Tag Archive | Summer

Silly Rabbit! Crocheting is for Long Car Trips!

DSCN2318What better way to whittle away the time of a long car trip than to work on a crochet project? Since I had a long car trip coming up, my next amigurumi project needed to be something that I could crochet in the car. This meant I needed a project that was larger in size than I normally do. A project who’s pieces could be crocheted now and stuffed later and wouldn’t need any stuffing during the crocheting process. A project with a simple count, not a lot of increases and decreases to keep count of or to loose count of when distracted. And, a project that was made from just a few colors so there would be less yarn to carry. After a bit of searching, I came across this bunny pattern. And since it seemed to meet all of my criteria for a car crocheting project, I was soon all packed up and ready to go!

DSCN2324As I crocheted the pieces of this amigurumi, it did meet the needed criteria. The pieces were coming out a nice size while crocheting with my favorite G size hook. The pieces did not need to be stuffed as I crocheted them which was nice. And except for the soles of the feet, and the increases in the head for the cheeks, the piece’s counts were even and it did not take a lot of concentration to keep the count correct. With just two colors needed, I only had to work with two skeins of yarn to crochet all the pieces. Plus, the opening of the head was large enough that I could complete the crocheting of the head and still get the safety eyes and nose put in later. This was truly a great car project!

DSCN2322Upon arriving home, it was easy to start the stuffing and the stitching together of this bunny. The pieces stuffed nicely, and soon I was pulling the button joints. Button joints are becoming one of my favorite ways to attach amigurumi project arms and legs. I did have one problem with pulling the button joints. Some how I got a knot in the stuffing or yarn as I was pulling the leg joints. It left a small dent in the bunny’s belly where it pulled. I tried to undo what I had done but I couldn’t. I tugged and pulled the bunny’s belly, trying to work the dent out but I had little luck with that. I finally decided to just leave the dent and to learn my lesson of being more careful as I pulled the yarn for future button joints.

DSCN2327When it came to the smile, I tried several different styles, including an open smile with a top and bottom lip using two strands of yarn but a simple line with a little curve was the best. I opted for a fluffy white pompom for the tail rather than the crocheted tail like the pattern called for and I also left off the belly spot that the pattern had. The bunny in the pattern had a crocheted purple spot on his belly. I crocheted the circle but when it came time to stitch it on, I did not like the look on my bunny, so my bunny does not have a belly spot.

DSCN2329A name for this bunny never came to me through the entire crocheting and stitching process, but the husband quickly named the finished bunny Trix because it reminded him of Trix the Rabbit from the cereal, so this bunny’s name is Trix.

He was very fun to make and he turned out just adorable in the end.

He also made a long car ride much more enjoyable. I don’t have another car trip planned for the near future but if I did I would probably make another one of these bunnies!

Until then, crochet forth and ride on!

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Being Biased – Part 3 – Button Fitting

DSCN1300I believe I have fallen in love with bias tape.

Even though, I had a number of trial and tribulations in the making of and the sewing on of the bias tape with these tops, I can see were bias tape can be a fun accent to many sewing projects and I can’t wait to start another bias tape project.

But before I do that I needed to finish these cross back summer tops before the summer has ended so that the girls can actually get some use out of them.

All I needed to do to finish them was to add buttons and buttonholes to the back of the tops and they would be done and ready to wear.

Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Well, I wish would have been as easy as it sounded.

DSCN1303I knew when I cut this pattern out that this pattern does not have a true side seam. I did not think it was going to be a big deal, but it was!

The backs are cut so that the shoulder and side seams are towards the front of the top. There is no seam directly under the armscye or on the shoulder. It is just to the side of the armscye and front of the shoulder.

This pattern also has no indication of where the buttonholes should be placed. So, when it came time for me to determine where to sew the buttonholes and buttons, I had some guessing to do. DSCN1304

I started the guessing by trying to determine where the true side seam would have been on these tops. Should the back come towards the front of the top a little, like 1/2 inch, or a lot, like 2 inches.

Next, I had to determine if the cross over should match at the top and leave a big “V” at the bottom of the back or should the “V” of the cross over be smaller by lowering the top. I spent hours measuring, folding, pinning, and deciding where to put the buttons and buttonholes.

I would think that I had it all ready to sew, then I decided that it wasn’t right and I would start again. After awhile even the husband grew tired of me showing him each variation that I tried. He tried to help, but I just could not make up my mind if I had it right or not. DSCN1302

Finally, I reached a point were I truly believed that I had it measured, folded and pinned where I wanted the buttons to be so I went to the sewing machine. I carefully sewed the buttonholes and buttons in place on both tops.

When I was done, I was quite pleased with myself until I held the tops up and the back curve of the cross over flopped down over one of the special buttons I had paid a lot of money for. Crap! The buttons needed to be higher on the top.

Now, how was I going to fix this? Version 2

My first thought to solve this problem was to sew a hook and eye to the curve which would attach the curve to the back of the top. This would keep the curve from flopping over but that did not work. When the curve tried to flop over, you could see the hook and eye and it looked worse than the flopping curve of the fabric.

My next thought was to use some velcro. As I went to sew the velcro on, the husband asked what I was doing. I showed him the flopping curve and how I was trying to fix it. He said to stop. He said that since girls were sisters they could keep an eye on each other’s backs when they were wearing the tops and if the curve flopped, they could fold a crease in the bias tape so that the curve would not flop as much. This seemed like a reasonable solution to the flopping curve, so I left it at that.

20150530_124144The REAL answer to this whole problem was to have the girls try the tops on before I placed the buttons.

I could have quickly determined where the “side” and “shoulder” seams should be, how big the “V” in the back should be and where the buttons needed to be. But, I had wanted the tops to be a surprise for them so I didn’t. Even though they had picked out the fabric, they did not know what I was making from it. Plus, with them not knowing what or when I was making something, there was less pressure to get the tops completed.

With that all in mind, I determined that the surprise and less pressure to get the items completed were not worth the button/buttonhole headache, and with this lesson learned, the next time I make something for the girls, there will be fittings during the process. Version 2

Upon receiving the tops, their mom says the girls like them and will wear them. I explained to their mom the button/floppy curve issue and she said it would not be a problem.

I don’t believe that the girls were nearly as excited about these tops as they were their fun vests or their Dr Who bags, but that is ok because I learned a lot from these tops both in the sewing process itself and in the process of sewing for others. 20150530_124000

And the next time I sew for the girls, I am getting them involved in the process.

No more surprises!

I want them to pick their own fabrics, colors and styles. I want to measure them so that I have the best fit, instead of using a year old measurement that their mom took (no offense to their mom), and I want fittings and alterations done during the sewing process.

I think I will learn even more sewing for them this way and they will have exactly what they want as well. Plus NO more guessing!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

Being Biased – Part 2 – The Sewing of the Bias Tape

DSCN1308I gave the process of sewing of the crossed back summer tops a lot of thought before I made the first seam.

I had read the pattern instructions, but I wanted to sew the top together with fitting in mind. I wanted to sew the seams so that the minimal amount of unpicking would be necessary if I needed to alter the size of the tops for the girls later. So, my plan was to start with sewing on the bias tape before sewing the shoulder seams or the side seams. After the bias tape was sewn on, I would sew the bias tape together with the shoulder and side seams as one single seam. That way if I had to alter the shoulder seams or the sides seams of the top, I only had to unpick a little bit of bias tape to get to the seams. This was a great plan until I thought about how I wanted to sew the bias tape on.

DSCN1298In deciding how I wanted to sew the bias tape on, did I want to sew the tape to the right side of the fabric and then fold it to the wrong side and stitch in the ditch on the front so that no seams were showing? Or, did I want to sew the tape to the wrong side and fold it to the right side and then stitch the tape with a decorated thread or stitch?

Since I was already mixing colors by using the pink bias tape on the purple top and visa versa, I choose the second option for sewing the bias tape on. So, my final sewing plan went as follows: I would sew the bias tape to the wrong side of the fabric and would then fold the tape to the right side after sewing the bias tape together with the shoulder and side seams. I would then top stitch the tape with the opposite color thread, i.e. sew the purple bias tape on with pink thread and visa versa. Sounds like a solid plan, right?

Well, this did not work as planned.

DSCN1295Because of how I had sewed the bias tape on, when I folded it to the right side the bias tape was needed to be sewed together opposite of the shoulder and side seams. If I had sewn the bias tape the other way that I had thought about doing it and folded it to the wrong side, my seams would have worked. But, instead of my plan working, I got to unpick several inches of each piece of the bias tape so that I could sew the bias tape together, then I could sew the shoulder and side seams together and then sew the bias tape back in place on the wrong side. Finally, I could fold the bias tape to the front and do the top stitching. All these little seams were flustering and extremely time consuming to sew and lets face it, not a lot of fun to do! But, I finally got it done and I had completed the sewing of the first top.

DSCN1306I wanted to sew the second top with the bias tape folding the same way as the first so I returned to the pattern’s instructions. I started by sewing the shoulder and side seams together first and then I sewed the bias tape on the wrong side of the top. Next I folded the tape to the right side and then top stitched the tape on. This went much faster and easier than the sewing of the first top had with no little seams to deal with. An with that the second tops sewing was complete.

I had four opportunities to learn the best way to start and stop the bias tape. I tried several ways but the way that folded and stitched the best for me was to leave a small piece of bias tape unstitched where I started. When I reached the end of the seam for the bias tape, I folded the ending piece of bias tape back on itself. I then laid the starting unstitched piece on top of the folded ending piece and then sewed this in place. When I folded the bias tape over, the starting pieces folded into the folded ending piece to make a finished start and stop of the bias tape.

DSCN1313The idea of sewing the bias tape to the wrong side of the top and then folding the bias tape to the front and top stitching in a contrasting thread sounded great, but in reality, sewing the bias tape on the right side and folding it to the back and stitching in the ditch with a matching thread would have hid a lot of sewing sins.

The top stitching looks good for the most part, but anywhere were my seams were not exactly straight, the contrasting thread announces the wavy seam LOUDLY. Also the starting and stopping of the seams don’t look that good. This is especially true where I was learning how I wanted to start and stop the bias tape.

DSCN1299The sewing of the tops would have been a lot easier and cleaner if I had sewn the bias tape the other way, sewn to right side and then folded to the back. I also could have followed my fitting plan. But, I had sewn the bias tape the other way and many lessons were learned, so it made the whole experience a good thing. Plus, the tops were looking good with the contrasting colors and threads. So, with the tops sewn, it was time to add on the buttons and buttonholes.

Join me next time to see how they turned out once they were completed!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

Being Biased – Part 1 -The Making of the Bias Tape

IMG_1621My coworker’s tween girls are using and enjoying their Dr Who bags and it does my heart good for someone to enjoy and use something that I have made.

So much so, that it was easy to find another pattern to sew for them next. This time I made them a summer crossed back top from some sugar skull fabric that they picked out. I found this crossed back top pattern on line for free. It looked like a fun summer shirt, easy enough to sew and the right size for the girls.

I gave the girls their choice of a couple of fabrics that I had in the stash and they both picked the sugar skull fabric. I did not have enough sugar skull fabric to made both shirts so I planned to piece the tops with some black fabric from the stash.

Then I thought about it being summer. DSCN1296These were summer tops made to be worn in the heat of the summer months, so how could I make them from black fabric? So I dug through the stash and I found some nice pink and purple that would match the sugar skull fabric.

I decided to make one top from the pink and one from the purple so the girls would not have to match. I know that teens are image concious that way. The pattern is only two pieces, a front and a back, cut twice. Based on the girls measurements, I cut the front and back 1/4 inch wider and 1 inch longer than the pattern called for. The pattern also called for 3 yards of 1/2 inch double folded bias tape. I

f I had been making the tops with the black fabric, I would have bought the needed bias tape, but since I was using the pink and purple fabric, I decided to make the bias tape. 61NeRAwqLEL._SY450_Then I had the idea of using the pink bias tape on the purple shirt and the purple bias tape on the pink shirt to give them some great contrast, so I would definitely be making the bias tape myself. Plus, it would give me the opportunity to make bias tape again, and as you know practice makes perfect and I don’t use bias tape all that often.

Now, I thought I had the process down for making bias tape from the last time I made it for another project, but I was incorrect. I had a lot to learn and relearn while making this bias tape. I started out by cutting 1 inch strips on the bias. When it came time to sew the bias strips together, I knew that they needed to be sewn at a 90 degree angle, but I kept sewing the strips together backwards, one seam up and then one seam down. After much trial and error, I figured out that I needed to sew one strip on top, then the next strip on bottom to keep all the seams all on one side. 71f-MxnZmTL._SY450_

After getting all the bias strips sewn together correctly, I started to iron and shape them. I used my 1/2 bias tape maker and was making some beautiful bias tape, when I realized that my bias tape was only single fold.

What? Darn! I needed double folded bias tape!

So I folded my beautiful 1/2 single fold bias tape in half and got 1/4 inch double folded bias tape, half the size of what I needed. Crap! I seriously thought about just using the 1/4 inch double fold bias tape that I had made but I decided against it and started all over again.

This time, I cut 2 inch strips on the bias, sewing them together correctly as I had learned to do earlier, and I prepared to iron again, but not until I purchased a one inch bias tape maker.

Looking on Amazon for bias tape makers, I found two types, Singer brand made completely from metal, and several third party brands made of metal with a plastic insert.

Which was better? DSCN1310

After reading many reviews and pondering the question, the husband rolled his eyes and ordered me both the Singer and another brand with the plastic inserts. After trying both styles of bias tape maker, I decided to use the Singer metal ones. Even though both worked fine, I just liked the Singer ones better. They seem to fold the fabric more evenly and were easier to push the fabric into the maker when starting out.

After a fair amount of ironing, I had 4 yards of 1/2 inch double folded bias tape in both pink and purple, ready to sew on. I made 4 yards of each color rather than 3 yards like the pattern called for because I had increased the size of the tops slightly from what the pattern called for.

Now it was time to sew the bias tape on to the tops.

Stay tuned for the construction of the crossed back summer tops in my next post!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape 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!

A Box Of Ladybugs – Part 3, The Attaching

DSCN0691DSCN0693The bodice looked great with the sleeves attached, and the skirt was just adorable with the box pleats done. It was now time to sew the two parts together. This presented an unforeseen problem though. Because I have a pleat at the center back ok the skirt, instead of a slit, I had no way to attach the overlap of the buttons to the skirt and still keep the lining separate for the stitch in the ditch seam.

I had several options I could use at this point. One was to sew the overlap of the buttons together, making them one piece and skip the stitch in the ditch seam, sew the bodice and skirt together and finish the seam off with the serger. This would have been the simplest way to complete the dress. But you know me, I always have to do it the hard way first. Instead of the easy finish, I sewed the overlap of the buttons as one piece, and cut a slit in the lining by the overlap. This left the lining loose so I could do the stitch in the ditch seam later. I just had to make sure that the slit was folded up in to this seams before I started.

DSCN0696DSCN0697The stitch in the ditch seam did not go well. Even with an application of some seam to seam adhesive, spots were missed and the slit became unfolded. The seam was all over the place on the inside of the lining. The back part by the button overlap was a mess. But, on the outside everything still looked great! Having learned enough from the attaching of the bodice to the skirt, I patched up the stitch in the ditch seam and called it done. And I know what to do next time to get a better seam. I then hemmed the skirt and the lining together to complete this dress. I still do not know which is best, hemming the lining and skirt as one or hemming them separately.

From the outside, this dress was a total success and I really should have embroidered a cute design on the blank front of the bodice. From the inside though this dress is a total mess, but that will not affect the wearing of this dress. I think this dress will look cute on any little girl and I hope that she will enjoy wearing it.

Until next time, sew forth and box on.

A Box Of Ladybugs – Part 2, The Skirt

DSCN0175I started making the skirt with lots of thought and some calculations. After I had sewed the side seams of the lining and skirt together I sewed the lining and skirt together, holding it as one piece. Then I measured, folded and pinned the box pleats. At first, I made a big one inch pleat and separated them by one inch. This was too large, so I cut it back to 1/2 inch. After much fiddling with it, I finally decided to put one pleat in the center front, center back, and each side of the skirt. Then I placed pleats in-between those. Amazingly the pleats just worked out evenly, and what was even more amazing was that the measurement of the skirt with the pleats matched the bodice. I don’t know if I could be this lucky again if I made another skirt or a different sized skirt. Probably not, but with the pleats pinned in place, I moved to the sewing machine.

DSCN0191I first sewed down one side of the pinned pleat, across the pleat and then back up the other side of the pleat to the top of the skirt. I sewed carefully to keep the pleats as even and straight as possible on both the front and back sides. The pleats are not sewn perfectly, but they still looked good. After I completed the sewing, I read that it would have been easier to have held the pleat together, stitched down the back of the pleat, flattened the fold in the back of the pleat and then sewed the box on top of the skirt. Making the seam down the back would have held the pleat even. Oh well! If there is a hard way to do it, that is how I will usually do it. If I do it again I will try the easier way of sewing the pleats.

Regardless of the methods I used, the pleated skirt was now all done and it was just adorable! If I had not already made the bodice, I could have just attached a waistband to the skirt and had a cute little skirt all done. As I thought about that, cute little pleated skirts of various fabrics danced around my creative mind, but I decided to finish this dress first.

Next up, the challenge, attaching the bodice to the skirt.

Until next time, sew forth and box on.