Tara Miller: January 2012 Archives
A good cardi is always a pleasure to knit but I hated the buttonholes. "Too much math" I would to mumble when seriously considering another cardigan with delicate buttons. I hated knitting the button band because inevitability I would get the buttonholes wrong. By the time you figure out that your placement or buttonhole size is wrong you have worked two whole rows of knitting. However with this great tutorial, from Knitting Daily, for a one row button hole my knitting world became bright and sunny again. Once I had this handy technique under my belt I was planning cardigans left and right. I knew that I would only have work one buttonhole to determine if my sizing was correct and I would only need to work one row to see if my placement was right. It was amazing and very encouraging.
While the technical drawings included with the tutorial are nice, they don't follow all the steps and sometimes just seeing it worked in actual yarn as you go can really help master a new method.
I recommend practicing this method in your favorite yarn to learn and then adding it onto your swatches when you work it up before your project. This will help you plan sizing before you have 100 sts to work and will also help you visualize your buttons with your stitch pattern. Trying your buttonholes in your swatch can also help you work out how to incorporate your stitch pattern into your one row buttonhole row. You can practice how the bind off and cast on stitches in the buttonhole will affect your stitch pattern and how to work around it for the best finish.
This is an exciting month for Blog of the Month because we are featuring Sew4Home.com. This site suffers a misnomer because it should more correctly be named "Sew everything for everyone/tutorials galore.com". This is a gorgeous blog full of projects that are specifically for your home but you can also find tote bags, outdoor cushions, and gift ideas. One important aspect that you will notice right away is that Sew4Home loves Minky. Many of the projects use it to add softness and great, low maintenance texture to your home. Here are some of my favorite Minky projects featured:
The creators over at Sew4Home whip up project after project that combine style with ease and functionality. There are no silly projects or create for the sake of creating with no real purpose besides being pretty. Their nursery projects rival Designsponge; I especially love their Michael Miller Citron and Grey series. It is a great inspiration for both baby girls and boys and I am willing to bet it is something both moms and dads can agree on. These animal pillows are seriously fun and so easy!
You can find something on this site that is your style or easily adapted to be perfectly your style. Any pillow, linen, cushion or home décor item that you can think of, they have it and you will love it. This site is also very easy to navigate. Their drop down menus at the top allow you to search by project, find tips, offer a shopping directory and features a glossary of terms to make everything easy and understandable. Sew4Home is a great resource for the Do It Yourselfers out there and is my new favorite website! Thank You Thank You Thank You
All pictures are property of Sew4Home.com. Please visit their website to find all the featured projects and more!
If you remember my embellished tank top with knit and crocheted doilies, you will know that I love to think of different ways to use classic motifs. Decorating your favorite ensemble is just one way to put a good doily to work, another is to put your creation to work in the kitchen and add some vintage modern style to your traditional tuna casserole. By working any doily pattern in a worsted or thicker gauge cotton (or wool) yarn you can turn a delightful lace doily into a glamorous trivet. When not in use hang your trivets on your back splash, cabinets or in an offset pattern on above your desk. Work several in different patterns, colors and sizes to accommodate all your needs. Choose colors to coordinate with your kitchen colors or servingwear or to bring in new colors.
Another eclectic idea is to crochet up 6-8 large doilies to use as placemats. When you use your matching trivets at your next big family meal, dinner party or coffee with the girls everyone will gush over your delicate and bold style. Doilies knit 15-17 in. can serve as chargers while doilies 12-14 in. are better placemats size. Since they are knit from cotton, they are washable and can be easily reblocked with a quick run of the iron.
You can create a traditional atmosphere by choosing a light neutral color like cream, white or yellow and sticking to the same doily pattern but adjusting the size by using a different hook size. If you are looking for a French bohemian style (think Anna Maria Horner) than choose many different colors from bright to mellow all mixed together. Pick all your favorite doily patterns to mix and match together. If you want a more modern manner (think Amy Butler) than choose 3-4 medium toned colors (not too bright but not too neutral) and 4-5 doily patterns. Mix up the colors and doily patterns and adjust the size as in the traditional style but don't get too crazy.
My crochet doily trivet was worked in Lily Sugar n' Cream Mod Green using the Mini Trellis Doily Pattern. Given that I am still a beginner this was a tricky pattern for me, mostly because it was in the round and there were a few stitches/ techniques I had not attempted yet. The outcome was more beautiful than I had anticipated and actually not as difficult. I love my trivet. While it is not as thick as I had hoped it will still protect my tables and counter tops and gives me just the look I was after in my kitchen.
If you are looking for a great kids craft, teachers' gift or rainy day activity, grab a bar of soap and some wool roving to make some felted soap. This project can be found in many boutiques and high-end stores but it is inexpensive and easy to do at home. The finished product is a soft, non-slippery, foamy bar of soap that is great for little ones to wash by themselves and makes an interesting conversation starter.
To get started you will need:
1 bar of soap (make sure it smells Really good because you will be spending quality time with it in a few minutes)
2-4 packages of our Wool Roving (2 packages for a small bar and 4 for a big bar)
Needle felting needles (optional for added details)
Wrap your bar of soap with enough roving to go around the bar twice so you do not see any of the bar showing. I like to use my felting needles to secure the ends of the roving; you only need a few pokes.
Next take your panty hose and cut it at about 8-10 in. long. I like to use the foot but if you have a run there, any 8-10 in. length will do. Carefully slip your wool wrapped bar into the hose and knot it tight.
With a sink of warm water or with a giant towel and a big bowl of warm water, dunk your bar in the water and then vigorously rub your soap. Periodically dunk your bar back in the water. Your soap will start to serious foam, which is really fun for the kids. My daughter wasn't interested in rubbing the soap but very excited about all the bubbles. Keep rubbing and dunking for about 10-15 min until your bar is totally felted (this is the quality soap time I referred to earlier). You can tell when it is close because the wool fibers will shift less and will feel thicker. You can unknot your hose to check. When it is done, rinse your bar in cool water and pull off the hose. My hose was felted to the wool so be sure to pull your hose off slowly. Allow your bar to dry for 24 hours on a cookie rack before wrapping or gifting. I recommend waiting until your bar is dry before your needle felt any details. My bar looked different after it was dry.
Felted soap makes it easier for kids to wash themselves. They also combine a loofah and soap so they make great girl friend gifts. You can needle felt initials for personalization or silly pictures. Felting soap is a messy but clean craft that will provide many giggles and zero stress for the adult in charge of supervision. Once your original bar is done, cut a slit in the bottom and place a new bar inside. You can felt the slit closed again.
I am still in love with the Fiskars' Circle Cutter and have not been able to stop playing with it or finding new ways to put circles together for fun projects and accessories. For this post I have created a graceful, stylish flower pin or hair clip. The base is a modified yo-yo technique and the petals are simply folded small circles stitched together topped with a vintage button. This pin is a quick project that can be modified to a smaller size for bouquets or made bigger to embellish bags.
Base: Fold the five in. circle in half and in half again and finger press to determine the center. Place a spool in the center and trace on WS. Use a running stitch and hand sew around the circle. Do not pull thread but leave a 6 in. tail and clip.
Petals: Fold each two in. circle and stitch together according to the pictures. Place petals over center of base and secure center of petals to center of base.
Pull base thread to draw in center of base, tucking in the center of the petals at the same time. Pull thread to gather tight and knot. Attach button to the center and pin backing.
My Circle Cutter flower pin is perfect to embellish a scoop neck t-shirt, border a pillow case or top a fold over elastic headband. Have fun making your own.
Check out Circle Cutter Part 1
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When I watch my favorite TV shows lately I have noticed that
the trend is leaning towards blousley tunics in geometric designs in a 2 color
patterns. Whether it is green/white, black/ white or any other combination I was
filled with desire to make my own.
I picked out Joel Dewberry's Heirloom collection for my go at a bold pattern tunic because it had the bold geometric pattern I was looking for, the scale was right but it had 3 colors (purple, white and pink) where I wanted 2. I figured 2 out of 3 on my list wasn't bad and went ahead with my plan. I used Heather Ross' Summer Shirt Pattern from Weekend Sewing as my pattern because it had the silhouette I was looking for: long, loose and flowy.
I made the medium but ended up taking it in 1 in. on the sides and arm as well as adding a 3 in. band of linen to the bottom because the pattern was shorter than I wanted (the pattern hits at the top of the hip and I wanted mid hip). This last part turned out better than I imagined because the linen adds a nice contrast to the pattern and really mellows is out. The tunic ended up being too bright and bold so I decided to try a new bleach technique I discovered in Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts and it turned out great! It was nerve wrenching but fun and well worth the results. I started with a too bold print with 3 colors and ended with a mellower 2 color version. I added the linen hem after the bleaching.
I also made the bottom of the shirt straight from the underarms to the hem instead of the flare in the pattern and omitted the curved hem and made it straight.
You don't have to wait for spring to create and wear this look, these tunics are easily paired with a cardigan and leggings or belted jacket and riding boots. I love to wear my tunic with a skinny belt, huge scarf/cowl, jeans and flats on really chilly days. For a more romantic look, try micro floral patterns and really light weight fabric with lots of drape. For a more structure (hide your butt or hips) looks, try a crisper fabric such as medium weight linen or quilting cotton.
Here is my pic of my tunic straight off the sewing machine before I modified it at all. The sleeves are 5 in. too long and you can see that the tunic has come alive with the spirit of the 1970's. I must apologize for the bad lighting but I could not leave the tunic as is long enough to wait for daylight and a better picture.
The elephant in the corner of very sewing space/room/studio
seems to be thread organization. It has always been my nemesis but this year I
am tackling it. If I can find a way to stop stacking them up next to my sewing
machine as I change colors or tossing them into a HUGE zip top bag...
The trick is the desire to change. A sure fire way to bring about change is to make it pretty. Pretty and sewing go hand in hand just as thread and organization should also go hand in hand. Let's make thread organization pretty and I am sure we will have our solution.
Now my mom prefers the old standard that can be found in most big box craft stores and it works for her but I need something with character, vintage and a little funky. I think I would really keep up with my thread organization if it were also art. So here are some of my favorite inspirations and tutorials for fun and original thread organization.
This beautiful framed thread collection hangs on your wall
and allows for extra surface space on your sewing or cutting table. Not only is
it a gorgeous aged bright yellow but it can be built as big as your thread
collection. This tutorial
by Grey Luster Girl is very popular on Pinterest because it is a great art
piece for non-sewers as well as fabric lovers!
I love the free form shape of Copy & Paste's thread wall piece looks like a piece of seaweed floating through the ocean covered in thread barnacles. It appears that she cut the piece with a jigsaw, sanded it, added nails or added nails to a purchased or found piece. Either way it is amazing and stunning when fully decorated. You could create your own with a jig saw or wall letters that spell out "Sew", "Craft" or "Create".
Finally there is the thread organization I fell in love with. This is an antique typesetter's drawer that I found in my parents' basement. The compartments were the perfect size for spools and when they are lined up by color the rainbow effect really draws the eye in my sewing room and makes me very happy. It has been quite successful in helping my stick to my thread organization goal. You can try to find something similar or you can use a table tray with paint stick dividers or a shadow box and square dowels. Stain it lightly with tea or coffee to give it a real aged finish.
Check out our new Organization Board on Pinterest. Use it to inspire you to stay true to your new year's resolution to stay organized!
I have been taken by this tutorial I found featuring Fold Over Elastic. It seemed to fun and easy and I loved that you could wear just the headband or add a little something whenever it suited. So I tried it though I was hesitant over using my glue gun. I wasn't convinced it would last but once I got that sucker heated up I couldn't stop. This was a fun project because the gratification was so instantaneous and the results were darling.
I used one package of our Babyville Fold Over Elastic in Red/Blue because I am hot for red polka dots at the moment. I made one headband for my little one (almost 3 yrs) out of each and cut them to 17 in. as per the instructions. Each took approx 5-10 (probably closer to 5 for just the headband part) and they looked super cute as plain headbands. The next part was the really exciting bit. I wanted to add something really fun but still sane enough that my daughter could still wear them out. Her new favorite activity is going through all my buttons (well, really dumping them out and then picking out the cute ones and putting them in a "mine" pile) so I decided to make an embellishment starring her faves. The shank buttons I lopped off the shank with wire cutters and glued them in place scattered among her other favorite buttons. The base can be downloaded here. Just glue the 2 felt pieces together, glue the buttons on top and use a running stitch to attach to the head band or you can glue a hair clip to the back.
Her red head band features a collection of circles I cut while testing our Fiskars' circle cutter, linen and felt (well the felt I cut with scissors, see article for more info). The largest is 5 in. going down the to smallest at 1 in. They are all stacked and attached to the headband with a costume jewelry pin.
You can add your own embellishment to these great and comfy headbands (my little one asked to put her headband on as soon as she woke this morning!). Flowers are very popular but you can clip any of your existing hair clips or make something new.
I am taking the Notional definition #3: indulging in or influenced by fancy. Fiskars' Circle Cutter is an indulgence in fancy but also a smart buy. I loved this from the first try. One of my biggest pet peeves is cutting circle and patterns that call for circle cutting. Why? Because it usually involves a random search all over one's house looking for any and all objects round that will create the size circle that is needed/called for. Plus, I can't cut circles out with my rotary cutter very well, somewhere around the hand switch I either bump the pattern object or I don't put enough pressure on the rotary cutter and all goes awry! These days are over and a new circle cutting era has dawned in my sewing studio- a glorious era of circles of all sizes (1in. to 8 in. that is) living in harmony with me.
Eventually my eyes cleared of stars and I was able to get down to business and put this circle cutter through its paces.
- This cutter is designed for paper. Well, I say "pshaw" to that. You can use it to cut lightweight fabrics easily. Get yourself some freezer paper (I bought mine at Wal-Mart) and iron it, shiny side down onto your fabric. Now cut your circles out with the paper side up. Also keep some pressure on the paper/fabric with pattern weights. This will keep the paper/fabric from shifting when the cutter is moving.
- You can also cut lighter weight Home dec fabrics but you will need to press a little harder.
- This circle cutter does not cut felt. The felt is too thick and the blade is not long enough, plus the felt is loftier than a woven so when you press down on the gripper foot it raises the area around the blade making it difficult to cut. I was a bit disappointed by this but cutting circles from felt is not as bad as a woven for me.
- When you are choosing your circle size, line up the ruler with the center of the shaft. This will give you an accurate size (the instructions don't mention this).
- You can pop out a dull blade with the tip of a knitting needle or a turning tool. The slot is small so you can't use a finger and you might need more pressure than a seam ripper can give without breaking.
- Best on quilting cottons, shirting, apparel fabrics including bottom weight, lightweight Home dec (linen, light wovens, silks, drapery).
Rosewood- Strong and sturdy better for small gauges, beautiful grain
Birch- tight grain and flexible
Ebony- Hard and durable
Blonde- Strong and warm
Coconut- Very strong (great for those who knit tight)
Surina- Very hard but very light
You could also include bamboo needles in this article because the attributes of bamboo in a knitting needle is so similar to wood: it is light and strong but the most flexible of "wooden" needles. Bamboo is also less expensive than wood so it makes the best beginner needle. Bamboo is a great choice for an eco-conscience person because bamboo is a grass, it grows back very quickly and the environmental impact of its harvest is minimal.
Shirt from j.crew
dress from nordstroms
To recreate these slimming and comfy knit pants, use a pj pants pattern but cut it one size smaller. Make sure it is straight from the knee down. Try using a thicker interlock rather than the jersey this pair is made from. The thicker interlock will wear better, won't be see through and will hold its shape better than a t-shirt jersey. I love our Organic Interlocks especially in the purple. It is very close to navy and dark enough to be slimming and not too purple. Go for a deep hem (2-3 in.) at the cuff to allow your pants to sit on the foot like the inspiration pant.
pants from landsend
If your New Year's Resolution is to get better sleep or to create a more inviting guest room, this project is perfect for you. An Herb Pocket is a cute little pocket that you can add onto the back of any pillow to tuck in a sachet of herbs designed to promote better sleep, relaxation or well being. This is great for your bed, couch or guest suite. Different herbs offer different aromatherapy so find which combo works best for you or your guests. You can make several sachets with different dried herb combos and switch them out. The removable sachet can also be heated to amplify the relaxing scent. Each sachet is made from linen and embroidered with a small picture of the herb hidden inside. A decorative pocket is attached to the back of the pillow or pillowcase (you can even sew it to the inside of the pillowcase for added comfort) with a button flap to ensure the herb sachet stays secure inside. Here's how to make your own Herb Pocket:
1/4 yd (makes 6-7 sachets) of 100% linen for sachets
Download and cut your Herb Pocket pattern piece. Cut 2 from linen for sachet, cut 1 from linen or cotton for pocket and cut 1 from cotton for pocket flap.
Embroider one piece of linen with the herb of your choice
Take 2 pieces of linen (one with embroidery) and with RS together sew 3 sides with 1/2 in. seam. Clip Corners, turn and press. Fill with dried herbs and stitch opening closed.
Take pocket flap and fold in half RS together. Stitch along 2 short sides with ¼ in. seam. Clip corners, turn and press. Fold down top ¼ in. and press toward WS of flap. Mark center of flap for the buttonhole. Place buttonhole ¼ in. from bottom of flap. Set flap aside.
Fold ¼ in. on all sides of pocket and press toward WS. Pin on pillow or pillowcase and topstitch around 3 sides, leaving top open. Pin flap ¼ in. above the top of the pocket, sew in place along the fold line on the wrong side (when flap is closed stitch line will be hidden). Mark button placement by folding down flap and marking on the pocket. Sew button in place. Insert herb pocket and enjoy.
I love to place the herb pocket towards the front when I use them in the guest room so my guests can see it and I can tell them how to use. I sewed my husband's on the inside of his pillowcase because he sleeps with his hands under his pillow. I also placed one on the pillow on my little's one reading chair.