Fashion · Needlework

Embroidered Floral Sweater

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Finished!

I think this little project started because I was still working on the hand basting for my coat and wanted to make something easy that I could enjoy finishing.

Is procrasti-make a word?

I had the floral knit in my stash and a tested pattern ready to go.* Finally all of that pattern prep (and shopping) was going to pay dividends!

At the same time, my January 2019 issue of Threads Magazine arrived. I devoured the article Luscious Sweater Knits by knitwear designer Olgalyn Jolly.**

Under “Flat Hems” on page 37, she writes:

If hemming, don’t sew a knit with poor recovery directly to itself; the hem tends to flare out. Instead, apply a fine stretch mesh or lingerie elastic along the hem allowance to ensure good recovery at the hem.

What a great idea at the perfect time! I quickly added her technique to my plan.

* See Giant Stripes Two Ways

** Threads gives online access to their issues through paid subscriptions, so unfortunately, I can’t provide a link.

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Swedish pattern paper pieces on the sweater knit

The pattern is the Hallå Slim Dolman pattern for women. I chose the tunic length, long sleeve option with hems instead of bands. I had to iron my pattern pieces from last time, but other than that, I just had to take them out of the envelope. In this case, there was no need to even pin the pattern to fabric. The swedish tracing paper clung to the sweater knit, which behaved well while cutting.

Delighted with how well everything was going, I never noticed that I forgot to cut a collar band. By the time I got to it, I didn’t have any material left. We’ll get back to that issue in a minute.

I noticed right away that I would need to keep handling to a minimum, as the edges raveled very easily. Time to put my sweater-knit tricks new and old into practice!

Trick 1: Stabilize shoulder seams

This is a good idea with most knits, but especially where the fabric may not be strong enough to support the weight of the garment. The last time I used (2-way) fusible knit interfacing, I gathered up the scraps and cut them into strips. I fused them in place on all four shoulder edges.

Trick 2: Stretchy stabilized hems

Using the Threads article as a general guide, I put together some really stable and flat hems. I didn’t have lingerie elastic or lightweight mesh on hand, so I cut strips from a piece of power mesh. If you are not familiar with power mesh, you would recognize it as the mesh often used in ready-to-wear bras and shapewear. The only color I had was a hot pink, but since there was pink in the sweater, I figured any show-through would look intentional. I made a little slide show detailing how the hems came together.

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Trick 3: Baste with Wonder Tape

Remember how I forgot to cut a neckband? When I figured out what I did, I looked around for some fabric that would work as a stand-in, but nothing grabbed me. Then I tried it on without the band. The neck opening is very wide, but I kind of liked it. I figured that if I added bra-strap carriers, it would be pretty easy to wear.

I applied wash-away wonder tape to the edge of the neckband for two reasons. First, it served to stabilize the fragile curve and prevent raveling. Second, I could use it as a guide to turn a precise 1/4 in. hem.

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Neatly basted 1/4 in neck opening
Trick 4: Stabilize neckline with strong and decorative embroidered edge

At this point, I could have stitched the neck in place and called it a day. I just thought the top needed a little something extra. Why not use embroidery to highlight it? At the same time, the hand stitching would secure the hem in place.

Using some plain embroidery floss I had on hand, I stitched a simple cross stitch pattern around the entire neck. It’s now a very secure hem, but gives the neck a unique embellishment. My work is not quite as precise as I would like, but that is more than made up for by how happy I am with the color and pattern.

Even with all of the embroidery and extra steps, this was a quick project. I would definitely do another one – just maybe with a neckband next time.

Look familiar? The Super Quick Stash-Buster Scarf was actually made from the scraps left over from cutting this top.

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Fashion Show

I reviewed the Slim Dolman on patternreview.com. Click here to view.

Happy sewing!

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General · Needlework · Useful Thing

Sewing Gift Guide 2: Stocking Stuffers and Nifty Little Tools

Here are my picks for inexpensive little things every person who sews will enjoy. All of these gifts are under $25, and most of them are small enough to fit in a stocking. Just sayin’.

Key (USD):
  • $ Under 10
  • $$ Between 10-25
Stocking Stuffers
Hand embroidery pocket reference can accompany projects on the go. At Amazon $

Seam ripper with magnifying glass and LED light. How many times have you wanted this when you were trying to see those black stitches in black fabric? From Amazon $

So much better than using tape to mark seam widths on your sewing machine(s). Comes with a little booklet. From Amazon $

Set of 100 little clips in a tin container. Every home sewing area needs these. They make it so easy to attach binding, work with small fiddly seams and more. From Amazon $




There are a lot of cute pincushions out there, but this is my current favorite. Pincushion hedgehog from AsNiceAsMice on Etsy. $$
Keep your fingers safe from burns when you iron with silicone finger guards. These are great because they your fingernails free. Perfect for people with long nails! Amazon $.
This flexible strip of LED lights can be stuck onto any machine that needs more light. From Amazon $$.
I have both the 5/8 and the 3/8 version of this ruler and I use them on almost every clothing sewing project. They make adjusting patterns so easy! This is the 5/8 inch pattern drafter ruler from SA Curve on Amazon. $$


Missed my first gift guide? Find it here: Sewing Gift Guide 1: Handmade and Made to Make.

I’ll be back soon with an update on the winter coat project. Until then, happy shopping!

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General · Needlework · Useful Thing · Whimsy

Sewing Gift Guide 1: Handmade and Made to Make

This is the time of year that people start casting around for what to give for the holidays. If you are shopping for the person in your life who sews, or just for yourself, keep reading.

Key (USD):
  • $ Under 10
  • $$ Between 10-25
  • $$$ Between 25-50
  • $$$$ Over 50

When you make things for other people, you really appreciate how much effort and thought goes into handmade gifts. Maybe you don’t have the time or inclination to make a handmade gift this year. But you can purchase items that someone else has crafted, and support small businesses at the same time. With that in mind, I’ve pulled together some of my favorite handmade gift ideas from people who sell on Etsy.com.

Made to Make

Here are several ideas for complete pre-packaged projects. It’s always fun to have a new toy to play with after all the gifts are opened, isn’t it?

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Complete empbroidery kit from HoffeltandHooperCo. Multiple colors, sizes and designs. $$$+
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Learn how to needle felt by making a tiny cactus. Kits from BenzieDesign. $$
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Felted pompom garland kit – pick colors, how many and what size felt ball. From BenzieDesign. $-$$$

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Complete beginner starter kit for sashiko embroidery from MikkeJapan $$
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Scrappy rope rug kit from SewHungryHippie. $$
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Peace dove hand stitching kit from CynthiaTreenStudio $$$

Little Luxuries

Now I know that you would never take the pleasure of buying fabric away from your favorite person who sews. But there are lots of other sewing goodies that they would love to own but wouldn’t buy for themselves. Here are a few of my favorites.

Pattern weights

Pattern weights can be just about anything (I have been known to use soup cans). But it’s much more fun to have a set that makes you smile. Here are some great handmade options.

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3D printed pattern weight set from thegigglingriz. $$

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Realistic donuts! from SewCuteNQuirky $$$

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Marble pattern weights from SewStitchinSouthern. $$$ Customizing available.

Design Tools

Design and sewing go hand in hand. How about a few items that help to collect and plan those creative ideas?

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Sewing Theme Vision Board from LuckyJo11 $$$ Customizable

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Hardcover fashion designer’s notebook includes 140 women’s figure templates and more from EnchantedFabric. $$

Pressing Tools

I found some tools for the ironing station that many people who sew do without – but they shouldn’t! Here are some beautiful additions to anyone’s work space.

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Ham holder and clapper from JacksonsWoordworksLLC. $$$

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Custom tailor’s ham and sleeve roll set from StitchNerd. $$$$

Thread

Opening a package with a rainbow of color never fails to please. How about giving some high-end thread? It’s a little luxury your sewing friend will enjoy whether undertaking elaborate embellishment, basting or just mending a tear.

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Sashiko Thread Set – 15 skeins from SnugglyMonkey $$$
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Japanese cotton basting thread (multiple colors available) from AliceInStitchesArts $

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Embroidery Floss: Sublime Stitching Mingles Set from SnugglyMonkey $
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Valdani Wool Thread Collection from AliceinStitchesArts $$$

Finishing Touch

I like it when people put labels in their handmade items. Show them that you value their unique craftsmanship by giving them custom labels. Here are a few options to get started.

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Spool of 1/2 inch printed twill tape from InkedPapers $$

 

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Custom printed satin labels from NinaTags $$

I’m pulling together another guide, which will focus on gadgets and stocking stuffers. Oh – and I’m still working on the winter coat. Updates soon!

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Pets · Whimsy

Wintertime Doggie Sweater

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Brrrrr! Wake me in April.

Here in New England, cold days are hard to avoid. Lately it seems like my dog has gone into hibernation. She’s a pretty furry girl, so I don’t usually do the dog coat thing, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Last winter, I practically lived in my favorite wool fair isle turtleneck. But I found out the hard way that the hand wash setting on the washing machine wasn’t exactly the same thing as actual hand washing. While the sweater still looked good, it was way too small to ever wear again.

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Starting point

Upon closer examination, it was still nice and soft, but now it was a little bit felted too. The benefit of felting is that now I didn’t have to be concerned about raveling if I wanted to cut into it.

I thought about what I could do with it. I considered mittens, a hat, or possibly a vest. Then I saw my dog curled so tightly that she looked like a furry throw pillow. She was going to get a sweater!

Here’s how I did it.

First, measure the dog. You’ll need to know circumference around the middle, circumference of the neck, and length from neck to tail.

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Measure the dog. (Yes, her bed is on my desk. Try not to judge).

I made my own pattern based on her measurements. The easiest way to make it would be to just plan on the pattern being the exact shape of the finished coat. Instead of hemming, I would just sew bias tape on the raw edges. Once the pattern was done, I thought about how to best place the design on the sweater. I brought out some wide double-fold bias tape I thought might work. I also went through my box of bag parts for webbing and closures.

When I get rid of worn out backpacks or other bags, I cut off any good d-rings, fasteners, swivel clasps, and anything else I think I might use. They all go in a box for occasions such as this. For the dog coat, I found a side-release buckle and slider. I added a scrap length of 1 in. black cotton webbing that was the right size to fit them.

I tried a few colors of bias tape and settled on the hot pink.

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Once I had all of the supplies together, I cut into the sweater. I removed the sleeves and cut the front from the back. I took off the turtleneck, but left a little of the main sweater attached in case I wanted to use it. As I expected, it didn’t ravel.

While it wouldn’t work out every time, in this case, the turtleneck was just the right size to fit the dog comfortably. So I made that the neck piece.

Once I cut the coat shape, I did a rough fitting.

I pinned the neck and the body together to fit the dog’s proportions. The I sewed them together using a 3-thread overlock stitch on my serger.

Next I bound the raw edges with the pink bias tape.

Around this time, I realized that I didn’t have a plan for the raw neck edge at the base of the turtleneck. I didn’t want to use the bias tape because I wanted to maintain its stretchiness. I found some black fold-over elastic (FOE) and used that, even though it wasn’t a perfect match. I didn’t think the dog would mind. Also, it’s practically invisible when she has the coat on.

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I thought the FOE would also be a pretty good solution for making a buttonhole (for a leash attachment point). I zigzagged it into place, then carefully opened a slot in the piece’s middle. If I were to do this over again, I would put some stretchy stabilizer under the buttonhole area before stitching. It’s fine, but it could tear given enough pressure.

The last step was the strap that goes around the dog’s middle. First I put together a test belt using the hardware, webbing and a few pins. After some convincing, I was able to test it on the dog. I snugged it up a bit and brought the pieces to the machine. I chose to sew the entire belt to the underside of the sweater instead of making two smaller pieces attached to the sides. While that would be fine for stable fabrics, I’m sure that the knit would stretch.

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I’m warm!

The finished product is slightly imperfect, but sooo cute – just like my dog!