Tara Miller: May 2011 Archives
Memorial Day seems to be the official start of summer, AKA Swimsuit season. If you are anything like me, finding a swimsuit to fit your body is somewhere on the list of un-favorite things to do behind cleaning the bathroom and changing poopy diapers. One of the reasons I detest swimsuit shopping so much is that my body is not standard and is even less so since having a baby. My bust and chest ratio is not available off the rack. And if a 2 piece is not sold by the piece than that ain't happening either. I often wonder why tops are not sold in bra sizes because just because a lady is a medium across the chest does not make her a medium in cup size. And don't get me started on bottoms!
Alas, we are the lucky ones because we can sew so we can custom fit and design a swimsuit to not just fit perfectly but also to highlight what we like, disguise what we don't and add any details that are hot right now. So with all this in mind, I set out to make a great suit for me and I started with Kwik Sew's Swimsuit and Wrap Pattern (KP-3330) because #1: I really liked the skirt option and #2: I thought the top would be easy to modify to fit me well. To begin I tried on all my swimsuits from past and present to see what design elements I like and which I did not. I found that the halter style gave me the support I was looking for but I liked thicker straps that those in the pattern. This was easily fixed by widening the top of the cups. Right where the top of the cup reaches 2 in. across I extended it up to make 2 in. wide and 15 in long straps. I installed the elastic as stated in the pattern but continued the hem all the way up the strap. I also made the under bust strap into a tie as well for a better fit and extended the tie 5 more inches on each side but kept the elastic the same sizes as stated in the pattern. For the bottoms I left off the waist band because I found the elastic to give a slight muffin top effect. I may modify it later with more elastic or a smaller waist band but I am still waffling. I am also considering taking the waist band and putting it on the skirt so that the skirt is removable.
Now for the venting: there are few things more slippery than elastic on swimsuit fabric. It takes some practice to anticipate how it moves and where to position it on the sewing machine. I recommend using long, skinny, SHARP pins too. The long ones enabled me to keep them in the fabric until the last possible moment and then pull them out so my fabric would stay together. Because and try on your top as you make it. The darts can be tricky, if you don't curve them a bit you will end up with points, which is not a good look. You want a cup shape not a cone. Also, you will need a walking foot, a seam ripper, patience and a good drink (coffee or wine, depending on the time of day). The drink is for when you are just about to hurl your project out the window, take a drink and a deep breath and get back to work. It is worth it in the end to avoid dressing room lights and look good at the pool.
I have made the skirt and added the waist band to my bottoms. I recommend both but without the waist elastic. I originally had the elastic in my waist band as instructed in the pattern but it definitely gave a muffin top appearance and I feared I would have to suck in the whole time at the pool. So I ripped the waist band off and took out the elastic and it looks so much better and works just fine. This suit has been pool tested with a 2 yr old and it stays in place and looks great. I love the skirt: it is just long enough to add coverage without looking old fashioned.
To answer Anns question- There is no elastic at the top of the bottoms without the skirt as pictured above, only a fold over and then zig zag stitch. I don't think you need the elastic but if it sits too low or you want added insurance, add the waist band. It looks great and stays in place without elastic. You could definitely make the band wider to create more of a hipster look or more tummy coverage but I think you will see from the skirt picture that it does come up quite a bit so try it as is first with your muslin and then adjust as needed.
Among the more interesting and yet challenging knitting stitches is the dropped stitch. It is no interesting because of the ladder effect it creates. I deem it challenging because dropping a stitch is ingrained into a knitter's head from birth as a central wrong and big mistake, yet here we ask you to do it with alacrity. However, like most knitting techniques we have explored here, it just takes a bit of courage (just a teeny bit), some hope, and practice.
Vertical Dropped Stitches (vertical ladders):
The vertical dropped stitch is the easiest but also the most
cringe worthy. Your first row is your foundation and insurance that your
dropped stitches won't go wrong. I cast on 20 Sts. My first row was a purl row
so my increases were Purl into the front and back (Pf&b). Your vertical
ladders will trade places with the 'b' of the Pf&b.
Foundation Row (wrong side): P 1, Pf&b, *P4, Pf&b; repeat to last 3 sts, P3.
Continue in Stockinette until your piece is as long as you like but before you bind off, on the wrong side: P2, drop 1, *P5, drop 1; repeat to last 3 sts, P3. Bind off. Pull out your dropped stitches all the way down to the cast on row. Don't worry because you are pulling out an increase the cast on row will be secured by the original stitches.
Horizontal Dropped Stitches (horizontal ladders):
Horizontal stitches are also dropped increase but they are created and dropped with every 2 rows, not just at the foundation.
Cast on 20 Sts.
R1: *K1, Yo (twice); repeat to last st, k1
R2: *K1, drop both yarn overs; repeat to last st, k1
R3& 4: knit
Repeat row 1-4 until piece is desired length. The ladders are created by the dropped double yo and create stripes of dropped stitches.
Experiment with your own dropped stitch pattern. The created airy design is perfect for warm weather projects. Worked in simple linen or cotton blends will not only add a touch of color and softness but also add texture to a simple summer dress.
Liberty of London- Just say it out loud. It just sounds like great fabric. Saying that words bring pictures of English countryside, blooming flowers, tea heavy in the air and double-decker buses. Saying the name "Liberty of London" makes me want to sew. And sew I have. I was given 2 yards of Liberty of London Lawn Pepper Green (one of our MANY gorgeous prints from Liberty of London) as soon as it arrived in our shop and told to make something great but try to keep the project small and fun. Well, that was no problem given that it is spring, almost summer. I decided on 2 projects to show the variety of Liberty. These prints are perfect for wee people as well as adults and it is perfect for warm weather.
My first project was the trickiest because I wanted a sleeveless shirt but nothing with too much detail to compete with the print of the fabric. I sorted through the Fabric.com pattern catalog but didn't find anything I loved! Well, I became sidetracked with a personal project of making new PJs for myself and found the pattern that was perfect for the Liberty of London. It is HotPatterns Cupid Cami (And it's a free pattern download!). Originally designed as a PJ top, I didn't see why with a fabric substitution it would not make the most wonderful summer top. I love being right. With some Hanky Weight Linen as my bias tape, this cami took approx 1 yard of Liberty of London (you are safe with just ordering 1 yd) and about 2-3 hours to complete (having had to make the bias tape). I did have to add darts of 4 in. long by 1 in. wide at the bust but that was my only modification. This top is easy to make and can be easily modified for a longer length; it hit right at my hips. The ties at the top are so much fun and make me feel like a kid again. I do recommend that when you sew the front to the back that you start at the bottom when matching up the sides. If you start at the top, it will not match up once you get to the bottom. Once you sew the seam, it will all work out.
My second project also took approx 1 yd and came from Heather Ross Weekend Sewing. I have made the Flower Girl before and know it runs a little small so I made the size 4 for my 2 yr old; I want her to have it for several summers. This print really brought out something in this pattern that the other dress did not have. The Liberty of London print sort of 'fits' this pattern like no other fabric. The Flower Girl dress also went to together super quick, 2 hours or so. I cut my skirt length to 20 in. to make it longer like in the book photograph. The other modifications were to topstitch the gathers in place once I had pressed the bodice seam towards the skirt and I made the straps a bit wider at 1.5 in. I think even a bit wider than that would still look great. You could even get away with some flat piping where the bodice and skirt meet. You could not ask for a better combination of dress and print for little girls.
The flow and drape of the Liberty of London Lawn is light and delicate with an airiness that will be most welcome come the balmy days of summer. The print reminds me of my childhood, of picnics and climbing trees. You can't beat the soft hand or bright colors; this is a fabric that needs to be in your closet.
Infinity dresses are everywhere these days; a call back from their heyday in the 1970's. And why not! They are classics and modern perfectly combined because you can wear them to suit your style, event or mood. Couple that with Fabric.com's amazing selection of dreamy Stretch ITY knits and your infinity dress can be in a rainbow of colors or lengths (Mine is in turquoise). The infinity dress is perfect for holiday weekends or destination weddings because it is wrinkle free and ready to wear in seconds.
There are many different versions in stores these days but some lacked pizzazz or included too much pizzazz. I originally fell in love with the original on Rostitchery's blog but I had trouble with cutting the circle skirt. Rowena of Rostitchery wrote another version with some great additions for Threads Quick Stuff to Sew that included an easier version of the circle skirt and a small elastic casing (among other great tips) but I still didn't want to deal with Pi or a circle skirt so I developed my own work around : a gathered skirt. What I really loved about the gathered skirt- besides not cutting out a circle- is the ease of hemming, no round hems here! Here's how to make an infinity dress like mine.
4 yds of ITY Knit
1 yd of ½ in. elastic
Measuring tapes of various mediums (seamstress, carpenter's and a solid ruler)
*Always use a narrow zig-zag stitch unless otherwise noted
Measure out your 2 straps which will be 1.5 times your height. I am 5'7" so I rounded to 8ft long for my straps. The width is roughly from your breast bone to under your arm. I measured 11 in. So I cut 2 straps 8 ft long and 11 in. wide. The skirt piece is double your natural waist (mine is 28 in. so I cut mine to 60 in. to make it easy) for the width by however long you want your dress to be. I decided on a 36 in. length and it hits right at my ankle (perfect for dancing). The casing piece is your waist plus 2 in by 2.5 in.
With right sides together sew up the side seam of the skirt piece. Baste 2 lines of stitches along the top and pull the bobbin thread to gather up the skirt until it equals your waist measurement. Stitch the gathers in place. With right sides facing, pin your straps onto your skirt with the seam in the back, fold your casing widthwise and pin to your skirt over the straps, overlapping the ends by 1-2 in. Stitch all these layers in place. Insert your elastic into your casing, making sure not to twist and then stitch the ends of your elastic together and then close and stitch your casing ends (I just tucked one end into the other and stitched over top of the ends. Voila you are done.
Now there are tons of videos on how to wear and wrap infinity dresses on YouTube. But there are also many ways to fancy up your dress as well. You can add a simple ruffle like my Michael Miller Knit post or add many ruffles to your skirt. You can make your dress in white and dye it in an ombre design. You can make your skirt and straps to coordinate but not match. Some designs even feature a built in tube top (just an extension of the waist casing) or a separate tube top for extras modesty or with a built in bra. The possibilities are endless but this is the PERFECT summer dress!
My first big crochet project and I am feeling pretty good about it. I have been drooling over the Irish Lace Scarf pattern (Nicky Epstein for Lion Brand) ever since Fabric.com featured it as a thumbnail for our Yarn Section. This is a great pattern for beginners. It is still a little tricky but a good way to expand your crochet knowledge. I had stumbled a bit on the scarf with the last stitch of each row's placement but with some experimentation decided to stitch into the spaces for the last stitches instead of the chain as the pattern states. I also had trouble with the Roses. Crochet seems to be more 3D than knitting which I think of as more back and forth and if you want to build you must go back and pick up stitches. But this is not the case with crochet; you can just as easily build out as you can back and forth. When the Rose Pattern called for 'working behind' rows I was stumped. No- I was beyond stumped. As a knitter I could not see how it was possible. However, with the help of this fine video I was able to see through my ignorance and work out the Rose.
Don't you just love magic? When I was a kid magic was a sure-fire way to get my attention. Now that I am grown (well, taller really.) I am still a sucker for magic. Like Magic Loop is to knitting, Magic Circle is to crochet and it is equally as glorious. When I was just starting out with crochet, I remember trying and trying to crochet into my chain to make a small circle and it eluded me over and over again. Had I had this trick up my sleeve from the beginning, I would have been much happier making my Easter Eggs and Best Bunny. Not only is Magic Circle an excellent beginning to Amigurumi but also for flowers, hats and round motif-based afghans.
Magic Circle is a little tricky for beginners, especially if you are transitioning from holding your yarn in your right hand to your left. I have found a super video that really walks you through Magic Circle including some pretty sweet slow motion for extra handholding that beginners need (me, me!). Once you get the hang of it, Magic circle is really easy and so nice. It is basically crocheting into a slip knot that is not knotted but tightened after you have crocheted your chain into the slip knot. It is really brilliant!
I have been using it to practice all my crochet stitches, sometimes making something pretty, often times it resembles more of a slightly organized tangle of yarn. However, I am getting better with the yarn/hand switch and also making progress on my next project the Irish Rose Scarf by Nicky Epstein for Lion Brand. It is a neat scarf that is easy and I can't wait to share it. The Magic Circle was integral in helping me with the roses.
You can find sneak peeks of my projects on twitter by following @tdangermiller
One of the keys to making a house a home is dedication to details. Whether this is spray-painting a lamp the perfect shade of green to accent your dining room or picking out trim to really finish off your drapes in the bedroom, details can take a room from 'Blah' to 'WOW'. Adding details to unexpected places is also another way to make a room special. One of my favorite details in home decorating is embroidery. It is a simple, colorful and unexpected way to add an extraordinary touch to a home dec. project.
I have been really blown away by the pillows, lamp shades and throws in blogland, so I decided to try my own to spice my sort-of boring green couch. It came with some standard matchy-matchy pillows that are too contemporary for my taste. Deciding on some of the totally hip Dwell Studio Blossom fabric that I have previously used in my Amy Butler Style Stitches Post, I thought the colors would really work in my living room which is heavily blue. But I wanted to add some color accents to make the pillow pop but also to add some texture. Not wanting too much of a good thing I decided to embroider three accents in three different colors. Making the bird the center focus of the pillow as well as one of the blossoms and a small cluster of berries was my plan. Using simple stitches such as back stitch and French knot, I was able to fill in some color in little bits without overdoing it. I called on my knowledge from Sublime Stitching and my invisible zipper post.
Sometimes it was just an outline of the bird to make it stand out or adding french knots and fill stitches to the berries to fill in some color, the trick was not to overdo it and add color everywhere. The fabric was already amazing; I just want to make it special and mine. This is a great beginner's embroidery project since the overall pattern will distract from any mistakes and it is basically coloring in the lines. Even more the advanced will enjoy adding their gift all over the house.
Psst. There is a sneak peek at my May Free Knitting Pattern Download project above!
Binding off is not just a utilitarian knitting technique but can also be a beautiful stitch itself. One of my favorite lovely bind-offs is the Picot Bind-off. Not only is the Picot BO (Bind-off) gorgeous but very versatile in terms of style and drama. You can add a dainty detail to your knitting or a big, bold sign-off should you project dictate. Picot BOs are very easy too. It is merely a matter of casting on and casting off. Here's how.
I start off my Picot Bo by knitting 2 sts and then binding one off. Next, I break into the Picot BO. Using the cable cast on, cast on 2 sts and then bind off 4 sts. Repeat till all your stitches are bound off. If you desire a bigger picot cast on more stitch but remember to bind off twice the number of sts cast on. This means if you cast on 4 sts, you will bind off 8 sts, cast on 6 sts, you will bind off 12 sts for each picot tip. It is easiest to deal in even numbers. Should you be a visual learner try my handy video which demonstrates a 4 sts Picot Bind off in Lion Brand Recycled Cotton in Sunshine.
Add another one to my "Love" column; Oliver + S's Sunday Brunch Jacket is a must have for your kid's wardrobe. #1 (and you readers know that this is always #1 for me) It was a fast project. As adorable and fabulous as this jacket looks on the envelope, one would think it would be difficult or time consuming at the least. Neither is true. This is an easy pattern and really took half as long as I originally banked. There are not that many pattern pieces (this equals limited cutting) and the instructions were pie. I really loved this pattern.
I also love how casually dressy (AKA- comfy fancy) it is. My daughter has plenty of the typical toddler jackets which are mostly cotton or a cotton/poly blend in generic primary colors or uber-girl colors with a hood and zipper. They are great for play (especially with her affinity for puddles) but I can't throw one of those jackets one over a cute dress for a birthday party, holiday dinner or anywhere nice we need to go. And sometimes I just do want something nicer than the norm but still comfy for her. My 2 yr old shouldn't know the difference between a regular jacket and a nice jacket and luckily with this pattern all of the above it true. I can make this pattern in just about any fabric and it is still nice but still washable and comfy for her.
Now for the Mods: I limited my modifications for this pattern today since I was focusing on the use of Home Dec fabric for the jacket. This Amy Butler Love print is so bright and fun that I thought it was perfect for a kid's jacket. It doesn't hurt that now she and I can match, should we choose. The 100% Cotton has a soft hand and forgiving pattern. I did not add cuffs since I made the 3T size and I wanted to make it easy to let out the sleeves when the time comes. I also did not interface since I was using a heavier weight fabric. I would suggest finishing the seams with bias tape as you go not when the instructions call for it. If you follow the instructions you will be adding bias tape to seams that have already been edge stitched and that is tricky. I suggest finishing with bias tape first then edge stitching. Also, I suggest the Riley Blake buttons since they are CUTE and perfect for this jacket.
I can't wait to make the skirt but I will opt for a navy solid or navy with mini dots instead of matching it to the jacket. This jacket will make its debut Sunday on Mother's day. I can't wait to button those buttons and escort her around in her new jacket! I also recommend trying the jacket in Denim, Linen or Seersucker.
Summer is almost here and I, especially, am eagerly awaiting the opening of the pool, first day on the lake or our first beach trip. I love to lounge by the water and read a good book. However, I always forget to bring a pillow. Who would remember something like that when you already have your tote stuffed full of towels, cover-ups and swimsuits. Well, I decided to knit up a Beach Pillow to serve as storage for a towel or cover-up so it won't be forgetten (and fits easily in your bag). Use the Beach Pillow by the pool, lake or ocean when it's time for some reading or a well earned nap.
The perfect beach or pool companion, this knitted mesh pillow cover is made to be stuffed with your beach towel, cover-up or discarded swimsuits. One side is mesh lace to allow for moisture wicking and breathability so you can store your wet towels or swim suits after a long day frolicking in the water or for a cool place to rest your head as you watch the kids splash about.I use mine to keep cool so I stuff my Beach pillow with my wet towel and settle in with my summer read while hubby takes his turn with the little ones in the pool. The Beach Pillow is also a good place to toss your wet swimsuits when the day is done. The cotton yarn will absorb the moisture without distributing it throughout your tote. The cotton plus mesh will also deter mildew. The Beach Pillow Cover is also a great way to carry your towels to and from. It will keep them neat, dry and easy for the kids to carry around. Beware of pillow fights on the walk to the beach!
Never have I felt an adrenaline rush from crafting before but there is something about vigorously stabbing felt with a needle over and over that gives a rush that no other craft can. Needle felting is good therapy for moms, young ladies planning wedding or teens with angst (or just people in general but it is more fun to name off random identifiers). I never would have pegged myself as an enjoyer of needle felt because I love ready-made felt so much. Just as I have no desire to spin yarn but I do love yarn, I never desired to make the felt that I loved so much. However, when I stumbled across Felt works Learn Needle Felting Kit, I thought "Why not. It's for the blog."
Well, it was fun! And worth the effort (effort it is too). Needle felting is very easy to pick up, especially if you watch one of the Clover videos (We carry all the Clover tools you will need). The kit comes with all you need to make the project pictured but if you are really into it buy the supplies separate (Needle mat, needle felting tool). Not that the supplies that come with the kit aren't great but you only get 2 needles (fine for small project like this one but not for bigger) and the foam supplied isn't going to last more than 2 projects. Mine was sort of malformed and lumpy when I got done with my appliqué. But you can use the needles on other projects and you get PLENTY of wool roving.
This flower project is very simple and I caught on thanks to the Clover videos. I started with tiny bit but then learned how to judge how much roving I needed and where. Sometimes it helped to roll the roving up into a log or a ball to get into tight areas. Also, you initially hold down the roving but only 1-2 jabs with the needle will hold it in place so you don't have to constantly worry about stabbing yourself (NOT good therapy). In all it took about 30-45 min to finish this project but I felt so relaxed and myself afterward. I have since found other applications for needle felting: on crocheted eggs, over at Craftzine, and Betz White. I hope you enjoy needle felting as much as I do and don't forget to share your project on our Facebook Wall or on twitter.
P.S. The Feltworks kit suggests using your flower as a pocket or an appliqué. I opted for the appliqué and crafted up a wand with fabric scraps instead of ribbons. It is adorable!