craft writing · design process · DIY wardrobe · dressmaking · sewing

Little Lady’s Tea Party Dress

Hello Sewists,

Today I’m sharing a sweet toddler dress I just finished. It’s a generously sized 3T midi length dress that could also work as a tunic top for 4T. It’s a bit big on my little lady (hovering between 2T-3T) right now, but we’ll wear it anyway and hopefully get lots of future wear out of it too!

 

I bought this whimsical Alice in Wonderland themed Cotton & Steel fabric from my local sewing shop when I went in for a relaxing, baby-free browse a couple of months ago.

 

I used my self-drafted toddler dress pattern for a sleeveless A-line dress, cutting a front on the fold and 2 back pieces. I serged the back and side seams to construct the dress, leaving the back neck opening un-sewn. I used double-fold 1/6″ (-ish) hems on the neck opening, neckline, and armholes instead of the bias binding method I’ve used up to now. Truthfully, I procrastinated awhile on this project after cutting the dress pieces because I was dreading that bias binding process. I had reached a point where I needed to knock this project out so I could go on to other things, so I decided:

“It’s my project, and maybe hemming the neck and armholes is not officially sanctioned by the imaginary craft police, but I’m going to try it.”

 

As a completely self-taught crafter, I often worry that I’m doing things wrong or my skills aren’t good enough. Perfectionism or the straight-up fear of not being good enough have stymied my progress more times than I like to think about. Lately my battle cry (in my own head, though sometimes I do say it out loud) has been “progress, not perfection” along with “practice,” and “try it and see what happens.” This mindset is where my creativity thrives–in a state of curiosity, experimentation, and finding solutions to unexpected problems on the road to my goal. But occasionally the imaginary craft police (a nasty set of wenches) show up just as I’m starting to have a good time. They are headquartered in a town called Evaluation seated in the heart of Criticism County. They always come in groups and say nasty things, like mean girls.

With my DIY wardrobe projects, I remind myself that a project only needs to be good enough for me. 

My work doesn’t need to pass an imaginary judging by these uptight, sniffy sewists who would enjoy telling me how I can and can’t or should and shouldn’t do things. They stand with crossed arms, glance at each other, and whisper things like “well, if she wants everyone to know that’s homemade, sure, I guess she can go ahead and do it that way” or “if she doesn’t care about learning to do things the right way, we won’t interfere” or worst of all, “I guess some things are just too hard for her, poor dear. Let her finish her hems that way.”

 

I’ve read enough books about creativity, flow, and innovation to know that the imaginary craft police are bound to join me. But I make them stand in the corner and be quiet. There’s no getting rid of them completely, they are just part of living in Creativeland. And guess what?

 

Once I shut them up, I enjoyed hemming instead of binding! I clipped the armhole curves at less than 1/8″ and pressed, folded over another 1/6″ layer, pressed and pinned, and edge stitched them on my sewing machine.

 

I added the ruffled eyelet trim (right side of eyelet facing wrong side of dress) to sweeten up the whole thing and give it a daintier look. Boil the teakettle! Bring on the crumpets!

 

I used this tutorial to learn how to hand-sew a thread chain to use as a button loop. It is very delicate because I used sewing thread. If it breaks, I will probably re-sew it using embroidery floss or cotton perle instead of thread. Or I might use this sewn button loop tutorial which looks strong and crisp.


And finally, the skirt has a 1/2″ double folded hem. I love how the eyelet peeks out. It’s a little strange that I see smiley faces in the shape of the lace eyelets, but I guess that’s better than frowny faces, right?


Thank you for visiting me today. What are you making? Have the imaginary craft police ever visited you? How do you shut them down? 

In stitches, 

Sara

crochet · crochet pattern · DIY wardrobe · pattern · sweater

Thisbe Jacket: Crochet Cardigan Pattern

Hello Crocheters,

Today I’m sharing Thisbe, a Boho-fabulous lace jacket perfect to crochet for the warm weather that I hope is finally here to stay!

Thisbe’s PDF pattern download contains full written instructions along with stitch pattern charts to guide you through the lovely and interesting lace that makes up the front and back body. The design is written for six sizes: Small-3X.

The jacket is worked sideways in two pieces from the center out. Your foundation chain creates both the front and back of one side of the jacket, you work all the way out to the shoulder, then decrease for the 3/4 sleeve. The opposite back/front piece is seamlessly worked onto the existing center and crocheted in the same manner out to the other 3/4 sleeve cuff.

Some ravishing Ravelers have made Thisbe, so check them out to see how it went!

Here are links to purchase Thisbe from your favorite pattern shop: Ravelry, Etsy, or Craftsy.

buy now on Ravelry

buy now on Etsy

buy now on Craftsy

design process · free pattern · handknitting · knitting · knitting pattern

My First Aran Sweater

Hi Knitters!

Last summer while sipping coffee at a play date, a dear friend of mine asked me a question. “Do you think you could knit an Aran sweater?”

How that little question changed my life as a designer and as a knitter!

I hesitated as I thought. “I don’t know.” I said. “I…think I could…”

The unspoken end of that sentence was “if I were good enough” or “if I weren’t too scared to try” or “if I could see it through” but as she waited for a reply, I skipped past  my automatic self-doubt and thought, “maybe I could.”

Maybe I could!

I had never attempted an Aran, had knit cables just a handful of times, and had never worked with more than one cable pattern at a time.

Our mommy conversations moved on, but I was still thinking about Arans.

Later as we packed our kiddos up in their car seats, I brought up the Aran sweater again. I found out that she especially loved Arans because she had lived in Ireland. She had loved it there and wished to bring home one of the amazing Aran sweaters she had seen, but never bought one because they were quite expensive.

I said, “Well, I’ve always wanted to make one, maybe I could do it as a design challenge for myself…it would probably take me a long time, but if I got through it and made one, would you like to have it?” She was very excited and said she would pay me, of course.

She is a rare gem who values handmade, and is willing to pay for it. I was grateful but declined the offer because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my creative life, it’s that payment = pressure. And pursuing creative passions under pressure can cramp the creativity and kill the passion. She kindly kept insisting, so we left it undecided.

Weeks went by.

I had Arans on my mind and worked to clear my plate of other projects, ordered some cream-colored yarn, and began doing research in earnest.

I used Alice Starmore’s Aran Knitting, borrowed from my local library, as my tutor and started working on the design.

Dover Publications

At first, I puzzled over the hundreds of different cable patterns I found in stitch dictionaries and on Pinterest. How would I choose? What look was I going for? I studied many Aran sweaters, and decided I liked the strong look of a wide center panel. After a couple of false starts and struggling to swatch tricky but beautiful cables, I realized something important for all design and maybe for my life: I didn’t have to make it so difficult for it be beautiful.

Now on the lookout for simple cables, I landed on three that I had passed by in my earlier searches. I liked them and they were easy, so I adjusted two of them to mirror one another, and sequenced them to create seven panels across the front and back of the sweater.

Here is the chart I created in Excel for a single repeat of the front/back body.

Miss Clare’s Aran Sweater: single repeat of back and front body pieces (excluding neck shaping)

Chart Keys

If you look closely at the chart, you’ll see that the entire sweater is made up of knits, purls, 6-cross cables and 8-cross cables. It’s the strategic placement of the cables to create the central horn cable, the plaits, and the twists that gives intricacy to the entire sweater.

I was tickled pink by the fact that the cables coordinated with one another in 4-row and 8-row repeats. This also simplified the puzzle of remembering which cables to work on which row. Once I had my sea legs, the cables told me what to do next. Well, they didn’t start talking or anything, but I could just look and see what should happen next.

That said, I did mis-cross a cable early on, but I caught the mistake before too many rows got away from me, and was able to fix it.

Setting out on uncharted waters…with my trusty knitting chart and Little Sweater Girl nearby!

I worked on this project for about 6 weeks finishing in mid-November. Once the knitting was done, those separate sweater pieces sat on my dining room table for nearly a week.

Because I was scared.

Totally cowed.

Terrified is not too strong a word.

of Finishing.

In the past, I felt triumph and heartbreak at completing the knitting and virtually ruining the finished product because of sloppy seaming.

But as before when the designing got hard, I was spurred into action by thinking of my friend and her excitement over the sweater. I just had to get over it and make it for her.

Finally plucked up my courage and committed the sweater pieces to the laundry tub for a wash.
View of the sweater in process, being blocked and sewn together.
Thar she blows! My First Aran design and knit.
Proud designer selfie.
My lovely friend, Miss Clare, wearing the sweater for holiday, 2016.

What a great experience it turned out to be. What a confidence-building adventure. What a reward to see my friend wearing and loving her sweater that she told me reminds her of one of the happiest times in her life. Thank you for asking, Miss Clare.

So when’s the last time you thought, “maybe I could…

If you think maybe you could, you should!

For the love of trying, and learning, and making your dreams come true however big or small they may be, you should.

In Stitches,

Sara


p.s. If you would like to use my charts to make an Aran, leave me a comment and I can share some more details like a chart for neck shaping and my sleeve pattern. You should also check out the Alice Starmore book, Aran Knitting.

colorwork · crochet · crochet pattern · tutorial

Candy Shop Crochet Cardigan

 

Hi Crocheters,

Today, I’m sharing my first crocheted granny square sweater design with you.

How I love a granny square sweater! I’m forever collecting these colorful wonders of happy crochet goodness on Pinterest.

I recently finished a tiny granny square sweater for my daughter. The Candy Shop Cardigan sweater is my own design, sized for 2T-3T. I have not produced a full pattern for this design, but below I am sharing a tutorial if you’d like to make your own version!

Missie loves her sweater, and it’s been the perfect substitute for her winter coat this spring with all the cool, rainy days and chilly mornings we’ve had. She often goes to the peg where it hangs and reaches for it. It warms my heart that she loves her colorful crochet! It makes weaving in all those yarn ends totally worth it.

And there are a lot, believe me.

A. Lot.

😉

Miss Mouse is awfully sweet! But do you see a glint of mischief in her eyes? I do.
This book is appropriate for working with geometric motifs!
Sure enough, she goes right to a tiny square.
Mama’s gonna kiss those cheeks!
You like spunk? We’ve got spunk for days.
Colorful ribbing at the neck and hem reminds me of candy straws.
Choosing buttons was tricky, but I thought, “why hold back?…”
…because color makes my heart go pitter-pat.
♥ Ta-Da! The incredibly sweet Candy Shop Cardigan ♥

Tutorial

Sweater Specs:

Size 2T-3T

Finished Chest Circumference: 26.5″

Finished Length (shoulder to hem): 11.5″ This is slightly cropped jacket length on my LSG, but she has a long waist and is getting closer to 3T size these days.

Finished Measurement of Center Back Neck to Cuff: 17″

Button Front Cardigan (you’ll need six 1 1/8″ buttons)

Drop shoulder shape

Crew neck

Long sleeves

Hook:

Size G US/6 4.00 mm crochet hook

Yarn:

DK weight (#3 Light)

60% acrylic/40% polyamide

I used 17 skeins in a rainbow of candy colors

Brand: Baby Bee Sweet Delight from Hobby Lobby

Gauge: 

Each Tiny Square = 1.9″ square worked in DK weight yarn on size G/6 (4.0 mm) hook.

How to make a Tiny Granny Square:


With First Color

Make adjustable ring.

Round 1: Ch 3, 2 dc (ch 2-3 dc) 3 times into ring, ch 2, slip stitch to top of turning chain to close round.

Fasten off. Break yarn leaving 6″ tail

With Second Color

Round 2: Join yarn at any 2-chain space, ch 3, 2 dc-ch 2-3 dc in same 2-chain space, (3dc – ch 2 – 3 dc in next 2-chain space) 3 times, slip stitch to top of turning chain to close round.

Fasten off. Break yarn leaving 6″ tail.

How to make a Tiny Triangle:


With First Color

Make adjustable ring.

Round 1: Ch 4 (counts as dc + 1 chain), 3 dc – ch 2 – 3 dc, ch 1, dc into ring, do not turn.

Round 2: with RS of motif facing you, slip stitch to top of turning chain to close round.

With Second Color

Round 2: With right side of motif facing you, join yarn at first chain space, ch 4 (counts as dc + 1 chain), 3 dc in same chain space (3 dc – ch 2 – 3 dc) in next 2-chain space, (3 dc – ch 1 – dc) in last chain-space.

Tips:

  • After making a square, tighten center yarn tail of adjustable ring and take time to weave in yarn ends after each square or after each sitting. This project has a lot of yarn ends.
  • Try to work colors randomly to create that delightful candy shop effect. Avoid making the same sequence of colors for an unstudied effect of joyous color!
  • Take your time with the layout of squares to make sure you don’t have areas of similar color clustering together.
  • I learned a great trick for working with color from an interview with the amazing needle artist and colorist, Kaffe Fassett–squint your eyes and see what color jumps out at you and says it isn’t working. I have been doing this and it’s really helped! I did this a lot in the yarn shop when I was buying my huge palette of yarns.

To Make the Sweater:

Make 113 Tiny Granny Squares.

Make 6 Tiny Triangles.

Use the diagram below to lay out your squares. Note that the red squares and triangles represent the motifs and the orange edges represent the ribbed bands, cuffs, and button bands.

Tiny Square and Tiny Triangle Layout

Take your time to make sure you have the squares placed just as you want them. You may need to take a break and come back with fresh eyes. Try the squinting trick! (See Tips).

I spent awhile fussing with my layout to make sure no colors were too close to each other.

Oops! I’m missing a square at the right neck edge!

Join your squares and triangles into rows, then join rows to rows.

I held my motifs together with right sides facing and slip-stitched the back loops of the V’s on top of the stitches.

For more help with joining, see this lovely tutorial .

The yarn ends never seem (seam?) to, err…end (heh heh).

Finishing

Slip stitch or seam sleeve and body seams together at right side and left side of sweater.

Hem Rib:

With the right side of the sweater facing you, join a color at the Left Front hem corner.

Row 1 (RS): Ch 2, hdc an odd number of stitches evenly across hem, turn. Fasten off, break yarn leaving a 6″ tail.

Row 2: With a new color, ch 2 (counts as 1 fphdc/front-post half double crochet), *bphdc/back-post half double crochet in next st, fphdc in next st; repeat from *, turn. Fasten off, break yarn leaving a 6″ tail.

Row 3-8: Use a new color for every row. Ch 2 (counts as post stitch), work each stitch as it presents itself. If it appears as a fphdc, work an fphdc over that stitch and if it appears as a bphdc, work a bphdc over that stitch. Fasten off, break yarn leaving a 6″ tail.

Row 9: Use the same color you used in Row 1. Repeat Row 3.Fasten off, break yarn leaving a 6″ tail.

Neckband:

With the right side of the sweater facing you, join a color at the Right Front neck corner.

Use same color sequence as for Hem Rib.

Work Rows 1-9 as for Hem Rib.

Button Band:

With the right side of the sweater facing you, join a color at the Neckband corner of the Left Front.

Use same color sequence as for Hem Rib.

Work Rows 1-9 as for Hem Rib.

Buttonhole Band:

With the right side of the sweater facing you, join a color at the Hem Rib edge of the Right Front.

Use same color sequence as for Hem Rib.

Work Rows 1-4 as for Hem Rib.

Row 5: Create 6 evenly spaced buttonholes by skipping 2 post-stitches and chaining 2 over the top of them, work in pattern between the buttonholes. Fasten off, break yarn leaving a 6″ tail, turn.

Row 6: Work in pattern, working 2 hdc in each 2-chain space you come to, working in pattern between buttonholes. Fasten off, break yarn leaving a 6″ tail, turn.

Rows 7-9: Work as for Hem Rib.

Cuffs (make 2):

With right side of sweater facing, join a color at the seam of a sleeve opening.

Use same color sequence as for Rows 1-3 of Hem Rib.

Work Rows 1-3 as for Hem Rib.

Row 4: Use same color as for Row 1. Work as for Hem Rib.

Blocking:

I blocked this sweater using gentle steam from a garment steamer.

Later I also pressed it under a warm iron and a press cloth–VERY IMPORTANT.

I love working with acrylic yarns and blends because you can adjust the size and enhance the drape of a sweater with steam/heat. Just be careful and always experiment on swatches first. Okay? Okay.

Care:

This sweater would be machine washable based on its yarn selection, HOWEVER, I would only hand-wash this on very rare occasions to avoid any trouble with the yarn ends coming loose in the washing machine. I’m a little paranoid about it after a certain heart-breaking episode that involved a freshly completed baby blanket and washing machine spin cycle. But that is a story for another time when I have an adult beverage in hand.

Anyway!

There you have it! My tutorial for the Candy Shop Cardigan.

If you think doing this much work to create a sweater for a toddler who loves playing in the dirt and is growing like a weed is CRAZY…

…you have a point.

But I loved making this project. Yes, it was a big challenge with tons of finishing details, but I loved playing with all these colors and get lots of sweet satisfaction when I see my little gal looking warm and happy in it. A happy make!

Now I want one for myself, but I’ll have to let my stamina build up again. Do you think this style would be wearable for an adult? I’d probably use a palette of soft, dusty colors and make it from sport-weight wool. That way it would last my entire lifetime.

It had better!

 

p.s. If you enjoyed this post, check out my post about creative projects you can make with just a few granny squares!

Yours in Stitches,

Sara

A little CoD, anyone? 😉

 

 

 

book talk · crochet · crochet pattern

Interweave Presents: Classic Crochet Shawls!

Hi Shawl Lovers,

Happy news came my way back in February and it’s time to share it! Three of my crocheted shawl designs from Poetic Crochet have been included in a new book from Interweave. Classic Crochet Shawls: 20 Free-Spirited Designs Featuring Lace, Color, and More is available for pre-order and will be out on June 21, 2017.

My inclusions are Endymion, which I am so proud to say received the cover shot for the book, along with Dover, which has been a favorite of many lovely crocheters who have reached out to me since the book was published, and Jessamine.

Here is the romantic cover with an image I had never even seen from Poetic Crochet! What a treat that was for a designer.

 

And a few images of my projects that were included:

Poetic Crochet - Dover beauty image
Dover

 

Poetic Crochet - Jessamine beauty image
Jessamine

 

Poetic Crochet - Endymion beauty image
Endymion

I can’t wait to get my contributor’s copy in the mail. This collection features some gorgeous work by my favorite designers.  For the love of crocheted shawls!

In Stitches,

Sara

business · design process · free pattern · handknitting · knitting · knitting pattern · pattern · tutorial

Red Heart Yarns: Fantastic Ripple Scarf

Hi Knitting Friends,

My needles were clicking fast back in January, and now I can share this fun freelance knitting pattern I designed for Red Heart Yarns: the Fantastic Ripple Scarf!

photo credit: redheart.com

 

photo credit: redheart.com

The scarf is a single repeat of traditional Old Shale lace, edged with garter stitch, and the coolest thing about it is that Marly Bird will actually teach you how to knit the lace in a video tutorial she did for Red Heart!

I hope you enjoy this free knitting pattern!

Yours in Stitches,

Sara

creativity · design process · dressmaking · pattern · sewing

Sewing Simple Clothes

Hi Fiber Friends,

I’ve been in the throes of a new passion! Drafting and sewing simple sewing patterns from old tank tops and t-shirts in my closet to create my own unique tunic blouses. 


The process for each piece is to cut out the front and back, join shoulder seams, join side seams, and add bias binding to the neckline and armholes. It’s a new skill set for me and I’m loving it.


My desire to wear silky, flowy fabrics has motivated me to complete these projects and has also outstripped my ability to work with these materials, but I’m embracing the learning and the little imperfections that come with handmade items.


This is a tiny paper mock-up of an idea for a tee sewn using a striped fabric. Inspiration is everywhere, even on a mundane grocery list notepad.

Of course, my little mite is getting some new clothes as well: skirts, tunics, dresses, and shorts in cheerful quilting cottons. So fun and sweet!



Now all we need is for the weather to brighten up and warm up again so we can wear our lovelies. I hope you’re enjoying your own makes!

Yours in stitches,

Sara