Friday, February 28, 2014

Quick Ways to Weave in Ends

While making my folksy sweater, I learned a few neat tricks about weaving in ends and I thought I would share them.

I just wanted to get knitting and didn't take the time to look up tips on knitting fair isle. So, I forgot about steeks and didn't realize I could weave in ends as I knitted. As a result, I ended up with a lot of ends down the front of my sweater and the sleeves.

If, like, me, you already started knitting, there are tips and tricks for weaving in lots of ends quickly,

The first challenge was to deal with all the ends going down my sleeve. Weaving in all of those ends would have taken hours!

There is a simple solution for dealing with many ends when you knit in the round. All you have to do is braid them together.

Just weave the ends together like you are making a French braid. When you reach the end, tie a knot. It only took about five minutes (instead of hours) and it looks good inside and out.

Now, the front opening was a different challenge. I could have braided it as well, but I wanted to make sure that the ends were even more secure.

The best way I found was to weave in the ends, while picking up stitches for a button band (or in my case a zipper band). Simply cut all of the ends so they are about 2 to 3 inches long. Then, while picking up a stitch, wrap the ends in front of the active yarn. Alternate between bringing the yarn up and over your yarn and down and over your yarn.

This causes the ends to weave in a zig-zag or S shape. That way, they won't slip out of place easily. It's also a good idea to knit or purl the first row of stitches through the back leg. This twists the picked up stitches, making them more secure.

At the end, there were only a few little ends sticking out. I just went back with scissors and snipped them off.

The outside edge looks nice and clean.

Tada! That wasn't so hard. I definitely save hours of work compared to sewing in each end individually.

My Folksy Cardigan

I was sick last month, so I stayed home for a few days and started a sweater. I wanted something cosy that I could wear around the house. I also wanted to use up some of the lovely alpaca wool that I got from my grandmother. And so, I made this folksy cardigan.


Believe it or not, I didn't use a pattern. I used a calculator and my experience with the past cardigans I have made to shape the body. The sweater was knit in one piece from the top down with stitches put on hold for the sleeves, which were knit in the round.

At first, I was just going to do stripes, but that seemed boring. So, I used the fair isle designs from Stephanie Wilson-Leedy's hooded cardigan.

I was also inspired by the lovely fair isle cardigan my grandmother had made my sister.


Most of the cardigan is made with Ultra Alpaca by Berroco that I got from my grandmother's stash. I threw in a bit from my stash, as well. The blue is leftover from my Acer cardigan.  The dark red is leftover from my husband's Lately cardigan. The alpaca is great - it is so soft and barely scratchy at all.

As with my husband's cardigan, I finished it off with a zipper. That way I can throw it on and off easily.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the cardigan. It isn't the sexiest sweater around, but it accomplished what I needed it to. I got through a lot of stash yarn, I challenged my knitting skills, and I ended up with a very cosy sweater.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Organizing My Projects

I organized my blog to make it easier to find all of my sewing and all of my knitting projects. I created pages with thumbnails to see what I've done. I've made so much in the last year!

I found a simple way to create nice looking thumbnails that I thought I would share with my fellow bloggers. By simply adding a "-c" in an image location path, Blogger will automatically crop an image for you.

While writing a post, go into HTML mode and find your image path. It will be inside of code that looks like <img src=" " />. In the location path, right before your image file name, there will be a little code starting with "s". The number after the "s" sets the size of the image. In this example, I have "s140" for a 140 pixel thumbnail. You can change that number to change the size.

Then, you can add a "-c" at the end to crop your image. So, now I have "s140-c". This will prevent the aspect ratio of your image getting weird and having smooshed thumbnails. 
Neat isn't it! I learned this trick thanks to Blogger Xpertise.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Butterick 5286 #2

I took out my Singer 3343C so I could do more sewing.  I'm still waiting for replacement gears for my Singer 533.

This is my second pair of Butterick 5286 pajamas that I made for my husband. Earlier, I made a nice light pair out of some thin cotton. This second pair is heavier and great for the colder weather.

Again, I'm really happy with the results. And, more importantly, so is my hubby.


  • Some sort of weave that is smooth on one side and fluffy on the other (got it at a liquidation store, so I'm not sure)
  • Waistband elastic
  • Thread 

Butterick 5286

This patter is even easy to sew a second time around. No alterations were needed.

Without spending too much time on it, I matched the plaid as best as I could. The finished look is great.

As with the first pair, I serged the seams. And I went back and sewed the crotch seam flat.

I put the nice soft, fluffy side of the fabric to the inside. That way they are super comfortable for my hubby.

That's it! Consider this my late entry for the Mad About Plaid Challenge for the group Stitch Once Rip Twice.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wardrobe Architect Week 6

With week 6 of the Wardrobe Architect, we get to combine the colours we chose in week 5. I actually had to do a lot of thinking for this exercise.


Here are my neutrals.

Top to bottom, left to right: light grey, light taupe, dark taupe, cream,
dark grey, dark grey blue, dark brown, black

You might not notice, but most of these colours have a lot of orange in them. I found this out by using Color Hexa, which gives you the breakdown of a colour when you type in the hex code.

I didn't include white and I strongly considered not including black. Something I have figured out with this exercise is that white isn't for me. Black is ok on me, but only when I pair it with cream and not white. For years, I have been trying to put black and white into my wardrobe, because that is what most wardrobe building instructions tell you to use a neutrals. I have been misled!

Nearly Neutrals

These are supposed to be colours that aren't neutrals, but can be used as neutrals. I thought of them as colours that I could use as pants, jackets, and cardigans.

Top to bottom, left to right: light pink, light cyan, pale green, burgundy,
navy, army green, dark purple

These colours make me happy just looking at them. 

Statement Colours

According to Coletterie, statement colours are used for visual impact.  I tried to limit my pick to around seven colours, but it was hard. I love bright colours!

Top to bottom, left to right: light green, turquoise, coral red, lavender,
dark cyan, scarlet red, dark pink


For metallics, I chose muted metals. I don't like the really shinny metals.

Left to right: white gold, antique silver, antique brass

That's it for now. I can't wait to see what we do next!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wardrobe Architect Week 5

Week 5 of the Coletterie Wardrobe Architect was to find our favourite colours. I love colour and already have a good idea of what my favourites are, but it helped to find examples.

Right away, I was drawn to this picture that was featured on the Coletterie post:

source: The Designer's Co-op
You will notice that the colours go well with my blog. I love greenish-blues and pinky-corals. From the image above, I was able to pick out the following colours:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Broken Gear

Alas! It might be awhile until I post any more new sewing projects.

I just finished a pair of pajamas for my husband and started on pair number 2, when my  Singer 533 sewing machine made a "snap" noise and then just stopped feeding fabric. The feed dogs were no longer moving. I opened up the bottom and, sure enough, one of the feed dog gears has broken.

Where the gear should be
The feed dog gear split in two. I thought that this would happen someday, because the gears are the few parts made of plastic in the machine and the plastic is getting really old.

Luckily, replacement gears are easy to find on eBay and other websites. So, I have ordered a set. I'll try to document how to replace them in case anyone else has to. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to do more knitting.

Butterick 5286

For my latest completed project, I made my husband a pair of pajamas bottoms using Butterick 5286.

The project was super easy. I needed something like this to work on in the middle of working on some other really complicated projects.


  • Some sort of cotton weave (got it at a liquidation store, so I'm not sure)
  • Waistband elastic
  • Thread


Butterick 5286

The pattern is very easy and also includes a top that I would like to try sometime.

No alterations were needed. A size medium fits my husband perfectly.

I made the cord by cutting a one-inch strip of fabric that I folded over with a bias tape maker. It's a lot like making bias tape, but the fabric is cut with the grain, instead of on the bias.

I also tried using the serger for some of the seams. It took a lot of time to get the tension right, but the final look is worth it. The woven fabric unravels too easily without it. I also went and sewed the crotch seam flat once I serged it.

My only challenge was having to undo the waistband once I realized it was too tight to fit the elastic in. Luckily, my seam ripper tool works great. Next time, I'll measure twice and sew once!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Project Page

I've created a new page for linking to my multi-post projects, including the wonderful Steampunk Costumes I created for my sister and brother-in-law.

I still have to put up a few more of my projects, so keep checking it out.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Wardrobe Architect Weeks 3 and 4

Weeks 3 and 4 of the Coletterie's Wardrobe Architect are very much related, so I'm putting them together. Week 3 was about what shapes we like. And Week 4 was about what silhouettes we like. These exercises have been really helpful.

No surprise, when I was filling out the Week 3 worksheet, I rated pants, and tops higher than skirts and dresses. I like my tops to be quite fitted, which is one reason I really love my Alma.

My Alma
I find that my upper body becomes a cylinder if I don't wear a fitted top. I like having a waist! I actually wear a lot of knit tops because of this - I really should sew some.

Has any one else found out through exercises like these that what they sew doesn't match what they often wear?

As I found out when reviewing my sewing of 2013, there were quite a few pieces that I made that I didn't end up wearing because I didn't think about what I actually like to wear.

What I should be sewing matches closely with the outfits I picked during my 'wardrobe deconstruction' exercise last year. Something like this:

A nice fitted top and cardigan (or blazer) and pants. And of course, I like changing the pants to shorts (or sometimes a skirt) when it's hot out. This is the silhouette that I like.

One thing I can never figure out, though, is shoes. What kind of shoes should I wear? Most fashion pictures show high heels - I don't like high heels. I prefer flat shoes. Ballet flats work, but only when it's summer and not when I'm out in the field. Any suggestions?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Problem with "Inspiration"

Before I continue onward with the Wardrobe Architect exercises, I wanted to point out problems with how we find "inspiration" for what we want to wear. Following what other people and myself were doing for the second exercise, it's obvious most people turn to the media for figuring out what clothes inspire us. But, there are issues that I should keep in mind.

A few months ago, I talked about the show Bomb Girls as inspiration.

The outfits they wear are lovely, but I'm not a 1940's bomb girl!

And then for the last Wardrobe Architect exercise, and I picked more media influences such as New Girl. But, this show doesn't really fit my lifestyle.

First of all, the climate difference between my small town in Canada verses LA is just too great. Jess can where pretty dresses all the time, while I might get a few days a year to dress like that. Plus, pretty dresses don't really work well with my job.

My environment and job more closely matches that of the lovely ladies on Parks and Recreation. Indiana can be cold (it's a bit warmer than here right now, but not by much). And, like me, the ladies work in an office and sometimes go out into the field.

However, if I were to go out and buy some of the lovely clothes that these characters wear, I would spend a "fuckton" as this Jezebel article shows with their search for pieces of the Parks and Recreation Wardrobe. Most of us cannot afford to dress like the people we are looking up to. At least, as a home-sewer, I think I can imitate some of these clothes.  

So, we are being inspired by people who might live in completely different environments, with different lifestyles, and an impossible budget on clothes. This can create unrealistic expectations and I haven't even mentioned body issues. I think it's ok to be inspired by these people, as long as we don't forget that it can be problematic.

To offset this, we should look more to ourselves and those around us in our lives. For example, Becky of Sew and So had a great idea. Since she did not have any celebrities that inspired her, she decided to go through pictures of herself to see what clothes she liked best. I think I'll start taking pictures of the outfits I love to wear, so I can remember what I like. It's time to be inspired by me!