Wednesday, 28 March 2012

This way lies madness...

You need to know this about me, I am a competent knitter, honestly I really am.  In fact just to build myself up a tad, even Jo at one of our LYS said that my Kitchener stitch on the socks I made last week is exemplary.

So when I saw the new Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace book, I knew it was for me, nothing took more than four balls and I can do lace, I mean I have done it before… successfully.  But hey it's been a couple of years so, best to start small I thought and descended on this lovely little collar.
Do not be deceived by this evil piece of knit wear… OK so maybe starting it on the train was not a great move… nor perhaps continuing in the back of a London taxi whose driver was only satisfied when he found each and every cobbled street left in the City.  I feel this explains why I had to frag (for you none knitters… this is heartlessly ripping it back to where you made the mistake) it back three times on Monday, but I do have perseverance in spades.  Then I got as far as two pointy bits of the collar and then I mucked it up again.

I have started yet again, I will not be beaten, I will win… and you will get updates, whether you want them or not… the pain will be shared!

So if you see a woman on the 07:20 to Fenchurch Street, who seems to be moving her lips in prayer, look kindly upon her, especially if she sighs deeply and starts to frag back, once again...

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Cleaning Up The Act - Peg Bag and Used Carrier Bag Tutorial

Well, before I start with the tutorial this week, I have to say a big thank you to all of you who stop by my blog because last week I had my 100,000 hits... which considering I had 20,000 in my first year is a bit scary cos that means I had 80,000 hits in five months.  So thank you all for stopping by. :)

And now let's hop to it, as the weather has been unseasonably warm this week, it has been a great day for watching washing billowing on the line in the lovely warm weather, which got me to thinking that maybe I should run up a new peg bag and with the left over fabric, a bit of recycling with a used carrier bag holder for the kitchen

You will need:
1/2 metre of fabric
Scraps of fabric for an applique design
A child's coat hanger or an adult's for a larger bag
Iron and ironing board
Safety pin
Tape measure
Lie the coat hanger on the fabric and cut it 2" wider than the coat hanger is at the widest point, mine was 10", so I cut a rectangle 12" x 14", followed by two more pieces 9" x 12 and another piece which was 7" x 12".

Press a 5/8" seam over at the top of the middle sized rectangle, this will be the bottom of the front of the peg bag and is the piece were I am going put on some applique, as my fabric is printed bunting, I thought I would add to it with some of the real stuff.  I cut out 2" triangles with pinking shears, I am not going to sew them down completely which is why I am not using any interfacing but you could put any design on there, the word pegs or perhaps a washing line of miniature clothes.
Pin your pieces in place and sew them down, I used a satin stitch to create the bunting tape.  

Now sew along the seam that you have folded down 1/4" from the edge.  On the smallest rectangle press over 5/8" at the bottom of the fabric and sew it down 1/4" from the edge.
Place the top rectangle under the bottom rectangle over lapping it by 1/2".  Sew in 2" and then sew back on both sides .
Put the wrong sides together, pop the coat hanger at the top and draw around it, cut off the excess fabric.

Starting at the top, sew around the bag, we are going to make a french seam, using a 1/4" seam allowance but remember to leave a small opening at the top to put the coat hanger through.  Turn the bag inside out and iron the seams and sew a seam 3/8" (this will hide your raw seam) and remember to leave the gap again.

Put the hanger in place and there you have your peg bag ready for the line.

Cut a piece of fabric 18" x 14" and another piece 12" x 3", pin the wrong sides together of the first piece of fabric and sew a 1/4" seam down the longest side.

Turn it inside out and sew a seam 3/8", yes it is another french seam.  

Fold over 1 1/4" at the top and bottom, the fold over another 1/4" from the raw edge and sew around  the tube, leaving a half inch gap.  
Take your elastic and put a safety pin through one end and thread the elastic and pin through the casing you have created, when you get the elastic all the way round cut it and lay 1/2" on top of the other end of the elastic and oversew them together.  Ease the elastic into place.

Now with the other strip, fold it in half down the centre, sew across the top and all the way to the bottom using a 5/8" seam.  Trim the excess and turn it right sides out, fold it in half and pin it together.
Place the strap on the seam, 1/4" from the top and sew it in place using the square with the cross technique we have used with other bags. Now repeat what we have just done at the other end to insert the elastic.
And there it is, a plastic bag recycler for your kitchen.

As tomorrow is Monday, why not take a look at Handmade Monday and see what all those clever crafters have been up to this week?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Bag and Baggage - The Oil Cloth Tutorial

This week we are going to make a boot bag or shopping tote from oil cloth, it uses many of the techniques we used last week in the garden tote.  This bag will be great for all those April showers next month, for carrying your boot in a chic bag to Festivals, for holding the kids' sopping wet swimming costumes and for feeling as though you are saving the planet at the supermarket.  So let's get this on the table (no pun intended) oil cloth hates you, it is personal and it will fight you every step of the way but we are going to tame it and win!
So let's get started, you will need the following:

1/2 mtr of oil cloth
Clothes pegs
Denim needles for your machine
Sewing machine
And NO ironing board and iron!
Unfold your oil cloth, if it is creased lie it in the sun or pop it over a chair and leave it in front of a radiator to warm through... finally if you are feeling brave, almost foolhardy, you can iron it lightly on a cool setting on the reverse side but I would try the other methods first.  *WEG*

Cut out two pieces 18" (length) x 13.5" (wide) (front and back), 15.5" (length) x 6" (wide) (side panels) and finally four pieces 28" (length) x 3" (straps) - I was lucky my oil cloth had squares printed on the back which made cutting very easy for me :)

Now, remove your everyday sewing needle and put in a denim needle as we are going to need the big guns to pierce through the heavy duty fabric.  Next you will need to extend the length of your stitches... practice on a spare scrap of oil cloth until you get the tension right, keep your sewing at a steady rate.
Sew the first two pieces of fabric together (18" x 13.5).... now you will be thinking how do I pin it together, well you don't, this is where we are going to use the clothes pegs, put the right sides together and pin them with the clothes pegs, this will not mark your cloth unlike pins.
Open up the seam and fold it back, we are now going to sew along the seam lines to strengthen the seam as this will form the base of the bag.  If you find that your foot is slipping then replace it with a teflon foot or if you do not have one, use masking tape to cover the foot which will give you purchase on the shiny side of the fabric.
With the right sides together, peg the sewn piece to one of the side pieces, ease it round ensuring that the top edges match and that the middle of the side piece matches with bottom seam.  Carefully sew it around using a 1/4" seam allowance and like we did last week, when you get to the bottom of the front seam, keeping the needle in down and through the fabric, lift the foot and manoeuvre the fabric around until you are able to sew along the base seam, repeat this and then sew up to the top of the bag.

Repeat this for the other side panel and turn the bag right sides out.
Turn over a 2" seam around the top of the bag, peg it down then. sew it 1 3/4" from the top.
Next, are are going to strengthen the side seams, roll the seams between your fingers then peg it again, sew a seam 1/2" from the edge, when you get to the corner again, leave the needle down and it is back to lifting the foot and manouevring the fabric around until you are able to sew along the base and continue along the bottom, stop with the needle down... you know the drill and continue up the back.  And then repeat for the other side.

At the top, press the seams with your fingers towards the side panels and top stitch about 1/4" from the top all the way round.
Now we are going to use the pegs again with a vengeance to make the straps, take one piece of strapping fabric, on each side fold over 1/2" on each side to meet in the middle, peg it down and don't touch the ends, repeat this on the next strap.  Lie one strap on top of the other and peg them together... now I bet you are wondering why we don't just stitch the straps from the inside and turn it inside out, well I tried and I couldn't manage it as the fabric is just not malleable enough... I know I tried!
At the end of each  strap we are going to make a paper aeroplane fold, turn over a triangle to the centre with the right side and again on the left side so you have a point like the nose of a paper aeroplane, then fold this triangle back to the centre to give you a straight edge, repeat on the other side of the strap and sew a 1/4" from the edge all round.
Measure 3" from the side seam and hold in place again with one of your pegs. Sew a square then sew diagonally from corner to corner.  Now go and change the needle back on your machine as I don't want to be blamed when you make huge holes in the fine silk lingerie you might be sewing and take the masking tape from the bottom of your foot, if it is sticky use nail varnish remover to clean it.
And there you have it, a boot bag for festivals or to carry your boots about during those April showers that appear to have arrived a little early in my neck of the woods :)
And now over to Wendy's Homemade Monday to see what gems the team reveal from their makes during the past week :)

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Mothering Sunday Make - The Garden Tidy Tote Tutorial

I know that this may be freaking out my readers in the Americas but here in the UK, Mothering Sunday is next week, the third Sunday in Lent so I thought it might be nice to make something that does not confine your mum to the kitchen.  My mother had very green thumbs and loved to be out in the garden and when I moved to my house it was my mum who cleared the borders and collected copious bags of snails to boot!

So I thought a great gift would be a gardening tidy tote to carry round all those bits and pieces that you need to be with you when you are wrestling with mother nature.

You will need the following
1/2 yard heavyweight cotton fabric
2 metres of bunting tape... you could use webbing but the tape is cheaper!
1.5 metres of 1.5" webbing
Cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler or scissors
Tape measure
Iron and ironing board

Press your fabric and then cut out the following pieces and remember if you have a directional pattern on your fabric to take it into account... I made sure I had no "Australian flowers" on mine:
  • 3 x 12" (width) x 8" (height) - front, back and base
  • 3 x 12" (width) x 5" (height) - pockets
  • 23 x 8" (width) x 8" (height) - sides
Cut four lengths of bunting tape 5" long, pin it in place on the pocket  piece at 4" and 8", sew it in place on both sides on the pocket piece.
Cut two more pieces of bunting tape 12" long, now fold it in half and iron it.  Pin it to the top of the pocket and sew it into place.

Now lay your pockets on top of the front and back, so that it sits at the bottom of them and sew a 1/4" seam to hold it in place, then sew down the centre of each of the four pieces of bias binding that mark out the pockets.
Pin the bottom of the the front onto the base with right sides facing and repeat this with the back (yes, I know they are both the same) and sew them together using a 5/8" seam allowance, then press the seam towards the centre of the base rather than open.
Now, it is going to get a little more challenging... find the centre of your base and the centre of your side and match them up, pin each side bottom and sew just from the front seam to the back seam, you should have about 5/8" left on each side.

Put to the sides together together pin them and sew down to the base... it will look ugly, but don't worry, we will soon have it looking spick and span.  

We will ease the corner,  you will remember in the last tutorial for the specs case we cut triangles to make it smooth on a curve this time we are going to cut a square from the seam from the side pieces which will allow the box shape to fall into place.  Sew all the other sides up and trim the excess seams with pinking shears then.  Turn the bag inside out.
Press the side seams together and then top stitch them into place.
Take the remainder of your bunting tape, fold it in half and iron then pin around the top of the bag but remember to fold your seams towards the side panels and sew it into place.
And finally attach the handles, cut two lengths of webbing 20" long, fold under 1/4", place one end above the first pocket tape and 1.5" below the top of the bag.  
I use a square starting at the bottom and then sew a diagonal, across the top again and then another diagonal to finish to make sure that my handles are good and strong.
And this is what you should end up with... a rather pleasing tote for the garden and the great thing is when it gets dirty and it will, you can pop it into the washing machine and will come up as fresh as a daisy... but hopefully without the roots!

Well now it's time to go and take a look at Wendy's Handmade Monday... and if you love crafting she has set up a new blog for crafters called Handmade Harbour which is certainly worth a sit down with a coffee for a good read.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Making a Spectacle - Glasses Case Tutorial

I found some fabulous bias binding in my local shop and just had to have it... floral bias binding is the future!  Then what could I make from it... well, the answer was in my handbag, my reading glasses case was looking a little the worse for wear, also it was black and I could never find it in the bottom of my handbag to say nothing of the suitcase which held my sunglasses which was almost as big as my handbag... so I was off an running.  What I need is a simple quilted speccy case!
You will need
2 pieces of cotton fabric
1 piece of wadding
Sewing cotton
Cutting mat, Rotary wheel and Ruler or Dress making scissors
Sewing machine
Iron and Ironing board
Small drinking glass
Scraps of contrasting fabric if you decide to applique
Iron your fabric and cut out two pieces of fabric 8"x 8"  If you have larger sunglasses or are making the case for Dame Edna then you will need to increase the size a little.  Cut out your piece of wadding about 1/2" wider all round
Now make a sandwich of your fabric, wadding and fabric and pin it together.  Take your top fabric and mark it lightly every inch along the side, as we are going to become expert straight line sewers on this project as we quilt it together with our machines.
To make our diamond pattern sew all the lines in one direction, then turn it and sew across in the opposite direction to create the pattern above.

Trim off all the excess fabric... the square will shrink with quilting and I trimmed it to a 7" x 7" square.
Pin your bias binding across one edge of the square and sew it into place, if you are feeling a little nervous tack it into place using a a contrasting cotton so that it is easy to remove when you have finished.
Fold the square of fabric in half with the bound edge at the top, take your glass, place it in the bottom open corner and trace around it with a water soluble pen and cut around this to give you a gently curving edge.
At this point I thought it looked bland, so out came my pastry cutters and I found a suitable cutter to create a little bit of applique.
Sew the patch into place.
Fold the fabric together, match up the edges and sew a fine seam of about1/4" from the base up to the bias binding at the top.  Now, you may find that your machine baulks at the amount of fabric you are trying to push through it, so just increase your stitch length as this will make it easier for the machine.
Take your bias binding and fold about 1/2" under to create a neat end, you may find it easier to iron the bias binding in half before you tack it into place.  When you  come the rounded corner, because this is bias binding it will ease around the curve leaving a really smooth finish.  As you get to the end cut half an inch more than you need and tuck it under just as you did at the beginning.  You really do need to tack this bias binding into place, I do this because I know no matter how well I pin it together, it will slip, it's the law!
Sew in your loose ends, I usually over-sew the ends to make it look really neat... however you guessed it, I still thought it needed more, so I found a heart shaped button to sew onto the case (next time I will do this before I sew it up!).  The great thing is that I can find this in the stygian gloom that is the bottom of my hand bag and better still, because it is cotton it is easy to wash.

Now everyone over to Wendy's Handmade Monday as I reckon there will be great ideas for things to make and buy for UK Mother's Day.

And in a couple of weeks I will show you how to make your own bias binding.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

World Book Day - 1 March 2012

I love reading as you have probably gathered, last year I told you how I have never lived more than 10 minutes away from a library... lucky me!

So on World Book Day I am going to make a little change to the blog, up to now I have done the occasional book review but I am now going to make this a regular feature of the blog, hopefully once a month,I will post it on the main blog and leave it up on the renamed RosReadMe page.

Right let's get started, I am going to review two books tonight, Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac  and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Knitting Rules  A good 30 years separate the publication of these books but when you read the eloquent prose in both, you could not get a strand of two ply or lace weight between them.
Starting with EZ, you need to know that she was originally English married a German and went to live in the US, but even more exciting was the knitting equivalent of ambidextrous, knitting in both the English and Continental style.  I was a little nervous about reading a book that was 35 years old and had a pattern for every month of the year, I just knew it would be twee, technical and a bit nerdy, how wrong could I be?  Yes, this is a book for grown up knitters, it is witty and accessible.  There is no side to EZ, she explains why you need to knit a swatch (I knew she was looking at me when she did that) and then explains how to adapt her patterns.

She is an architectural knitter who understands the nature of wool and how to work with it.  The pictures in the book were taken by her husband and just do not do justice to her work... her collection of mittens are fabulous, but better still is her advice is to give three in case a child loses one which would sound bizarre until you read her technique for constructing a mitten which works on either hand.  

One of her funniest pieces is the description of accompanying her husband to a local snow jumping meet... I defy you not to snicker!  I think if she had been around today she would have a blog to die for and would probably rival the writer of my other book.  I really urge you to get this book from your library because yes, you really can read a pattern book for laugh.
Now over to Stephanie, otherwise known to blog reader as The Yarn Harlot which is an incredibly successful site, with readership numbers I can only dream about.  Knitting Rules is a great dipping book, you don't need to sit and plough through the whole book but can skip in and out as you see fit.  Stephanie is a real enabler... anyone who tells a new knitter, well you can knit and purl, now you can do anything - is a star in my eyes.

I love the way each chapter contains her ten reasons why... one of my real faves is her reasons for knitting socks... some of you will already be aware of a problem which affects many knitters, OSS (One Sock Syndrome) when seeing as you have made one sock, there really is no reason to push the boat our by making another.  Her take on this is "Having to do the second one is good for the soul and reinforces determination and stick-to-itiveness.  (Naturally if you do not possess these qualities to begin with, this could be a downer...)"   I also learnt a number of totally useless facts like, a person's foot size is 15% of their height, now tell me you knew that before, just think how this will ease you life when creating surprise socks!

The story of her first sweater make, had me in tears of laughter as she struggled to ignore how it developed when she mucked up sizing, guage, wool and needles... basically anything that could go wrong did but she manfully finished and wrapped the gift for her beau.  Did he dance round the room with delight up its receipt, place it in a picture frame to preserve it, dash home to his mother to show her how lucky he was to be dating this paragon of knitting virtue... no reader, he dumped her several days later.

The best thing about the book is that I learnt without realising that I was doing it, no it is not a stitch dictionary or a knitter's bible but it is a good read which leaves you better placed to knit a better project and to do it with a smile.

As they have been known to say in the Stock Exchange... "Buy, Buy, Buy!