Tag Archive | tool

I Don’t Like Spam!

imageBut I do love my new ham!

Over the years, as my sewing career has progressed, I have found that I iron more and more during the sewing process. This fact has lead me to purchase my first ironing tool, a ham.

When I finally decided to purchase a ham to aid in my ironing while sewing, I went to Joann’s and gasped at the price of the ham, and debated if I really needed one. With the help of a coupon, I purchased a ham for half off and went home to try it out.

imageUsing the ham was an instant success!

How did I ever iron without one? The ham made ironing curves and seams so much easier. I did notice though that using the ham in the ironing process was time consuming.

As you know, ironing is all about positioning. Ironing a little, move the fabric, ironing a little more, then move the fabric. With the ham, there is more moving of the fabric to iron the piece that is on the ham compared to ironing without the ham. But, the end results, the nicely pressed seams and the ease of ironing that seam, are worth the extra time and work of using the ham.

imageSince the use of the ham has been such a success, I have started looking at other ironing tools like a sleeve roll or a clapper. I do see some new purchases of ironing tools in my future.

Until then sew forth and iron on!

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New Sewing Tools – Part 2 – In The Pink

DSCN4050The sewing process for the sweater started with the plan to use my second new sewing tool, a new pair of pinking sheers. When reading about sewing fleece, one of the suggestions for finishing the seams of fleece was to just pink the seam allowances with a pair of pinking shears. I used to have a pair of pinking shears many years ago. I loaned them to a friend and I never saw them again. I haven’t really missed owning a pair until recently though, so I decided to reinvest in a new pair of pinking sheers.

DSCN3982When I looked into buying the pinking sheers, I found that I could spend a lot of money for nice pair or a much smaller amount of money for just a pair of the sheers that people had reviewed and said worked well for them. As you and I know, a good pair of scissors is a valuable sewing tool. So, when it comes to buying sewing scissors, I believe that you should spend the extra money for a nice pair of sew scissors. But is that true when it come to pinking sheers I wondered? I decided to go against the grain and buy the less expensive pinking shears for now. Later, if I found that I used the pinking sheer all the time, and I needed a nicer pair, I could then invest the money and buy the more expensive pair.

I sewed up the seams of the sweater, ironed the seams open and pinked the seam allowances. This was easy to do, but it was time consuming to line up the pinked edges. When the seams were done, the pinked seam allowances looked good and pinking was a fine way to finish the edges, but I still think that I like the look of a serged edge better. A serged edge to me is just a cleaner look.

DSCN3721In the end I was happy that I did not spend a lot on money on the more expensive pinking sheers. I just don’t think I will be pinking all that often, and the less expensive pair will be fine for me for how often I expect to use them. Although, if I was going to be using pinking sheers on the majority of my sewing projects, I would definitely invest in the nicer, more expensive pair of the pinking sheers since I know how much better a project goes with good scissors.

Sewing the bias tape on was next. I learned quickly not to let the fleece stretch too much as I sewed the bias tape on. My plan was to sew the bias tape on, fold the edges over and to stitch in the ditch on the front, catching the bias tape on the back. This did not work for me though. I remembered to not trim the bulk from the seam allowance of the bias tape but to leave the bulk to even out the fabric from the heavy fleece to the thin bias tape. I did trim a little of the bulk off the edge to smooth the edges, but not much.

DSCN3974The problem with leaving the bulk is that after going around the bulk with the bias tape, the bias tape was too short on the back side to be caught by the stitch in the ditch seam from the front side. Rather than arguing with the stitch in the ditch seam, I decided to sew on the edge of the bias tape on the front side. Now, there was no problem catching the bias tape on the back side. I was using nice matching thread so the sewing on the edge looks good, probably better than the stitched in the ditch seam would have looked.

DSCN3723The last step was to apply the velcro closures. As I cut four one inches squares of velcro to sew to the sweater, the husband shock his head no. He said he thought that buttons would look better. Since this sweater is not for an infant, there is no worry about a chocking hazard with buttons, so I decided that using buttons instead of velcro would be fine. I asked the husband what he thought about sewing the velcro on as the closure and the buttons on top of the velcro for decoration but he thought that the buttons as the closures was better. He did not like idea of the Velcro closures for a three year old.

DSCN4045Because the sweater is unlined with no facings or interfacing, I put a piece of tearaway stabilizer under the fleece to help keep the fleece from stretching as I sewed the buttonholes. This worked out great! The stabilizer held the fleece steady as the buttonholes sewed and gave the buttonholes themselves more durability. The extra stabilizer was torn away so you won’t even know I used it nor will it ruin the look of the buttonholes inside the sweater.

DSCN3976Soon the buttonholes and buttons were sewn and the sweater was all done!

I think that this sweater is just adorable! I had a lot of fun making it and I learned a few new sewing things and I got to use my new sewing tools as well. I will keep this sweater in mind for the next time I want to make a fun and simpler sewing project.

Until then, sew forth and pink on!

New Sewing Tools – Part 1 – Cutting The Curve

DSCN4045I love to go to craft shows, but I rarely buy anything. I am one of those people that professional crafters hate. I walk around and see what they have made, borrow their ideas, then I run home and make one for myself. That is what happened this time, with my latest fleece jacket/sweater project. The lady at the craft show had made a simple infant unlined fleece sweater, finished with bias tape edges and velcro closures. The sweaters were just adorable, simple and cute, and since I was in the mood for a light project, I decided to make one of these sweaters myself. Plus, I could practice making and sewing bias tape and use two new sewing tools that I had recently acquired.

I knew that I wanted to use this bear fleece that had been in the stash for many years. In fact, it was one of the first pieces of fleece that I ever purchased. Since it was never picked to be used for a blanket, it was time for it to be a sweater instead. I picked a brown cotton fabric for the bias tape, but when the husband saw the bear fleece he said to change to a red bias tape instead. It was no problem to pull some red cotton out of the stash to make the red bias tape with.

DSCN4052I cut 2 inch strips on the bias of the red cotton fabric to make 1 inch bias tape. The cutting and sewing of the strips went smoothly. I am getting better at this process each time I make bias tape. After a lot of ironing, I had a pile of red 1 inch bias tape made. I did not know exactly how much of the red bias tape I needed, so I just made a fair amount since I knew I could make more if needed. If I had extra, I would just save it for another project.

Now it was time to cut out the sweater. I was on my way to the pattern stash to find an infant jacket pattern to use when I spied my Simplicity 8902 pattern laying by the cutting table. Why not just use this pattern? It is a tried and true pattern for me, plus the size 3 was already traced and ready to use. I had envisioned this project for an infant but there was no reason that a 3 year could not wear a teddy bear fleece sweater as well so that is what I went with.

DSCN4046As I cut out the pattern pieces I added an extra inch to the fronts for the velcro overlap and I got the chance to use my first new sewing tool. I wanted to curve the tops and bottoms of the overlaps so I used my new french curve ruler I had picked up on clearance recently. Usually, I would have looked for a plate or bowl to cut the curves, but it was nice to use the curved ruler with the markings to make more accurate, even curves with. Plus, the rotary cutter cut much smoother around the edge of the ruler than it does around the edge of a bowl or plate. It did not take long to cut out the pieces for this sweater and to begin the sewing process.

Stay tuned next time for the sewing of the sweater.

Until then, sew forth and curve on!

Brusha Brusha Brusha

IMG_0355It was time for me to tackle another amigurumi project. After the completion of the dragonfly and conquering the challenges that pattern brought, I wanted to just make a simple project this time around. But, as I looked through my patterns for a simple project, I was not inspired by anything. I didn’t want to make just a simple amigurumi, I wanted to make an simple amigurumi with some flare. So, I turned to my to do list and decided it was time to try the brush technique I had read about in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi book. Instead of using fuzzy yarn to make a furry or fuzzy amigurumi, you make an amigurumi from regular yarn and then brush the yarn to get a fuzzy, furry effect. This is a great idea! I had been wanting to try this brushing technique for awhile now, but I did not want to try it on a complicated pattern in case I did not like the effect or destroyed the project. Since I wanted to make a simple amigurumi next, this would be a good opportunity to try the brushing technique out and if it I did not like the end results, it would not be very much of a loss.

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P1030479With all these thoughts of fuzzy fur and brushing, I picked the pattern I wanted to make, and yes, it is a very simple pattern. The design is called pocket pals. These various animals are made up of two feet, a body and two ears. I picked the dog for my first project and crocheted his pieces from Red Heart super saver 4 ply yarn in white and black. Next I picked the bear design and crocheted his parts from some heavy brown yarn that I don’t have any details on because I picked it up a thrift store unlabeled. I picked this heavy brown yarn instead of just another skein of Red Heart yarn to see how the different yarns would look once brushed. The pieces of these little pocket pals crocheted up quickly and easily and it was soon time to start brushing the pieces.

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P1030444The book said to use a wire pet brush to brush the yarn. I did not have one of these brushes, so I tried a variety of brushes from around the house. From toothbrushes to hair brushes to cleaning brushes, I brushed and brushed but was not getting the desired fuzzy effect that I expected. Just as I was about ready to give up and head to the store for a pet brush, the husband happened by to see what I was doing. Seeing the variety of brushes lying on my table and observing what I was trying to do, the husband left without a word but returned with 3 brushes from his tool box, a nylon brush, a stainless steel brush, and a copper brush. Now, it was time to get brushing.

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P1030445I started with the nylon brush since it was the softest of the three brushes the husband had brought me, on the feet of the bear. The results were good, but not great. So, I tried the copper brush next. Now, there was the fuzzy look I was looking for. I tried the stainless steel brush last since it was seemed to be the heaviest brush of the three brushes. The results from the stainless brush were not much different than from the copper brush on the heavy brown yarn of the bear. Repeating the process, I brushed the feet of the dog with first with the nylon brush, then the copper brush and last the stainless steel brush. The result was very fuzzy. Because the yarn of the dog’s feet was not as heavy, the nylon brush gave the same fuzzy results as the other two brushes but I noticed that it did take more strokes to get that result than it did with the copper brush or the stainless steel brush. Liking my results, I brushed the bodies and ears for both the bear and the dog. The book said I should brush the parts of the amigurumi before stitching them together, which is what I did. After I stitched the parts together, I picked up the brushes again and fuzzed up the joining stitches for a more even look.

P1030471.

Because the bear and the dog were so much fun to make, I picked up some green yarn and quickly crocheted the parts for a frog. I picked up the brushes to start brushing when it dawned on me that frogs are not fuzzy. Darn! I could have made the bunny or the cat or even the chick and they would have been fuzzy and I could have brushed some more. Oh well, the frog was fun to make too. He just didn’t end up being fuzzy.

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P1030474This pattern was so much fun to make that I am keeping it in my crocheting bag permanently. Now, when I am stuck somewhere and don’t want to work on my current project or I am at a point where I can’t work on my current project, or I can’t focus on my current project, I can pull this pattern out and without much focus or thought, make a cute little pocket pal for someone. Also, the husband is going to have to buy himself some more brushes because I am claiming ownership of his current brushes and they now live in my crafting supplies. I see more brushed yarn amigurumi’s in my future.

Skip Stitch Blade #1 Vs. Flannel: FIGHT!

Skip Stitch Blade #1 Vs. Flannel: FIGHT!

(Updated: June 13th, 2105)

According to the information on the skip stitch blade’s web site, blade #2 is the one that is designed to be used on flannel.

As you read in a previous post, that is what I used on the first flannel blanket that I tried.This time, rather than matching the skip stitch blade to the fabric of the blanket, I matched it to the yarn and I am happier with the results.

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Before I skip stitched this blanket, I decided that I wanted to use regular weight orange yarn rather than a baby yarn or a crochet cotton. With that decision in mind, I used the skip stitch blade #1 instead of #2 even though the blanket is a flannel fabric.

The slits are farther apart with this blade and so it accommodated the heavier yarn better.

It did not seem to make a difference on the flannel fabric whether it was cut with blade #1 or #2 as to how well the blade worked. Both blade sizes seemed to do an equally good job when being used on flannel fabric.

IMG_1834

I also trimmed my seam allowances so that I could make the skip stitch slits closer to the edge of the blanket.

I cut them at 1/2 inch this time. Because I was closer to the edge, I did not have to fold over the edge and that made for less bulk when crocheting.

Although the 1/2 inch margin is far better than the 1 inch margin of the previous blanket, the next time I think I will try to cut even a little closer to the edge.

The more blankets I crochet the more I like the drop into the slit to be a smaller size and I like the look of the smaller drop and there is less yarn to get caught in the use of the blanket.

The first row on this blanket is chain stitch in the slit then 1 chain stitch, then 1 chain in the next slit, and so on around the blanket.

The second row is chain 2, skip 2 stitches, 5 double crochets in the next stitch, chain 2, skip 2 stitches, then chain in the next stitch, then repeat.

This blanket could be for either a boy or a girl, although adding the second row makes it a little more feminine to me.

I am pleased with the end results of this blanket, both with the use of skip stitch blade #1 and the pattern that I used for the second row.