Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Diamond Stitch Crochet Baby Blanket

diamonds_blanket2

Today I bring you a rare finished yarn project.

This soft and snuggly blanket is for the same friend [and baby] recipient of the log cabin quilt I made a little while ago. I crocheted a blanket for baby numero uno, and apparently he liked it very much, so baby dos can't be left out, can she?

diamonds_blanket6

The colors are the same ones I used for the quilt, which were chosen by mama-to-be, so I can't take any credit there. The darkest color is reading as black but it's actually navy. For the pattern, I followed this tutorial. I wish I could tell you how long I made my foundation chain, but I have no idea and I didn't write it down [so helpful, I know].

diamonds_blanket5

I used all acrylic yarn for washing machine and baby compatibility. The white yarn is from one of those giant mega skeins they sell at Joann's. I've used it for several projects and it has barely gotten any smaller. It is so large and fuzzy and creature-like that my knitting group decided it needed a name.

So his name is Frederick. I should have taken his picture, but I didn't. Don't worry - he'll probably be around for a while.

diamonds_blanket4

The tutorial was super easy to follow, although for some reason one of my edges looks really crazy and the other one is nice and straight and even. I'm not sure why because I was changing colors at both sides. Also I accidentally made the blanket one or possibly two double crochet[s] wider about halfway through.

Artistic choices.

diamonds_blanket9

So after a wash and dry cycle [I use a lingerie bag] this blanket will be shipped across the Atlantic on the heels of its matching quilt counterpart.

I don't think I'm done with the baby projects yet, though...this is the first friend-baby since I started sewing knits, and I'm suddenly eyeing all my half yard remnants and realizing the baby wardrobe potential...

What are your favorite knit things to sew for babies?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

gingerjeans_black25

Ways to Test Your Self Confidence:
1. Take photos of yourself to post on the internet
2. Choose a location near a busy four way stop
3. Frequently stand very close to the camera with the lens pointed directly at your butt
3. Wear a shirt you have to constantly lift out of the way
4. Make sure it's the weekend
5. And also the time of day when everyone walks their dogs

gingerjeans_black06

I finally forced myself to take pictures of the Ginger Jeans I made a few weeks ago. These are the high-waisted View B version.

I have a severe shortage of non-denim pants in my wardrobe and I've been experiencing some Ginger Jeans envy for a while now, so it was only a matter of time. I can't wear blue denim jeans to work, although non-blue jeans seam to be ok, so these pants are the first installment in my future abundance of work pants.

Short version:

I LOVE this pattern. I promptly bought four more fabrics to make four more pairs. I shall have a pants rainbow! I made barely any changes, I'm totally happy with the fit, and they were not intimidating at all to put together. There are a few tweaks to make on the next pair, but overall, I'm pretty psyched.

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Long version:

The first f word - FABRIC. This fabric is a black stretch twill from a local store called Textile Fabrics. I liked it at first, but I like it less and less as I wear them more and more. They stretch out a lot when I wear them, so I can really only wear them once before washing. Also, EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF FUZZ IN EXISTANCE is stuck to them, constantly. You can see it in some of the closeups, which were taken after going through SIX lint roller sheets. It drives me crazy. And it's not even cat hair, it's just the general fuzz of life. So that will probably limit my wearing these too.

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The second f word - FIT. I did not want to make a muslin for these, since it would have been a lot of work and I would have had to use a stretch fabric anyway. So I decided to just go for it, hope they would mostly turn out, and then make any minor fit adjustments after they were together.

Before cutting, I did a few things. My measurements were putting me at a 6 in the waist and a 10 in the hips. Since there are so many pieces involved in this area, I cut out the paper at whichever size line was on the outside (usually 10, but sometimes 6), then laid them all on top of each other like they would be sewn. Then I used a curved ruler to go from the 10 at the widest point to the 6 at the top of the pocket facing, and cut along the line through all layers. I did the same thing with the back and yoke. The waistband I just cut a 6.

[Once I basted them together - I sewed the whole fly first so that part would fit as it would when finished - the hips were too big, so I took them in probably to a size 8.]

gingerjeans_black20

The other thing I did was preemptively straighten the front crotch curve below the fly. Based on all the other pants I've attempted, this seams to be one of the things I need to do. This adjustment had mixed results, and I probably should have just left it as is for the first go.

gingerjeans_black11

You will see in the above photo that I had a major fail moment when I did the buttonhole, as I put it way too far over to the left. This makes the whole front look off center. But if you look at the center front seam [the edge of the fly], it's right in line with my belly button, so just the button placement is off. It was late and I should have gone to bed, but no, I had to make that buttonhole, and totally bombed it.

So let's talk more about crotches, shall we? [welcome, weird google search creepers.] I am going to describe to you to my Crotch Conundrum when it comes to pants fitting. Lucky you! So I mentioned that I straightened the front crotch a little, which I probably didn't need to do, because you can see there is extra fabric bunching up at the top of the front legs. So I will scoop the front crotch seam back out to take care of that. (Lauren of Lladybird has a really good post about this J-crotch adjustment.)

HOWEVER. You will also see that there are horizontal wrinkles below/across the fly. This seems to say there there is too much fabric in the front crotch curve. So I would pinch it out and then remove a wedge from the pattern. This shortens the front crotch curve. BUT, when I also do the previous adjustment (making the curve more J-shaped) this lengthens the same front crotch curve. These adjustments don't seem like they should go together! Don't they just cancel each other out? And when I shorten the front crotch curve, should I take it out of the fly, or the section below the fly? Does anyone have any insight on this?

If you are still reading, bless your heart. Here's the back.

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The Ginger Jeans are very kind to your booty. Not gonna lie, my backside feels pretty great in these pants.

The back pocket placement is SO IMPORTANT (as Heather mentions in both the instructions and the sewalong), so definitely baste them on first. Did I do that? Of course not! Ignoring the warnings, I topstitched both of those suckers down all the way, only to try them on and realize they were way to low, making me look like I was wearing a dirty diaper. Quite attractive! So I seam ripped through my precious topstitching thread and moved them up 3/4". It was a night and day difference.

Also, I prefer bigger back pockets on jeans [negative space on butt = bad] so I used the size 12 pockets.

Can we just talk about the back pocket embellishment potential here? I originally wanted to embroider an anchor like Sarah, black-on-black, but I was running short on time and didn't want to rush so I just did three rows of decorative stitches in black rayon thread. But ever since then, I can't stop checking out people's jeans pockets, aka staring at stranger's butts. You could do so many different things to those pockets!

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On the inside, I did the front pocket stays as detailed in the sewalong, because heck yes built-in spanx. Really though, I love how stable and flat the front is. I used some of Rashida Coleman-Hale's pretty cranes, partially because they were still out from the last project, but mostly because they are pretty! Next time, I think I'll leave them right sides together instead of turning them, because the bottom seam is a little bulky. Also, that way when you look into the pocket from the outside, you'll see the right side of the fabric instead of the wrong side.

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I also opted to use the quilt weight for the waistband lining, which I wasn't sure about but really like. It keeps the waistband from stretching out too much but also prevents it from being too bulky. I didn't use any interfacing.

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Sewing these was actually pretty easy, considering you are making f'ing jeans. It's not fast, and you have to keep switching back and forth between topstitching and regular thread, but it's not too difficult, especially with the sewalong as a reference. One thing I did differently - when you attach the zipper to the first side of the fly, instead of putting the teeth just to the side of the center front, I aligned the edge of the zipper tape with the edge of the extension. This sets the zipper in deeper. (And Heather mentions this as an option in the fly post of the sewalong). I wanted to make sure my zipper wasn't going to peek out.

In doing some topstitching tests, way too much topstitch thread was showing on the back, so I found that turning up the tension pretty high when topstitching - like to 7 - made it look a lot better. Also, I held the thread very taut when threading through the tension discs to make sure it really got in there. Then I ran out of topstitching thread about two thirds of the way through, so I just switched to a triple straight stitch for all the topstitching [like the waistband/belt loops in the photo] and it worked out ok.

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Also I want to give a little shout out to Pony Show, a really cute shop in my neighborhood where I bought this shirt. I'm pretty into anything with moon phases on it, and the owner screen prints them herself, so when I saw it it was a done deal. [She sells them on Etsy too.]

Closet Case Files Ginger Jeans

And now I shall commence on my Rainbow of Pants.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Quilt

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

I haven't made a quilt in a really long time. I missed it! It's so much different than making clothes. The way I usually go at it, it's not unlike a grown up version of cutting up construction paper and gluing it to something [to be honest that sounds fun to me too] except that you're using pretty fabric.

A childhood friend is having her second baby in April and she requested a quilt. This is the result, and it's currently on its way to Belgium [her husband is in the army] in anticipation of baby girl's appearance in April.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

She wasn't set on any particular pattern, so I decided to do my trusty wonky log cabin block. Nothin' like some trusty wonk. It's the same pattern I used for her first baby's quilt [blogged here] and also a class I taught a couple times at Sew LA. And I'm also now remembering I made one for my brother that I never blogged. Like I said, trusty.

This is the color scheme she sent me:

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Quilt

I pulled most of these fabrics from my stash, with a few supplemental purchases from The Fabric Studio. The center for each block is a Heather Ross double gauze unicorn. This is fabric I have been hoarding since its first release in 2008-9[?]. Surprisingly, I did not have to rip it violently from my own rabid grasp, I was actually really happy to be able to use it on a special project like this. I also used some of my Heather Ross tadpoles-in-jars fabric, from the same era and hoarded with equal fervor.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

There are a couple Cotton + Steel gems in there, because their fabric is woven from secrets and magic and goes with everything. For the back I used Rashida Coleman-Hale's navy crane fabric she designed for Cloud 9. So pretty!

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

If you're a garment sewer and you're thinking about making a quilt, maybe try this one! It's really so fun and easy, and you barely have to do any initial cutting. All the crazy shapes are just made by attaching some strips crooked on purpose. I thought I'd write up a tutorial in case anyone is interested; I'm sure there are many already out there, but here's another! And it includes fabric yardages for making this size quilt, which is a generous crib size or a small throw/lap quilt.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

MATERIALS

To make a quilt of this size [about 40x54"], you'll need:
  • 3/8 yard of eight different fabrics
  • twelve 5" squares for the centers [to fussy cut, cut a 5" square in a piece of paper and use that as a stencil to mark your fabric]
  • 1 5/8 yard for the back
  • batting
  • 3/8 yard for the binding [if you do 2.5" wide cross grain binding]


CUTTING

From each of the eight fabrics, cut one selvage-to-selvage strip in each of the following widths: 2.5", 4", 5.5". Fluff them into a big pile [optional].

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

ASSEMBLY

A log cabin block is a center square to which strips of increasing length are attached, in clockwise or counter clockwise direction, until the block is the desired size.

For the first pass around the center square, we're going to be straight with our piecing and save our wonk for later. I felt that after taking the time to fussy cut the centers, I didn't want them to end up a weird size and/or accidentally amputate unicorn limbs.

So take a center square and grab a strip - any strip - from the pile. Place the strip along the top edge of the center square, right sides together, with the selvage end hanging off over the edge a bit. Pin.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Set your stitch length at 2.0 [this means you don't have to backstitch]. Stitch along pinned edge. You only have to sew the length of the center square.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Note: Normally you don't zig zag when piecing a quilt, but my center square is double gauze, and I know from a previous Terrible Incident that 1/4" seams on double gauze tend to fray completely out during the first quilt washing if they aren't well reinforced, which leads to anger, then weeping, then complete and utter brokenness [though that quilt did end up with some pretty sweet patches]. So I zig zagged.

Press the strip away from center.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Trim both ends even with the edges of the center square.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Pick another strip - again, any strip - and align it with the new left edge you just created that includes the center square and strip #1. Pin right sides together, again having the selvage hang over the edge.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Stitch with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Repeat the pressing and the trimming like you did on the first strip.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Pick a third random strip - seriously, don't think about it too hard - and align it with the bottom edge, right sides together. Are you sensing a pattern here?

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Press and trim.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Attach a fourth strip to the final edge. That completes the first pass around the center.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Ok, now it's time to reach down deep and release your inner wonk. We're going to keep attaching strips in the same way, but we're going to start making some of them crooked. On purpose. WHAAAT??

So we're back to the top edge. Pick a strip and place it, right sides together, along the top edge, but lay it at an angle. You could go like this:

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

or this:

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

YOU ARE A CRUSHER OF PARADIGMS AND A GODDESS OF CHAOS.

There's really no rule for exactly how crooked to make the wonky strips, except that if you make them too crooked, you're going to start covering up too much of the previous piecing, so keep in mind what's going on under the strip. Also, if you make them just barely crooked, the wonkiness won't be very noticeable in the final project. About 1" [give or take] in from the edge at the crooked end is a good place to start if you need numbers.

Once pinned, stitch along the crooked strip, 1/4" in from the edge. Your presser foot should have a groove or notch at 1/4" to use as a reference.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Trim the bottom layer even with the crooked strip.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Press the strip away from center. Use a ruler to trim the ends even and straight with the other edges.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block
Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Next edge: same deal. Lay 'er down crooked...

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

...stitch, press, trim.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block
Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

You don't have to make every strip crooked. It's your quilt and you do what you damn well please. [For instance, I find that laying a 2.5" strip down crooked on top of another 2.5" just makes them both too narrow for my liking.]

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Keep going until your block is big enough to cover a 14" square. I check this by just laying it on top of my cutting mat. I try to keep the center square straight when checking because I like having them straight on the finished quilt. Depending on the combo of widths you choose, you might be done after the second pass, or you might need to keep going a little more. If your block is tall enough but not wide enough, or vice versa, feel free to attach a strip out of order to add the length or width where it's needed.

Also near the end, keep in mind how much you need to add versus which width strip you choose. For example, if your block is only 1" shy of being 14" wide, it would be silly to use one of your 5.5" strips for that edge, because you're just going to end up trimming most of it off anyway. Use a narrower one.

Ok, time to trim. Lay your block over the corner of your cutting mat, with all the edges slightly extending beyond a 14" square grid. Trim the first edge at 14".

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Flip the block 180 degrees, place the trimmed edge at 0, and trim the opposite edge at 14".

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Turn it 90 degrees and trim the other two edges the same way.

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block
Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

If you totally bomb the trimming, don't worry - just hack off the embarrassing part, go back to your pile of strips, attach some more and retrim. This is seriously the lowest stress quilt ever!

Once it's 14" square, your block is finished!

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

The quilt I made has twelve total blocks. I like to do them assembly line style. It goes much faster, and it also helps prevent accidentally using one type of fabric too often in the same place on the blocks because as you piece each one, it takes that strip out of commission for the rest. So, attach all the first strips at once, press them all, trim them all, return everything to the pile, attach all the second strips at once, etc. It goes pretty fast.

Once you're done, lay them all out and try different arrangements. I usually try to make sure all the fabrics are more or less equally distributed around the quilt. To assist in this task, I employ the highly technical act of squinting at the layout, which actually does help you see if there are a lot of dark or light fabrics clustered together. One of my favorite things about this block is that once you put them together, the fabric starts to make new shapes in some places [for example, the teal tigers in the lower right].

Tutorial: Wonky Log Cabin Block

Once you're pleased with the layout, join the blocks in rows with a 1/4" SA, then join the rows. I highly recommend taking a picture of the layout with your phone in case you get interrupted, or you just forget during the walk to the machine which block goes where [a completely valid scenario].

Quilt and finish as desired. There are tutorials a'plenty for that strewn all across the internet.

Let me know if you have any questions!

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