Tag Archive | knit

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!

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Behavioral Economics

make0016IMG_3913I stopped buying fabric remnants at Walmart a while back now because the remnants at Walmart are only discounted 20% off. When the price of fabric at Walmart used to sell for less, it seemed like the remnants with the 20% off discount was costing very little money at all. So, even if it was a little less or a little more than I needed or not quite enough for what I had in mind for that specific project, it was easy to purchase them anyway.

But, when the price of fabric went up at Walmart, the extra 20% off the remnants price just didn’t seem like it was that much of a discount. To me the remnants cost still seemed to be expensive in my mind. It made you stop, think twice and look carefully instead of just tossing the remnants in your shopping cart without much thought about the cost.

IMG_3908IMG_3909Now it does matter to me if the remnant is too little, too big, or doesn’t quite match what I had in mind. The illusion of saving more or getting a deal on the remnant pieces just isn’t there anymore, so why not get exactly what you want and need cut directly from the bolt?

Recently while doing some shopping at Walmart for items other than fabric, I ended up purchasing almost every remnant my Walmart had. Why, you might ask? Let me tell you why…

My local Walmart was prepping for it’s inventory, and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time for once. All of the remnants in the bin had been marked down to clear them out before their inventory. Most of the remnants had been marked down to a half of the 20% off price. That was about a 70% savings off the regular cost. Some of the remnants were not IMG_3910IMG_3911marked down quite by half and a few were marked down more than a half. Regardless of whether it was more or less, the remnants were a great price and I did not hesitate toss almost all of them from the bin into my cart. I think the only thing I left in the remnant bin were a couple of pieces that I definitely knew I would have no use for, like a small piece of vinyl and some cheap fleece.

I hauled my treasures home and I have had a great time sorting and matching the pieces with other fabrics in my fabric stash and creating a sewing project for each piece that I purchased. I am so excited about the remnants that I purchased that I’m not even planning on storing these remnants in the stash. Instead, I want to get them sewn up right away.

So, I guess that is my cue! I had better get busy sewing! Winter is coming…

Until then, Sew Forth and Remnant On!IMG_3917

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!

Why I Sew Kid’s Clothes

IMG_0016“So, how many children do you have?” I am frequently asked.

“None” is my reply.

This of course always leads to the next question, when the conversation is about sewing, “Then why do you make so many clothes for kid’s?”

Its a reasonable question and I will give you 3 good reasons why I sew so many kid’s clothes even though I have no children to wear them.

P1030369The first reason is my casual style, and that of the husband’s. I wear mainly shirts and pants/shorts. I basically wear 3 styles of shirts. A t-shirt, a collarless v-neck shirt (a baseball shirt) and a collared camp shirt. I don’t wear dresses or skirts regularly.

P1030399The husband wears tab front knit shirts and on the rare occasion a button down the front shirt both with pants and shorts.

So, over the years I have sewn many shirts and pants for both myself and the husband and I have our basic sloper patterns for these items fine tuned to perfection.

Over the years, I have varied the basic slopers with small changes to the designs, but basically it is still the same pattern I have sewn for us for years now.

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So given this, how could I learn any new sewing techniques and expand my sewing skills by just making these same tried and true patterns over and over again?

How could I learn different seam finishes? How could I learn about sewing with different fabric varieties like fur and pleather?

DSCN0533Why would I waste my fabric and my time to make myself a dress or skirt that I would seldom if ever wear just to learn sewing skills and techniques like gathers, pleats and linings?

There are no pockets on my shirts or the husbands shirts, so where would I learn to make different pocket styles?

There is no bias tape used in the construction of our clothes, so where would I learn to make and sew items with bias tape?

 

The answer to many of these questions for me is by sewing clothes for children of course!

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It has been my experience that kid’s are very forgiving when it come to their clothes.

They don’t care if the fit isn’t quite right. As long as the colors and designs are fun, they are willing to wear the item.

So, while I have been learning some great new techniques and skills while making the children’s clothes, even if it isn’t perfect in the end, I still have a usable item that a child will love to wear.

DSCN4123Plus, just how many shirts can I and the husband have with Snoopy or Mickey Mouse on them? I have so many fun embroidery designs and fabrics for fun kid’s clothes that I would probably never be able to use if I didn’t sew for children.

And how could I not sew and embroider up some of these great items for some children to wear and enjoy?

 

Reason number 2 is practice. You could also think of this as making mini muslins.

I wouldDSCN3413 like to make me a spring/fall polar fleece jacket. I want it to have a collar, a zipper, multiple pockets, and for the jacket to be fully lined. I have already purchased the fabric that I want this jacket made from and I have a basic jacket pattern to use as a guide to sew this jacket for myself.

But, I felt that I was lacking in the skills to sew this jacket. Skills that I need to be comfortable and confident using such as working with polar fleece, sewing pockets, inserting a zipper, and lining a jacket without a pattern.

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To remedy this lack of skills, I started out by making some smaller kid’s jackets and vests. I could learn and practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket by practicing first on the kid’s jackets.

I would waste less fabric if it turned out all wrong and I could repeat the skills that I needed to by practicing them first on the kid’s jackets.

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If you are a reader of my blog, you know that is exactly what I have been sewing recently.

I have made several kid’s jackets and vests. And in the process I have learned how to finish fleece seams, and I have learned to sew several different pocket styles, patch pockets, side seam pockets, welt pockets and others. I have practiced inserting zippers and sewing different collar styles.

And, more importantly, I have learned how to line an unlined jacket without using a pattern.

DSCN3898I now feel much more confident about cutting into my expensive fabric to make my jacket and in my ability to successfully sew my jacket together now that I have made all of these kid’s jackets and vests first.

In fact, I only have just a couple of more sewing skills that I want to practice and perfect on a couple of more kid’s jackets before I will finally be ready to make my jackets.

So stay tuned later this fall, as I might just be wearing a stylish new jacket (or two or three)!

Reason number 3 that I sew children’s clothes is that sewing clothes for kid’s is really FUN!

P1030564P1030560I enjoy sewing! A LOT! I really enjoy focusing my time and attention into the creative process and completing a functioning and fun item for someone to wear.

It does not matter if that item is for me, the husband, the house, the garage, or a kid, I (for the most part) enjoy the steps of making that item.

Plus, I enjoy learning. I learn from each sewing project that I make.

And, yes, sometimes what I learn and learn again, is patience!

As I mentioned in reason number 1, I have a lot of fun fabrics and embroidery designs that neither I nor the husband is ever going to wear, so for me anyway, it is just fun to sew and embroidery these fabrics and designs into clothes for children to wear.

DSCN3537DSCN3986As I mentioned in reason number 2, I made the kid’s jackets to learn and to practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket in the future, but each of the kid’s jackets or vests was very fun to design and to sew.

I learned from each project and for the most part I was pleased with what I made and what I learned in making them.

In other words, I really enjoyed the journey, from start to finish.

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Lastly, I really love to make something from nothing. I love to take the scraps from mine or the husband’s shirt and to make something from them for a child.

 

In doing so I feel like I am cheating or beating the odds somehow. I was able to take something that was useless, scraps that I could not use to make something for myself or the husband from, and was able to make a functioning, useful item from them.

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DSCN0389This is extra fun to do when I get to stretch my skills by using my creative process to make the scraps work in almost any situation.

So, that in very long form is my answer to question of “Why do you sew so many kid’s clothes?”.

With this complex of an answer to a simple question, you’re now probably afraid to ask any other questions, but don’t be.

In my own way, I will give you an answer that might be longer than expected, but enjoyable to hear.

Until then, sew forth and ask away!

I’ll Never Fall In Love Again!

Screen-Shot-2013-11-05-at-9.01.40-AMYou can see it from across the fabric store and there is a whole wall displaying it…

You’re drawn to it and it is so soft, fuzzy and warm, and some of the cutest designs ever are printed on it…

You MUST buy some and, as a general rule, its on sale…

Of course, I am talking about polar fleece and everybody just loves this fabric! Everyone it seems except me. Dare I say it out loud, I may not be in love with fleece or enjoy working with it as much as everyone else on the planet seems to be.

And here is why.

I, like everyone else, love the idea or the concept of fleece fabric. And who wouldn’t? It’s soft, warm, fuzzy fabric with no fraying, no shrinking, it looks good on both sides, it has some stretch but not too much stretch, and all the other fun features that fleece offers a sewer. What isn’t there to love? But, after sewing the last girl’s fleece jacket and starting my next sewing project with fleece, I’m not convinced that it really is all that easy and wonderful of a fabric to work with.

When I first started purchasing fleece fabrics, I planned to only make blankets with it, and who cared if the blankets were a little off grain and the print wasn’t perpendicular, or that it can’t be easily ironed or caused several headaches when sewn with the serger due to the amount of bulk.

DSCN2567For the blankets I was making, I did not give these concepts a second thought, so I was in love with fleece just like everyone else, and I bought any and all I could get to hide in the stash for future projects I had dreamt up. When I decided that I wanted to expand my skill set a little bit and make more than blankets from the fleece, I was at a point in my sewing skills where I did not worry about grain line, or matching designs, or ironing seams. So for the first couple of fleece projects that I made, I just cut it out and sewed it up, and I was still in love with fleece.

DSCN2575 (1)As my sewing skills have advanced over time, I am now far more concerned with thing like grain lines, matching the designs, and ironing the seams. So, when it was time to make the latest girl’s fleece jacket, these things were foremost on my mind. As I cut out the pattern and the froggy’s and rainbows weren’t straight, making it difficult to cut on the grain line and match the designs up, working with fleece became more than just cut and sew.

DSCN2572Looking at the piece of fleece, there were spots where I had to move over 21 inches from the edge of the fabric before I could find a good spot to cut. This was crazy! I decided that the froggy piece of fleece was just flawed until I started my next fleece project. Although not as much, I had to move 9 inches from the edge to get the footballs and helmets to line up.

Does all fleece suffer from this problem?

DSCN2563If it does, I’m going to have to watch WAY more closely when I buy fleece for pieces that I only have to move over 9 inches rather than 21 inches, or hopefully I can find some fleece that I will only lose a couple of inches on the edge. Plus, I’m going to have to buy extra fleece to accommodate for the lost fabric. I wanted to make my latest project a size large but had to switch to a size medium when I lost the 9 inches along the edge.

DSCN2566I turned to the Internet to see if I was alone in my wavering love of fleece, and from what I was reading, I was alone, everyone else seems to love fleece, but I did find several article titled, “How to sew fleece.” So, maybe you just have to learn the skill of sewing with fleece, just like learning to sew knits, furs, silks, actually any and all other types of fabrics. Maybe after learning some lessons about sewing with fleece, I will then be completely in love with fleece like so many others are.

Well I ldid learn a lot from the articles that I read on how to sew fleece, and I am excited to try out some of the things that I learned.

Luckily, I have my next sewing project involving fleece all cut out and ready to sew, so stay tuned to see how it turned out!

Until next time, sew forth and hopefully fall in love again.

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!

We Interrupt This Sewing Plan….

DSCN1278I needed to do some basic sewing. With summertime on the way, I needed some new work shirts to wear. So, I set my next project aside to make me some simple basic t-shirt style shirts to wear to work. But as with all sewing, there are always lessons and patience to be learned. Let me tell you the story.

I started by picking out some knit fabric from the stash. The first piece I picked out was a purple single knit with white sea shell designs that I had picked up from a thrift store many years ago. The piece was not quite big enough for the shirt I was making but I figured I could make it work. I tend to make my shirts long, so if I made this shirt just an inch shorter than I normally did, I would have just enough fabric. So I cut out the shirt and started to sew it up. The sewing went fine until it was time to hem it.

DSCN1280Some how I had cut the front of the shirt very crookedly. I laid the shirt on the cutting table and evened out the front but in doing so I cut off even more of the front length of the shirt.

This minus the inch to fit the fabric now left me with a very short front.

I went to cut off the back of the shirt to match the front, but hated to lose the length so I decided to leave the back longer than the front. Because of the slit in the side of my shirts, there would be no problem to hem the back of the shirt slightly longer than the front. After hemming the shirt, I liked the uneven hem. After wearing the shirt, I REALLY like the uneven hem. When wearing the shirt, I can really tell that the front is shorter than I like but since the back is longer, I am willing to wear the shirt.

DSCN1284The next fabric was white interlock knit with a black and red scattered design that I had also purchased at a thrift store many years ago. This time though there was plenty of fabric so I cut out generous hems for this shirt. The shirt sewed up fine and I liked the fit. The double needling of the hem gave me some hassle though. The fabric wanted to bunch under the needles, so I had to sew it VERY slowly, but it all worked out in the end. After wearing the shirt, I could have made the shirt a little shorter and the hems a little smaller. But the shirt is still comfortable to me, so I’m not going to mess with a good thing and modify the shirt.

DSCN1288The third shirt was made from a very stretchy knit I purchased on the internet. I love the fabric. It is soft and has a nice feel, but it was a challenge to sew. I carefully cut out the shirt, trying to not stretch the fabric as I cut it. I even put the walking foot on my machine to help keep the fabric from stretching as I sewed it up.

I sewed this shirt very slowly, trying not to pull the fabric but the fabric was so stretchy that it did not matter how careful I was. The first seams, the shoulder seams, finished long and distorted. Previously in my sewing career, I would have continued to sew as carefully as possible and hoped for the best in fit when the shirt was completed. Now that I have been sewing for awhile and am more experienced, I knew that if I wanted a wearable shirt, I had to solve the stretchy seam problem so I turned to ribbon.

DSCN0384I pulled a roll of 1/4 inch white ribbon from the closet, and cut pieces to fit my shoulder seams. After unpicking the previously sewn shoulder seams, I placed the ribbon on the shoulder seams and sewed down the center of the ribbon. With the ribbon, using the walking foot and sewing very slowly and carefully, I was able to sew nice, non-stretched shoulder seams. I then used the ribbon in the sleeve seams and it worked great as well. I did not use the ribbon on the side seams because the stretch of the fabric was not as much DSCN0421on those seams.

For the hem, I sewed the ribbon to the bottom of the fabric first then turned up the hem and completed it with the double needle. It would have been easier to have sewn on the ribbon as I double needled the hem but sewing it first meant I did not have to worry about catching the ribbon with the double needle and I could control the stretch better.

DSCN1289I tried to us the ribbon on the facings at the neck, but it did not work out. I could not keep the neckline from stretching and distorting as I sewed the facings on. It finally dawned on me to cut the facings from a woven non-stretch fabric instead of from the stretchy fabric of the shirt to solve the problem. This worked great and I was able to sew a nice looking neckline. I have worn the stretchy shirt and it is vey comfortable although it is odd sometimes when I expect it to stretch at a seam and it does not because of the ribbon in the seam.

With three new shirts added to my working wardrobe, I am ready to get back to my previous sewing plans and start my next project.

Until then, sew forth and summer on!