Apparel: September 2010 Archives
Fall has arrived and with it brisk air, longer sleeves and an urge for apple cider and all things comfy. The days have not quite decided to be cool but in the early morning and evening there is a chill. A light shawl is needed to add the right amount of coziness and warmth for that stroll around the block, concert in the park or watching the leaves change color. I designed the September Shawl with fall in mind. I knew that some days I would need something to nestle around my shoulders (if I wore a shirt too light) or to wrap around my neck to just ease the nippiness. The September Shawl is also well sized for small children to wear if they forgot their coat, can't be wiggled into one or won't stand still long enough for you to wrestle them into it. With eyelet rows begging for light ribbons or icord to be woven through, you can coordinate the September Shawl with your outfit or change it up with some sparkle for date night. This is a perfect fast knit for Christmas presents too.
The September Shawl is knit with Filatura Di Crosa Zara, a DK weight super wash merino wool. It is soft and cozy with great stitch definition. Some techniques you need to be familiar with for this project are: increases and decreases, and reading charts. The September Shawl will also look great in a silk, cashmere or cotton. This shawl needs about 250-275 yds of DK yarn. The eyelet pattern coupled with the ruffle make for a feminine shawl that is both simple and elegant. Made in a glittery yarn or with some sheen the September Shawl is perfect for holiday parties.
Sweater Surgery by Stefanie Girard is one of the most fun books I have had the pleasure of reading in a long time. My library is full of resource books, books with great patterns, foundation books and go-to books but not many FUN books. It is kind of scary at first shrinking and cutting a sweater but there is a freedom that regular fabric cannot give. Mistakes turn into great details, seams are lovely and size is irrelevant.
Stefanie takes you through everything you need to know to turn your old sweaters into something new and special: toys, purses, different sweaters or any accessory your wardrobe is lacking. She talks you through picking a sweater for your project or vice versa, felting (washing machine and needle), tools and notions, deconstruction, reclaiming yarn, you name it. Stefanie shows the reader how to look at the details of a sweater and use them to their best advantage: the bottom ribbing of a sweater becomes the cuff of a mitten, the buttons of a cardigan are the central design on a bag, and the reverse of a fair isle becomes an endearing softie. The projects are a little bit crazy and a little bit bold but only because of Stefanie's sweater choices. The bones of each project are on trend and adaptable to many styles. There is something for everyone because you can make it your own with sweater choices. The fabric necklaces in the book may be too bold for you but if you choose neutral colors and amber colored beads, the whole look of the necklace changes. It becomes a remarkable accessory, a conversation starter upon close inspection but not a neon sign.
Stefanie also includes home accessories in Sweater Surgery that are amazing. Just imagine soft, luxurious sweater pillows to snuggle with on your couch. Such pillows are costly and popular at all the high end boutiques but with careful selection at a local thrift store you can have the same look for under $10 instead of hundreds. There are also some great holiday decorating ideas and projects in this book.
Each project is well explained and some include patterns. In the back, there is inspiration with summaries of how to achieve the look yourself or to use as a starting point for your own creation. I chose to use a mistakenly felted cable sweater and turned it into a sweater dress for my little lady come winter. I cut up the center of the sweater and cut off the arms. I left the seams on the right side because I really dug the look in some of Stefanie's inspiration photos. I stitched with a 2 in seam allowance on the sides and then cut the seam down to ¼ in. I then stitched up the center with a ½ in. seam, leaving 2 in. open at the top (to make it easier to get it over her head). I cut 8 in off the arms and sewed the arms back on with a ½ in. seam stretching to make the arms fit. I trimmed all the seams to ¼ in. The dress fits perfectly and looks even better (it will be great paired with some polka dot or striped leggings). I may use the left over arm for a softie or arm warmers for me when knitting in the cold. This book has got my blood pumping for more sweater projects and I am excited to reuse some of my old sweater instead of tossing them.
I call this blog entry "The Witching Hour" because that's about as long as it takes to put one of the new free Hot Patterns Good Witch/Bad Witch hats together. Any good costume trunk needs a witch hat. My trunk has... a number I'm not entirely comfortable disclosing. (Truth be told, I have no idea how many witch hats I have.)
This pattern gets an A+ in the fun department. I love, love, LOVE it! I couldn't stop myself from making hats! It's a fantastic project to burn through scraps of fancy fabrics that you couldn't bear to toss, and it's also a great way to experiment with new fabrics.
I won't re-write the instructions for making the hats - the free pattern has got you covered there. I will give you my tips and insights, and a photo series of the making of one of the smaller hats.
Here are my tips/thoughts:
- -For the large hat, which I made using a home dec velvet from my stash, I found that to make the crumples sit the way I liked them, it took a little bit of hand stitching to tack things into position.
- -The smaller hats do require a bit of patience when affixing the body of the hat to the brim. This is especially true when working with vinyl. (The trim on the pink sparkle vinyl hat is there to hide some atrocious stitching crimes.) It just comes with the territory when you're working with small items.
- -After making several of the smaller hats true to pattern, I found myself wanting some variation, so I cut the next several with straight bodies instead of crumple bodies. To do this, I just traced the outline of the lower edge of the original pattern and used that as the base of my triangular straight pieces.
- -I didn't want to purchase a bazillion headbands for all my hats, so instead, I stitched elastic onto circles of fabric to create a channel, and then glued the circles to the bases of the hats (in the photos below, you can see the underside of one of the smaller hats to clarify what I'm talking about). This way, the small hats are interchangeable on one headband.
- -The smaller hats would make darling table centerpieces for a Halloween party. They're also so quick to whip up that if you're having a smallish party, you could make them as party favors. You'd surely be known in your social circle for having the best party takeaway EVER.
Here's how my jacquard fascinator came to life:
Cutting the interfacing:
Ironing the cut interfacing to the back of the uncut fabric (This way, the interfacing becomes the pattern cutting line):
The brim pieces stitched together:
The point of the body, stitched and clipped (I like to leave that little tail to give the point a teeny bit of support - your mileage may vary):
Clipping the interior edge of the brim once it's turned (you'll find this makes stitching a good bit easier):
Stitching the body and brim together:
Stitching from another angle:
Hat with stitching completed, awaiting crumple:
Three of my hats, crumpled and awaiting instructions:
The finished batch of minis! There's seriously no telling how many more of these will come to life between now and Halloween. I'm a hat junkie!
There was not much engineering to be done - it was just a simple ribbon with a velvet back and 1/4" elastic sewn to it. And it was $15. Ok, here's where I admit I'm a little bit of a cheapskate. If I think I can make a thing (sometimes even if it will take me a long time and a great deal of thought) I will never pay for it, aside from supplies. I don't know why. I just can't help it. There was simply no way on earth I was going to pay $15 for something that required - at most - $4 of raw materials. Especially because it was an insanely easy thing to make. Plus, I didn't even know if they really were non-slip or not. (It turns out they really, really are.)
So, here's how to make my version:
1. Cut 2 lengths of ribbon 14" long.
2. Cut 2 lengths of Velvet Ric Rac Ribbon 14" long
3. Cut 1 piece of 1/4" elastic 7" long
(These measurements are for an adult noggin - you may want to adjust for kids or bigger/smaller heads.)
4. Stitch the 2 pieces of Velvet Ric Rac Ribbon side-by-side on one of the pieces of regular ribbon. This will be the interior of your headband. If you wish, you can use a basic ribbon like a grosgrain for your backing and save that extra fashion ribbon for another yummy project (or a second headband for a friend).
5. Place your 2 pieces of fashion ribbon right sides together with your elastic sandwiched in the middle. Stitch each end.
6. Flip your ribbon right side out and edge stitch the two pieces of fashion ribbon together along each long side.
No joke, it took me longer to type this than it does to make one. I have field tested these numerous times, and the one shown here (which I made last night) was immediately used for an hour long run, and never moved! Hooray!
This is a great project for kids or new stitchers - because it's so easy, quick and useful, it's a great way to build sewing confidence.
While the impetus for this project came from a runner's need to tame a flyaway mane, these headbands can be made with adorable flowers and butterflies for the perfect fairy hair accessory, or you can add a bit of glitz to glam it up for a special event or night on the town. I suspect many of my friends will be receiving these for holiday gifts this year!
LaLa Scarf: pattern found in Greetings from Knit cafe
I truly hate to write reviews of this nature: the love/hate variety. If I love something, words flow from my fingers with a vengeance and the same can be said for hate. It is when I both love and dislike something that my mind gets muddled and I can't decide which way to go and which characteristics to give precedence to. Arranging your compliments and complaints in a certain order can sway a reader as much as your words. Let's go with stream of consciousness with this and see how we do.
First, I want to clear and air. Love/hate is a saying that easily comes to mind but I feel that my relationship with the LaLa Scarf is LOVE (note the capitals)/ Grrr. I love the finished product. I love the color combinations and possibilities. I love the delicate and small nature of the scarf and I love the look of mohair and the ruffle specifically in mohair. The Grrr comes in because I found this pattern frustrating and not all was due to the pattern but also to my own hang-ups. First, I was confused by the pattern in places. The eyelet row instructs you to do a double YO first and then each eyelet following you should wrap the yarn 3 times. I found this ambiguous. I did as instructed but the eyelets were too big, looked sloppy and floppy and not quite right. The following eyelet rows I just did the double YO all the way across and it looks MUCH better and appropriate. If this is correct, what does the wrap 3 times allude to? I also had a really tough time on the picot loops. I followed the instructions for about 4-5 picot loops but found that my loops looked like rats nests and proceeded to carefully and awkwardly frog back and try again. I went slower this time but with the same result. I decided to leave off the loops and bind-off with the light green yarn to add a whisper of color at the bottom of the ruffle. I used Rowan Kid Silk Haze in Garden and Jelly.
The finished scarf is deliciously soft, flowy and delicate. I can imagine wearing this with a light t-shirt, jeans and tall boots to add color to an outfit and to take it from casual to luxurious. LaLa would also brighten a holiday dress or keep your neck warm on a stroll to take in the holiday lights. This pattern could accommodate other lightweight yarns for a sleeker look should you have a friend who is less mohair and more cashmere. Or a combination there of. Due to my hang-ups with mohair (it is so thin that it floats on air and glides so quickly across your needle that control is difficult) I would knit the bulk of the scarf in cashmere or alpaca and the ruffle in mohair (the ruffle looks amazing in mohair).
When I was pregnant and registering, I listed MANY books but the one I wanted the very most was Kwik Sew's Sewing for Baby. Yes, the cover looks antiquated, the overall style screams earlier decades and the book looks like it was put together, illustrated and planned for the 1970/80's but you must look past that to find the best sewing book for babies. I mean no disrespect to all the other baby books out there. They are great and I love sewing from them but this is the Bible/ Farmer's Almanac of sewing for baby books out there. Let's face it baby fashion hasn't really changed that much from when this book was conceived. Onesies, jumpers, dresses, & footed PJs are still the staples of baby closets from coast to coast. The only difference is from year to year the details change. What this book is prepared to offer you are the patterns and simple directions to create your baby wardrobe with customizations that are popular now. Each section shows you some customizations and points out where in the instructions and on the pattern you can make your own. Couple these customizations with choosing your own fabric and you can couture your little bundle to the sky and it will cost you a fraction and because our Wee Ones are so wee, it will take a fraction of your day.
I was lucky enough to be gifted this book at one of my showers by a very lovely neighbor. I spent many happy nap times drawing pattern changes, rummaging through my notions and trim drawers, cutting several patterns at a time and sewing up a new outfit by the time my little bit woke up. I was so excited because my babe was gifted long legs and (because I use cloth diapers) an ample booty, so thanks to this book I was able to make most of her pants to fit her exactly. Pjs were another problem for the same reasons. Dresses were just plain fun simply because they are so lovely and much easier than I imagined. If you are expecting a child, grandchild or know someone who is, Kwik Sew's Sewing for baby is a wonderful gift. It is like teaching a man to fish.Made from quilting cotton from our Retro Mod sectionKnot dress made from modified pattern pieces from Kwik Sew's Sewing for Baby and quilting cotton, cotton sateen, & linen. Bodice is lined. Made from pants pattern and cotton jersey.
One of my cardinal rules when it comes to costumes: never forget the importance of headgear. A perfectly lovely ensemble sometimes gets lost in the crowd if it doesn't have the right touch of zazz to top it off.
The top hat is a costume classic - but no one wants to wear the same old chapeau from the party store that everyone else has! So, here's a not-so-quick little tutorial on how to cover your standard felt top hat and make it something special. All you need is:
- a hat
- a yard of fabric (you'll have tons left over to make a handbag or pocket square)
- a needle (curved is best)
- about a yard of 1" grosgrain ribbon (again, leftovers)
- tacky glue.
And of course, whatever bits and bobs you want to embellish your finery and really make it extraordinary. One word of note up front: this project is heavy on the hand sewing!
BEFORE YOU START: Remove any trim, edging, etc. from your hat. You want just the hat, nothing else!
1. Trace the crown and brim of your hat onto paper. Since most brims have been steamed to curl up slightly on the edges, make sure you get as flat a tracing as possible so your pattern won't run small. Inside the oval you traced for the brim, center the crown and trace it again. Add about 1/2" seam allowance to the edges of your tracing to create your pattern.
2. Measure the height and circumference of the sides of your hat. On the bias, cut a piece of fabric just a little larger than these measurements (1/2" extra on all sides is a safe plan). This is the first element we'll fit to the hat, and it will probably require a few passes to get it just right.
3. Sew the side piece closed and wiggle it down onto your hat so the seam sits at the back of the hat. Adjust as needed. You want it to be fairly taut. If your hat tapers towards its top, you will need to angle your seam slightly.
4. Cut 2 brim pieces from your fabric. I generally try to cut on the bias, but you have some leeway if you need to rotate things a little.
5. Snip around the interior circle of your brim pieces. I normally snip a little more conservatively on the piece that will go on the underside of the hat.
6. Place your top brim piece onto the hat, and fold under the bottom edges of your side piece so they cover the raw edges of the brim fabric.
7. Hand stitch the side fabric to the brim. This is where a curved needle will really save your sanity.
8. Stitch the edge of the brim fabric down to the edge of the hat. if you can manage doing so with a sewing machine, it will go faster. If your hat is uncooperative, you may have to do it by hand. This is a basting stitch, so no need to worry about perfection!
9. Cut 1 crown piece from your fabric.
10. Lay the crown piece onto the crown of the hat. Tuck the raw edges into the fabric on the side of the hat, folding the side fabric under as neatly as you can. Hand sew the crown in place. I find this is one of those times that pinning is my friend. It allows me to get a nice tight fit arranged before I start stitching.
11. Stitch the lower brim fabric onto your hat at the outer edge the same way you did the upper brim.
12. Trim the brim fabric so it matches up to the edge of the hat's brim. This is normally the time I start thinking, "Hey! This actually looks like a hat!"
13. Cut a piece of bias approximately 2.5" wide, and long enough to go around the outer edge of your brim (plus 5-7 extra inches, for safety). This can be pieced if you don't have one strip long enough to do the whole job.
14. Sew the bias to the top of your brim, lining up one long raw edge with the brim's edge. You'll want to fold your bias at the beginning. This is another time the sewing machine will make your life easier. (Thanks Elias Howe!) This seam should be as neat as possible, so if you go the hand-sewing route, be sure to take your time and make your stitches as even as you can.
15. Fold the unstitched edge of the bias over the brim edge to the underside of the hat. Play with where you wish to place the fold until you like the look of things. This becomes more important if you are using a contrasting fabric for your binding. Hand stitch the bias binding to the underside of the brim as carefully as you can.
16. Flip the hat so the interior is exposed to you. Check to see how well the snipped edges of the brim's interior edge fold into the hat. Adjust clipping as needed.
17. Run a bead of glue (any tacky glue works fine) all along the interior of the hat, then push your raw edges down into it. Be careful not to get glue on the exposed parts of your chapeau! I like to wrap another hat with plastic wrap and snug it inside the hat I'm working on to ensure that the fabric adheres smoothly into place. Any object you can find that will apply light pressure to the inside of the hat will also work.
18. Time for a break! You've gotta give the glue some time to dry, so make a snack, watch television, go to the movies, or doze off. Drying times vary depending on glue and fabric, so give it a while. If you're feeling crazy industrious, you can always start another project.
19. Once the glue has dried, hand sew your grosgrain ribbon to the interior of the hat, overlapping the ends by an inch or so. You're so close!
20. EMBELLISH TIME! This is always the fun part. Add a pretty hat band. Feathers are always fab. Silk or fabric flowers, crazy birds, that weird bauble you bought with no plan -- now is the the time to let your inner milliner run free!
Voila! You are now a hatter, and not a hint of mercury poisoning. ;)
For this project, I used dupioni silk. My other example hat features black velvet and tulle with various trims I had in my stash.
Tune in next week for another project for your costume trunk! It's themed in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, so if you've ever dreamed of life as a seafaring scallywag (and really, who hasn't?), it'll be right up your alley!
The Ruffler foot attachment is one of the most fun feet available for your sewing machine but it can be intimidating, frustrating and complicated. Rufflers attach in either screw-on (like changing out a shank) or snaps onto to your existing shank though some require the purchase of a low shank.
When I first received my ruffle I was pumped to get started but I was disappointed with the instructions and low quality pictures that came with it. "Surely I can figure this out myself", I thought, and "how hard can this be". Hard is the answer. This foot is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle embroidered with secrets. But hopefully my tips and pictures will make it easier for you to enjoy this essential attachment.
· I insert and line up my fabric before attaching my ruffle to the machine. This helps because I have more room to work my fabric in and not the tight area where the ruffle attaches.
· I DO NOT use the feeder prongs. All the videos I have watched advise you to use these 3 prongs to guide and feed your fabric. I find the prongs to only complicate things. 1) They don't allow me control over my seam allowance. 2) Getting your fabric lined up in the ruffle then under and around those prongs is too much work for no gain. 3) I just don't wanna
· Work the foot around the needle arm before attaching it to your shank.
· !!Line up your needle with the hole before you start sewing!!
· Use a basting stitch
· Make sure all adjustments for the machine and foot are tight and recheck often. My needle has fallen out and so has my foot because I didn't recheck half way through a really long ruffle.
· Use a medium speed.
· A problem with the ruffler is probably a problem with your machine. The only reason I discovered a crack in my bobbin case was because every time I used my ruffler my bobbin thread would knot up to the 100th degree. Everything else I sewed was fine.
· The star means no ruffle. It took me extensive internet searching to discover that. It was not noted in my included instructions.
The perfect beginning to the fall fashion season is a good jacket and in my eyes there is no better jacket than the Midtown Trench by Indygo Junction. This was a surprisingly quick project. With all the details and beautiful flares in this pattern (large cuff, box pleats, and portrait collar) I would have thought that this was a time investment but the opposite was the case. The pattern was very well written and it seemed everything lined up and was excellently illustrated. The only trouble I had was with the hem. I ended up doing a 2.5 in. double turn hem as opposed to what was written. Also my auto buttonhole foot did not accommodate 1.25 in. buttons so I had to free hand it. I have learned that button holes are not my forte. Now buttons, I rocked those. No one sews on a button like Tara Miller. I kept the hand sewing to a minimum by doing the double turn hem and I stitched in the ditch to tack down the facings at the shoulders. That worked well. I would recommend any of our designer prints for this or smooth sateen or twill fabric. I used a size 14 needle and all purpose thread. You will need a large space to layout and cut your fabric; some of the pattern pieces are large. The fabric is Love by Amy Butler and it was great fun to work with as well. Not a big hit with the husband but all my girlfriends and mom loved it.
The top stitching incorporated in the pattern adds a lovely and professional finished. The back box pleats really add some extra swing to this jacket. The ¾ length sleeves, large cuffs and wide portrait collar are really 'on trend' but are still classics to last years. The fact that this jacket is so quick makes it easy to make several in different patterns and colors. There are 2 different versions included in the pattern. I made the shorter version without patch pockets. You can make the short for a fall jacket in some of our designer prints and the longer in laminated cotton as a great rain coat. The jacket called for 3 3/8 yd of 60 in. fabric and 3 7/8 yd of 45 in. fabric, 1/8 yd of interfacing and five 1 to 1 1/4 in. buttons. I used 5 of our ceramic buttons in a herringbone pattern. They look incredible with this print; the buttons match perfectly.