Tag Archive | Bear

New Sewing Tools – Part 2 – In The Pink

DSCN4050The sewing process for the sweater started with the plan to use my second new sewing tool, a new pair of pinking sheers. When reading about sewing fleece, one of the suggestions for finishing the seams of fleece was to just pink the seam allowances with a pair of pinking shears. I used to have a pair of pinking shears many years ago. I loaned them to a friend and I never saw them again. I haven’t really missed owning a pair until recently though, so I decided to reinvest in a new pair of pinking sheers.

DSCN3982When I looked into buying the pinking sheers, I found that I could spend a lot of money for nice pair or a much smaller amount of money for just a pair of the sheers that people had reviewed and said worked well for them. As you and I know, a good pair of scissors is a valuable sewing tool. So, when it comes to buying sewing scissors, I believe that you should spend the extra money for a nice pair of sew scissors. But is that true when it come to pinking sheers I wondered? I decided to go against the grain and buy the less expensive pinking shears for now. Later, if I found that I used the pinking sheer all the time, and I needed a nicer pair, I could then invest the money and buy the more expensive pair.

I sewed up the seams of the sweater, ironed the seams open and pinked the seam allowances. This was easy to do, but it was time consuming to line up the pinked edges. When the seams were done, the pinked seam allowances looked good and pinking was a fine way to finish the edges, but I still think that I like the look of a serged edge better. A serged edge to me is just a cleaner look.

DSCN3721In the end I was happy that I did not spend a lot on money on the more expensive pinking sheers. I just don’t think I will be pinking all that often, and the less expensive pair will be fine for me for how often I expect to use them. Although, if I was going to be using pinking sheers on the majority of my sewing projects, I would definitely invest in the nicer, more expensive pair of the pinking sheers since I know how much better a project goes with good scissors.

Sewing the bias tape on was next. I learned quickly not to let the fleece stretch too much as I sewed the bias tape on. My plan was to sew the bias tape on, fold the edges over and to stitch in the ditch on the front, catching the bias tape on the back. This did not work for me though. I remembered to not trim the bulk from the seam allowance of the bias tape but to leave the bulk to even out the fabric from the heavy fleece to the thin bias tape. I did trim a little of the bulk off the edge to smooth the edges, but not much.

DSCN3974The problem with leaving the bulk is that after going around the bulk with the bias tape, the bias tape was too short on the back side to be caught by the stitch in the ditch seam from the front side. Rather than arguing with the stitch in the ditch seam, I decided to sew on the edge of the bias tape on the front side. Now, there was no problem catching the bias tape on the back side. I was using nice matching thread so the sewing on the edge looks good, probably better than the stitched in the ditch seam would have looked.

DSCN3723The last step was to apply the velcro closures. As I cut four one inches squares of velcro to sew to the sweater, the husband shock his head no. He said he thought that buttons would look better. Since this sweater is not for an infant, there is no worry about a chocking hazard with buttons, so I decided that using buttons instead of velcro would be fine. I asked the husband what he thought about sewing the velcro on as the closure and the buttons on top of the velcro for decoration but he thought that the buttons as the closures was better. He did not like idea of the Velcro closures for a three year old.

DSCN4045Because the sweater is unlined with no facings or interfacing, I put a piece of tearaway stabilizer under the fleece to help keep the fleece from stretching as I sewed the buttonholes. This worked out great! The stabilizer held the fleece steady as the buttonholes sewed and gave the buttonholes themselves more durability. The extra stabilizer was torn away so you won’t even know I used it nor will it ruin the look of the buttonholes inside the sweater.

DSCN3976Soon the buttonholes and buttons were sewn and the sweater was all done!

I think that this sweater is just adorable! I had a lot of fun making it and I learned a few new sewing things and I got to use my new sewing tools as well. I will keep this sweater in mind for the next time I want to make a fun and simpler sewing project.

Until then, sew forth and pink on!

New Sewing Tools – Part 1 – Cutting The Curve

DSCN4045I love to go to craft shows, but I rarely buy anything. I am one of those people that professional crafters hate. I walk around and see what they have made, borrow their ideas, then I run home and make one for myself. That is what happened this time, with my latest fleece jacket/sweater project. The lady at the craft show had made a simple infant unlined fleece sweater, finished with bias tape edges and velcro closures. The sweaters were just adorable, simple and cute, and since I was in the mood for a light project, I decided to make one of these sweaters myself. Plus, I could practice making and sewing bias tape and use two new sewing tools that I had recently acquired.

I knew that I wanted to use this bear fleece that had been in the stash for many years. In fact, it was one of the first pieces of fleece that I ever purchased. Since it was never picked to be used for a blanket, it was time for it to be a sweater instead. I picked a brown cotton fabric for the bias tape, but when the husband saw the bear fleece he said to change to a red bias tape instead. It was no problem to pull some red cotton out of the stash to make the red bias tape with.

DSCN4052I cut 2 inch strips on the bias of the red cotton fabric to make 1 inch bias tape. The cutting and sewing of the strips went smoothly. I am getting better at this process each time I make bias tape. After a lot of ironing, I had a pile of red 1 inch bias tape made. I did not know exactly how much of the red bias tape I needed, so I just made a fair amount since I knew I could make more if needed. If I had extra, I would just save it for another project.

Now it was time to cut out the sweater. I was on my way to the pattern stash to find an infant jacket pattern to use when I spied my Simplicity 8902 pattern laying by the cutting table. Why not just use this pattern? It is a tried and true pattern for me, plus the size 3 was already traced and ready to use. I had envisioned this project for an infant but there was no reason that a 3 year could not wear a teddy bear fleece sweater as well so that is what I went with.

DSCN4046As I cut out the pattern pieces I added an extra inch to the fronts for the velcro overlap and I got the chance to use my first new sewing tool. I wanted to curve the tops and bottoms of the overlaps so I used my new french curve ruler I had picked up on clearance recently. Usually, I would have looked for a plate or bowl to cut the curves, but it was nice to use the curved ruler with the markings to make more accurate, even curves with. Plus, the rotary cutter cut much smoother around the edge of the ruler than it does around the edge of a bowl or plate. It did not take long to cut out the pieces for this sweater and to begin the sewing process.

Stay tuned next time for the sewing of the sweater.

Until then, sew forth and curve on!

Drop Down the Cuteness – Part 2

DSCN0901The panda bear’s pattern was easy to follow so the crocheting of the pieces was fun and it stitched up quickly. Then something changed. As I began to stitch the panda bear together, cuteness did not burst from every stitch. What went wrong? Upon completing the panda bear, I sat the latest cute bear and the panda bear side by side and studied the differences.

DSCN0903Of course there were the obvious difference in the bears, but as I studied their faces, my attention was drawn to their muzzles. Now, the size of the muzzles of these two bears are quite different from each other, but that is not what caught my attention. It was the placement of the muzzle on the head. The first bear has a big muzzle so it had to be sewn lower on the head, closer to the neck and the eyes needed to be inserted right above the muzzle. The panda bear had a tiny muzzle in comparison, so it could be stitched up higher on the head with plenty of room for a space between the eyes and the muzzle. Was the placement of the muzzle on the face in a different position the answer to the cuteness issue? Was the panda’s face just too high and separated on his head?

I turned to the pattern and, yes, the pictures showed the eyes and muzzle of the panda stitched lower on the head and closer together. I also pulled out the only other teddy bear pattern that has turned out cute for me as I crochet it, the pattern I used to make Madison and Tux, and, yes, because the head is crocheted sideways in this pattern, the muzzle is even with the neck and the eyes are inserted right above the muzzle. If my theory was correct, lowering the muzzle and placing the eyes closer to the muzzle of my amigurumi bears would bring out the cuteness.

DSCN0939I was excited to test my theory and make another amigurumi teddy bear with a lower muzzle and closer eyes, but first I had to try and fix this panda bear. I was not willing to unstitch his head and muzzle plus his eyes were already permanently snapped into place, so I crocheted him a bow tie. I found a free bow tie pattern for a dog on Ravelry and modified the size to fit the panda bear. The bow tie filled in the distance between the panda’s neck and muzzle making the neck and muzzle seem closer together. Whether it’s the illusion of bringing the neck and muzzle closer together or just that the bow tie is cute, adding the bow tie help bring out some of the panda bear’s cuteness that wasn’t previously there.

DSCN0942I did not have a quick fix for lowering the eyes to see if my theory on their placement versus the bear’s cuteness is correct. I will just have to place the eye closer to the muzzle on the next amigurumi bear I make and see if the cuteness appears spontaneously. I am betting it will.

I don’t know if my next amigurumi will be a bear or not, but I see I a bear with a lower muzzle and eyes closer to that muzzle soon in my future. Perhaps then I will know if that was truly the answer to bear cuteness or not. I hope it is and I will have another crocheting mystery solved.

Until next time, crochet on and cute on.

Drop Down the Cuteness – Part 1

DSCN0924I have finally just crocheted the most adorable teddy bear ever!

DSCN0927As you know, I seem to have an issue with crocheted teddy bears. I never seem to be quite happy with the end results once I complete one. It does not matter wether the bear is big or little, fat or tall, skinny or small. For some reason the cuteness factor is just lost for me once I complete the bear and I have to sit and study the bear before I think has any cuteness at all and I can finally accept my completed results. So why was this time any different?

DSCN0926I had pretty much given up on making any more amigurumi bears. I figured I would just stick to monkeys, monsters and such, but when I ran across this pattern, it looked so cute, I thought I would go ahead and give a teddy bear another try. The pattern was well written with lots of pictures, so it did not take long before I had all the pieces of this amigurumi crocheted up and ready to be stitched together.

As I stitched the pieces of this bear together, cuteness just poured from every stitch. From his thread jointed arms and legs to his little bob tail to his cute nose and smile, I just fell in love with him. This made him much easier to stitch together.

DSCN0932I would like to make a comment about the construction of this bear when it came to stitching his head and body together that might be helpful to someone else making something similar.

DSCN0933Because I had picked a variegated yarn with a color in it that closely matched the main color of the bear, I twisted this bears body before I stitched it on. Normally, I have the starts of the rounds on the back of the amigurumi. On this bear, that placed a big patch of the variegated yarn with the matching color on the very front of the bear and it looked odd. So, I turned his body until I had more variety of colors from the variegated yarn on the front and then I stitched the head and body together.

Since I was so happy with the end results of this bear, I picked another bear pattern, a panda bear, for my next amigurumi project. Stay tuned to see if I could get the same cuteness factor from this panda bear pattern too.

Until then, crochet forth and cute on!

I Need To Hide This Pattern

IMG_0151There is yarn all over the place!

Recently I have not been putting my yarn away as I complete a project, so it has just been sitting helter skelter on my cutting table in piles, and I decided I should take some time to tidy up a bit. But as I started to put the yarn back into my yarn stash, I remembered the fun little pocket pals I made awhile back when I was learning how to fuzz yarn. These pocket pals were a quick crochet and there wasn’t a lot of stuffing or stitching to them, and they came out super cute. So, rather than packing all this yarn up only to get it right back out again, I thought that I should just use a little more of it up and make some more fun pocket pals with it instead.

P1040460The first yarn I saw on the cutting table was the variegated yarn left over from making the jellyfish. Looking at the pocket pal pattern, I could not decide which animal I would make from this variegated yarn. Then my creative mind spoke to me. How about a monster? Awesome idea! But, what details could I add to make it a monster? Horns and big eyes was the answer that I came up with.

I crocheted up the pieces for the monster from the variegated yarn and then found a pattern to use for the horns from a devil pattern that I want to make this year for Halloween. I then crocheted the horns from the variegated yarn as well, but when it came time to stitch the horns to the monster, the husband stopped me. He said I needed to make the horns a P1040257different color so that they stood out more. He chose white for the color. I was unsure about the white horns on this monster but I crocheted the white horns up anyway and then stitched one on. And I liked it! So I removed the variegated horn and attached the other white horn. Now, I had a perfectly good pair of variegated horns with no pocket pal to stitch them to, so I decided to make a white monster for the variegated horns. Now it was time for the eyes and mouth. I wanted to use these big googly eyes I had purchased a long time ago and just had not found the right project to use them on. The variegated monster was the right project. With his one big eye, he needed a big smile. I tried several smaller eyes on the white monster, but the big eye was the best and once again the white monster got a big smile to go with the big eye too.

P1040449The next yarn that caught my eye was the gray yarn left over from the mouse. There was not much of this yarn left either and rather than return it to the stash, I decided to just use it up and make a pocket pal with it too. I had planned to use the ear pattern from the mouse I just made to make the ears for the pocket pal, but, because the gray yarn was limited and I did not want to try and match colors, I added the gray yarn to the pink center as an additional round rather than making a gray ear and a pink ear and stitching them together as I did the mouse’s ears. This worked just fine for the pocket pal mouse’s ears.

P1040416As I put away the other skeins of yarn on the cutting table, I came across my big skien of pink. You might ask, what have you made recently from pink? Yes, there was a small amount of pink used for the mouse’s ears but why did you get out the big skein for that and not just use some scraps? Well I did use some pink scraps for both the mouse and pocket pal mouse’s ears but the big skein was out for the relay for life teddy bear I had made recently for a charity auction. I try to make something to donate to relay for life each year and this year I picked a pink teddy bear with a purple nose and purple buttons made from the button jointed teddy bear pattern that I have made twice before. He stitched up smoothly and having done the button jointed pattern before, they were no problems to make it again. And he turned out so cute once completed! I just love this pattern. I hope someone will like him well enough to buy him at the event.

P1040443But back to the pocket pals. I decided to make a pink pocket pal bunny from the big skein of pink. The pattern for the bunny’s ear was in the pocket pal pattern already and it crocheted up just fine. In no time at all I had a cute pocket pal bunny made. I decided to fuzz up the yarn on this bunny so I got out my brushes, and with a few strokes of the brushes, I had an adorable cute fuzzy bunny all done.

What pocket pal should I make next I thought to myself? A chick? A cat? More monsters? But, as I planned my next pocket pal, I realized that I had so many patterns that I still want to make that it was time to put away my yarn and the pocket pal pattern and start my next new amigurumi project instead.

Until next time,

Crochet forth and pocket pal on!

Triangulating The Joint

P1040340Remember Thready the teddy bear? Sure you do. He was the cute, but bulky teddy bear that I crocheted a while back. He was my first try at making an amigurumi with thread joints. I have been wanting to make another amigurumi with thread joints to see if I could change the things that I did not like about Thready, like the bulky look that he had and to incorporate all the things that I learned recently from making several different types of thread joints. This made picking out my next amigurumi project easy. I found a pattern for a puppy with thread joints, but with a little variation to the joints that I had been making.

P1040350Starting with the crocheting of the pieces, I quickly found out that this was not a particularly easy pattern. I had to watch my rounds and stitch count more closely than usual. This was not difficult, just a pain. Unlike Thready’s pattern, the arms and legs of this puppy tapered in at the ends. I was also careful not over stuff the arms and legs.

The instructions in this pattern for the thread joints were a little different than for the ones on Thready’s joints. This pattern called for a separate piece of yarn to make the joints, not just to use the tail of the yarn left after crocheting. The separate yarn piece was pulled from the bottom of the puppy’s body into the leg but then angled towards the front of the leg, and then pulled out of the leg at the front. The yarn was then reinserted into the leg, not catching the crocheted yarn, pulled through under the crocheting but close to the outside of the leg to the back of the leg. Finally the yarn was pulled out from the leg at the back, then, as before, reinserted into the leg, once again not catching the crocheted yarn, pulled to the inside of the leg where it first entered the leg, then out the bottom of the body at the starting point. This formed a triangle for the joint inside the leg.

P1040227Forming the triangle joint pulled the leg closer to the body, decreasing some of the bulky look. This was a good thing. The problem, though, was that the leg was very loose. I did not feel that it was secure enough to the body to withstand any play or pulling from a child. So, I cut some more yarn and stitched the joints again the same way. While this did tighten up the joint so that it was more secure it caused another problem. I now had a ton of loose ends of yarn to knot and hide in a small space at the bottom of the body.

P1040231The idea of the triangle thread joint was good, but the execution needed to be refined, so when I made the arm I changed it up a little. I had left a long tail at the end of my crocheting of the arms, as I did with the legs but then cut off to use a separate piece yarn for the joint. On the arms, I decided to use the tail from the crocheting for the joint instead of cutting it off and using a separate piece of yarn. I pulled the tail from one arm through the body to where the other arm was to be attached. I did the same with the other arm. Then using the tail from the opposite arm, I made the triangle thread joint in the arm and then pulled it into the body. I did the same thing for the other arm. The arms were so much more secure than P1040343the legs with only one time through. Just to be safe though, I repeated the joints again but with the same thread I was using, and not a separate piece of yarn. I am glad I left a long tail on the arms so I could use it for the joints twice. This worked out great for making the thread joints, plus I could knot and hide the loose end through out the body instead of all in one spot and I only have one piece of yarn for each joint to hide. But more importantly, the arms were very secure whereas I still would have liked the legs to be tighter.

P1040351Even with the tapered and less stuffed arms and legs and the triangle joints that pulled that appendages closer to the body, the puppy still looks bulky to me although much less bulky than Thready. Maybe I just don’t like thread jointed amigurumi’s or maybe I need more taper and even less stuffing and even a tighter pull of the joints. Like Thready though, this puppy has grown on me. He is fun and cute and I hope someone will enjoy playing with him.

Until next time, crochet forth and crochet on.

Thread Joints

P1030815Since I have enjoyed making button jointed amigurumi’s so much, I decided that I would tackle the next type of joints on my to do list, thread joints. Thread joints are actually simpler to make than button joints. Like button joints, the thread joint is made by inserting the yarn through the body to the appendage, but unlike the button joints, the yarn is only inserted into the inside of the appendage then back into the body. The yarn is not pulled to the to the outside of appendage. The advantage of the thread joint is that you can pull the thread through the body and appendage several times in a loop without the limitation of the size of the holes in the button and this makes for a stronger joint. The disadvantage is that you don’t have cute decorative buttons shown on the outside of an amigurumi. But maybe that’s an advantage, since you don’t have to find matching buttons, or have the expense of the buttons added to your project.

P1030816There are many patterns out there for thread jointed amigurumi’s. After reading a couple of these patterns, I decided that just about any amigurumi could be stitched together with these thread joints. All that needs to be done is to close off the appendages when you’re crocheting them and then stitch them on with a thread joint. So, my choice of patterns to try a thread joint was almost limitless, but in the end I picked a teddy bear pattern that was designed to be stitched together with thread joints.

P1030819As usual, I started the crocheting of the pieces for this teddy bear with the appendages. As I completed the first arm, I noticed that the pattern ended the arm with a large stitch count on the last row. The yarn left for sewing was to be weaved through the stitches and then pulled tight to close up the arm. This made the top of the arm flat. I did not really like this look. So I thought about adding more rows and tapering the arm closed or at least stuffing the arm less, but in the end I followed the pattern and made the four appendages with flat tops and stuffed them full and firm.

P1030459The thread joints were easy to make and it made stitching the appendages to this teddy bear quick and simple. When I was done though, I did not like the look of the bear because it looked too bulky to me. Two things were at fault for this bulky look. The first was the flat top of the appendages. If I had tapered the ends of the appendages or stuffed them less, they would not have stuck out from the body so much and looked so bulky. The second thing was the thread joints. Because the yarn is not pulled to the outside of the appendage and then pulled back into the body, the appendage was not pulled tightly to the body. And although the appendages are securely fastened to the body with the thread joints, they are not tight against the body like the button joints of the last teddy bear were.

P1030465Next I had quite a bit of trouble with the face of this teddy bear. The nose and mouth were to be embroidered to the muzzle and then the muzzle was to be puffed up as it was stitched on to the head. After embroidering the nose and mouth, I puffed the muzzle and stitched it on, but I did not like the look. So I decided to use a plastic nose rather than an embroidered one. I attached the plastic nose to the muzzle and then puffed as I stitched it on again. I really did not like the results when it was finished. So, I attached the plastic nose through the muzzle and the head and stitched the muzzle flat to the face. This was still not the look that I wanted, but it was better than the other looks. Because I was disappointed with the bulky look already, I just left the flat muzzle and plastic nose on this bears face.

P1030455The picture of the bear on the pattern is just precious, but my bear just did not turned out to be that cute. He looks sad, and not cute sad, just sad. So I sat this teddy bear on my cutting table and started my next project hoping I could figure out what to do to make him look better. As he stared at me for several days, he seemed to just want some love and he melted my heart and I grew to love his little sad face. I named him Thready Bear, and now he just needs a loving home to go to and for someone to love him.