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Blocking Your Crochet/Knitting Project

When I was a young girl first learning to crochet and sew, blocking your item was right up there with do I really need to stay-stitch my neck edge within my sewing project – duh, I learned the hard way, you DO need to do these steps to get the desired results and have an item that will last and continue to look good.  Think about it, you have gone to all this work to crochet a wonderful piece, now you need to block it so it will have the necessary shape, curves, points, etc. to look awesome.

There are basically 2 ways of blocking – called wet blocking and/or steam blocking.  STEAM blocking is exactly as its name implies.  I do this for small projects and I NEVER do it for anything that has been made with acrylic yarn.  I layout my project on my ironing board, spray it with a little water from my handy-dandy spray bottle that I always have hanging from my ironing board and sort of shape it with just my fingers.  I like to cover it with a pressing cloth, then I hold my iron just above the item but don’t touch it with the iron and steam away.  I usually give it a couple good bursts of steam.  Lift the pressing cloth, check it out and if all looks good just let it stay in place to cool and dry. If you aren’t totally satisfied, maybe an edge isn’t just to your liking, give it another spray of water, cover with your pressing cloth and give it another burst of steam.

The steaming method works really well for cotton yarns.  I would be cautious with WOOL items too as heat will do funky things to wool yarn.  As one time my hubby was trying to be so helpful and threw a lovely sweater in the dryer and it shrunk to fit a Barbie doll.

WET blocking is probably the best way to block your yarn projects.  Basically, soak your crochet in a nice sink full of cold water, add a very little drop of a gentle soap, give it a nice swish around, and rinse really well to make sure soap is all gone.  Gently squeeze out some of the water, you can let it drain a little in the sink, layout a big towel and place your project on the towel.  You really don’t want to wring or twist – I like to fold up my towel in half and then fold in the sides and press easy on it to help remove extra moisture.

Then off to my blocking mats with my rust proof pins and tape measure.  Layout your project and gently stretch it out, finger open those fine details that you have made and pin away.  Use your tape measure to make sure you are getting the size and shape you want.  Again, have that handy-dandy spray bottle at hand if you need to dampen your project during the blocking process.  For a shawl with fine picot points, be sure to place a pin in each one.  Believe you me, it is worth it!!

Round shaped items, like booties or hats, I like to shape using wet paper towels.  Put wet paper towels inside your booties to shape them the way you want and let them stay that way until the paper towels are dry.  I use fabric covered styrofoam balls for shaping hats but if they need to be a little fuller, again wet paper towels to fill in those spaces – works great.  Just do final shaping with your hands and let air dry completely.

Take a moment and check out Shibaguyz Designz blog.  Some really interesting ideas for blocking here using wire, #10 cotton thread and/or unwaxed kitchen string.  Recommends the string for nice shaping of curved areas.  Another recommendation – block your swatch piece to really ensure you are getting the correct gauge.  Excellent reading 🙂

Here are some pictures of the blocked shawls and scarves that I just did – talked about the patterns on my last blog That’s a Wrap!!  Good examples of how blocking really gives your item that WOW factor.  You’ve spent lots of hours crocheting or knitting that beautiful piece – now spend just one more hour to truly give your item that professional, finished appearance.

Blocking on mats

 

Before blocking

After blocking

Before blocking

After blocking

 

 HAPPY CREATING!!

 

 

That’s a “WRAP”

Well I’ve been super busy “wrapping up” with hooking shawls, scarves and cowls recently so I thought I would share with you some of my projects and what patterns I used.  Can’t quite call them totally “finished” as I still need to complete detailed blocking for everything so that is what is on my agenda for this week.  Plus, all the yarn I used was already in my stash!!  Yeah!!!

Before I go further, did want to share with you pictures of my finished knitted seed/moss stitch scarf.  I am very happy with how it turned out – especially since knitting seems to challenge me a bit 🙂

Seed/Moss Stitch

Anyways, take a look and hopefully you will get inspired with a “wrap” of your own 🙂

  1.  These pictures show a lovely summer shawl.  I used a free pattern found on Ravelry called the Dixie Charm pattern by Kathy Lashley. I used 2 skeins of Sunseeker  Multis (color #107) by Cascade Yarns and an I hook (5.5) for this pattern.  I just love the beautiful peachy tones which highlights just a touch of sparkle throughout.  This yarn was a combo of cotton, acrylic, and metallic yarn.  Very nice to work with too and I’m really pleased with how it looks so far.  Blocking will give it that totally finished look!!

    Dixie Charm

  2. Next I liked this great Moogly pattern called Berry Harvest   Bandana Cowl.  Crocheted this one using the pattern recommendations of an H hook and a DK weight yarn.  I chose Rowan Creative Linen (1 skein) which is a nice 50% linen and 50% cotton.  Worked up lovely and the berry design and edging will truly benefit from a good blocking.

 

Back to Ravelry again, I found a pretty lacy scarf called Summer Sprigs Lace Scarf by Esther Chandler.  The yarn I decided to go with was Folio by Berroco (blend of Superfine Alpaca and Rayon) but was considered a Light (3) category and her pattern used a Fine Lace yarn.  I only had 2 skeins of this yarn, so I chose a Size E hook (3.5) using the Folio yarn and only chained 232 + 1.  I used 1 full skein and a little more than half of the other skein for my scarf.  It still wraps around your neck nicely and drapes on the sides.  I know too once blocked, it will enlarge the size of the finished scarf.

Summer Sprigs Lace Scarf

I enjoyed making the Summer Sprigs pattern so off to my stash bin again and found 4 skeins of Folio in an awesome charcoal gray color.  So I have started pattern using this yarn, changed hook to a Size C (2.75) and began with the pattern recommendation of 386 +1 chains.  Not very far, but I think  the outcome will still be a lovely, light weight scarf.

Work in Progress

Of course, I just purchased an awesome pattern by Christina Hadderingh called Hotel of Bees shawl from Ravelry and looking forward to participating in the #HOBCAL (Hotel of Bees Crochet Along) through Cherry Heart’s Cozy Corner group.

And, That’s A “Wrap”!!

HAPPY CREATING!!

 

 

 

 

 

Spool Knitting Finished Project

Well, I finally finished my “cattail” and bound it off from my 4 pronged spool.  My cord is 195″ long or almost 5  1/2 yards.  I am planning to roll my cord into a circle and use it as a trivet for my kitchen.

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When rolled, the trivet will measure 9″ across which will be a perfect size for plates or bowls to keep the heat directly off my table.  It will also look great as a decorated piece under my kitchen centerpiece.

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Because I used up all the thread that I had to make the cord, I am going to whip stitch it together using all 6 strands of a coordinating DMC floss.  Beginning in the center and rolling as I go, I will whip stitch it together using a cross stitch type needle which has a little bit of a blunt tip so that I don’t snag any of my threads.

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This is a wonderful activity for a child to do and a super way to use up all those “little balls” of yarn leftover from other knit or crochet projects.  As you collect your bits and pieces of leftover yarn, just tie them together with a secure square knot (right over left and left over right) and keep adding to make a big multi-colored skein.  I would try to keep your category of yarn about the same; that is, I wouldn’t tie a chunky (category 5) to a sock weight (category 2).  How fun to see all the different colors come together!!

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Enjoy making your own “cattail” ~~ you can find more information on using knitting Nancy’s here.  FYI: I did purchase a super little tool from my local big box store (knittingboard.com) which worked great to lift my lower loops easily over the upper loops on my spool.  🙂

HAPPY CREATING!!

 

Sewing a Tote Bag: PART ONE

I found a remnant of burlap fabric with inked pictures of Winnie the Pooh on it and thought “Oh how cute!” bought it and got it home and then thought “What was I going to do with it?”  It was only about 13 1/2 inches wide but a nice long length of about 50 inches.SONY DSC

Now that the Christmas holidays have past, I again looked at that remnant and imagined a very nice large toy tote bag, PERFECT!   So here are my directions for sewing the tote bag.

PART ONE:

What I needed to do first was make the burlap fabric wide enough so I added a 3 inch wide strip of black cotton fabric from my stash to each side of the burlap.  I only sewed a 1/4 inch seam allowance because I wanted a maximum width of about 17 or 18 inches.  After stitching on both strips, I then serged them and pressed the seam towards the black fabric.  Next I sewed a decorative fagoting stitch as a top stitch to keep that seam permanently in place.  Now my finished piece of fabric is approximately 19″ wide by 45″ long.  Sorry, lots of shedding from the burlap!!

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Now I took that piece of fabric and laid it on top of another cotton fabric (right sides together) that I used as my guide to cut out a lining for the tote – so now I have 2 pieces of fabric 19″ wide x 45″ long.SONY DSC

 

 

 

Next I made the straps, using the same black cotton fabric for them.  I cut my straps 3 inches wide by 21 inches long.  I folded the straps in half (wrong sides together) and pressed with the iron.   This is for a registration/reference line.  Open up your strap and with wrong sides facing you, fold each side in to the pressed line.  Iron in place, then fold so that your two non-raw side edges meet and press again.   Sew close to the edge, turn and stitch along the narrow edge, turn and stitch close to the opposite edge to create a nice top stitching effect for your strap.

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Now your straps are ready to be sewn onto your main fabric tote.  Strap placement is a personal option but you want to make sure they will provide good balance and support for whatever you put inside your tote.  For this toy tote, I placed my straps 3 1/2 inches in from the side seam on the right side of the main fabric.  Do a baste stitch to hold the straps in place.  Make 2 straps and attach at each end of your long fabric piece.

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Continue by going to Sewing a Tote Bag PART TWO blog.  I know this is a long post but wanted to describe thoroughly.

HAPPY CREATING!!

 

Sewing a Tote Bag: PART TWO

PART TWO:

With right sides together, fold your main fabric in half (lengthwise) by bringing the bottom of the fabric to meet the top of the fabric to sew the side seams, I used a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  You will then do that same step with the lining fabric.  I also serged the edges of both sections.  Do not turn right side out yet.  Press the bottom edge of each section to create a registration/reference line to use to form a square boxed bottom for your tote.  With right sides together, open out the main fabric at bag bottom and place your pressed registration line perfectly on top of the side seam.  Then draw a chalk line 2 inches from the point/tip of your fabric.  Do the same thing to your lining fabric as well.  Now sew along the edge of your chalk line, serge the edge or just cut it off with your scissors to remove the point.  You will do this 4 times for each side seam (2 for main fabric/2 for lining fabric).  This will create for you a nice 4 inch wide square bottom for your tote and the lining too.

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Now you can turn your MAIN fabric to the right side, DON’T turn out the lining yet.

At this point, you are ready to attach your main fabric to the lining fabric with right sides together.  Slide your main fabric which should be on the right side, inserting it into the lining which should have the wrong side facing out (check that you have right sides together).  Make sure your straps are hanging towards the bottom of the bag on the inside (sandwiched between your fabric and lining).   Now pin your top edges leaving an opening of about 6 inches between the straps for turning purposes.  Stitch around in a 1″ seam.  Sometimes it is helpful to use the same color pin head for your beginning stitching and ending stitching which is different from your other pins.  Just a visual reminder to leave an opening for turning.

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Turn your tote to the right side, pulling your straps through the opening too. Push your lining down into your tote.   Press down the opening so that it is even with your top edges.  Sew a top stitch row around the entire bag, stitching shut your opening and making sure it is close to the edge.

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Folded down opening edges – ready for top stitching

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Now make another row of stitching around the entire top of the bag.  Finish it off with a good pressing and get ready to fill it full of goodies.  Mine will be used for Lego blocks!!!

SONY DSCMy toy tote finished size is 17 1/2 inches wide by 18″ long with a 4 inch wide bottom.

A half yard of fabric and a half of yard of lining will make a very nice size tote bag.  You wouldn’t even need to do the contrasting sides.  I needed this to get the width I want.

This style of tote making is a good one for a beginner sewer.  Even a young child who is familiar with a sewing machine could make this pattern.  Lots of flexibility too within the design, size and width of bag, size and width of straps, to pocket or not to pocket. Think about whether you want to use an interlining fabric for added strength or a denim/canvas fabric for the straps.   Let those creative juices flow and design something that is unique and special for you!!

HAPPY CREATING!!

Creating Bindings

I like to make bindings from my cotton scraps and have them ready in my stash pile for any current or future  sewing projects.  They are not hard to make and it is nice to have a one-of-a-kind trim available.SONY DSC  The type of binding that I am demonstrating is using the straight of grain or lengthwise grain on the fabric.  Good for almost any type of project except a small circle which you might have puckering but a bias type binding would work for those small tight curves.  Cut your strips on the bias (diagonal edge to diagonal edge) and follow these directions to create bias binding.

Using a  2  1/2″ wide cut fabric strip makes for a very nice binding finished width.  What I prefer to do is to rip the cotton fabric on the straight of grain to create my working   2  1/2″ width.  If your scrap piece is not wide enough to rip, then just utilize a good ruler and measure for a  2  1/2″ width using a rotary cutter.  Your cut length can be whatever size you have remaining from your scrap fabric.

Scrap fabric that I will rip into strips.

Scrap fabric that I will rip into strips.

Rotary cutting strip with ruler.

Second side of rotary cutting strip

Second side with rotary cutter.

Rotary cutting strip with ruler

 

Make a small cut before you rip fabric.

Make a small cut before you rip fabric.

My ripped strips, ready for joining!!

My ripped strips, ready for joining!!

 

 

 

To sew your cut scraps together to form a professional looking seam, you will put right sides together making an upside down “L”.  Take a good ruler, using a pencil or soap, make a stitching line to sew along for a perfect join.  You will then sew from the top edge to the side edge on your binding strip.  Trim your seam close to the stitching line and press seam open.

Stitching from top edge to opposite side edge

Stitching from top edge to opposite side edge

Right sides together forming an upside down n backwards "L"

Right sides together forming an upside down and backwards “L”

Marked seam line

Marked seam line

 

 

Trim seam close to stitching and press seam open

Trim seam close to stitching and press seam open

Once you have all your joins stitched together for your binding, fold the strip with wrong sides together and press.

Stitched and pressed with wrong sides together

Stitched and pressed with wrong sides together

This scrap had no joins so just needed to press wrong sides together

This scrap had no joins so just needed to press wrong sides together

Now you have binding that is ready to be sewn to whatever project you are working on.  When sewing the binding to my project, I always use a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Making binding is an easy scrap project for a child who has experience with a sewing machine.  Ripping fabric is a fun thing for a youngster to do.  I wouldn’t suggest letting them use a rotary cutter, only an adult should handle that sewing tool!!

I like to wrap my bindings onto index cards so they can be stored flat in a see thru type storage bin.  You will find many different uses for bindings from quilts, bibs, hooded towels, placemats, clothing,  etc.!!

HAPPY CREATING!!

 

 

 

 

Sewing a Child’s Gathered Skirt with Lace Ruffle

This is an update to my free child’s gathered skirt pattern.  I have included lots of SONY DSC pictures and my sample shows how to attach a lace ruffle to the bottom edge of my denim skirt.  The lace I am working with has a finished edge on both sides, no hemming necessary.

On my pattern page, you will find directions on how to determine your cut width and cut length.   STEP 1:  Be sure to match up the selvage edges together and place that edge along a straight ruler line so that your top and bottom cuts will be even.

Lining selvages, right sides together, along right edge

Lining selvages, right sides together, along right edge

Line up center fold along straight ruler line for left side.

Line up center fold along straight ruler line for left side.

Marking top edge to get ready to cut evenly.

Marking top edge to get ready to cut evenly.

If using a 100% cotton fabric, you can make a small cut along the top and bottom edges and just rip your fabric to get that nice straight of grain edge to work with.

Fabric cut and ready to be sewn.

Fabric cut and ready to be sewn.

STEP 2:  Once you have your fabric cut, I like to serge all the fabric edges.  I cut off the selvages with my straight ruler before I do the serging.   If you don’t have a serger, you can always do a close zigzag stitch along the raw edges.

Serged edges

Serged edges

Cutting of the selvage edge to avoid puckering

Cutting of the selvage edge to avoid puckering

STEP 3:  With right sides together, sew a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Press your seam open. STEP 4:  Lay out your skirt and measure from side seam to side seam.  You will want to double that measurement so you have the total circumference of your skirt.  Take that measurement and multiple it by 1.5 up to 2 times to determine how long to cut your lace.

Determining skirt circumference

Determining skirt circumference

STEP 5:   Cut your lace to the pre-determined measurement and sew it together with right sides matching.   Make a gathering seam by sewing a loose zigzag stitch over top of a heavy-duty (dual duty) thread on the wrong side of the lace.   This makes for a very strong gathering thread that you can pull on very tightly and it will not break.

Sewing a zigzag stitch over heavy duty thread

Sewing a zigzag stitch over heavy duty thread

Lace ready to be gathered

Lace ready to be gathered

Showing how close to the edge of lace I sewed gathering thread

Showing how close to the edge of lace I sewed gathering thread

STEP 6:  Divide your skirt into fourths, placing a pin at the center back seam, center front seam and both sides.  You will also fold your lace into fourths and place pins at each fold.  Now with right sides together, pin your lace markings to the skirt markings.   Pull snuggly on one heavy duty gathering thread and pin your gathers from center back to center front on one side.  Now repeat that step for the other side, pulling snuggly using the other heavy duty gathering thread to gather up the lace and pin to the skirt.  Stitch in place.

Marking for lace placement

Marking for lace placement

Gathered lace ready to be sewn

Gathered lace ready to be sewn

Attaching lace to pin markings before gathering

Attaching lace to pin markings before gathering

 

STEP 7:  You want to press that seam up towards the top of the skirt.  Because my denim had painted silver dots on it and the lace was somewhat delicate, I used a terry cloth towel as my pressing cloth so as not to have any damage (melted dots or lace)!!    STEP 8:  After the seam is pressed up, stitch that seam in place.  I made two (2) rows of stitching because I like that look.  One row of stitching is sufficient.

Using a pressing cloth

Using a pressing cloth

Double stitched row

Double stitched row

 

 

 

 

STEP 9:  Make the casing for the elastic by folding down the top edge of the skirt 1  1/2″.  Pin in place at the folded edge and turn under the serged edge as you stitch leaving about a 2″ opening to pull your elastic through.  Attach a safety-pin to one end of your 3/4″ non-roll elastic and begin pulling it through the casing.  So I wouldn’t pull the end of the elastic into my casing, I pinned it to the opening.  Once you have pulled the elastic through the entire casing, over lap it about 1/2″ on each side and stitch securely into place.  Make sure you haven’t twisted the elastic before sewing.  After stitched, pull on the waist band so the elastic is nicely tucked inside and stitch close your opening.

Folding down your casing

Folding down your casing

Beginning elastic meeting pulled through elastic

Beginning elastic meeting pulled through elastic

Attach safety pin as your gathering tool

Attach safety-pin as your gathering tool

STEP 10:  To help keep your gathers in place, make a stitching line at the center back, center front, and both sides.  Stitch from the top of the waist band to the stitching  line of the casing (sewing through all thicknesses).

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 HAPPY CREATING!!