enough of the maroon fabric. The black and maroon fabrics looked really good together. Far better than the maroon would have looked alone.

 

DSCN4044DSCN4043It’s been awhile since I have made the husband a new shirt, but the sewing process went smoothly enough. Both the maroon and black knit fabric are nice fabrics and where easy to work with. The husband picked his embroidery design, the Stormtrooper with the sun ray rising sun background, and it embroidered on to the shirt nicely.

 

All was going along nicely until the husband picked white/clear buttons and white thread for the double needle hems on the bottom of the shirt and the sleeves. I was more then a little apprehensive about this. Sometimes when using a double needle, my sewing machine and the knit fabric that I’m DSCN4065DSCN4063sewing with like to argue during the sewing process. I can hide a lot of this arguing with a matching thread color but could I hide the arguing with a white contrasting thread?

 

Luckily, as I mentioned before, these were nice knit fabrics to work with and they did not argue with the double needle and the hems sewed fairly smoothly and they look good.

Finally with the last step of sewing the buttons on, the husband’s Star Wars shirt was done!

 

DSCN4041DSCN4042But before I could go back to sewing some more kid’s Star Wars clothes, the husband pointed out the Chewbacca fleece blanket kit we purchased at Joann’s last half price sale. After the husband gave me some sweet puppy dog eyes that said “Please make my blanket next”, I got started on his blanket.

 

To increase the size of the blanket, I did not cut off the black dotted line edges of the blanket that were supposed to be cut into strips and then tied together. Instead I squared the top and bottom fleece pieces and then sewed them wrong side together 1/8 inch from the edge. Next I cut 1/4 inches from the edge with the skip stitch blade. The blanket was then ready for its edge to be crocheted on.

 

DSCN4035DSCN4038After crocheting the foundation row, I tried several different edges like scallops and triangles but the husband liked the chained edge the best. So I chained 3, skipped 2 stitches on the foundation row, then slip stitched in the 3rd stitch. On the next row, after changing colors, I chained 3 then slip stitched in the next chain 3 of the 2nd row. For the 3rd row, I picked a different color but I didn’t like the multicolor look so I changed back to the foundation rows color and crocheted the 3rd row like the 2nd row. I had planned to crochet a 4th and 5th row, but this did not look good so I stopped after the 3rd row.

 

The husband was pleased with his finished Chewbacca blanket as well as his new Stormtrooper shirt. Both were fun for me to sew and crochet. Now, that the green eyed monster has left the sewing room. I can get back to sewing more kid’s clothes.

Until then, sew and crochet forth and remember to always let the Wookiee win!