Harriet The Big Dragon

After finishing Franklin the black panther, I picked up the momma dragon pieces and decided to make it my next “in process” amigurumi to complete.

I started the crocheting of the pieces for this dragon with the legs. After crocheting the legs and attaching them together, I started crocheting the body. I kept crocheting and crocheting and crocheting. Was this body ever going to end? Was the body alone going to take a whole skein of yarn?

I had crocheted about half of the body when I decided I had better start stuffing the body before I could no longer reach the legs. So, I started stuffing, and I kept stuffing and stuffing, and stuffing. Was I going to use a whole bag of stuffing to stuff the body of this dragon? Even with stuffing the body relatively flat in shape, I was still using a lot of stuffing.

A little flustered by the crocheting and the stuffing of the legs and body, I stopped working on them and crocheted and stuffed the arms, hoping that a break from the body would help me feel better about finishing it when I started working on it again. It did not. I felt like I was never going to finish the body. By the time I finally got the legs and body of this dragon done, I had grown very weary of crocheting this dragon.

And so I put this amigurumi aside and started another one.

Now, the time had come to finish this amigurumi. After all the crocheting I had done to complete the legs and body, it was easy to crochet and stuff the rest of the pieces for this dragon. Assembly of this dragon went smoothly but took extra time due to all the little pieces the dragon had to have stitched on, like the horns, spikes, tail, body spot, ears and wings. I believe the assembly went so smoothly because the the majority of the stuffing was already done and it was fun to see the dragon develop as the the extra pieces were added.

Once the dragon was completed, I fell in love with her. The long slender body was complimented by the small size of the spikes, wings and horns. The combination just looked so cute. This large dragon was not named until the completion of the baby dragon but that is a story for the next post. Stay tuned to read that story.

Until then, crochet forth and big momma dragon on!

HaHaHaHa – Part 3 of Sew It Begins

With the husband’s latest shirt completed, it was finally time to sew a new shirt for myself.

I picked the design and fabric for my new shirt based on the embroidery design that I had picked out to use. I love this Snoopy design and I have always wanted to embroider it on a shirt for me. So, with the Snoopy design in mind I entered the stash room and picked a piece of blue cotton and a matching patterned cotton remnant for the fabric for this shirt.

After laundering the fabric, I laid it out on the cutting table and got started. I cut out the pieces from the blue cotton first, then I cut into the remnant only to find out that I was short on fabric. I must have measured incorrectly or the fabric had shrunk more than expected in the wash.

Regardless, this piece was too small to use now. Logically, I should have returned to the stash room and chosen another fabric but, oh no, not me. The challenge was on. My creative mind was churning. How could I get the needed pieces from this short piece of fabric?

I started by changing my idea of matching the pattern of the fabric at the side seams. I debated if not matching the pattern was a good idea, or if it would make me crazy after the shirt was sewn. Since the pattern on the fabric was a little crazy itself and it would be non matching at the seam under my arms, I decided to go for it and disregard matching the pattern.

Even with not matching the pattern at the side seams, I was still a little shy, about 2 inches, of having enough fabric for the sleeves. What could I do to get just 2 more inches? If I shortened the sleeves by an inch each, I would have my 2 inches, but I did not want my sleeves an inch shorter. So how could I cut the sleeves an inch shorter and still have them the same length?

Bias tape was the answer.

I cut the sleeves the inch shorter, but instead of hemming the sleeves, I made some 1/2 inch bias tape from the blue cotton and used the bias tape to finish the sleeves. The rest of the sewing of the shirt sewed smoothly and embroidering the Snoopy design was great fun.

I am very pleased with this shirt. It is fun to wear and I love having the Snoopy design on it. It was also a fun shirt to sew and it was exciting to let my creative mind work to solve a sewing problem.

With a new shirt done for both the husband and the me, it was time to pick a my next sewing project. Stay tuned to see what that will be.

Until then, Sew forth and Laugh on!

Don’t Panic – Part 2 of Sew it Begins.

Although I worked on both the husband’s new shirt and my new shirt at the same time, the husband’s shirt was the first one completed.

The husband picked a purple single knit with quite a bit of stretch from the stash for his shirt. I was not excited about getting back into the sewing grove with a stretchy knit that could possible give me grief, but what sewing project doesn’t present itself without certain challenges. This stretchy knit would certainly sharpen my dull sewing skills quickly. I had plenty of this fabric to work with so the shirt would be entirely made from this fabric, instead of piecing it together as my last few had been.

After laundering the fabric and cutting out the pattern pieces, it was time to interface the collar and the yoke. I picked a nice piece of interfacing and ironed a small sample piece onto a scrap of the purple knit. It ironed on great, but when I stretched the knit, the interfacing disintegrated and shredded to pieces. After that disappointment I started cutting samples from other pieces of interfacing and ironing them to the knit. Some were better than others but none were what I wanted. I wanted an interfacing that would stop the knit from stretching and make the collar stay formed but not too stiff.

Was I expecting too much from the interfacing?

I tried all different kinds of interfacing, woven, non woven, knit, and so on and I finally found one that I thought would work and hold up well with the stretch. I cut out the interfacing for the collar only to find that I did not have enough of this interfacing for the yokes. So, off to the store I went. I picked out what I thought was the same interfacing, but it was not. I studied the interfacing from the stash again and settled on one that was acceptable. You know, I just don’t understand interfacing. I have done research and read up on interfacing several times and purchased a wide variety of interfacings and tried them all, but I still have trouble when it comes to choosing and using the right interfacing for a project. Trial and error is the only answer I have come up with for my interfacing dilemma.

With the pieces of the shirt cut and interfaced, I started to sew. I was very careful and cautious with the knit, watching the stretch with each seam. The hems, of course, were the most tricky part with the stretch but with care, it all came out good. And yes, this knit shirt did a great job of sharpening my sewing skills.

When it came time for an embroidery design, the husband picked the “Don’t Panic!” design from the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. I knew this design would look good on the purple shirt but when I was done stitching the design, it looked great. After sewing the buttonholes and the buttons on, the shirt was done.

The husband likes his new shirt and I love being back in the sewing studio, sewing away.

Stay tuned for details about my new shirt in my next post.

Until then, sew forth and Don’t Panic on!

The Sewing Studio – Part One of Sew It Begins

It’s Ready!” That’s what I declared the other day as I looked around my new sewing studio. The machines were in place and plugged in, the notions boxes were empty with the all the notions stored in their appropriate baskets, and the stash was organized. It was now time to sew. After almost a year of not sewing anything, both the husband and myself are in need of new shirts so that is where I decided to start sewing.

You may have noticed that I did not say that the new sewing room was ready for sewing to start. That is because I now have a sewing studio. Now, it is not as glamorous as it sounds. Since my sewing and crafting has now taken up three rooms in my new home, instead on just the one and one-half as in my previous home, I am calling my sewing space a studio. Plus a sewing studio sounds bigger and better and more exotic. Who wouldn’t want a whole studio for their sewing and crafting over just a room.

I started my first sewing project in my new sewing studio by going into the stash room where I found just the right fabric for me and the husband a new shirt and retrieved our basic sloper patterns for the pattern stash in the stash room. After laundering the fabric, I took the fabric to the prep and cutting room, which is also the crafting and amigurumi assembly room. Here, the fabric was ironed and the patterns cut out. Next, the pieces were carried into the sewing room where the sewing machines and notions reside and the sewing of the shirts began.

It took longer than expected to get to the point of sewing again because I decided to unpack the stash from the many boxes it has lived in for so many years. I placed the contents of all those boxes on wire racks so that the stash is fully visable and readily accessible. I gave the “unpacking of the stash boxes” a lot of thought before I started. I had my picture organizing method in place and it had served me well for many years, but as I organized the boxes in the stash room and opening some to see just exactly what was in each one, I realized that having the stash on the racks was a better way of organizing and using the fabric than the pictures. The husband helped be picked the correct size, weigh and style of racks and helped me assemble the racks. It was then my job to unpack the boxes. I had mixed emotions as I unpacked the stash boxes. My emotions ranged from glee and excitement to see all the precious pieces of fabric I possessed, to terror and fear that I might actually be a true fabric hoarder.

It is great fun to be sewing again. Sadly, I feel that my sewing skills had diminished with the time off, but happily, they seem to be coming back quickly. I am super excited to be sewing and crafting again.

Stay tune for details on the new shirts.

Until then, sew forth and sew on!

Oh Brother!

I don’t know how old Mom’s serger is but I do know that it is really old, old enough to have knob tensions and be extremely difficult to thread. I also know that it has been giving her fits for years. It has a hard time holding its tensions and the lower looper thread keeps breaking. She has had it in for repairs and service many times, but it just never seem to be fixed or to work correctly especially in the last several years. It was another phone call from Mom one week before Christmas, bemoaning that fact that Christmas was just one week away and that her serger would just not behave so she could get her Christmas sewing finished, that finally prompted me to push Mom again to get a new serger.

Years ago when mom’s serger started to act up, I tried to help her replace her serger. When I looked into the available sergers at that time, I found there were two types, the expensive ones, $2000 to $3000, with all the bells and whistles, and the cheap sergers, $200 to $300, with no features and that barely serged. What happened to a nice $500 to $1000 machine that had just a few features but still serged nicely? At the time, Mom was not sewing as much as she use to, so she did not want to spend a large amount of money on a new serger, so a Singer serger from Walmart was purchased.

Big mistake! The machine was horrible!

It rattled and vibrated and did not serge well at all! It was not long before mom had pushed that serger into the corner and went back to fighting with her old, original serger.

Over the years, I have kept an eye on the big expensive sergers, hoping that one might have that special feature that would make it worth the dollar amount it was demanding. But, I never found one that was worth the price. So, as mom complained about her serger, I did not know what to say. Now, I love my serger so I decided to try and help mom by finding a used serger like mine. After some time looking, I did not find a good used serger similar to mine, but I did find a lot of useful information about sergers.

It seemed that most of the newer more expensive sergers that were purchased were hated, with many owners regretting their purchase and they were trying to rid themselves of their new serger’s on eBay. Most said that because there were so many special features that the machine did not serge well or even perform the special features well. It was a bad case of featuritus. On the other hand, almost all the reviews for the cheap sergers could be summed up to one phrase – piece of crap. So once again, where were that middle of the line sergers?

This time though I found one of those great middle of the line serger’s, the Brother 3234DT. This serger had several great special features, but none that took away from it’s main function, serging.

I told Mom what I had learned and she decided to take a chance and to get one of these new Brother 4 thread with differential feed sergers. When it was unpacked and the owner manual read, I helped Mom thread the serger. It threaded very easily with color coded lay in threading, dial tensions, and even auto needle threaders. I then showed Mom the adjustable stitch length and width, and differential feed like my serger has. Mom was very excited about these features. But, Mom’s new serger had some special features that mine did not. One of these features is the auto needle threader. Another feature that this serger has is a free arm. The table portion of the serger can be removed and there is a free arm for serging cuffs and collars. Man, wouldn’t that be handy while sewing baby sleepers? An extended table also came with this serger. Once again the side is removed and replaced with an extended table that would come in very handy when serging heavy or large items. I was so excited about the extra features of this serger that I thought for a moment about replacing my serger with one of these, but then I decided that there was nothing wrong with my serger and it did not need replacing. (But, if and when my serger does need replacing, I know which serger I will look at first.)

Mom seemed very happy with her purchase. She has sewn a couple of things with her new serger so far and says it serged like a dream. No more nightmares from using that old serger. I am happy that she has a good working serger now and that she can enjoy sewing and serging once again. Plus, along the way I learned a lot about sergers that I did not know before.

So until next time, sew forth and serge on!

Franklin

img_4823I laid the four “in progress” amigurumi’s that I’ve been working on for what seemed like forever, the sheep, the ferret, the momma dragon and the black panther, in front of me and tried to pick which one I should complete first.

img_4826As I studied the four projects, my first thought was “I think I’ll start the unicorn pattern I just found on line.” I then had to scold myself and say “NO!” I could not start another amigurumi until I finish these four that I had already started. Of the four, the black panther interested me the most. The panther was a bit of a challenge and was for a friend so he already had a good home to go to, so I got started working again on the panther.

img_4829When my friend had picked a black panther as her favorite animal, I panicked for three reasons. One, I had never seen a pattern for a black panther before. After calming myself down and thinking it through, my first step was to find a pattern. After a few web searches and no luck finding a pattern for a black panther, I altered my search, and started to look for tiger patterns that I could crochet in black. I found several tiger patterns that I liked, but when I found this adorable tiger pattern, I quickly picked it as my black panther pattern.

img_4828The second reason I panicked was the color of a black panther. Obviously, the main color of the panther would be black but how was I going to accent black safety eyes on a black animal so they could be seen? What color should I make the nose and smile so that they didn’t just blend into the face? How about the ears? Was a solid black animal going to look good or would it look like a big black blob? After much thought and looking at many pictures of black panthers, I decided to give the panther yellow eyes, a gray muzzle and accent his ears with some gray yarn. I debated about giving the panther gray paws but I decided to keep them black.

img_4835The last reason for my panic was the fact that this whole amigurumi would be crocheted in black yarn except for the small gray pieces. I have a difficult time crocheting with black yarn. The older I get, the harder it is for me to see the black stitches. This meant that I would have to take my time crocheting this panther and watch my stitches closely, plus I would need to always work in the best light.

Except for working with black yarn, the pieces of the panther crocheted smoothly. Then it was time to stuff the pieces. It is always a bit of a challenge to stuffing dark color pieces with white poly-fil. It takes some time and patience to stuff the pieces firmly but to take care and not stretch the stitches too much revealing the white stuffing underneath.

img_4837Stitching the black pieces together also presented a challenge in both working the black color yarn and having the white stuffing pull through with the stitches. I had to use tweezers to pull single strands of stuffing from the stitches. This was time consuming but necessary. These single strands of stuffing made the panther look messy where he was stitched together.

img_4838This pattern called for the arms and legs to be crocheted so a thread or button joint could be done to attach them, but then the pattern called for the arms and legs to just be stitched on. I debated about doing a thread joint instead of just stitching them on but then decided to follow the pattern. Once the arms and legs were stitched on, they seemed secure and allowed the panther to sit, so I was happy with the results of just stitching them on instead of using a thread joint to attach them.

img_4830Once the panther was stitched together, it was easy to give him a big black smile on his gray muzzle. His name, Franklin, was the first and only name that came to me as he sat in the chair next to me, waiting to go to his new home. During the construction process, I became very fond of Franklin and almost did not give him to my friend, but I had made the black panther just for her and he needed a good home. When I presented Franklin to my friend, she was so surprised and also fell in love with him right away. I know she will give Franklin a good home.

img_4844With Franklin, the black panther, done, which “in progress” amigurumi would be next on the to do list? Stay tuned to find out.

Until then, crochet forth and black panther on!

In The Right Place, At The Right Time!

img_1127I am rarely in the right place at the right time. I am usually a day or two or an hour or two off the mark, but not this time. This time I was at the right place at the right time for an awesome sale at Joann’s Fabric. Despite my continued vows of purchasing no more fabric, I decided to shop this sale and I am still super excited about the deals and savings that I got, so let me tell you the story.

It was my day off and I was running some errands, when my phone chimed that I had a text.
The text was from Joann’s Fabric telling me they had a special offer just for me. Usually, I ignore these texts, but I was waiting in a line, so I decided to actually read the text.

The sale was for $20 off a $50 purchase of any regular or sale priced purchases from 4:00pm until closing that day only.

img_1136Wait a minute, that was an awesome deal!

$20 off of a $50 purchase is very close to 50% which is half price. I quickly pulled up the Joann’s app on my phone and searched the current ad. And there it was, 50% off licensed prints.

YES! 50% off the regular price plus an extra $20 off at the register? Lets go shopping! I would have no problem spending $50.00. And what made this sale even more sweet was that I was already in town and it was close to 4:00pm so it would be no trouble to swing by and pick up some beautiful new fabric to add to the stash!

img_1150I made the husband come to Joann’s with me. I also made him download the Joann’s app and coupons on to his phone. I figured that he needed to take advantage of this awesome sale as well, didn’t he? We headed down the licensed print aisle and quickly filled the cart with bolts of fun Peanuts and Star Wars prints. We then headed to the cutting table where I made a pile of bolts for the husband and a pile of bolts for me that would add up to just over $50.00 each.

Since I had instructed the husband on what and how much to have cut, I wandered off to the fleece while the husband was getting his img_1159pile of fabric cut. I found some licensed no-sew fleece blanket kits on sale for $9.99. There were several Peanuts and Star Wars blankets in the piles but I had already selected the fabric for my $50.00 purchase, so I would not be purchasing any no-sew fleece blanket kits this time.

After the cutting of our fabric purchases was done, we checked out and headed for the car. As I was reliving the savings I had just gotten again to the husband I was bemoaning the fact that I had not got any of the blanket kits. That was when the husband surprised me by saying “Well, go back then.” What?!? Go back and buy some more? What about the coupon? I only had one coupon! I looked on my phone and the coupon said it was still valid so I turned around and went back in the store.

img_1120I picked up 5 blankets and one package of dollar stickers to add up to $50.00 and headed for the register. I held my breath as the sales associate scanned the coupon on my phone. The register took the coupon and sold me my 5 blankets for $30.00 making them $6.00 a piece. What a savings! I was beyond excited! I hurriedly headed to the back to get 5 more blankets for the husband to purchase, but the husband stopped me.

Ok, ok, he was right. I had just purchased a ton of fun fabrics and now 5 blankets, and that was enough for today.

img_1141Ever since this experience, I have more carefully read the texts I receive from Joann’s, but none have been for the fabulous savings I received from that particular text that I got at the right place at the right time.

But now instead of reading more texts and planning my next fabric shopping adventure, I need to get busy sewing all of the fun fabric I purchased from this sale. So, stay tuned to see what fun things I make from all of it!

Until then, sew forth and sale on!