Reviews: March 2011 Archives
I used Tahki Coast for the Argyle Cloche and I was thoroughly impressed with this blended yarn. It is an outstanding combination of wool and cotton. Coast is comparable to Rowan's Amy Butler Belle in it make up (both are approx 50/50 wool and cotton) but Coast feels more cotton-like while Belle leans towards the wool-like. Unlike 100% cotton, Coast doesn't dry out my hands and is smoother on my wood and acrylic needles. Coast splits markedly less than straight cotton and has a spring from its wool origins. I also love the selection of colors offered by Tahki; the colors are earthy but bright with some neutrals. There is a slight heathering that really tones down the bright to give them a laid back feel and softens them. The colors are a good transition from winter to spring. The wool/cotton blend also ensures that you will be set for chilly mornings and evenings when you knit your favorite projects. I love choosing a wool/cotton blend to knit my winter patterns for spring wearing.
Berroco Linsey is another superior cotton blend yarn. Linsey is a cotton/linen blend which makes it great for warmer spring and summer knitting. The color variations are a dream. I am usually a big fan of bold colors but the subdued variations of beige, green and pink were expertly blended and knit together so well. The colors mixed together to make a mellow but fun spring scarf. I loved working with this yarn. The cotton softened the linen to make it less harsh, flexible and added drape. The linen softened the cotton in a different way and made the cotton more forgiving and added stretch. The colors offered for Linsey are PERFECT for spring with bright but simple colors along with variegated like the Vineyard colorway the Ruffle Scarf was knit with. I would also recommend this yarn for lightweight lace cardigans and kids wear.
Challenges are like rainy days; you enjoy the first one but after 2 or three it just gets old. This can also describe my take on binding; I like it but often not enough to mess with it. Arm holes sure but a whole dress like this Butterick wrap dress pattern that has been sitting in my pile for a while. I see binding as a challenge and a foe but not one worth engaging. It is not the making of binding I mind but first you must match it up on one side and sew it and then fold it over and sew it again on the other side, making sure to sew over your previous seam and catch it on the other side. UGH. Well, that is no longer a problem with the Janome Binder Foot. Now, there is a disclaimer: the packaging gives no indication what size binding can fit but our product description dictates 10 to 14 mm will fit. This not so modern, but very informative Janome video tells us to use ½ in. binding which is what I eventually tested and found successful.
I started off with ¾ in. binding that I had remaining from the Weekend Sewing Kimono Dress. After discovering the size problem I went with some premade bias tape that fit perfectly. It took a few tries to get acquainted with loading the foot. I suggest giving yourself some quiet time for this as it can get frustrating feeding a small piece of fabric through a tiny tube with holes in it. But once you get it, you're good! I loaded my binding with the foot off the machine, installed it and then loaded the fabric. The package does give some good recommendations for tension, stitch length and needle position but I found it worked best on my Brother machine to have the needle in the center position. Yes, this foot does fit Brothers. I do recommend sewing slowly so you can get used to the guiding of both the binding and the fabric. It is a lot like the ruffler in this aspect. There is a fabric guide at the front of the foot but you should ignore this. I am not sure why it looks like a fabric guide but it is not in a position to be of any help. This is a very helpful foot to use on big projects like the retro dress pattern above or small project like baby bibs. It will really save some time and hassle. I would not recommend it for bulky projects like the bias tape recommendation I gave on the Heather Bailey Marlo Bloom Bag with different handles. That would best be left to the old fashioned way. I am going to try it out this weekend by adding from binding to a plain tan trench I have. I envision it with from great navy with white pin dot binding. Follow me on Twitter to see how it goes.
I have long been in love with Heather Bailey's Marlo Bloom Bag pattern and have been itching to make it for some time. However, I really had no excuse to make it for the blog since my 'thing' is to review patterns but also to make them in a slightly different way so as to give new ideas and inspiration. The Marlo Bag did not look like it could be modified at all so that left it out of contention. However, I soon discovered these awesome Turquoise Bag Handles and the light bulb went off. Not every bag shape can accommodate this pair of U shaped handles but the Marlo's wide body and delicate gathers look great with the rigid shape of the handles. The color is slightly variegated, like real turquoise and is a very soft color. The Turquoise Handles worked really well with my dark blue canvas and turquoise/aqua quilting cotton print. Let me get off my chest now before I continue my love tirade for this bag: This project was not the piece of cake I had envisioned.
I followed Heather's instructions and read the pattern before commencing. It looked pretty easy. I had a game plan. I would alter the pattern assembly just a little by leaving a turning gap in the bottom of the lining and then assemble the top as instructed but with wrong sides out. Then I would turn the bag right side out and hand sew up the lining. Next, I would simply rip 4 small holes in the top for the handle straps. Topstitching around the top would seal these holes closed and DONE!
I don't recommend this assembly. The gathers make it difficult to press seams open, turn and press again, and topstitch over these gathers, phew! Ripping into the gathers also is not a good idea but I tried it anyway because at that point I was committed. I was able to save the gathers and keep them in place but it was all shooting from the hip and I don't think I could adequately put it into words. It just goes to show that you can read ahead, plan ahead but seeing all the contingencies ahead is another story. However, once finished the bag looked so good with the handles that I was determined to come up with a new idea. From where I sat the problems were 2: turning the gathers (it was just easier to leave the instructions as is, as though you were going to use the pattern handles) and ripping into the gathers. Bias tape is the solution. You can make it to match the exterior of your bag. Follow the pattern instructions as written but instead of sewing the pattern handles in place, sew bias tape on instead. Then you can slip the handle straps under the bias tape and DONE (but much easier).
To attach the handles I cut a 12 in. long by 3 in. wide piece from my dark blue Canvas. I then folded it in half and pressed. I opened the strap and then pressed the long sides over to meet at the center press line (this is a common Amy Butler technique). Then I folded the strap in half again and pressed a final time and stitched up the strap with 2 lines of stitching. I cut this piece into 4 pieces 3 in. long. I would recommend altering these instructions to cut a strap 16 in. long to give an extra 1 in. for each of the 4 pieces for tucking under the bias tape.
This is a great and fun modification for taking chic hand bag pattern to a stylish shoulder bag. The size of the bag lends it well to carrying knitting, crochet, embroidery, as well as a transitional diaper bag (when you don't need to haul the entire nursery just a diaper or 2).