Staff Tips & Tricks: June 2010 Archives
There are few times during the summer season when the breeze is blowing, the sun is shining and the temperature is just right when I have thought to myself: "Gee, I sure do wish I was inside tucked behind my sewing machine.Not!" Sure, there are lots of projects I would love to spend all day hidden away in my sewing room (Blue Sky hat comes to mind) but during the rainy days or naptime. Most of summer is spent with doors open and sun on my face. But I can't just sit there not making stuff. That is what I do- I make. I want to make outside. Why can't I have both? Oh, right, I totally can. Here are some great summer projects to take outside with you: to the pool, beach, cook-out or just into the back yard.
Embroidery is huge: I know I love it. You can combine a bright array of colors on a neutral background but it doesn't look horrendous. Just colorful. Plus, there are many new designers out there embroidering outside the box, making new patterns that are hip and fun. How about a pirate for your living room? No? Perhaps a vintage camper will catch your fancy. Sublime Stitches features some creative and awesome embroidery patterns that are perfect for summer stitching. Hilary Lang (Wee Wonderfuls) is another young and amusing embroidery designer. Inspired by her children, Lang's patterns remind me of classic toys meets modern hues.
Hand sewing is also a favorite outdoor past time. The rhythm reminds me of knitting, the same relaxing movements. I prefer to take small projects that don't involve many pieces. I also look for whimsical projects that will keep my attention. You won't see me with a hand sewing a white, button down on my porch but you might find a softie or small kitchen project in my lap. Zakka Sewing is the perfect book to pick out some summer sewing projects. All of the projects are perfect for hand sewing and are small, fun ideas. Craft Magazine featured a pencil case shaped like a bunny. Softies Central gives a peek at some of the project including embroidered Mary Jane slippers. They make me want to squeal like a little girl. Perhaps I will.
Of course you cannot forget the old standby: Yo-yos. Though you can no longer think of them in the same way. Yo-yos are being applied in so many different ways that you should always have a dozen made up just in case inspiration hits. Embellish tank tops, pillows, hair clips, and jewelry. The applications are endless and amazing. Yo yos are so easy to make it is almost silly, couple that with these quick yo yo makers and it will seem against nature not to make tons of yo yos. Yo yo are easily hand sewn and are quick. Extra fun in bright patterns, you can mix and match all your favorites. A yo yo is basically a small circle of fabric with a long, running stitch around the perimeter, about ¼ in from the edge. You pull your thread to pull the yo yo together and secure your end. Voila, one yo yo ready for embellishing!
Summer projects are quick, easy and most of all relaxing. Coupled with your favorite drink (like Blackberry iced tea, Yumm!) and you will wish for an endless summer.
Stitch N Bitch: Embrace it, come to love it. Yes, it has a curse word in it and for good reason, too. Broken down to its simplest a stitch n bitch, or SnB, is knitting (or crochet) and chatting. Yes, I will grant that a good part of the time is spent, well, bitching but it is not centered on husbands. Who has time for that when your double decrease with a purled YO in between is just not working out on these $@&$! needles for the 100th time! A SnB is a group of like minded people getting together to do something they love in good company while sipping some Joe or vino. You can learn new techniques, compare new techniques, show off techniques-- What is this, you ask. Oh [shrugs shoulders], I am just knitting 2 socks at once. No big whoop [You struggle to close your jaw]. A SnB is a great place to check out new patterns and yarns in person. Reviews are prevalent, as is advice (warranted or not) and persuasion to try this or that. Coveting is also one of the best reasons to attend your local SnB. Casually toss down your new Jordana Paige knitting bag on the table and see the eyes widen and the shopping trips planned. I love checking out all the goodies others have found when I go to SnBs.
Finally, a good Stitch N Bitch is a great place to unwind. You don't have to see your messy house (unless you are hosting), worry about your cat going after your yarn ball again, listen to the kids' favorite movie again. It is just you and your pals, knitting quietly or NOT; having a good time. I can breathe and relax and when I get home I am ready to deal with laundry again (ok not actually but I am willing to consider it).
Finding a Stitch n Bitch in your area can be easy if you know where to look. First place to check are your Rec centers and Churches--any place that regularly hosts groups. Next you can check your local paper for area activates. Online is the easiest by far. You can start with simply googling your city + stitch n bitch and see what comes up. There are also sites dedicated to helping you and a SnB find each other. However, not all SnBs are listed on every site or at all. Check out the forums of your favorite knitting websites. The Knitty Coffeeshop has a string for SnBs.
When all else fails, start your own. Find a comfortable place to host (I often use my front porch) and plan a time and day. Think about the time--after work, you might want to provide food or suggest potluck; in the morning, you will need to offer coffee; lunch time, etc. If you don't want to provide food, try it in the afternoon, midmorning or evening. I prefer evening and ask everyone to bring their favorite wine. Set up a gathering area with some flat surfaces to set down needles, projects or glasses. That is pretty much all your prep time. Don't go overboard; this is not a dinner party. Now get the word out. You can talk to friends, post is on your status or tweet it. You can announce it on any of the mediums discussed in the above paragraph online. Then wait. A SnB is organic. It will not sprout overnight. If you are determined, friendly and open, people will come. It may be one or two to begin but word will spread and the good times will be had.
You can also put a shout out on our Facebook page.
The above picture is a pair of Jaywalker Socks started at my last SnB meeting
Assembling a pattern you have downloaded from the Internet can be tricky, particularly if you have never done it before. We started offering our free pattern downloads about a year ago, and prior to that I had never even seen a pattern that you printed on a home printer, taped together and then cut out. Since then I have had to do several, but I can still appreciate how overwhelming it can be to sit down to make a cute top or dress and come face-to-face with a stack of 28 pages that don't seem to make any sense. To help offer some guidance, I've come up with a quick how-to for assembling our free pattern downloads, along with a few helpful tips I have picked up over the last few months.
First, I would like to address a couple of questions that we frequently hear from customers:
· "I tried to print the pattern, but it doesn't print the entire pattern pieces--some get lost into the borders, so they don't match up."
· "If I print the pattern to fit the page the pattern is way too small."
I think I can explain both of these in one go. The pattern pieces do indeed span across multiple (often several) pages. As pointed out, if they were to fit on one page they would be too small to be useful. However, nothing actually gets lost in the borders. The pattern is laid out in the correct scale, so it's 100% read to print. Since most printers will not print completely to the edge there has to be a slim margin around the border. The pattern layout takes this margin into account, and if you cut it off or just overlap the pages the pattern lines up (see below for more detail).
How to assemble your free download pattern:
1. Print the pattern as it is laid out. It is already the correct scale, so you do not need to adjust the scale settings. There will be a thin margin on all 4 sides of the page (See above for explanation).
2. Locate the instruction pages (usually 2-3 depending on the pattern). Read through them so that you are familiar with the shape of the pattern pieces and the sewing instructions. Set them aside.
3. Examine the pattern pages. You'll notice at the corner of each page there is a symbol that looks like a quarter of a circle.
These symbols tell you where the page margins stop and also help you line corresponding pages up. At this stage you may choose to cut the margins off the pages to make it easier to line the symbols up and see where the pattern lines connect across pages. Instead of cutting off all the margins, I find that cutting only two sides of each page helpful (I cut the top and left hand side). That way the cut side rests on top of the uncut side of the corresponding page, and they are easier to tape. I have also chosen NOT to cut the margins in the past, and while it takes a little more effort to make sure everything lines up, it works as well. It's really a personal choice.
4. If you look at the bottom of each page you will also see a column and a row number notation. They won't start at "Column 1, Row 1," but the numbering does correspond with how the pattern is laid out. Also, the pages are already in order by column, which means the first page is the upper left-most corner once all the pages are taped together. The next page in the stack is the page directly below the first one, and etc. Once you get to the end of the column, you'll start the next column by taping the appropriate page to the right of the first page, then continue down until the end of the column. Most patterns will only have 3-4 columns, depending on the complexity of the pattern.
5. Lay out the pattern pieces in order without taping them so that you get an overview of how the pattern is laid out. Some patterns, like the Peachy Beachy Coverup, actually have an illustration on one of the pages to give you an idea what all the pages look like when laid out correctly.
6. Once you have your pattern pages in order, begin taping them together, using both the quarter circle symbols AND the pattern lines as guides. I have found the best method for doing this is to start with the upper left corner and work down. Once you have taped the whole column together, begin attaching pages from the next column to the adjacent pages of the first column, adding one page at a time from the top down. You could also work left to right. I do not recommend assembling full columns or rows first and then joining them. I have tried this a couple times, and it never lines up quite as well as if you do the whole thing in order, adding one page at a time. This method allows you to reposition pages better if something doesn't line up. It's also helpful to have your tape pieces already cut or have one of those tape-dispenser bracelet things.
7. Once you have the whole thing assembled, cut out your pattern as you normally would and go sew!
I hope I have taken away any apprehension you may have about trying out one of these downloads. It may look daunting, but the pattern assembly is really a cinch. Even the largest one really only takes about an hour to put together, even if you take the time to trim your page margins. Even more importantly, the patterns themselves are easy to sew together and produce great results. Try one (or all) out, and post your projects on our Facebook page for everyone to see!
My favorite room of the house is my sewing room. This is not just because it houses my sewing machine and other tools of my trade but because it is just my room. Painted the color I love, decorated with fabric and yarn as far as the eye can see (if you squint it looks like it goes on forever) and great big windows for light that makes me want to make. Establishing your own sewing room only takes a few key items, the rest is up to you.
1) Work stations: I have 3 works stations. A cutting table (I prefer counter height), a sewing table and an ironing board (or as I so nervously call it in my video "a knitting board"). You can combine your cutting table and sewing table into one to save space. Add a tabletop ironing board and you have got yourself a 3 in one station.
2) Wall space is a great tool for many purposes. You can hang inspiration on it- on the back of my closet doors I hang pretty pictures from many of my favorite craft blogs. It gets my creative juices flowing. I also use my wall space for a chalk board. I can jot down ideas, draw designs, make lists and record measurements. Plus the mini chalkboard I have for my daughter, Devon, is a great place for her to hang out while I get some 'me' time. (Great bonus: Chalk easily wipes off most surfaces, even dogs). Wall shelves are great for limited floor space or in my case to keep yummy yarn cakes out of little, destroying baby hands. Plus you can organize books, display projects and more inspiration.
3) Storage: No crafter can craft without storage. You find a great sale, you stock up on tools and notions. You see a limited amount of yardage in a to-die-for print. You just got paid and had too many glasses of wine at the SnB meeting and went overboard on yarn. But you must be organized. There is no point storing supplies and tools if you can't find them when you need them or forget about them. Storage can be so pretty, embrace it. I use red, transparent bins in my bookcase for fabric scraps, patterns, and yarn storage. In my closet, I keep fabric rolls, smaller yardages in a sweater holder, tools and hard cases on a shelving unit and unfinished projects hanging up. Interfacing, muslin and canvas yardages go up above because they are used the least. Pillow stuffing is banished to the attic because it takes up so much darn room.
4) Lighting. Please do yourself a favor and choose great lighting for your sewing room. I am lucky to have big western-facing windows but in the evening I use my track lighting system that I bought for less than $100 at a home improvement store. It is good looking and task oriented. I also have an Ott light on my sewing table for great task lighting. Great lighting will help you see what you are doing and love your finished projects even more.
These are the main areas to focus on when setting up or redecorating your sewing area. The rest, paint, wall art, decorations and knick-knacks, is up to you. Don't ask a lot of opinions because, I fear, you will end up with a sewing rooms that everyone else likes but you. This is your creative rooms, be bold, and go with your gut. How can you go wrong, just look at your awesome projects. Your sewing room will be a reflection of those projects times 100!
P.s. Just so you know I was so nervous filming this video. I want to reiterate that I smile a ridiculous amount more than as portrayed in this film. If you ain't buying it, I would love to have you over for sweet tea and witticism so I can at least impress you with my hosting abilities. I am not bad.
My wall color is from Valspar and is based on the color found at Mt Vernon in Mr. Washington's step-daughter's room.
Nancy dress found here
Yarn Swift found here
Chalkboard paint walkthrough here
Heather Bailey Pincushion Pattern here
When the weather gets warmer, the sun hotter and the grass turns green, there are few things more inspiring than a day at the flea market. You begin planning an escape to the beach or pool. And you dare to dream of a picnic. Summer projects are the most fun because it is an excuse to be bold and bright. Christmas has a hold on traditional, Easter is home to pastels and fall is decked out in jewel tones. Summer is for letting loose. Summer is for new bags, swimsuits and fun, light fabrics is bright colors and daring patterns. For example my summer project list consists of knit dresses, seersucker for my toddler, a new knitting bag in a vibrant pattern and maybe, just maybe I will attempt a swimsuit (With plenty of advice my pal Stacy). Of course, I am partial to fickleness so my list will change. I have been perusing the creativity Headquarters much of late and the Cookout Couture has really caught my eye. My picnic table out back is sorely in need of a dose of summer. So much so that it is more often used for potting plants than eating corn on the cob. I am thinking this Burda pattern for chair cushions (I love to knit out there but am only comfy for about 15 min) with this fabric. I love the texture of burlap and the terracotta color is bright without being neon. Next I need some placemats, napkins and this crazy chicken is a beachy print. I think this Robert Allen print (please refer to my Dad's day article for more ideas) would look so chic on the chicken and placemats, very PB. I could also go for them in this fabric by Premier Prints; the black and white reminds me of the Hamptons (I say that as if I have been there). I also want plenty of pillows for the porch swing, lounge chairs and for reading books in the grass.
My bag list is LONG but earmarked as 'must-makes' for this summer are1) Sophia Bag in this fabric (it looks very retro knitting bag, doesn't it)
2) Swing Bag (I have wanted on for years) in Linen
3) Favorite Things Billfold. I know not technically a bag but I really need a new wallet so it's in. Made from oilcloth for 2 reasons a) diaper bag proof b) I love the retro prints.
Now should I attempt to make a swimsuit it will definitely be from this fabric but I haven't narrowed down a pattern yet. That is due in large part to the fact that I am still talking myself into make one. I will let you know how the internal argument turns out.
Fabric.com's Facebook page has been lighting up with great summertime projects. I want to highlight some of our customer projects. Thanks for making out Facebook page so summery!
(Picture Above) Jenn Teer was caught by the sock monkey bug. Check out her great summer bag
Theresa Geer-Whitman used Amy Butler Laminated Cotton to create this inspiring apron
Vanessa York Piccorossi's summer bag is so darn colorful!
Dad:He is the bringer of the Bacon. The master of the grill. The captain general of trash removal and, perhaps, dog walking.
My dad is one of the coolest guys I know and not just because he is my dad. He is half to blame for my craftiness. As long as I can remember my dad has had a workshop. For years he made all my mom's anniversary presents. He has never paid someone in install anything. My Father-in-law is similar. He is a fixer and prefers to do it himself. A Mechanic is someone another guy takes his car to. And then there is my husband (his second father's day!) he is amazingly handy, creative and helpful. I can only think that the best way to show my appreciation for their care and craftsmanship is to return the favor.
For Christmas last year I adapted this pattern, slightly, to make a fishing vest for my father-in-law. I used medium weight canvas in a manly green (which means it was more of a light olive, nothing too jarring for the menfolk). The material was heavy enough to be durable and not blow around in the wind, but light enough to feel light enough for Southern Georgia fishing. You can make this pattern for hiking, and camping. This is a great addition for the Dad who enjoys travel and sightseeing.
If you dad really wants a snuggy, is cold natured, enjoys movie night with the family or enjoys dressing like a fleece monk (you know, just around the house) this pattern is perfect. With our huge selection of fleece and minky, you can make this for every dad's taste. Make it in Camo, so he will blend in virtually invisible when it is time for the Honey-do list. Choose his favorite team or your favorite, if you are rivals. Or keep the peace and choose what will make mom happy, but dad still gets his snuggy.
If your dad goes through glasses like knitters go through wine at SnB then this sleek glasses case is perfect. You can make it in 3 sizes and any pattern you like. Again, you can go for a sports theme or try a more traditional, classic with faux leather, suede, burlap with contrasting stitching. Or nautical would look masculine paired with a solid lining. There is a great selection of prints in our Father's Day Sale section.
You can't go wrong with a laptop case (Indygo Junction and Amy Butler). It is something every dad needs but his is probably 10 years old and thread-bear. You can customize one for your favorite dad with a monogram (either stitched or painted), a cool appliqué (a classic Nintendo character, a ninja or pirate, or a skull and cross bones, perhaps). Mix & match fun prints if he is daring or go sleek and sophisticated with solids and textures. The Tempo collection is perfect for Eco friendly dads and is durable with a great hand.
Last but not least, if you dad grills and I mean, GRILLS then he will want to stake his claim on his own grill. Sure nothing screams manly-man than I stainless steel grill but does it scream your dad. A custom-made grill cover will not only show the 'hood your dad means business but also that this is his territory and he don't take too kindly to trespassers. Protect the grill, spice up the backyard and earning an extra burger is well worth the effort. Be sure and choose weather-proof and sun-proof fabric if your grill is kept outside. You can add snap pockets to the outside for bug spray, recipes, sunscreen and sunglasses. Add a loop for his hat. Go a little crazy with the grill cover since it is outside and there are fewer rules. You can paint a giant bottle of soda or beer if that is your dad, his initials, or a team logo. If you are going with a solid canvas, try some chalk board paint. Apply several coats, maybe some light sanding in between and let dry for 3 days. Dad can post the day's menu, the score or secret messages for the grand kids.
I hope this small list helps make your Father's day extra special. Be sure and post your ideas and pictures on our Facebook page.
The focus of today's article will be an initiation into your Ravelry Notebook (my favorite part). Your Notebook Projects page is where you can store and view all your projects: current, finished, hibernating, and frogged. Project details include an area for notes to record any modifications you have made, pros and cons and progress reports. You can upload pictures for added detail. The ability to record and track your yarn, how much you have used, where you bought it and color is enormously helpful. Needles size used, a progress bar, pattern and yarn ratings are also included in project details. When other Ravelers like you pattern you can marvel over how many hearts and lifesavers (Signifies how many people have found your project helpful) your project racks up!
Your Notebook is also a great place to record your Stash. This is excellent for when you at work (during your lunch hour, of course!) and wander over to your favorite yarn store and fall for a pattern. "What yarn do I have to make this? Do I have enough? Or do I need more?" are questions easily answered through your Ravelry Notebook. You can also offer up your yarn for trade or sale.
The Notebook houses your Queue, where you can keep track of all the patterns you want to make in the future. This makes for an easy transition to your Projects Page when you finally cast-on. This page is easily reorganized for seasonal changes and yarn purchases.
Your Favorites page is a place to find inspiration, peace and eye candy. I love this page and visit often.
The Friends page is much like the social networking you are familiar. You can talk to your friends, check out their projects, get advice and raid their stash. You never know when you will need a knitting buddy.
Well, as much I want to go on & on & on about Ravelry, I think we have covered enough to get your excited to join. You no longer have to wait for an invite (I waited over a month for the beta version). We will cover more awesomeness in coming posts but sign up and check it out for yourself. It will make you want to knit or review your love of it. Only knitters could give something so awesome to knitters (and crocheters!) Thank you Ravelry!