elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
Today I started another pair of slippers, this time for my sister's boyfriend. I am using the same yarn as the fluffy bunny slippers, Spud and Chloe Outer, but in blue.

My Ravelry page is here. One cool thing in this pattern is the sole is made from knitted jute twine. I think that will be durable and look neat.

I am using a new-to-me short row method. I was pretty annoyed by the wrap and turn short rows in my HB's slippers, because they were loose and sloppy and left holes (even despite the wrap!) so I poked around online and found Techknitter's great short rows article. I am using the "dig" method, and I am quite pleased with it. No wrap, no holes!
elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
I finished this dress last week, but couldn't take photos because I lost the piece of my tripod that the camera attaches to. I finally talked my HB into taking some photos, but then I somehow dumped an entire cup of laundry soap all over myself before he could.

So, one week and one new tripod attachment later (and it only took 5 hours of internet research to find it) I have photos. Yay!

blue floral dress 017

I had a little time on my hands, so I attempted some artsy "wandering around in my garden" shots. Please forgive the wet hair; it's Monday.

More photos! )

The sewing details )


Mar. 5th, 2013 03:48 pm
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)
Binding the stays tabs.  Using straight (twill) tape is nowhere near as tricky as I had imagined!  I frankly don't see that bias tape would have much advantage here.  I think the narrowness is more crucial.  Last time I used wide bias and it was a huge drag.  Somehow I thought wider = easier, but I really wasn't thinking, because if you look at the geometry it's obvious that wider = harder!

Ok, less blogging, more sewing. 
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)

The plate has a lacing back closure, but I've been nervous about making eyelets in the satin, because I thought the fabric would warp and stretch too much and look all wonky.  I tried one yesterday and it looks fine!

eyelet 001

I was also worried that it would take me forever, and that I wouldn't be able to find buttonhole twist in hot pink.  I did this one in regular cotton thread, and it only took me about 10 minutes.  It probably takes me longer to sew on a hook and eye!  And the all-purpose thread seemed to work fine, too.  I wouldn't use it for corset eyelets, but a dress bodice shouldn't need to take nearly so much strain.


Sep. 17th, 2012 12:33 pm
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
Yesterday I finished F's dress and petticoat and they are the Cutest Thing EVER!  She still needs a shift, but the dress is done and it's perfect.

Today I hemmed the front skirt edges of L's gown, then I pleated the skirt (this only took 5 tries to make it right) and sewed it to the bodice.  

Pretty much everything is machine-sewn from here on out.  I had big plans to do lots of hand sewing on L's gown, but 12 yards of ribbon ain't gonna be quick unless I cheat.  I also changed the plan from hand sewn eyelets to some kind of internal lacing closure, not because of laziness or running short of time, but because the eyelets would interfere with the trim.

I tried to look up the Venetian lacing that [livejournal.com profile] jenthompson described in an article on her old website, but I cannot find it.  Jen, do you still have this online somewhere?


Aug. 6th, 2012 02:24 pm
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I marked out the 9 buttonholes on the doublet and I've sewn five so far.

This is not the first time I've hand-sewn buttonholes, but it's the first time I really care much what they look like.  I am trying to do it properly. 

For each buttonhole, first I outlined with small-spaced running stitch in all-purpose cotton thread, then slit it open, with the leading edge rounded slightly.  Then I whip-stitched around the whole buttonhole with cotton thread.  I sewed the buttonhole stitches with #8 pearl silk thread.  It's not ideal, but I couldn't find a good color match in the silk buttonhole twist.  It works as long as I use short lengths to keep it smooth.

I checked the photos in Patterns of Fashion for buttonhole shapes.  It seems that often both ends were hidden by trim or more embroidery.  Most that were wholly visible had a rounded leading edge and a bar-tack made in buttonhole stitch, which surprised me; I assumed a bar-tack would always be done with little short straight stitches.  But I did the end in buttonhole stitch and rounded the other end, and it looks okay.

Detail )

4 to go, then I'll attach the buttons and it will be done.  The buttons are self-fabric sewn over a wooden form.  

Buttons )

I could have used that lovely pearl silk to make thread buttons, but I just wasn't in the mood to go there.  When I can hand-sew buttonholes in my sleep, then maybe I will make thread buttons.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)

Progress: made 3 pairs of summer pants for The Girl, altered the pattern for L's kirtle and cut it out.

I decided there is no way around hand-sewing the eyelets for L's dress(es).  I briefly toyed with the idea of using some kind of ribbon loops for lacing, but who am I kidding?  It needs real eyelets.  Plus I ought to brush up on hand-sewn buttonholes for HB's doublet.

Now, I haven't hand-sewn an eyelet since about 2002 (I really had to think about this one).  I spent hours doing them and then the garment ended up not fitting at all, so I scrapped the whole thing and swore I'd never waste my time like that again.

That was a long time ago.  I feel better now.

Anyway, I grabbed a scrap yesterday and tried to see if I still remember how to do it.  I guess the answer is sort of?

front and back )

It's oval, not round, but it would totally work and I think I could work the next ones rounder.  I might make the real ones over a metal ring, but I'm not sure.  I know I used rings last time, but I don't know how common that is/was and what difference it makes.  I do know that I'd use button rings (like for making thread buttons) instead of jump rings like I used last time, because the split in the jump rings made them keep poking out from under the stitches.

Edit:   I realize now that I made my buttonhole stitch go the other way round from what most people seem to do, so that the 'bar' part edges the opening.  Since that's how buttonholes are done, I just assumed, but now I wonder, who do people reverse that on eyelets?

rib swatch

Jun. 17th, 2011 12:20 pm
elizabeth_mn: (Default)

Made a little swatch of the two-color ribbing yesterday.  Please ignore the messy top and bottom borders.

Yes, I know it's very little.  I was trying not to overwhelm myself!

I am really not ready to teach myself to knit left-handed, so to manage the two yarns, I wrapped both around my pinky (as I normally would) and carried only the working yarn over my index finger.  When I switched, I just dropped one and scooped up the other.  It worked pretty well.

The back doesn't actually look as bad as I anticipated.  The swatch is stretchy, not too tight, but neither are the floats super loose and messy.  At the ends, where the last contrast-color stitch was, I wrapped the two yarns together to avoid a gap.

I wasn't sure if I was supposed to bring the new color under or over the old color.  I don't think it matters now, as long as I am consistent (I wasn't in my swatch!).  I think I can take a deep breath and try to start the collar now.


Feb. 13th, 2011 09:29 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I've been darning socks lately.  I have always liked the idea of making do and mending.  For a long time in my life it was because I had no other choice; now it is because I just feel it's the right thing to do.  We live in a disposable culture, and one way to fight against that is to fix things instead of just dumping and buying again.

Also, I am now totally addicted to SmartWool, which I think can be explained by the fact that I live in a place where it is winter 5 to 7 months a year.  Dropping $22 on a pair of socks means I want them to last more than 2 seasons.  It's frustrating when 95% of the sock is in perfect condition but a small hole makes it unwearable.  I love pretty! shiny! new! as much as everyone else, but it feels so wasteful just to throw it away.

Anyway, I think I have successfully learned to darn. Here are some things I learned:

Use a darning egg.  You can keep your hand inside instead, but it's much harder.  Some people suggest putting a light bulb inside, but I can't imagine how freaked I would be if it broke and tiny glass shards went showering everywhere.  I got my egg from Knit Picks.

While buying my egg, I watched a few darning videos at the Knit Picks website.  I think what they show is not what I would call darning, because it’s re-knitting over the hole.  What they show looks like the best method for hand-knitted socks, where you’re dealing with about 6-10 stitches per inch.  A machine-knitted sock has more like 20 sts/ inch, and would be really hard to pick up on knitting needles, even if you could get yarn fine enough.  Since I don’t knit socks, this was not for me.

I used the method shown here, which I would think of as darning in the traditional sense (as opposed to re-knitting). In that video, they are using a really coarse yarn, but the idea is the same.

I used a sharp needle instead of a blunt one because I needed to pierce the tight, intact sock fabric at the edges of the hole, but while doing the weaving part, I turned the needle around and led with the eye end so I wouldn’t split the yarn.

I used “heel and toe” yarn from the Yarnery.  It’s a fine, machine washable, wool/nylon sock yarn sold in small quantities on spools.

When I finished, I tried the sock on and I couldn’t even feel the darn.   Success!   At first I thought I’d better keep my shoes on while wearing the darned sock, but then I realized I really can’t wait to show off my thriftiness and ingenuity to someone.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
Considering how many years this languished in the project bin, it's amazing how quick it went together once I finally, you know, worked on it.

Yeah, my photos are blurry, but it's the best I could do.  Sigh.

More photos and notes )

I think I'm getting better at sewing knits!  I can't wait until spring comes so I can wear this!  I do need a new/better pattern (or a few) for the next knit dress I have fabric for.  Maybe pattern shopping next week.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I made a couple coffee cup cozies yesterday and the day before. I got one of those neat faux-paper coffee cups and it needed cozies!

My darling little girl helped me to photograph this one.

I did them in stripes and I tried a new (to me) jogless jog technique from TECHknitter.

Normally I use the jogless jog described in Itty-Bitty Nursery, credited by the author to a Meg Swanson, also described here. It works fine for me, but I wanted to try something new, just for the heck of it.

On the black one, I used the stationary version. I knitted a row in the new color, then on the 2nd row with the new color, I slipped the first stitch.

There is a noticable pull along the color change column on the black one from slipping that stitch in the same place each time.

On the orange one, I used the traveling version. I slipped the first stitch of the 2nd color change round as above, but on the round before each new color change, I moved the marker, and consequently, the shaping, one stitch to the left.

I am not sure what the instructions for hiding the color change in the shaping were all about. I read them but they didn't quite make sense to me.

The cozy pattern is here and I used Cascade 220 wool and US sz 6 needles.


Feb. 17th, 2010 08:51 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
My serger arrived yeasterday!  Yay!

I haven't had a chance to view the instructional video yet, or even read much of the manual, but it arrived pre-threaded, so this morning after breakfast, I tried a few seams.  (F very patiently sat with me and made happy, encouraging noises.)

I pulled out some cotton rib knit scraps and toyed with the differential feed to see what happened.  It made a beautiful seam.  Beautiful.  Stretchy, flat, and it bounced back after pulling.  I think rib knit is one of the hardest things to sew on a conventional sewing machine, so the serger has pretty much proven it can do what I wanted.

I do think I want to pick up a blind hem/flatlock foot.  Maybe not the one designed for the machine ($30!) but a generic one.  The blind hem in the manual looks great. 

I don't think this will entirely displace my sewing machine, but I think I will be serging more than just knits.

I'll try to come up with a more complete review after I try out more of the features (and try threading it myself!).
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
Well, the two-interfacings-method was not as clever in practice as I found it on paper.  No matter how meticulously I smoothed, pinned, fused, and/or glue-sticked the layers together, everything kept shifting and it ended up wonky anyway.  Probably it would actually have worked better with the fusible!  Grr!

This has nagged at me since I put it down last night.  Should I rip it and re-do?  Unfortunately, if I use the same method over again, I doubt the results will be any different.  If I want to bother ripping, I need to start over with more Peltex, since I already cut the seam allowances off my current pieces.

The way I have managed the Peltex in previous projects is this: Cut fabric and Peltex pattern pieces (same size); baste or topstitch together at about 5/8" or 3/4" (assuming a 1/2" seam allowance); cut away the 1/2" seam allowance of the Peltex; sew seams right next to cut edge of Peltex.  If I topstitched before, then I don't stitch again.  If I basted, then I pull it out and topstitch.

That method has worked for me, but to make it work this time, I would need to buy more materials, and I don't want to dump more money into this project.  It's already the most expensive bag I've ever made.

So far, I have only assembled the large pocket and basted the interfacing to the main panels.  Mostly my problems are wih shifting; the Peltex has now extended into the seam allowances.  That, and the fabric layer on top keeps puckering since the bottom layer is being pulled by the feed teeth and the interfacing has NO give, so the top layer is not being pulled with it as smoothly.

I think I will work on the handles, and then when that's done, I'll try to look critically at the pieces I've done and see if they actually look crappy or if I'm just being picky.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)

I cut out my Weekender Bag last week. That was kind of a process since there are a few pieces that only have measurements given, so I made paper templates for them to make cutting a little easier. Plus there are just a lot of pieces, for a bag. And two different interfacings. It was hard keeping track, but then again, I did cut it out while sitting and talking with baby.

Anyway, here's about where I'm at now:

The dots are the lining and piping; the little tree/flower things are the outer.

On Friday I was about to order my zipper. It calls for a 30" and the Treadle employees gave me an order form from customzips.com. They only do mail order, though, no internet orders, so I went to Amy Butler's website to see if they had a source listed for a 30" zipper. I didn't find one, but instead I found SIX PAGES of updates for the bag. Eek! I saved the file but didn't print it because F was sleeping.

Yesterday I covered all the piping cord with the bias strips, then I remembered the extra instructions. I printed them out and saw that the update called for a fusible interfacing, which I didn't have. I am generally wary of fusibles.

The point of the fusible is to attach the super-heavy Peltex to the bag fabric without having the bulk of the Peltex in the seams. You cut off the seam allowance from the Peltex entirely, then sandwich it between the bag fabric and a lightweight fusible (cut to full pattern size). That way, you are never sewing through the Peltex, except when you topstitch later. I had to read this a couple times before it made sense, but then I remembered reading a very similar technique in a Kennith King article about tailoring smooth lapels.

The update called for a woven fusible. I was worried about shrinkage. I went back to Treadle and none of my favorite knowledgable employees were there, so I talked with someone else; she wasn't really sure what I needed but was helpful anyway. I ended up with a lightweight non-woven fusible.

Or so I thought. I pre-washed it in a sink of warm water and let it drip dry (Power Sewing's directions). But as it dried, I kept checking it, and I couldn't see any fusible dots anywhere on it. I was so sure I bought fusible, and that lukewarm water could not have washed it all away! But I tested a scrap this morning, and it did not fuse at all. So either I grabbed the wrong bolt or it was mis-labeled.

But I think sew-in will work fine, in fact, I will probably prefer it. I'll just cut off the Peltex seam allowances as directed, then stitch it to the interfacing close to the cut edge, and treat them as a single piece of sew-in interfacing when I attach it to the bag fabric.

I'm excited to actually get sewing on this!

elizabeth_mn: (Default)

I finally sat down and embroidered the faces on these.

I think they're teetering just on the edge of creepy (mostly because my mouth stitches are a little crooked, I guess) but I like them. The patterns (apple and pear) had really wide-set eyes and teeny mouths, but that's not quite my style.

Others have already mentioned the errors in the patterns, so I won't get into it, but I did make a few alterations. I also improvised my own leaf.

my improvised leaf )

Notes to self * about embroidering on knitting:

- Always make your stitches a little wider/longer than you think you want the finished size to be, because the stitches will sink into the knitting and look smaller.

- When embroidering circles (i.e. eyes) you don't need to make the edge stitches very short in order to make the shape look round.

- DO NOT pull your stitches tight. Do not even pull them snug. Do not pull them flat. Just let them be loose. In the end, they won't look messy. Really. Knitting stretches.

- Yes, you do still need to knot the ends, because yes, they will come out if you don't. Knot under the stitches you've just made, if possible, and weave the crap out the end.

- Draw your design on paper first.

I think I am done with toys for a little while now.  I want to finish my mitten and then start my new sweater.

* and other interested parties

One mitten

Jul. 8th, 2009 09:37 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)


Finished this last night. I made lots of modifications to the pattern, Fittin Mittens, which is really only a sort of template anyway. I made the hand narrower as I went up, I shortened the ribbing, and I started the thumb gusset lower. Mostly, what I tried to do was make the mitten shaped more like my own hand. And it fits pretty well!

The greatest modification I made was changing the top from square to round. Using what I learned from this Knitty article about shaping sleeve caps, I rewrote the top decreases to blend the angles.

Square top, pointy top, round top.

The squared-top mitten is directly from the pattern and decreases 2 sts on each side every other round, then uses kitchener stitch to graft the top together. (My pink mitten, above, is old and cruddy. You can see the square top better in my red mitten.)

For the pointy-top mitten, I decreased 2 sts each side on every round, then k2tog all around on the last round.

For the round-top mitten I drew the curve I wanted, then broke that curve into straight segments to figure out how severely to decrease and where and for how long. I ended up decreasing as set in the pattern - 2 sts on each side - every other round for 3 cycles, then decreased as set every round for 3 rounds, then I k2tog all the way around for two rounds and threaded the yarn through the last few sts.

I like it and I'm eager to start the next one.  Mittens are fun!  I'm dreading the time when I can look in the closet and say to myself "Okay, I think I have enough mittens now."


Jun. 22nd, 2009 07:08 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)

For my HB's suit, I knew I didn't want to try to put real pockets on the coat, but since he always needs to have at least one real pocket, and the vest was a heavier, more stable fabric, I made both vest pockets real and functional.

I really wasn't sure how an 18th century pocket was constructed, and the references I had were a little lacking in the details, so I used methods I'm familiar with from modern sewing to make something functional that I thought looked accurate enough, too.

Here's the complete description of how I made the pocket, under the cut.  (It is a bit image-heavy.)

Making a Simple 18th c - esque Pocket )

Yay!  A pocket!


Apr. 10th, 2009 10:43 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I've got about 7 inches of sweater sleeve above the cuff now, half of the distance to where the cap shaping begins.

Whenever I am working flat knitting, I find that alternating the knit and purl rows gives me a feelng of completion and accomplishment.  When I work in the round, it's generally just endless knitting with nothing to remind me of how much I've done but stopping and measuring every now and then. 

Besides, I actually enjoy purling as much as knitting.  I often wonder, why do so many knitters seem to hate purling so much?

I've read about so many ways to avoid purling and heard (or read) so many people express a distaste for it.  And most of the ways seem like more trouble than simply doing the purling would be.

I guess the same goes for straight needles, double-pointed needles, and seaming.  Everyone these days seems to love circulars for everything and hate straights and DPNs.  I love straights, I only use circulars when I need to, and I have no interest in learning how to replace my DPNs with two circs.

I haven't done a lot of seaming (or knitting in the round, either) but I enjoyed it.  Maybe because I'm a sewist first and a knitter second, but I also don't understand the seaming-hatred.  I liked the fact that with the top-down-in-one-piece sweater I made, I was able to adjust the lengths as I knitted instead of having to figure it out beforehand, but otherwise, I've enjoyed making my current sweater in pieces just as much.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)

Okay. I don't knit from charts. I don't like them and I'm stubborn about learning something new when what I know now still works.

But! There's a sweater in the fall 2007 issue of Knitty which I've been eyeing since it came out: Cherie Amour. It has a simple lace pattern which is only given as a chart.  So I've decided to give it a try.

After printing the pattern, reading everything I could find about charts on all my favorite knitting websites, and spending a really long time just staring at it, I finally had an aha! moment.  There are just a couple things I'm still not quite sure about.

First, what are the boxes indicating the pattern repeat for?  If you work the whole chart, why do you need to know a single repeat?

Next, can anyone tell me if I am correct in the following assumptions?

When working in the round, you begin each row of the chart on the right hand side.

When working flat, you begin right-side rows on the right side of the chart, and wrong-side rows on the left.


Thanks, LJ Oracle!

elizabeth_mn: (Default)

I finally got around to finishing the left sweater front, yay!  No photos yet because it isn't blocked and it looks like a big curled-edge lump.

I made a swatch in seed stitch to test buttonholes for the right front.  I tried a few different methods.  The two I like best are both from Maggie Righetti's Knitting in Plain English.  One is a 3-row double yarn-over eyelet type which makes a larger hole than an ordinary eyelet.  The other is called "the neatest buttonhole," and is worked horizontally in a single row.

Both were pretty, blended into the seed stitch very well, and made the right sized holes for the approximate size of buttons I want.

Here's the thing, though.  I'm worried about durability in a long-term sense.  Any knitters out there have any tips on durable buttonholes?  Any factors I should be considering?

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