Tag Archive | book

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!

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!

What About The Scraps? – Part Two

DSCN2060The second set of scraps that were sitting on the cutting table that were not large enough to return to the stash were the pink fleece from the jackets I had recently made. This piece of fabric has already served its purpose in making two jackets, the little girl’s peplum jacket and the adult pocket jacket, but there was still enough scraps left over to make something else.

DSCN2061My first thought with fleece is always a sweatshirt, so that is what I decided to make with these scraps. Loving the white accents on the pink fleece of the adult pocket jacket, I decided to make a raglan sleeve sweatshirt and add white piping and white ribbing as an accent. I traced the pattern for a size 4 raglan sleeve sweatshirt from my Kwik-Sew book and I was ready to get cutting and sewing.

DSCN0863As I cut out the pattern pieces, it became obvious that I did not quite have enough scraps for a size 4 sweatshirt. I was only short by 1 inch or so on the sleeve length. Debating about cutting the pattern down to a size 3, I decided to stay with the size 4 pattern and just make larger cuffs. Maybe like me, the little girl that will wear this sweatshirt will have shorter arms and the sleeves will fit great instead of always being too long.

DSCN0866I used the white scraps from the pockets of the adult jacket and a thin cording for the piping. Using my machine’s zipper foot, I made the piping and then applied it to the sweatshirt sleeves. The sewing of the piping was a little time consuming, since I had to be careful to sew close to the piping but not sew into the piping, but was not too difficult. It was easy to pick another Smirk design to embroider on the sweatshirt and soon enough the sweatshirt was completed. And, it looks great! It is very cute. Plus, I don’t think that the bigger cuffs/shorter sleeves will be a problem.

DSCN0915I was so excited about the end results of the pink fleece sweatshirt, especially the piping portion, my creative mind went nuts and my next sewing project was quickly started. Using the same pattern, the size 4 raglan sleeve sweatshirt, the white fleece, although not a scraps, were quickly cut out. Red ribbing for the neck and black ribbing for the cuffs were cut out next. I grabbed some black denim scraps from my scrap pile for the piping and some larger cording from the closet and got started sewing.

DSCN2058There were no difficulties sewing the piping until it came time to sew the sweatshirt together. Because of the heavier denim fabric and the larger piping, it became a challenge to sew the ribbing to the neck and to sew the side seams together. Once I got these seams sewn, I had to finish the edges. I tried to use the serger but it was just too bulky. I finally used an overcast stitch on my sewing machine to finish the edges. Since the white fleece won’t fray, I think that the overcast stitch that I used will withstand the wear and tear from a 4 year old without any issues.

DSCN2066A Snoopy embroidery design was, of course, the design of choice for this shirt, but which one? Since the sweatshirt was simple basic Snoopy colors, I picked a simple basic Snoopy design, and I love the end results. Despite the bulky piping, the Snoopy sweatshirt is just adorable, and I learned several lessons about making and sewing piping on that I didn’t know before.

DSCN2059With these two sweatshirts completed, the usable scraps had been taken care of and the cutting table is now clear and ready for the next sewing project. Thank goodness! Waste not, want not.

Until then, sew forth and scrap on!

What About The Scraps? – Part One

DSCN2070I just love fabric! I love to hold it and feel it and measure it and imagine all the fun items that it could be made into. Then, I just love to fold it and hoard it in my stash until that special day when it finally is retrieved and made into something fun!

And that brings me to the age old question of “what to do with the scraps?”

After a project, should I fold up the scraps and return them to the stash or should they make their way to the donation box or the garbage? When I first started sewing, I saved every scrap, but over the years as the stash has grown in size, I have been more able to let go of and part with my scraps.

DSCN2071Now days, I evaluate my scraps based on a ranking system of importance.

1. Are there enough scraps left to make something with?

2. Did I enjoy working with the fabric?

3. How did the item wear when made from the fabric?

It was this evaluation that started my next sewing projects. DSCN2068

Left sitting on the cutting table were the scraps from my last few projects. I needed to clean off the table before I could cut out another project, so it was time to evaluate the scraps.

Large scraps were easily folded and returned back to the stash, but a couple of pieces were just not quite big enough to return to the stash. The first of these pieces was the scraps of purple and white knit left over from my last shirt.

The scraps were big enough to make something, so I did not want to just throw them away, and I enjoyed sewing with this fabric, plus my shirt has worn well, so I grabbed my Kwik-Sew books and I determined that I had enough scraps for a size 2 t-shirt with long sleeves. DSCN2072I already had the pattern traced, and in no time I had the pieces cut out and I was sewing them up.

To add a little something to this shirt, I top stitched the shoulder and sleeve seams. After sewing and serging these seams, I simple sewed the seam down from the top side of the shirt.

Looking at the results, I wish I had lengthened my stitches so it looked more decorative. I will do that next time. That was a good lesson learned.

IDSCN2069t was not hard to pick the Snoopy and Woodstock embroidery design for this little shirt. I worried that the embroidery design would be lost in the shell design of the shirt, but it did not once I had it stitched up. I think the embroidery design looks very cute and that it can easily be seen.

This little shirt was a fun and fast sewing project with fun results, plus the scraps were put to good use.

Hopefully, some little girl will enjoy wearing the shirt.

Stay tuned for the next scrap heap sewing project coming up soon.

Until then, sew forth and scrap 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.

Brusha Brusha Brusha

IMG_0355It was time for me to tackle another amigurumi project. After the completion of the dragonfly and conquering the challenges that pattern brought, I wanted to just make a simple project this time around. But, as I looked through my patterns for a simple project, I was not inspired by anything. I didn’t want to make just a simple amigurumi, I wanted to make an simple amigurumi with some flare. So, I turned to my to do list and decided it was time to try the brush technique I had read about in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi book. Instead of using fuzzy yarn to make a furry or fuzzy amigurumi, you make an amigurumi from regular yarn and then brush the yarn to get a fuzzy, furry effect. This is a great idea! I had been wanting to try this brushing technique for awhile now, but I did not want to try it on a complicated pattern in case I did not like the effect or destroyed the project. Since I wanted to make a simple amigurumi next, this would be a good opportunity to try the brushing technique out and if it I did not like the end results, it would not be very much of a loss.

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P1030479With all these thoughts of fuzzy fur and brushing, I picked the pattern I wanted to make, and yes, it is a very simple pattern. The design is called pocket pals. These various animals are made up of two feet, a body and two ears. I picked the dog for my first project and crocheted his pieces from Red Heart super saver 4 ply yarn in white and black. Next I picked the bear design and crocheted his parts from some heavy brown yarn that I don’t have any details on because I picked it up a thrift store unlabeled. I picked this heavy brown yarn instead of just another skein of Red Heart yarn to see how the different yarns would look once brushed. The pieces of these little pocket pals crocheted up quickly and easily and it was soon time to start brushing the pieces.

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P1030444The book said to use a wire pet brush to brush the yarn. I did not have one of these brushes, so I tried a variety of brushes from around the house. From toothbrushes to hair brushes to cleaning brushes, I brushed and brushed but was not getting the desired fuzzy effect that I expected. Just as I was about ready to give up and head to the store for a pet brush, the husband happened by to see what I was doing. Seeing the variety of brushes lying on my table and observing what I was trying to do, the husband left without a word but returned with 3 brushes from his tool box, a nylon brush, a stainless steel brush, and a copper brush. Now, it was time to get brushing.

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P1030445I started with the nylon brush since it was the softest of the three brushes the husband had brought me, on the feet of the bear. The results were good, but not great. So, I tried the copper brush next. Now, there was the fuzzy look I was looking for. I tried the stainless steel brush last since it was seemed to be the heaviest brush of the three brushes. The results from the stainless brush were not much different than from the copper brush on the heavy brown yarn of the bear. Repeating the process, I brushed the feet of the dog with first with the nylon brush, then the copper brush and last the stainless steel brush. The result was very fuzzy. Because the yarn of the dog’s feet was not as heavy, the nylon brush gave the same fuzzy results as the other two brushes but I noticed that it did take more strokes to get that result than it did with the copper brush or the stainless steel brush. Liking my results, I brushed the bodies and ears for both the bear and the dog. The book said I should brush the parts of the amigurumi before stitching them together, which is what I did. After I stitched the parts together, I picked up the brushes again and fuzzed up the joining stitches for a more even look.

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Because the bear and the dog were so much fun to make, I picked up some green yarn and quickly crocheted the parts for a frog. I picked up the brushes to start brushing when it dawned on me that frogs are not fuzzy. Darn! I could have made the bunny or the cat or even the chick and they would have been fuzzy and I could have brushed some more. Oh well, the frog was fun to make too. He just didn’t end up being fuzzy.

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P1030474This pattern was so much fun to make that I am keeping it in my crocheting bag permanently. Now, when I am stuck somewhere and don’t want to work on my current project or I am at a point where I can’t work on my current project, or I can’t focus on my current project, I can pull this pattern out and without much focus or thought, make a cute little pocket pal for someone. Also, the husband is going to have to buy himself some more brushes because I am claiming ownership of his current brushes and they now live in my crafting supplies. I see more brushed yarn amigurumi’s in my future.

Four Wings and Two Prayers

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 11.55.09 AMA long time ago, I purchased the book Adorable Amigurumi by Erin Clark. I loved every design in the book and thought I could not wait to get started crocheting patterns from it, but I guess I could wait. After admiring the cute designs in the book, I placed this book on my book shelf with my other amigurumi books and I promptly forgot about its adorable designs until just a few days ago. While perusing the yarn section at Walmart recently, I found this turquoise blue skien of Red Heart Love yarn and I immediately thought of the adorable dragonfly pattern in this book. I bought the yarn and went right home to start crocheting this dragonfly.

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P1030525As I got started, I noticed that the patten did not state the number of stitches per round. This is not a big deal but it is nice to have this number to help keep count of the stitches and rounds as you go. So, I decided to add the stitch count to the pattern before I got started crocheting. As I started counting the stitches for each round in the pattern, I found that there was not a round 17 in the head. I figured that maybe this was just a typo in the book, so I kept on counting but I then noticed that the head went from 48 stitches in round 16 to 36 stitches in round 18. Now, I have made enough amigurumi’s to know that is quite a sudden drop in stitches, especially if you want a round head instead of the back of the head being flat. I decided at this point to stop counting and get start crocheting to see what I got. Sure enough, the head started out nice and round and then went flat after round 18. It looked funny and not at all like the pictures in the pattern had looked. So I undid my crocheting back to round 16 and started my own decrease in stitches and rounds to get a nice smooth decrease and a round head.

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P1030498After that, I continued on to the thorax portion of the body. The rounds and the stitch count seemed to crochet the shape that I had expected, but when I reached the abdomen portion of the body, something was wrong. I could not get the stitch count per round to match the number of rounds in the pattern. I was very flustered at this point with the whole thing. I felt like I had put too much work into this project to stop and call it a loss though so I continued on. I worked my way down the abdomen, counting and shaping it to something that looked like the picture as well as a shape I thought the dragonfly’s abdomen should look like.

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P1030497Upon completing the dragonfly’s body, I was so flustered with this pattern, I really did not want to finish it. Now, I’m not really a great amigurumi designer even though I have created a few of my own. That’s why I bought the book, so I could just make something someone else had already spent the time to create and test out. So, I was not happy that a published pattern in a book that I had paid for was not tested and edited better. Now, it might just have been me. Maybe I had missed something somewhere in the pattern, but if I did it was not obvious to me what I had missed and I did study this pattern very carefully to try and find what step I might have missed.

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P1030528The legs, eyes and antennas crocheted up much more smoothly and I was able to follow the pattern ok when making them. In fact, I like how the eyes turned out very much. They are nice and big and round and full of life. There were minimal instructions for stitching the dragonfly parts together, so I turned to the photos in the pattern to get an idea. I noticed right away that the designer had stitched the legs on both the thorax and abdomen of the dragonfly. In nature this would be incorrect. A dragonfly’s legs are only attached to the thorax. Now, I know this is a crocheted cartoon like dragonfly and it does not have to be scientifically correct, but I just didn’t want to stitch the legs down the dragonfly’s abdomen. What I did find out was that there was not enough room to put all three legs on each side of the thorax. And so to get evenly spaced legs, I ended up stitching the third leg where the thorax and the abdomen connect together. This is still incorrect but it looks better than the legs crowded and unevenly spaced on the thorax. I did learn a lot when attaching the chain legs to the body. It would have been a lot easier to have attached the legs as I crocheted the thorax, before it was stuffed. But, that is a lesson that could only be learned by experience. Now I know that if I make another dragonfly from this pattern, to make the legs first and then attach them to the thorax as I crochet before stuffing the thorax.

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P1030530Even with all the issues with the round and stitch count, this dragonfly did turn out super cute. I have not named this dragonfly or found him a home yet. I have, though, decided to keep this book. Because the end results of this dragonfly are so cute, I have decided to try another pattern from this book. When I do, I hope that the bad dragonfly pattern in this book is an exception for the patterns in this book and not the norm. I will have to try out making another pattern from this book to find that out. Once I do, I will let everyone know what I have found.