Patterns: November 2010 Archives
Heather Bailey's Happy Stacker. Oh, this project. For me, it was a doozy.
You know how some projects you just jump into and you lose track of time and before you know it, you're done and a whole day has gone by but you're so happy with what you made you don't even care about experiencing missing time?
This was not one of those projects for me. I wanted to make it as a gift for a friend who had her baby several months ago. I was all excited picking out coordinating fabrics from the scrap bin in girliy girl colors with pretty swirly patterns. But that's where my enthusiasm waned and my pace slowed considerably. I would cut out a piece here and there. I would look at the stack of supplies for it I had set at the end of my cutting table, and I would beeline for something, anything else to work on. I don't know why I wasn't into it, but I just wasn't.
Then, I made a lunch appointment with said friend. That way, I KNEW I'd have to tackle this thing and finish it once and for all!
The center pole was easy enough. Awesome! "Why was I so unenthused about this? It's fast and easy!" I started thinking.
Then came the rings. Herm. The first one is a tricky business. The pattern instructions do a pretty good job of explaining how to properly turn and twist them as you sew to create lovely little fabric donuts, but even so, things remained somewhat of a mystery until I actually made one. Somewhere in there I started thinking, "This thing should be called the UNhappy stacker."
But the second ring was indeed easier than the first. The small rings are a little patience-testing, but the bigger ones are not so bad. I ended up basting a lot of things into place and then machine-stitching over my basting.
As my stack grew, I found myself more and more pleased with the project and less and less frustrated. (There's definitely a learning curve.)
When it was done, I wrapped it all up, ready to give to my friend. I'll confess: I was a little fretful about this gift. I don't have kids and am not really in the loop on baby presents. I honestly have very little idea what moms might like for their budding progeny. I was slightly fearful my friend would open it and have to conceal her horror at the monstrosity I had created.
Well, I needn't have worried. When I handed the oddly shaped parcel to my friend, her eyes got big and she asked, "Did you actually MAKE something for us?" When she opened it, she gasped and loved it and had all those reactions gift-givers dream of. (More importantly, her little girl went straight for it when mom got it home.) And you know what? Her excitement made all of the frustration so worth it, I started on two more for a friend who's just had twins (and who I hope doesn't stumble across this blog).
So in the end, I give this pattern a thumbs up. I struggled with some parts of it initially, but once I was up to speed things went along fairly easily. And I am compiling a list of fabrics I'd like to use for future versions, including Eek Monsters, The Poky Little Puppy and Dr. Seuss Prints. There are so many fun cotton print collections, it's easy to coordinate to match the design theme of any baby's room. So if you have an new mom or soon-to-be mom in your social circle, odds are she would love a hand-made gift like this for her little one.
I am pleased to introduce my & Fabric.com's November Free Knitting Pattern Download: Belle Handwarmers. The Belle is named for the yarn that created these toasty handwarmers, Amy Butler's Belle Organic Aran (50% Organic Wool 50% Organic Cotton), but the real inspiration was the Fabric.com logo. Colorful and textured, I knew that I needed some color work for this pattern. Pulled from the "R" and "O" both the multicolor and texture are mimicked in the tri color and floral texture.
The signature button also plays a big role in Belle, as a sleek closure and a style wrist detail. The longer wrist length coupled with the button closure ensures a warmer wearing and no sneaky breezes creeping up your arm. The featured stitches are surprisingly simple but designed to impress. These handwarmers are great gift that can be knit up over the weekend or several week nights. Give them to commuters with chilly steering wheels, those who work in frigid offices, loved ones who work outside, soccer moms with early morning game times or texting teens. Belle Handwarmers can be knit in 3 colors (as shown), 4 (with the wrist band, top band and thumb band in the 4th color) or just one (though you will need 3 balls total). Any worsted weight yarn will work but you will want to stay away from 100% cotton because it will not hold in the warmth and may stretch. Merino wool, alpaca and silk blends will be the warmest.
I once promised myself to only knit for myself... I kept that promise until my little one was born and now it seems as though my needles belong to her (even though I won't let her touch them- she puts items away never to be seen again). I can't stop looking for kid patterns or toy patterns. Anything that might get a squeal or a smile. Thus, one day whilst creating my November blog calendar I stumbled upon Bekah Knits Lollipop Skirt. My heart was hardly still and my needles started to sing. I had to make it- I HAD TO MAKE THIS SKIRT. It was cute and made of cotton- Deal- Done- Say no more. I quickly added it to my Google calendar.
My little girl looks adorable in this skirt and the length really works for both of us. The Lion Brand Cotton-Ease yarn was great to work with. The color selection is very extensive making it easy to pick your favorite colors for this skirt. The over 200 yds on each ball means you can get 2 skirts (depending on the sizes) out of 3 balls in different colors. I will make another skirt once she grows out of this one. It is so fun to watch her play in something I knit.
Please excuse a quick detour on Stash Busting. Like many sewers, I have acquired a stash. Often my stash can climb to such amounts that I must impose a limit upon my fabric purchasing until I can deplete my stash back to livable standards or I can hide most of it from the other members in my family (namely, the husband) so that all- including myself- are convinced that my stash is once again at a controllable level. Only then may I recommence fabric purchasing. I get the feeling that I am not alone in the sewing world in this circle of stash fighting/feeding.
Now, I was saying how this book is great for stash busting but it is also good for stash feeding. On the one hand, all the projects are geared to reuse fabrics. On the other hand, the projects in this book are so cute and fun that they make you want to purchase just the right fabric to make your own version. Either way, you will spend many delighted hours in your sewing sanctuary.
I choose to make the Easy, Breezy Skirt which reuses a pillow case to create a simply but beautiful skirt. By taking advantage of the existing hem of the pillow case and the fun detail that often accompanies pillowcases you can sew up a fun skirt in less than 30 min. I was able to reuse a pillowcase that I have been safe guarding for 5-6 years for just such a project. I took stock of my closet and noticed a definite lack of shorter skirts and thus cut mine to 16 in. (17+ in. to include casing). I was in 8th heaven given that all I really had to do was cut one straight line, sew a casing, insert the elastic and sew it closed. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? I was done. Of course, you can also make this skirt out of Premier Print sheeting (which requires slightly more sewing and adds more flexibility for sizing and details) or quilting cotton (to combine your own funky patterns).
There are several more sheet/pillowcase pattern in this book as well as felted sweater patterns and many more great ideas for household fabric. Of course it goes without saying that all patterns can be completed beautifully with fabric yardage as well. The bottom line of course is that this book is perfect for Christmas gifting. Not only will you find a pattern for everyone but you will probably be able to make them all reusing found fabric from your own home. Sewing Green helps to make this Christmas a Green Christmas!
Our Green theme is going strong and continues with Heather Bailey's New Leaf Folding Totes now with a wipe able edition (more on that below). PLUS this pattern is perfect for Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers. Quick tangent: Not only can you make a few totes to give to a loved one but you can also make just the pouch (to store memory cards, business cards or change), the wallet (coupons as Heather suggests or as a travel jewelry pouch or small makeup case). This is a really great pattern especially for this time of year. Gift wrap is not required with Heather's super cute appliqués and sash.
I was hesitant when I first began my initial read through of the pattern. Just a glance at the back shows the tote, wallet, pouch and sash. I remember thinking to myself: "So I have to make a wallet for every tote and cram them in there every time to keep the tote neat and cute". Well, yes and no! Yes, basically you do make a wallet for every tote but it is built onto the tote so folding is easy and clever. The sash wrangles all your New Leaf Totes together so you can grab and go. Plus with the attached wallet and sash once you are done sewing you are also done wrapping. These are so gorgeous on their own that any wrapping can only bring them down.
Now- As I like to give you, readers, options and new ideas, I gave this pattern a wipe able, water proof lining in case your pasta sauce breaks or meat dribbles a little you can wipe and go. And no need to worry over staining your new cute tote. I applied Heat N Bond Iron on Vinyl to the lining pieces only. It was very easy and straight forward. However, this ruled out pressing any creases into my lining as instructed. I soon learned that these creases (had they been possible) would have been destroyed when I turned the bag right side out. The lining was really crumpled and creases would have disappeared. The lining can be smoothed and look quite nice once the bag is finished. The exterior creases keep the shape and make folding easy so there is not loss there. This vinyl lining is very sharp and makes for a great addition to this market tote. The fabric I used for the New Leaf Tote was: Nicey Jane Road Stripe, Nicey Jane Picnic Bouquet,& 100 % Cotton Muslin.
A few quick remarks on the pattern. It is easy and well written but I would move the wallet construction to before sewing the tote pieces together. I would also sew the wallet onto the tote exterior before you construct the tote instead of after. I had a real tough time sewing the wallet onto the tote after it was put together. I pulled the bag inside out and tried it that way but it was tough no matter what. I am amazed at how beautiful a market tote can be but given it is from Heather Bailey how surprised can you really be?
No one ever imagines accidents will ever befall their knitted goods, but accidents do happen. When they do it is important to know how to repair your knitting. There is no one sure way to fix every possible accident that could 'ruin' a knitted project but there are certain steps and techniques to know that can save your hard work and restore knitting. For an example we shall use a pair of Knucks that I knit for my photographer brother a few years ago as a Christmas present. Unfortunately, his dog loved them too- a little too much and chewed off the pinky. I have been circling it for a few weeks trying to decide how to approach the damage and repair it without reknitting. I just decided to jump in but work slow and see where it went. I still had some wool left over so I was feeling good!
I started by pulling on the loose ends and pulling out any stray threads. Basically clearing the rubble. I wanted to get to a continuous row of loops to put back on a needle and perhaps just knit up the pinky again. However, the nature of the pattern didn't allow knitting just the pinky. Knucks are knit from the top down with the fingers knit individually then knit together then the body of the Knuck is knit down from the fingers. The damage did not go past where the fingers joined the body so I had to pull off all the fingers. One of the threads chewed was the row that joined the fingers together.
Once the fingers were removed, I put the body on a circular needle and set aside. I reknit all the fingers following the pattern to one row after the fingers were knit together. Next I stitched the fingers to the body with a Kitchener stitch. The Kitchener stitch allows for a seamless, invisible join of both pieces of knitting and can be used on live stitches or bound off ends. This was the easiest part and the most satisfying. Once done the knuck looked as good as new (minus weaving in the ends).
Here is a quick review of the steps:
1) Clear the rubble (pull loose threads and damaged rows). Don't worry about pulling out rows, you want to get to a full row and clean off all the damage. If you pull out too much or all- you are no worse off than if you hadn't tried at all, so no worries.
2) Put your clean live stitches on a needle and asses the loss. What parts are missing?
3) Read the pattern, especially the part that was damaged and missing. Read how to reknit that area and how it is joined. Try to follow the directions as closely as possible to recreate the missing parts
4) Join your reknitted part to the existing knit with a join that either closely resembles the original or is invisible, like the Kitchener stitch.
These steps can be used on sleeves, socks, gloves, toys, most knitted goods. Just pour yourself a cup of coffee, take a deep breath and jump in. If you find yourself over your head, don't worry. You can reknit from scratch. At least you tried and perhaps learned something new.
Psst: I plan on doing a complete re-do of the embroidery on the Knucks using some of the techniques learn in Sublime Stitching.
Blankets with sleeves continue to be popular - and they're super easy to make. We call ours a Cuddle Bug! You can give everyone on your list the gift of cozy comfort, without giving up all your sewing time this season.
These directions are for an adult-sized Cuddle Bug. Scale down for kids or smaller adults.
Start with 3 yards of fleece, and cut according to the diagram below. (You'll have a little left over.)
-Cut two yards for the Cuddle Bug body.
-23" down from the top of the body, cut 2 circles 10 inches in diameter. To mark the center point of each circle for placement, divide the width of the body into thirds. Most fleece is 58-60" wide, so the center of each circle will be about 20" from each edge.
-Cut the remaining yard down to a piece that is 25" long along the grain.
-Cut the 25" piece in half lengthwise, so you have to sleeve pieces which are each 25" x approx. 30"
-Fold each sleeve in half lengthwise, and stitch closed along long edge.
-Sew the sleeves into the sleeve holes, orienting the seam towards the bottom and easing in as necessary.
(Since fleece is so easy to work with, I don't even bother with pins or clips on this step - just go for it!)
-If desired, finish the edges of the blanket body. You can hem them, serge them, cut them into fringe - you're the designer!
And that's it!
Cuddly fun for everyone. Couldn't you just curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and a remote right about now?
Since November is the month of giving thanks, I also like to think of it as the month of giving back and being green. As much as we love the holidays, it is about giving back so why not give a little back to the environment. In an effort to be more green, giving and draw attention to Fabric.com's many eco-friendly products, this month I will be highlighting eco-friendly crafts in honor of Thanksgiving and still bringing the fun or sewing, knitting and crafting in general.
Now- the fun stuff! You may not know but I harbor a secret love of felt food (well, not so secret anymore). This is probably due to my love of cooking coupled with neatness. There is nothing I love more on a rainy day than a good play kitchen full of good looking food! I also harbor another love for donuts. Thus when I found this project by Lilly Bean I knew I had to make it and make it green. Felt donuts look good enough to eat, PLUS with the addition of a simple ribbon loop these tasty felt goodies become great holiday decorations. Bedeck your tree with felt frosted delights or arrange them on a wreath or hang them from a colorful ribbon for a donut-licious garland!
Despite that most of the project is hand sewing, it is pretty quick and instantly satisfying. I nixed the sprinkles and subbed in some yarn swirl to mimic a drizzle of tasty sauce. Maybe some vanilla and raspberry. I used our Ecospun Rainbow Felt cuts from the Eco-friendly & Organic boutique in Cashmere and Walnut Brown: aka Cake donut and chocolate donut. The frosting is Shocking Pink and Peacock Blue: aka Raspberry and blueberry. The instructions were easy and it took about 30 min per donut including making the templates (I used my set of biscuit cutters, the largest one and the smallest), cutting, sewing and adorning. **Tip: for the frosting, I traced the largest biscuit cutter and then free handed the wavy shape using the biscuit cutter as a guide. You can also use I-cord for drizzle, rick rack or use a hole-puncher to punch sprinkles out of felt. I affixed my drizzle with a little fabric glue first and then applied the yarn after. This allowed me to choose the design of my drizzle.
These are a big hit in my house. My husband says they are too realistic and makes him hungry. I am going to make more to grace a cake plate in the kitchen. A whole mound of delicious donuts that will never tempt me!
The free Diva-licious Cosmetic Bag pattern is a perfect resource for your holiday gift-giving projects. Everyone can always use more cosmetic bags, and these babies go together in a flash. In a weekend, you could easily take care of many people on your holiday list!
The great thing about a bag like this is that it offers myriad design choices. Make it with a softer interfacing for a bag that conforms to odd-shaped items. Make it with heavier interfacing for a crisp, structured bag. Add tabs at the zipper stops or even a handle.
The real key to customizing a bag like this for the recipient is in the fabric choices. Girly prints and pretty florals are natural choices for little ladies and grown-up girls, but don't leave out the men in your life! If you choose fun prints with a boyish slant, these bags become perfect on-the-go storage for small toys - just in time for holiday travel. A more masculine fabric like faux suede or faux leather makes these bags into perfect alternates for the standard shaving-kit style bag.
No matter who is on your "nice" list this year, they're sure to delight in a bag designed and sewn especially for them!
You might be wondering why I am writing about making tutus right after Halloween instead of before so I will explain. In my house, the weeks right after Halloween were prime dress-up time. With the costume glow still upon us, my siblings and friends would bust out all our old costumes and dress-up clothes. Our other toys were put aside for imaginary princess and warrior games outside more often, enjoying the fall air. Tutus were always my favorite. I would stack them around me, wearing as many as possible; the object of dancing irrelevant. Being that time of year and my own daughter at the age when tutus become the staple of a proper wardrobe, I had to make one or several and write about how easy it was. I have heard from many people and received many comments that tulle is difficult to work with. Another reason for today's entry. I was determined to find a way to make tutus easy and fun for both the maker and wearer!
I scoured YouTube till I found a video by Wowzzy.com for a no-sew tutu that also shared tulle tips. It was easy but I will tell you that as you are cutting your tulle into the rolls put the cut strips under a pattern weight of some kind or whatever is handy. You DO NOT want your tulle unwinding; that is a pain! The tutu by Wowzzy.com requires 4 yds of tulle and 3 yds of ribbon. I made mine for a 2 yr old using our 54 in. wide Tulle in Amethyst (which is a gorgeous dark purple) and Jessica Jones 1 ½ in. Jacquard Blooms ribbon (amazing design) and planned to make a lining out of cotton but nixed it once I saw how my tutu was progressing. It turned out to have much more body than I had thought. From the video, I envisioned a more skirt-like tutu but what I ended up with was much more ballerina-like and better than I hoped. The video was easy to follow and watch while I cut and tied. I folded my tulle several time before I rolled it up since I was using one color and my piece was much bigger than the 4 small pieces used in the video. I cut my rolls to be about 3 in wide and then under folder each roll (carefully not to tangle) so I could fold it and cut each fold so I ended with 3 in. wide strips about 20 in. long. This made for a short, fluffy skirt.
4 yds of tulle and 3 yds of ribbon made 2 tutus in the 2 yr old size. The same yardages would only yield one for a longer skirt or a bigger size. In all each tutu took about 45 min to make with cutting and tying and fighting the tangles. Once wore the tulle gets a little messy (I mean it is no longer straight and wrinkle free) but this adds to the body and fluffiness and really makes it look more like a ballerina's tutu. Plus it is all for fun. This tutu is also easy one and easy off with a delicious big bow in the back. Considering the ease of this pattern and the cost of the materials, I think have several in favorite colors is an excellent investment. Plus they make great stocking stuffers!!!!
Photos by Brandi Watson- Thank you!!
Photos by Brandi Watson- Thank you!!
There are various ways to store your needles, ranging from plastic containers to a jumble at the bottom of your knitting bag. I prefer mine nice and neat so I can see what I've got, sizes and which are missing. I also like to keep my different needle separated: straight, DPN and circular. This gets tricky as you collect more needles but with the right patterns and some sewing time you can create a fun collection of knitting needle cases to fit your needs.
A great needle case makes it easy to keep your needle organized but also serve as a grab n' go for knitting away from home. You never know when you might need a needle change or even your trusty crochet hook for a dropped stitch. A needle case fits in your bag and keeps your tools snug and within reach. There are some great options out there to make your own.
For a great DPN case, I have designed this compact roll that can fit a whole set of DPNs from 0-15 in one compact ribbon roll. All you will need is ½ yd of 2 coordinating fabrics, 1 yd of ribbon and some time. You can download the PDF pattern:Needle case.pdf.
You can match all your cases together or mix and match with a central color for a funky, eclectic look. I love to make and collect needle case and update them every few years. They also make perfect gift that are fast for a special knitter in your house.
**Psst: The DPN case can also be used for crochet hooks, colored pencils and markers!