Tag Archive | warm

Doubling the Edge

dscn0498dscn0527On one of my journeys into the stash, I ran across two fleece blanket kits that I had purchased on clearance many years ago. “Why had I purchase these?” I wondered to myself. A John Deer Blanket? A Christmas Blanket? “What was I thinking?”

Well I will tell you what I was thinking, they were cheap and they were fleece and they were blankets and I needed them to live in the stash. But alas, their time had finally come. They would no longer just live in the stash. They were blankets and since it would soon be getting cold, they needed to be made into blankets and used as blankets. I would not be keeping these blankets once they were made. They needed to go to a good home and to live with someone who needed a blanket. And even though they would be leaving, I would still get the pleasure of transforming them from a kit in to a useable blanket, and that is the real reason of why I bought them.

dscn0506Prepping the fleece was the first step in this adventure. At first I thought about making 4 single layered blankets from the two kits, but then I decided to make the kits just as they came and to make two double layered blankets. Because I wanted to crochet around the blankets instead of just cutting and knotting the edges, I had to attach the two layers together before I could use the skip stitch blade to make my edges to crochet.

Sewing the wrong sides together and turning the blanket, like I would if I was using flannel, would have given me too bulky of a seam with the 4 layers of dscn0528fleece along the edge. And I did not want that bulky edge.

Because the fleece would not ravel like flannel would, I decided to skip the turning part. So, after squaring the fleece, I held the wrong sides together and sewed along the edge of the blanket, about 1/4 inch in. This made the edge of the blanket only two layers thick. Next, using the skip stitch blade, I cut 1/2 inch from the edge of the blanket to make the slits for crocheting. I did not cut off the dotted lines part of the top fleece. These dotted lines were the cutting guide to be used if you were knotting the edge of the blanket together. I did not think the lines looked bad around the design and it made the blanket just that much larger.

dscn0505With the skip stitch portion done, it was time to start crocheting. Since both blankets were in masculine colors, I decided to make a simple edge, with no scoops or scallops.

The first row was the foundation row into the skip stitch cuts. For the second row I changed to the complimentary color and did a chain 3, skipping every other stitch. Changing back to the foundation row color, the third row was a chain 3 and then slipstitched into each of the second dscn0530rows chain 3.

I have made this edge several times before on baby blankets and it is a quick crochet and I love the look of it when it is done.

One difference between these blankets and some other blankets I have made, was that I got quite warm under these larger fleece double blankets while I was crocheting the edges compared to a lighter flannel baby blanket. This was actually ok this time of year, but I will not be making any of these large double thick fleece blankets in July.

Now that they are completed, these blankets are ready to find a needed home.

Until next time, crochet forth and blanket on!

Buzzing for Spring

happyspring2014-2Hurray for spring! Hurray for the return of warmer weather! Hurray for the return of the bunnies, the birds and the bees! Hurray for the green plants and flowers blooming! As spring emerges, I have watched the lavender plants in my yard bloom their beautiful purple flowers and watched the bees dance around as they do their job of pollinating them. All of these hard working bees got me thinking about all the fun free bee crochet patterns I had ran across over the winter and in that thought, my next crocheting project was chosen, a spring display of bees.

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P1040174The first bee pattern I wanted to make was found on the blog, http://kristenscrochet.blogspot.com. He is a fat little bee with stuffed wings. I started by picking out which colors to use which does not sound like a difficult task since the only colors that I needed for the bee where yellow, black and white. Of course, black and white were easy enough to pick out but I went through my entire yarn stash trying to find a bee colored yellow, not a bright yellow but then again not quite gold either. I could not find the color of yellow that I wanted in my entire stash. I had either bright yellows or golds. After debating for quite some time, I finally picked the bright yellow that I had.

The pieces of this bee P1040173crocheted up easily and the sewing went quickly with only the wings left to stitch on. When this bee was finished, the husband said he needed some antenna’s. So, looking at the next bee pattern that I was getting ready to start on, I copied the antenna from that pattern and attached them to this bee. The husband was right. The antenna’s were the finishing touch for this bee. The husband promptly named this bee Air Bee One after the big fat Boeing 747 that the president flies around in called Air Force One.

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P1040164The next bee pattern was found on a skein of Red Heart yarn. It can also be found on ravelry.com. Since the three colors of yarns were out and all ready to go, the crocheting started right away. The pieces of this bee were fun to crochet. The stitching together of this bee was a little more complicated than the last bee because of the six legs. Each leg had two yarns to attach it to the body with. At first I tried to stitch each yarn into the body, tie a knot in the single strand and then hide the knot. This was a lot of work and it had poor results. The arms were just not secure enough on the body. I tried a couple of things to secure the arms but I finally found that if I stitched the two yarns ends into the body, knotted them behind the arm and then hid the ends that I got a secure arm and the knot at the base of the arm was not even noticeable. This worked so well that I went back and reattached Air Bee One’s antenna this way too. This bee turned out very cute and was named Red after his pattern.

IMG_0004Bee number three’s pattern was found on ravelry.com. The pattern is called Bumble Bee Buddy by Ham and Eggs. After making the first two bees, the pieces for this bee crocheted up just as quickly. As I was crocheting the head, it was easy to see that this guy’s head was huge compare to his body. At first I thought it was just too big and it needed to be made smaller, but then I decided that no, it was fine, and that was what made this bee different from the last bees. The pattern only called for two legs and no antennas. This made this bee look incomplete to me, so I made him four more legs and some antenna’s and attached them like I did Red’s arms and antenna. Because the pattern called for the legs to be stitched making a picot at the end, I did the same for the antenna so they would match. And with this bee finished, he was named Hammy.

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P1040154I had planned to make a couple of more bee patterns that I had found online but when I found the pattern for the queen and worker bees at http://kimlapsley.blogspot.com, the other patterns got pushed to the side. Unfortunately, unlike the other bee patterns so far, the pattern for these bees was not as simple or easy. These bees were very detailed and had several pieces to be crocheted. The crocheting of the pieces took time and thought, especially for the queen bee. Luckily, I only needed one queen bee. Because of the detail in these bees, they took more time and thought to stitch together as well. To complete their eyes, I spent a couple of hours cutting tiny black felt dots and then had to have a glue party with the husband to get the tiny felt dots attached to the white crocheted bases. But, in the end, all this extra work and thought paid off. The queen and her worker bees turned out fantastic. And I think they are just so funny.

Bees4Bees3Thanks to the husbands wonderful ideas and photography skills, I have a great spring diorama of my bees to be sent out with my Spring Fling cards. We bought a vase, some silk flowers and a few wooden dowels, and photographed the bees on a green back ground. We had a fun time together arranging the bees in various poses and taking their pictures. Then the husband went to work and photoshopped the dowels out of the pictures and created me a fun springtime photo of my bees.

My spring fling with the bees was now over and I had had a great time making each bee. And I now have a fun spring display of flowers and bees and some great photos of my work.

Until next time, Crochet forth and crochet on!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…

Fur Real! I am not making any of this stuff up! Part 1 of 2

M6430-2Maybe it is because it has been colder outside recently. Or maybe it is because the ground hog has already seen his shadow and predicted that we have lot’s more winter on the way. Or, maybe it is just the amount of fur that I still have hiding in the stash. Regardless of the reasons though, my thoughts lately have been about sewing fur. So, I decided that my next project would be fur vests.

Its been just over a year since I completed the fur coat for the little neighbor girl. I hope she has not outgrown it and that she has enjoyed wearing it. I learned so much about sewing fur when I made that first coat and I did not mean to wait so long to sew fur again and forget all the things that I had learned. One thing I did remember from making that coat was that I had wished it had a nicer looking lining, and that I had done a better job in lining it. So, I decided to make that my starting point for these new vests. I was going to learn to do a better job of lining fur.

P1030986With the linings in mind, I first picked a McCalls M6430 vest pattern to make them from. Since the little neighbor girl already has a fur item from me, I decided to make the vest pattern for a coworker’s tween daughters, aged 9 and 10, but both wearing a size 12. Of course, this meant I would be making two vests instead of just one, but that’s was a good thing I thought since it was a chance to get twice the amount of practice with the fur and linings.

Cutting out the fur was the same as before, and was very time consuming. I traced the pattern onto the fur and then snipped carefully with the scissors to only cut the backing of the fur and not the fur itself. Thankfully, there are only three pieces to these vests, so I only had six pieces to cut out in total. I then cut out the linings which went much faster but still took more time than I expected. The lining fabric just wanted to slide all over the cutting table, so I was careful while cutting to keep it in place and not let it slip around too much.

P1040047I wanted to vary the vests designs slightly from the original pattern, since I figured that I might as well learn as much as I can from a project while doing it. And so instead of using hook and eye closures, I decided to give one vest a zipper as I did in the coat and then use buttons for the second vest. Sewing the zipper in went as smoothly as it had on the coat. I placed the sides of the zipper facing inward on the fur fronts of the vest and stitched them on with the zipper foot. I made sure to stitch down the fur, with the way the fur layed, and making sure to keep the fur smooth. This gave me a nice line on the back of the fur to follow when I stitched the lining to the fur.

The buttons were not quite as easy to do as zipper was. I had to do a lot of precise measuring to get them where they needed to be so everything looked even. And since a P1040043regular button hole stitched by my machine was not going to work with the fur, I figured that a bound buttonhole was the answer. But I was not yet ready for to tackle that with the fur, so I picked a loop closure for the buttons instead. I picked a nice brown woven trim to make the closures that has no stretch, so the fit had to be just right for the loops to go around the buttons properly. The loops could not be too small and not fit around the buttons and could not be too large so that they fell off the buttons. The loops could not be too short or too long so that the edges of the vest laid against each other, and not over each other or apart from each other. It would have been much easier to pick a stretchy trim to make the loops but I did not find a stretchy trim that I liked as much as the trim that I picked out. And I decided that since this was a learning experience, I needed to learn what to do to make the loops properly when my trim was not stretchy.

P1040020So after a lot of thought and measuring, I sewed the loops on top of the fur on the one side of the vest, facing the loops inward, and then I sewed the buttons on to the other side of the vest. I used the extension on my button foot to lift the buttons up from the fur so that the buttons did not sink down into the fur, and so there was room for the loops to fit under the buttons. When trying the loops out on the buttons, I quickly learned that they were too big and that they readily fell off the buttons. I did not want to make the loops any smaller though since it would pull the edges of the vest across each other. I could have moved the buttons closer to the edge of the vest so the loops could be smaller, but I was trying to keep the buttons away from the edge as much as possible so they did not interfere with the sewing of the lining. I also could have sewn the buttons on by hand after the lining was done, but that sounded like way too much work to me.

The final solution that I chose was to P1040039stitch the loops together so that the part that went around the button was smaller but the loop still kept its length. I used 6 strands of embroidery floss to stitch the loops together. And I chose a color that matched the trim so that hopefully the stitches would not be noticed. I used the floss so that the stitches would be strong enough to withstand being pulled around the button time and time again. I stitched through the trim twice with the floss then knotted the floss at the back of the loop. I used a dab of fray check on the knots to seal the ends of the floss so they would not come undone.

Please join me next time as I tell you about sewing the lining and the fur together and finishing up the vests in my next post.

Happy Easter

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With Easter being so early this year, I had decided early on to not make any amigurumi’s for the holiday this year. But when I came across the pattern for these googly eyed easter eggs and bunny, I changed my mind. This project became a must do for some reason! I just fell in love with the pictures on the pattern and I could not wait to make my own eggs and bunny.

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The pattern said to use a size 3 hook, but you know me, I used my favorite size 4 or G hook instead. But who cares if they are a little bit bigger than the pattern called for? Not me! In fact, “who cares” became the theme of this project. Who cares if the bunny is a little lope sided? Who cares if the eyes are a little bit crooked? Who cares if the smiles are off slightly from the eyes? These little guys were supposed to be lop sided, and crooked and off center. That’s what makes them so much fun! And, that is what made them so much fun for me to crochet and stitch up.

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These guys did end up being a little time consuming in the end though. Crocheting the pieces and stuffing them were no big deal but the small details on them did take some time to finish. They have a lot of small felt pieces that need to be cut out and glued on. After I had cut out all the felt eyes, eyebrows, nose and teeth, I invited the husband to a glue party and he helped me to glue all the felt pieces onto these guys in one go. I could have used safety eyes instead of felt but since it is a meant for a decoration, and not a toy for a child, I decided on the felt. Plus with felt eyes I could make the eyes different sizes and shapes and make everything look just the way I wanted.

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So what do you think? Have you fallen in love with these crazy googly eyed easter decorations like I did?

The Long And The Short Of It

The word from the neighbor is that the little neighbor girl just loves her pajamas and won’t wear any other ones. I knew when I gave them to her that the summer season was ending and soon she would need warmer pajamas for the cooler nights ahead. With that in mind I decided she needed some more pajamas to wear. I knew I had some baby blue flannel back satin scraps, that my Mom had given me ages ago and were hidden in the stash, and that it would be just perfect for new pajamas.

With the fabric found in the stash, I had to decide on the design of the pajamas next. It was a quick decision. I wanted to make just a button down the front shirt and pair of long pants, a very simple but classic design. Because I was working with scraps, I did not reach for the See & Sew 5306 pattern but instead turned to my Kwik-Sew books.

I was disappointed with the pattern for the shirt that they had to offer though. The pattern was just the t-shirt cut down the center front with a little added to each side and a collar. I wanted something more with larger facings and where to place the buttons. So next I dug through my pattern box, but I came up empty handed. Did I not have a size 3 pattern for a button down the front shirt? I finally found one, but when I laid the pattern on the cutting table, it was huge! After just making the See & Sew 5306  pattern in a size 3 and having it fit the neighbor girl ok, I knew right away that this pattern was not going to fit. So I went back to the Kwik-Sew pattern and improvised the facings and buttonhole placements.

It did not take long into the sewing process to see that the shirt was coming out very short, much shorter than I would have liked it to be. I debated about adding an extra band to the bottom of the shirt or a ruffle since it was for a girl to make it slightly longer. I finally decided just to give the shirt a very tiny hem and make a note on the pattern to cut the shirt longer the next time I used it. It is not my favorite look for a hem, but it worked out ok.

I then used the Kwik-Sew pattern size 3 for the pants. I decided to use two pieces of 3/8 inch sized elastic instead of a 3/4 inch piece in the waist band like I did for her last pajamas. The two pieces of smaller elastic just adds a more feminine touch to the pants. When it came to hemming the pants, they looked so long to me that I just could not do the 1 inch hem the pattern called for. I just knew they were going to be too long if I did. So I set the pants aside until I had time to ask the neighbor to measure the length from the waist to the hem on a pair of pants that currently fit the neighbor girl.

And I am glad that I waited. Now with knowing this measurement, I cut 1 & 1/2 inches off the hem before giving the pants a healthy 1 inch hem. I made a note of this on the pattern too even though I know that every little kid is going to be a different size. But just in case I am sewing for the neighbor girl again, I know how long to make her pants for now.

Next was the embroidery. Picking a embroidery design was easy. I knew the minute I pulled the baby blue statin from the stash that I would be stitching the baby seals on these pajamas. They are so cute on the blue and look as soft and cuddly as the satin fabric is.

Now I am very excited to give these pajamas to the little neighbor girl. I believe I have the fit very close to her size and she should be able to wear them right away.