June 2010 Archives
June 30, 2010
There are few times during the summer season when the breeze is blowing, the sun is shining and the temperature is just right when I have thought to myself: "Gee, I sure do wish I was inside tucked behind my sewing machine.Not!" Sure, there are lots of projects I would love to spend all day hidden away in my sewing room (Blue Sky hat comes to mind) but during the rainy days or naptime. Most of summer is spent with doors open and sun on my face. But I can't just sit there not making stuff. That is what I do- I make. I want to make outside. Why can't I have both? Oh, right, I totally can. Here are some great summer projects to take outside with you: to the pool, beach, cook-out or just into the back yard.
Embroidery is huge: I know I love it. You can combine a bright array of colors on a neutral background but it doesn't look horrendous. Just colorful. Plus, there are many new designers out there embroidering outside the box, making new patterns that are hip and fun. How about a pirate for your living room? No? Perhaps a vintage camper will catch your fancy. Sublime Stitches features some creative and awesome embroidery patterns that are perfect for summer stitching. Hilary Lang (Wee Wonderfuls) is another young and amusing embroidery designer. Inspired by her children, Lang's patterns remind me of classic toys meets modern hues.
Hand sewing is also a favorite outdoor past time. The rhythm reminds me of knitting, the same relaxing movements. I prefer to take small projects that don't involve many pieces. I also look for whimsical projects that will keep my attention. You won't see me with a hand sewing a white, button down on my porch but you might find a softie or small kitchen project in my lap. Zakka Sewing is the perfect book to pick out some summer sewing projects. All of the projects are perfect for hand sewing and are small, fun ideas. Craft Magazine featured a pencil case shaped like a bunny. Softies Central gives a peek at some of the project including embroidered Mary Jane slippers. They make me want to squeal like a little girl. Perhaps I will.
Of course you cannot forget the old standby: Yo-yos. Though you can no longer think of them in the same way. Yo-yos are being applied in so many different ways that you should always have a dozen made up just in case inspiration hits. Embellish tank tops, pillows, hair clips, and jewelry. The applications are endless and amazing. Yo yos are so easy to make it is almost silly, couple that with these quick yo yo makers and it will seem against nature not to make tons of yo yos. Yo yo are easily hand sewn and are quick. Extra fun in bright patterns, you can mix and match all your favorites. A yo yo is basically a small circle of fabric with a long, running stitch around the perimeter, about ¼ in from the edge. You pull your thread to pull the yo yo together and secure your end. Voila, one yo yo ready for embellishing!
Summer projects are quick, easy and most of all relaxing. Coupled with your favorite drink (like Blackberry iced tea, Yumm!) and you will wish for an endless summer.
June 27, 2010
I am proud to debut my newest free knitting pattern download for Fabric.com: the Isabella Camisole. This warm weather knitted camisole inspires remembrance of a brave Spanish Queen who proudly led her soldiers into battle to protect her home from those who threatened its safety. Solid Moss stitch bands surround and encase delicate Chain Mail mesh to create a light linen and cotton blend cami for sultry summer weather. The Isabella Camisole pays homage to the undergarments the daring Queen of Castile would have donned beneath her armor.
I am as much in love with history as I am with knitting and my current obsession being Tudor England. When I first sketched this camisole idea I had no idea that it would bring these two subjects together. The camisole was simple; a lightweight knit in linen and cotton to be knit and worn in warm weather. I wanted it to be sexy but casual as well, all depending on the fibers it was knit with. However, once I began knitting my subconscious began working and all those books I had been reading in recent past stirred my imagination. I saw battle-worn chain mail in the gray linen with a slight sheen. The piece was so obviously feminine that my thoughts immediately paired it with Isabella, Queen of Spain and Castile. She was famous for leading her country men into battle against the Moors. I do not claim that she wore anything remotely like my Isabella Camisole but wouldn't it be wonderful to pretend.
The linen paired with the mesh gives the cami a delightful weightlessness while lending it softness and flexibility. The cotton blend has great stitch definition with the Moss stitch that contrasts with the linen mesh while complimenting it. The banding contains the mesh while giving it structure. The 2 fibers are smooth so they can be worn close to the skin for a sexy top over a silky camisole or bathing suit. Or this piece can be casually worn over a tank top (as modeled) or tee shirt. For the night out, Isabella can be knit up in a glossy viscose and linen or bamboo. In contrast, an all cotton version would be great for a picnic, beach or in town festival.
Download the Isabella Camisole: Here
A special Thank You to Sara Sloan for her wonderful and quick photo taking abilities.
June 25, 2010
Stitch N Bitch: Embrace it, come to love it. Yes, it has a curse word in it and for good reason, too. Broken down to its simplest a stitch n bitch, or SnB, is knitting (or crochet) and chatting. Yes, I will grant that a good part of the time is spent, well, bitching but it is not centered on husbands. Who has time for that when your double decrease with a purled YO in between is just not working out on these $@&$! needles for the 100th time! A SnB is a group of like minded people getting together to do something they love in good company while sipping some Joe or vino. You can learn new techniques, compare new techniques, show off techniques-- What is this, you ask. Oh [shrugs shoulders], I am just knitting 2 socks at once. No big whoop [You struggle to close your jaw]. A SnB is a great place to check out new patterns and yarns in person. Reviews are prevalent, as is advice (warranted or not) and persuasion to try this or that. Coveting is also one of the best reasons to attend your local SnB. Casually toss down your new Jordana Paige knitting bag on the table and see the eyes widen and the shopping trips planned. I love checking out all the goodies others have found when I go to SnBs.
Finally, a good Stitch N Bitch is a great place to unwind. You don't have to see your messy house (unless you are hosting), worry about your cat going after your yarn ball again, listen to the kids' favorite movie again. It is just you and your pals, knitting quietly or NOT; having a good time. I can breathe and relax and when I get home I am ready to deal with laundry again (ok not actually but I am willing to consider it).
Finding a Stitch n Bitch in your area can be easy if you know where to look. First place to check are your Rec centers and Churches--any place that regularly hosts groups. Next you can check your local paper for area activates. Online is the easiest by far. You can start with simply googling your city + stitch n bitch and see what comes up. There are also sites dedicated to helping you and a SnB find each other. However, not all SnBs are listed on every site or at all. Check out the forums of your favorite knitting websites. The Knitty Coffeeshop has a string for SnBs.
When all else fails, start your own. Find a comfortable place to host (I often use my front porch) and plan a time and day. Think about the time--after work, you might want to provide food or suggest potluck; in the morning, you will need to offer coffee; lunch time, etc. If you don't want to provide food, try it in the afternoon, midmorning or evening. I prefer evening and ask everyone to bring their favorite wine. Set up a gathering area with some flat surfaces to set down needles, projects or glasses. That is pretty much all your prep time. Don't go overboard; this is not a dinner party. Now get the word out. You can talk to friends, post is on your status or tweet it. You can announce it on any of the mediums discussed in the above paragraph online. Then wait. A SnB is organic. It will not sprout overnight. If you are determined, friendly and open, people will come. It may be one or two to begin but word will spread and the good times will be had.
You can also put a shout out on our Facebook page.
The above picture is a pair of Jaywalker Socks started at my last SnB meeting
June 24, 2010
My summertime staple is skirts. I love them. You look fancier than shorts but used the same effort to get dressed. If your man wants to take you to a nice place to eat, you are already dressed for it (Psst, just change your shoes, flops are not as sexy as heels). They look great with tank tops, tees, hoodies, bathing suits, denim jackets, etc. You cannot go wrong with a great skirt in warm weather. Favorite Things Cute Skirt pattern is in my top 5: Got to pattern to look fabulous! With 3 options + to customize your skirt, you can please yourself and everyone else. I made the panel skirt but you can also make a gored and flouncy skirt. Change it up with panels of different fabrics, be it complimentary fabrics or matchy-matchy. It is the most fun to wear fun fabrics and a skirt is a low-key way to pull it off. My skirt is made from green, paint by number birds. It doesn't get more fun than that, but I often wear it with a grey tank top to tone it down. Or I could pair it with a green tee for a monochrome look that is bright, yet pulled together. I will warn you that there are days, where safe is thrown out the window and I pair my skirt with a bright yellow top and fuchsia flats and feel amazing.
Now for the nitty gritty: This pattern was not the most fun to cut out but
it sewed up quickly. The pattern was well written and easy to follow. The
sizing was dead on and the elastic is in just the right place. Not having it go all the way around your waist ensures a smooth look in the front (no muffin top) while having a secure fit. I never feel uncomfortable in this skirt. That is to say, I am not always adjusting it, pulling it up or down, smoothing it or worrying about the fit. It always looks good and feels good on.
I didn't like all the hand sewing they recommended so I only hand sewed the waist band. I machine stitched the hem. I made no other modifications.
I was wearing my skirt about 3 hours after starting, which includes cutting (you might want to allow for 4-5 if you are making the gored or flouncy skirt). I have washed it and worn it several times and it holds up well. I plan on making more. I definitely want to try my hand at the gored skirt. It sounds like fun.
Quilting cotton is a great fabric to use for your Cute Skirt but not the only option. A Cute Skirt in seersucker would look super beachy and casual; perfect for a picnic lunch, watching fireworks or a lobster bake. Try cutting it on the bias for a great chevron pattern.
Thinking of this skirt in linen reminds me of Italy. Perfect for hot weather and light breezes, the color coupled with the weave will give this skirt a European feel that will take you from museum to cocktails on the terrace.
You can also add a great trim to the bottom hem like the j.caroline ribbons. The idea didn't even pop into my head till I was cruising the site looking for great fabrics to pair with this pattern. As soon as I saw them, my eyes lit up.
June 23, 2010
You may have guessed from my subject title that I have a secret ambition of being a mystery writer! We all have some hidden ambition which is probably unrealistic, but we still dream of doing it someday!
Jenni, our budding sewer, came to me with a very common problem yesterday. She was trying to sew but the threads were not locking together to create a stitch. In other words, the thread was a snarly mess. Her immediate reponse was that the tension was wrong and she needed to fix it. In reality this is the last thing you should do. I have heard this from many customers also. Let us line up the usual suspects:
1. Is your machine threaded properly?
2. How old is your thread? Thread does have a shelf life. I go through massive amounts of neutral colors so I generally do not have this problem.
3. When is the last time you changed your machine sewing needle? I would hate to tell you about me and needles. This is a "Do as I say not as I do".
4. Is your bobbin case clear of lint? This also includes the feed dog area. Lint will collect over a period of time and must be cleaned out.
5. Is the bobbin case locked into the correct position?
6. Are you tired and working on a deadline to finish a project? Quit sewing when you are tired. I have found that when I am tired, this is when my sewing machine decides to mess up on the thread. A deadline ensures that there is a seam ripper in my future. Take a break, you will be surprised that your machine suddenly is working again. My friend, Leslie, says that her serger frequently acts this way. Who said machines do not have a personality?
These are some of the reasons that your thread is not locking to make a stitch. In Jenni's case, we rethreaded the machine and we discovered that the bobbin case was not locked into the correct position. Voila! Her tension problem was corrected and she is once again stitching happily along!
I am sure that you have additional thoughts on this subject. If you can name some other suspects, I would love to hear from you!
Now, my case is solved and you can see why I am not a mystery writer! If you do enjoy a good mystery, Earlene Fowler's latest mystery is out-"State Fair". I am going to give my sewing machine a rest and read the latest Benni Harper novel.
June 22, 2010
Lantern Moon Palm Wood Needles shall be from this point forward be called Turbo Moon. These are smooth, slick and great for speed knitting. Wait; let me back up to my first impression. Gorgeous. These needles are art in themselves. The grain and color of the wood plus the style of the needle makes for a very stylish needle. I felt very posh just knitting with them.
Now for the knitting. They were fast; I mean fast. I first tried them with S. Charles Sahara yarn but the needles were too slick for this yarn (Viscose, Bamboo and Linen). My loops kept sliding off and I felt unwieldy. I had a few balls of some bulky mohair, so I cast on with it and felt back in my element. This yarn has always been a little difficult for me since it seemed so slow and snaggy. Not with my Turbo Moon's. The yarn seemed to flow from one needle to the next. Even tricky stitches, like SSK, were cake with this combo.
I highly recommend these needles because they are so great for difficult yarns like novelty yarns, mohair, angora and thicker wools. The needles felt soft but solid in my hands. I felt no fatigue after a little over an hour of knitting and no aches (I often get aches from hard woods and some metals). The weight was good but even better was the tips. The Lantern Moon tips were not so sharp to split the yarn but not so dull to make picking up loops frustrating. In fact, I thought the tips so perfect that I completely forgot about them altogether until now.
I say buy for 2 reasons 1) they are super fast, smooth and comfy b) they are so beautiful that even if you never use them, they will make an excellent center piece.
My Wisp is (NOW) going along swimmingly. I will confess a secret: I have made this once before and hated it. I just didn't understand the pattern. I read it over and over and it just didn't make any sense. As much as I wanted to blame the designer ("Ugh- can't she just make it simple! I must drink wine") I knew in my heart of hearts that it was reader error. So I wanted to try it again. I knew I needed support so I would not get to row 15 and throw it down and stomp up and down swearing my undying vengeance upon it. I smite thee! So I decided I would throw it into the KAL poll and see what happened. The rest is current history and happily it worked out because I cleaver knitter, codename: Cape Maui, joined our KAL. She unlocked the pattern for me and though I feel like a dunce for not seeing something so simple, I know I never would have seen it without someone else pointing it out to me. My husband has told me that often enough.
Pshaw, I say. This is different.
Now I am easily on the third repeat and there is no stopping me. I love it. LOVE IT. And the yarn. It was an excellent choice. While noticeably less fuzzy than mohair, it is unbelievably soft and shows the stitch pattern in a new way. I just want to cuddle in it. The Cashsoft feels good in the ball but awesome knitted up. The color, tricky to photograph, is perfect. So bold but the red is classic. I highly recommend knitting wisp it bright colors because it is so delicate and transparent. The lace pattern and a bright color are the winning combo.
I can't wait to see and hear about the other knitter's KAL progress. Post your pictures or Ravelry links on our Facebook page.
Assembling a pattern you have downloaded from the Internet can be tricky, particularly if you have never done it before. We started offering our free pattern downloads about a year ago, and prior to that I had never even seen a pattern that you printed on a home printer, taped together and then cut out. Since then I have had to do several, but I can still appreciate how overwhelming it can be to sit down to make a cute top or dress and come face-to-face with a stack of 28 pages that don't seem to make any sense. To help offer some guidance, I've come up with a quick how-to for assembling our free pattern downloads, along with a few helpful tips I have picked up over the last few months.
First, I would like to address a couple of questions that we frequently hear from customers:
· "I tried to print the pattern, but it doesn't print the entire pattern pieces--some get lost into the borders, so they don't match up."
· "If I print the pattern to fit the page the pattern is way too small."
I think I can explain both of these in one go. The pattern pieces do indeed span across multiple (often several) pages. As pointed out, if they were to fit on one page they would be too small to be useful. However, nothing actually gets lost in the borders. The pattern is laid out in the correct scale, so it's 100% read to print. Since most printers will not print completely to the edge there has to be a slim margin around the border. The pattern layout takes this margin into account, and if you cut it off or just overlap the pages the pattern lines up (see below for more detail).
How to assemble your free download pattern:
1. Print the pattern as it is laid out. It is already the correct scale, so you do not need to adjust the scale settings. There will be a thin margin on all 4 sides of the page (See above for explanation).
2. Locate the instruction pages (usually 2-3 depending on the pattern). Read through them so that you are familiar with the shape of the pattern pieces and the sewing instructions. Set them aside.
3. Examine the pattern pages. You'll notice at the corner of each page there is a symbol that looks like a quarter of a circle.
These symbols tell you where the page margins stop and also help you line corresponding pages up. At this stage you may choose to cut the margins off the pages to make it easier to line the symbols up and see where the pattern lines connect across pages. Instead of cutting off all the margins, I find that cutting only two sides of each page helpful (I cut the top and left hand side). That way the cut side rests on top of the uncut side of the corresponding page, and they are easier to tape. I have also chosen NOT to cut the margins in the past, and while it takes a little more effort to make sure everything lines up, it works as well. It's really a personal choice.
4. If you look at the bottom of each page you will also see a column and a row number notation. They won't start at "Column 1, Row 1," but the numbering does correspond with how the pattern is laid out. Also, the pages are already in order by column, which means the first page is the upper left-most corner once all the pages are taped together. The next page in the stack is the page directly below the first one, and etc. Once you get to the end of the column, you'll start the next column by taping the appropriate page to the right of the first page, then continue down until the end of the column. Most patterns will only have 3-4 columns, depending on the complexity of the pattern.
5. Lay out the pattern pieces in order without taping them so that you get an overview of how the pattern is laid out. Some patterns, like the Peachy Beachy Coverup, actually have an illustration on one of the pages to give you an idea what all the pages look like when laid out correctly.
6. Once you have your pattern pages in order, begin taping them together, using both the quarter circle symbols AND the pattern lines as guides. I have found the best method for doing this is to start with the upper left corner and work down. Once you have taped the whole column together, begin attaching pages from the next column to the adjacent pages of the first column, adding one page at a time from the top down. You could also work left to right. I do not recommend assembling full columns or rows first and then joining them. I have tried this a couple times, and it never lines up quite as well as if you do the whole thing in order, adding one page at a time. This method allows you to reposition pages better if something doesn't line up. It's also helpful to have your tape pieces already cut or have one of those tape-dispenser bracelet things.
7. Once you have the whole thing assembled, cut out your pattern as you normally would and go sew!
I hope I have taken away any apprehension you may have about trying out one of these downloads. It may look daunting, but the pattern assembly is really a cinch. Even the largest one really only takes about an hour to put together, even if you take the time to trim your page margins. Even more importantly, the patterns themselves are easy to sew together and produce great results. Try one (or all) out, and post your projects on our Facebook page for everyone to see!
June 21, 2010
My favorite room of the house is my sewing room. This is not just because it houses my sewing machine and other tools of my trade but because it is just my room. Painted the color I love, decorated with fabric and yarn as far as the eye can see (if you squint it looks like it goes on forever) and great big windows for light that makes me want to make. Establishing your own sewing room only takes a few key items, the rest is up to you.
1) Work stations: I have 3 works stations. A cutting table (I prefer counter height), a sewing table and an ironing board (or as I so nervously call it in my video "a knitting board"). You can combine your cutting table and sewing table into one to save space. Add a tabletop ironing board and you have got yourself a 3 in one station.
2) Wall space is a great tool for many purposes. You can hang inspiration on it- on the back of my closet doors I hang pretty pictures from many of my favorite craft blogs. It gets my creative juices flowing. I also use my wall space for a chalk board. I can jot down ideas, draw designs, make lists and record measurements. Plus the mini chalkboard I have for my daughter, Devon, is a great place for her to hang out while I get some 'me' time. (Great bonus: Chalk easily wipes off most surfaces, even dogs). Wall shelves are great for limited floor space or in my case to keep yummy yarn cakes out of little, destroying baby hands. Plus you can organize books, display projects and more inspiration.
3) Storage: No crafter can craft without storage. You find a great sale, you stock up on tools and notions. You see a limited amount of yardage in a to-die-for print. You just got paid and had too many glasses of wine at the SnB meeting and went overboard on yarn. But you must be organized. There is no point storing supplies and tools if you can't find them when you need them or forget about them. Storage can be so pretty, embrace it. I use red, transparent bins in my bookcase for fabric scraps, patterns, and yarn storage. In my closet, I keep fabric rolls, smaller yardages in a sweater holder, tools and hard cases on a shelving unit and unfinished projects hanging up. Interfacing, muslin and canvas yardages go up above because they are used the least. Pillow stuffing is banished to the attic because it takes up so much darn room.
4) Lighting. Please do yourself a favor and choose great lighting for your sewing room. I am lucky to have big western-facing windows but in the evening I use my track lighting system that I bought for less than $100 at a home improvement store. It is good looking and task oriented. I also have an Ott light on my sewing table for great task lighting. Great lighting will help you see what you are doing and love your finished projects even more.
These are the main areas to focus on when setting up or redecorating your sewing area. The rest, paint, wall art, decorations and knick-knacks, is up to you. Don't ask a lot of opinions because, I fear, you will end up with a sewing rooms that everyone else likes but you. This is your creative rooms, be bold, and go with your gut. How can you go wrong, just look at your awesome projects. Your sewing room will be a reflection of those projects times 100!
P.s. Just so you know I was so nervous filming this video. I want to reiterate that I smile a ridiculous amount more than as portrayed in this film. If you ain't buying it, I would love to have you over for sweet tea and witticism so I can at least impress you with my hosting abilities. I am not bad.
My wall color is from Valspar and is based on the color found at Mt Vernon in Mr. Washington's step-daughter's room.
Nancy dress found here
Yarn Swift found here
Chalkboard paint walkthrough here
Heather Bailey Pincushion Pattern here
June 18, 2010
As Holly mentioned yesterday, a couple of us decided to put our own personal spin on th Hot Patterns Peachy Beachy Coverup free pattern download. I didn't need another swimsuit coverup (believe me, I'm the queen of poolside coverage), but I still like the style and ease of the pattern. Instead, I decided to go with something a little less casual but still with the coverage and layering aspect.
I love cute little black dresses and light tanks, but often they are not appropriate business attire. I also have had some velvet silk burnout for a while for which I have been waiting for just the right project to come along. I immediately started mentally sketching out a slightly modified version of the pattern that would result in a top that could be worn with several looks, whether over a nice black dress or with a tank top and jeans. I wanted to add a few more little special touches to glam it up, so I used this as the perfect opportunity to play with some toys and goodies I've been stashing away (I'll go into further detail in a minute).
Of course, because of my fabric choice and modifications, it took me quite a bit longer to sew my top together than it would have if I stuck to the pattern and the suggested fabrics. I am pleased with the finished result, so I think it was worth the extra time and effort.
Here are a few of the changes I made and some other notes of interest/random babblings:
- I shortened the bottom part of the pattern by 4-5 inches, making it so that it hit me at just below hip level. I really didn't do much in the way of measuring. I simply held the pattern up, figured roughly where I wanted the bottom to be, and then folded the pattern up.
- Since I was working with a sheer fabric, I not only had to trim the seam allowances but also had to finish them off. Okay, so I may have cheated and used fray check here and there. Also, like Holly, I trimmed the facing to avoid bulk and visibility.
- As much as I love it, silk velvet burnout is a pain to work with. There was no way I was going to mess with a handmade hem, so I ran the edges through a 6mm rolled hem foot. If you do not own at least one of these marvelous things, I highly suggest you get one. They are fantastic little time and sanity savers.
- Instead of doing one covered button and a loop, I tacked the top in three places, from where the pattern calls for a button to just above the tie. I then sewed adorable little JHB dragonfly buttons over where I tacked the fabric. You may want to do the buttons the normal way, but I have no intention of ever needing to unbutton it so I skipped the step. If you haven't checked out the button section, I would whole-heartedly recommend doing so. Our buyers and merchants have been picking out some great little gems.
- For a little bit of extra glam, I accented a couple of the flowers in the fabric pattern on the breast with a handful of hotfix crystals. I was a little worried about making it a little over-the-top, but I'm really glad I did this. I love the way it turned out.
- I have not done so yet, but I may actually add a godet to bottom part at each side seam to give it a little more valume. Not so much that I look like I'm expecting a bundle of joy, but just enough to make it a little more flouncy and fluttery.
- Holly was also correct that the adorable cat did not appear. This is not too big of a problem because I already have two of my own.
I am very pleased with how the top turned out, and I really look forward to wearing it throughout this brutally hot summer. If you have made your own version of the pattern, we want to see it! Post it on our Facebook page and share the creative vibes! Keep an eye out in the upcoming weeks for another free pattern download that you will fall head-over-heels for. I'm simply brimming with excitement...
June 17, 2010
When the weather gets warmer, the sun hotter and the grass turns green, there are few things more inspiring than a day at the flea market. You begin planning an escape to the beach or pool. And you dare to dream of a picnic. Summer projects are the most fun because it is an excuse to be bold and bright. Christmas has a hold on traditional, Easter is home to pastels and fall is decked out in jewel tones. Summer is for letting loose. Summer is for new bags, swimsuits and fun, light fabrics is bright colors and daring patterns. For example my summer project list consists of knit dresses, seersucker for my toddler, a new knitting bag in a vibrant pattern and maybe, just maybe I will attempt a swimsuit (With plenty of advice my pal Stacy). Of course, I am partial to fickleness so my list will change. I have been perusing the creativity Headquarters much of late and the Cookout Couture has really caught my eye. My picnic table out back is sorely in need of a dose of summer. So much so that it is more often used for potting plants than eating corn on the cob. I am thinking this Burda pattern for chair cushions (I love to knit out there but am only comfy for about 15 min) with this fabric. I love the texture of burlap and the terracotta color is bright without being neon. Next I need some placemats, napkins and this crazy chicken is a beachy print. I think this Robert Allen print (please refer to my Dad's day article for more ideas) would look so chic on the chicken and placemats, very PB. I could also go for them in this fabric by Premier Prints; the black and white reminds me of the Hamptons (I say that as if I have been there). I also want plenty of pillows for the porch swing, lounge chairs and for reading books in the grass.
My bag list is LONG but earmarked as 'must-makes' for this summer are1) Sophia Bag in this fabric (it looks very retro knitting bag, doesn't it)
2) Swing Bag (I have wanted on for years) in Linen
3) Favorite Things Billfold. I know not technically a bag but I really need a new wallet so it's in. Made from oilcloth for 2 reasons a) diaper bag proof b) I love the retro prints.
Now should I attempt to make a swimsuit it will definitely be from this fabric but I haven't narrowed down a pattern yet. That is due in large part to the fact that I am still talking myself into make one. I will let you know how the internal argument turns out.
Fabric.com's Facebook page has been lighting up with great summertime projects. I want to highlight some of our customer projects. Thanks for making out Facebook page so summery!
(Picture Above) Jenn Teer was caught by the sock monkey bug. Check out her great summer bag
Theresa Geer-Whitman used Amy Butler Laminated Cotton to create this inspiring apron
Vanessa York Piccorossi's summer bag is so darn colorful!
And packing is part of the delicious vacation anticipation. Add to that the possibility of making a shiny new travel wardrobe and... well, I nearly faint with the excitement.
Our free pattern download from hotpatterns.com for the Peachy Beachy Cover Up made for a perfect addition to my on-the-go ensemble. The only time I ever swim is when I'm on vacation, so this is a "make it to take it" project for me!
We had some really cute Hello Kitty knit in stock at the time I first got my hands on the download, and I was instantly inspired - I love me some Hello Kitty!
This pattern makes for a really quick and easy project. A few items of note:
- The casing for the ribbon tie is stitched into the seam that joins the skirt section to the bodice, which is handy and quick.
- I trimmed my neck facing to be quite narrow, because I was concerned about the knit getting too bulky.
- While the knit fabric makes this a super comfy item for beach or pool wear, I think it is probably a less flattering choice than a lighter weight, more fluttery fabric.
- The plunge at the neckline is quite deep, especially for us short folks. It's totally fine for over a bathing suit, but if you wanted to adapt this pattern as a day wear tunic, you might want to alter the front a bit.
- The adorable cat pictured will not magically appear when your garment is complete.
My new cover up is already packed and headed on its first adventure!
I know several other staffers have plans for this pattern - it will be really cool to see how we all interpret the design and make it our own.
June 16, 2010
Summertime has hit Atlanta like a sledgehammer. Temperatures are already in the 90's and officially summer has not started. What would be better than a dip in the pool or being on the beachh with a cool ocean breeze with a nice cold beverage. Now is time to make the "Peachy Beachy Cover-Up". Here are some great tips to make the sewing a breeze also.
First of all what fabrics qualify as sheer fabrics- Chiffon, batiste, lawn, gauze and voile are just a few! Sheer fabrics drape well, are delicate and skim the body. Because of the delicate nature of sheer fabric, care must be taken in preparing and sewing the fabric. Here are 10 tips to get you started:
Preparation and sewing:
- Prewash the fabric following the manufacturer's instructions.
- Choose a pattern which will fit loosely and has few pieces.
- Use silk pins and pin inside the seam allowance so no holes will show in the garment.
- Pin tissue paper to the fabric before cutting to give it more body.
- Use sharp scissors or rotary cutter and mat for the cleanest cuts.
- If possible use the selvedge as a seam edge. This is one time that it is not recommended to remove the selvedge.
- Use a size 60/8 or 70/10 needle, a lightweight to fine thread. If possible, use a small hole throat plate on your sewing machine. Use a short, narrow machine stitch (1.25mm- 2.00mm).
- Use a straight stitch or small zig zag stitch to sew seams. Using tissue paper or tear away stabilizer will prevent fabric from slipping. Holding the thread tails as you sew will also help to prevent the seam from puckering.
- Several types of seams can be used with sheer fabric. French, mock French, plain, hairline and more. The hairline seam is great for collars, cuffs and facing areas. To sew a hairline seam sew the right sides of the fabric together with a 5/8'' seam allowance using a short, straight stitch. Trim close to stitching line. Finish the seam edge with a small zig zag stitch. Press to one side.
- Do not use steam on sheer fabrics. Steam can distort the fabric and may melt the fibers. As usual test a small scrap of fabric with your iron before ironing the real thing. Using a pressing cloth, press from the wrong side of the fabric using a low heat setting. If this is satisfactory, iron the original garment.
Happy Sewing! See you at the pool!
June 15, 2010
Dad:He is the bringer of the Bacon. The master of the grill. The captain general of trash removal and, perhaps, dog walking.
My dad is one of the coolest guys I know and not just because he is my dad. He is half to blame for my craftiness. As long as I can remember my dad has had a workshop. For years he made all my mom's anniversary presents. He has never paid someone in install anything. My Father-in-law is similar. He is a fixer and prefers to do it himself. A Mechanic is someone another guy takes his car to. And then there is my husband (his second father's day!) he is amazingly handy, creative and helpful. I can only think that the best way to show my appreciation for their care and craftsmanship is to return the favor.
For Christmas last year I adapted this pattern, slightly, to make a fishing vest for my father-in-law. I used medium weight canvas in a manly green (which means it was more of a light olive, nothing too jarring for the menfolk). The material was heavy enough to be durable and not blow around in the wind, but light enough to feel light enough for Southern Georgia fishing. You can make this pattern for hiking, and camping. This is a great addition for the Dad who enjoys travel and sightseeing.
If you dad really wants a snuggy, is cold natured, enjoys movie night with the family or enjoys dressing like a fleece monk (you know, just around the house) this pattern is perfect. With our huge selection of fleece and minky, you can make this for every dad's taste. Make it in Camo, so he will blend in virtually invisible when it is time for the Honey-do list. Choose his favorite team or your favorite, if you are rivals. Or keep the peace and choose what will make mom happy, but dad still gets his snuggy.
If your dad goes through glasses like knitters go through wine at SnB then this sleek glasses case is perfect. You can make it in 3 sizes and any pattern you like. Again, you can go for a sports theme or try a more traditional, classic with faux leather, suede, burlap with contrasting stitching. Or nautical would look masculine paired with a solid lining. There is a great selection of prints in our Father's Day Sale section.
You can't go wrong with a laptop case (Indygo Junction and Amy Butler). It is something every dad needs but his is probably 10 years old and thread-bear. You can customize one for your favorite dad with a monogram (either stitched or painted), a cool appliqué (a classic Nintendo character, a ninja or pirate, or a skull and cross bones, perhaps). Mix & match fun prints if he is daring or go sleek and sophisticated with solids and textures. The Tempo collection is perfect for Eco friendly dads and is durable with a great hand.
Last but not least, if you dad grills and I mean, GRILLS then he will want to stake his claim on his own grill. Sure nothing screams manly-man than I stainless steel grill but does it scream your dad. A custom-made grill cover will not only show the 'hood your dad means business but also that this is his territory and he don't take too kindly to trespassers. Protect the grill, spice up the backyard and earning an extra burger is well worth the effort. Be sure and choose weather-proof and sun-proof fabric if your grill is kept outside. You can add snap pockets to the outside for bug spray, recipes, sunscreen and sunglasses. Add a loop for his hat. Go a little crazy with the grill cover since it is outside and there are fewer rules. You can paint a giant bottle of soda or beer if that is your dad, his initials, or a team logo. If you are going with a solid canvas, try some chalk board paint. Apply several coats, maybe some light sanding in between and let dry for 3 days. Dad can post the day's menu, the score or secret messages for the grand kids.
I hope this small list helps make your Father's day extra special. Be sure and post your ideas and pictures on our Facebook page.
June 14, 2010
If knitting and witty, thoughtful writing were in a Hollywood relationship, their super annoying gossip television couple name (think Bennifer and Brangelina) would be Knitty. This is a perfect introduction to Knitty.com. It is the best of knitting without rehab, dropped stitches (well, not really. Check out their super star Clapotis) and empty coffee pots (check out their forum: the coffeeshop).
Knitty.com is a free online magazine featuring knitting based articles, fun knitting products and patterns. But is it really so much more. In every issue, roughly published 3 times a year (Winter, Spring+Summer, and Fall) are features, patterns, KnittySpin, Covet Central, Stuff to win, letters from the editors and advertising. All this in just one edition! The features, AKA the words-stuffs part of the magazine, usually include Cool Stuff: where you can find the coolest of the cool in products for knitters and crocheters. This can encompass bags, tools, books, patterns or even audio books. This is my first read when the new edition comes out and not just because it is at the top. I look forward to drooling over all the pretty that these editors have gotten to try out before the public. Often you will find solutions to problems that you didn't even consider before, just sort of lived with. Take for example the Ninja Knitting bag. I am constantly attacked by Ninjas whilst knitting but I figured it was part of the lifestyle. Now I can be prepared.
I know for a fact that Patterns is everyone first stop when Knitty hits the presses because page loading is often slow going for about 1-2 weeks after launch. While sometimes sock heavy, Knitty's patterns are never boring. Known for toeing the line, thinking outside the box or just plain fun, you will always find something to love for yourself, your wacky sister and conservative aunt. And don't forget the kids. When in need of a kid friendly project, Knitty patterns are my go-to. Each pattern is rated for difficulty, which is such a blessing. With confidence, I refer beginners of all kinds to Knitty.com to find a first pattern or a new pattern. By checking out the rating, everyone can be sure the pattern is at their level before they invest in yarn. Knitty also sticks to their standard list of abbreviation so once familiar you can tackle every pattern without learning another short-term for knit 2 together. Each pattern is also full of wonderful and descriptive pictures that are infinitely helpful when setting out on a new pattern. Plus, should you find yourself in a difficult situation, you can always depend on the good coffee drinkers in the coffeeshop, Knitty's forum.
The coffeeshop is full of helpful moderators (to keep the peace) and contributors (such as yourself). You can post comments, questions, pictures or just the latest thought in your head. If in need of help, an answer or word of encourage minutes is usually minutes away. I have never posted a question without someone replying within the hour but most times much sooner. It is a fun place to post your finished objects (FO), complain or boast about your loved one (DH), post a yarn sale, check out some new tips, find a LYS on your vacation or just hang with the other newbies or experienced knitters. Many a lunch break has been whiled away at the coffeeshop.
What may be the best feature of Knitty.com is that you can be in Knitty. Whether you want to advertise, write, have your product review or (BEST OF ALL) design a pattern for Knitty, all you must do is contact them. No agents or red tape to break through. There are rules for submission, to make it easier for them to help you, but it is so simple. Like all good things in the knitting world, it is just a bunch of knitters helping knitters. Just the thought that you could be a one design away from being published in one of the most read knitting magazines is so exciting. It is every knitter's goal.
Well, I hope you enjoyed learning about Knitty.com. I recommend you check out the archives and the coffeeshop, especially. Knitty is so much more than its latest issue. I am sure you will love it as much as I do.
*the picture is Kate, the kitten with britches. One of my faves!
June 11, 2010
I am so excited to launch Fabric.com's first Knit-a-long. It is also my first. I have participated in several (though now that I think on it, not recently) but never, ever hosted. I offer this insight to beg mercy should anything go amiss. I have high hopes of success and butterflies in my stomach from excitement! So let's get started:
The winning pattern voted on by Fabric.com's customers on our Facebook page is...
The Wisp featured in the summer 2007 Knitty. I say good choice, my friends. This is one of my favorites; I have knit it just once before in a silk/mohair combo with some color variations that was just gorgeous. However, a few months ago I saw a friend who had knit her Wisp out of a cashmere blend and it was To-Die-For amazing. So that is the yarn I am going with this time. I have picked out some Rowan Cashsoft Aran (57% Extra Fine Merino, 33% Acrylic, 10% Cashmere) in Poppy (You can see it on the bottom right). This yarn is also, happily enough, on sale in the Yarn Blowout. However, if you are a traditionalist and prefer mohair, let me recommend Rowan Kid Classic, Nashua Kid Mohair, or Angora which gives a similar effect.
One of the numerous benefits of this pattern is that you really can use any weight yarn - making it a real stash buster. Simply choose a needle size appropriate to your yarn weight and follow the pattern. Just know that the big the yarn the bigger the finished object and vice versa.
Know the plan for the knit along is that I will post detailed project updates, including pictures on the blog once a week. I will also be posting more regularly on Facebook and Ravelry. Both venues will include any tips or tricks I think of along the way, answering any questions you have on the project as we go along and then photos of the finished project with a detailed debriefing in my Ravelry Notebook. I hope you will all join me in posting regularly on Facebook and Ravelry with photos and tidbits. I can't do this alone and I will need the inspiration. I have many projects coming up that might distract me from my goal--see above picture for sneak peak. Though you may be as excited to see these upcoming projects as I am neither you nor I can get them going until I finish my Wisp.
So if this were a race, I suppose I would be shooting the starting pistol but since this is just a blog I say we commence and let fly the needles!
June 10, 2010
Appliqués are not only popular in children's clothing but also adults. You can customize a store bought present, make something extra for a new baby or make that plain t- shirt trendy instead of blah. You can purchase readymade appliqués or you can make your own.
My favorite method of making appliqués is using printable coloring sheets. There are many pros to using this medium:
1) They are a great size. Always printed on 8/5 x 11 in paper, any character you decide on will fit on a baby tee up to an adult or anything in between.
2) Coloring sheets are outlined in a thick line making cutting a breeze.
3) The shapes are usually simple so piecing is easy and so will be the stitching
4) Most printable coloring sheets are free; just don't use them for commercial purposes. Personal use only
There are tons of great coloring sheets to be found online. A Google search for "Free Coloring pages" will yield a virtual unlimited supply. If you have an idea of the type of shape you are looking for, that helps, but if you need inspiration I don't recommend looking through them all. Try your favorite blogs for eye candy or Etsy. Some currently popular shapes are florals, owls and butterflies.
Let's get to the How To shall we? To begin, select your item to be appliquéd. You can use a wool blanket for your living room that needs a pop of color, a hand-me down jumper with an out-of-date appliqué that needs to be covered up (check out the pictures below) or library tote (Seriously anything). Plan where you want your appliqué; you can use a water-soluble marker to plot your spot.
Now, decide what shape you want to add to your item. Remember anything goes. You can change it anytime so go bold. Search for the shape and print out the coloring sheet that most fits your plan. It doesn't need to be perfect. Focus at the outline, even if there are many sections that make up the shape, you really only need the outline unless you want to step it up to piecing. But let's stick to the basics today. Print it and cut out your shape on the outline and place on your plotted area to make sure it will fit. If you are printing words, print them backwards.
Now pick out your appliqué material. Quilting cotton works best but you can also go with lighter weight upholstery. Knits are tricky since they stretch but if your heart is set on it: go for it.
Iron on Heat N Bond to the WRONGSIDE of your appliqué material. Let cool and then trace your shape onto the paper side of the Heat N Bond. Cut out your traced shape. This is now your appliqué! Iron it onto your piece and then stitch in place with either a topstitch or satin stitch. Sit back and admire your work. It's it pretty and you made it!
Post your Coloring Sheet Appliqué pictures on our Facebook page, I can't wait to see them and borrow your ideas.
June 9, 2010
June 8, 2010
June 7, 2010
June 4, 2010
Dupioni Silk has always been one of my favorite fabrics. You can wear it, dress a window with it or even quilt with it. Silk care can be as simple or complicated as you wish. You can pre-wash the silk by hand and let it air dry. You will use the same method on the finished item as long as you have pre-washed everything else that went into the project (drapery lining, etc). You can have the silk dry cleaned prior to creating your project, and then dry clean your finished project. You may wish to steam the silk fabric prior to dry cleaning to ensure maximum shrinkage.
Silk has a reputation of being delicate, and it can be. The garments you make should be underlined to reduce stress on the outer fabric at the seams. If you do dry clean, remove the garments from the bags when you get home and let them ''breathe.'' But, dupioni silk garments can be a wonderful addition, even focal point, to a well edited wardrobe. It will add a little sheen, elegance and panache to any outfit. I would recommend blouses, jackets and dresses for the best performance of the fabric.
This weekend we are featuring an embroidered dupioni silk. Some may consider this gilding the lily, but I think the embroidery add even more interest to this textured fabric. My first thought is always, ''how can I wear this fabric?'' But, the geometric pattern lends itself beautifully to any home décor application you can think of. Pillows, duvets and drapes in this sophisticated fabric can add punch to a décor, or just a little more texture.
June 3, 2010
I hope that you all enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend as much as I did. I lazed about Chef Bubba's pool while he barbecued, of course! I did bring the potato salad. As I rested, I thought that it was nice to be right once in a while. I know this because it doesn't happen that often. I have been trying for a couple of years to introduce the Martelli ergonomic rotary cutters into our product line-up. I have been using a "Martelli" for at least 5 years. If you cut fabric often, this rotary cutter is a heaven-sent tool for your hands. Kathy, in our purchasing dept., says that she can cut 25 layers of fabric at one time. I don't usually try to cut that many layers. The rotary cutter comes in 2 sizes- 45mm and 60mm. It is also designed for right handers and left handers. I call this rotary cutter the "Cadillac" of rotary cutters. Quilt Home reviewed rotary cutters in their magazine last year. They did not give the Martelli the review it deserves. Every quilter and sewer has a tool they love. This is my all-time, cannot live without this rotary cutter.
I was introduced to this fine tool and the Martelli family at a Sewing Expo event in Atlanta. My sister had come to visit me and we decided to go to the show. After meeting the Martelli family, I soon left half my bank account with them. They demonstrated all of their products and I bought everyone of them. They put on quite a show with their products. I have never regretted my purchases. I can truly say I use my Martelli everyday. If you want to preserve your hands for your tennis playing and still sew, the Martelli is the way to go. As a special treat, we are having a notions sale starting today. Try the Martelli and let me know how you like it.
In a video recently Victoria talked about precuts and how they are such a time saver if you want a quick start to a project. You can view Victoria's video at Youtube.com. Well, the August issure of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine has finally agreed with Victoria. A large part of this issue is devoted to quilts designed around precuts. So check out the August issue for some great ideas. They also have great interviews with Alice Kennedy of Timeless Treasures and Me and My Sister Designs from Moda Fabrics.
Summer is a great time to slow down a little bit and enjoy the sun! I am also planning my Christmas projects. Feel the chill in July! This is the perfect time to start those big projects so you will have everything done by November so you can enjoy the holiday parties, Start planning now!
June 2, 2010
The focus of today's article will be an initiation into your Ravelry Notebook (my favorite part). Your Notebook Projects page is where you can store and view all your projects: current, finished, hibernating, and frogged. Project details include an area for notes to record any modifications you have made, pros and cons and progress reports. You can upload pictures for added detail. The ability to record and track your yarn, how much you have used, where you bought it and color is enormously helpful. Needles size used, a progress bar, pattern and yarn ratings are also included in project details. When other Ravelers like you pattern you can marvel over how many hearts and lifesavers (Signifies how many people have found your project helpful) your project racks up!
Your Notebook is also a great place to record your Stash. This is excellent for when you at work (during your lunch hour, of course!) and wander over to your favorite yarn store and fall for a pattern. "What yarn do I have to make this? Do I have enough? Or do I need more?" are questions easily answered through your Ravelry Notebook. You can also offer up your yarn for trade or sale.
The Notebook houses your Queue, where you can keep track of all the patterns you want to make in the future. This makes for an easy transition to your Projects Page when you finally cast-on. This page is easily reorganized for seasonal changes and yarn purchases.
Your Favorites page is a place to find inspiration, peace and eye candy. I love this page and visit often.
The Friends page is much like the social networking you are familiar. You can talk to your friends, check out their projects, get advice and raid their stash. You never know when you will need a knitting buddy.
Well, as much I want to go on & on & on about Ravelry, I think we have covered enough to get your excited to join. You no longer have to wait for an invite (I waited over a month for the beta version). We will cover more awesomeness in coming posts but sign up and check it out for yourself. It will make you want to knit or review your love of it. Only knitters could give something so awesome to knitters (and crocheters!) Thank you Ravelry!