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Rit is an inexpensive dye that can be found in the laundry section of grocery stores across America. If you are an average American that wants to dye a piece of cotton clothing Rit is probably the dye you will turn to. I myself have turned to Rit on multiple occasion to dye clothes, and on multiple occasions I have been disappointed with the results.

What I had not realized is that Rit is an acid dye, and despite the proclamation on the box that it is suitable for dying cotton, Rit, like all acid dyes, is terrible at dying cotton. To dye plant fibers, like cotton or linen, you would use a fiber reactive dye. To dye an animal fiber like wool or silk,you would use an acid dye, like Rit.

How to Dye Wool Yarn with Rit – Uniform Color

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I started with some yarn I had previously dyed with a food safe acid dye. I had not been happy with the washed out red, and decided to over dye it with Rit’s dark red wine color.

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Since I wanted uniform color, I started with a dye pot large enough for my yarn to move freely. I filled it with water, my dye, a cup of vinegar, and my yarn (already wet). Then I turned up the heat.

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Slowly heat the water to almost boiling, and occasionally move the yarn within the pot very gently. As the dye is absorbed, the water will become lighter in color.

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When the water is as light as it is going to get (clear if you added just the right amount of dye), and you yarn is the color you want, turn off the heat, and let the water slowly cool.

When the yarn has cooled, fill a container with water the SAME temperature as the water in the dye pot, then rinse your yarn. If all of your dye was incorporated you should see little to no color run off.

Now it’s your turn!
~Gerwerken

Note: When dying your yarn take care to change temperatures slowly and move the yarn gently. Abrupt temperature changes and agitation of the yarn will turn it into a large felted lump. Also, don’t use kitchen implements that will later be used to cook food!

A crafter’s stash consists of the materials required to engage in that craft. It may consist of yarn, fabric, paint, beads, bits of metal, or anything else required to engage in the craft. I would venture to guess that all crafters have some stash whether it is boxes and bag full of materials that would last a lifetime, or only enough for the next project. I would also guess that, given enough time, crafters will experience the inexplicable phenomenon of their stash growing of it’s own accord.

Given the number of crafts that I engage in, and the amount of time I have been crafting, my stash is pretty small; however, the amount of space allocated to my stash in my tiny house is even smaller. After cleaning up the working area of my little craft studio last week, and putting away all of the pieces of my stash that had been left out, I realized that the cabinet in which my stash is stored needed a good de-cluttering too.

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Here is the before and after! Wow, look at the difference! What is the secret to my success? Bags that can fit 3 blanket into the space of one, baskets whose interior dimensions are greater than their exterior dimensions, or hiding everything under the bed? No! I also didn’t spend any money on clever organizational gizmos, or new baskets, or magical vacuum bags. In fact, I didn’t spend any money at all. So how did I do it?

I got rid of stuff. A lot of stuff. 3 garbage bags full of stuff. I mercilessly purged all of those items I did not love, or could not think of a purpose for. The small bits of fabric, too small to even make a napkin, suffered the worse. I put them all in a pile, and told my kids to give me those that they would like doll clothes made from (the only thing I routinely use small pieces of fabric for). The rest went in the trash (sorry quilters).

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My left over bits of yarn went in a basket my kids can reach so they can access them. They will now be easily accessed for kids projects, wrapping and tying things, and knitting experiments.

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The left over bits of fabric, and squares large enough for napkins (but not much else) are now in a drawer of their own.

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And my interfacing, stuffing, and dye have their own space now too.

I have to admit that I was scared to get rid of my stash at first. After all, it could be used to make something. And I love to make things. But now that it is over I feel a huge sense of relief. I am now left with those things I actually WANT to make into something, and I no longer have an insurmountable mountain of stuff bearing down on me waiting to be worked on.

I encourage all of you to turn a critical eye on your stash, be it big or small, and cut out the chaff. I think you will be glad once you have done it.

As I said in my previous post, while working on the Taffy blouse from Colette Patterns I became a bit disenchanted with the Full Bust Adjustment, and decided to try the small shoulder adjustment instead. It worked beautifully, and now I am ready to share with you the method and the results.

I began by copying the front and back bodice pieces that corresponded to my full bust measurement. On the copy I also traced the upper portion of the pattern size corresponding to my high bust measurement. At the bottom of the armscye, I blended the smaller shoulder into the larger side seam. This new line was my new armscye.

 

If the length of the new armscye was more than 1.5 inches bigger than the sleeve, then the sleeve cap would have to be adjusted to compensate for the new size of the armsyce as well. Fortunately, that was not the case with this sleeve cap, and no adjustments had to be made. Frankly the idea of adjusting the sleeve cap of this bizarrely shaped sleeve is the stuff of nightmares, and I thanked God that it didn’t have to be adjusted.

The initial tissue fitting indicated that I was pretty close to a great fit, and a muslin indicated that it was nearly perfect. Here is the result.

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I think that a comparison of the FBA adjustment and the small shoulder adjustment makes the difference in fit pretty apparent. The armsyce is really distorted after the large FBA, but looks pretty normal after the small shoulder adjustment.

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Like nearly all pattern adjustments the small shoulder adjustment can be done in more than one way. My way, is simply that, my way. It is not necessarily the best way, or the “correct” way, but it is what worked for me, and I will continue using it, until I find something that works better.

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The Taffy Blouse, from The Colette Sewing Handbook.

My latest crafty endeavor is the Colette Taffy Blouse, which, given my limited crafty time and exacting standards, took me over a month to complete. While I will try to cover a few of the reasons it took me so long over several posts, today I will only be covering the sleeves.

The Sleeves of the Colette Taffy Blouse are, as you can see, quite voluminous. While they are very pretty, frankly, they are a bit much for my taste. So I decided to make the full circle sleeves half circles. I will show the the first step in that process today.

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First I traced the original full circle pattern piece. I trace all of my pattern pieces before I make any adjustments so that I can go back to the original if I make any mistakes and so I can make a different size in the future.

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I started to adjust the pattern by making evenly spaced cuts through the sleeve, up to but not through the seam line. I mirrored these cuts in the seam allowance, again, not cutting through the seam line. Keeping the seam line intact keeps the armscye intact, so that the armscye on the blouse portion of the pattern doesn’t have to be adjusted as well.

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Then I overlapped my cuts evenly and taped them in place.

It is worth noting at this point that I could have also simply cut a large wedge shape from the center of the sleeve and taped the exposed ends back together. The reason I didn’t do this is that the sleeve ins’t a perfect circle, and while taking a piece out of the middle would have reduced it’s bulk, it would also change it’s shape. Reducing the sleeve evenly around it’s circumference better retains it’s shape.

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When finished, the pattern looked something like this.

In the final version I further decreased the bulk of the sleeve and extended it’s length by several inches.

This weekend I had planned to travel with the kids to New Orleans and celebrate Mardi Gras with my sister. I was going to regale you with all of the interesting sights that Mardi Gras had to offer. Then I got sick, really sick. I couldn’t eat, and I could barely walk for days. Since Mardi Gras was no longer an option, I stayed home with the kids this weekend, and the sights I’ll be sharing this week will instead what I was able to accomplish this weekend in my reduced capacity, and stuff I’ve done previously, but haven’t shared.

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Every year I make my friend, the good doctor, at least one piece of medically inspired embroidery. This year, after my thyroid starting giving me problems, I decided that the thyroid, and it’s immediately adjacent structure, the Larynx, would be my subject matter of choice.

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This piece took me over a month, and probably over 1000 French Knots to create, but I think it was worth it. It is one of my favorite embroidered anatomy pieces to date.

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As I stated in a previous post, I have actually had more time to craft since I started working full time than I had prior to working full time, due to a period during my working hours my coworkers foolishly refer to as lunch time.  I have more accurately dubbed this hour during my day craft time, and have used it to great advantage.  One of the projects I have been able to complete during this time is the Twinkle Twinkle Little Socks Pattern by Aimee Skeers.   I really enjoyed knitting this pattern (which is especially surprising because I tend not to enjoy knitting socks).  The open lace work was easy enough to be fun, but difficult enough to keep my interest, and the heel (a mixture of short row, and heel flap) was brilliant.  I love the finished object – they are beautiful, fit very well, and are cozy warm.  Now for the details;

I have been asked a lot recently to teach classes in sewing (usually whenever someone finds out that most of my clothing is hand sewn, rather than store bought).  I would love to be able to do just that, but I simply don’t have the time.  Most of my sewing is done at night, or during spare moments on the weekends.  I have no idea how I could squeeze a class into the mix, but I decided to try anyway – at least in bit and pieces.  I have decided to create several online tutorials at my leisure (Ha!), starting with the basics, and working toward a perfectly fitted pattern.

Choosing the appropriate pattern size

If you buy clothes off the rack, it is relatively easy to find the best size, you just try on all of the sizes that might fit, and pick the best one.  When you are sewing your clothes, it is a bit more difficult to find the correct size; after all, you can’t try the pattern on before you sew it.  On the other hand, sewing your own clothes can give you a perfect fit, rather than the fit that is just close enough.  The problem is; which pattern size should you choose?

 

Ready to wear clothing, and most sewing patterns are made based on an average, ideal person.  She is a size 8, about 20 years old, 5’6” (1.67 meters), and a B cup.  As I am sure you know, very few people fit this “average.”  Most of us are shorter, or taller, younger or older, larger or smaller, or several different sizes.  So which size should you pick?

Here is the rule of thumb;

Pants – Measure at your widest point below your waist, and above your legs, and choose the pattern size with the corresponding hip size.  If you are between sizes, choose the smaller size (Unless the style of the garment is very closely fitted.   Most styles have enough ease, or extra room, to fit people who are between sizes; however, very closely fitted garments have minimal ease).

  •  Why?  It is relatively easy to adjust the width of the waist, and legs of pants, but the curve at the seat of the pants is a bit tricky to adjust.  Picking the full hip measurement usually allows for the easiest adjustment.

Skirts –

  • A-line, and other styles that are closely fitted at the waist, and then rapidly increase in size skimming the hips, should be chosen based on the waist measurement.
    •  Why?  Since the waist is the only part of this style that is closely fitted, picking the size that fits the waist allows for the least pattern modification.
  • Straight skirts and other styles that are fitted through the waist and hips should be chosen based on the hip measurement.  Chose the pattern size in which the hip size corresponds to the measure of your widest point below your waist (this measurement may be at your hips or thighs).
    • Why?  The waist in this type of skirt usually has easily adjustable darts at the waistline.

Blouses and Dresses – Measure your full bust, and your upper bust (wrap the tape measure around your chest under your arms, but above your breasts).  Now subtract the upper bust measurement from the full bust measurement.

  • If the difference is 2 inches (5 cm) or less (you are likely an A or B cup) choose the pattern size with the bust measurement corresponding to your full bust measurement.  Congrats, you probably don’t have major bust revisions ahead, since most patterns are designed for b up breasts!
  • If the difference is greater than 2 inches (you are likely a C cup or larger), chose the pattern size with the bust measurement corresponding to your full bust measurement.
    • Why?  While the bust adjustment isn’t easy, it isn’t nearly as complicated as sizing down shoulders that are too big.  If you were to pick the size corresponding to your full bust measurement, the bust would fit, but the shoulders (and often everything else) would be too large

I am currently working on a dress for myself, and I have been focusing on the fitting issues inherent in dresses recently.  Since they are on my mind, I will likely post next about bust adjustments.  Till then, find a simple dress or bodice pattern, and find your size.  I am working on the Truffle dress, by Colette Patterns from their new book, “The Colette Sewing Handbook”.  It is a wonderful pattern for perfecting fit, and I highly recommend it.

I forgot one of the best cakes (Thanks for reminding me Gadabout Knitter)! The dragon cake that my MIL and SisIL made my son for his 2nd birthday.  So here it is….

The wings and fire are made of fruit leather – pretty clever I thought.

The party was Mighty Knights themed, and the dragon cake wasn’t the only dragon at the party.

I created the “fabricy”part of the costumes for the human and animal guests, firebeard made the wooden shields.

Highly accurate armor, don’t you think?

When I saw the Soho Smocked Dress from Modern Top-Down Knitting, it was love at first sight.  I had to knit that dress, but that much good quality yarn doesn’t come cheap.  I began searching for good, affordable yarn, but I didn’t have much luck.  That was until, quite by accident I came across Little Knits.

I ordered a full bag of Nashua Creative Focus Superwash, and paid just over $20 for the bag, that’s about 75% off.  I suspect the yarn was overstock or something similar, because there was a limited color choice.  The yarn came in about a week after I placed my order – not bad for a trip from Seattle to Florida – through the cost of shipping was a bit high.

Overall I couldn’t be happier with my purchase, and I would encourage anyone looking for good cheap yarn to give them a look.

A few years ago I had my husband cut a few biscuits from some smaller logs he was felling so that I could use them for coasters.  I really love these coasters, but it is difficult to make them perfectly level.  They always seem to wobble on the table.  Finally, I had had enough, and I decided to make my own version from scraps of felt.  Now you can do it too.

Here is what you will need;

  • 1 8 1/2 * 11 inch sheet of medium beige felt (this is enough for a bit more than 1 coaster), or the equivalent in scraps.
  • 1 8 1/2 * 11 inch sheet of brown felt (this is enough to make several coasters), or scraps.
  • Glue – You will need a LOT, so I recommend the cheapest Tacky Glue you can find, but anything that will stick to felt and is fairly water proof once dry is fine.
  • A rotary cutter or scissors.
  • A ruler.

Step 1:

Cut your felt into 1/2″ wide pieces.  They can be of variable length, but I would recommend that your light beige pieces be at least 5″ long or longer.  Your brown pieces should be 5″ long or shorter.

Step 2:

Begin Gluing (this gets messy, so make sure your work area is protected).  Starting with your shortest light beige piece, apply a bead of glue along the length of the piece.  Then tightly wrap the piece onto itself along the work surface.

Step 3:

Make the core of your coaster by wrapping additional glued pieces to your starter wrap.  Overlap the ends of the old piece and new piece to avoid unsightly gaps in the finished product.  Continue in this fashion until you have a small sturdy core that can stand on it’s own.

Step 4:

With the core standing up, continue wrapping consecutively longer glued pieces around the core until the middle of the coaster is the desired size.  I made mine about 3 inches in diameter.

Step 5:

Now it’s time to add the bark.  Starting with the longest pieces of brown felt, glue and wrap about 2 layers of brown felt.

Step 6:

Finish the bark with consecutively shorter pieces of brown felt.  However, you will be covering the seams instead of continuing to wrap after the last one.

Make sure you let your coaster dry, then enjoy.  Please let me know if you have any questions or make them.
~Gerwerken