Archive for January, 2011

Going Solo: Sewing Style

Jan 31

HOLY CRAP! I just found the sewing book of my dreams. I went to the bookstore on a lark (as per usual) to check out the sewing books. I wasn’t expecting to find anything to write home about. Instead I found something to write to the world about! Ha. Ok. I kid. But seriously.

The Sewing Book by Alison Smith
The Sewing Book by Alison Smith – $40

So far it’s got everything I’m looking for. Everything I’ve learned in my previous classes (all the beginner topics like Sewing Machine, Tools, Fabrics, Stitches, and Reading Patterns) to what I’m looking for now, Alterations! Along with much more like Button Holes, Pleats, Pants etc.

All with clear gorgeous and very descriptive photographs (not illustrations). And in a very digestible format great for beginners or as a very handy reference for the more advanced. Comprehensive yet easy enough for beginners to digest, expansive yet organized, beautifully laid out all in a giant pink hardcover textbook. IT’S A GEM!

Compare that to the $430 I’ve spent on 2 classes (and that’s with major shopping around and a half price class!) I still think beginning Sewing for the first time requires a class. But once you get that and the basics down it’s easier to choose which way to go from there. After no real luck looking for a decent comprehensive sewing class and then finding this book, I’m going to forego my next sewing class. And self-learn for a bit like I did for Knitting and Crochet. I can get more done on my own time in this fashion too. If you’re in the same boat as me, then I highly recommend flipping through to see if it’s for you. If so, you can save some money on classes!

The Sewing Book by Alison Smith The Sewing Book by Alison Smith The Sewing Book by Alison Smith The Sewing Book by Alison Smith The Sewing Book by Alison Smith

Pattern: Circle Top by Papercut Patterns

Jan 29

Papercut Patterns - Circle Top Papercut Patterns - Circle Top Papercut Patterns - Circle Top Papercut Patterns - Circle Top Papercut Patterns - Circle Top

OMG! HEART how this top came out. Here’s my Circle Top by Papercut Patterns! I chose a wool jersey knit (Gorgeous!) fabric with pleats that I found at Mood Fabric. $14 per yard! It gave it an Elizabethan-ish style. Yet modern. The pattern and the fabric together gave the piece this accordion looking edge. Such a lovely detail. No fancy tricks required. Some Nap wrangling is required though! It’s my ode to Issey Miyake’s Pleats Please!

Papercut Patterns - Circle Top Papercut Patterns - Circle Top Papercut Patterns - Circle Top Papercut Patterns - Circle Top Papercut Patterns - Circle Top Papercut Patterns - Circle Top Papercut Patterns - Circle Top

Knits! This was my first project working with knits and it was actually not bad at all. The fabric was not at all that difficult to work with, all you have to watch out for is not stretching or pulling the fabric. Let it do its thing. Keep the fabric flat, in fact avoid lifting it as much as possible. I even pinned it while it was flat on the floor. The raw edges stay flat enough to work with as long as it’s not overworked while handling or sewing. When in doubt use lots of pins. Go slow and handle it gingerly. That’s pretty much it. The only difficulty I had was in getting it on grain in the very beginning because it does have weight and does stretch on its own. Once it was flat with no wrinkles or bumps I just left it there. Cut around the pieces and only picked them up when ready to sew.

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FOTD: Purple & Green

Jan 28

FABRIC OF THE DAY: Purple & Green Chevron Herringbone

Purple & Green Chevron from Mood Fabrics

Purple & Green Chevron from Mood Fabrics Purple & Green Chevron from Mood Fabrics Purple & Green Chevron from Mood Fabrics

I went gaga over this fabric. It’s going to be made into a mod-style shift dress, Simplicity #2568 from the Sew Stylish Collection by Simplicity! Coming soon! I originally bought it for my Papercut Patterns Circle Top but I’m using a gorgeous wool jersey for that! That fabric post coming soon too.

Wool Polyester Blend – Knit
58″ wide – $18 per yard from Mood Fabrics

Beginner Sewing @ The Sewing Studio

Jan 26

The Sewing Studio
Our teachers Jonathan (L) and Gertie (R) with Alvinna

Every Saturday for the last 8 weeks, once a week, for 2 hours each week, I’ve been heading across town to The Sewing Studio for my Beginner Sewing Class. Some time last year I found it online while hunting for sewing classes. Although the curriculum was really appealing, I didn’t sign up right away. But a few months later, by lucky luck, Denise Wild who runs The Sewing Studio tweeted a special discount in celebration of her birthday. I happened to see the tweet (!) and took it as a sign to try it out. I later saw it advertised on Groupon as well.

Although there are a variety of options in New York for sewing classes, I still had a hard time finding just the right one. So here are some details on my class. Hopefully it will help anyone interested in Sewing decide if this is the right class for them!

The Sewing StudioStudio Space and Equipment
The studio itself is pretty spacious, bright, and clean. Made up of one main room, a sitting area, and a smaller room for holding another class. The main room had good table top space for preparing your pattern, a serger station, and 2 ironing stations. The sewing machines were set up in 2 long rows on opposite sides of the room. The smaller room was also similarly set up. We worked on Janome Sewist 500s and also had access to 4 sergers (also Janome).

Janome Sewist 500 Janome Sergers

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Knitting Tools and Notions

Jan 24

As a general rule, I like the best quality tools I can find. And there are plenty out there for decent prices that are excellent without having to break the bank. Here are my recommendations for beginner knitting tools for those looking for excellent quality tools that are great values in both price and versatility. They’ll be fine even if you never pick up knitting again but will be just as excellent to grow with if you decide to dive deeper! They’re what I use. I prefer Circular Needles and Double Pointed Needles where possible because they can be used in place of Straight Needles!

Knitting Needles - Straight Needles - Crystal Palace, Clover, Susan Bates; Circular Needles - Hiya Hiya, Clover, Addi Turbo; Double Pointed Needles - Susan Bates, Crystal Palace
Top [L to R]: Hiya Hiya Circulars Aluminum, Clover Circulars Bamboo, Addi Turbo Circulars Nickel Plated
Bottom [L to R]: Crystal Palace Straight Needles Bamboo, Clover Straight Needles Bamboo, Susan Bates Straight Needles Aluminum, Susan Bates Double Pointed Needles Aluminum, Crystal Palace Double Pointed Needles Bamboo

There are a myriad of knitting tools and notions, especially knitting needles. The most basic and obvious variations are material, type, and length. There are 3 types of knitting needles – Single Point or Straight Needles, Double Pointed Needles, and Circular Needles. And each of these come in varying lengths. The length you need is dependent on your project. There are also various materials like Plastic, Metal, and plant-based like Bamboo or Rosewood. From cheap cheapie (not even worth the price tag) to super luxe handcrafted artisan tools. There are also slight variations in tip styles not readily noticeable unless you’re advanced. See here when you’re ready to buy some – Where to Buy: Knit and Crochet Tools !

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Pattern: Ruffle Skirt #7462 by Burda

Jan 23

Burda Skirt - Front Burda Skirt - Side Burda Skirt - Back

Finally! My class project is done. I made the Rock Skirt #7462 Pattern by Burda. It’s a two-tiered ruffle skirt. I love the skirt but it was much more difficult than I thought it would be. The gathers were hard to make because the gathers go through 2 layers of fabric and I chose a thick fabric. Le sigh. I also did not love the fit. Somehow it turned out slightly too big!

I liked the length but it was too wide. I’ll have to try it again with a slightly less thick fabric and work on fit. But here it is! The pattern itself was also a little bit difficult to follow because it was European and layout out slightly different from standard American patterns but not too bad if you persevere. See here for full details on my Beginner Sewing Class at The Sewing Studio.

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Pattern: Socks Fever!

Jan 22

One of my next projects. I just discovered this nice little cache of just socks! from Wendy Knits. Her page includes her original sock patterns along with some from The Loopy Ewe and great tips on sock knitting too. Free! She’s also got quite a few books out on Sock Knitting!! Check out Amazon for a list of all her books. A co-worker of mine who loves knitting socks (!) turned me on to trying a sock pattern and suggested this site for some patterns. I don’t normally knit with fingering/sock weight yarn so I wanted to try it out. She’s tried a pattern or two from Wendy Knits and they turned out great! You can find some here on her Ravelry, WinterPlease, along with her other projects! Here are the Wendy Knits patterns I’d like to try:

Sock PatternSock Pattern L-R: Catnip Socks
Swan Song Socks

Sock PatternSock Pattern L-R: A Rivulet Socks
Finer Peace Socks

Sock PatternSock Pattern L-R: Mallow Socks
Diagonal Lace Socks

Pattern: Mongolian Supreme Hat

Jan 19

Mongolian Supreme Hat

I made the Kublai Khan Splendor Hat by Elisabeth Poire. And it ROCKS!!! HEART IT! Finally a decent hat pattern. I tried about 6 different hat patterns (duds) to get to this one. I made a few changes to the original pattern and call my version the “Mongolian Supreme Hat”. Ha! Mainly I used a 2×2 Rib Stitch and kept the ribs all the way until the end. It is knitted holding 5 strands of yarn together in Burgundy, Chocolate, Plum, Navy, and Dark Rose colors listed below. Jewel tones! It kind of looks like a cross between a Mongolian hat and a hat you’d see some librarian in the 70′s wearing with a long quilted dusty rose coat. Puffy.

Mongolian Supreme Hat Mongolian Supreme Hat Mongolian Supreme Hat

Materials:
Bernat Berella “4″ Burgundy Medium Weight (4)
Bernat Berella “4″ Dark Taupe Medium Weight (4)
Bernat Satin Plum Mist Heather 04306 Worsted Weight (4)
Caron One Pound Midnight Blue 546 Worsted Weight (4)
Red Heart Heathers Warm Red 4453 Worsted Weight (4)

Needles:
US Size 15 (10mm) Crystal Palace Double Pointed Knitting Needles

Skill Level: Advanced Beginner

Stitches:
2×2 Rib Stitch [K2, P2]

Mongolian Supreme Hat Mongolian Supreme Hat Mongolian Supreme Hat

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How To: Beginning Knitting or Crochet

Jan 17

I like to learn by doing, it sticks better for me and is more rewarding! And I like options so I can decide for myself how best to approach it. So here’s a one page quick start guide on everything you’ll need to get started in Knitting or Crochet while making your first project! All on your own! *golfclap* Kind of like my version of Knit or Crochet in a Nutshell with an emphasis on being flexible enough to meet anyone’s goals. Or a Choose Your Own Adventure how-to!

All you need are four things – Yarn, Hook or Needles, a Pattern, and some googling! Get an idea of how much things will cost. Do some research online. Then head to the local yarn shop for some guidance. Check out the yarns and tools in person to see what suits you best!

Note: Whatever your motivation, it’s most important to just finish your project! So you have something to show for all your hard work. Try your best to get there! If you tend to get lost in too many options, just forget all the options and follow my first recommendation in each step. If quick and easy results is your key, then go with Crochet. Or Crochet + Advanced Quick Start. If a challenge is your motivation, then go with Knitting. Or Knitting + Advanced Quick Start for the hardest challenge. Hopefully the below is modular enough to aid you in doing this.

Yarn
Start with the yarn. Choose a “Medium Weight” or “Worsted Weight” yarn otherwise known as “Category 4″ yarn in Acrylic or Wool. This size yarn is not too thick or too thin, so it’s easy to work with and still knits up quick. The fiber is easiest to work with and very common. Both together are very popular and great choices for foundation learning. Choose it in a solid bright color. One that you’ll love and one where the stitches will be easy to see! You will need 1 ball. Lastly, yarns will come in a “ball”, “skein”, or “hank”. Balls and Skeins are ready to use right away. But Hanks will need to be passed through a ball winder before you can use it. If you aren’t sure which is which, be sure to ask before you leave. Just ask “Does this need to be wound before I can use it?”. If so, check to see if the shop will wind it for you. If not, don’t buy it and ask for one that is ready to use!

Ball Skein Hank

Here are my yarn recommendations available nationwide in generous skeins and for decent prices. I recommend sticking with the Economy yarn. If you’re like me, then you’ll need lots because you’ll end up doing a lot of experimenting! Note: If using Shelter, you will need 2 balls. Also, Shelter comes in a “hank” so be sure to have the shop wind it into a ball for you!

Economy – Red Heart Super Saver (Acrylic) $4.29 – 364 yards
Mid-Range – Lion Brand Wool-Ease (Wool Blend) $3.99 – 197 yards
Nice-Range – Cascade 220 Superwash (Wool) $9.80 – 220 yards
Luxury/Artisan – Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (Wool) $12.50 – 120 yards

Red Heart Super Saver Lion Brand Yarn Wool Ease Cascade 220 Superwash Brooklyn Tweed Shelter
Red Heart and Wool Ease come in skeins ~ Cascade 220 comes in balls ~ Shelter comes in hanks

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Where To Buy: Knit and Crochet Tools

Jan 17

A list of where to buy Knit and Crochet tools in NYC! From economical/beginner to those more advanced looking for very particular tools. See my list of yarn shops for where to buy tools in Brooklyn. See also my list of Beginner Crochet Tools and Beginner Knitting Tools. In general, if you’re particular about your tools I tend to find it hard to get exactly what you need without some footwork. Need Takumi Velvets or Addi Turbos in a very specific size? Sometimes I like to see the needles and try them in person before deciding. And sometimes ordering online will just take too long. So I look for some place local. I called every store on my list and only one had the Turbos in the size I needed. No one had the Velvets in the size I needed. So gathering your tools can be a pain but hopefully this list will help!

For worldwide and a local yarn shop near you, try KnitMap! to find your LYS wherever you are.

Manhattan
Lion Brand Yarn Studio
34 W. 15th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 243-9070
Excellent hours and customer service. A beginner knitter or crocheter will find great prices and everything they need to start right here. Including great guidance by helpful store clerks. Good prices! The drawback is I don’t find their selection of tools to include very high-end choices. But they carry Clover and that’s a very decent mid-range brand and great for a beginner.

Purl Soho
459 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 420-8796
If you’re looking for luxury tools, this is the place. This trendy store is chock full of high-quality tools. If you have the money to spend, get your tools here. You can’t go wrong with anything you choose here. The tools and supplies are well curated.

P & S Fabrics
359 Broadway (Grand & Leonard St.)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 226-1534
Great hours. They are even open on Sat & Sun. Great selection and prices on econo range tools. Go for prices! Not the ambiance. Call ahead if you’d like to check on a specific item.

Fashion Design Bookstore @ FIT
250 W27th St. (7th & 8th Ave.)
New York, NY 10001
(212) 633-9646
This university bookstore has a Knitting, Crochet, and Sewing annex chock full of an excellent range of tools and supplies for very competitive prices. Great selection of econo range to popular brands like Clover. This little hidden gem is my personal pick for notions. It’s my goto for that harder to find specialty notions like bodkins, tapestry needles, elastic etc.

Michael’s Arts & Crafts
808 Columbus Avenue (near 100th St.)
New York, NY 10025-5139
(212) 865-0813
Hit or miss for Crochet or Knitting tools but a great last resort if you’re willing to travel all the way up to the 100s! They carry popular economy range tools.

See Also My List of Yarn Shops
Every yarn shop is also a Knit and Crochet supply store. So check these out too. For Manhattan and Brooklyn!

Online
KnitMap! Try checking out this website for a handy way to find a local yarn shop near you.

Joann.com
The mega online store for crafty needs. The pros are they always have sales. So if you are a saavy shopper wait until your eagle finds a decent deal then go nuts!

Yarn Market
Reputable. Excellent prices. They do not carry Clover brand Hooks or Needles. But they do carry Addi Turbo and Crystal Palace

Knitting Warehouse
Excellent prices!

Knit Picks
Nice prices. They carry their own line of well-priced knit and crochet tools as well as their own line of yarns.