Tara Miller: November 2011 Archives
The pleasure of the hunt is nothing compared to the euphoria of creating a piece that sells for $100 (retail) but can be made for little more than a few dollars. This is the case with this delicious Aramaic Bracelet. Inspired by a pricey fabric and sterling silver bracelet found here, our knock off is crafted from cotton (just like the original) but is modified with a D-ring and swivel hook closure. You could of course modify it further to imitate the original more with vintage closures and pliable aluminum but I am not a very skilled metal worker. Here is what you need to create a 7 in. Aramaic Bracelet like mine pictured
Scrap pieces of fabric in similar colors or featuring one color, at least 24 in. long (I used Amy Butler Cotton)
Cut fabric into 1 in. wide strips (by 24 in. length). Loosely, braid your fabric keeping the print facing up. Once you reach the end, stitch across the both ends to secure. Fold your bracelet in half and slide the D-ring over the folded edge. Match up both raw (stitched) ends and stitch together. Insert Swivel Hook over this end, fold over and stitch ½ in. away from swivel hook to secure hook. Clasp the hook on the loop to close and wear bracelet. Done! This is a fast and fun gift idea for friends and family. Since the Aramaic Bracelet takes just a little bit of time to make you can stock up for teachers, babysitters and stocking stuffers!
Mambo Braided Bracelet
While I was on Facebook the other day checking out the comments on my Mambo Yarn Review (Yes, I read all my commentsJ) I was inspired by a link I found while checking out one of Martha's Mambo sites. It was a really cool Braided Bracelet that I thought you all would love to make as a Christmas gift or a funky accessory for upcoming parties. It is a fabulous and exuberant bracelet that intrigued me more when I read the instructions. I didn't knit or crochet this bracelet at all. It is sewn and braided and the idea is ingenious. It did take longer than I hoped to sew up the first step of these instructions but thanks to a good movie on TV, time flew. The 2nd step was trickier. At this point you have 2 ends hanging off the thick middle, which is made up of the 3 strands you have sewn together. You fold this thick, middle section in thirds so that it is stacked at one end, 3 high. You sew this end together. Now you are left with 3 strands, sewn at the top and with the bottom of a loop and a loose end then other end. Now you braid your strands starting at the sewn end and moving the loose end through the loop when needed until you get to the end and then you pull the loose end and tuck it into the loop to secure. Now your bracelet is just about finished. Take your 2 tails and tie them in a knot to close the bracelet.
· A tip on braiding- I started out by folding my strands over as I brought them from the back to the front to pass over. This didn't give a very good look. You want to just braided keeping the same side up and not folding over. This will give a more dramatic braided style which is just like the picture
This is much easier when you read as you go instead of reading ahead. I will try to make a video while making my next bracelet to illustrate fully how to assemble this bracelet. It is easy and fun once you get the hang of it. There are several more patterns for funky accessories to create with Martha Stewart Mambo Yarn.
I HATE gathering. It just seems so tedious: sewing 2 lines down the edge of a really long piece of fabric and then carefully pulling the bobbin threads until it is just so and then carefully arranging the gathers and THEN sewing it onto the fabric. Something always goes wrong and I have to rip or I get frustrated. I wish there was an app for that or at a tool. Oh, wait there is- A gathering foot. This handy foot does all the work for you. All you do it load it on your machine and then sew one line of stitching. You can either use it just to gather and then join pieces or you can gather and join at the same time. I recently used it on my HotPatterns Cabriolet Skirt but I have used it many times in the past, most notably on my daughter's Halloween Costume last year: Little Red Riding Hood.
I prefer to use this foot to gather first and then join because I have found it difficult to control both pieces of fabric. The gathering goes so smooth and fast but once you get two pieces going at once at different speeds, I get flustered. I am more confident since I have studied this video by Bonetge (which gives some great ideas on gathers) but I need to practice more. It is just so easy and still cuts a lot of time to just gather and then join separately that I am not sure if I really will practice.
To use the gathering foot I like to set up my machine as though I were going to do gathers the old fashioned way: tension as high as it will go (9) and a long basting stitch. If you want less gathers you can adjust by lowering your tension and shortening your stitch length on a practice piece of fabric. Then line up your fabric edge with the edge of the gathering foot -this will give a ½ in. seam allowance--and start slow working up to a comfortable speed. What I love most it that these gathers stay put better than those formed by pulling thread and so need less supervision when joining. When joining, place right sides together and the gathered piece on top to make sure no gathers get tucked up in the seam.
I want any guest to feel comfy and cozy in my home so I try to incorporate items of that nature everywhere in my home. I know that if I feel comfy and cozy that chances are friends and family will as well. This is even more important now with the beginning of the holiday season. Guests will be in and out of your house, some just for the afternoon and some for longer (MUCH, much, much longer). Some sneaky ways to bring a touch of cozy is to put it in unexpected but appreciated places like your bathroom guest towels. One of the first rooms anyone visits is the bathroom and what a way to shake off the road weariness than with a plush and gorgeous cable knit towel. Let this be the first in a long line of luxurious amenities with which you pamper your family and friends. The guest towels are deceivingly fast and simple--your guests need never know.
PM: place marker
M: Stitch Marker
LC: place 3 sts onto cable needle and hold in front, p3, knit 3 from cable needle
RC: place 3 sts onto cable needle and hold in back, p3, knit 3 from cable needle
Cast on 48 sts and work in garter stitch for 1 ½ in.
Row 1 (WS): knit 4, PM, purl 14, PM, k3, p6, k3, PM, p14, PM, k4
Row 2 (RS): k to 2nd M, p3, k6, p3, k to end
Row 3: k4, p14, k3, p6, k3, p14, k4
Row 4: k to 2nd M, LC, RC, knit to end
Row 5: k4, p14, p3, k6, p3, p14, k4
Row 6: k to 2nd marker, k3, p6, k3, k to end
Row 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11: repeat rows 5 & 6
Row 12: k to 2nd M, RC, LC, knit to end
Row 13: repeat Row 3
Row 14: Repeat Row 2
Row 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19: repeat rows 13 & 14
Continue repeating Row 4- 19 until piece measures 22 in. in length, work in garter stitch for 1 ½ in. and bind off. Weave in ends and block as needed.
The cozy cotton blend knit into a cozy cable knit towel will set the tone for comfort and love that rest of your home will offer to your friends and family this holiday season. Knit some up as gifts as well!
When I first saw Martha Stewart Crafts for Lion Brand's MamboYarn, I was speechless for a few sec. I mean it is a lot to take in. I had never seen a yarn like this and I had to get my hands on it to check it out. Don't get me wrong this is a weird yarn but in a good way. It is weird in a way that reminds you of the first time you went outside your comfort zone (Thai food for me) and then were floored that you hadn't done this sooner. This is weird yarn but it is cool. It is also a bit tricky to work with for a number of reasons. First among them being you need some BIG needles to knit this up. I mean big, size 19 needles. Second, the white threads that encase the wooly goodness inside can sometimes get caught on your needle and snag. Third, it is hard to hold a good tension with this yarn because it is so mammothly big (practice will help this). But OH the results! It looks so edgy, so trendy that you can't believe that you just knit this up. Surely you just purchased this from a downtown boutique and will be hiding the receipt from your loved one in order not to divulge the enormous sum of money spent on this knitted goody. But no, even though each skein possesses 5 yds, those are 5 yds to be coveted and used wisely. You can make a super comfy and cuddly pillow, an uber cozy and stunning cowl or a knitted bracelet or necklace. You don't want to venture into anything that needs more drape than those listed above. Even a hat would be too stiff from the bulky of this yarn. However another bonus of the unique nature of this yarn...you don't need fancy stitches. Just stockingette or garter will be amazing and it will (of course) knit up fast!
With some simple modifications and one super-genius knitting pattern you too can knit your own knitted reindeer. I know it sounds too good to be true, but I speak the truth and here's what you will need.
1) Danger Craft Tofu the Dachshund Knitting Pattern
2) US size 7 needles (DPNs if you prefer or cable for your magic loop lovers)
3) 1 Ball of worsted weight yarn in an reindeer-ish color
4) 1 small pom pom (you can make or used a readymade)
5) Size 6 mm safety eyes
6) Contrasting worsted weight yarn for antlers, tail, belly button
To get started, follow pattern as written except for making the tail, ears and belly button.
I hand sewed my red nose on right after I light stuffed the nose. Then I added the eyes and finished stuffing. I found whip stitching gives the best finish for sewing on the arms. For the belly button, I didn't think an X was christmasy enough so I added a few more stitches to the X and made it a Christmas star.
The tail I cast on as described in the pattern but after 4-5 rounds, I started to decrease every 4 sts, skip a row and decrease again until there were 2 sts left and then I cut my yarn, wove it through the remaining stitches and pull tight and knot.
To make the antlers I used a 4 st i-cord. After working 4 rows, I slipped 2 sts to a cable needle, working with the remaining 2 sts on my working needles, increased using the Make 1 increase. The next row, I increased again to regain 4 sts. After 4 rows, I repeated the above and once I had regained 4 sts a second time I broke my yarn, wove it through my remaining sts and pulled tight and secured. I then picked up my first 2 sts from the cable needle and working in i-cord, increase using Make 1 (3 sts) work 4 rows and break yarn, weave through remaining sts, pull tight and secure. Repeat for 2 set of slipped sts on cable needle for 2nd antler branch.
Repeat all of the above for 2nd antler. You can choose to thread pipe cleaners though your main branch of the antlers for shape. I didn't because I liked how silly and floppy they were but older children may prefer be able to manipulate the antlers.
Make 8 companions for your Rudolf so he doesn't get lonely and embroider their initials to their chests so you little ones can name their reindeer as they sing Christmas carols.
Fall is a great time to work on your outdoor space and the big trend is bringing the inside out or creating an outdoor living room. This is a great idea and can include such comfy articles as a sofa, lounge chairs and coffee tables in your yard. But don't overlook the other great living room staple: floor cushions. These are great inside for chilling while watching a movie, extra seating at a party and a handy foot stool. Floor cushions can be just as purposeful outside, especially during the fall. Us e them as extra seating around the firepit (they give a great vantage point for roasting hotdogs), seats for young children and foot stools while watching the soccer game Saturday morning. I chose Amy Butler's Gumdrop Pillows because they fit all my criteria: 1) super comfy 2) really, really, super good looking 3) just the right height to play multiple roles.
I made the 18 in. Gumdrop from outdoor fabric and it turned out really well. I did not use interfacing on the top medallion, I just cut 2 from the fabric and followed the instructions since the fabric was thick enough to stable in itself. Had the fabric been thinner (like quilting cotton) I would have used the interfacing.
Now remember, these pillows are big so they take a lot of stuffing. I used 2.5 big bags for the 18 in. (smaller) pillow. I think the 24 in. would probably take 3-4 bags. You want them to be really firm, so punch down often. Also, heed my warning from previous experience with outdoor fabric and pressing: use a low setting since high heat can distort the fabric. Also, plan to spray these cushions with either tent spray (waterproofing) or scotch guard since they will be on the ground and depending on your family habits- bounced on, jumped onto from great distances, dragged or kicked like a ball. That said, these are a great investment for your outdoor space since they take little fabric, little time to cut or sew and brings a warmth and comfort that wicker or cedar just can't compete with.
P.S. These make great seating for holiday parties and family gatherings!
It wasn't too long ago that I believed that waist shaping was the extent of the tailoring I would need to know for a good fit in knitting. Boy, was I wrong. I have learned many times over that just a few increases and decreases along the side seams is not going to give me the tailored, fine fit that I need. Fitting knitted garments well is especially important for woman no matter what your size because we are not all created equal. While some may have a bigger chest, smaller waist or well rounded hips, others may be the opposite or just share one of these attributes. That means darts; or increases or decrease in a centralized area to give one the extra fabric or less fabric to create a flattering shape. Like sewing it is important to place your darts in the correct area and to use the correct shape of dart. Here are 2 dart patterns that can be modified to fit your shape and added into any pattern.
Vertical Dart: While not completely vertical, this dart does
the job the same way. This dart is best used for targeted waist shaping, light
bust shaping and in the hip area. You can add several of these darts with just
a few increases/decreases each for dramatic shaping (i.e. if your waist is
significantly smaller than your hips) or just a few with more increases/decrease
for a gradual shaping.
R1: Work to your dart marker, slip the marker (SM) and increase with either M1 (make 1) or Kf&b (knit front and back)
R2: Work in pattern
R3: Work to dart marker, SM, k1, increase (here you are increasing on the stitch added from the previous increase)
R4: Work in pattern
R5: Work to dart marker, SM, k2, increase
Continue adding increases on the previous increase your dart resembles the picture or the diagram until you have added the desired number of increase. For a reverse dart, trade the increases for decreases.
Side dart: This is an excellent dart for bust lines (it is similar to short rows). This dart can also be used for collars. It is built with a number of increases followed by an equal number of decreases in a dart shape.
Mark your dart location with a marker
R1: work to marker, SM, increase (Kf&b or M1)
R2: work in pattern
R3: work to 1 st before M, increase, work in pattern
R4: Work in pattern
R5: Work to 2 st before M, increase work in pattern
Continue until you have increase the desired amount then on the next increase row, K2tog directly above the last increase. Continue moving your decrease out back to your marker every other row until you are back to your original stitch count. You will have added an amount of fabric in a very targeted area for better drape and fit.
I love a good juxtaposition of fashion, namely mixing men's suiting with a feminine silhouette. You will probably not find me in such a richly ruffled piece of clothing unless you can tone it down with some smooth, dark and simply decorated men's suiting. The combo is my cup of tea. I was looking for the perfect project to branch out our men's suiting and the overtly feminine design of the HotPatterns Cabriolet Dress/skirt was perfect. There are 2 layers of gathered ruffles that flow and drape to accentuate a woman's body coupled with a long tie to cinch in the waist and create a dramatic bow. If this design doesn't say "Woman" nothing does. The wool suiting I selected is dark blue with a simple and stark window pane detail in gold. That is it. It is rich and lightweight but dark and simple. The perfect fabric for a man's garment. The two together make for a striking combination that can be worn to a number of occasions. Paired with a fitted white button down shirt and red pumps makes a dramatic outfit for a work Christmas party. Worn as a dress with leggings and knee high riding boots and a fitted blazer can be fabulous outfit for Christmas shopping or an outdoor fall party. Or you can wear it as a dress throw on a shrug and a pair of bold heels for date night or girls night out!
I love this version and can't wait to wear it out. I might not be able to wait and will probably be seen sporting it at the grocery store and maybe down to the park. Nap time tomorrow might be spent finding new outfit combinations to post on Facebook!
Some tips on the pattern:
1) Either cut a second tie as a lining or serge or zig zag all your pieces before assembly. You can also opt for a decadent bias tape like dupioni silk.
2) Try using a second fabric for your tie to create interest or a color block effect.
3) You can plan and add a long button hole to slide your tie through if you want since it is not in the instructions.
Cowls and jersey necklaces are exploding in the fashion scene today and I am drooling. I love a good accessory because many days I only get time to pull on jeans and a t-shirt in between playing blocks, going on leaf collecting journeys and watching Sesame Street. I need some glamour most days even if it ends up just being a pair of earrings, fancy socks, or -in this case- a jersey knit cowl or stacked necklace. Both are easy and FUN to make (mostly because they are quick) and a great addition to your wardrobe whether you are an accessory queen or a busy mom looking to offset some mom jeans (that last part was, of course, hypothetical. For the record I don't wear mom jeans- no matter what anyone may tell you).
To make the Sunshine Sequin Jersey Knit Cowl you will need ½ yard of Sequin Stripe Jersey Knit Fabric and coordinating thread. You can opt to serge or zig zag your cut edges or leave them raw to roll over. Match up the selvedges and stitch together using a french seam. The French seam eliminates the raw edges and gives a tailored seam. That's it. You can wrap your cowl as many times as deemed per your style or the outside temp.
The necklace is just as easy as the cowl but I did not use a French seam, just a regular ½ in. will do. Start with another ½ yd of Jersey Knit Fabric, with right sides facing, match up your selvedges and stitch them up, creating a tube. Then lay your tube flat on a cutting surface and cut your tube into smaller ½ in. to 1 in. tube strips. The bigger the strips, the thicker the strands of your necklace. Cut as many strips as needed to make your necklace the desired thickness. Once all your strips are cut, stretch them out as far as they will go and when they bounce back the sides will have curled up to give the necklace its signature appeal. Gather up all your strands and tie a bow around them at the back to keep your seams together and at the back. You can mix and match colors or tie 2 bows (like mine) to use as an accent.
Both projects make great gifts. A word to the wise: only use jersey for the necklace since it curls and don't use a jersey with details like the sequin stripe or screen printing since the stripe and ink will interfere with the curl.
Eyelets are not just for lace and doilies anymore; they can be incorporated into projects and patterns for many reasons, decorative among them.
Give me a good yarn over any day and I am a happy camper. I love just a touch of decoration to turn any old increase, dart or ruffle into something extra. I try to add in eyelets whenever possible to any project that looks a little boring.
Increases: I recently made Carol Feller's Cardigan Bay Jacket which uses eyelets as increases for the raglan sleeves and to help the jacket fit over the hips. These little eyelets really made the jacket more appealing to me (and I am not a big sweater knitter). The eyelet increases were the cherry on top and I had to make it. You can substitute a yarn over in for any increase to bring in a delicate feeling.
Buttonholes: Not every button hole has to be a production of turnings and binding off. You can just do a simple eyelet (a yarn over or double yarn over) to make a quick and easy buttonhole. Test it first to determine which size button you will need. It is a quick, easy and smooth way to finish off a sweater, scarf or bag.
Ruffles: I love tossing in some eyelets into my ruffles, not just at the initial increase for the ruffle but also into the ruffle itself to make it more feminine and a little unexpected. The eyelets give an extra swing and lightness to the ruffles as well as adding a peek-a-boo effect to whatever lies behind the ruffle.
Ribbons: a row of eyelets can be added to a project for weaving in a ribbon after. It can add color, texture and maybe even a bow. You can add a ribbon row of eyelets to a hat, scarf (across the width or length), sweater (add it right at the waist for a ribbon belt) or socks for further femininity.
Outline: Adding eyelets to outline a feature can really make that feature stand out even more. Try including an eyelet row on either side of a cable or just use the eyelets to stand in for the shape of a leaf, bear, or heart. An eyelet row before every color change is a simple way to make regular stripes amazing. (The above picture the eyelets create and highlight the swirl pattern)
The possibilities for eyelets are endless. You can add in a here and there or combine them with a standard stitch or use them to take a fabulous stitch pattern to the next level. Using eyelets is a great way to take any pattern and make it your own.
I mentioned French Seams in my Café Curtain Post so we are back today to explain with a nifty diagram how to create your own French Seams. First, I want to thank Stacy from StacySews.com who taught me everything I needed to know about French seams.
French seams are a very easy technique of hiding your raw edges inside your seams to give a professional finish inside a garment or on the wrong side of a home dec project (like mine) so both sides look nice. I chose to use French seams to join my curtains panels so viewed from the outside of the window, you would only see a nice finish. I could have serged or pinked but I wanted something VERY nice, so I opted for French seams. French seams are a great couture finish and a way to make your projects extra special because they will look good no matter where you look.
French seams are also easy but there is math involved. Don't move! You can use a calculator. First choose the seam amount you want to use for the majority of the project. Let's use ½ in. for the example. You will need to calculate ¾ in. for each French seam (that is ¼ in. plus ½ in.).
To complete your french seams, first place your pieces wrong side together (you read that right, we are starting off backwards), pin and stitch along the seam like using a ¼ in. seam. Press you seam open and turn your fabric over the seam. Now you right sides should be facing and your first seam is sandwiched in the middle. Press again to get everything smooth and stitch along the seam line using a ½ in. seam allowance. Press your seam open from the right side. You will see that your raw edges are enveloped inside the 2 seams and the only thing visible along the back side is a nice, welt-like seam-a French Seam!
I have fallen in love with the tulle party dresses populating Etsy these days and have dreamed of creating one for my little lady for the upcoming holidays. I resigned to start where I seldom go: into my own stash of toddler dress patterns (with 2 grandmas that sew I can 1) fight over my daughter's wardrobe or 2)be resigned and spend the time on mine). I really loved the high empire waist styling with an over-sized tulle skirt so I picked out a few patterns that already featured an empire waist and started modifying from there. Here are a few great patterns from our store for you to work from:
The key to taking your pattern from regular to Tulle-tacular (yes, I just said Tulle-tacular. Give it time, it's gonna be huge) is the combination of colors. I have noticed the big sellers on Etsy and also the dresses that are my favorite are those that either couple rich jewel tone tulle and fabric together (think garnet, amber or jade) or just the jewel tone tulle paired with an unexpected and bold cotton print for the bodice. I considered pairing my Jade 108 in. Tulle with a complimentary Dupioni Silk for the bodice but when I found this black and white damask cotton print in my stash I knew it was the one. I assembled the bodice as instructed by the pattern but made the skirt out of a combination of tulle and matching cotton fabric (you can also use a knit fabric). The matching cotton fabric is for the underskirt which is a very important part because it will keep the tulle from touching the skin and tulle can be irritating. The underskirt needs to be invisible so it must match your tulle. My 108 in. tulle came folded in thirds from the bolt and I left it folded and cut out my skirt widths with it folded. I then layered several skirt widths until I had my desired fullness (I chose 3 layers or about 3-4 yds of tulle). I then stitched the skirt together at the back and basted through all layers across the top and then pulled the bobbin thread to gather up all the tulle to create my skirt. To create the under skirt I just cut one piece of cotton to the same width as one tulle layer and stitched it up the back and gathered it at the top as with the tulle. To attach the underskirt and tulle to the bodice I pinned the gathered tulle to the right side of the bodice (right sides facing) and the underskirt to the wrong side (the right side of the underskirt facing the wrong side of the bodice) and then stitched both in place. To make sure your hem is correct, you will need your little girl to try on the dress and then mark the length desired. Then cut off the excess with scissors. Really simple.
You can embellish your skirt from your extra bits of tulle by cutting out butterflies, flowers or ruffles. You can hand sew your embellishments on with some glitter or beads for extra glitz. A matching headband might be in order as well!
The same theory can be used for Adult dresses as well, just unfold the tulle and use much more (6-7 yds).