Tag Archive | Feet

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!

Penelope or When A Picture Doesn’t Say A Thousand Words

DSCN3945It was love at first sight AGAIN when I saw the pictures of this pterodactyl pattern. The absolute cuteness in these pictures was causing me to pick this pattern as my next amigurumi project. Once I got started on the crocheting though, I could see that the pictures didn’t tell the whole story, so I will explain the missing parts.

Excited to get crocheting the pieces for this amigurumi, I easily picked out two shades of purple yarn and a cream yarn from the stash to make this pterodactyl. As I quickly read through the pattern, I could tell right away that is was not going to be an easy or fast pattern to crochet or stitch together. I still wanted to make it thought so I got started on it. I crocheted it from the bottom up, starting with the tail, legs and feet and then moving on to the beak and the body. All was going well until it was time to crochet the head and the crown.

DSCN3947Looking at the pictures in the pattern, there was a stripe of cream in the head and crown, but as I read the pattern it said nothing about a color change. Maybe the stripe was a separate piece that was to be stitched on after the head and crown were crocheted and stuffed? There were no instructions for such a stripe in the pattern. I studied the picture and reread the pattern, only to finally notice in the pictures that the cream stripe was the sun shining through the trees and on to the pterodactyl.

Sadly there were no color changes or a separate stripe on the head and crown, the pictures in the pattern had mislead me in believing there was. The only place the cream color yarn was going to be used was around the eyes. I thought about trying to add the stripe, but then I decided to just follow the pattern and make the head and crown one solid color with no stripes. I was not too disappointed that there was not a cream stripe in the head and crown because the pieces were crocheting up nicely.

DSCN3946When I came to the wings, I faced another picture dilemma. I crocheted the arms and wings last by following the instructions of the pattern. After completing the wings, I held them to the pterodactyl’s body and then looked again at the pictures. In the pattern, there were no real instructions or pictures for stitching this amigurumi together. You just had to figure it out on a wing and a prayer.

Per the pictures, it looked like the wings were attached to the body, but I could not figure out how to attach the wings versus how they were crocheted. I studied the pictures and twisted and turned the wings to no avail. Luckily the husband happened along. He had to study the pictures for a minute as well, but then concluded that the wings were attached to the arms, not the body. Only then did it make sense to me as to how the wings were crocheted versus how they were stitched on. It also explained why the arms were so long.

DSCN3950I started from the top to stitch the pterodactyl together, stitching the crown and beak to the head first. The safety eyes were only snapped on to the cream eye circles. The ends of the safety eye were inserted into the head and the eyes were stitched into place by stitching the cream eye circles to the head. The arms with the wings attached were stitched on next and then the tail.

I started stitching at the top because I wanted this pterodactyl to stand up. And I knew that I needed all its parts attached so that I could balance its weight on its legs and feet. I spent some time decided where to attach the legs to the body to get this amigurumi to stand. After attaching the legs and feet, I can with a lot of help and persuading get this pterodactyl to stand up by itself. There is just too much unbalanced weight between the crown, beak, arms, wings and tail for those little legs and feet to hold things very steadily, but it can stand if it wants to.

DSCN3953With all the pieces stitched together, this amigurumi took on a feminine side and became a girl. The husband and I debated back and forth about names, but finally settled on Penelope. I like the name and think Penelope the Pterodactyl turned out just as cute as the pictures in her pattern were, if not a little cuter. Hopefully, she can find a good home to fly around in.

Until then, crochet forth and fly on!

Pepper And Piper

DSCN3431 (1)Squeals of delight rang from my sewing room when I saw the pattern for these penguins. They were so cute, and the pattern showed pictures of endless possibilities in colors and variations for making a whole colony of penguins. I could not wait to get the crocheting started. I envisioned making several penguins in a variety of colors and belly spots.

DSCN3439 (1)I decided to start with a basic penguin with a gray body with no belly spot and black feet and beak. Crocheting the pieces went smoothly. When it came time to crochet the different colors of the head, I decided to cut and tie each color change. The last time I made a multi-colored head for Charlie the horse, I carried the yarn across the color changes instead of cutting and tying each color change, and I had to work very hard to keep my tensions even. Cutting and tying the color changes was easier than keeping an even tension, but it was time consuming, so it slowed down the crocheting process.

DSCN3438 (1)Before I stitched the first penguin together, I crocheted the next penguin in the colony. This time the penguin would have a gray body with a white belly spot and yellow feet and beak. Once again, I cut and tied the color changes in the head and now the body. If you look closely at the pictures, you will see a small “birth mark” on this penguin’s belly. I miss counted and did not notice my mistake until a couple of rounds later after several cut and ties were completed, and I did not want to undo all my work to fix that one stitch, so I am calling it a birthmark. It adds character to the penguin and in no way decreases his cuteness. Soon enough, I had all the pieces for the second penguin crocheted and ready to stitch together.

DSCN3436 (1)I picked up the yarn to start crocheting the next penguin in the colony, but then I decided to complete the first two penguins, whose pieces were already crocheted up, before starting another. The stitching together of these penguins was much easier than the stitching together of most my amigurumi’s. Because of the multi colored head, there was no question as to where the eyes were inserted, or where the beak DSCN2730was placed. On the second penguin, I had left a long piece of gray yarn from the head to stitch the head and body together. When I came to the white of the head and the belly spot, the gray stitches stood out badly. I had to stop the gray yarn and start a piece of white yarn to sew the white areas together and then return to the gray yarn to finish stitching the head and body together. On the first penguin, I had left I long black tail for sew from the body. This blended in well with both a gray and the white of the head. The color of yarn I leave for stitching is something I will have to keep in mind when I make amigurumi’s with multicolored heads and bodies in the future.

DSCN3432 (1)Because of the black heads, I stuffed the penguins a little lighter than most of the amigurumi’s I make. Usually, I over stuff my amigurumi’s. They say the stuff settles over time, so to over stuff at first. But, when you’re working with a dark color and white stuffing, the stuffing really shows through as the stitches are stretched by the over stuffing. Although, I really like no stuffing showing through the black stitches of the head, it was very hard for me stop stuffing before I thought the pieces were completely stuffed.

DSCN3434 (1)Feeling his head now that he is stitched together, I wish I had added just a little more stuffing to the first penguin’s head, especially in the back, but the second penguin is stuffed just right. The husband likes the less stuffing. I explained to him about the stuffing settling over time, but he still said that he liked the lighter stuff and he felt that the penguin’s still had enough stuffing to withstand the settling and a lot of be played with. It will be interesting to see if that turns out to be true or not.

DSCN3433 (1)With these two penguins completed, I picked up the yarn for the next penguin in the colony and asked the husband what color beak and feet I should crochet for this penguin and should it have a belly spot or not. The husband rolled his eyes and reminded me about all the fun patterns I have yet to crochet. And, he was right, I had already made this pattern, twice, and it was fun and the finished amigurumi’s were just adorable but other just as fun patterns are waiting in the wings.

I quickly named the two penguins Pepper and Piper and they are now waiting for a good home to go and live at.

I have tucked this pattern close to the front of my crochet pattern stash, and if and when the day comes that I want to complete the penguin colony or I just need a fun and simple amigurumi that turns out super cute, I know which pattern to reach for.

Until then, crochet forth and colony on!

Jill and Joey

IMG_0028I had never seen an amigurumi kangaroo pattern, nor had I thought about making one until I saw this pattern. I fell in love with this pattern the second I saw it and I could not wait to get started on making a kangaroo from it. So away I went in a furious display of yarn and hook spinning!

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IMG_0024The crocheting of the pieces of the adult kangaroo went smoothly and the pattern was easy to follow, but when it came to stitching the pieces together, I was a little unsure about attaching the legs to the body. The legs were crocheted and then flattened. The top round part of the leg was then stitched against the body. Then the leg was to be stuffed very lightly in the top against the body and then firmly at the bottom of the leg to hold the kangaroo up. The feet were then attached to the bottom part of the legs. This worked out great and I was amazed how well the kangaroo could stand up on its own.

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IMG_0026After stitching the head to the body, the legs to the body and the feet to the legs, I stitched the tail on. Looking at my results thus far, my thoughts turned to making some stubby little arms instead of the nice long arms that I had crocheted for this kangaroo. If I had made stubby little arms and reshaped the face just a little, I would have had a great t-rex. Oh, wow, wouldn’t that be great? But, I was making a kangaroo. I will keep the t-rex in mind for another project though.

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P1040007With the adult kangaroo all finished and looking great, I turned my attention to the baby joey. The joey’s pattern was very simple. It was just a head, two ears and a stick body so he would easily fit in the pocket. And, yes, designed like this, the joey did fit in the pocket easily but I did not like the “head on a pole” look. I thought that the joey needed arms and legs and a tail. My first thought was to just crochet tiny arms and legs, but I could not made the rounds small enough for the size I wanted and still be crochet-able. My next thought was to do a bobble for the arms and legs as I crocheted the stick body, but in P1040195the end, all I got was a lumpy stick instead of what I wanted. Looking at the ears, I decided to crochet some flat arms and legs for this joey. I chained 6 then single crocheted 3 times in the 5th chain then slip stitched to the top of the chain and back down the other side. This looked pretty good on the stick body. It had shape but it was still flat against the body and could be folded to easily fit in the pocket. Sticking with the flat and P1040197easily fitting into the pocket theme, I made a chain tail for the joey, but it looked awful. I tried to think of another way to make a tail that would not be a problem fitting in the pocket but in the end I left the joey without a tail. So, I apologize in advance to whatever child is going to play with the kangaroo that the joey is not anatomically correct.

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Since only female kangaroo’s have pouches, my adult kangaroo is a female, a jill, and therefore I named her Jill. And, of course the baby kangaroo is a joey and therefore I named it Joey. So this is Jill and Joey, my amigurumi kangaroos. What do you think of them?

Until next time, keep stitching!

From the top of the Charts!

circularchartsThe patterns that come in my Crochet Today magazine have both written text instructions and a chart using symbols to show you how to crochet the pattern. In the past I have always promptly ignored the charts, and instead chose to follow the written text instructions to crochet my projects. That was about to change though. A few days back while I was searching for crochet patterns on the internet, I found a great Japanese web site with several great free patterns to crochet, P1020718but the patterns were all in the chart form. The instructions for each part of the amigurumi’s are in two charts. The first is a table with the count of each row and how many stitches are in each row, and the second is a chart with symbols. Great, I don’t know how to read those! And so I quickly decided that I wouldn’t be making any of those patterns anytime soon. But after I had thought about it awhile, I decided that the teddy bear pattern was so cute, that it was time to learn how to read and follow the symbols of the charts.

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P1020720At first, I only followed the table in the patterns. Because I have made enough amigurumis in the past I know how to increase from 6 to 12 to 18 to 24 and so on per row without really reading the instructions or, in this case, without following the chart. But, as soon as the pattern became more complicated, I had to finally learn what the symbols meant and how to follow the chart. To my surprise, it was very easy to follow the symbols of each row, and soon I found that I was no longer watching the table with the stitch counts, and I was just following along with the symbols on the chart. It was great! A whole new batch of patterns were now available for me to download and try out. I don’t know that I am ready for a really complicated chart pattern yet, but I am willing to try some more pattern that are just charts.

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P1020726As for the pattern I chose to start with, I was very unsure about the resulting pieces of this teddy bear while crocheting it up. I knew that I had followed the table and chart correctly, but I did not like the looks of the finished pieces. First came the head. When I was done crocheting the head, it was very flat and fat. I felt like I needed to add at least three more rows in the middle to make it taller. Then I studied the photo of the bear very closely and decided not to add the extra rows and just see what I got after I stuffed the head. Next came the feet. The feet came out huge and even much larger than I expected even though I knew I followed the table and chart correctly. But I didn’t know how to fix them, so I left them the way they were.

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After finishing the crocheting of the pieces of this bear and after stuffing the head and adding the muzzle and eyes, I felt a lot better about this look of this bear. Stuffing the head, helped to make it look taller, and made it look less fat. Stuffing the feet, made the feet look even bigger but I liked the big feet better after they were stuffed for some reason. And after stitching the legs and arms to the body and adding the head, I sat the bear down and fell in love with it. I really like the variegated yarn that makes it look like the bear has a sweater on and especially the white strip on the top and bottom and around the arms that encases the variegated yarn to give it a even more of a sweater look.

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P1020729P1020724As the bear sat on my table waiting for pictures, he fell over. When I picked him up, I noticed just how ugly he really was especially his big feet. Where had the cute bear I was in love with gone? I sat the bear up and there he was. The cute bear had returned. It did not take long for me to figure out that I really like the bear sitting upright but not laying down flat. I picked the bear up by his ears and folded his feet up to his body, cute. I let his feet drop, not cute. Folded the feet back up, cute. Let them drop again, not cute. The husband says I am crazy, that the bear is just as cute sitting or standing, but I have to disagree.

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I have named this teddy bear Sebastian and he is currently SITTING on my sewing table, but he will have to find a new home soon. Hopefully some one will want to love him even with those big feet.

$0.25 A piece

It was time to make a couple of baby sleepers for gifts. As I dug through the stash for just the right piece of fabric for the sleepers, I came across a nice piece of gray velour. This piece was purchased from JoMar’s $0.50/yard table in Philadelphia. The edge was stained from the machine that rolled it on the bolt. When I saw and felt the piece I knew it would make beautiful sleepers. I was not really sure about the stain or just how much room I had in my suitcase to take home fabric for sleepers, so I only purchased 1 yard.

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My first step was to wash the fabric. Before washing, I pretreated the stain just to see if it would come out. After pretreating, the stain still would not come out making my next step to cut off about 6 inches along the edge where the stain was. I knew there would still be enough fabric for at least one sleeper, so I started to cut. I cut out a size 0-3 month.

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When I finished cutting the first sleeper, I noticed that I still had plenty of fabric remaining. As I laid out the pattern pieces to cut a second sleeper, I noticed that I would still have plenty of fabric left after cutting out that sleeper too! Wow, maybe this piece of fabric grew in the washer! Since I had enough fabric, I decided to make a size 3-6 month sleeper for the last one. This finally left me with just scraps.

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The sleepers sewed up fairly easily. The zippers and the velour wanted to fight a little, so that required some patience and time to get right. I hate to unpick, but I did on part of one of the zippers to try and get a better look from it. The embroidery designs were easy to pick. The gray velour was perfect for a mostly white design, and that made it easy to pick white for the ribbing and zipper.

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The polar bear design slipped a little while stitching it but a hot iron helped to fix that problem and it washed ok, but it still bugs me as a seamstress when I look at it since it isn’t perfect. I then used some of the web knit on the back of the designs so it was soft for the babies skin and it seemed to help the problem as well. It is just so vexing when your sewing projects don’t work just the way you envisioned them to.

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Even though these are not my most favorite sleepers  that I have ever made, they sure are cute enough. Plus I think any baby would be happy to wear them and any parent happy to have their child wear them. What do you think of them?

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Don’t Mess With A Good Thing

After a long dry run caused by the Christmas holiday and all that entails, I have turned my sewing machine back on and I am loving every minute I spend with it. Although I was told that my next project was to be a new shirt for the husband, there are babies on the way to co-workers and soon. So, I got out the sleeper pattern and started to cut.

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Several years ago, Mom retraced her copy of the sleeper pattern for me because my copy was getting so shaved and sliced from so much use. Although I have used this new copy a couple of times, it is not quite right and you needed to do a little adjusting of the pieces as you sew. So this time, I decided to make the adjustment at the cutting table and make permanent  changes to the pattern. As I sewed the sleeper together, I was pleased with the changes I made to the sleeves and shoulder, but something went terribly wrong with the crotch and the foot with the zipper.

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Flustered, I returned back to the pattern but I could not see what had went so wrong. I decided I needed a fresh look and so I got out my original copy of the pattern. Now, not the one I adjusted years ago for stripes. It is still working well. As I cut this sleeper out, I made adjustments for missing seam allowances and cut off toe pieces and as I sewed this sleeper together, the pieces fit as they should. I still can not figure out where the re-traced copy is off or where my adjustments are off on the first sleeper, but I did decide that my time was too valuable to spend working on this problem, and that I should just switch back to my original pattern. I am going to go back and re-trace my older copy especially with my new adjustments and make another new pattern. Something just is not right with that other copy and is just not worth figuring out what.

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Now I just have to figure out if I can save the first sleeper at the sewing machine, or if I need just start again at the cutting table and make a new one. Wish me luck!