Tara Miller: February 2012 Archives
Braided Necklaces are something that is unavoidable on Pinterest. They are super popular right know because they strike the right blend of color, texture and comfort. They are light, easy to layer and are super easy to make. You can try one of the many tutorials out right now on Pinterest, most of which are crafted from beads or fabric strips. Or you can make my version: the Easy Peasy Braided Necklace which is hand braided from cotton yarns. Very soft and yummy and cotton comes in so many colors to match your wardrobe or the look you are envisioning. I used Lily Sugar N Cream Cotton Yarn which offers a great selection.
1 skein each of 4 colors of Lily Sugar N Cream (label them color A, B, & C)
Blocking board or some firm but soft surface to secure your braid
Pin to secure braid to board
Cut three 36 in. pieces in each color. Knot at end. Begin braiding holding each color as one strand (each strand will be made of 3 lengths of that color) until your piece measures 16 in. Secure 2 of the colors (B & C) so they don't unravel and tuck out of the way. Starting with Color A, braid the 3 lengths for 8 in. secure out of the way and repeat for B& C. Once you have completed the individual braids, join the three colors back to continue your main braid being careful not to incorporate the tiny braids into the main braid. The tiny braids should remain loose (as loose as you can get them. they might braid up a little). Continue with the main braid until you have run out of yarn to braid. You necklace should measure 24-28 in (depending on how tightly you braid). Knot the end and secure the 2 knotted ends together with one small length of yarn. Wrap your necklace around double or triple. This casual but trendy necklace will brighten up a plain white tee or add just the right accessory to your skinny jeans and blazer.
This month we submit to you as Blog of the Month: Trueup.net. This wonderful and informative blog is basically a mainline for everything fabric. You can find the newest designers, colorways and find great pictures of new and coming-soon fabric lines. TrueUp is not just limited to new fabric alerts, you can find great project inspirations, information of exisiting fabrics, sales alerts and fabric design.
Trueup also features a Fabric Design forum where you can find all the info your designing heart desires on: Creating, Repeats, Printing and Licensing. You can find others who have been successful in fabric design and many more who are beginners looking to express themselves creatively or to make it their career.
Trueup is a great site to help you find certain types of fabric. They feature a Liberty of London Source Guide as well as Linen, Wool and Vintage Fabric. You can be sure Trueup's list is inclusive because she encourages submissions of fabric sites that are missing from each list at the bottom of the page. It is a great resource for hard to find linen prints and Liberty of London outside of London.
In the Sales Alert, Trueup encourages shop owner's to give them the head's up on sales so they can alert you but it is important to follow the guidelines. You (the buyer) can also head over there on Fridays to find out the newest sales on fabric, notions and patterns.
Finally, you can purchase a copy of the Trueup book to fabric design which promises to provide the techniques needed to create, print and sell your own fabric designs. It is a very thorough and well written book that if it doesn't completely cover everything you need to know to design your own good-looking fabric, it doesn't fall far short. The pictures are great and then text is simple enough for a beginner to understand without being too handhold-y to bore the more advanced.
Bottomline is: if you love fabric then why are you a fan of Trueup.net already!
Samantha Michelle Wisdom asks: I'm trying to make a jacket for a friend of mine. I took all his measurements (chest, waist, shoulders, sleeve length.. any I'm forgetting?) But now I'm not sure how much bigger than the measurements I should actually cut the fabric. (It'll be a denim jacket).
Tara Says: If you are using a pattern, it will instruct you in which measurements to take and how to incorporate them into the pattern to determine the correct size. If you are working without a pattern, a trusty tailoring or pattern making book is a helpful resource that can help you translate your measurements into the correct cutting size. I love my Reader's Digest Complete New Complete Guide to Sewing. It has everything from how to properly position body parts to obtain the most precise measurements and then how to create a size from those measurements. I also found a great basic website that walks you through the gist of sewing a men's jacket and what you need in terms of measuring to cutting.
Wendy Pollack Rieder I am having an awful time trying to install a zipper into a stretch velvet leotard (it has a mock turtle neck, so it needs the zipper). I tried interfacing the seam allowances with knit interfacing, but the top stitching distorted the fabric very badly, giving it a "unique" twisted appearance. I am thinking about trying again with an invisible zipper, but prefer the look of a regular centered one.
Tara says: I would recommend a top stabilizer. You can try tissue paper or some embroidery stabilizer either water soluble or cut away. It should really help keep your thread tension. Also be sure you are using the correct ballpoint needle but you might want increase the size to accommodate the thickness of the fabric plus zipper.
Laura J. Liles I make purses and love to use micro suede. I don't always find good coordinates though, which fabric types can be paired together and still look good? I also use flannel occasionally too. Thanks
Tara Says: You can't go wrong with Home Dec fabrics for purses and they make a great pairing with Micro suede. If you check in the designer section of our Home Dec page you can find many coordinating collections. If you still need some help finding great coordination fabrics, our customer service is here to help or you can post a picture or a link on out Facebook wall and any of our helpful staff or customers will give you loads of options in no time.
I am in love- Fact. This is an awesome tutorial- Fact. This was so easy that I want to buy tons more fabric and mini blinds to do all the windows in my house- Undeniable Fact.
This tutorial I found on Pinterest is quick, fun and easy. I am nearly jumping for joy on how fun, easy and quick it is. I expected it to be all of these things but not this much so. Enough embellishment, let's get down to business.
First, I went to a mega store and purchased the cheapest mini blind I could find to fit my window. I did this on principle to see if it would really work and just how little I could get away on spending on a tutorial I wasn't 100% convinced would pan out. Next I perused Fabric.com Home Dec Fabric and found the perfect fabric for my cornflower blue bathroom (thinking about painting it so I wanted a neutral). I wanted a neutral, also, so light would come through. This is the only window in the bathroom so I didn't want to darken it with a dark pattern. I choose a geometric to branch out of my comfort zone of florals and to compromise with my husband (long time anti-floral voter). I found out later that geometrics make it very easy to make sure your lines are straight. My window was 32 in. wide by 60 in. long so I ordered up 2 yds of Carver Lattice Sand.
I followed the instructions almost to the letter but because my window was a different size I went with 4 pleats 16 in. apart (this is 3 blinds plus the bottom slat). I really like the dramatic effect of less pleats and think it works well for our long window. I also used some Steam a Seam 2 for the side seams. I REALLY considered sewing these seams but I also really wanted to see how well this tutorial worked out so I decided to not deviate too far. I did however, hot glue all the blinds and slat down instead of using fabric glue for several reasons: I didn't see why to use one over the other, hot gluing seemed faster, I didn't have any beer bottles, I was out of fabric glue (this was the determining factor). This worked very well and I recommend it but arm yourself with an extension cord since most glue guns are not made to range as far as this project called for.
Though I have only had my Mini-Blind-to-Roman-Shade up for a few days, it looks great and I mean great! It works well and it was such a pleasure to put together. I hate and I mean hate making roman shades because they are so time consuming and tedious. I love their look but I had ruled them out because they were too much given my limited time. This tutorial has reunited me with the look I love with a time commitment I can welcome! Thank you 365 days 2 simplicity!
A very simple but often overlooked detail when knitting color work is a seamless transition. This is especially necessary when knitting stripes in the round. You will notice that there is a tiny step when you continue from the end of one round to the beginning of another. In the scheme of things this might be a tiny detail but when knitting something handmade, whether a gift for a beloved friend or a coveted pattern for yourself, you want everything to be perfect because in the end- you made it. Creating seamless stripes (or jogless stripes) frees you from trying to plan your stripes to end in a hidden spot. It allows you to knit a striped sweater, hat or mittens how you see fit and to place that all important beginning marker where ever the heck you want! It is a very simple technique that will amaze. The only really trick is to remember to follow it every time.
Knit with your first color (color A) until your initial stripe is wide enough. At the beginning of the next round, drop Color A and begin working with Color B for one round. When you reach the beginning stitch for the 2nd round in Color B, pick up the stitch below (which will be in Color A) and knit it together with the first stitch (See picture).
This will eliminate the jog and give you a seamless stripe. It will seem weird at first but once you try it you will see the optical illusion it creates because each stripe will be 1 stitch less at the 1st stitch than the remainder of the stripe but the stitch picked up at the beginning from the row below will stretch filling the space so you can't tell unless you count stitches (example: if your stripes are 4 sts wide then at the 1 st of the round they will be 3 sts wide). It is really an ingenious method that has been passed down throughout the generations of knitting to daughters or sons. But often these days a new knitter doesn't learn from a close family member so these handy techniques fall through the cracks of sock classes, knit-alongs and online forums. It is important to pass on the tiny details so be sure to share it at your next knitting gathering!
Check out this picture for a great example of a jogged stripe. You can see the step at the beginning of the round.
In this picture the circled stripes are jogless. You cannot clearly see where one round ends and another begins.
This is a great technique to use on our Free Pattern Download: Telfair Capelet
Following hard on the heels of my Dritz Doll Needle post earlier this week is this review and modification of Hilary Lang's Mermaiden Pattern from her Wee Wonderful's book. This is an excellent book and the patterns are so much fun. This is my first doll from this book but I have thoroughly read most of the patterns and find them to be well written and with very few errors. I had a lot of fun planning and making my mermaiden. The whole book is a huge source of interest and delight for my 3 yr. old daughter who doesn't acknowledge it to be a mommy book but a toddler book with fairies, trains and dinosaurs.
First off, I enlarged my pattern using my copy machine and increased the pattern pieces by 150% making this finished doll 10 in. instead of the 7 in. featured in the book. I wanted the mermaiden to be more squeezable and vie for a coveted spot in my daughter's bed and felt the larger size would give me that edge. I also used felt for the hair instead of corduroy because I find felt much easier and corduroy sheds a good bit and can fray easily. I only cut out one piece for each hair piece as well since it was felt and didn't need to be seamed together. A cotton flannel was used for the body and a very mermaid-y cotton print served as the tail. Luckily for all your readers I have also found a free version of the mermaiden pattern on Martha Stewart's website but I urge you to check out the book for more cute doll and toy patterns.
I really enjoyed exploring Hilary's different doll making techniques and want to stress that you should read this pattern before you even cut anything out. This doll will not go together exactly as you expect. Even cutting the patterns pieces out without reading will not be the short cut you expect. It may take longer than expected to sew up your first mermaiden but once you get one under your belt, you can fire them off for birthday parties in no time! Next time I am going to increase the enlargement to 250% in an attempt for a 14 in. sized doll. Wish me luck!
While you are waiting for your Mermaiden fabric order to arrive check out this great Wee Wonderful's Book Project page. It is full of project pictures made from the book!
One often over-looked but very useful tool every seamstress (or seamster-for the gentlemen) is a set of Dritz Doll Needles. These are extra long but not overly thick needles that can be used outside the realm of doll making. I have had the occasion to use mine often as: a turning tool for very small projects to get those pesky corners just right, jeans repair and decorative stitching on very thick items (like my Bike Bucket). Several of Heather Bailey's pincushions from her Fresh Picked Pattern call for a doll needle to thread embroidery floss for shaping the tomato or making the right tucks for the apple. While I did not use a doll needle in the same way in my enlarged Apple Pillow based on the Fresh Picked Pattern, I did use it to attach my stem. And we can't forget Shannon's amazing Organza Ornament showcased last October. She used her doll needles to attach the flowers to a foam ball. Lastly, I used doll needles to create my wonderful Molly Monkey Doll (shown above).
Dritz Doll Needles are perfectly designed for their name sake, allowing the user to attach or repair various parts of dolls. The extra length allows you to get through all the stuffing so you can perfectly place stuffed items, like arms and legs. It is easier to place doll parts after stuffing because placement is difficult to determine without plumping up the doll's body. You can attain a more perfect symmetry after stuffing. Dolls need to be as close to symmetric and perfectly aligned so any clothes or costumes will fit. The large eyes make it easy to thread anything from all-purpose thread to embroidery floss or even ribbon and yarn. Doll needles are not just used for body parts placement but also for faces and the all important hair. This is a valuable tool that should not be overestimated and will earn its place in your sewing box.
For the past few weeks I have been diligently working on reupholstering a Queen Anne style wingback chair in Dwell Studio Vintage Blossom Dove and it is going very well but not done yet. I wanted to share my progress as well as make suggestions and show my techniques. The wingback I am working on, none of the fabric was salvageable so I am working without using the old fabric as pattern pieces (Which is a very handy tip) so the finished product will not look exactly like the original but close enough that it won't be noticeable. This means that some of my folds, tucks and darts will be in different places but will achieve the same look. I also had to do some frame repair and change out the front legs due to damage. Most of this posting will be pictures which I feel best communicate to you my techniques and give you an idea of how best to document your progress to learn from and to use for future projects.
This first collection of photos is an example of all the photos I take of the chair before. Every fold, tuck, sewn-bit and interesting area is documented so after the chair is naked and I am putting fabric back on, I can see how it was attached, pieced and cut in different areas to make my job easier and it give it a professional finish. If you aren't sure if you should take a picture, take one anyway. If you use a digital camera you are not wasting anything and you can delete the unuseful pictures after you are done.
I like to start with the front back on any chair because it is the biggest piece of fabric that will really show. This is a good way to get comfortable orienting your fabric if you choose a directional fabric like mine (birds up!) and since it is one of the biggest pieces, you can really choose what you want to feature. Make sure you do a dry run before you cut or tack anything. I use skewers for this but for the front back piece you can just drape. I also tack this piece to the top and bottom completely before I cut any excess. You don't want to trim too close on this one.
Next I move on to the front of the wings because it is easy to match the fabric and it is another big but easy piece to place. The round of the wings can be tricky but remember most of your tucks will be covered by piping (which we prepared here).
Also be very careful where you cut your slit around the top bar that connects wing to back (it goes across the top and you want your fabric to go on top of and below it). Cut your slit closer by an inch or 2 to the front back piece side and then fold your fabric under toward the wing. If you place your cut right on the money, you will see raw edges. The fold hides the cut edges and gives a smooth transition from front back to wing.
Lastly on the wing, there is usually piping placed between the arm and the wing so you can secure your top wing fabric with tacks at the bottom. They will be covered by arm fabric and piping so they won't be seen or felt if you pound them enough.
Remember if you use tacks, you can pound them in just a bit as you go to secure your fabric and then easily pull them out to move them to refold, tighten or just get a better placement. This is why I prefer them to staples (which are faster but harder to correct). When starting your own project, be sure to take lots of pictures before and during. Keep your old fabric as pattern pieces if you can. This will also help you estimate fabric. Do as many dry fits as possible before committing to a cut or tacking especially on very tricky places like the front arm (with the scroll) and the under seat (often with darts and tucks).
Stay tuned for this continuing series and comment with any questions on upholstery.
You can find my previous upholstery posts here
Organizing my knitting needles and crochet hooks is a battle I am constantly fighting. I am a 5-6 project at a time person so needles and hooks tend to be everywhere at all times. But despite this I still keep my needles and hooks organized so I know that if they are not wrapped up in yarn somewhere then I know where they are. However, It was only when I found some collecting techniques that worked for me that I became this organized. Here are a few that I use and some more that I love from the web that might work for you.
First, I made a needle/hook case (tutorial to sew your own here) and I love it. I made 2 sizes, the first is the full tutorial version and the second is a smaller, half version that I created using the tutorial but working around just the first set of pockets. I love both of my cases because together they fit all my straight needles and enough of my cable needles that I can take them anywhere. The smaller case also fits my DPNs and my hooks. The cases fold up small enough to fit into any knitting bag.
These glass mason jars (I am guessing 32 oz size) that I found on Pinterest work great for grouping all your needles and hooks together by size. Straight, DPN and cable needles of the same size all fit nicely into one jar along with the corresponding crochet hook. Plus they look divine along the top of a book case in a sunny spot. Pair them with this jar stenciling tutorial and you can grab the right size at a glance!
In my studio I love to use colorful ice-cream sundae dishes picked up from thrift stores to house my straight needles and hooks. These bright dishes are the perfect place because I can fit many needles and hooks in each, the cupped shape fans them out to mimic a floral bouquet and the bright colors are a great contrast for the mellow bamboo color or subtle brights of my aluminum needless & crochet hooks.
Last but maybe the most brilliant is this idea I found on Pinterest from Eve Barbour. She envisions using a flatware tray to house all her crochet hooks and knitting needles. When I saw it, I felt the urge to smack myself on the forehead because it is just so clever and so obvious that I can't believe no one has thought of it before. A flat wear tray is the perfect solution and could only be more perfect if it could be integrated into a set of drawers for extensive collections. Then you could have a set of them and pull out each drawer of flatware trays to check your inventory.
I love this pattern! Let's just get that out of the way. This playsuit was fun and quick with lots of room for modifications to make it custom to you or to change it up each time you make it. I am always hesitant when making nightgowns or Pjs of any kind because when I sleep in them I want to be sure ahead of time that they will be comfy as well as attractive. The Hot Patterns Retro Playsuit definitely fits the attractive bill but does it also meet the comfy qualifications? Only making one will answer the question.
I opted for a navy charmeuse satin because we all know dark colors make us look slimmer but I don't look good in black. I am a naturally pale Irish girl so I wanted something with a bit of color. The fabric arrived and it was dreamy (quite apt that it was destined for sleepwear). I then decided to trade the lace trim in for some cotton, ruffle accent. I loved the romantic look of the lace but I love the feel of cotton so much more. Using approx. ½ yd of 45 in. cotton, I cut 3 in. straight strips of quilting cotton (about 5 yds) and pressed it in half widthwise, wrong sides facing. I then ran it through my ruffler using the 12 st setting. This created about 4 yds of ruffle trim, just right to finish off my playsuit.
Overall this was a dream pattern. It went together exactly as instructed. The satin was not the hassle I was expecting. Just be prepared with a sharp needle and quality thread and it should be as manageable as cotton. The ruffle really worked well with the style of the playsuit. I attached it to the right side of the top and leg openings and then folded the raw edges toward the inside and topstitched the seams down on the right side. Be sure and finish off the seams with a zig zag or a serger otherwise your satin will fringe. The ribbon details are also a nice touch though you can create some spaghetti straps out of your satin. I picked one of the complimentary colors from my ruffle for my 1/4 in. ribbon. The lavender really works well with the navy and my skin tone. This is a great addition to my PJ drawer and I like it even more then my satin gowns because the shorts keep the playsuit from riding up in the night. A + in comfort!
Cording is an essential Home
Dec finishing notion that is as versatile as it is easy to use. Cotton Cording
can be used for the typical piping and welting used in home dec applications to
add finishing details and accents but it can also be used for non typical functions,
such as bunting, purse handles and couched monograms. Today I am going to walk
you through using cotton cording in its most applied purpose: bias covered
piping for home dec projects.
Since I will be using my piping for my upcoming upholstery project, I am cutting my bias from scrap pieces cut into for specific chair parts. As long as the scraps are good size (I prefer at least 12 by 12 in. sections) then it is worth your time. You don't want to spend all your time sewing up tiny bias strips together. To determine the width of the bias strip you need, multiply the size of your cording by 8. Example: I used ¼ in. cording so I cut my bias strips 2 in. wide. Make sure you cut your fabric on the 45 deg. angle to the grain for the best stretch.
To begin stitching your bias strips together, overlap by the seam allowance you will use. I like to use 3/8 or 1/4 in. Align them up right sides together and only stitch as much as you need. You don't want to end up with more covered cording than you will need. It is hard to find another project that will match. I like to leave my last 6 in. or so of the bias strip un-sewn uncase I need to add more. This extra bit will be enough to sew on another bias strip.
Fold the bias strip over your cotton cording with raw edges matching. Use a zipper foot to sew very close to the cording without sewing on it. You want the cording to be tightly stitched in the center. If it is too loose you will see bunching and shifting. Use a medium length stitch and back stitch at beginning and end to keep you piping from undoing before you can use it in your project.
From the first stitch Rowan Big Wool feels like a wooly cloud. Once you have 5 rows on your needles you begin to plan sweaters, scarves and pillows. Big Wool is fluffy, soft and cuddly making it very difficult not to plan future projects involving this triple threat: 1) it knits up fast; 2) it is unbelievable soft; 3) now you can get it at an inexpensive price at Fabric.com.
I have been crushing on Bulky Yarns for a while ever since I attempted the Welt and Rib Raglan featured in Interweave knits. It works up in a size 5 needle. This was in 2010 and I am still only half way. I blamed the needles and might have (there were no witnesses) thrown it across the room in frustration. Before this fateful day I had steered clear of bulky yarn because I didn't think I could carry off thick sweaters and (what may be the main reason) I didn't want to pay for less yardage. But once I threw my size 5 project to the ground I did my research and found that yes, bulky yarn carries less yardage but you also need less when you knit it up. Each stitch carries you that much farther meaning that you need 900 yds for a sweater instead of 1200 in worsted. Another point for bulky!
However, until I picked up Big Wool I was never really in-LOVE with bulky yarn. It was a means to an end in helping me explore a new area in knitting and complete projects faster. But Big Wool was a pleasure start to finish. This 3 ply wool did not throw up any snags even though I worked it on huge size 17 straight needles. There was a nice smoothness to the spun wool that is alluded to in other wools but rarely delivered in such a finish. The yarn itself is fluffy but only compacts a little when knit up. The stitch definition is very clear with only a slight wool fuzziness which I love. I don't like stark stitch definition, the fuzz just helps the texture look warm. Big wool is smooth enough to glide over your needles easily but not slick. It is very forgiving and excellent for a beginner looking to learn a new yarn. I do not recommend Big Wool for a first project because the needles are so big. Size 17 needles would be awkward for a newbie unlike a size 8 or 9.
Over all I give Rowan Big Wool 5 stars due to the fine finish of the wool, no snags and excellent stitch definition. Lastly the color selection is dreamy!