February 2011 Archives

Prairie Girl Top and Barcelona Skirt Overlay

February 28, 2011


Today I am reviewing some of my favorite patterns, perfect for the upcoming spring. These patterns are versatile and fun. They work with a multitude of fabrics from Quilting cotton, linen, voile and silk. There is also a bounty of these patterns in different finishes throughout blogland should you need inspiration. I, myself, cannot wait to try modifications to really fill out my spring wardrobe.

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The first pattern is Favorite Things Prairie Girl Pattern. I made the top version and it was really easy as far as tops go. The fit is semi fitted with some ease through the bust and the hips. I nixed the modesty panel in favor of mixing my different color tank tops underneath. I also went with the capped sleeves instead of the fluttery sleeves. I love the ties and the v-neck, which really needs something underneath but is complimentary to any bust. One of my favorite things about this great neck line is that it begs for a necklace and I love a good necklace. Next time I am planning to cut the skirt a few sizes bigger and add in gathers. I also want to make the ties twice as long and in a contrasting color so I can wrap them around and add definition to the waist. I am also considered doing the flutter sleeve but layering 2, one in the main print and the second (cut 1 size bigger) in the same contrasting fabric as the ties.

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Next is the Apron Overlay by Amy Butler, Barcelona Skirts. It was fun and really easy to make too. I love the weight of the two layers of cotton coupled with the gathers; it really adds structure. Next time, I will not sew up the bottom but sew both sides to the waist band, turn it out and topstitch the bottom. If my stitches are going to not be perfect, I would rather it be on the hem than the waist. When I make this overlay again I will not use so many prints but couple prints and solids together. I think so many prints, or rather the prints that I used, compete with each other. I would pick one solid and a print for each side and perhaps a smaller print with less business. I am also looking forward to trying different fabric with this, maybe a light-weight linen or silk coupled with a shorter length to wear with tunics & leggings. Another idea bouncing around is to leave the contrast stripe down the center but join the 2 panels so there is no split down the center. This will give more of an apron look but more of a skirt feel.

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Making Designer Dog Collars

February 25, 2011

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Designer Dog gear is all the rage now. Everyone wants to look good; the same goes for your dog. Even should your dog care less, you care- a lot. If you are like me, my dogs were my kids before I had a kid and they still hold a special place in the household, often with more benefits than the child. Some dog owners get a thrill from dressing their dogs but my dogs are too rough and tumble to go for that. I get my kicks from chic dog collars. The selection at my local pet store is sorely lacking (we are talking webbing in a wide selection of colors including red, blue and black). So once again, the chore has fallen into my hands to create something more appropriate for my hounds. Making dogs collars is easy, though figuring out how to install the adjuster is no fun. It is a frustrating mess unless you have a good tutorial: Behold!

I started by measuring my dogs necks and adding 6 inches (for adjusting and extra for hems and securing). My Border Collie's (Murphy) neck is 16 in + 6 in. = 22 in. My American Bulldog's (Maggie) neck is 22 in + 6 in. = 28 in. We will work from Murphy's measurements.

Materials needed:

¼ yd of designer quilting cotton

¼ yd of heavy interfacing or canvas

1 Center Release Buckle 1 in.

1 Adjuster 1 in.

1 set of D rings 1 in.

Next, cut a 1 in. by 22 in. from heavy interfacing or canvas and a 3 in. by 23 in. from Modern Meadow Picnic Plaid. Maggie's collar is Modern Meadow Dogwood Bloom. To make the straps, cut a 1 in. by 23 in. piece of heavy interfacing or canvas and set aside. Fold and press the 3 in. wide piece of your designer fabric (as instructed above) in thirds (you will have 2 folds but 3 three sections each 1 in. wide). Lay your interfacing piece in the center of your designer fabric and fold one side of the designer fabric over the top of the interfacing. Stitch this in place using a 1/4 in. seam. Fold over the designer fabric on the other side while turning under 1/2 in. to make a finished edge. Stitch again with a 1/4 in. seam. 

 To assemble the strap into a collar, I took a series of pictures to best describe how to assemble all the collar parts. I used a double turn ½ in. hem to finish and secure each end of the collar.

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The bonus of making your own collars out of interfacing and quilting cotton as opposed to webbing is there is no need to melt the end, you can use any fabric you desire and these collars are washable. They are simple to make and fast to assemble that you can make them for any season, holiday or as great gifts. 

Belt it & Cinch it: Free Fabric Belt Pattern

February 23, 2011

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I designed this belt to combine my favorite prints with the big, chunky leather style belts that are all the rage right now. I have seen these belts used to cinch in a billowy tunic, add definition to an empire waist dress and spice up a bland cardigan. I love them but have often bulked at the boutique price tags these leather belts can carry. I decided to make one for myself and share it with our Fabric.com blog readers who, like me, are budget minded but still looking to stay on top of the styles. This Belt can be made to fit any style. If you are more conservative your can make it out of Faux Leather or Suede to stay on the neutral side but if you prefer a brighter belt, use a bold Home Dec print like Ty Pennington's Impressions to add even more color into your closet. You can even use this belt in this season's IN color, orange, to introduce a contrast to an outfit of neutrals if you are color shy but looking to branch out (New Year's resolution?).

You will need a ½ yd of Ty Penninington's Impressions Home Dec Fabric

½ yd of Fusible Heavy Weight Interfacing

1 Fashion Belt Buckle

Download the Belt It & Cinch It Pattern Instructions here and have fun!

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Learning to Crochet

February 21, 2011

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Like Shannon, I too want to learn another way to play with yarn. However, unlike Shannon, who got right on the ball with her resolution, I am just now posting in Feb. Not that I haven't been practicing, because I have. Totally! Well...maybe not as hard as I should have. I will claim my number one excuse to being a blatant refusal to hold my yarn in my left hand.  Like a 4 yr old refusing to try something new, I was just as stubborn. Sure there are so many really cool crochet patterns out there, sure I like to try new things and yes, it is my job to promote great yarn products to the best of my ability but surely that doesn't mean holding my yarn in the left. It just seems so WRONG. But being the big girl that I am (most of the time) I sat myself down and made myself hold my yarn in my left hand and a crochet hook in the right and put the 2 together with my handy "Teach Yourself to Crochet" Book. But my yarn kept falling out - so not fair, right.

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"Practice" I told myself, your fingers need practice. You did it for knitting, remember how hard that was? So I kept at it. When my fingers would cramp up from the new techniques I would take breaks and cruise blogland for great crochet inspiration to keep me going. Have you seen what Anna Maria Horner is doing with crochet these days, Amazing! This kept me going. 2 hours later I had, roughly, a 4 in. by 8 in. swatch of some moderatlye fine looking crochet, if I do say so myself. I used the last bit of my Lion Brand Organic Cotton (Wildflowers), leftover from the Worsted Weight Swirl Hat and a size J Boye Crochet Hook--I like the Boye because they are pointy.  I have always had trouble with my tension due to the unfamiliarity of yarn in the left hand so after many position changes I decided to try my handy ring yarn guide. It really helped a lot. I didn't have to focus so much on keeping my yarn on my hand and keeping tension. The yarn guide kept the yarn in place so I could focus on my hook and tension. Still tricky but manageable and see how far I got! Yes, it took my 2 hours to crochet what I could knit in about 30 min but still I did it. The best part is that it resembles a rectangle and not a trapezoid! With practice (of which I am looking forward too) I may be able to stick with this crochet business. If not at least I may be able to learn to knit continental which will really help with colorwork. One small step at a time!

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You can follow my crochet adventures on twitter @tdangermiller and follow Fabric.com @fabricdotcom to keep up on deals, customers tips and the latest sew/knit/crochet news. 

PLAID's Simply Screen- Silk Screen

February 18, 2011

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Part of my usual call of duty each month is to surf the Fabric.com website looking for interesting products to feature on the blog. This is a thankless task that I am loath to perform but alas it must be done and done by me. Upon my perusal for February's Blog calendar I stumbled upon PLAID Simply Screen- an at home silk screen craft that looked like tons of fun. It was! I am now a fully fledged silk screen fanatic. I could not wait to get started on this project and if you will notice from one of my pictures that I rose early and held off my excitement long enough (just!) to brew a pot of coffee. Silk screening with Simply Screen was easy and really fun but some tips are needed.

1)      Wash and iron your item first. I just washed mine and didn't think to iron because I pulled said items (1 women's t-shirt, 1 toddler onesie, 1 cotton pillowcase) fresh from the dryer. However, ironing is needed. You want your item to be perfectly flat and wrinkle free. Paint can gather in the wrinkles or areas can be missing due to small wrinkles. You also will want a nice flat surface to lay your screen.

2)      Use painter's tape. The directions call for it but I wanted to stress this. This is an important step. You don't want your screen to jump in the midst of your work. The tape also can serve as a guide for your paint line. Put your tape just outside the screen area and then don't go over the tape with your paint line.

3)      Apply a good bit of paint. My first shot I just applied the paint nice and slow but you want to allow the paint to build up so your line is really think. Think: apply paint allow the drop to build up and then move your paint bottle a little and repeat.

4)      Use pressure. When you are using the paint applicator use a good bit of pressure. You really want to push your paint through the screen. It is not enough to just glide the applicator over the screen; you need to use some pressure. Otherwise you will get light spots or parts of the design will have no paint. You can see this in some of my pictures as I was learning a good technique.

5)      If you want to layer your designs, wait at least 12 hours before overlapping. I wanted to do a row of one design across the edge of a pillowcase. I did every other tile and then waited 12 hours to fill in the rest.

Please add your own silk screen tips in the comment section or on our Facebook page. I used this Simply Screen design package and Fire Truck Red and Metallic Tin Foil paint colors.  

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Fun with Bias Tape

February 16, 2011

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On the heels of my Kimono Dress from Monday, I wanted to follow up on bias tape. It reminds me of the purple car phenomenon: you never notice how many purples cars there are until someone points it out and then you see them everywhere. The same can be said of bias tape. You never notice how useful it is until you start using it, making it or finding a new way to use it. Bias tape has so many applications that a blog posting was definitely in order. Not only can it be used for the standard of finishing off seams such as necklines and sleeves but also as ties, straps, belts, and cording. Bias tape is an excellent way to use up and store your fabric scraps. As well as a great way to add a bit of color or contrast to a project. Bias tape is forgiving given its stretchy nature so you can use it on parts of clothing where you might lack confidence in the recommend technique, such as 1/8 in. double turn on the neckline. Bias tape can be purchased readymade but with several different sizes of bias tape makers, the options are endless and perfectly coordinated to your needs. I have surfed blog land and some of my favorite sites to come up with some great tips and tutorials for bias tape creations.

One of our favorite pattern companies (especially close to Shannon's heart), Colette Patterns shows us how to make a continuous bias tape. This cuts down on the amount of sewing to join your bias tape together. I particularly love it because I never know how exactly to line up my bias tape to make it match up. This tute eliminates that and all my bias tape strips are perfect every time. Thank you!

Craftzine features a great tute for hemming jeans with denim bias tape. This is a great finish for too long jeans or a great way to add your favorite color to your favorite jeans. A pal found that by adding some dino fabric to her son's jeans that he broke off the habit of wearing the same camo pants every day.

One of our featured blogs of the month- Adventures in Dressmaking- has another great tute for changing a boring sweater in to a vintage-inspired letter sweater using bias tape. It is super cute and can be changed into a Laverne and Shirley style monogram sweater without too much thought. 

Prudent Baby offers a free pattern for a bias tape bag that is uber cool and reversible. By adjusting the scale of the pattern, this bag can be modified to be large enough for a diaper bag, knitting bag or smaller for an evening out/date purse. Very versatile.

My own Mom (who taught me to sew) made a delightful flannel kimono-seen above-, from Amy Butler's Little Stitches for Little Ones, for my baby complete with flannel bias tape edging. It is so soft and cozy that often there is a battle to remove it in the morning and get into play clothes. More kimonos made from quilting cotton, linen and sleeveless are planned to ease the morning transition.

 

Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing Kimono Dress

February 14, 2011

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I have had Weekend Sewing for quite a while but for some reason for another I have yet to make anything from it. That was the chief reason I chose to blog about it today. Having cracked it and made the Kimono Dress (twice) I am in love. I was in love with the pictures long ago but as with many books there is often a gap from loving the pictures and making the projects. Either they are not practical, terribly difficult to make or the directions are horrendous. None of these descriptors describes Weekend Sewing. It is a delightful book filled with projects that I can (NOW) no longer put off. Heather's directions and pictures make her projects easy. The Kimono Dress was 5 pieces plus the Obi Belt and was so easy and quick that once I realized how easy and fast I made a second dress. There are a few suggestions I would make like additional sizing for the wee baby kimono which is only offered in newborn to 3 mo sizing but other than that I really love this book. It is a definitely good way to spend a weekend in your sewing room and the projects are perfect to put you in a spring state of mind.

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Now the reason I made 2 dresses is due to another disagreement I have with the book (there are very few but I fear I must air them so you can avoid my mistakes). The Kimono Dress discusses the use of fabric with A LOT of drape. I took this to heart and searched my stash to find the fabric with the most drape, a charmeuse satin that was lovely and silky. However, the problems were evident once I had completed the bodice. I had to rip is back to readjust the angle of the 2 wedge shaped pieces that form the cross-over in the front of the dress. There was a significant gapping. This was done twice. I also had a lot of trouble with the elastic thread (more on that below). When I joined the bodice, which still suffered from slight gapping, to the skirt and tried on my dress I wanted to cry. This dress just looked sloppy. The fabric was too drapey for this pattern. My dress looked nothing like the picture. Aside from the static clingy, the look was all wrong. I felt hideous, the dress just hung from me like a cheap nightgown. I was resigned to rip the bodice from the skirt again and to readjust the waist with gathers instead of the elastic thread. This plus a huge bottle of Static Guard from the drug store and (per mom's advice) a full slip and the dress looked decent. I would actually consider wearing it out- in the summer on a humid night.

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All these problems and a close inspection of the Kimono Dress picture lead me to the conclusion that fabric with lots of drape was not the best for this pattern. So I cut another out of some lemon yellow Dupioni Silk and from the beginning it was perfect. No need to reposition the wrap front pieces. The elastic thread worked a little bit better I think that the 3 layers of fabric kept it from doing its job as intended. I also took the opportunity of a second dress to add some helpful additions to the pattern to make it easier. The first was bias tape around the neck line. The instructions call for a double turned 1/8 in. hem around the neck but seriously who wants to do a 1/8 in. double turn around anything let alone a rounded neckline. Second was to just stitch the front to the back at the shoulders and then hem the sleeves when they are flat instead of stitch the entire front to back and then hemming the sleeve when the sleeves are round. I also pinked each seam before pressing them open to add a finished edge which is not given in the instructions.

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The Obi sash was seriously easy. My first was made with Michael Miller Sanctuary quilting cotton and heavy weight interfacing in the center. Since I didn't have double fusible interfacing I used a glue stick to adhere the fabric to the interfacing while I sewed it up and it all worked great. I also added some topstitching to help keep the shape. My second I used an Amy Butler Home Dec Fabric for the front center and both sides of the ties since when you tie the sash you can see both sides of the tie. I used the Dupioni Silk for the lining side of the center of the sash. I made the Obi Sash with the pattern pieces provided which does make a shorter sash than depicted as many blogs have noted. The belt really finishes the dress and makes it extra special. The belt is super fast and easy so you can make several to match shoes, bags or mood.

Overall this dress was a learning experience. I will go with my gut in fabric choices from now on and just use instructions as a recommendation. I felt from the beginning that Dupioni was the best choice for this pattern but went with the instructions and could have saved a lot of time and stress. I have learned to love Elastic Thread now that I know how to make it work in my Brother Machine- which according to Blogland needs some magic to work with elastic thread (see this very helpful posting and the blogs it links to if you need more help). I can't wait to get started on the smocked sundress in Weekend sewing for my little girl and a big one (here) for me. I seriously love this book!   Thanks to everyone on Facebook for your helpful tips and suggestions that talked me down from the edge and gave me the energy to make a second dress!

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Worsted Weight Yarn Magic Slippers

February 11, 2011

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Designed to finish off remnant yardages of sock yarn to make newborn slippers, SockPixie's Magic Slipper Pattern can easily accommodate bigger kid slippers by upgrading your yarn gauge. This is a fast and enjoyable slippers pattern to make for any special kid in your life. My daughter is especially in need of slipper because of her delightful habit of pulling off her socks in the few minutes in the crib before she falls asleep only to be awakened later with cold feet. You would think the only way to tame this habit would be to duct tape her socks on but just putting slippers on over the socks seems to deter her. I have not deeply contemplated the logic behind this, only delight in the ease of the solution. Thus I make sure to have plenty of slippers on hand. I was delighted to find such a good looking and easy slipper pattern. I dismayed slightly when I saw it was for sock yarn, since I have an abundance of worsted weight yarn remnants. I decided to make it work and set to work. I found that since the yarn is bigger and my little one's foot is bigger that if I just knit the pattern as is but with the bigger yarn it would work out perfectly for the most part. One of the few changes I made (besides the worsted weight yarn and size 7 needles) was to knit the middle of the sole longer. My wee one wears a size 6. When the instructions say to keep knitting till you reach 2 ¼ in. I kept knitting to make my sole 5 in. long. You can also achieve this by making sure you have 28 garter ridges which will give you the correct length. You can adjust the size for a size 4-5 by using a size 5 or 6 needle and even smaller by using DK or sport yarn. The same for larger. You don't want to use anything bigger than a US 7 with worsted weight yarn but by using bulky or super bulky or doubling your yarns you can knit a much bigger slipper for even older children.

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I used the remainder of my Berroco Vintage and it works very well with the slipper. It is a little slick on the bottom so I will need to add some puff paint or slipper bottoms for traction. My daughter loves them too and even brought her pair to me to put on before nap yesterday. I was delighted and already have another pair cast-on.

 

Knitting Seams

February 9, 2011


The feeling of accomplishment when you finally cast-off the last stitch on the last piece of a sweater is immense...until you realize that you know need to seam it all together. This can deflate you just a bit but chin- up; seaming is a breeze and in it own way relaxing and methodically therapeutic.

While I detest finishing (weaving in ends and casting off) I delight in seaming. It is much like I love embroidery, it is just a simple movement with instant gratification. It is the last step towards a finished project. It always feels like the last few days of senior year. I become nostalgic and remember the moments of each project. When my daughter grabbed my ball of yarn and ran all the way to the other side of the house. When I tripped on my own needles or which movies my husband and I watched together while I knit and he mumbled that I couldn't possibly be paying any real attention to the story. I don't usually go over these moments once I start wearing the sweater so I always cherish the seaming.

Like I said, seaming is easy; it is the placement that's tricky. The trick is to meld the 2 sides together so you can not see the seaming. I do this by making sure and tuck my tapestry needle under 2 strands on each side. This makes sure that the seam is not joining half a row on each side and ensure a strength that one strand can't be trusted with. You want to start at either the top of the bottom and hold your sides together with some sort of temporary binding. You can use bobby pins, bigger hair clips with teeth or chip clips. Use as many as you are comfortable with to hold the seam together as you stitch. This will also make sure the seam stays aligned so your seam will be straight. It is a simple mattress stitch you will be using and there is no need to make each stitch tight as you go. You can zip it up when you finish by pulling on either tail. You want to go from the outside through one side and the next and out the back and repeat. This will create a definite seam on the wrong side of your project but a seamless effect on the right. I have used a contrasting yarn on my Minimalist Cardigan to demonstrate. When you are seaming you can start with a bright yarn so you can see your stitches and then stitch over it with a blending yarn. Then simply pull out the bright yarn and leave the blended yarn and no one is the wiser!

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You can follow us on Twitter! Get the scoop on Fabric.com Deals by following @fabricdotcom 
or you can get the inside scoop on my projects, see their progress and get extra tips and tricks by following me
@tdangermiller

Pattern Review: Kwik Sew 3323 - Adult and Children Slippers

February 8, 2011



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Slippers are like magic for me. I hate being barefoot (I know, the cheese stands alone on that one), and I really dislike being cold. And while I have been sewing for longer than most of my friends have been alive, for some reason, it didn't occur to me that I could make my own slippers until recently. Go figure!

I LOVED this pattern the second I saw it. The little pointed toes, the cute two-piece uppers that allow for a multitude of color combinations -- how could I not give it a whirl?

I used a cute Valentine print from Timeless Treasures and a coordinated fuchsia fleece. The soles require a non-slip fabric like Slipper Gripper. Alternately, you could give any fabric you wish a non-slip finish using Latex Milk. The pattern calls for a foam layer inserted in the sole but I opted for an extra layer of fleece and an additional layer of vinyl sandwiched into the sole assembly. I like a water-resistant bottom to my slippers!

The cutting was quick as could be (hooray for the beautiful simplicity of Kwik Sew!). The stitching was nothing crazy. the trickiest part is stitching the assembled uppers to the soles, but even that is no real brain-teaser. It just takes a little patience (I know, I say that a lot).

Here's my one big criticism, which may or may not apply to you:

The pointed toe style is NOT good on my feet. In fact, it is downright hideous. Granted, my feet, through years of abuse, have widened and flattened out to resemble an only slightly more feminine version of Fred Flintstone's paws. I ended up altering mine, which had been cut in pointed style, down to the curved style. Much better!

I adore wearing these around the house, and I actually made several pair for gift-giving at the holidays. They are fantastic for travel! They are so low-profile that they roll up and fit into the tiniest nook in a suitcase or overnight bag. I have already made another pair using Disney flannel to take on an upcoming trip to Orlando, and my husband has hinted that he would like a pair, so I may finally have an excuse to buy some Batman fabric.

This pattern would also be a great alternative for people who love to carry those extra rolled-up ballet flats in their purse or hand bag for those late nights when you want to stay at the party but can't bear to wear your heels anymore. Now you can have a pair that's custom-coordinated to your outfit. Try using a slipper satin or a satin jacquard for a luxe look. 

Here's to always having cozy toes!


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Review of Berroco Vintage Yarn

February 7, 2011

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You may remember that I recently used Berroco Vintage for my Murphy Dog- Danger craft's Tofu the Gentle Dachshund Knitting Pattern and it was amazing. You may also remember that I am a bit of a natural fiber proponent. And while Vintage contains some natural fiber, its majority is man-made with 10% Nylon, 50% Acrylic and 40% Wool. That being said it is amazing stuff. It retains the stretch of wool and wool's stitch definition but it is soft in a way totally different from any wool I have worked with. Its hand was peculiar; I could have sworn that I was knitting up some chenille. It had that soft, particular chenille feel to it but the tendencies of wool. It was amazing and I loved it more than I thought I ever could.

Berroco Vintage is a worsted weight plied yarn which means it is several strands of thinner yarn wound together to make up a worsted weight yarn. However, I experienced very little splitting. I would say that it splits significantly less than wool and considerably less than cotton. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being no splits and 1 being all splits, I would rank wool at a 7, cotton a 5 and Berroco at an 8 or 9. It was very good. The color variety also makes it a good choice for a multitude of projects. This yarn would make a great choice for a Fair Isle sweater or multicolored baby blanket. The color selection is not limited to a few select colors for the season but a gradiation of colors in each family making it a 'go-to' yarn for any project.

This yarn is a good choice for beginners because of its forgiving nature or not splitting and stretchy nature. But it is also great for the experienced knitters because of the color choice and fantastic stitch definition. The super soft nature lends it well to children's patterns. The blend of acrylic and wool gives you the best of both worlds. There is no itchy wool feel and it is washable. This is a great stash yarn because of its many virtues.     

Knitting in Small Diameter: 2 Circulars

February 4, 2011

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If Magic Loop is not for you or should you find a project that needs a different method to make it easier/enjoyable or with more needles than knitting with 2 circulars is your cup of tea. I recently started a project that is perfectly suited to knitting with 2 circs: Saartje Slippers. Since these slippers are for a toddler they are small. But since they are knit from the bottom up they are starting out flat which makes it difficult to use Magic Loop (I've tried) so I cast onto 2 circs- which is also easier to manage the fancy cast-on called for: Magic Cast-on. These slippers are now going much faster and easier.

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To knit on 2 circs first you need to cast on. You can either cast all your stitches onto one needle and then divide them among the 2 needles after or you can cast on half your stitches on to one needle and then let the first needle dangle while you cast the remainder on to your second needle. You will need 2 circular needles of the same size and the same or close cable length. It is very important that you knit from each left needle with the right needle it is attached to. If you just grab which ever needle is closest to you to knit from when you get to the end of the row you might find all your stitches on one needle instead of split onto 2. You are basically knitting on side of your project with the first needle and the other side with the 2nd needle- do not mix n match. To begin you will join without twisting and it will seem like flat knitting on a circular needle but once you reach the end of your stitches you will not turn. You will let the first needle dangle (making sure the stitches hang out on the middle of the cable so as not to slide off) and pick up the second needle and knit across that. Once you have knit the first needle and the 2nd that is one round completed. It is very similar to magic loop but allows more leeway for thicker fabrics or if you do not have a great inventory of longer cables needed for magic loop. It can also be easier to mark the beginning of your round or halfway point and you don't have to worry that your stitches may slide together as they might in magic loop.

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I prefer knitting on 2 circs when knitting small items in bulky yarns, the beginnings of circular blankets and sometimes the bodies of sweaters. I find the 2 lengths of cable allow me to try on the sweater without having to transfer onto waste yarn, switch to longer cable or add to my cable length if using Interchangeables. This can also be used on hats too. While knitting on 2 circs does call for a double stock of cable needles, it is an indispensible technique to have in your knitting bag.

P.s. I am knitting from my stash. The blue is Berocco Vintage , and I can't decide between Tahki Rain or S. Charles Sahara for the contrast color.   

Cutting Fabric with Cricut

February 2, 2011

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We've all watched the Cricut infomercial. Whether it was one of those sleepless nights, rocking a new baby back to sleep or too much Diet Coke at Trivia Night (these are all autobiographical in case you didn't guess), it is eye candy to the craft minded. Though I have never been particularly inclined towards scrapbooking what really drew me to the Cricut was that it cut fabric. What sewer doesn't wish there was less cutting and much more sewing and wearing! Once I had my Cricut I was experimenting with cutting fabric with a quickness. I am still experimenting but most of my predilections for the Cricut have been satisfied. Here's the deal.

You can cut quilting cotton and cut it into any shape that you can cut out of paper with your Cricut.  That is the awesome part and it is pretty awesome. Any shape or font that you can contrive out of your Cricut can be an appliqué of some kind. By first ironing on a fusible web to the wrong side of your fabric, you can cut any shape or letter of any size out of your fabric with perfect results. Make sure your DO NOT remove the paper backing or if there is no paper backing, iron on freezer paper to the right side of your fabric (the Cricut is made to cut paper so having a top layer of paper ensures a good cut). It is also important to have a new or fresh blade just like having sharp fabric shears are important to cut your patterns perfectly. Many online tutorials and guidelines I found recommend that you test your cuts on paper first to make sure the size and shape is just right for your project. It is easier to adjust and cut paper than to prep fabric and waste it on the wrong size.

I call upon my Cricut for many of my appliqué needs and it makes it a breeze. After a recent invite to a 2yr old's birthday party this past weekend, I wanted to make something personalized. After deciding on a cape, I prepped my fabric with some Steam A Seam and hand pressed it to the cutting board. I chose a lower case "n" from one of my Cricut font cartridges 3 in.  tall and 20 sec later I was satin stitching around the edges and wrapping up the cape to give. As busy as my own 2 yr old is the Cricut makes it possible for us to still give handmade gifts no matter how limited time seems to be these days. 

cape2.jpg

P.s. My next project is to use my Cricut to finish populating my magnetic tree mural in the nursery.  

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2011: Month Two is Here, and What's Up With My Resolutions?

I am generally an excellent resolution keeper. I try to make resolutions that are within my grasp, resolutions that will cultivate my discipline and make me a better person in the long run. Sometimes they are without a specific point (one year I folded 1000 origami cranes, just for the heck of it), and sometimes they are very focused in nature (a different year I resolved to stitch at least ten items for charity causes).

This year, I thought I had a winner. In 2011, my plan was to make all of my gifts... ahead of time. No last-minute eleventh hour baloney for me!

Ok, the first part may still hold up, but I'm already failing on the "ahead of time" portion of the goal. My father's birthday is in five days, and I have yet to start his gift. But there's a reason: my muse simply refused to do her work and give me a good idea until a couple of days ago. She's got a case of the winter doldrums, I guess.

So, time being what it is (mine tends to be pretty heavily booked), even if I decide on the fabric for said gift in the next day or so, I don't really have space in the schedule to get this one completed ahead of time.

Dad will understand; we come from a long line of late gift-givers. However, I need to find a way to reconcile my muse's laziness with my resolution, because I HATE letting go of a plan. I especially hate feeling like I have failed so early in the new year. Phooey.

How about you? Are you steadfast in your resolutions about sewing and crafting, or are you comfortable with just doing your best and not worrying about such things? Let us know!

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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