Sunday, April 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Grace Catherine!

Grace was such a tiny baby when she was born, she needed help breathing from the beginning.  It was really scary for a long time-we had lots of scares and said lots of prayers.

She went directly into the NICU from the delivery room.  What a tiny thing she was!

And here she is at nine.  So glad we have this girl!
We had a great party at a local restaurant today with tons of gifts and all the trimmings.  She's into horses and dolphins and got a couple of those today, along with the requisite Barbies.  Hard to believe she is almost done with the third grade.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Off and On the Needles

I love to use the bits of leftover sock and baby yarn to make baby socks.  Just finished these;

I made a pair of socks for myself from this yarn.  It's Serenity Sock Yarn by Deborah Norville.  A combo of wool, bamboo and nylon.  I love working with this yarn!

This is from baby yarn by Bernat-acrylic.  Really works up cute.
Just cast on a baby sweater:

This pattern book was printed in 1968.  My mom made a sweater and blanket from this book for my oldest son who was born in 1969.
In the 80's, I worked at a small yarn shop here in Manhattan.  She paid us with barter rather than with wages so for a while I had a ton of yarn.  So this yarn is 30 years old!

I'm ready to do some stash busting, so we'll see how much I get done, I have five 1-ounce skeins,  I told Stan this morning that it was time to use this stuff, it had aged long enough!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Almost Didn't Make It!

Just finished a baby sweater for a former co-worker.  I just grabbed a boy-looking skein of yarn out of my stash, thinking there was enough.  Well, not quite.  About 12" not quite!

 I do have another skein of the same color and dye lot, but it's wrapped up in another project.  I managed to eke another foot or so from the second skein and hope there is enough left to finish the shawl I'm making.  Should be.

It's acrylic and really doesn't need blocking but I thought my stitching was uneven so I doused and pinned.

It's supposed to be a 5 hour sweater, but you have to actually work on it in order to get it done in that time, LOL!  Hope the new mommy like this!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Let's Make a Tee!

My favorite wardrobe staple is the semi-dressy tee.  I am built so bottom heavy that the purchased ones stretch in all the wrong places and just don't flatter at all.  So I started the quest to make a simple tee that I could wear anytime and dress up or down.  My Facebook sewing club friends have asked if I would do a tutorial on making my tees, so here it is.  This top takes a scant 1 1/4 yards.

First is the pattern.  I'm not going to coach you extensively here about fit but this is the pattern I started with:

It wasn't perfect, I'm not narrow shouldered but this particular top was way too wide.  I took some of the width out and made sure my measurements matched the pattern pieces.  One thing I did was redraw the pattern without the dart.  Darts and knits just don't go together, I think.
 For fitting, I recommend Nancy Zieman's book, "Fitting Finesse," or check at your favorite fabric store-there are as many different ways to make patterns fit as there are sewers.

I have fat old lady arms so this is how I adjusted the width of the sleeves.
My redrawn freezer paper pattern pieces.  I have refolded the fabric so both front and back can be cut on the fold.

After refolding the fabric back to normal and cutting out the sleeves, I measure the neckline and cut a crossgrain strip 2 1/4" wide and about as long as the neckline measurement.  Fold lengthwise and press.

Sew one shoulder seam.  I like to sew it on the regular machine first, then take it to the serger.

Then serge.
On the regular machine, starting at the unsewn shoulder seam, start sewing the neckband on the neckline, stretching very gently.  You don't want puckers, but it has to have enough stretch to lay flat against your neck.  Practice makes perfect!

Serge the seam off so it looks neat.  Don't cover the original stitching with the serging, but just get close to it.

Sew the other shoulder seam, then serge.  Make sure the neck seam is pointing toward the body of the top, and when you're done serging leave a little tail on the neck edge, zigzag the tail down to make the neck edge look neat.

Press the neck seam toward the body, then topstitch through the body and seam allowance as close to the edge as you can, no more than 1/8".

Press the stuffing out of it.  This is when you can cover a multitude of sins!  Stretch as you press, smoothing out the wrinkles.

Sew the sleeves in flat, before sewing the side seams.  You can get a much smoother line by doing it this way.  Stretch to ease, always with the sleeve on the bottom so the feed dogs can help with the ease.

Serge side seams, then serge the sleeve and shirt bottoms.

Turn up hems 1 1/4" and pin close to the fold.  Stitch about 1 1/8" from the fold.  I usually use the throat plate on my machine as a guide.  If you don't have anything that would work, stick a bit of tape in a place that looks right.

After stitching, clip threads and turn to the right side.  Topstitch about 1/8" from the first stitching.  Once again, I use the left hand notch on the presser foot as my guide.  Repeat for the sleeves.

Someday I'll have a flatlock hemmer but for now this makes a nice fake finish, plus it's extremely durable.

Press, press, press!  And you have a new top!!

A closeup of the neck topstitching.
The whole project takes less than two hours.  I sometimes do an assembly line and make two or three at a time.  If you want a tank top, skip the sleeves and cut more banding crossgrain.  Ease it in the armholes before you sew the side seams and finish just like the neck.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lotion Bars

I am so super-sensitive to fragrances and additives that I make most of my products, like laundry soap.  I started experimenting with hand lotions and found this recipe:

Melt together equal parts by weight-beeswax, olive oil and coconut oil.  Pour into silicone molds and cool. 

Super super simple but it works really well-I kept away the split cuticle monster all winter.

But the bars wear down, just like soap bars, so I waited until I had a bunch of nubbins and put them together in a silicone cup and melted them.  Just set the cup in simmering water in a saucepan.

Now I have a little bar to carry in my purse-I just put it in an Altoids tin.

Sorry I've been MIA, but I continue to get sick.  I finally took my chest infection to Urgent Care on Saturday and got antibiotics.  They told me my case was typical of the virus going around this year:  You get sick, you get well-and you actually feel pretty good, then you get sick again, then well.  Lather, rinse and repeat, LOL!  Hopefully I've broken the cycle with the strong horse pills they gave me.  I do feel more energetic and have most of my speaking voice back so I'm hoping.

Knitting along, I really have to share what I'm doing soon-got a baby sweater almost done, a pair of baby socks in the works and that shawl project I took to Mazatlan.  So I do have things to show you.