Art and Needlework by Rebekah

Art and Needlework by Rebekah: January 2012

Jan 21, 2012

1/21/12: Cabled Earwarmer for Catherine

When I went on my little yarn shopping spree, I picked up some soft, soft cotton/wool yarn in a fresh blue color to make an earwarmer for my sister. The original pattern (Cabled Headband by Jennifer Hagan), called it a headband but it will definitely be suitable as an earwarmer as well. So I casted on with my Cascade Sierra in color 47 on size 7 needles and managed to finish it in just a couple days. A really fast knit! Maybe too fast. . . Wanted to keep making those cables again and again.

So here is how it turned out:

And here are some pics for the finer details:

I made a small alteration to the pattern to make a narrow earwarmer. I simply removed the two stitches on either side to make the stitch count 24 instead of 28. 

It really was an easy pattern. The only bump I ran into was the provisional crochet cast-on that was recommended in the pattern. Never did this kind of cast-on before so I jumped at the chance to try it out. It seemed easy enough to cast-on but when it came time to remove the crochet chain and sew the two ends together, well, let's just say I had to go in with a crochet hook to pick up some running stitches. I think it would be a good idea next time to knit one row plain right after I cast on, instead of going straight to the charted pattern. 

Seaming aside, this earwarmer was a pleasure to knit and Catherine really loves the yarn, the color, and the coziness. Gee, what a little bit of knitting can do!

Want to see more? Visit my Ravelry project page.


Jan 20, 2012

1/20/12: Tutorial -- How to Insert an Invisible Zipper without an Invisible Zipper Foot

A few years ago zippers were one of those mini sewing annoyances. In case you don't know, mini sewing annoyances are those necessary steps in sewing we all have to do but wish we didn't. (e.g. Basting, easing in a sleeve, pattern alterations, ironing a mile and a half of yardage. . .)

But over the past two or three years they have, for me, been turning into a diamond in the rough. I've been having more one-on-one time with them lately because of the manyzippers I have to replace and I am learning more about them every time we sit down together.

So invisible zippers entered the picture a couple days ago. Catherine came to me with a twill skirt of hers (from Chadwicks), and said that the zipper needed help. Ever since she got it the zipper has been a problem due to the fact that it wasn't inserted smoothly. It appears that the zipper tape shifted during the sewing process and created a “blind curve” so to speak.

So she gave it to me to take a look at and as soon as I spotted the fraying zipper tape—which was caused by repeated abrasion by the slider going over the “blind curve”--I knew it had to be replaced. “Great,” I thought, “An invisible zipper.” To this date, I have never correctly inserted one of these; by my standards anyway. But because zippers, both separating and closed end, have been showing me their good side recently, I thought invisible deserved my full attention.

One big problem. I don't have an invisible zipper foot. Now how would I do this job? Since I really wanted to get this skirt repaired now I went and did some internet searching. It turns out that invisible zipper feet aren't as simple as I thought they are. They come in different sizes. Different sizes? Yes. It is because invisible zippers themselves differ from company to company, so a Coats and Clark would be different from, let's say, Talon or YKK.

OK, right around then I felt like I must find a way to do this without a specialty foot. You can say that I was kind of impatient but really the fact is I'm cheap when it comes to sewing machine add-ons. I like to do with what I have and buy when it is absolutely necessary.

So I searched and searched some more and I found a nugget of info by way of Kay Whitt from Serendipity Patterns. She wrote a blog tutorial on how to insert an invisible zipper and guess what? She used her regular zipper foot. And as I soon discovered for myself: it works like a charm.
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Jan 17, 2012

1/17/12: Birthday Shopping

Birthday was last week so I went with my sisters to the local yarn shop to do some yarn shopping. I truly think nothing is more enjoyable than to leisurely stroll through a shop that has colorful fuzzy balls that could be turned into countless garments and objects. Really, nothing can come close to it. 

I've gone yarn shopping many a time via the internet but haven't gotten much of a chance to do local. Last year I did buy some yarn to make a felted purse and two years before that I picked up some Luna to make my Liesl. But nothing too recent. So it turned out that I became maybe, uh, overly excited about this trip of mine? Maybe? Probably a yes to that but it's OK by me.

So this is what I picked out from all the balls and skeins of temptation:

The eight skeins above are for three different projects. The first being the Cabled Headband by Jennifer Hagan that was published in the Knitter's Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes:

Very pretty! This headband has already been knitted up (couldn't help myself), and is being used by my sister Catherine as an earwarmer. The yarn I used is Cascade Sierra in a blue very similar to Maui blue. I altered the pattern some to make it narrower in width. I removed two stitches on each edge of the piece to bring the number of stitches down to 24. I hopefully will come back and post more about this earwarmer and have a photo or two of the finished piece! 

And for the next pattern. I chose to do the Holi Mitts by Jaya Srikrishnan that was published in Color Style by Pam Allen and Ann Budd:

This book was given to me by Catherine for Christmas the other year and I've been eyeing these gloves ever since. Colorwork knitting is so tempting to do but so very intimidating at the same time. This would be my first colorwork project and I can't wait to start! I will be using four skeins of Brown Sheep Wildfoote in green, lavendar, blue, and white. Spring colors!

And the third and final project. This project, which I am currently working on, is the Ringwood Gloves by Rebecca Blair that was featured in the 2010 Deep Fall issue of Knitty magazine:

YES! I am doing the unbelievable feat of knitting my own gloves. Good grief--I can't even make myself believe it. :) Socks, gloves, fingerless mitts with half fingers, toys with tubular limbs. . . All of that has scared me over the years because of double pointed needles. But I am laying my fears aside and nipping the thing in the bud by doing the hardest thing I think I've done so far. 

Am I over reacting again? Definitely yes. Sorry, this is what happens sometimes, especially when knitting is in the same sentence.

Whatever the case may be, I feel like the gloves are coming along very well. I am able to wield the double pointed needles (very much unlike the time I was knitting a small stuff animal, please allow me to erase that memory), and I've made great progress. I will be posting more about the Ringwood Gloves later this week to explain some final pattern/yarn details. 

So there are my three birthday yarn projects and what fun they have been!


Jan 16, 2012

1/16/12: Sewing a U.S. Marine Dog Coat -- Finished Piece

Just finished the two dog coats for a custom order last Saturday. Yay!

Here are my prior posts on the subject:

12/14/11: Sewing a U.S. Marine Dog Coat -- the Pattern
12/6/11: Sewing a U.S. Marine Uniform for the Four-Legged Type

But before I get to the grand finale let me run you through the muslin making stage. After altering my sewing pattern drastically (Simplicity 9520), I made up a dog coat muslin using medium weight white muslin, scraps of blue piping, and bits and pieces from my red and blue fabrics. And this is it:

And here is Jazzmin during her fitting. She was a very nice and cooperative client I must say. :)

I was SO happy to find that the coat fits well and I had only one more alteration to make: add 2" of ease to the body (the area between the leg openings and the hem). During the fitting I also found out the necessary length for the adjustable belt I was to make. 

When people talk about their muslins they typically state: "I will be adding 2" to the body," or "one inch to the sleeve cap," I often wonder how they go about doing this. There are a few methods of adding or removing ease so I'll tell you how I did it. 

The pattern pieces I altered were the front and back pieces. 

I first counted the number of seams I will be sewing in this area. It turned out to be two: left front to back and right front to back. With two seams there are four seam allowances. So I divided the amount of ease that will be added (2") by the number of seam allowances (4) and that gave me the quotient of 1/2". 

So I had to add an 1/2" to the side seams of the front and back pieces. I measured an 1/2" away from the paper pattern's edge at the very bottom of the seam and marked it. I then connected this mark with the leg opening edge with a ruler and drew a diagonal line. I cut along this line. I did this to both the front and back

And that was all I needed to do.

So I quickly cut out all the fabric pieces and whipped up the coats; it went much faster than I thought! And here they are:

{ U.S. Marine Dog Coat with Corporal E-4 Patch and Medals }

{ Camouflage Dog Coat }
Now onto the final details (my favorite part): 

{ Close-up of patch and medals. From left to right: Corporal E-4 chevron patch, U.S. Marine Corps Good Conduct medal, and Navy and Marines Corps Overseas medal }

{ Inside of dog coat. Facing pieces were used so all seam allowances are enclosed which makes interior very clean. The only exposed seam allowances are the leg openings }

{ This red strap is the adjustable belt that will be wrapped around the stomach of the dog and secured with the snap buckle. It will give the coat a snugger fit. I saw this on a number of commercial dog coats and liked the idea. I used webbing for this one }


So that's it. This project may have been difficult at times (alterations and finding the right camouflage fabric), but I really enjoyed sewing it together. It definitely taught me a lot of things!

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Jan 6, 2012

1/6/12: Manners Matter and This Should Help with That

While waiting for my zippers to arrive I got a chance to dive into a project that has been on my mind for months. And it involves paper napkins. No not kidding.

Let me explain my situation. At our dinner table we haven't been using a napkin dispenser because the napkins we buy just aren't the right size. Who would have thought there was a wide array of napkin sizes in the world? Well, that's how it turns out.

Because of this conundrum we've been using more facial tissues than napkins and I thought that wasn't a good practice. Especially when Kleenex doesn't run cheap.

Then a few months ago I found on some blog a picture of a homemade fabric holder for those traveling tissue packs that they sell. I thought that same design would work perfectly with our napkins. So I finally put this idea into effect a couple days ago and quickly found out that it was a total flop. Napkins, unlike facial tissues, aren't stacked in such a way that the second napkin is folded into the first napkin to result in follow-the-leader. Nope, they just are placed one on top of the other.

No matter, I found an alternative solution in the form of this:

(The front)
(The back)
What is pictured above is my fabric napkin dispenser that I recently sewed together based solely on a relatively vague idea. Well, most ideas start vague until you get the ball rolling, right?

Let me show you how it works. The piece is made up of two layers of fabric that form a pocket:

The paper napkins are housed in this pocket for easy access. And to refill the pocket when napkins run out, the zipper that runs along a side and the bottom of the pocket is unzipped to open out the pocket.

You can't see it in the pictures but I used slippery black lining on the inside of the pocket. I chose to do this to allow for the napkins to slide out easily.

Next time around I would do two things differently. I would only have a zipper on one side of the pocket--not a side and the bottom. The pocket doesn't need to open that much to insert the napkins; just one side will do. I also will avoid stitching so close to the zipper teeth. Because each zipper tape (both left and right) are sandwiched between two layers of fabric, the zipper slider sometimes runs over the fabric and lodges itself. Not what I want.

I really enjoyed breaking out this little project and starting from scratch. I typically go by a pattern so this was a good change for me. And I got to do something I haven't done in months: embroider. May be just a bit of back stitch but even that is a real pleasure for me.


Jan 5, 2012

1/5/12: Sewing a Wall Curtain and Dog Coat Project Update

It's driving me nuts. My dog coats have been on hold because I'm waiting for the final supplies (aka separating zippers in the right length), and they're taking longer to arrive via UPS than I thought. Sigh. Being without the right zipper length seems to be a constant problem for me. I had to go through this in November when I had zipper replacement orders.

Separating zippers cannot be adjusted to the right length as easily as closed end zippers. With a closed end zipper, you can simply whipstitch the zipper teeth closed a 1/2" below your new length measurement and be good to go. A separating zipper, however, has a box and a slide at its end that cannot be removed. 

I have found on YouTube and some zipper supply company websites, a mention of zipper top stops you can add to the zipper tape with the use of pliers. In other words, you can trim the zipper down from the top instead of the bottom. Now that sounds intriguing! But I never got around to ordering these stops and so when it came time to insert separating zippers into the dog coats, I was out of luck. Stupid! Why did I forget to try these out beforehand?

Shouldn't cry over spilled milk so I guess I have to just wait until my order arrives. But I needn't wait with idle hands. I went and cut out all the necessary fabric pieces for the dog coat uniforms, made the piping (yes, I did it myself!), and all the other components. And I also have been busy with other things. 

Like making curtains for my sisters' bedroom. 

Yeah, it's kind of hard for me to stop crafting. :)

So these curtains are actually covering the south wall of the bedroom instead of a window. Which makes it a wall curtain. . . Hmm, I've seen wall curtains on HGTV many a time and never thought I would do one personally! 

The wall is covered by three separate curtain panels that are hung with buttoned tabs:

I got the idea of buttoned tabs from a post I saw on the sew4home website. Since I never made curtains before I learned that the top of the curtain like this is reinforced with something called header tape or buckrum. (To help prevent the curtain from drooping.) How can I express how dazzled I was when I realized I had this? Uh, yeah. I had buckrum from all things. You see, for twelve years or so there has been this roll of white stiff stuff in my sewing room that I hadn't a clue about. But when I saw a picture of buckrum on the internet this stiff stuff went from big question mark to a-ha! 
So here is the backside of the curtain's top edge:

I used a simple white cotton for the facing of the curtain and stitched the buckrum to this using a zigzag. You can see the white stiff stuff here. Oh sorry, I mean buckrum:

Now let's talk hemming. I used a 2" double hem. Wow, that was a long talk. 

And because I used a fabric that had such a narrow width--43" to be precise--I chose to do a rolled hem edge for the sides of panel to make the panels as wide as possible. This fabric falls into the quilting cotton category. Ah, I love you quilting cottons for your selection but OH! why can't you be 60 width just this one time?

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Jan 2, 2012

1/2/12: Goodbye 2011, Hello 2012

{ source }

Was contemplating this New Year's post for awhile now and thinking to myself that a picture mosaic of all my past crafting projects from 2011 would be in toll. Something like I did last year around this time.

But I am going to shift a little and throw in a few goals for myself. Nah, no yearly resolutions for me, that really isn't my thing. I am, however, going to create objectives to have in the back of my mind throughout 2012. (Doesn't 2012 sound bold and, I don't know, loud? It could just be me!)

Learn  It would be great if I could go into this new year with more of a learning mindset. As I think of  it, there were many times (both in my crafting and day-to-day activities), I thought to myself: I should spend some time to learn that. And as you can very well guess, I didn't get much farther than that train of thought. So setting aside some time to learn something new, learn something again, or try to practice a technique or skill more, would be awesome. What comes to mind right now would be learning how to code in html and css, how to sew pants, how to type fast and use the 10 key pad, and how to knit socks.  

Take it slow and savor the moment  You can see from previous posts that this is no easy task for me, especially when it comes to tasks that I do solo. My day is usually made up of household chores, farm work, cooking, and crafts. I normally start out my task--whatever it may be, with a good pace and calmness. But as soon as I think I am taking a long time in its completion, I begin to work hectically. NOT a good idea. I would much rather see myself working at a steady pace from start to finish and savor the moment. I may not be doing something worth "savoring" but having my full attention on my work would make me very happy.

Be more open  Any little social butterfly present? Please raise your hand! Right around this time my hand drops. :) It sounds like it's time to force myself to be a little more engaging in the big wide world. I foresee many big breaths in my future.

Write more  And I am talking blog writing. Back in May of last year I managed to post every single day for the whole month and what I discovered was a real eye opener. Firstly, I found that I do like this whole blog writing thingy. It kind of grew on me. And secondly, I found that I had a lot of ideas of what I want to share on my blog. I mean a lot. But following the month of May I was restrained by lack of time, lack of incentive, and lack of focus. This year I hope to post more than I have been and not to worry about supplying a post with the "perfect" photo or "perfect" topic. I am just going to post. Just post about the things I'm interested in that day or week, the knitting project I am working on, or the new website I just found. The skies the limits. Because before I always felt like I needed a set plan for my posts. This time I am going to throw caution to the wind.

And I am speaking of this with my Sabbath Supper blog in mind, too. 

So those are the things I hope to accomplish in the next twelve months. I know all of these are within my limits and I am sure I will knock one or two off! 

And a complete change of topic will now ensue. . .

Over the years my family has listened to countless old radio programs from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. One of which is the Jack Benny Program which has a character named Mary Livingston (who happens to have been the real life wife of Jack Benny), who likes to write poems for the show. And I just listened the other day to her 1939 New Year's poem and you will find it below. A good portion of the poem requires Jack Benny jargon but I'm sure you will still find it comical!

Goodbye 1938, Hello 1939

Oh happy new year, happy new year,
Please don't be a sadden blue year.
These last twelve months have been sublime,
so goodbye 38, hello 39.

I wonder who this coming year, (Mary pronounced it like yar to rhyme with the next line)
Will be our favorite movie star.
Will it be Garbo or Sonya Henie?
So goodbye 38, hello 39-ie.

What has this year in store for us?
For thee and thou, thy and thus?
Will Don get fatter, will Phil be gay?
Will Kenny get Knowledge with a capital "K"?

I would like to ask you if I dare,
Will Jack continue to lose his hair?
And when it's gone will it stay away?
Goodbye 38, hello toupee.

Have a blessed New Year!