Baby quilt recap

It still seems weird to me that my friends are old enough to be parents. Like, whoa, weren’t we just working on our jr. high History projects together? Anyway, if they can spend 9 months making a person, I find a few hours to put together a baby quilt. Since I haven’t been great about documenting these individually, here are a few that I can readily find pictures of.

Olive’s County Road quilt – I saw this fabric at Betty’s and had to get it. The colors! The cows! Quilted simply in wide diagonal rows, and backed with a stripe print from the same collection. Made the binding with a coordinating dark purple Kona solid.

Olive’s Country Road quilt

this striped backing!

Ellie’s “Grellow” Disappearing Nine Patch. Ahhh it was so little! This was one of the first baby quilts I made, and may have been pretty literal about the whole “small person, small quilt” thing. Now I go for about 40″ square.

Grellow Disappearing Nine Patch for Ellie

Ivy’s Modern Bohemian quilt. Got fancy with the quilting on this one! Since the design is so simple, I wanted to try a little pattern quilting, and I think it was a good match.

Not straight line quilted. For once.

James’ 3-stripe quilt. This is a great way to use those jelly roll pre-cuts. I sew three strips together for their whole length, then whack it into 3 or 4 squares. Each one gets turned 90 degrees along the row, and you get this nice scrappy quilt with good color distribution. In fact, I had enough squares made up to do a second quilt, backed and bound with the red version of this quilt’s backing. Not a bad idea for a set of quilts for twins?

Digging the binding with a print

Grey Rondo a la Turk

It’s finally done! I cast this on about a year ago, and it sat around for months with everything but the sleeves finished. When I finally sat down to do the sleeves, I realized I had purloined one of the grey skeins to make a Freestyle Hat for Chris, and only had one skein left for my sweater. Luckily, I hardly ever wear sweaters with full sleeves, so I just split my remaining yarn into two balls of equal weight (thanks, kitchen scale) and knit them half-length. Very pleased with the final product.

Why yes, I casually lean against the balcony railing all the time.

I made the 36.5 size, so this is a no-ease sweater for me.

The yarn is Cascade Longwood, which is really soft and lovely, but yowza does it split easily. There’s almost no twist to the yarn, so it’s like knitting with 10 little separate threads. Aside from the extra attention to not splitting stitches, Longwood is pleasant to work with and the finished fabric is very warm and cushy.

How is there not a cat in this picture?

My biggest “arrrgh” is using a tiny 9″ circular to knit the sweater sleeves. It definitely works, but the needle tips are so short they’re hard to hold onto without rearranging after each stitch. I guess I’m 50/50 on a short circular vs DPNs for sleeves. Maybe trying the Magic Loop would be better?

Colorwork detail

I used a few different techniques in this project that are worth bookmarking:

Now I just need the weather to cool off enough to wear it all day.

Warning! The interval between pettings is approaching maximum tolerance

Whale Washi

Here it is, my first Washi dress! Ok, my first made-with-the-intention-of-wearing Washi dress. I did a test run with a $2 sheet from Goodwill, since I’m new to this whole garment sewing thing. The pattern is very easy to follow, so I forged ahead, and here we are.

I bought this fantastic (fintastic?) cotton whale fabric at Birch Fabrics in Paso, the storefront for fabricworm.com. SLO is a small town and we don’t have a lot of good fabric shops around here, so I was super excited to learn that all those amazing fabrics were just a short drive away. Anyhow, this fabric is “Natural History” from Lizzy House in the Whales Blue colorway,  and it’s swim-sational. Heh.

I was pleased to find that this fabric holds up really well under adverse wearing circumstances. It was unusually muggy and hot when I wore this to work, and even after an bunch of walking and bag-schlepping and two plane flights home, it was hardly wrinkled at all!

Whale fabric deets

And some more views. I made this version with no alterations, and there’s a little too much fabric in the under-bust and front waist for my liking. The sweater I’m wearing here ties in the back, which is a fine interim waist-fix until I decide to alter the dress properly. (Already on the schedule for the Twelfth of Never.)

         

I would have liked to do the facing and bias tape in an orange color, but didn’t have anything on hand that was the right shade. Instead I used a grey with white polka dots and it’s totally fine, just not punchy like I would prefer.

Fine-but-boring polka dot facings and bias tape

 

Overall, I’m pretty happy with this project. It was a good starter pattern for a beginning garment sewist, and fits reasonably well without any pattern changes. Looking forward to another!

Notes for next time:

  • Modify pattern to reduce the extra fabric in the front.
  • Be careful with the seam allowances, especially over the pleats in the front. I caught the end of one pleat sort of funky. NBD, but avoid next time.
  • Make it a little longer for wearing to work?
  • Try the variation with elastic casing for the back gathers.
  • Try the big bow variation, as well.

Whenever possible, have a Feline Supervisor on hand for your photo shoot

Zippered Knitting Bag

I really like using zippered pouches to organize my bits and bobs. They’re quick to make and only require a small amount of fabric, so if you have some zippers and a scrap bin, you can bust out several pouches in an afternoon. My smaller pouches are super handy for knitting tools and phone chargers and the like, and it occurred to me that a larger version would be perfect for toting around sweater-sized knitting projects.

Cactus on the front

and cactus on the back

Here’s the finished bag, with my in-progress Lush cardigan inside. It stands about 10.5″ tall, 13.5″ across the top, and 9″ across the boxed bottom, and it holds 3/4 of a cardigan with room to spare. This was a really fast project! It took about an hour, including cutting.

Most of a sweater inside, still roomy

Road trip supplies: Duchess of Devonshire shawl and 650 hexies to prep

Alexander Henry has some great Southwest themed prints. I love this cactus print next to the pink geometric lining.

I didn’t bother to interface it, since this is mostly a “keep it all together” type bag and I’m fine with it being kind of squashy. Now if my replacement circulars would just show up, I can get back to knitting! (After many years of use, my cheap KnitPicks interchangeable cables are giving up the ghost. I have the Addi set on my Christmas list, ahem.)

Eglentine takes shape (Part 2)

By the time we finished the initial duct tape wrapping and the shedding of my new shiny skin, I was pretty done in. I stuffed her with a pillow and some brown paper so she wouldn’t collapse, laid her on a mattress, and didn’t come back until the following weekend. I was pondering what to use for the permanent stuffing all week; some people use styrofoam packing peanuts, or polyfill, or even expanding foam. Hoping to recycle materials rather than buy something new, I was pleased to see a mountain of brown packing paper suddenly materialize on my living room floor. (The Hubs is always looking out for me, albeit sometimes in unexpected ways.)

I ripped the paper into manageable lengths and loosely pre-scrunched a large pile of hand sized paper balls. Having these ready to go made the stuffing process go a lot faster. Cutting the bottom of the form off as level as I could, I juggled it upright and traced around the bottom to make a  flat cardboard closure. It ended up being two layers of thick cardboard, plus I ran a couple more strips with crosswise corrugations to reinforce the whole thing. I copiously taped the cardboard bits together, taped the cardboard into the bottom of the form, then alternated stuffing small handfuls of paper with taping up small sections of the back seam.

Adding in the base and cardboard closures. The paper in the picture is about 1/3 of the total paper I used.

I ended up stuffing and re-stuffing the form several times. The measurements came out almost exactly right, but when I stood back and looked at the shape, things just seemed odd. My first attempts came out too cylindrical, so I had to stuff the sides out more to compensate. It helped to stand next to the form and look in the mirror, but this was really just trial and error. As I got to the shoulders, I added cardboard closures for the armholes and taped them shut, but left the neck open in case I need to make any final adjustments.

Hubs volunteered to fabricate a base for the form, and he really did a nice job. It’s a plywood box on casters, painted black and filled with pea gravel for heft. The 2″ PVC pipe screws into a connector on the base, which makes it easy to remove the form, if I should ever need to do that. The only sliiiiight issue is that the screw-on connection introduces some tilt, and that becomes more noticeable as the pole gets longer, so the shoulders of the form aren’t exactly level. We’re still working on that one.

The contemplation phase. “Honey, do I look level to you?”

Important Tips: 

  • Measure a level cutoff line while the form is still on you. This proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated.
  • Pay attention to the shape as you stuff. Eglentine has variously been super barrel-chested, hunchbacked, and sway-backed, so you do have to be careful to not to overstuff particular areas. I’m still working on to get everything to align just right.

Eglentine, my shiny doppelganger (Part 1)

 

I’ve been making small quilts and doing crafty sewing for a long time, but I’ve just begun trying to sew things that can actually be worn. As in outside the house, in the daylight, without scandalizing others. Since it’s hard to be both the fitter and the fit-ee, I started thinking about getting dress form.

I’m not prepared to drop many hundreds of dollars on a custom foam form just yet, and I was looking at the cheaper adjustable forms when I ran across the idea of a Duct Tape Double. This method leverages the wonders of  duct tape to slowly build up a sturdy body cast, basically molding itself to your body. You have to do several careful layers and then slice the cast up the back so you can ooch out, then re-seal it and stuff firmly.

Husbandly assistance and duct tape obtained, I donned a charming Heavy Duty Lawn and Garden trash bag and we got started. It took 3 solid hours of wrapping to get a thick shell, then we marked the waist and center lines before cutting an escape hatch down the back.

 

Important Tips  – many of are mentioned in the resource links below, but I can personally attest to these!

  • Put your hair up, including all those little ends, because they will get stuck in the tape and it will hurt when you pull them free.
  • Wear tennis shoes and have a chair close by to hold onto. It is really hard to stand still for 2-3 hours, and once your hips are wrapped you’ll feel at little tippy. I was more worried about feeling claustrophobic or dizzy than I was about standing comfortably, but wow did my legs hurt by the end!
  • Get a second helper if at all possible. Ripping the tape takes at least half the time, so having a designated person to manage the tape strips will make this a lot faster.
  • Start with the rib strapping and then the cross-bust wrap, and make this as firm as you can without squashing your squashy bits.

Resources – give these a thorough read before getting started

Wife and Wife Analog. She’s stuffed with a pillow and temporarily tied shut with a ribbon here.

Dijon, a Wickerwork hat

I like hats to be on the looser side if I’m wearing them in a casual, around-the-town kind of way. However, we went camping at Courtright Reservoir last November, and my hat just wouldn’t stay on while I slept. There was a chilly wind that just zapped my head heat, so I decided that I needed to make a tighter-fitting hat before we go up to Yosemite in April. I found this pretty stitch pattern and worked it up at a tighter gauge than the instructions called for, adding an additional repeat of the body rows so it would fit my weirdly large head. (All my brains need room to whirr about in there, I suppose.) It came out just right.

Knitting deets on my Ravelry page

Poolside Tote

Poolside tote debut, a la Mexique

I made this Poolside Tote for our family trip to Mexico last November. That’s one great thing about warm weather travels; we were gone for a week and I only packed one small carryon bag of clothes, and my Poolside with books and things to do. Anna’s pattern was easy to follow, and the bag turned out both roomy and sturdy. It’s absolutely a pattern I’d make again, so I kept some notes as reminders for next time.

Native habitat of the Poolside Tote

  • Fabric – I used a Home Dec weight bird print for the exterior with gold duck cloth interior, and quilting cotton for handles, accent, and facing. This all worked well. Using the heavier canvas makes it easy to align pieces, but is trickier to manage on the sewing machine. Definitely a good idea to use a darker fabric on the exterior, even if you’re careful about where you set it down.
  • Interfacing – used Pellon Craft Fuse 808. Thought this would be too thick on the handles, but sewed easily and came out sturdy. The handles do show wrinkles now that I’ve been using the bag for a few months.
  • Pocket – pay attention to the print orientation when cutting out the pocket. I cut and interfaced a pocket from the exterior fabric without thinking about directional print, but then noticed that the background has a decided orientation that didn’t flow with the front of the bag. The second, un-interfaced pocket is a little floppy, so I may add a closure.
  • Facing – using a line of basting stitches to follow the curved edge works really well, but don’t forget to clip the curve. I waited until the body of the bag was assembled before joining the facing into a full ring, so I could adjust the size if needed. Really needs a good ironing once the facing is attached to get it to lay smooth on the inside of the bag. Edgestitch really close to the bottom, or possibly hand stitch it down. Would look neat with a contrast color in a blanket stitch.
  • Adding the lining – my lining was a little too tall in several places, so I trimmed it even with the exterior after carefully aligning and pinning the seams and curved edges and pushing the lining down into the corners of the bag. I think this was partially due to my cutting process, which should really happen on a big table and not the carpeted floor. I may also cut the lining slightly shorter next time, about ½ inch. Definitely baste the top of the exterior/lining together to keep things from shifting around.
  • Turning the corners of the curve when sewing down the facing – this biggest issue I had with this project. The bulk of the handle under the lining forced the presser foot and pulled the needle out of alignment, so it skipped back into place when I started sewing. I’m not really sure if this is an issue with my machine, materials, or something I’m doing, so I guess it’s just try, try again!
  • Edge stitching – get closer to the edge to avoid having the edge of the fabric lift up. No big deal, just keep in mind for next time.
  • Handle accents – don’t forget to remove the basting stitches. Definitely don’t use the bag for months and ignore them.
  • Fancy ideas for future bags – add interior pockets, zip pocket w/ interesting pull, blanket stitch the facing with contrasting thread), make coordinating zipper pouches to stack inside (a big one for knitting, smaller ones for wallet/keys, etc.)