Tag Archive | hand

Great Balls Of Yarn

images-21WindThere comes a time in all crocheter’s crafting when they have to stop and “wind” a little…

No, not the thing that blows outdoors and makes a mess of our hair when we go outside, nor the drink we must stop and have some of to keep us sane while crocheting, that’s “wine”. And trust me, there is plenty of “whining” and “complaining” amongst us crocheters. But in this case I am talking about “to wind”, as in I needed to wind a ball of yarn. So, the time had come for me to whine about doing some winding.

aid460789-728px-Wind-a-Yarn-Ball-Step-1-preview-Version-2skein-band1As I looked at my buckets of yarn, I noticed many half used skeins of yarn. Skeins that were disappearing from the inside out as I pulled from the center of the skien to make my latest amigurumi’s. Skeins that were floppy and falling apart, no longer holding their once nice new shape. I also noticed that when it was time for me to start another amigurumi, I raced to the yarn stash to retrieve a nice new firm skein of yarn for the project, rather than deal with the half used floppy skeins lying in the yarn bucket from a former amigurumi project. It was finally time to remedy this by winding these half used floppy skeins into nice firm easily used balls of yarn.

TutorialIMG_4310Back when I first started crocheting, I found it very flustering to crochet from a hand wound ball of yarn. As I crocheted, the ball would roll. It would roll off my lap, across the room and down the hall, at which time I would have to stop crocheting, and chase down my ball of yarn. And worse, if I was crocheting in the car, the ball of yarn rolled off my lap and onto the dirty car floor. I quickly learned how to wind a ball of yarn so that it pulled from the center, just like a new skein of yarn. This was great except it took more time and care to wind the ball in this manner. Also as you crocheted from the center of the ball, the ball became half used and floppy just like a skein does as it is used, so you had to stop and re-wind the ball again. But, for me, it was worth taking the the extra time and care to wind the ball with the center pull and then re-wind the ball as needed, so as not to have to chase that crazy ball of yarn around the house.

IMG_3796IMG_4308So, as I sat down with a good movie and my bucket of floppy skeins of yarn and got to winding some yarn balls. When I was done, I had this gorgeous box of yarn balls and my creative mind went nuts. It was like I had purchased a whole new box of various skeins of yarn. I could see all kind of fun amigurumi’s made from these balls of yarn and I could not wait to get crocheting again.

So stay tuned for some fun new amigurumi’s from my great balls of yarn!

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It’s In The Bag! – Part 2 – The Lining

DSCN3886After completing the shell, I sewed the lining next. I serged all the seams and edges of the lining because the gray lining fabric just loved to fray. This was not difficult, just time consuming. I left part of one of the sleeve seams unstitched for the bagging of the jacket. With the shell and the lining sewn, it was time to sew these together and bag the jacket.

DSCN3880Even though I knew what do sew next, I decided to read the tutorial for bagging a jacket one more time, and I am glad that I did. At the top of the bagging tutorial was a link to a tutorial on how to cut a lining for a jacket. I had not read this tutorial before and even though my lining was cut and sewn, I decided to read the tutorial.

I was unpleasantly surprised to find out that I had made my lining incorrectly. There were more steps to cutting a lining out than just cutting out the pattern pieces again from lining fabric. I debated about just using my finishing lining and learning the lesson for the next time but then I read how if the lining is not cut with ease, the jacket will not fit or wear well.

Darn!

DSCN3909I was going to have to make another lining! And this time I would be following the tutorial to get it right!

DSCN3890I returned to the cutting table and I cut out a new lining with the extra inches at the fold in the back and the ease at the armscye and sleeves. I once again cut the lining 2 inches shorter at the bottom and at the sleeve’s hem. At the sewing machine, I made a box pleat in the top and bottom of the back piece to gather in the extra inches. I once again serged all the seams and edges to keep the lining fabric from fraying, and I once again left part on one of the sleeve seams open for the bagging. With a whole new lining, one that had appropriate ease added in, I was ready to once again bag the jacket.

DSCN3892Following the steps of the bagging tutorial, I sewed the shell and lining together. Next I sewed the sleeve hems together, and then turned the jacket through the unfinished seam on the sleeve. This worked fantastically! The zipper turned beautifully to the front of the jacket, the collar was finished, with no twill tape or facing needed, and the hems both at the bottom and sleeves rolled up 1 inch. The last step was to sew the unfinished seam of the sleeve together.

DSCN4004Normally, this is where the hand sewing would be required, but the tutorial said just to sew along the edge of the sleeve seam with wrong sides facing. Yes, this left a little ridge, but it would be inside the sleeve where no one would know that it was there, or see it, or even notice it while wearing the jacket. Even with the jacket off, it would be highly unlikely that the sleeve would ever be turned inside out to reveal this seam. This was great for me! A quick easy seam to finish the jacket plus no evil hand sewing!

DSCN4007As I zipped my completed jacket up, I figured out why the making of the lining tutorial kept talking about the facings. I assumed that since I was lining the jacket, the facings were not needed, but after zipping the jacket and having the lining exposed where the facing would have been, I could see how the facings from the shell fabric would look and wear better than the lining.

DSCN4000At this point in the construction I did something I don’t normally do when I am sewing kid’s clothes. I needed to remove the top stabilizer that I had used to hold the fleece down while embroidering on the pockets. I could have just ran a little water over the pockets and let them air dry, but I decided to wash and dry the whole finished jacket instead, just like a mom would do after the kid had spilled ice cream down the front of it.

DSCN3992I was a little disappointed when I removed the jacket from the dryer. The fleece had fuzzed up a little and some of the shiny new look was gone, but all the seams held well and the lining did just fine. So at least I know this is not a dry clean only type of situation, which wouldn’t be good on a child’s garment, and that the jacket can be machine washed and dried without ruining it.

DSCN3990Despite the exposed facing and the fuzzing fleece, this jacket turned out just too cute. I love the paw print, the contrasting colors, the side patch pockets, the Dalmatian embroidery designs, the zipper and the lining.

Let’s face it, I love the whole jacket! I especially love the bagging of this jacket and the lack of hand sewing. I see another jacket just like this one but with facings added in my near future, so stay tuned!

Until then, sew forth and bag on!

It’s In The Bag! – Part 1 – The Pockets

DSCN3898I found one more way to finish the edges of polar fleece seams on a jacket. Just put a lining in the jacket! Now, lining a project has always frightened me just a little because it required hand sewing to finish it up and as you know hand sewing is evil and must be avoided at all costs. But, I found a great tutorial online explaining how to bag a jacket, i.e. how to add a lining to a jacket, with little to no hand sewing so I was excited to try bagging a jacket for the first time.

At the top of the tutorial, the statement was made that any garment could be lined regardless of whether the pattern called for a lining or not, so I did not bother to look for a pattern with a lining. I just grabbed my tried and true kid’s jacket pattern, Simplicity 8902. It took only a minute to pick out the red puppy paw print fleece fabric and some gray lining to use to bag this jacket.

DSCN3873I gave the design and construction of this jacket a lot of thought before I made the first cut into the fabric. I decided I did not need the facings on it since the lining would replace them. Next, I would cut the lining 2 inches shorter at the hems of both the bottom and the sleeves so that the lining would pull the fleece around to complete the hems. Last, I wanted to embroidery a design on the jacket, but I knew that it would get lost in the busy puppy paw design of the fleece.

DSCN3874So to remedy this problem, I decided to make side patch pockets for the jacket from some grey fleece scraps and to embroider the designs on to the pockets. I also decided to make the collar from the grey fleece too to match the pockets. I thought about using the lining fabric for the bottom of the collar, but the grey fleece was not that heavy so I decided to make both sides of the collar using the fleece. With that plan in mind, it was time to cut the fabric and get sewing!

DSCN3876The cutting process went smoothly. I cut out the pieces for the shell or outside of the jacket from the fleece and then I cut matching pieces from the grey lining. I started the sewing process with the shell of the jacket which was going along just fine, including the sewing on of the zipper, until the pockets.

DSCN3879The husband picked out the Disney 101 Dalmatians for the embroidery designs so I embroidered Perdita on one pocket and Pongo on the other. With the embroidery done, I decided I wanted to line the pockets to protect the back of the embroidery designs from things that would be put in the pockets and to protect little hands from the embroidery designs rough parts. But, how should I line the side patch pockets?

DSCN3991To line the pockets, I cut two pockets from the lining fabric minus the fold over flap. I serged the edge of the lining fabric where the flap would have been. I folded the fleece flap of the pocket to the wrong side of the pocket and then placed the lining on top. I then sewed right sides together on three sides of the pocket. Next, I turned the pocket at the flap. After ironing the pocket, I folded the flap over, encasing the exposed but serged lining under the flap, and then I sewed the flap down to the pocket to complete the lining of the pocket. It was then simple to sew the pockets onto the front shell of the jacket.

I am going to pause here and let you catch your breath for a minute. I still have a lot of story to tell about the sewing of this jacket. So, stay tuned for the exciting conclusion in part 2 of It’s In the Bag.

Until then, sew forth and bag on!

 

Simplicity 2480 – The Jacket – Part 4

DSCN0984With the pockets now completed, it was finally time to stitch the jacket! The first step was to insert the zipper. Remembering the lessons that I had learned from inserting the zipper in the little girl’s peplum jacket, this zipper sewed in much easier. And I did not need to move the needle over to sew the zipper on like I did the last time. The only challenge I faced with this zipper was deciding just how long I wanted the zipper to be.

Did I want it to extend into the collar or stop just before the collar? DSCN0807

The pattern called for the zipper to be inserted into the collar, but If I stopped the zipper at the collar, I could attach the collar as I would the collar of a camp shirt, finishing it off with a little twill tape.

If I followed the pattern instead and inserted the zipper into the collar, some hand stitching would be required to finish the collar. Now, you know how much I just “love” hand stitching, so you can guess which plan I was leaning towards, but then I remembered that I was making this jacket to learn so I decided to follow the pattern and insert the zipper into the collar, and then do the required hand stitching. After sewing on the zipper and facings, I hand stitched the edge of the collar to the back of the jacket. This went a lot smoother than I expected it to. I think I did a pretty good job on the hand stitching and that it will hold up with wearing.

Now that it is done I am pleased with the results of how I attached the zipper, collar and facings. DSCN0737Before I started this pattern, I read some pattern reviews for this pattern on the internet and one of the things mentioned about this pattern was that the sleeves were extremely wide. I could see this as I traced the sleeve part of the pattern, so I decided, based on the size of my wrists, to grade 4 inches out of the the width of the sleeves starting at the wrist.

I think the wearer of this jacket will like the thinner sleeves and it saved on fabric. I inserted the elastic at the bottom of the sleeves as the pattern called for. I think that will also help with any extra blousing from the wide sleeves. DSCN0989I interfaced the facings and collar before sewing them on. I just grabbed the first interfacing that I pulled from the stash to use, but I wished later that I would have looked a little closer.

Now, with the interfacing applied and the jacket sewn up, the interfacing that I used is too heavy for the fleece. The heavy interfacing makes the collar stiff so that it only wants to stand up. The heavy interfacing is also a problem at the inseam pockets. Because I used two pieces of fleece to make the pockets, they are already bulky but when I added the heavily interfaced facing on top of the pockets at the bottom of the jacket by the zipper, it is even bulkier.

Lesson learned. DSCN0987

Upon completion, I stared at the jacket and it looked very odd to me. It looked like it would never fit anyone.

It’s was so small in circumference but long in length in both the sleeves and the body of the jacket. Who would have such odd body proportions. Then it dawned on me what I had done. I had made a extra small adult jacket, and not an extra large child’s jacket. Once I figured this out I could finally picture a young slender adult wearing this jacket without any problem. An unforeseen lesson in sizing and fit was learned this time around. Although this jacket may not be perfect, and some of the seams are not very straight, I am still pleased with the end results.

I learned a lot, and it has left me with several ideas and sewing techniques that I want to try and work on in the future. I hope some one will enjoy wearing this jacket and that it will fit them well.

Until next time, sew forth and jacket on!

Fur Real! I am not making any of this stuff up! Part 2 of 2

IMG_0075Sewing the lining and fur together was the next step that I needed to complete my fur vest project. I had planned to follow the pattern guide and sew from the side seam, across the bottom front hem and then up one side of the vest, around the neck, down the other side of the vest and back across the bottom of the other front and back to the side seam.

It all sounded simple enough of course, but alas it was not. I quickly learned that I did not want to do this as one big continuous seam. So I broke in up into several seams instead. I first started by sewing around the neck, then I sewed down each side of the front of the vest, and then across the bottoms. Breaking up this big seam seemed to give me more control over attaching the fur and lining together and I think it worked out better in the end.

P1040036Across the bottom of the fronts and back where the hem lines were, was the most difficult part of stitching the lining especially across the back. I finally broke the back seam up into two seams, sewing from one side to the middle and then from the other side to the middle. I doubt this was the proper way to do it, but it was the only way that I could get it to work right. I tried to keep the fur out of my way as I was stitching and keep the lining even with the fur, but it all seemed to slip one way or the other on these P1040091seams. And I would end up sewing on the fur instead of on the backing, or the lining would fold over itself, or I would have no lining to sew at the end of the seam.

It was a real fight and I don’t know if I was not learning an important sewing skill that I needed to learn, or if it was just a matter of patience and practice to get it right. In the end did a lot of unpicking to get all the seams sewn to my liking. Around the neck and the arms were the easiest seams to sew which seemed odd to me. Usually a curve is more difficult to sew than a straight seam. I guess that the opposite is true for fur. I did learn that I liked to have the fur on top of the lining, instead of the lining on top of the fur when sewing. It just seemed to work better that way.

P1040073The next step was to turn the vests right side out and to sew the side seams. According to the pattern this is supposed to be done using a circular seam. So I started by sewing the lining together at the top, and then sewing the armscye together. Next was down the outside or the fur side seam, then to sew the hems together, and then back to sewing the lining together at the bottom, leaving a hole to push all of this seam back into place when done.

The final step is to stitch the hole closed. It sounded simple, but once again it was not. It was very difficult to keep the seams aligned properly while stitching two thin pieces of lining to two thick pieces of fur and it was especially difficult while stitching two big pieces of fur to two thin pieces of lining. By remembering what I had learned on the other seams, I decided to sew these seams in parts. I sewed from the top to the middle of the side seam, stopped, turned the vest around and sewed from the bottom to the middle of the side seam once again giving me more control over the seam with the shorter seams.

P1040088The final step was to hand stitch the lining side seams together. And since I very much dislike to hand stitch anything, I tried to figure out a way to machine stitch these seams but I could not, so I decided to bite the bullet and do the hand-stitching. I played around with a few different stitches and I decided on a ladder stitch to finish the seams. The hand-stitching went smoothly when I started but as I came to the bottom of the seam, I had extra fabric on one side of the seam. The seam had laid evenly when I first started to stitch but by the end I had a bubble that I had to try and ease in.

P1040063How and why was this happening I wondered? Had one side come unfolded as I stitched. Had I stretched one side? Had I pulled the stitches too much on one side and not the other? I did not know and I could not figure it out. I unpicked my hand-stitching and tried it again and I had the same problem. I then turned to my iron to try and solve the problem. I ironed the seam allowance for the hand stitching so that the lining would stay in place while I stitched, but I still had the same bubble when I was at the end of the seam. I next tried to serge the edges of the lining to try and help keep the fold in place and to give me something to feel as I hand-stitched, but I still ended up with the same problem. I tried to take smaller stitches, then I tried bigger stitches but I still had the same problem.

P1040072Flustered, I finally just did the best job that I could, by pulling and easing and folding to get the seam stitched closed. The end results are not as good as I would have liked. I was not pleased at all with the final seams and they look horrible to me, but I do think the seams are secure, so I let them be. So I guess that I will need to revisit this problem at another time. I don’t know what the answer is but with some more research and practice, I think that maybe I can finally master the art of hand-stitching and do a good job of it.

P1040067Two final things I did learn about stitching fur is that number one the fur that I am working with stretches. It never even crossed my mind that because this fur has a knit backing and that makes it really stretchy. I think some stay stitching would have helped with the stitching of these vests, especially across the hems. And second, I need to shave the seam allowances more than I did. I needed to learn just how much fur I could trim out of the seam so that it is easier to sew the seam together, but still not have it ruin the look of the fur. I trimmed some of the fur, but I think more trimming would have been helpful, especially at the point where the armscye and hem attach to the lining.

After all this trial and error, I don’t want to wait another year to sew fur again like I did the last time. I have learned so much on this project and I don’t want to forget any of it so I am going to make a few more projects from fur in the near future to reinforce what I have learned here.

Until next time…

A Jacket Fur You

IMG_4778Is it possible to serge fur? Or better yet, should you even attempt to serge fur? Or I guess the real question I am asking is, how would you finish the edges of your fur projects? I know that is what the lining is for, but since I had never lined a jacket before or anything as complicated as a jacket, these were just a few questions I was facing at this point in the continuing construction of the fur jacket.

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My next step probably should have been to do an internet search or by looking at one of my reference sewing books to learn how to sew a lining into a jacket, but I decided to just to wing it instead. That and to use any sewing intuition that I may have, and just see what I would end up with.

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IMG_4776So I started by sewing the shoulders of the lining together, and then sewing the lining to the top and collar of the jackets. This worked out great. It finished the edges of the collar and the top of the jackets. So far, so good. Next I sewed in the sleeves on both the fur and the lining and then the side seams. Ok, that was done, but now the finishing work started.

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IMG_4781I needed to finish the facings and then do the hems. Normally this is the easy part and I just start serging. So I grabbed some scraps and started to serge to see what I would end up with. I was pleased with the way the fur serged. I thought I was in for a big mess but the fur actually serged really well. The one thing I did learn about serging fur, was that when serging where the hair of the fur was longer than the backing of the fur, I had to make sure that I was serging the backing and not just the hair of the fur.

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Deep in the back of my mind, I knew that I did not need to serge the fur, and that the answers to my questions was to turn the fur and then hand stitch it to the lining. But I really HATE to hand sew anything if I don’t have to. The thought of spending hours hand stitching all of the hems and facings about left me to believe that the finishing of this jacket, no less the construction of a fur jacket for me, was a doomed project and that I should just give up now. But wanting to finish what I started, I went ahead and serged the facings and hems of the jacket and then decided to cheat and just turn them as I would any other project.

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P1020655This seemed to work out ok for the facings, but I did break down and hand stitch the top edge of the facing to the lining, since a very minimal amount of hand stitching was involved. I also decided to tack down the lining at various points inside the jacket before stitching the hems to help hold the lining into place while I stitched. I then folded up the hems and stitched away. Of course the hem line could be seen from the fur side where it stitched over the fur and matted it down. To fix this, I took a needle and pulled the hair of the fur out from underneath the stitches so that the hem was not as noticeable. When it was all done, I thought that the hems looked fine from the fur side of the jacket but I did not like the look of the serged edge of the fur at the hem line on top of the lining. It looked sloppy and unfinished, not the look one would want or expect a fur jacket to have. But this was how I had sewn this jacket and I was not inclined to unpick my hems and try something different. Plus the little neighbor girl wouldn’t really care what the inside of her fur jacket looked like.

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P1020658P1020664Once I had it all done it was time to try it on! The jacket fit the little neighbor girl well and I think she looks just adorable in it. She wore it to preschool the next day and her mom reports that all the teachers just loved it. I really don’t know if I am ready to make my jacket yet. I think that I will do some more research into lining a jacket and see if I can get a better, more professional finish before I start my jacket. Hopefully, I can find a lining technique that does not involve tons of hand stitching but will still solve most of my current problems and dislikes. The husband suggested that I should first make the little neighbor girl a vest with the fur next. And I think this is a great idea! I can try lining the vest differently and see what works, plus I could add some pockets and see what works there as well. So, stay tuned for more furtastic fun!

The Hip Bone is Connected to the Leg Bone

Although Halloween 2011 is now just a collection of wonderful memories and good times for me, the skeleton I was making before Halloween is finally done. Even though I did not make him as a Halloween decoration, I did start him before October 1st. But, with some endurance and a few projects made in-between, I have finally completed him.

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I bought this pattern off of the internet. I fell in love with the pattern the minute I saw it and it moved to the top of my to do list quickly. I knew it was not going to be a quick or easy project for me. I knew it was going to be one of those projects that I had to concentrate on while I was crocheting it, not watching TV or riding in the car. Although as I started to crochet the parts, I quickly fell into the rhythm of this pattern. Once I had crocheted one foot or one hand or a rib, the next one was much easier and much quicker to make. If I make a second skeleton, it will take me much less time, effort and worry. Actually, after completing the hands and feet, it was fun to see them come together and be so cute that I had no problem crocheting the last foot while watching TV.  My only complaint about the crocheting would be the small count of the rounds. Ten sc was a common count of the rounds and that is a tight area to work in especially when my hands were tired. At least he was made with a size G hook so I could keep a good grip on it. I am not a fan of crocheting with tiny hooks.

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My biggest complaint about the construction of this skeleton is, and of course you have already guessed it because it is a reoccurring theme with me, the sewing together of the parts or in this case the bones. This is really what took the most time and it is totally my fault because I can not do this quickly or for a long time without a break. So, don’t let my problems discourage you from giving a pattern like this a try. I will say though that it was fun to see the skeleton come together as I stitched it. This does bring me to the only complaint I have about the pattern and that is that the author of the pattern needs to give more pictures of the construction stage of the skeleton. Other than that, the pattern was great and well written.

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Although when I first saw this pattern I was afraid it would be too complicated for me, it turned out to be a lot of fun to crochet and, well, sew together. I am very pleased with the end results and would not hesitate to make a second one. So, the moral of this skeleton construction story is to not let a pattern that looks overly complicated at first glance discourage you from giving it a try.