Staff Tips & Tricks: September 2010 Archives
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!
This is a story about Kidsilk Haze.
I have worked with a fair share of mohair in my day. (To me) it is the bad boy of yarn, I love it, oh I really do, but once you have it you start to question yourself. However, like a true bad boy you never regret your time and look back fondly. It is the fight you love, the challenge that keeps you coming back for more.
What I truly, madly, deeply love about mohair is the delicacy. It floats on air. It seems to be there yet not. It is fluffy and simple. The colors are so bright and vibrant yet because of the slightness of the yarn, the color can be just a hint or in your face; your choice. It is ridiculously soft. The softness blows me away each time I touch, yet I reach out again thinking that I was mistaken previously. Kidsilk Haze lends itself to lace in a way no other yarn can. It adds another layer to the lace, a layer of subtlety. The mohair diffuses the structure of the lace, giving it a softer appearance. Lace with its hair down, if you will. Kidsilk haze is an untamed beauty that you must muster your courage to ride. It is not wool, that you can knit with your eyes half on the TV. Mohair is like that famous Roman joke:
An American couple sits down to their first Roman meal in the heart of the city itself. Their waiter comes and greets them. The couple excited tells him it is their first day and they want the real Roman experience. Their waiter smiles. The couple then proceeds to tell the waiter that they hope to catch a show after and ask him his favorite. The waiter smiles again and states "This is Rome, tonight you eat. Tomorrow you will see your show".
Now praise for Kidsilk Haze aside (and I could go all day), you must be prepared. Like the wild house alluded to above, you can't show up to ride without preparations. Tools are needed. 1) Stitch markers: not everyone will work. I used a size 11 needle with the LaLa scarf so my locking markers didn't fit my needles and I used small black rubber bands. The rubber kept them from sliding. The black stood out. Do not use jump rings or anything with a gap. The Kidsilk Haze will wiggle itself through and mess up your count. 2) Needles: mohair is no time for your fastest needles. You do not want to go fast, trust me. This baby is slick enough without those needles. Pair the Kidsilk Haze with your slowest, most trusty needles. 3) Keep calm and carry on. Not only a good rule to live by in WWII but also with this yarn. Mistakes will happen; you will get frustrated. But your project will turn out lovely. Mohair is tricky for everyone. But it will work out. Be patient and keep at it. You cannot sail big ships unless you go in deep waters.
My colloquial sayings article is at an end (man, I love those metaphors!)
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!
You are finally done knitting that project (sweater,
blanket, shawl, etc) and you can't wait to wear it or use it in some fashion
but you still need to weave in all your ends. "I can just tuck them in here or
just take the needle and real fast slide them here", you say as you try to
justify cutting corners. Trust me; this is another place where you want to run
the straight and narrow. Just like Swatching is so very important, so too is weaving in your
ends. Think of it this way: You see a super awesome dress. It is in a cut you
know will make you look HOT, the color is just right to set off your ________,
and it will go perfect with your favorite shoes. You, of course purchase it and head home but traffic is tough all the way. It is bumper to bumper and it takes you
hours to get home. But you have your HOT new dress, so you are still feeling
great once you get home. The only thing you want to do when you walk in the
door is put on your new dress so you can see how HOT it is. But once you try it
on you can see there are threads hanging out everywhere; they tickle you as you
wear your dress, they hang out past the hem, out the sleeves and neckline. You
take off your dress and turn it inside out to get a good look and your HOT
dress is a hot mess of threads, seams and doesn't look finished at all.
Disappointed you throw your
HOT dress in the closet; you know you can't
take it back (traffic was terrible) and even though it did make you look
amazing, you can't get past the tickling ends and sloppy inside. You never wear
your dress again.
Now, the same can be said of knitting. You don't want to put all those hours in only to be left with a piece that looks unfinished, especially if it is a gift. Weaving in is easy and fast compared to knitting a whole project and can leave a sense of satisfaction that only a well made project can leave. Doing it well is the culmination of saving up for the yarn, making time to knit, ripping back on a tricky part and finally, finally casting off. You can't go through all that only to skimp on the finishing.
Weaving in is just imitating stitches with your tail ends. If you take a close look at your project you can follow the yarn and mimic your stitch for any pattern and make your ends disappear. This is easily demonstrated with Stockinette. On the knit side you want to follow your knit Vs and on the purl side you want to blend in with the purl bumps. Since all stitches are combo of knitting and purling, for any other stitch it is just as easy as imitating that combo of knit Vs and purl bumps. Take your time on the trickier stitches. If it helps, take a piece of contrasting yarn and follow your Vs and bumps and once you are sure you have got it, go over the contrasting yarn with your tail ends and then remove the contrast. Think of it as your trail of bread crumbs.
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!
Everyone needs a sewing machine cover for, umm, business purposes. You know, for, umm, covering your business. Bah- who cares? If you really need to make an excuse for making a sewing machine cover than perhaps you have too much business. They are super fast to make (most of the time) and super cute. Just another way to drape fabric around your sewing room, nook, or desk. A sewing machine cover helps keep the dust at bay (dust can gather in your machine, messing up your tension), can keep little hands away, block spills, etc. but really the reason I made one- not that all those above reasons aren't correct and, of course, great, but that is not why I made one. I wanted to make my machine pretty. When non-sewers com over, as impressive as my machine is (and let me tell you, this baby is loaded) they won't notice or care. It will just be a sewing machine to them. Like a banana or a pot hole. Not "Wow what a great machine", just "Hey, you've got a sewing machine! So do you sew"? But now, it will be "Wow, that is cute, I love it". Plus it makes me smile every time I walk in the room. And isn't that why we all sew, to make ourselves happy! So if you want to carve up a little more happiness for your machine there are tons of tutorials out there: Patchwork, selvedge, ribbon. But I used a simple tutorial that I think all will love by Sparkle Power. Candace used 3 vintage prints plus the lining, which looks amazing. I just had about 1 yd of this retro, bird print that I have been itching to put in my room somewhere. So you can use this tutorial for as many prints as you want to use. Just follow the basics. Mine took about 30 min from cutting to topstitching. I was able to use some fabric I had bought from the Retro & Mod Section and I had some awesome grosgrain ¾ in ribbon. Unfortunately for me, I thought I was being clever when I measured my existing cover (that came with the machine) instead of the machine. I failed to take into account that the first cover was more/less free standing where as my new one would be more drappy so it is too long. I am going to say that I love the look regardless because I have no time to fix it. Don't try my clever route, measure your machine. Be sure and post your cover pictures on our Facebook page so all can admire and compliment.
I have my own theories on why socks are so mesmerizing. Let me regal you.
1) Socks are quick
2) There are a gazillion patterns so there is something for everyone
3) Everyone wears/loves socks so you have a go-to knitted present
4) You can be secretly wild with socks and no one will know but you.
There as many ways to knit socks as there are sock patterns. You can be traditional and use DPNs (Double Pointed Needles), Magic Loop (that's me), 2 circulars, 2 socks at a time, Toe Up (Also my preferred) and Cuff Down, etc. The easiest way to figure out your prefect combo of techniques it to try them all. I only recently (this year) knit my first, second and third pair of socks. This is because I was trying out all the different methods. I found what works for me and now I enjoy socks and have found the addiction. Also once you figure out which sock knitter you are you can purchase your needles. Since I am a magic looper, I bought all my sock needle sizes (00, 0, 1, 2, & 3, and every size in between) in 40-60 in. length cables.
There are some key techniques that every sock knitters needs in his or her bag. The first is a good cast-on (even if you prefer toe-up you might find a pattern you MUST make that is cuff down) that is stretchy and easy. The second if a good stretchy bind-off (Super stretchy bind-off). Three is practice with short rows (toe box and heel). Another good piece of info to know: needle size 00 through 4 have sizes in between in millimeters. Get familiar with them; they can help you obtain the correct gauge. Lastly, I know that store bought socks are cheap and easy but a handmade sock is a luxury few but knitters know. You can give that luxury to those you love and customize it to them. A hand knit sock fits perfectly and feels so lovely (better than a really great cup of coffee or big glass of wine).
P.s: The red sock is knit in Regia Kaffe Fassett in Mirage Fire,a toe-up pattern is coming up in October! The other sock is knit in a sock yarn purchased years ago with a lost ball band (Don't ya hate that), the pattern is cuff-down, Jaywalker.
Check out our great selection of Sock Yarn- Super Yummy!
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.