Crafting: August 2010 Archives
Now- I am not an old hand to embroidery but nor am I a green horn. You may find me safely in the middle of the road. This is just my experience we are discussing here, not my enthusiasm. That can be ranked way up high. You have to stand on your tippy-toes to reach it. But this is only since I discovered Sublime Stitching. Back when I was in high school and my mom started me with embroidery, we would head down to the local hobby/craft store and pick from their rather old-fashioned selection. It was just fine for my mom who was in the market for another "Home Sweet Home" sign but for a 14 yr old, a furry mouse hugging a computer just wasn't my style. Jenny Hart is much, much more my style. I mean, come on, she's got aliens, pie and pirates in there (the trifecta)!
Reading her book brought back all my fond memories of why I fell in love with embroidery all those days ago (despite the floral, whimsical jungle); the gentle "thunk" noise that the needle makes as it pierces the fabric, the gentle and precise movement, the freedom of color. Jenny's book is well written for a beginner or anyone looking to pick up tips. It features full instructions along with friendly How-tos, tips and "hey, check out this cool thing I found to do this better". The book has a nice selection of stitches followed by a stitch lesson and then PATTERNS-glorious patterns. Each is iron-on, including the stitch lesson. Most are bereft of added business in hopes that you will get creative and go crazy with your own business. I had such a good time with my stitch lesson. I choose to go with one color but different thicknesses of floss. I varied from 2-6 strands and found I much prefer 3. I left some of my lesson undone so you (my gentle readers) could see what the iron-on looks like. Jenny recommends 3-4 passes of a hot iron before checking but I found with my iron that one pass made it dark enough. My recommendation is to check after every pass. Just a little peek. I also used a 9 by 4 in. hoop as opposed to a circular hoop and thought it worked well for the longer stitch patterns in the lesson.
I have big plans for the rest of the patterns in the book and most fall into the Christmas present category. There are plenty of cupcake, ice cream and coffee patterns that are great for tea towels. I know my brother (with a band) will love one of the Mexican dancers on his guitar strap and my toddler has a ton of hoodies that need a little something special on the sleeve or front pocket. I might even try something for my husband but I will have to sneak it!
Felted Flower Bowls: what a fun, quick felted knit. I love projects like this: quick and gorgeous. Not only is this an afternoon, naptime project but it also make a great gift. Give a cluster of 3-4 to a friend for catch-alls or jewelry in different colors. They make darling teacher presents (keeping erasers, paper clips, thumb tacks, etc) or for a little lady to keep all her treasures.
But... in order to make the bowl you must first come to peace with felting. It was hard for me (my first felt was a cell phone pouch) to knit an object only to 'ruin' it, in a way, by washing it against its washing instructions. It was also hard to fathom that it would be so different after than before. But felting is so fun, shrink-dinks fun! To an extent textures can play well but in general you want to stick with garter or stockinette stitch. There are no ends to weave in and colorwork takes on a whole new meaning. While felting is easier in a top loader washing machine, it can be done in a front loader. I felted the flower bowl in a front loading machine. I choose the shortest wash cycle and checked on it after each cycle to see when it had felted enough.
Felting makes a fabric so knitting the item in its finished shape is not a necessary step. You can knit pieces or just on big piece and sew it together once dried (try Knitty's pumpkin). Felted knitting gets thicker as well as denser in the process. Felted items that work well are bags, appliqués, hats, slippers, and decorative items (agina with the felt pumpkins- I love 'em). Felt is great for shaping, cutting and is much more manipulative than non-felted knitting. Felting is only possible with coat fibers like wool, alpaca and llama. You must also be very careful of blends. I used Berocco's Lustra, a wool & tencel blend, and I will admit I had some concerns on whether or not it would felt. With a 50/50 blend my fears were pretty small but there was still a small sigh of relief when I pulled it out and saw how fine the bowl looked. I have a special place in my knitting heart for felting and I certainly cannot wait pass it on!
Here is a great article from Knitty.com on felting, ins and outs and how-tos.
Here is my project page on Ravelry.
As the summer draws to a close, so too ends yet another wedding season, leaving closets full of retired bridesmaid's dresses. I know, bride's are always saying, "But I picked a dress you can wear outside of the wedding!" Let's be honest - you never do.
I have had several bridesmaid's dresses over the past few years (luckily, I have been a bride as well). Some I have donated, some I have burned (come on, you've been there, too...), but there have been a few I can't stand to just be done with. Two brides in particular have been fantastic friends, and I have always wanted to do something special for them.
The first bride, Alyson, was married to my husband's best friend (and the best man at our wedding) in July of 2009. Chad, my husband, reciprocated best man duties, and I was a bridesmaid (actually, my main job was keeping the bees from stinging the flower girls during the outdoor ceremony). Our dresses were a taupe colored and tea-length with a halter top and a brown sash for accent. The wedding was in the Lake Tahoe area (GORGEOUS!) and the weather couldn't have been better. The ceremony was beautiful, the reception was a blast, and the bride and groom were as wonderful and gracious as could be. Much fun was had by all, and the couple is still happily married and still very good friends with us.
I will confess that I started out with the intention of making something for myself out of the dress. I never seem to have a clutch that can function with both a dressier outfit and something more casual, so I sought to find something to pair with the satin to balance out the elegance. By the time I finished, I decided that I loved the bag so much that I simply had to give it to Alyson (my mind works like that).
Here's a quick summary of my project:
* For the pattern, I chose the Ruthie Clutch from Anna Maria Horner with a few small edits.
* I made the main body of the bag out of the satin from the dress (unpicked and cut carefully so that I had plenty left over). You could recreate this look with duchess satin.
* The top band and the flower are made from a lilac colored microsuede, which was a little more difficult to work with than a regular cotton would have been since it is thicker and didn't make fusing the peltex an easy task. Still, I like the contrasting texture against the satin.
* The pattern calls for a button closure with an actual button hole in the strap. I'm too lazy for that (I'd just leave it open all the time) so I modified the pattern to include a magnetic snap closure. I still used a pretty button for decoration.
* The lining and closure strap are made from a cotton print I had laying around (for the life of me, I can't remember the name of the collection).
* I used some pretty, complimentary trim to hide the craziness of my seams... I mean add an elegant accent.
* The flower is from a tutorial (that I LOVE), found here.
The pattern was mostly straight forward, but it got a little tricky when it came to putting the stabilizer in the band. Admittedly, it probably would have been a lot easier if I had read all the instructions before jumping right in. It wasn't hard enough for me to give up. It did, however, make me realize how badly I needed a pressing ham (the most underrated tool ever). In the end, I decided that I couldn't keep it. Instead, I am giving it to Alyson for a rather belated birthday present. I hope she enjoys it.
Stay tuned in the next few weeks for the answer to, "What the heck do I do with a full length, ball gown bridesmaid's dress in midnight blue satin with a whole lot of fabric (to accommodate my then-pregnantly-round figure)?" I'll give you a hint - both the bride's daughter AND son should benefit from my creativity (if I can disassemble the dress correctly).
Stencils are great for many projects: jazzing up your kids walls, adding some whimsy to a piece of furniture, adding a favorite quotation above your front door, or creating your own wall paper. Stencils can be expensive as well but making your own is not very hard. All you need are a few supplies, some moxie and you are ready to go.
• Adirondack Dabbers or a Stippling brush
Type "Sew Charity" into Google and you will find over 5 million hits. Outrageously overwhelming but also heartwarming at the same time. What is a sewer to do with all the love? How do you pick just one? Well, start close to home. I am an animal lover (big time) so that is where I always choose to start. Both of my hounds were shelter dogs, as were all the animals that have ever shared my home. Working in a shelter is for braver folks than I but, then again, that is the basis of most charities. You give what you can because sometimes you don't have the strength, time or ability to give any other way. In this economy, monetary gifts may not be possible for most families but you can give your time and blessed skill by sewing for charity. Pick your favorite; I am sure it won't be hard. There is something for everyone. For you wafflers we will narrow the field to make it easier for you or to give you a starting point. The big three (As I like to refer to them) are children, military and animals (in no particular order). Let's explore shall we?
Sewing for your kids is easy but sewing for others can be just as fun and fulfilling. Project Linus specializes in blankets for ill or traumatized children. Just reading about this wonderful charity makes me think of warm, fluffy blankets entwined in a child's arms. I need a hug now. Newborns in need asks for gifts of clothing and other goods for children with illness, born premature or in need to ensure a brighter future. This charity urges me to whip out my brightest and most fun prints and patterns and start creating. Sewing for Babies will accept any small toy, quilt, quilt block or fabric which is donated to an area hospital for babies in need.
My favorite charity to sew for is Project Snuggles which encourages crafters of all kind to create blankets for shelter animals to cuddle in while they wait for new homes and so they can have something familiar when they make the transition from shelter to loving home. They have a great search feature so you can find a shelter near you to drop off your goods. I just sent an email to my nearest letting them know to expect some donations soon (See picture above of blankets waiting to go).
We covered the military in my post for Independence Day but I encourage you to sew for your troops every month of the year.
Last, giving the gift of your sewing can brighten hearts everywhere but teaching those who are willing to learn can brighten hearts that you may never reach. The old adage is: give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for life. Giving the gift of skill can only increase the circle of charity. You teach them to sew and they sew for charity. You have just given the charity world another hand to help and that is the best gift of all.