Staff Tips & Tricks: August 2012 Archives
Once again I am going to give raves reviews for our new Create Kids Couture Free Pattern Download: the Millie's Schoolhouse Skirt. This skirt is, of course, totally cute but also great for any girl given the options to customize it. You can just go with the skirt, add suspenders or tie on the sash. Anything goes. It is great. It also doesn't take that much time to make. By the time you can get your kids in the car with all their gear/snacks/toys, drive to the mall, unpack everyone, get them to the store and try on clothes, then get everyone and everything back in the car, drive home and unpack, I guarantee you can make this skirt. All in the comfort of your home, with a nice cup of tea by your side and maybe your kids watching a movie so you can relax. Which sounds nicer to you?
I made my Millie Skirt ready for fall in some nice Gold, Garnet, and Raspberry tones from Denyse Schmidt's Flea Market Fancy Legacy Collection. You can find plenty more fall collections in our Holiday Section. Just click on Quilting Cotton on the left sidebar and look for the Holiday Fabrics section and fall is nestled in there with Halloween, Christmas and Chanukah. I opted just for the 3 prints and ordered ½ yd of each and found that by mixing up the patterns I could get 2 skirts from my fabric purchase.
My skirt is just the skirt since my daughter while a big twirling advocate will climb into a skirt readily, but once she has one layer of clothing is off to play. Any additional layers can only be added via fierce negations in which I often concede more than I gain or tears are involved. She loves the skirt though since it looks like a bell and twirls nicely. It is a size 4T since she will be 4 in the winter and the fit is just right. I love where the skirt hits at her knees; it will look great with leggings once the weather matches my fall fabric choices and the gathered waist means I can tuck her shirt in, leave it out or add a sweater without too much bulk.
I was able to practice more with my serger on this skirt and loved finishing my edges as I sewed up the skirt. I did have some trouble when it came to adding the waist band so I left the hole open, added my elastic then sewed it closed with my sewing machine then went over it again with my serger to finish the edge.
You will love making this skirt and your little girl will love wearing it. It goes on with a quick tug for those learning to dress themselves and is easy to remove for potty breaks. And if you want to pair it with some shorts for playtime, the Create Kids Couture Aiden Shorts fit perfectly underneath this skirt!
For my first project, I sewed black velvet ric rac to a satin ribbon as a base. I ran two lines of stitching down the middle section.
Next, I plugged in my hot fix rhinestone applicator and some jet rhinestones, and added a little off-center sparkle to each interior arc of my ric rac. The glittery result would be great as an embellishment for holiday party wear, I think.
The second approach I took was to intertwine two different colors of ric rac, and stitch them together, picking up clear seed beads in my stitches. I love the combo of pink and black, because it always makes me think of Art Deco design. This trim makes me think of beaded handbag ideas ...
Next up is a project I like to call the nature stack. Since autumn will be here soon, my mind is already on the changing of the leaves. I selected three colors of velvet ric rac that reminded me of fall. I machine stitched the bottom two layers together, and then used a needle and thread and seed beads to assemble the last layer of the stack. I think I'm going to use this trim on autumn home dec projects like plump pillows and table runners.
The last trim treatment I came up with turned out to be my favorite, and it's so, so simple! I used a bit of 1/4" ribbon, and carefully wrapped it around the ric rac, ironing it gently as I went. (NOTE: Velvet ric rac does NOT play nice with the iron! You need to keep the heat fairly low and iron from the backside.) Because the pile of the ric rac is not terribly deep, I didn't bother with a velvet board or towel for pressing. Here's the backside of the twist method in process:
One of the first tools you will learn to use as a knitter is the stitch marker. They come in many shapes, sizes, colors and designs. You can purchase them inexpensively, have them custom made or make them yourself. In the course of your knitting career you will use many different kinds of stitch markers depending on your yarn and needle size (Remember my mohair blog post, I recommend not using jump ring based stitch markers). Fortunately all stitch markers will work the same when it comes to using them in your knitted projects. There are basic uses and creative uses as well as desperate uses. I will cover all the basic uses and attempt to cover all the creative uses. As far as the desperate uses, I can simply recommend that you carry plenty in your notions bag. To move a stitch marker as you knit simply slip it as you would a stitch; don't work it just slip it (pass it from your left needle to your right).
Basic uses of Stitch Markers:
The most common and basic uses of stitch markers are to mark your stitches so you do not have to count every row or count to where your pattern changes every time. If you are knitting in the round you will place a marker between the last stitch of the previous round and the first stitch of the new round so you will know when a round has been worked and you can count how many you have worked. You can also use it to highlight where a pattern change is occurring such as a sleeve increase, bodice decrease or cable pattern. Place the marker at the beginning of this change and at the end so you will know where to work your changes and when to stop. This helps so you don't have to count over to a certain spot on every row. You can just work to the marker then work the change to the next marker and then continue on your way.
Markers can also help you count rows. I love to use them when working cables. With cable you must work the twist after a certain number of rows. With the stitch marker I count the number of rows from the marker up and then move the marker up when I work the next twist. The twist of cables can skew the rows a bit making it difficult to determine which row the twist was worked on and then throwing off the size of your cable. Using the stitch marker eliminates the guess work. You can also use them when you begin a decrease or increase and then count the rows since the marker instead of searching your project for signs of the beginning of the increase/decrease.
Creative uses of Stitch Markers:
I have been known on occasion to use my stitch markers to hold dropped stitches in check until I can repair them with my crochet hook. The stitch marker keeps the stitch from unraveling more and holds it in place if I don't have time to address it at present. I can also use my stitch markers to plan changes in my project before actually making the changes. If I am working on a sweater and I want to insert a dart or increase/decrease for shaping, I can slip in some stitch markers where I think the change should be made and then I can step back and determine any pattern disruptions, determine how the placement will look or try it on to see if the placement sits on my frame where I anticipated that it would. Also, when finishing a hat and I have gotten to the last few stitches and just need to weave in the tail and pull it tight, if I find myself without a tapestry needle I will slip the stitches to a stitch marker until I find a needle to finish.
My last and most creative use of a stitch marker is as a sock monkey earring for this great Sock Monkey Hat!
WARNING: Extreme glitter ahead.
For my first shoes-periment, I decided to work with a pair of sport Mary Janes. I love these shoes -- so much that I bought several identical pair when they were available. So I can easily spare a pair for a crafty project.
After cleaning the shoes thoroughly with a wipe and some rubbing alcohol, I applied a generous amount of Mod Podge to one section of shoe at a time using a wide paint brush. Because of the sticky nature of this project, it's really best to only do a little at a time. The sectional nature of the design lines on this shoe made it a breeze to do so.
Once I had a section of glue applied, I doused that area with glitter. In the photo below, you'll notice that I did my glitter dousing over a large Glad Ware container. That way, I can collect all unused glitter and return it to its container. Once I had my gluey section thoroughly covered, I shook all stray glitter into my container.
I repeated the same application method, section by section, working all the way around both shoes. I let each of my sections set for 15 to 20 minutes before moving on to the next section, but if you are adept, you can probably move around the shoe without having to wait in between sections.
My new glitter shoes are ready to sparkle all over the place!
I will absolutely be wearing these under some of my witch costumes this year. In truth, I'll also wear them to work, to the movies, to the grocery store, to the park ... basically, everywhere.
The other trouble spot on these shoes was the heel cup. The fabric had worn away, and the rubber was exposed, and even cracking in some places. I first cut all this shaggy, raggy fabric away.
I used a tacky glue to apply the fleece to the interior of the shoes, also making sure any loose rubber was secured along the way. They key here is to make sure that all edges of the fleece are secure. As you slip your shoes on and off, any areas that are loose will pull.
Once my heels were in better shape, I started applying Mod Podge to the shoes in sections, just as I did with my Mary Janes. Working around the grommets with the paint brush is a little tricky, and my application definitely was NOT perfect. I wiped glue away when I got it onto the grommets, but I wasn't terribly worried about it. I figure all the sparkle will distract from little imperfections. For a little extra dimension on these, I used tinsel glitter. Whenever I sprinkled it onto the shoe, I actually patted it into place VERY LIGHTLY before shaking off my excess. As before, I worked my way around each shoe in sections. For the tongue, I only applied glue and glitter to the center; I left the edges alone to avoid unnecessary bulk.
To finish off my shiny new Chucks, I replaced the old laces with double-sided satin ribbon to make them extra girlie. (Because, you know, the glitter was not girlie enough. :p )
These are now ready for walks down yellow brick roads, Xmas elf duty, and even New Year's Eve dancing. One note: With fabric shoes like these, the glue does stiffen and tighten the fit a tiny bit. You make have to break your shoes in gently over a couple of wearings.
Of course, now I'm looking at other shoes in my closet with renewed interest and a madness for creation that might even rival Dr. Frankenstein. I'm going to need glitter in every color of the rainbow.
When I first found out I was pregnant back in January, one of my first objectives was maternity/baby items search on Etsy and wouldn't you know what the top maternity item was at the time: Hospital Gowns. Apparently moms are tired of looking washed out and plain in these first pictures with baby. New moms want to look as fabulous and glamorous as they do every other day, despite the fact that they are in a hospital. So the market for designer hospital gowns took off. I put a designer hospital gown at the top of my "To Make" list, found this pattern by Lazy Girl Designs and quickly decided on my fabric. I choose Spot On Mini Dots Navy Quilting Cotton for several reasons:
1) I love polka dot right now and it works well with everything. I certainly don't want to clash with hospital issue receiving blankets should I forget to swaddle my little one in my own first.
2) Navy is a good color for me; It won't wash me out.
3) Navy should be easy to wash because, let's face it, this gown is going to get dirty. I don't want to ruin 3 yds of Amy Butler fabric and I don't want to spend my first few days at home trying to rescue my hospital gown with delicate washings to remove stains
Now you may think why would you spend all this time on a gown you will wear once? Well, just like your wedding gown it is mostly about the pictures that you will cherish for a lifetime and you want to look good! But also after careful thought I figure that I can wear this gown many times the first few weeks or even months. It will make a great nightgown until baby gets a night time schedule. It will make night feedings that much easier and comfy. I can certainly wear it at home the first few days until I am feeling better. And afterwards I can use the fabric to make a memory quilt or some other small project. This pattern only required 3 yds of Designer Quilting Cotton so making your own is cost effective and fun!
Even more appealing for all you non-pregnant folks out there is that this free pattern is not a maternity hospital gown but just a regular hospital gown pattern that can be adapted for maternity use. I cut mine out with two left sides for the back and it fits me perfectly being 8 mos pregnant. You can make this gown for any loved one with an upcoming hospital stay. It is a great way to brighten up what is sure to be an anxiety-ridden adventure. My only changes would be to recommend lowering or widening the neckline. It is a lot too modest for me. Not that I want to look like a vixen in the hospital but I don't like my neckline crowding me. I like to have plenty of room around the neck in case I sit on my gown funny or it gets pulls accidently. I am going to lower mine at least 3'' and make it into more of a scoop neck just for the extra room for movement in the hospital bed. I do love how this pattern does away with all the gathers and frills of most maternity gowns. I enjoyed only spending a few hours on this pattern instead of several days. As stated earlier, yes I want to look good but this is not a wardrobe staple so I want to invest just enough time to look good with it being a time suck. The Velcro at the shoulders was a blessing over the snap tape I see in most hospital gown patterns. I want the quickness of Velcro over the precision of a snap. I also used self fabric to interface at the shoulder seams for looks and added double folded trim at the shoulder edge and neckline. I cut six 1 yd 2'' strips from the scraps cutting out the gown and pressed 4 of them into double folded trim. The two strips I didn't press I pinned RS together on my shoulder edges and stitched on. Then I pressed the seam towards the gown and folded the trim towards the gown and topstitched in place (see picture above). Then I added the Velcro. I omitted the button because I am not really sure of its purpose but I can always add it later. I also serged the sleeves, back edges and bottom hem to save time and because I just received my new serger and I am LOVING it! I was also able to use the remaining strips as back ties. I will add one more to just above the rump so I don't have my bottom poking out when I walk around.
Overall, I really enjoyed this pattern. It was quicker than I anticipated, looks more fabulous than I expected and it comfy, comfy comfy. I recommend it for any expecting mom or hospital go-er!
Thank you Lazy Girl Designs for your wonderful pattern!
Relatively speaking this is a giant crochet lion because the original is roughly 4-5'' and this monster is about 8-9''. This cutie was a pleasure to make and a great back to school project. If it has been awhile since you have had time to hook any yarn, like me, than this fun project will ease you back in and will make any kid even happier to get off the school bus in the afternoon.
I followed the pattern from "Leisure Arts Easy Crochet Critters" (You may remember my hippo who thinks she is a mouse from last year) but I took it up a notch by using Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in Deep Rose and Pumpkin with a little Silver Grey thrown in. I also upped my hook to a K (10.5). The recommended yarn and hook from the pattern is worsted with an H hook. Upping your yarn and hook size will nearly double your lion's size and make him much more fun and cuddly. I also opted for button eyes and a felt nose. I tried for 10 min to embroider a nose that I liked but it just wasn't happening so I cut a simple rounded triangle from felt and used fabric glue to fix it in place. The rest of the embroidery was fun and easy. I also didn't stuff the legs. I pushed all the yarn tails inside the legs and that was enough to give them shape (how easy is that). Lastly, I used magic circle to start my body and legs. It made my crochet look so much nicer and was much easier than chaining and crocheting into the chain. I love it!
I have been drooling over this lion since I first ordered this pattern booklet and I can't wait to make all the animals in this book. Hopefully I can crank out more than one a year but I can assure you that all will be made bigger than instructed with chunky yarn and bigger hooks. I love the size so much more. Handheld is great but seeing your little one hugging the life out of an oversized crochet lion that you made is priceless!
Caution this lion has a dark side. Here he is stalking his prey (the cat).Tara Miller
I didn't want to use a zipper on this dress -- my goal was a pullover garment. But, this dress is somewhat fitted, so I needed to come up with a solution that would keep the look of the dress, but would allow me to pull it on without fuss. So, I cut the pattern one size larger than my true size, and I added ties by stitching them into the darts on the back. Problem solved!
I have mentioned on previous vintage patterns that they sometimes call for a technique that isn't often used today -- an overlay approach to stitching pieces together. Instead of sewing the elements right-sides together, you prepare each piece, pressing under the seam allowance on the piece that will be on top, and then place it on top of the other section to sew it, stitching very close to the folded edge. It feels weird to work this way initially, but I find I really like it. The S-curve at the front of this dress would be really difficult to assemble without this approach. Here's a close-up of three of the pieces coming together this way (the two front bodice pieces and the skirt):
I'm pretty pleased with this little experiment. I like that I can wear this dress on its own through the summer, and then layer it with a long-sleeve undershirt or cardigan and boots for cooler weather. Versatile is always a win in my book!
So, to pick up where I left off ...
In last year's Ballgown Witch post, I shared my favorite way to make quick trim. I used it again for the next fascinator. It's easy as pie -- just start with a length of ribbon and use a running stitch to work diagonally back and forth down the length of it as shown in the diagram below. When you draw your thread so the ribbon gathers along it, it creates a scalloped trim.
This is the autumnal headpiece I created using this method. I used a striped grosgrain ribbon, and added two darling acorn buttons. Ready for fall fun!
To make a flower petal, I started with a length of pink grosgrain about 4 inches long. I looped it so the ends criss-crossed a little, and used a needle and thread to stitch it in place.
Once I had tightened my stitches to gather the base of my petal, I secured my stitches with a knot, and then picked up the next petal on the same needle and thread so they would be joined.
I did the same with three more petals, then I trimmed the tails off all at once.
I fanned the petals out to create a flower shape, and stitched things into place.
Once I got my flower shaped the way I wanted it, I added a hibiscus flower button to the center. I know, the center of a flower is not another flower, but I'm pushing science aside in the interest of artistic license on this one.
I glued the assembled flower to the leaf base.
Then I trimmed the ends of the green ribbon to look more leaf like, and slid my new flower onto my headband.
Now, I will share with you a secret about where to get tiny adorable hat bases for fascinators. I buy the tiny hats in craft stores that are intended for dolls and stuffed bears. The mini size is perfect, easy to embellish, and already built, which saves me the trouble of making one!
This next piece starts with a mini top hat. I first glued striped grosgrain ribbon around the hat.
Then, I added a puff of ostrich feathers that I had in my stash.
To add a little sparkle, I added a single silver blossom button.
In part one of this blog, I mentioned that I love to make a bunch of sleeves to go over headbands so I have them on hand while I'm creating. This is one of those times when I use them! I glued one to the bottom of the hat -- just on the ends where the sleeve makes contact with the underside of the brim. You want to be very careful to not let any glue seal your sleeve shut!
For me, this is a perfect New Year's hat -- fun, kicky, and a notch up from anything bought in a store.
My last fascinator is an easy quickie. I started with a simple doll hat from the craft store, made a bow out of grosgrain stripe (can you tell I love the stuff?), and then topped it off with another laser-cut flapper button, this time in red. I glued a sleeve to the underside, and I'm ready to celebrate.
What I really love about making these little concoctions is the fact that I can use a combination of new items and little bits of glitz from my stash to create really fun accent pieces.
If you've got a hats-required event coming up, or if you just want to add some new accessories to your style, I hope I've helped you with ideas. Be sure to share your creations with us on Facebook!
Making fascinators is always fun, because you can create a little piece of personal couture using only a few bits and bobs.
All of the fascinators featured in this post are meant to mount on a headband. I find I get irritated with clips because they don't always stay in place, and headbands will always work, no matter how long or short my hair is. That said, you can adapt almost any design to work on a clip or barrette if that's your preference -- the whole point is that it's just for you! My headband is 5/8" wide, but you can use any size -- you just might have to alter the width of some of the ribbons you work with to make sure it fits your headband.
The first two projects use Organza Rosette Ribbon. You can make a simple sleeve to fit over your headband using just a length of rosette and a matching length of grosgrain. As you can see, my grosgrain is narrower than my rosette. I still match up the edges, and the resulting bubbling of the rosette gives it a little added dimension.
I folded the ends of the ribbons in so there are no raw edges. Here it is with one side stitched:
For a little sparkle, I added two Theater Jewel buttons to the center two rosettes.
The next project used the same rosette ribbon in black, and I made it a little shorter -- just three rosettes instead of four:
Then, I slipped a feather I had in my stash into the loop of a black and white Flapper Button, and glued that into place on the headband sleeve. I am in LOVE with these buttons -- they're carved, not printed, so they have a beautiful, delicate dimension to them that feels very Art Deco.
Voila! Ready for a Roaring '20s party, or a snazzy day at the office.
To build this one, I started with a damask button. I have always thought these buttons are so cute, but it took me a while to think of them for something like this.
Then, I folded a scrap piece of satin ribbon into a V shape.
I added a few more feather bits from my bin of random fun. (See? THIS is why you buy little sparkly or fascinating things with no real plan. You're laying in stock for fascinator creation.)
Once the decorative portion was complete, I glued it to my felt circle base, and slid it onto my headband.
The next fascinator base is a long, tube-like sleeve that starts with two pieces of grosgrain ribbon wide enough to encase your headband. I pass the cut ends over a candle to seal them and prevent fraying. If you choose to do this, remember to be cautious! Flame is dangerous! (Duh.)
Stitch down either side of your ribbon layers to create the casing.
I like to make multiple casing bases at once so I can just play with the trimmings to my heart's content.
I found a ridiculously sparkly autumn leaf in the floral section of a local craft store recently and fell in love with it. So naturally, I want to wear it on my head. I carefully glued one of my prepared casings to the back of the leaf, making sure no glue got into the casing opening.
And now, I'm going to have to come up with some sort of Thankgiving dress to match this!
I also have a couple of feather and bell sprays that I have had in the stash for a while, and decided to glue one of them to a grosgrain casing to see if I liked it as a fascinator.
And I did! This is obviously not for every day, but would be great for a dress-up occasion when a more dramatic look is perfect.
This is the first batch -- I've got more to show you! You'll have to tune in next time for more fascinator fun. Including tiny hats! I hope this has sparked your creativity. I find that fascinators are like potato chips -- one is never enough! The more I make, the more I want.
For years, I knitted under the delusion that many other knitters share: that Moss Stitch (in Peacock above) and Seed Stitch (in Blue Icing above) are the same stitch. It was only recently, within the last few years, that I learned to my shame that they are not the same at all. These two stitches are similar, yes, but different. Enough so to give a different drape and texture to your knitted fabric. Let me educate you if you share my former ignorance. Seed St. is a texture stitch that alternates knit and purl (in this it is the same as Moss St.) but it looks like tiny little seed bumps on a smooth field. It gives more drape because the tiny bumps allow more movement and it has a more subtle texture than Moss St. Both stitches are reversible; they work well on scarves, blankets and turned down collars. Any project that can be seen from both sides would benefit from Seed St. or Moss St.
Moss St. is an elongated version of Seed St. and has less drape and more structure due to the elongated stitch. I feel it has a more dramatic texture that is more visible than Seed St. I love them both but feel that though they are similar, these two stitches should be applied in different capacities. I love Seed St. as a companion or background stitch. Because the bumps are so tiny, they blend well with other, bolder stitches like cables and bobbles. Seed St. would work well on button bands, sleeves, collars and hems but not as the main texture of a sweater. It needs something to work with and complement, like a micro dot with a bold print. Moss St. being elongated and more dramatic can work as the main stitch of a project but not so well as a complementary stitch. I love its application in the Cardigan Bay Jacket by Carol Feller where it is center stage. It is a structured stitch so it works well on a jacket body. Moss St. is much bolder than Seed St. and gives a nice even texture to the jacket.
Worked on an odd number of stitches: *K1, P1; repeat from * to last st., K1. Repeat this row on both sides. You will see alternating knit stitches with purl stitches on RS and WS creating the "seeds"
Worked on even number of stitches:
Row 1 & 2: *K1, P1; repeat from * to the end.
Row 3 & 4: *P1, K1; repeat from * to the end.
Repeat Row 1-4 and you will see elongated bumps 2 rows high on both the RS and WS.
My swatches were worked with Martha Stewart Crafts Cotton Hemp Yarn in Peacock and Blue Icing
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