Tag Archive | pull

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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Yay Sports! Go Team!

DSCN3421 (1)IMG (1)I am certainly not a big sports fan, and I am especially not a big football fan, but I am a BIG fan of fabric. So, you know, when I saw this football fleece on clearance at Joann’s and I also had a coupon for even more off the already low reduced price, you just knew I was going to buy some of it. And even though I may not be a big football fan, I am sure there is some one out there that is, and would want me to make something for them from this fleece.

In trying to fall in love with fleece again, I did some reading on the internet and I found some suggestions for sewing with fleece. I wanted to try out a couple of the suggestions, so I pulled out this football fleece and a simple pattern, Kwik Sew 3235, for a pullover fleece jacket. In making a pullover jacket, I won’t have to worry about buttons or a zipper, and I could focus on the seams and the suggestions I had read about.

DSCN2561DSCN2797I could not decide which size between a medium or large that I wanted to make, but as I mentioned in a previous post, the fabric decided for me. I would be making a medium pullover jacket. Also as previously mentioned, this pattern was not very easy to cut out due to the fabric. I had to really work to keep the footballs and helmets straight. When I cut out the pocket, I purposely did not match the design because I wanted the pocket to stand out from the rest of the jacket’s design.

With my pattern pieces cut out, I started the sewing process. The first suggestion I followed was to put a new needle in the machine. The suggestion said to make sure it was a ballpoint needle. I only use Schmetz universal needles so that is what I sewed it with and it did great. The next suggestion was to lengthen my stitch length because of the bulk, which I did. When it can time to iron it, I followed another suggestion of using a press cloth so I could iron the fleece a little more aggressively without hurting the fleece.

DSCN3426 (1)DSCN3429 (1)One article I read suggested three different types of seams that worked well for sewing fleece, a fake flat fell seam (sometimes called a faux flat felled seam), a lapped seam or a double topstitched seam. I was not impressed with the lapped seams but wanted to try the other two seams. As I started to sew, I found that I wanted to just sew double top stitch seams so that the seams matched. The double top stitch seam is sewn by first sewing your seam as you normally would, then sewing the seam allowances down close to the edge of the seam allowance, then trimming close to the seam allowance stitching. Since fleece does not fray, cutting close to the stitches finishes off the seam. On the top side, there is a cool double row of stitching encasing the seam. This is a fun look that looks like it took a lot of effort to sew but was really easy and it looks great! Especially if you sew straight, which I seem to have a hard time doing most of the time. 🙂

DSCN3424 (1)DSCN3423 (1)I was able to do the double top stitch seams on the shoulder seams, the sleeve seams and even the hood’s seams, but when it came time to double topstitch the underarm/side seams, I realized that would be impossible. Because the arm is a tube, there was no way I was going to fit the fabric under the presser foot and sew it. I tried to figure out a way to do the topstitching but could not. I turned to the internet for help, but pretty much everyone said the same thing that it could not be done with a normal home sewing machine.

There were a few suggestions on the internet for how to finish the seam but I was not thrilled with the answers. Pondering the possible ways to finish this seam, I stared at my serger and I shook my head. I have the tools, i.e. a serger, why not use it. So I serged the underarm/side seams to finish them. Because this is not a super heavy fleece, no issues occurred while serging it. I also used the serger to finish the edges on the facing. I could have just left the edge unfinished on the facings but that would have really bugged me.

DSCN3422 (1)For the hems, I folded and sewed the hems as usual but with out finishing the edge with the serger or folding the edges over. After completing the hems, I trimmed the edges close to the stitches as I did for the seam allowances so that all the inside seams matched. I did the same with the pockets opening edge.

Looking at the completed jacket, I liked what I saw from the outside. The top stitching looked great! From the inside though, the serged seams looked so much cleaner and finished than just the trimmed seams. But, I was not disappointed that I had done the double topstitched seams for the others. It was fun to try something different, plus I will have a new technique for sewing a heavier fleece that would not serge well in a later project.

This jacket was fun to make and turned out great!

So, am I in love with fleece again? The answer is maybe.

The cutting out of this pullover jacket was a real task, but the sewing was fun especially with applying the suggestions I had read about. I do see more fleece projects in my future so stay tuned.

Until then, fleece forth, and sports on!

Triangulating The Joint

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, crochet forth and crochet on.

Under and Over, Roger Dodger!

P1030970A while back, I made a tiered skirted dress for my niece. When I asked her mom how she liked the dress, the response was that she had not wore it yet because they needed to buy a slip for it. This was very disappointing to me. I had made the dress from yellow knit fabric and it was suppose to be a play dress, something she could run in or jump in or maybe even ride her bike in. Now, it needed a slip to be worn. Now, it was going to be a burden to have her wear it. I then remembered the last little girl’s dress that I had made from the thin yellow fabric/kitty print that the little neighbor girl’s mom has had to worry about finding a way to keep her panties from showing through at the top of the skirt through the thin yellow fabric. And this was disappointing to me as well.

IMG_2851So in remembering all this, I decided that I wanted to make another little girl’s play dress but this time I would add a lining so there would not be any worries when it came to someone wearing the dress. I wanted to make a dress that would be nice enough to wear to school but still fun to wear on the play ground too. This made picking my pattern to use for it easy. I picked a sleeveless short waisted bodice dress with a gathered skirt and buttons down the back. The pattern already called for the bodice to be lined, so I just had to line the skirt too.

I picked a fun yellow fabric with animals on it that has been living in the stash for many years for the dress fabric and the yellow lining fabric was a Walmart impulsive purchase because it was just $1/yard. At the time of purchase, I did not know what would become of it but I knew I needed it so I had picked it up. You see sometimes those fabric purchases do pay off! So luckily I had all the fabric I needed for this project on hand. Because the lining fabric was a Walmart special, I had no idea how it would launder. But I wanted this play dress to be machine washable, so I threw both the dress fabric and the lining fabric in the regular cycle of the washer and dryer. The dress fabric laundered just fine, and luckily the lining fabric washed and dried great too. It was now time to start cutting.

P1030908I followed the pattern to cut the bodice from the dress fabric and the lining fabric. I then cut out the skirt from the dress fabric as the pattern called for and then I cut a duplicate from the lining fabric. It was now time to start sewing.

Following the pattern guide, I sewed the bodice together first and then the skirt. I sewed the lining for the skirt the same as I had the dress fabric. I then placed the dress fabric and the lining of the skirt together with wrong sides facing and continued to sew as it as if it were just one single piece of fabric.

When that was done, I used the floss method to make the gathers for the skirt. I stitched zig-zag across the floss, being careful not to catch the floss in the stitches, and then pulled the floss to make the gathers. This is a great method for making gathers and It is so much easier than pulling stitches.

P1030909The most difficult part of making this pattern was the step after attaching the skirt to the bodice. Only the dress fabric of the bodice is sewn to the gathered skirt. The next step is to fold the lining of the bodice up, press then pin it in place over the seam that attached the bodice and the skirt. The next step is stitching on the top side of the dress fabric and catching the lining underneath. It sounds simple but it was not. After completing this step, I had a mess. Because I was using a slippery and stretchy soft lining, and despite the pins, the lining did not stay in place when I was sewing. In some places the seam missed the lining altogether. In other places, the lining slipped and the seam missed the fold so I had a raw edge exposed. So I started to unpick, trying to save any part that stitched ok. I restitched the bad parts and some came out ok and other parts still had the same problem. It was hit and miss all over the place again. So I unpicked and sewed some more and I finally got an acceptable seam. It does not look great to me, but it will have to do. And after this experience I decided that this is definitely a technique I need to work on to increase my skill set.

P1030976About half through the unpicking and restitching process I started to think about how this could be done simpler the next time I do this type of sewing. And my first thought was to sew both the dress fabric and the lining of the bodice to the skirt first and then serge them to finish off the edge. Why not? Except for the exposed serged seam, it would be the same as what I had just sewn. Exposed serged seams are not a problem for me on my personal clothing, even though I have read that it is not a very professional finished look. And by exposed seam I mean that it can be seen from the inside of the garment not the outside of it. I then decided that this technique was a sewing skill that I needed to acquire, and that although the serged method would be simpler and faster, I would continue to work on this sewing skill to see which way would work out the best for me.

It was at this point that I realized that I had not used my serger a single time when making this dress. This was very odd for me. I always serge my seams as I sew clothing for myself. But since all of the seams had been concealed so far in the making of this dress, I had not needed to serge the seams a single time.

P1030977The last step was the hem of the skirt. I had not yet finished the seams of the skirt because I planned to hem the dress fabric and lining together in one single hem. I had thought about serging the dress fabric and lining together before hemming but instead I decided to follow the pattern guide. So I folded up 1/4 inch at the hem, pressed it, folded up the hem, and then stitched with the dress fabric and lining held together as one piece of fabric. But once again because of the slippery, stretchy, soft lining this was a challenge when it should have been really simple and quick. After some very slow sewing and the use of a lot of pins, I finally completed the hem. Serging the two pieces of fabric together first would probably had made this much easier and quicker to do. Unlike the bodice/lining seam, this was not “a need to acquire” sewing skill. I should have just used my existing knowledge and sewing tools, the serger, to make this process easier.

P1030974While making this dress, I did some reading on linings and by definition, I had not technically “lined” the skirt. Instead I had “underlined” it. A lining by definition is only attached at a couple of points, generally at the shoulders, and/or at the waist. An underlining is done by using two pieces of fabric as one to make an a single item. So, technically, I guess had done both. I had lined the bodice as the pattern had called for and I had underlined the skirt when I hemmed the dress fabric and lining together. Regardless of what you call what I had done, I had completed this pattern and made a really cute dress for a size 6 little girl that hopefully is a fun play dress with no yucky fussy issues while she is wearing it.

Until next time, Sew forth and sew on!

Thread Joints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Putting the Magic Circle To The Test

After determining that I liked the looks of my sample magic circle better than my chain two sample, I decided to use the magic circle in my next amigurumi project. What I figured out was that I had more to learn about the magic circle.

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I started my latest amigurumi project with a magic circle. Row 1 turned out great, but as I crocheted row two, the circle grew and grew. It ended up making a bigger hole than I have ever got with the chain two method. Confused and a little disappointed, I undid my crocheting and started again but got the same results, so I tried it again. Now, totally confused and flustered, I said to myself, “Strike three, you’re out.” and went back to the chain two method. But, after finishing a couple of the parts for this amigurumi, the magic circle started to haunt me again. And I just could not get over the fact that I could not get it to work, so I tried it yet again. And the same thing happened. After crocheting the second row, the hole was huge!  This is when the simplest thought ever hit me.  To fix the problem, I needed to pull on the tail again and tighten the circle again like I did on row one. And, guess what, it pulled that big hole in tight. Wow, how simple!  Sometimes I amaze and scare myself.

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With this new knowledge on how to use the magic circle, I started the next piece with a magic circle and it worked great. Now that I have done the magic circle with success, the only advantage I can see to the chain 2 method is that you have a little knot to push in the hole to hide it. The magic circle is smooth with no knots, but you still have the tail to cover the small hole.

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I don’t think I will discard the chain 2 method completely. I think I will let the project, the yard and the pattern determine which method I start with, but for now I think I will continue to work with the magic circle.