Staff Tips & Tricks: June 2011 Archives
I cannot seem to say enough good things about Hot Patterns so I won't disappoint with the All Wrapped Up Tank and will keep to my ways. First, I was very surprised with how fast this tank went together. I was expecting something this interested to take much longer than the 4ish hours it took me to assemble the pattern, layout and cut the pattern pieces and stitch it up. It was pretty easy considering it looks so edgy in the picture and other twisty, tied projects I have researched have complicated reviews and challenging patterns. The All Wrapped Up Tank is a nice tank pattern that comes with ties that you wrap around your waist to give it a cinched look (even though the tank is fitted). The ties and wrap give texture and add detail. You can wear this tank many ways, with jeans and sandals for a Fourth of July Picnic, under a fitted, cropped jacket for work wear or after hours, or with my linen version of the equally fun Bossa Nova Skirt for a girls lunch/shopping trip (though why you would be shopping when you can make such cute clothes, I don't know). The only suggestion I would make is that there should be a mark on the front wrap pattern piece to indicate where to pin it to the tank around the neckline so it will be secured under the neck binding. I had to guess and rip back a few times to get it right. I will also make the wrap pieces extend down 2-3 in. further next time to accommodate a larger bust but that is not a pattern suggestion, just a fitting detail.
I made my All Wrapped Up Tank in ITY (Interlock Twist Yarn) Stretch Jersey Knit and it is soft, kinda slinky with great drape. It is hard to distinguish wrong side from right side so you really can't go wrong- this is especially helpful with wrapping since you don't have to worry about the wrong side showing). There is also a slight sheen and did I mention the awesome drape (I think I may have). I used a self binding for the armholes and neckline to give it a monochrome look that really helped the wrap detail to stand out. I really like that the ties are not bulky which makes it possible to wear this tank under a cardi, jacket or shawl. The ties can also be placed to help cinch in your tummy so you can wear this when you want to look good but also do some serious eating. Lastly the basic tank pattern without the wrap is also a great wardrobe staple that I would recommend for your printed knits.
Doubled Fingering Below, Sport Above
Rare is the knitter who chooses the exact yarn as recommend by a pattern. Substituting a yarn can happen for many reasons: 1) you have a different yarn in your stash 2) you don't like the colors in the recommended yarn 3) you are allergic to the recommended yarn 4) you have another yarn in your cart needing an excuse to purchase, etc. The reasons for substitution are as varied as the day is long. And substitution is generally a pretty easy business, unless the yarn you want to use is a different gauge, and then it gets tricky. Sure subbing Aran or Worsted is no cause for puzzlement but say you want to trade Fingering for Sport or DK for Worsted or, even crazier, fingering for DK. Don't get your underwear in a twist-it's easy if you know how.
Doubled Sport below, DK Above
Subbing yarn is all in the rule of doubling and as long as you know the hierarchy of yarn gauges-Lace, Fingering, Sport, DK, Worsted, Bulky & Chunky- you'll be fine. Each hierarchy level can be reached by doubling the size below. For example, to trade a Fingering weight yarn for a Sport weight yarn you will need to double the fingering yarn, so you will generally need double the yardage. To trade Sport for DK, double the Sport weight. For DK to Worsted, double the DK, and so on up the hierarchy. This also makes it easier to make great leaps in the hierarchy: to sub Fingering for DK, you will need 4 strands of fingering. This is because you need Sport weight doubled for DK and Fingering doubled for Sport so that makes 4 strands of Fingering weight. It can get to be a handful if you trade Fingering for Chunky so I would not recommend jumping up the hierarchy more than 2 steps.
To knit with more than one strand is just as easy as one strand; just hold all your strands as you would one (just check to make sure you loop them all in each stitch until you gain confidence. Doubling is also a great way to create your own variegated colors (by holding different colors) or add tone-on-tone variations or add a punch of color or texture (by holding 2 strands of the same size by different types of yarn. i.e. 2 sport yarns, 1 wool and 1 silk) to a simple pattern. Using this technique can also flesh out your stash, give you new ideas and encourage you to purchase that special yarn that you would otherwise have no idea how to knit up. I love using this with Mohair, since I am not a big fan of mohair given its lightness and fuzziness that loves to disobey my every wish; I combine it with wool to add softness and ease of knitting. This it does something special to both the mohair and the wool. This is one of my favorite tricks for feisty yarns!
Subtitle: Where I recreate my wedding dress.
I love a June wedding and I am not the only one. June is a lovely time to marry; flowers in bloom, cloudless skies and warm summer breezes. A good wedding dress is just what you need to make the perfect wedding. But what makes the perfect wedding dress? Something beautiful to make the bride look even more beautiful, ethereal, with silk and that moves with grace. This was just what I was looking for in a dress and luckily I found it. Years later I am still in love with my dress and wish that there was some occasion to wear it again. Happily, I am not getting married again soon so I really have no need for a wedding dress, but if it were in a different color or length then...yes, perhaps... I could wear it to many occasions. This is a wonderful dress that can be worked up in many different fabrics to give a different look. You can recreate the wedding dress for your own wedding or in a different color for a bridesmaid dress or to wear to a summer wedding or any special occasion. The green dress has a hem at knee length or 30 in from underarm; the white dress is floor length. Here's how to make your own:
2 yds of Cotton Bubble Gauze in Grass (or any semi sheer/sheer fabric like chiffon, organza or georgette)
To make the slip you will be combining the Cupid top with the lower skirt potion of the Nancy dress. Cut out your size in the cupid top and the same in the Nancy dress lower skirt then tap the cupid top to the Nancy dress lower skirt lining them up where they meet.
Measure down from the underarm to your desired length (mine is 30 in.)
Place a piece of paper under the neckline of your cupid top and draw a new, V-neck line. Tape this new neck line to the Cupid top and cut the new neck line.
Follow the instructions for the Cupid top to cut, sew and complete your slip (I used a 1 in. wide edging tape and cut the length of the tape across the direction of stretch because you want the edging tape to stretch across the width). I also made my straps 14 in. long and eliminated the tie.
To make the dress you will be modifying the Cover-up pattern. I used the front pattern pieces for both the front and back, to make a v neck on front and back. You will be left with no skirt and just the top pieces. Next you want to draw a new arm hole. I started right at the under arm and drew a diagonal line to the shoulder. You want to be left with about 4-6 in across the shoulder to gather up later. You have just drawn up your bodice pieces; you will cut 4 bodice pieces from the gauze. Your waist band is 4 in. wide by your waist measurement plus 1 in. Cut 2 of the waist bands (one is the facing). The skirt piece will be approx 20 in wider of your waist band (my waist band was 30in. so the skirt was 50in. wide or the width of your fabric) by your desired length plus 1 in. for a double turned hem (I cut my skirt to 25 in.).
(All seams are ½ in. unless otherwise noted) First with right sides together sew your band pieces along the length leaving the short ends open for turning. Press seams open, turn right sides out and press again. Put aside. Press ¼ in. hems along the arm holes and neck edges (you can topstitch in place if desired). With right sides together, sew front and back bodices piece together at underarms. Press seams open. With right sides together sew front bodice pieces together from raw edges up 1 in. (this will create a deep V in the front). Do Not sew back bodices pieces together. Baste along the bottom edge of the bodice and pull bobbin thread to gather to length of waist band. With wrong side of bodice facing right side of the waist band, pin bodice to waist band, overlapping by ½ in. Stitch in place (bodice raw edges will show). Baste and gather shoulders of each bodice piece, pulling bobbin thread to gather up as much as possible. With right sides together, baste front bodice to back bodice pieces at shoulder, stitch in place.
Baste along top of skirt and pull bobbin thread to gather skirt to match the length of your waist band. With wrong side of the skirt facing the right side of the waist band, pin together, over lapping by ½ in. Stitch in place (raw edges will show). Insert invisible zipper lining up the top of the zipper with the bottom of the V of the back bodice pieces. Finish sewing skirt seam with ½ in. seam. Hem with a ½ in. double turned hem.
P.S It should be noted that I did not make the long white dress. I purchased it at a shop much loved my our First Lady. I only recreated the look using the modified patterns above.
Summer is iconic for sprinklers, running outside until dark and playing in the grass but it gets so stinking hot outside some days that I just can't bring myself to bear it after 11 am. So since a good part of these days are set inside, I get to looking around and redecorating in my mind. I love to bring my 2 loves of sewing and knitting together whenever possible but it can be tricky when dealing in Home Décor. Knitting is most often shawls, sweaters and mittens. Clearly it is apparel heavy but just a little bit here and there and knitting lends itself very well to Home décor.
Yes, I am familiar with knitted afghans and pillows but those are so definitely winter items and not a good fit for summer decorations. Flowers, however, are just what we need to bring knitting into our living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms. Knitted and crocheted flowers are quick, fun and challenging (if you want them to be) and with a few swipes of the hand needle can be applied to pillows, duvets, table cloths, and chair covers to bring the outside in. Should you like wildflower bouquets, you can choose several flower patterns and mix them up together either in one color or complimentary colors. For those who prefer a huge monospecific bouquet might, instead, choose a favorite flower pattern and knit up as many as you need in either one or multi colors. Some patterns are meant to be felted, others are not and I would suggest an acrylic blend yarn to make them washable.
Since my Burlap Transfer Pillow was such a success, I decided to make a complimentary pillow out of the rest of my burlap with one huge, magnificent flower in the center. I used Berroco Weekend in Orchid and #154 from Vogue Lace Stitchionary but I recommend any of these great free flower patterns on Ravelry. You can adjust the size of your flower by your yarn gauge, needle size, doubling your strands and continuing a pattern. Be sure you take into consideration where this knitted piece will be used. Mine is strictly decoration (not too many want to lay their heads on burlap) but given that I have a toddler, it is all washable. I followed the same instructions as for my previous burlap pillow but I left the edges raw to contrast with the neat, precise lace flower in the center. I do not suggest fabric glue for joining knits to Home Décor pieces, hand sew when possible. The amount of use these items are likely to see coupled with the weight of the home décor fabric is not a good combo for glue.
Check back tomorrow for an exciting blog post. Here's a hint: June Weddings!
Now, should you ever come across a "must knit" sweater, t-shirt or vest but you know that your proportions are not going to be standard, have no fear, customizing knitting patterns is no sweat (just numbers). Customizing an existing knitting pattern is similar to creating your own but it is sort of like taking the interstate as opposed to back roads. You will get to the same place, but it will be easier and the signs better.
We start the same: with a good sized knitted swatch in your intended yarn using the dominate stitch of the knitting pattern. Most often knitting pattern will give you the gauge which includes the stitch pattern and the size swatch to obtain the gauge. Start there but knit bigger if you think you should (tight knitters should go for an extra 2-3 in. each way). If the stitch pattern is unfamiliar, this is a good way to practice before the big show. Check your gauge against the pattern and change needles to meet gauge.
Next, take the measurement of the pattern at the neck, bust, arm and waist (most patterns include them but if not you can contact the designer) and do the same for yourself. You can find where you need to alter the pattern where there are differences. If you are smaller in the bust than the pattern but don't want to make a smaller size than reduce your increases around the bust area (vice versa if you are bigger). If you need more room in the hips, than increase more around this area (vice versa if you need a slimmer fit). To determine where to make these changes, carefully read and mark your pattern. Some patterns will tell you how they are knit and assembled (top down, bottom up, in pieces and seamed together). You can mark each area of increase and decrease and determine if changes need to be made and how much. You will use your gauge to determine how much. Example: If you see that the bust of the pattern in the size you like is 34 in. but you want 36 in and the gauge is 4 Sts per in. then you will want to increase 8 more Sts. Pay careful attention to the pattern to determine the method of increase or decrease. Most patterns increase or decrease evenly on both sides and front and back. You want your changes to blend in flawlessly.
Other modifications like length of arm or body are easy since you can add rows until you are satisfied. Just be sure you add a few extra balls of yarn to make sure you don't run out. You can determine how much yarn you will need by estimating that a stitch takes anywhere from 1- 1.5 in. of yarn and multiply that times your gauge and the additional length you want to add and compare it to the yardage on the ball band. This should tell you how many additional skeins of yarn you will need.
While Christmas is not around the corner for most of the Christmas shoppers, for those of us who love to give the gift of handmade, we need to get started soon. But it doesn't just stop with giving gifts; we also love to make everything Christmas-y, from tree skirts to garland. Sometimes I just get it into my head to make something for Christmas and while I may not complete the thought enough to see the end product, I know that I can get it out of my system by making appliqués. I make appliqués because they are small and fun plus I can add them wherever I want to sprinkle the Christmas spirit. Christmas Appliqués can be sewn onto long sleeved t-shirts, skirt hems, and jacket pockets. But appliqués can be more: by adding some Peltex to the back of an appliqué or sandwiching it between 2 appliqués, you can create ornament, garland and advent tokens. A simple Christmas appliqué doesn't have to be one thing. You only need to steal time here and there to create this fun, universal Christmas decoration.
To recreate my Christmas Appliqué, download the Linen Snowflake Christmas Applique pattern and cut it out. You can lay your fabric over the snowflake pattern to trace the embroidery design. You will need approx ¼ yd of hanky weight linen for 5 appliqués and ½ yd for 12. Trace your circles onto your linen and then embroider them before you cut them out. You can embroider the circle too and then trimming around it with pinking shears. Try off-traditional colors to give a vintage look. I used Copper for my snowflake which really blends well with the natural linen color. I recommend trying turquoise, navy, coral or silver. You can make a dozen and string them on a bias tape length for some garland or stitching some embroidery thread through the top for an ornament. You can also sew several onto your tree skirt or holiday banner.
Mine will be finding its final destination at the end of this month in a Special Holiday Poject. Stay tuned and follow me on Twitter (@tdangermiller) for sneak peeks!
Everyone is different; I know I am preaching to the converted but this can become very evident when it comes to knitted sweaters. It is such a bummer to put all your time and yarn into a sweater that is just a bit off, or worse, a lot off. Every knitter wants a perfect fit and why not! After so much effort and evenings spent half-watching movies, you should have a perfect fit. With a little math you can and every time. You can use my Custom Fit Knitwear Worksheet to create custom fit sweaters just for you and your family or use it to alter awesome knitting patterns. We'll start out with a custom fit pattern and then discuss alterations.
To start pick a shirt that you love. It fits just right and makes you feel good. It should be something simple, like a t-shirt or sweater. A basic shape will make it easier to measure. If it is too complicated (like a twisty top or billowy tunic, you won't be able to pin down the measurements as well. Make sure your shirt (we'll call it a muslin) is washed, ironed and rested. Ironing can stretch your fabric, so lay it out on a flat surface for about 30 min for it to recover. Now we measure. You will want to note all the areas on the illustration below and write down all the measurements that correspond. The neckline will be your cast on edge, the shoulder length and armhole length will determine where and how many increases, the bust measurement will tell you when to stop increasing and the waist length will determine how long your sweater will be. We will cover this more in depth as we go along; for now just measure and note. You will also want to note which shirt you are measuring in case you want to come back later and measure for a different neckline or arm.
Next, you will want to choose your yarn and knit a good sized swatch in the stitch you will use for your sweater. Knit a 4 x 4 in. or even bigger if your stitch requires many stitches. Measure your gauge. You will need to know how many sts per in. (we'll call this X) and how many rows per in. (we'll call this Y). Download your Custom Fit Knitwear Worksheet to record your measurements and to help with the math. Below are the instructions:
Step 1: This step determines how many stitches to cast on to match the fit of your muslin. You can adjust this by adding or subtracting sts to match your stitch pattern (if it is a cable pattern add sts, if it is lace subtract).
Step 2: Knit for this many rows to achieve the shoulder length you need.
Step 3: This will tell you where to place you markers for the arm; place 2 for each arm. You will increase inside these markers for the arm and outside these markers for the chest.
Step 4: (X * C) you will need to add this many sts for your arm. (Y * C) This is the number of rows you will need to knit to achieve the arm hole length you need. Evenly distribute your increases over the number of rows you need.
Step 5 (AT THE SAME TIME as Step 4): You can increase on both sides of the arm markers. Inside the markers, you will increase for the arm (see step 4 above) and outside the markers for the chest. You will use Step 5 on the worksheet to determine how much to increase and you will distribute these increases over the same number of rows as in Step 4.
Step 6: This will tell you how many rows you will knit to create your desired length.
We will continue later this week in Part 2. Stay Tuned!!!