“Selfish” Sewing


me-made-may'14

It feels like there’s some sort of conspiration going on to get mommy sewists sewing for themselves for a change.  There’s Selfish Sewing Week next week, Me Made May coming up, and the Spring Top Sewalong that I know of.  And Project Sewn coming up in May!  In a blogging world that’s usually all about making for your kids, this probably temporary shift is huge!

Maybe I’m more sensitive to it because I’m feeling a bit burnt out on kids’ clothes.  I have ideas floating around for things I want to make them but I have no energy for it.  I really want, no, need to use my creative energies for myself right now.  My whole life revolves around taking care of others and like I said, I’m burnt out.  I need to take care of me.  These sew-alongs are so welcome right now!

That being said, why do we have to call it selfish?  Why is using my time and energy to care and make for myself called selfish?  I’ve been guilty of using that term before but no more.  Well, I guess I’ll be using the term selfish when referring to Selfish Sewing Week but that’s it.  I put a lot of effort and love into the garments I make my kids and I deserve the same from myself to myself.  Moms, let’s just stop this.  Self-care isn’t selfish.

I only have a few items I’ve made for myself that I consistently wear.  They make me so happy.  Wearing an item I love, knowing that I made it?  I think it might feel even better than when my girls love the clothes I make them!  So I’ve gotten a head start on Selfish Sewing Week.  I’ve started sewing up something for myself that I’ve been wanting to make for months.  I’ve had the fabric and pattern lying there, waiting for me to make time for myself.  It’s time.

 

Posted in Plans, Sewing

Photo Monday – Easter at Home

With Project Run & Play over, I’m back with the Photo Monday posts.  It’s a different kind of photography.  Project Run & Play requires me to take pretty portraits that also show off the clothing I made as well as detail shots.  These are about capturing a moment, a project… Pretty much any other kind of picture!

First up, some Easter crafts I helped the girls with during their break.

 

I’m in love with all the eggs we made.  Crafts with children are always an exercise in letting go.  They never ever look like the inspiration image.  Like the wreath you see.  Nothing like the inspiration.  But the first eggs!  Close, right?  And the other eggs are different because we used different colors but the idea worked out perfectly!

And then, the egg hunt.  I got up at 5:30AM to make sure the girls didn’t see me.  I love hiding the eggs and I get so excited I almost want to wake them up!  And this year, souricette 2 was actually able to find some.  So cool…  I put star stickers on souricette 1′s eggs and dog stickers on the rest.  That way, I’m sure both girls get the exact same amount.

I’d forgotten how hard it is to get a decent picture when the girls aren’t posing for me.  Thankfully, flowers don’t move.

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Machine Knitting Primer – Part 1

When Ajaire kindly asked me to post about knitting machines, I couldn’t refuse.  And then, I started thinking about what needed to be said.  Quite a bit actually!  I realized that if I tried to put everything into a single post, it would be way too long.  Hopefully, two will be enough…

First, a disclaimer.  I will NOT be talking about industrial knitting machines.  Those machines cost a fortune and aren’t meant for home use.  I’m going to explain home machines.  I believe there used to be quite a selection of them but very few are still being manufactured.  Silver Reed seems to be the only company still making machines.  I have their SK840 model.

It’s a standard gauge electronic machine.  More about that means later…

I’ve had to borrow some images off the internet to illustrate because I couldn’t always get semi decent pictures.  Clicking on any image will take you to the source.

These three websites have a wealth of information on knitting machines if you want to delve deeper.  Any information I give about another machine than mine likely comes from one of these sites:

Angelika’s Yarn Store

About Knitting Machines

Knit It Now

So, what exactly IS machine knitting?

I’m going to go ahead an assume that everyone reading this knows what hand knitting is.  That thing with the two needles and yarn…  When you knit, all your stitches are lined up on your needle and you knit one stitch at a time.  When you use a machine, each stitch sits on its own little needle like this one.

The machine has what is called a bed of needles.  A bunch of needles neatly arranged in a row.  My machine has 200 of them.  Like this.

To knit the stitches, you have to move a contraption that we call a carriage.  This is mine.

What the carriage does is move the needle forward so that the stitch pushes the latch open and goes behind it (toward the butt).  Then, the carriage lays the yarn between the latch and the hook and pushes the needle back.  When the needle is pushed back, the old stitch comes forward (actually, it’s stationary; it only moves forward relative to the needle).  As it comes forward, it pushes the latch closed.  The closed latch traps the new yarn on the needle while the old stitch moves over and off, creating a stitch.  It’s a purely mechanical process.  As you move the carriage back and forth, the machine creates stockinette stitch (or jersey for those more comfortable with sewing speak).  The wrong side faces you.

I know it’s terribly hard to see but can you tell there are stitches there? And can you see the little bumps from the stitches right below the ones on the needles?

And that’s the basics of knitting with a machine.

Beyond the basics – the main bed

When you buy a machine, what you get is the main bed of needles and the carriage.  There are three “sizes” : standard, mid-gauge, and bulky.  The standard machine will knit finer yarns, from lace weight all the way up to a heavy fingering, maybe even a sport weight.  The mid-gauge will knit yarns ranging from sport weight to worsted weight and the bulky will knit yarns as small as DK-weight and as big as super bulky weight yarns.

Some machines will only knit stockinette.  Any stitch pattern you want to make will involve hand manipulating stitches.  It can be done but it can also get tedious.  This cabled skirt I made?  All those cables had to be done through hand manipulations.

Other machines will have an integrated punch card reader.  The punch cards tell the carriage what stitches to knit differently.  That could mean that the punched stitches are slipped, tucked (like a slipped stitch but the float will be knit along with the slipped stitch on a later row), knit in a second color…  What the carriage does will depend on what you selected on the dial.  I’ll come back to the dial in a sec…

Finally, the most expensive machines are electronic.  They can be used without power but then, they turn into those machines that only knit stockinette.  When you have an electronic machine such as mine, you will usually also buy software to use with it.  I use Design-a-Knit which comes with a black box that takes care of communication between the computer and machine.  That black box does the same thing as the punch card reader.  It tells the carriage what to do with the needles depending on what you selected on the dial.  Now, let’s get back to that dial…

Here, look at mine again.

The inner dial with the numbers sets the tension.  Smaller number = higher tension, better for finer yarn.  The outer dial is set at “0″ which means stockinette, no pattern.  On the right, you can see the S-J which stands for slip stitch and jacquard (I’ll talk about jacquard in the next post).

See the floats where the slipped stitches are?

W is for weaving, L is for punch lace, and F is for fair isle (two color knitting).

Two color knitting; the machine calls it fair isle

On the other side, T is for tuck.  C and E are for the next post.

See how the floats are knit into the fabric here?

Oh, I should mention what weaving and punch lace are shouldn’t I?  It’s been a long time since I’ve done either of these…

Punch lace is sort of like fair isle.  It uses two yarns but instead of alternating them, it uses one of the yarns all the time and the other only according to the pattern.  That creates a sort of lacy effect.  It isn’t true lace but there are areas that are more sheer.  I think it looks more like dévoré than lace.

I know it’s a little hard to see but can you tell that there are areas where the cream yarn wasn’t knit? And that the blue yarn is always knit? These patterns usually look better when held up to the light.

Weaving is done on a reverse stockinette background.  The wrong side of your jersey if you prefer.  There’s these little hooks on either side of the carriage.  See that red ball?  There.  That’s the spot where you hook your weaving yarn and hold it with some tension.  As you move your carriage across the knitting, that yarn is just kind of laid across the needles and gets caught in the stitches without being actually knitted.  It can create some cool surface designs.

See how the surface yarn isn’t actually knit?

And that’s it for the main bed!  There’s actually quite a bit of cool stuff that can be done but there are other attachments that will allow the machine to do even more.  Coming up in the next post: the ribber, the yarn changer, and the lace carriage.

 

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Ballon Top

There’s a new pattern out by Heidi&Finn and I got to test it!  It was the first item I made during KCW and I’ve been itching to share it.

Souricette 1 wasn’t sure exactly what I was doing.  She saw the white T-shirt parts and thought it was quite plain.  Soft (rayon/lycra jersey) but plain.

Then, the chiffon came into play and she fell in love.  She adores her “Elsa top”.  Seriously adores it.  Floaty chiffon makes her happy.  She actually wants us to modify the pattern into a dress, using that same chiffon…


The pattern comes with three sleeve lengths (short, 3/4, and long).  I picked the 3/4 sleeves.  The chiffon overlay can be longer or shorter at the back.  I picked the longer option…

The top went together easily.  There’s a whole section on choosing an appropriate overlay fabric that I really appreciated.  The polyester chiffon I picked was delicate to work with but cotton voile is also an option and that would work really well for a beginner.  In fact, I may have enough leftover voile in my stash for another ballon top or two…  Must go check…

I also know another little girl who would love one of these…  Possibly in Anna colors…

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Project Run&Play: Signature Style

I had to design a knit for my signature style.  It wouldn’t be my signature otherwise.  But with Summer coming, I wanted to avoid any sort of heavy sweater.  I found some organic cotton/linen blend yarn and decided it would make some lovely lace.  Next, the pattern.  I had been brainstorming possible flips for the Colorblock Dress.  And then, I knew.

I decided to flip the dress inside out.  The lining became a lace exterior and the colorblocked exterior became the lining.  The colorblocking shows through the lace but doesn’t fight with it.

I again used Design-a-Knit to create my lace pattern.  I started off with one of the patterns from the program at the bottom.  I used two repeats of that pattern at the bottom and then built up from there.

I made two panels and cut one front and one back from each panel.  I sewed up the side and shoulder seams and finished them with bias tape.

For the lining, I used white, light grey, and medium grey cottons for an ombré effect.

I did flat felled seams for the color blocking elements and french seams for the sides and shoulders.  Then, I assembled the lining and lace at the neck and armholes and finished the edges with bias tape.  I cut into the back to create an opening so souricette 1 would be able to put the dress on.  The top closes with a bow.

I did 1/2″ double fold hem on the lining and finished the bottom edge of the lace exterior with more bias tape.

 

I might tack the lace to the lining in some spots to keep it from shifting at some point.  The lining sometimes peeks out at the bottom edge.

Flip This Pattern

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A Beautiful Matinée Dress

I’m so excited to share this dress that I’m posting on a Saturday!  I was lucky to be chosen as a tester for the very first Jennuine Design pattern.  The Matinée dress is absolutely adorable.  I just love the plunging back and souricette 2 loves her new dress.  I also have to say that Jenn is a dream to work with.  She is very involved with her testers in the Facebook group and responds to questions at the speed of light.  When I had a question about the bodice, I posted a picture to Instagram and I had an answer within the hour.  I really hope I get picked again to work with her!

And now, pictures!  The girls wanted to play outside so I had to run around after them to try to get good pictures.  They aren’t as good as I’d like but they’re decent.  I’m realizing that neither of my girls is a fan of after school photo shoots…

 

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Kids Clothes Week Midpoint!

kid's clothes week

 

And I have…. nothing.  Oh, I’ve been sewing, I have!

Monday, I worked on a pattern test for Heidi&Finn.  I did enough to have souricette 1 try on the top before bed and I finished the hemming afterwards.  But I think I’m not allowed to share pictures until the pattern is published.  I think.  Better safe than sorry even though that makes for a very boring post…

Tuesday and Wednesday were devoted to another pattern test.  This one for Jennuine Designs.  Souricette 2 will be getting a Matinée Dress.  And it won’t be blue!  Grey and yellow.  I’m a little angry with myself because it never even occurred to me to try to match the pattern at the seams.  But the floral is large scale enough for pattern matching to be possible and even desirable.  Oh well.  And the only reason I’m not done with that dress yet is…

I’ve been doing a little bit here and there for my final Project Run&Play look.  I have these two big panels of machine knit lace that are going to be turned into a dress (lined, of course).  It took me a while just to outline my pattern pieces.  The thing is, I have to outline them with thread because other fabric marking tools just don’t work as well.  And now, I need to machine sew along each of those basted lines so that I can cut the fabric without it unravelling.

Pictures soon, I promise!

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