Tag Archive | alien

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!

George And The Alien

sewing cartoonRemember back when my hobby was mostly about sewing and I used to post wonderful blog posts about all the fun stuff that I had recently sewn up?

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Yes, I do too.

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But it seemed as though my sewing mojo had left me over the holidays. I am not sure where my sewing mojo had went to. Perhaps it went to see some creative relatives, or visit some friends for the holidays or something like that. But I do know that it was definitely gone and that I had no desire to sew anything, no desire start any new projects and especially no desire to finish any previously started projects. I did not even want to sew that last minute Christmas gift that I see every year and think that I can quickly get made up in time. The fabric stash all sat nestled quietly in its boxes, hidden away in a winter slumber. My cutting table sat empty of all fabric and patterns and my sewing machines just rested in silence, waiting patiently to be turned back on again. Luckily now that the holidays are over, my sewing mojo seems to have returned and I am excited that it has found its way home. Its time to start sewing again!

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P1030564Months ago, I altered the husbands shirt pattern and made one new shirt from the altered pattern, the purple and black striped soccer shirt with a Snoopy embroidered on it. The fit of the shirt was good and the husband has wore the shirt several times now and has had no complaints about the alterations that I made. Because wearability depends on so many factors, the fabric, how it was cut, how it was sewn together, etc., I did not want to say that my alterations to his pattern were correct until I made a couple of more shirts from this current pattern and they were wear tested to be sure of the fit.

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P1030567So, this project started with a trip to the stash where I retrieved two pieces of fabric. I picked a green knit and a brownish pique. The fabrics were different enough from each other in stretch and feel, that I thought they would give some variation as I tried out the altered pattern. I asked the husband which one he liked the least and he picked the green knit, so I started with it first. The green knit was easy to work with. It was quickly cut out and sewed up nicely. The most difficult part of working with this green knit was in picking what design to embroider on the shirt. After wasting way too much time looking at designs, the UFO and Alien cow abduction design was picked and stitched to the shirt. And it turned out great!

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After finishing the shirt, the husband wore it once and asked that I take a little of the blousey feel out of the back and shorten the shirt a bit. This green P1030560knit has quite a bit of stretch so I hesitated on taking anything out of the back on the pattern. If I took it out of the back of the pattern, then the next shirt could it be too tight with a less stretchy fabric. This back problem was not there with the Snoopy shirt so maybe I stretched this green knit fabric too much when I cut it out. Shortening the length was no problem. That was an easy fix, and yes it was a needed fix, so I did alter the pattern by shortening it a small amount. I cut off the hems I had made on this shirt to shorten the length and re-hemmed it, but doing this took out most of the side slits that I had put in. I thought that this might make sitting a problem while wearing this shirt, but the shirt is large enough that it did not seem to make much difference.

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P1030562One day at work, my coworker was telling stories of how much her 3 year old grandson loves Curious George. I thought of the husband’s shirt scraps of the green knit sitting on the cutting table and decided this little guy needed a shirt with Curious George embroidered on it. I used my pattern for a cut out tab front shirt and made a size 4 so there was a little grow room in it. Just like the husbands shirt, the green knit was fun to work with. The stretch of the green knit caused me a little bit of an issue when embroidering the large Curious George design on the small shirt but it all worked out. I used some of the web interfacing on the back of the design to help keep it flat after laundering and to make the design smoother on the back so it wouldn’t be itchy or scratchy. I gave the shirt to my coworker and P1030556the little guy’s mom took a picture of him in his shirt. He was very cute in his shirt and the fit looked good. The word is that he likes to wear the shirt everywhere. I just love to sew for kids.

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With the return of my sewing mojo, I have had a great time sewing! And I am ready to start my next project, but what will that be? I had better pick soon to keep my sewing mojo here and happy.

Nose Above the Eyes

IMG_7141After completing Orion with all his challenges and complexities, I was ready to crochet a simpler amigurumi. And still being in the alien making mood, I decided crochet another simpler alien life form. His pattern name is Zork. I liked the name so I decided to keep it.

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IMG_7147Zork’s pattern is from a book I purchased a long time ago but never crocheted anything from. The book is Crocheted Softies by Stacey Trock. Remember Mark and Clark, the experimental monsters, who’s pattern I downloaded from Raverly? They were designed by Stacy Trock as well, and if you remember, her patterns are all stitched in the back loop technique leaving front ridges. Zork was designed the same with the front ridges and I decided to crochet him as the pattern directed.

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IMG_7139In this pattern, you start at the eyes and crochet your way down to the head and then on to the body. This means that you have to insert the eyes early on in the crocheting process, after crocheting the white eye balls and just before starting the green stalks that hold the eyeballs. This was a little difficult for me. It would have been easier if more of the head and body would have been crocheted first so I could tell how the eyes were going to look with the head and body when choosing which size or shape of eyes I wanted to use. I inserted several different shapes and sizes of eyes but just was not happy with any of them. With what started out as a joke, I inserted a couple of noses instead of eyes and voila, they made the perfect eyes for this alien.

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IMG_7144This pattern worked up easily and simply. It was a little tricky to keep the eyes facing forward while crocheting the stalks of the eyes together to form the head. As you can see, mine are not quite straight, but they are as straight as I could get them and their off position gives a little personality to Zork. I really enjoyed adding the ruffle at the bottom of Zork’s body. It was fun to crochet and added more personality to Zork. When it came to making his mouth, I read the pattern and thought, “This will never work.” but I followed the pattern and it worked out great.

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Zork was fun and simple to make from the crocheting to the stitching together. It was nice to have something just relaxing to make for a change. I would make another Zork anytime.

Orion

P1030428I don’t know where I got the crazy idea but I decided it was time to expand my amigurumi making skills and move outside my comfort zone of just following a pattern. With that in mind, I chose to make another pot belly alien but with the changes I wanted to make to the pattern. I would be venturing out into unknown territories as I tried to make this alien not so pot bellied, and yet still have his other parts and pieces match. The end results of these changes is Orion, my latest amigurumi alien.

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The adventure started with me purchasing two skeins of the needed yarn. I decided to play it safe and have two skeins on hand even though I figured with making this one’s belly smaller, I may not need the second skein. But rather than panicking when I ran out of the first skien, I purchased two skeins so that I was sure I would have enough yarn for this project. I started P1030361out crocheting the arms and legs first. Since this alien’s body was going to be skinner than the last one’s body, I debated about making the arms and legs shorter. I knew that this second alien was not really going to be a toy and would need to be able to sit on a shelf, so I decided I would crochet the arms and legs into the body rather than sewing the arms and legs and then attaching them to the body after the crocheting was done. With this in mind the legs in particular could be shorter because they would not need to extend out from under neath the body. The legs would just be attached to the front of the body. I did not want to shorten the legs and not shorten the arms and then have an alien with short stubby legs compared to his arms though. Aliens are supposed to have long thin arms and legs. So, after a lot of thought, I decided to make the arms and legs as the pattern was written. It would be easier to shorten the arms and legs later if I needed to, and I knew I had enough yarn that if I wasted a little undoing the tops of the arms and legs, it would be ok.

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P1030376After completing the arms and legs, I made the head next. I remembered all the tricks that I had learned on the first alien’s head, so this head was not quite as scary to make. Like all crocheting, the type and brand of yarn used makes a big difference to each project and this alien was no exception. As I crocheted the alien’s head, it just kept getting bigger and bigger. When it was time to attach the eyes I could not believe how much bigger this head was than the last alien’s head. I believe the size difference is due to the fact that this yarn had more stretch to it than the yarn I had used for the first alien. Since there is no size gauge to an P1030363amigurumi project, this head just came out bigger. It still has a great shape for an alien head with the flat face and the bulge in the back of the head. But it is bigger than the first one I made. Because I had already made one of these alien heads, I was able to better place the eyes where I wanted them, pointing more to the sides of the head than up to the top of the head. The larger head also helped with the eye placement. (In the end, because of the bigger head and the body changes, I did need the second skein of yarn for complete this alien, so I was glad I had it, and I did not decrease the length of the arms and legs, so that they matched better with the head and body.)

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P1030387So, with the long arms and long legs and a big head done, I got started on the body. I knew I wanted the body much skinner than the first pot belly body I made, but I needed the body big enough to support this big head, but still be skinny like an alien’s body should be. At first, I said 1/2 of the size of the pot belly body should work, but as I crocheted the starting rounds of the body, I decided to go one more round and have the largest part of the body be 54 stitches around instead of 48 as I originally planed. After reaching the round that ended in 54 stitches, I crocheted in the legs on the next round. Then I crocheted 10 rounds of 54 and then started my decent to the neck. I decreased evenly on the next round to 48 stitches, then single crocheted the next round with no deceases. I followed this pattern up to where I thought the arms should be inserted. Unfortunately the place where I wanted insert one of the arms was P1030374right at the finish and start of a round and on a round with decreases. This made the placing and inserting the arm quite tricky. This is where my lack of skill as a pattern designer really showed. If I made patterns all the time and had any skill at pattern designing, the insertion of the arm at the end of one round and the start of the next round and on a decreasing round would not have happened. The body would have been redesigned so this would not be a problem for the crocheter following the pattern. I finally made it past the arm insertion and continued on until I reached 18 stitches in the round and I said this would be the top of the body.

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P1030410I noticed when I attached the first alien’s head that it was a bit challenging to sew the curved alien’s head to the flat round of the neck, so I decided to try and remedy this problem on this alien. To do that, after crocheting the last round of the neck, I did a couple of deceasing rows at the back of the body to give the alien a higher neck in back than in the front. This did make sewing the head to the body easier on this alien.

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Unfortunately, as I sewed the head to the body, I noticed that I had not done a good job of aligning his legs and arms. I guess it was the struggle with inserting the arms that messed up the alignment slightly. Once again something an experienced pattern maker would have noticed and corrected. I needed to unpicked the partially attached head, undo the rows and rounds down to the arms, reposition the arms and then redo all I have just undone. But I just did not have the heart to do this. After much posing and positioning of the alien, I decided that my alignment was not that far off and that the little it was off could be positioned out and it gave him a little character.

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P1030400As I posed the alien, I noticed that because of this big head and small body, that he did not like to sit as well as the first alien even with his legs inserted into the body and not sewn on. The problem was the weight of the bigger head. When the husband saw the problem, he said he could fix it for me. With two wooden dowels, the husband made an X through the alien from the top of the aliens head to his butt. With the X shaped dowels supporting the head on the body, the alien sat nice and straight and tall. Once again, because this alien was not designed as a toy but as a decoration to sit on the husbands computer desk, the wooden X through his body was not a problem. It was in fact a great solution to the problem.

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After having this alien sitting on my sewing room table before reaching his final home on the husbands computer desk, I decided to name him Orion. This not a very original name, but I like it. And I enjoyed my journey in making Orion for the most part, and I learned a lot. I especially learned respect for the talented individuals that make the crocheted amigurumi patterns that I use.

Creton of the Planet Gliese 581c

IMG_7102I know you have probably heard of a pot bellied pig, well, this is a pot bellied alien. While surfing the web, I came across this pot bellied alien pattern several times but I was just not impressed with it. Something about it just did not appeal to me at the time. Because of that I did not download the pattern or pay it much attention until I saw one of these pot bellied aliens completed that someone had made from this pattern on Ravelry. The original pattern showed this alien with a bib on. But the alien on Ravelry did not have a bib on it, and I think that is the only reason why I liked the alien on Ravelry and not the original one. Whatever the reason, once I had seen the alien on Ravelry, I knew right away that I wanted to stitch it up. So, I hunted down the original pattern, downloaded it, and got started.

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I picked an alien green color of yarn that I had picked up on clearance at Hobby Lobby to make it with. I was glad that I had picked this color of yarn because it was a brand new skein and this pattern took most to the skein to complete. In fact, I panicked about half way through the crocheting of the pieces because of how much yarn it was taking and made a trip to Hobby Lobby to get another skein before it was gone. Even though I had bought the original skein of yarn on clearance, Hobby Lobby had more on the shelf but I did have to pay the regular price for it. Thank heavens for coupons.

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IMG_7105The alien’s head was complex to crochet. I had to watch my rows and stitches and do a lot of counting as I crocheted. After I lost count many times, I finally wised up and started putting a stitch marker half way through the row to help me keep count without loosing my place. In the end though, it was worth the trouble. I love the shape of the head. It looks just like you would expect and alien’s head to look, from the flat face in front, to the large bulge in the back of the head. The same is true for this alien’s arms and hands. I had to stay focused and count carefully to get the fingers correct and even. I also decided that I didn’t care for the original patterns fingers, so I just made up my own stitches for them and I love the look. Originally, his legs seemed rather long but I followed the pattern and just made them the size that the pattern called for and I think they turned out fine.

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IMG_7106When the pattern said pot belly, it meant pot bellied. The alien’s body is huge! The middle rounds of the body where belly is at it’s largest are over 80 stitches in length! That is a lot compared to other amigurumi’s I have made in the past. This also explained the need for the long legs. The legs had to be long so that there was still something left of them when the alien was sitting upright. There is quite a space from where the legs are sewn to the bottom of the body to the edge of the body.

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IMG_7112stiSewing the alien’s pieces together took a bit of thought too. Since there was no real bottom of the head to sew the neck to and the pattern did not say where to connect the head and neck together, I was originally worried about the placement. but it all worked out in the end. The weight of the alien’s head causes the neck to fold down a little and this gives it the right look. Also since the eyes are double thick, they had to be sewn to the face before the head was finished being crocheted. This made the placement of the eyes difficult, so his eyes are pointed up a little more than I would have liked.

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I think this pot bellied alien, which I have named Creton, turned out just wonderful and I can’t wait to make another one. But as usual, I have already noted several changes to the original pattern for the next time I make one.

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Stay tuned for Klaatu, my next pot bellied alien with my new design modifications!

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Towel Day

My husband is a huge Science Fiction fan and a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fan since the 80’s. There is this thing called Towel Day which was created to celebrate the Hitchhiker’s series where on May 25th you wear a towel around your neck all day. My husband has been wearing a ratty towel around with him every year on May 25th since 2001. This year I decided that I would make him a nice new custom made towel to wear around with custom Hitchhiker embroidery to go along with it. It turned out so nice I went ahead and made me one too! So if you see us wearing our towel’s on May 25th make sure and stop to say “Hello”. Just in case you have no idea what I talking about, here is some more info on Towel Day.

A Primer on Towel Day From Wikipedia:

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Towel Day is celebrated every 25th of May as a tribute by fans of the late author Douglas Adams. On this day, fans carry a towel with them to demonstrate their love for the books and the author, as referenced in Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The commemoration was first held in 2001, two weeks after Adams’s death on 11 May 2001.

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The original quotation that referenced the greatness of towels is found in Chapter 3 of Adams’s work The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

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More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

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Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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So long Douglas, and thanks for all the fish!