Staff Tips & Tricks: November 2010 Archives
Anyone who has kept up with the blog lately may have noticed I have a penchant for pink. It's one of my very favorite colors, and I love that is has become increasingly included in holiday designs of all kinds. So naturally, my first thought when thinking about this project was that I wanted to make something pink and a little silly. The rest kind of fell into place from there.
This shrug was super easy. I started with a fleece sweatshirt that I loved but was painfully unflattering. Then I cut a shrug out of it. I ended up reducing the size of the shrug by creating a seam at the back and eliminating several inches of width from the garment.
The ruffles are made of crinkle chiffon. I opted to leave the edges raw to give a shabby chic vibe to the project.
The edging is made from bias-cut strips of red and white striped quilting fabric.
And to finish everything off, a small fleece pointsettia pin. This is a simple item made using basic shapes I cut from fleece and then layered together. It's just a free-hand affair, easy peasy!
Tune in next week for yet another staff shirt as we continue to celebrate the holidays and creativity!
A dropped stitch can seem like the end of the world but with some practice and patience you can pick them up like a pro and not bat an eyelash. Dropped stitches used to be a heart attack for me. But once day I decided I had had enough. Too much stress for such a small thing. I knit up a stockinette swatch (4 in. by 4 in) square and set to work practicing. The Stockingette provided me with practice for both knit and purl stitches. Since all knitting is made up of these 2 stitches practicing them will be your bread and butter. I also recommend some time with knit 2 together and purl 2 together. Below you will find some helpful step by step pictures of what a dropped stitch looks like (My dad always says: "The first step to problem solving is recognizing the problem".), the approach and the finished product. The loop is the stitch from the row below and the ladder is the strand of yarn above the loop. Thread the ladder through the loop to fix your dropped stitch.
You want to approach a knit stitch from the knit side or front (side facing you) and pick up the loop and then pick up your ladder. Pull your ladder through the loop toward you. Place repaired stitch back on left needle and knit.
You want to approach a purl stitch from the purl side or the back side (side facing away from you) and pick up the ladder first then the loop. Pull the ladder through the loop away from you. Place repaired stitch back on left needle and purl.
Knit 2 together:
You will approach this the same as a knit stitch but there will be 2 loops and 1 ladder. With the knit side facing you, put your crochet hook into the left loop first then the right loop then pick up the ladder. Pull the ladder through both loops toward you and place on left needle. Knit the stitch.
Purl 2 together:
You will approach this the same as a purl stitch but there will be 2 loops and 1 ladder. With the purl side facing away from you, put your crochet hook through the ladder first, next the right loop first then the left loop. Pull the ladder through both loops and put the stitch on your left needle and purl
Practice all of the above until you feel comfortable. Picking up stitches will become easy and a no brainer with time.
My divorce from pins was catalyzed by a kitten. In the fall of 2004, my husband and I adopted a tiny black fluffball with no tail... and a compulsion for eating non-food objects. Kitten Jiji attempted to consume anything that would fit in his mouth, including thumbtacks and, sadly, pins. We managed to catch him attempting to nosh on all such items before any damage was done, but we realized this was a serious problem. So we went on a cat-proofing rampage to beat the band. Since I was using our apartment's dining area as my sewing room and had no means to close it off, that meant the pins had to go.
Initially, I was terrified. My sewing was so slow. I had to baste everything! Cutting took me forever because I wanted to maintain accuracy using only pattern weights. I was so trepidatious about every stitch. I thought I was doomed to sew in slo-mo forever.
But, over the next few months, I got more confident, and I got faster... and faster... and (dare I say it?) faster than I had been before pins. Now I always opt for pattern weights in lieu of pins. I baste sometimes, but not always. My husband is thankful he never steps on pins I've accidentally dropped on the floor. And I feel like I've gotten an even better sense of how fabrics want to go together.
The bottom line is: I am a better seamstress without pins. I encourage any of you out there who are afraid of going pinless to try it once in a while - just in the interest of stretching your skills. You don't have to make the switch permanently, but challenge yourself from time to time. Start small, with simpler projects, and tackle bigger challenges as your confidence grows. I bet you'll find it as liberating as I do!
My little Jiji bear is no longer with us, but he was my constant companion in the sewing room throughout his life. He loved to "help" lay out patterns and play with instruction sheets and he always stuck close to supervise my work. I love that he left his indelible mark on the way I sew just the same as he did the rest of my life.
Have you ever considered all the presents you give? If you add up all that wrapping paper, that is a lot of one time use, now to be thrown away paper. Couple that with how pricey wrapping paper is getting these days and it is obvious a solution is needed. Reusable fabric wrapping is on the rise. Not only does it prevent tons of waste but it is beautiful, easy and so satisfying! Fabric wrapping takes no time to make and you will use it all the time. If you are like me you are always giving gifts: bread as thanks to the neighbors for getting my mail while away, repayment to a nurse friend for taking my frantic "my child is sick" calls, and host/hostess gifts. I give at least a gift a month, not counting holidays and birthdays. I always use fabric wrapping. It is so much easier to wrap (no tape!) than paper, it looks luxe and makes me feel so good to give in more than one way. One fabric wrap can last you years and years, saving you hundreds in the long run. Think about it. How many rolls of wrapping do you use each year: 5, 6 or even 10 rolls? The average price per roll is $5, over 5 years for 10 rolls/yr is $250!
Fabric wrapping is easy to make as well as eco-friendly. I will share my pattern for a small/medium wrapping. A half yd of quilting cotton will yield 2 small/med wrappings, 1 yd can yield one med/ large and 1 ½ yd can wrap one large present. You may even want to use Home Dec fabric for larger presents as they might be heavy.
For a small/med cut an 18 in. square from designer quilting cotton. You can finish the edges with bias tape for an extra bit of color or double turn the edges and topstitch. Cut 50 in. of ribbon of any size or rick rack and stitch to the center of the square on the right side of the your wrapping. You can add a second ribbon of the same size, perpendicular to the first. That's it- You're done!
Wrap your presents with beautiful bows. No worries over crumpled plastic bows or ripped paper- fabric wrapping is always lovely. In the off season your wrapping can double as tablecloths (just tie the ribbon in a bow as decoration), runners, napkins or wrap your ornaments in them and store for next year. The possibilities are endless and gift giving takes on a new meaning.
* Wrapped up is Rowan Organic Cotton Chicken
** Coffee may be optional for you but not me!
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?
Who doesn't love a cozy throw to curl up with while watching holiday specials on television? This minky throw makes a luxurious gift, and really could not be much easier to make. All you need to make that special someone feel hugged even when you're not there is 3.5 yards of soft, snuggly minky and about 40 minutes to an hour of your time.
I used one of the darling holiday minky prints from Kaufman that we have in stock. So cute for the holidays!
-Once you have your minky in hand, make sure your ends are cut straight across the grain of the fabric.
-Once everything is squared up, simply fold your minky in half, matching up the cut ends.
-Stitch around the three non-fold sides of your minky, leaving 8-10" open for turning. If you really wish to speed up production (great if you have a lot of these to make), I suggest you skip pinning and use binder clips to keep things in place instead. Much faster, and less likely you'll lose one along the way.
-Clip excess fabric from corners to reduce bulk.
-Turn throw right side out. Make sure you get your corners turned so they come to a nice sharp point.
-Top stitch around entire blanket 1/4" from edge, including the folded edge. Close up the opening you used to turn the throw with this top stitch. You may want to once again employ binder clips to ensure that everything stays neat while you top stitch. I find the clips are extra helpful for keeping the folded edge in place, since it tends to want to wiggle around.
Clip your loose threads and call it day - you just marked one more gift off your list!
Worried about working with minky? Be sure to check out our helpful video for tips and tricks!
** Please welcome our latest contributor, the fabulous Don from HR! Today's post is his handiwork - I just uploaded it for him while we work out some technical difficulties. Hooray for Don! - Holly **
On the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: festive custom stationery!
I settled in with lots of craft supplies, determined to produce some of my own cards to send out via snail mail to my friends this Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had just purchased a set of blank cards from Fabric.com and couldn't wait to see how they turned out. Armed with a set of markers, ink pad, my favorite owl stamp, ribbon and cardstock, I flipped on Wheel of Fortune and got stamping. Surprisingly, my efforts turned out well.
For the owl card, I pulled together all my green and blue markers and started to color. I used an olive green ink for the owl stamp. This makes a great "anytime" card. The hearts on the card could be changed with any color markers or even adding glitter (I was not that ambitious).
For the "you make a difference" card, I rubbed my blue ink pad over one of the cards to create a variance in color, which was shown to me from one of my fellow crafters at work, Michelle. Then, I used crafting glue to adhere my ribbon and card stock to the card. I did use a little too much glue (oops), but my candle sat on top as a weight for the night ensured that the card was good to go this morning.
For the "Heartfelt Thanks" cards, I plan on using this at Thanksgiving to send out to relatives. I purchased small craft jewels to embellish the stamps that I had purchased online, along with a maroon and brown ink pad. After using the stamps on the card, I attempted to use some glue dots for the jewels, which did not turn out well. I ended up moving to the craft glue to ensure the jewels stick to the stationary. This was the most time consuming part of the card creation. On the bottom of each card, I added a foil leaf that I had saved from last year (my mom is infamous for adding confetti to cards), attached with craft glue.
For the remember card, I used a tree stamp from my collection, along with some sticker ribbon and a "remember" stamp. I was attempting to create a more serious card with this endeavor. I accidentally messed up the first time I laid the stamp down with the olive green ink. Instead of tossing the card, I re-stamped it creating a look of multiple trees in the background. I laid the black sticker ribbon in front of the trees, trying to create the illusion of a wrought-iron gate in front of the trees. Finally, I added the "Remember" in black ink.
As always when you are stamping, make sure you clean your stamps between ink changes and after you are completed.
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.
One of the basics of knitting is knitting I-cord. I made a comment last week on Facebook about how I never use my DPNs. Milinda Paquette kindly reminded me the importance of DPNs if only for knitting i-cord. And i-cord is important in knitting. It is a versatile technique that can be used for straps, ties, and decorative accents on toys or edges. I-cord is almost too easy for its return on value. I-cord is like the bias strips equivalent in sewing. I have used i-cord for pumpkins stems, toy arms, elephant noses, ear flap ties, belts, ETC.
There are 2 easy ways to make i-cord: DPNs or knitting spool. Now, if you prefer to use DPNs, which I do, than the shorter the better (like the Hiyahiya 4 in. DPNs) because once you are done knitting a row you don't switch your left and right needles. Slide your stitches to the other end of your right hand needle and then switch your needles from right hand to left. Knit your stitches again, making sure to snug your first stitch. The tail pulls the stitches together and after about 3 rows you notice your knitting forms a tube. If you have a shorter DPN then you have less sliding. Be sure you snug that first stitch but DO NOT pull it too tight otherwise it will be too tight to knit the next row (this took me a while to learn and I hated i-cord until I learned to loosen up a bit). You can make your i-cord as thick as you want but you must knit with at least 3 stitches. If you need it smaller, than sub in a lighter weight yarn. You can make your own knitting spool with an old wooden thread spool and some nails. Spool knitting is fun and really great for kids. To adjust the size you will need a bigger spool and more nails but it is a great kid's craft.
You can also use i-cord as a totally awesome bind off. It is called attached icord and the edge is actually icord that you knit on as you bind off. Interweave has a great video. Attached I-cord is a great finish for blankets, sleeves, slippers and hats.
If you can tie a knot, you can make an edgy fringe scarf or necklace for the fashion-forward person in your life. These are great projects for kids or teens to make for themselves or as gifts. Low on cost, high on fun.
The first item I made in my knot-stravaganza is a scarf made entirely from recycled tee shirts.
-I took three tees out of my scrap pile, and cut 1" strips across the shirts so they would stretch lengthwise.
-Then I stre-e-e-e-e-e-etched those pieces out so the edges curled in, giving the strips a ropey, corded appearance.
-After stretching, I cut one base strip about 40" long, then the rest of the strips into 7-14 inch pieces (I like variation).
-The next step was to attach all those little pieces to the longer piece. I used a Lark's Head knot (also called a Cow Hitch) to tie my smaller pieces on, but any knot you like will do! I went with a basic repeat of my three colors (I loved you, shirts - thanks for the memories!), but I encourage you to play with color patterns to your heart's content. The fabric has enough tooth that if you tie a nice tight knot, you don't need to do anything special on the ends. I just cut the extra fabric on each end off and tied it into a basic knot, leaving enough length so the "tail" would look like another piece of the fringe.
If you prefer to start with fabric instead of a tee shirt, jersey is an excellent choice.
For my second knot-speriment, I wanted to go a little more elegant. This is a simple necklace (easy to extend in length to become a scarf) made from grosgrain ribbon. It's construction is identical to the scarf above, except I used a basic right-over-left simple knot. The ribbons were cut in 8-10" pieces, with the base piece about 40". It's a fast fun project, again, great for crafters of all ages!
This year, we challenged staff members to make holiday-themed shirts, but we added a twist: their shirts had to be made using an existing shirt from their collection, or something found at a thrift store. No new shirts allowed! In a time when many families are short on funds during what can be an expensive season, we thought it would be great to find new ways to love old things, and spread some cheer in the process.
First up is an elegant take on our challenge from our Merchandising Director Kristl. She started with two butter-soft sweaters in complimentary colors. Then she deconstructed them and reassembled the pieces into a color-blocked cardigan using her serger, leaving the seams visible on the outside of the garment. Printed chiffon flounces and a ribbon tie closure complete the look. Just looking at this sweater makes me think of cozy gatherings with family, but I love that it also has a style that far outlasts the holiday season. Kudos, Kristl!
Stay tuned for more shirt makeovers from our staff as the holidays approach!
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?
A knitter's needle is as personal as a favorite pair of pants or how one takes coffee. It is a tiny piece of your personality and thus very important. You will spend many hours with your needles. Picking a tools that can make or break your knitting (and in the end your sanity) is important and should not be rushed into. As a new knitter, I tried everything as I discovered it but I was like a 10 yr old on a shopping spree. As I taught myself, my first needles were metal so I bought a bunch. As I explored more forums, I discovered bamboo so I purchased a set of straight and DPNs. Then I came across my first set of interchangeable in acrylic so that was another chunk of change. After that it was magic loop and the purchase of 40 in. plus cable needle since my Interchangeables were not compatible with magic loop. It went on and on until I finally settled down and found the perfect set for me. I still have many of my original purchases but I only use my "married set": I call them my "married set" because I dated all the others and finally fell deeply in love and have not strayed since.
Many knitters are monogamous with their chosen set but others have not settled down, changing from needle to needle depending on the project and what is new. If you know you are destined to be a monogamous knitter than it is important to find your needle. You may choose to follow my path but there are easier ways to find your needle.
1) Do you have any allergies or arthritis? This will rule out some needle right away. I am allergic to nickel so that was an early indicator and why I was drawn to wooden needles. Wood or bamboo is also key for older knitters.
2) How do you knit? Fast or take your time. If you prefer fast, there are many "turbo" needles out there made with nickels and have pointy tips and slick finishes. If you like to take your time, maybe not slow but not super fast, and precise stitches then wood or bamboo may be for you. Some are well varnished and can be as fast as nickel but I often find that wood and bamboo grip more and prevent slipping stitches. Do you knit more in the round than straight? Then a set of circulars or Interchangeables are for you. My mother in law knits more flat than in the round and sticks to her straight needle and rarely touches her Interchangeables. I knit more round but I only use my interchangeable no matter what the project.
3) Visit the forums and read what others have to say. You might find someone who knits like you and find your perfect needle without spending time and money on others.
4) Do you like trends? Then, my friend, you are probably not a monogamous knitter but enjoy new needles with jewelry on the end, Knit Lite, and anything new and exciting. Go to it if you love it. There is no shame in "dating". If it keeps you knitting and happy- where is the problem? You might have less money for yarn but you do have some really awesome needles!
With our great selection of needles you are sure to find the right one for you. Plus, with our free return shipping if you don't- it's not problem to try them out to make sure. Make sure and ask for a Fabric.com gift card for Christmas so you can pick your favorite needle!!!
Pictured: my fave needles- Lantern Moon
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!!