We've all been there; well most people have. The unwanted extra weight seems to appear at the worst times: special dates, weddings, class reunions, dating, job interviews. My experience has been these unwanted pounds show up when you have planned the perfect outfit for the special occasion and...
... it doesn't fit. Not even close, so now what do you do?
A skilled seamstress or tailor begins to think of where to alter the apparel and give it a little lift and possibly, new life with a slight redesign. Someone not so experienced may hit the panic button.
Crash dieting won't get you anywhere, and in fact the weight tends to stay and/or increase. There are several options to solve this painful dilemma:
Redesigning is not for everyone; however, if you have the time, patience and the heart to take apart your favorite special outfit this is a good time to learn and understand garment construction. Below are a few tips and basic steps in reconstruction.
- Sketch your idea of reconstruction before you disassemble your garment.
- Dress forms are vital to a seamstress to assure proper fit and help tremendously with bringing your sketches to life.
- Beginning at seam joints to take apart your garment makes the job easier.
- Never "jab" the seam ripper. Instead, pluck a few threads at a time or gently glide through a stich at a time in the seam.
- Pin, Pin, Pin. They are easier to pull out than taking out mistakes in seams.
- Using your dress form helps visualize how your finished piece will look.
Panels added to the sides to increase the size of the bodice to a vest that fits. This is fabric from the removed sleeves.
Original bodice was joined to points at the shoulders with elastic, then draped into v-shaped long sleeves.
4 Basic Steps to Extreme Reconstruction
1. Make sure you understand where your garment is too tight and make your plans for redesign accordingly. Many formal garments will have enough seam allowance to let out the seams, but if the garment doesn't fit at all, adding in fabric or redesign will be the route taken (see #4).
2. Make a sketch of what your redesign will look like. Consider factors such as will you need extra fabric, hooks, embellishments, elastic, etc.? Is this a realistic design for you?
3. Search patterns for a basic variation of your design. For example, recently I redesigned a renaissance styled bodice (w/matching skirt) with four different types of fabric and patterns in the original bodice and skirt. A favorite vest pattern I have served as the 'guide' for the reconstruction of the bodice into the vest shown left and below.
I chose to turn the sleeves into the top and shoulders of the vest, keeping the body of the bodice intact. Side pieces were added in to make the vest into it's new size.
Finished vest from bodice. The only actual redesign was turning sleeves into shoulders and back of the vest.
4. Take it apart only where needed and start your reconstruction.
A few fun ideas for increasing sizes are:
- Add in side panels. Make them not so obvious by adding in fabric that contrasts or of a different texture.
- Take out sleeves and turn into a vest.
- Take out elastic in the waist and gain an additional 3"-4".
- Add in a top panel all around to the top of a skirt, with gathers below (2 - 3 paneled skirt).
- Open front of dress into a scoop line or v-neck; add in false front.
- Add color blocks in different shapes (Diagonals work best).
- Make backs of dresses into lace up style bodice.
Remember, don't panic, don't limit your ideas to reconstruction and remember to email or call me with your questions about reconstruction. Wishing you unlimited success and inspiration, today and always,
"Fabric and yarn are my canvas, threads are my paint and notions are the tools I use to create works of art." S. Marchman-Day
As more people upcycle and think of the impact their purchases make on the environment, sewing, knitting and crocheting have increased in popularity with a deeper interest in learning the skill sets of these arts.
When working with serious projects, upcycling or repurposing, each requires a basic knowledge or an understanding of the differences between all the fabulous colors of yarn, wool, fabrics and threads available. If you want your project to stand above the rest, make sure you know how to find information about your materials.
What’s All the Fuss?
Those of us with some fiber art experience have an embedded picture in our memory of a failed project made with the wrong yarn, thread or fabric. It’s a good lesson actually; one that I recommend everyone working with fiber arts experience just once. When you do, you will understand why.
There is a good reason for manufacturer or distributor labels on your fabric, yarn and threads. It’s the same reason all items are labeled – to tell you what you’re buying and how to use it. If you purchase the wrong yarn or wool, you could be in for that failed project mentioned earlier. Take a look at the labels or “wraps” on a few yarns and the information each provides. Most show how to wash, what the weight is, the fiber content and how many yards or ounces you are purchasing. Some show dye lots to try and match materials when you need more.
Tip: If the label is missing and you are unsure of the content of the yarn, try this: Take two ends of the fiber and fray them slightly. Wet the ends and try to rub them together. If they felt together, you have wool. If not, it’s most likely an acrylic or blend of acrylic and other fiber.
Sewing thread has specific labels as well. On the top, have you ever noticed it says, “All Purpose” or “Quilting”? Threads are marked specifically for different projects. Quilting thread is thicker, just as button twine is. All purpose thread is fine, thin and made of cotton or polyester/cotton blends. Threads are also sold in silk and clear vinyl.
Click pic for PDF
Here is a neat little download - a Thread Advisor from Coats & Clark
Tip: If the label is missing from the top, bottom or both, try the burn test. Over a sink or outside, hold the thread in tweezers or hemostats. Light an end. If it melts you have polyester. If it turns to ash, it’s cotton. Some say they can tell by feel, but I’ve found better luck w/the burn test.
| |Regarding fabrics,
one piece can provide a good amount of information, as demonstrated by this post from * iKnitQuiltSew, “What Can A Piece of Fabric Tell You?”
In her post she shares an easy way to learn about fabric by the “label” on the selvage.
Tip: If you have purchased lengths or scraps from a thrift store or yard sale and the selvage is missing (usally the case) you will quickly see if it’s cotton or a blend of cotton and some other fabric by the feel and most times, weight. Polyester (or knit) will have a defined give or stretch to the fabric and there are some that have distinct characteristics such as tulle, chenille, wool, silk, and satin.
You may not have the specific information as to the percentages of blends in your fabrics, but you should have a good idea of what the fabric is and if it will suit your purpose. If you are unsure, ask someone to help you. Many are quite willing to share their knowledge of sewing skills!
To help take some of the mystery out of your fiber(s), why not make and carry your own book of swatches when you are shopping. No need for your swatch book to be large – an address book will work (Yes, they still make those!). Tape or glue swatches of a variety of fabrics, yarns, wools and threads in your book and label with the information you feel is important to you and the projects you frequently make. For example, if you quilt, what is the style, size and type of quilting thread you normally use? For knit or crochet, what is the weight you normally use to make the hot selling baby layette set? You get the idea.
Don’t let yourself be intimidated with all the information placed on the wraps and tags of fabrics, threads, yarns and wool. It’s easy to be confused and when that happens, consult your swatch book, pattern or ask someone in the store. Or, you could always throw caution to the wind and like me on occasion, get daring and purchase that beautiful piece of fabric or hank of yarn (or wool?) knowing there will be a use for it soon!
Wishing you great success and inspiration with your fiber arts today and always,
Last week`s post was a metaphor about having the right tools to achieve a positive outcome for any task or goal a person has before them. "Having the right tools for the job" is not just a metaphor, but a golden rule for any activity, task, project, goal or objective.
A more in depth approach to this golden rule: replace "tools" with "skills" and then "knowledge". The difference is now the golden rule has turned into a metaphor for learning. You are probably asking, "What does this have to do with trends in fashion, sewing, DIY, crochet, etc.?" I will answer with this: if you don't have the knowledge to use the tools, or the skills to apply use to the tools, your outcome will be disastrous. Disasters in fashion, sewing, crochet, knitting, upcycling, and even your employment are costly in time, money and emotional well-being.
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Hand in Hand
It is common knowledge that skills & knowledge go hand in hand. The internet offers a large variety of tutorials and lessons in sewing, crochet, knitting, DIY and upcycling, but what if you don't know what you are reading or watching? Having a foundation of skills to build your knowledge on will save you the frustration and costly outcome of disasters in your projects. There is no guarantee that every project will be perfect - I'm sure celebrity do-it-your-selfers and crafters have had their fails. What I can guarantee: if you have the right tools, skills and knowledge, you increase the chances of success.
Trends & Disasters
A fun little exercise for you is to search for *sewing disaster images* or *fashion disaster images*. If you don't want your project to wind up in the dump or food for mice while in the attic or garage someplace, assess your knowledge of the trends before it becomes a disaster. This fashion disaster cartoon is a perfect example of the disasters I'm talking about. DIY on your own trendy fashion or home decor is okay as long as you KNOW what you are doing and have the skills to do it!
I am a firm believer (my mission) that people can rethink their plan in any arena and design their world to fit them. This does not mean we all fit the same molds in apparel and home decor or crafts. Obviously, though we may have similar tastes and styles, we are each different. The current trend (and it's not a trend to me, but okay, I'll bite...) is upcycling - everything. Good things can go overboard like HERE
with humorous look at a craft fail.
When taking on a project involving current fashions or trends, you may want to consider how much you know about your self whether the new trends fit your style. If you tend toward simple and down to earth you certainly won't wear well this look for Spring 2013.
This is more suitable for casual, yet trendy. FYI, trends this spring are black and white, color blocks, and....Vintage!
Each piece pictured in the spring fashions have a basic foundations - jacket, straight skirt, sleeveless shift, button down blouse, the classic tank. The accessories are those found in about any thrift store in our old bags and boxes of accessories we've stored away.
Where does upcycling fit with these fabulous trends? Many will make their own garments based on these designs and with skill and knowledge they will make most of them from upcycled garments. However, some will try without having the skills and guess where it will end up? With exploration first, find out what you enjoy, are good at or want to learn. Once you have in mind what you want to learn, begin with learning the basics skills and build your knowledge base from there. In crochet, learn to chain; in knitting, learn to cast on; in upcycling you will need several basic skills such as sewing or using hand tools and knowledge of your own personal style and tastes.
My point: as long as you have the skills and knowledge and know your style you can pull any of the trends off with upcycling. Follow the Second Golden Rule.
Home decor this spring features bright colors that pop in frames, throw pillows, blankets, baskets, mirror frames, and other accessories. "What fits me" and, "How can I save money" are the hottest trends in home and apparel fashion. The answer: Upcycle what you have to fit your plan, your dream. http://www.bhg.com/
The Second Golden Rule: Have the Right Tools for the Job.
| |Where Do You Find the Skills & Knowledge?
There is no secret to learning your style or preferences in apparel and home decor. Take a long hard look around your home and in your closet. Are there pieces that stand out to you or grab your attention? Pieces you know you would not want to do without? Colors that are predominate? If you like them, why change them for the sake of the latest in fashion or home decor?
What about skills and knowledge to upcycle, sew or perform other new skills? I would be silly to not put in a plug for the lessons in crochet and sewing
I offer, and there are a variety of places online I *bookmark and use to increase my skills and knowledge base. In fact, recently I took up knitting. There are many garments that combine knitting and crochet, so the logical next step for me was to learn the basics of knitting. I think it's going along quite well! See my progress here: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/daysew/unique-basketweave-washcloth
Fortunately after crocheting for many years the technique of knitting was actually easy to learn. Again, if one has the foundation, the rest comes easy in learning any new skill.
Whether you are making changes in style to your home or apparel keep these in mind:
Wishing much success and inspiration today and always,
* Here are my recommendations for places to bookmark when learning a new skills or refreshing old ones.
You Tube - Just about anything you want to try and learn using video is here. It's free and if you don't like one video, try another.
eHow - Videos, step by step tutorials, free patterns - it's all here. I've not found a better source to give me the basics or a quick reminder for a specific stitch, skill or design tip.
About - If you didn't like what you found at You Tube or eHow, try About. Filled with all the same instructions, videos, links, tutorials, etc., another solid source for learning or brushing up on basic skills.
As promised, today brings you the first of six blog posts focused on making gifts for those on your holiday gift list. The posts are written with two basic assumptions: You can either hand or machine sew and you have a little DIY know how. If neither of these assumptions apply, why not get a friend who can sew a little to join you in making some of the wonderful gift ideas? Make the invite(s), put on the coffee or tea and make it a gift party!
Easily answered with "why not". They are inexpensive, can be made from upcycled or repurposed materials, easy to make, personalized easily, are multi-purpose (after all, they protect us from the scary scenes in horror movies!), and who doesn't like more pillows? (Well...I had to remove a few from the bed. Something about 8 pillows the husband didn't like.)
The Basics of Pillows
Pillows can be personal. Some won't travel or sleep without their own pillow while others love a personal lounging pillow to toss on the floor or couch. By asking and answering these basic questions, you will save yourself from any embarrassment or wasted time when making the perfect pillow as a gift.
- Does the recipient prefer hard or soft pillows?
- What colors do they like?
- Are they a "lounger" or do they prefer chairs?
- Consider their personality: Fun? Serious? Relaxed?
- Do they have allergies to specific materials?
After pondering what would be the best way to approach the basics of making a pillow, I found this site instead of reinventing the wheel: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/sew-your-own-body-pillow#b
With five basic steps the link is a solid way to begin construction of your own pillows and, wait for it. . .
The suggested use of repurpose or upcycled materials to stuff it with!
Click photo for eHow to make your own Body Pillow
| |New Uses for Old Materials
If you haven't read or noticed by now, I prefer to upcycle or repurpose when possible. These pillows made from winter scarves are perfect for all the right reasons
. Additional tips for this great idea:
- I would sew the ends shut instead of using hair ties and not leave so much of the ends (more pillow, less ends).
- Add personal touches close to the ends of the pillow such as a special applique, their initials embroidered or a small pocket sewn to the end with a special memento inside.
- A person could form them in the shape of a neck roll, lumbar support or travel pillow by the filling selected.
- If the scarf was from a popular maker, leave the tag on the end or perhaps remove and re-stitch where it is visible for an extra touch.
On the topic of new uses for old materials, there are plenty of fabrics around your home to use for making most kinds of pillows. Old sheets and pillow cases, those fleece throws, t-shirts, jeans (Yes, denim makes great pillows), favorite apparel (that you haven't worn in 20 years because it will never fit again). Get the imagination going and see what's in the closets before dashing off to the thrift or discount store.
| |A Few More Tips
When I have made pillows or body pillows, there are a few things I have done to make the project simple, fast or less expensive:
- 2 King Size pillow cases sewn together are the perfect size for a body pillow;
- Older fleece blankets make a fabulous body or a few throw pillows;
- Old T-shirts are great for stuffing or for making pillows from. They are soft, pliable and many of us adore the feel of cotton;
- Unless you are making fancy decorator pillows, avoid the designs with too many ruffles, flowers, lace or other embellishments. While they are pretty, they are not practical for comfort.
- I like to put an extra pocket on a front corner someplace to hold things like glasses; teens like them for the cell phones!
While very pretty, not quite comfortable to lay around with.
That's it! Easy, right? The basics are to decide on your material, size, who it will be for, and what to stuff it with. Keep upcycling and repurposing in mind. One more thing: Pillows do not have to be square or round! What about oblong, oval or animal shaped? What pillows you have made that are fun and useful? Have you made one that is still being used for the favorite lounge around pillow?
Wishing you much success and inspiration on this project,
National Sewing Month
There is a feeling of pride when you can pull off sewing a garment that requires (normally) expensive tools, but then your creative brain finds a way to substitute those tools to complete the piece. Substituting patterns, pieces, notions and tools takes a little work, thinking way out of the box, practice and what I like to call, "MacGyverism"
. Remember MacGyver could make a tool to get out of anything with a little trash that turned into his treasure. I don't think I have had to substitute duct tape for anything yet,
but I have used my Leatherman a time or two to get me out of a jam!
To honor National Sewing Month (September 2012)
, I decided to share with you a few of my more clever substitutions in notions and a few that I learned through the years. If you have any others to share with me or the readers, will you please share by posting below in the comments box? We can all learn from each other and take trash to treasure!
Trash to Treasure
Patterns - No pattern for a favorite shirt, dress or other item? Take apart the item you want to copy and trace the pieces. Just as you would lay out car parts when rebuilding an engine, you should lay out your pieces of the item you are copying.
Boning - Milk Jug cut into strips; Plastic Inserts; Thick straps from shipping boxes make a perfect substitute for this pricey notion.
Bodkin - Safety pins; Speaker Wire; Coat Hangar all work in a pinch.
Covered Wire - Twist Ties. You know that dozen or so you find in the box of trash bags? Get them in your sewing stash! You will use them more than you think.
Quilt Batting - Mattress pads. Thrift shops are great to find these in by the arm loads. Stock up on a few.
Stuffing - Tiny scraps of fabric; fiber fill from an upcycled project, nylons, Styrofoam packing (that sticks to everything!) are all great for stuffing.
Marking Pencil/Pen - Tailor's Tacks; Colored Chalk.
Accessories - Cut from upcycled clothes. Keep embellishments, appliques, zippers, rings, etc. to save for future projects and money.
Bias Tape - Cut your own from the bias of fabric.
Felting Block - Place two scrubby sponges (plastic on one side) together to make the very expensive felting pad. It works - I use mine frequently with ease.
Ironing Ham - Sew a ham shape with wool scraps (Use an old sweater or wool socks you won't wear) and fill with sawdust (free from local lumberyards).
Ironing Sleeve - Cover a rolling pin with thin batting (the mattress pad you purchased from the thrift store or your old one) and cover the batting with soft fabric. Works great to iron the seams in sleeves (especially for suit jackets).
Templates - Plastic inserts from store bought shirts; Sides of milk jugs cut out; Food grade cardboard boxes; Inserts from nylons, you get the idea!
Point Maker - Chop sticks; Knitting needle. Stay away from using Pen or Pencil!
Chalk Sharpener - Plastic square fasteners from bread and potato sacks. Run chalk through the opening in the fastener for a perfect edge!
Marking Chalk - Soap scraps are perfect to mark on dark fabrics. I haven't found a way yet to mark on light or white other than tailor tacking.
Interfacing - Muslin is wonderful as a substitute for interfacing. If you need a little thicker, just double it. You can keep the scraps of your interfacing and piece as needed for heavier projects.
Seam Tape - Scraps of light weight fabric cut on the bias.
6 Tools For Sewing You Will Want to Keep For Yourself!
Needle Nose Pliers - Keep a pair in your sewing room or box. They are perfect for pulling needles through thick fabrics, saving your fingers!
Tweezers - A good pair of pointed end tweezers will save you from hours of picking threads after ripping a seam out, pulling stuck threads from your bobbin case, help with threading the machine needle and more. Just keep a pair handy!
Hammer - A small hammer is perfect when it comes to needing a snap fastener (expensive!). Keep the hammer and small wood cutting board in your work area.
Exacto Knife - Another convenient item to have around. They are great for taking apart quickly clothes or other fabrics you are upcycling, cutting the opening for button holes or cutting through thick areas of thread jammed in the bobbin case. Use with caution!
Duct Tape - I'm dying to know who does what with this in their sewing!
Leatherman - Need I say more on this tool? It's a must have.
Milk jugs are great for boning. Also, use the tops for funnels when pouring seeds into warming bags, and after you have cut out the side you need for the boning, you have a handy organizer for your notions!
Once you have cut the cardboard from your cereal box for a template, use the rest to hold your favorite sewing magazines, patterns, etc.
Stack 2 of these together for your felting pad.
A few sheets of cardboard will wind up as one of your most used tools. Besides, you will be doing your part on recycling.
Needle Nose Pliers
What have you used as a notion or tool? Trash can be treasure when you need it to be. Think green, think "MacGyverism". I wish you much success and inspiration this day and always, while you work your way through each new project.
How's the t-shirt or sweater repurposing coming along? I took a second look at mine and they are rather plain so I made sure to include on the patterns page
a few ideas for embellishments to give your gloves a little extra "Zazz" (Yes, "Big Bang Theory" is a favorite!).
As promised, here is the second installment of three in repurposing an old sweater, t-shirt or other apparel. You can find the pattern/tutorial HERE
or click the picture to the left to download in PDF.
I have a lot of work to do to prepare the third installment in this series so today is a short and sweet post (Great, right?). It would be fun for you to post your results of repurposed items or tips you may have to share with our readers.
Wishing you inspiration and success, Sher
Those who know me understand that one of my personal missions is to educate people in how to live in a frugal but comfortable way. I developed my mission to educate others years ago when I learned a simple lesson the hard way: You can't live with champagne taste on a beer budget. After living way too long doing it the hard way I finally figured out creativity and imagination are free and, when combined, they make living on limited income bearable (sometimes fun!). My parents taught me that lesson early on but when do young adults listen to their parents?
| |You Should Know This First
An important part of successfully living in a frugal way is having the skills to DIY. Without specific skills it will be difficult at best to turn old things into new (repurpose). Thankfully, I learned my DIY skills as a child and have used them so long they come natural to me. You will need specific skills in sewing, tool use, creativity and imagination - all of which you can get for free!
Between You Tube, eHow and other sites, you can learn the basics in cooking, sewing, using tools and gain ideas that will spark your creativity and imagination into working for you.Intro to DIY for Beginners
As a follow up to my previous post, Oh, This Old Shirt?
, I bring you a short series walking you through how to repurpose a sweater with as little waste as possible. Wrapping up the series (sorry, bad pun) you will be shown how to repurpose yarn from an old afghan, blanket or sweater and how to make your own t-shirt yarn. We will start with a few basics on taking apart and reconstructing crocheted or knit items before you tackle tearing apart the hideous sweater or blanket you won in a raffle years back. Quick note here - this series is targeting the beginner.
The end is where you begin. Confused? You will be if you begin unraveling any blanket, knit or crochet, at the beginning. Most people would think to start there but you will need to begin at the end, or the last point where the final stitch was made. It can be a little tricky to locate.
Beer budgets? No such word for little Princesses! It doesn't matter where it came from, it's sparkly!
Repurpose Sweater into Fingerless Gloves
Click picture for PDF.
Tips to Unraveling Blankets:
Tips to Unraveling Sweaters (helpful for sectioned blankets as well):
- Wind into a ball or around a card as you go otherwise you will spend hours untangling knots or worse, tossing it out.
- On blankets, look at the corners and follow the loose thread (usually woven in) to the last stitch made. Begin unraveling there by untying the knot and gently pull yarn as you wind.
- Sections or colored rows may be a little easier to take apart. Again, look for knots in seams and woven in ends to start your unraveling.
| |The Beginning of Something New
Okay, time for a few helpful things to know when reconstructing items from cut crochet or knits.
- They will fray/ravel horribly when cut! Use bias tape or seam binding to hold in cut edges in place temporarily.
- Try and match weights of yarn, cotton threads, knits or woven materials. This will help you avoid ugly puckers at seams.
- If you do not have an Overlock machine, use your standard machine stretch stitch or the zig-zag stitch when sewing pieces back together.
- Block your pieces before you begin seaming (sewing). This helps flatten pieces and controls any rolling of edges.
- Pin your pieces together once blocked. Claw clamps (for paper) help hold bulkier pieces in place. Remove once you have a good start on the section being worked.
- Consider one of the 3 joining seams shown when working with crocheted or knitted items. It may be easier than your sewing machine.
Invisible Seam Stitch
Details on these 3 joining stitches:
The Real End for Today
I'll be honest with you. This is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to repurposing know how. Basic skills in sewing, construction of apparel, hand sewing, and using other tools are essential. That is way more than anyone wants to type out in one blog post or read in one sitting. I've briefly glazed over the topic giving you a few good to know tricks and tips to get you started on your first sewing makeover (See Part 1: Repurpose Sweater...). If you have questions, as always, email or call! Let me know how your project turns out? Have fun!
Wishing you success and inspiration,
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I like the KISS principle. It reminds me to keep my focus simple for all I do. Do you KISS enough? Most of us tend to over complicate everything and fail to look for the opportunities around us to apply KISS to ourselves or others. Einstein stated once his 3 rules to work. His rules apply to much of how I choose to live my life as an optimist and KISS when I can.
"Out of clutter, find simplicity; From discord, find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
"Out of clutter find simplicity"
Something wonderful happens when you volunteer. Once you have experienced a few challenges faced each day by those who are homelessness, hungry, teen runaways, and veterans live with the realization comes to you that your life is not so complicated or stressful after all.
Take out the the clutter of red tape, too many decision makers or reasons why you can't volunteer time to a worthy cause. Are you the only one holding you back from keeping your "it" simple?
Does the decision to volunteer or offer support to a cause take this much? Source: Wikipedia Manual Decision Tree
"From discord, find harmony"
Fill the empty spaces in your life with harmony that you believe are filled with complications. Confused? Think of the glass of water that is half full. Which do you see - half full or half empty? Your perspective may be the answer to what you fill your empty space in life with. Volunteer? Work together with others to solve a problem? Be an active part in your community? Apply KISS and your glass will be half full. Either way you see the glass, there is room for harmony in the remaining half.
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
Sadly there are people we live and work with who like to complicate things. Everything has to be an argument or filled with details to the point where discord is created, and clutter prevails. This is not only about co-workers or your boss. Teens and Toddlers are so very good at turning a half full glass into completely empty!
Opportunity is always in the middle of difficulty. Teaching moments are brief but miraculous times to change the chaos into a place where KISS prevails. Volunteering at shelters, youth centers, day cares, schools and non-profit organizations will provide you with great lessons in teaching moments - how to recognize and use them to the benefit of the "student" (metaphorically speaking).
Opportunities are FREE. Why complicate things?
Look for the opportunities to turn the glass from half full to full in someone's life. There is an opportunity to help with a project right here on this site (see the blog post - Selling an Idea to Give Hope
). Being aware of the opportunities in life is not complicated. The only requirement is to pay attention to enough KISS in your life. I wish you inspiration and...KISS!Sher
I saw this fun little picture on Pinterest today and had to write about a little pet peeve of mine. Attempts at recreating projects found on Pinterest. I know...there are many who believe why would you spend $3.00 or more for a pattern when all you need to do is find it online and copy it?
Oops! You just found out the reason for buying the pattern after you realize your project doesn't look like the picture. The pattern would have shown you how to make it using the right materials and tools.
Why recreate the wheel when it's been done for you? The person who designed and published the pattern has done the hard work for you ahead of time so you can recreate the project you admire with joy and not wind up on Craft Fail.
One does NOT simply recreate a project from a picture or Pinterest. You can come close or you can have a time and money wasting disaster on your hands wondering why your project doesn't look like theirs!
Set of crochet hooks from K-B, then a set of tatting needles (for lace making).
Hook sizes are important. They determine the size and shape of your project.
The Most Important Tool: The Crochet Hook
You cannot, cannot, cannot use any size hook and expect your project will come out the same whether you are using a pattern or you are experienced enough to crochet from a picture.
A sample of PLARN crocheted with a size E Hook and a "G" hook. Notice the difference in size, shape and stitches?
While size is vital to your work, style is equally important. The hook should be comfortable in your hand (those with Carpal Tunnel know this to be true) to create a natural flow of motion while stitching. Styles can range from rounded heads to pointed, thumb rest/no thumb rest, deep and shallow grooves in the head and some have ergonomic handles to reduce the ache in hands after much crocheting. Of course, there is no magic secret to choosing the hook that is right for you - it is all trial and error. Many give up crocheting because the hook they are using does not "fit". Keep trying until you find the hook style that works best. A good site to visit on this topic is http://thingscrafty.com/2011/10/14/the-ultimate-crochet-hook-review.
Material choice is vital! The yarn or cottons threads used can make or break a wonderful pattern.
The Second Most Important Tool: Materials
That soft flowing scarf you saw online won't look the same if you don't know the type of yarn or cotton threading it was made from.
There are so many eye pleasing textures and colors with yarns and other materials that it's easy to get caught up in "ooh, I like that color" instead of finding the color you like in the right weight and texture. Another consideration is you will need to determine what weight of yarn to use. Think of a construction project - would you use nothing but plywood to build the walls of your dream home?
Yarn weights are vital to the project, as much as the hook size is. Gauge comes into play here with the size of hook and weight of the materials. A pattern may call for 4 ply, worsted weight, medium weight, fingering weight - all are important to the outcome of your project. If you ignore the pattern or choose not to purchase the pattern and simply make your own, that's okay as long as you are prepared to have it coming out larger or smaller or misshapen.
If your gauge is off it may be from wrong hook, wrong yarn or not reading the pattern correctly. *www.wooldurham.com
It takes hours to design, write and submit a pattern. *www.all-homemade.com
| |The Third Most Important Tool: The PatternAs a pattern designer myself, I cannot stress enough how important the pattern is for any project. There are times when using a pattern your project may not come out as it looks in the picture and that could be a pattern error or error on your part (Hook size, yarn used, etc.). Patterns are the basic instructions of making any handmade project - again, think construction. Would you build a house without a floor plan?A good pattern will be easy for the crafter to read and provide information such as the amount of yarn or other materials needed to complete the project. It will also provide:
- Size Hook/Needles
- Level of Difficulty
- Finishing Notes/Instructions
Designing a pattern is a lengthy process and as a pattern designer myself, I want to share with you what goes into those beautiful works of art. There is the initial idea, but putting that idea into sculpted shapes from yarn or other materials is done with paper and pen first. My journal is filled with pages of scribbled out sections to patterns I thought were working out; only later to discover in a test run something was missing or written incorrectly. Hours or even days later, once a pattern is complete and tested, then comes the typing. It's not as easy as copy and paste as you will see below.
Crochet chart symbols.
Pattern styles may change, but there are still (thankfully) the standards that never change - the style of stitches and how they are read.
The Craft Yarn Council www.craftyarncouncil.com provides excellent tutorials on reading patterns, choosing the right materials and tools.
Red Heart and Lion Brand Yarns also provide excellent tutorials on selecting the right tools, reading patterns and choosing the right yarns.
Check out www.yarnstandards.com for detailed information on reading patterns.
In a nutshell if you are an experienced crafter, designer or seamstress you may stand a pretty good chance at making a similar item like the one you see online; however, if you are just beginning to explore the budding artist in you, it will do you well to consider using a pattern. Using the right tools will save you from craft fails and asking yourself why your project doesn't look like theirs!
Wishing you much inspiration and success,
I've been reading a few blogs, browsing and viewing craft sites, filling a few orders and deep in thought while doing what I love to do. I am always on the lookout for inspirational ideas to apply to sewing or hand crafts and new ways of construction. The amount of online tutorials and websites providing instruction can be overwhelming so what does a person do who wants to learn just the basics?
Lately, my thoughts while I work on projects or read have been focused on a comment I read about sewing; how the true art of sewing and handmade items is becoming a lost skill. At first I thought why would that be? Doesn't everyone know how to sew? Ummm, no. While browsing the craft and DIY websites the one term I consistently note with concern is "No Sew" followed by the name of the item. A part of me understands why so many items are no sew and "quick" (another frustrating term) and I understand the concept behind online tutorials - it's all about saving time and money. Yet, there is a part of my brain that is bothered by the question, "What happened to quality and time lasting treasure?" Have the skills of basic sewing or needlework not been passed down? This is simultaneously bothersome and comforting as the realization comes to mind, I'm an Old Dog but I'm still useful (and I have learned a few new tricks).
I'm an Old Dog but I'm still useful!
The Value of 1:1
You can learn how to make over a lamp shade or revitalize a favorite pair of shoes, etc., on numerous websites, but what about learning the basics? I don't think recovering a lamp shade or your couch will turn out well if you don't know how to read a tape measure. I've also struggled with the idea of how a person can watch a video tutorial online while trying to sew a seam, insert a zipper or finish a seam. Unless you know the very basics of sewing and hand crafting (how to read a pattern and basic construction of what goes where) you will be wasting your time and money and the item will be out in the trash (headed to overfilled dumps). It's like building a dog house; would you dare try if you didn't know how to measure and cut wood or drive a nail?
Knowing the beginning basics of any sewing project or DIY project will save you hours of frustration and your hard earned dollars, and you will have an item you truly can use or gift. If you throw away what you make, there was no point in the first place of making it yourself! Of course, there are those fabulous online tutorials, but what about learning these skills from (loosely speaking) an Old Dog?
My daughter proudly showing her pillow she made for her son!
| |Places to Learn
While there are some great places to start online for learning the basics, I am a strong supporter of 1:1 learning. A few good ideas of places to look for learning the basics are:
- Mom, Uncles, Aunts, Grandma
- Extension Offices
- Local Fabric Stores
I'll be tech savvy here and post a few online resources I feel are quite helpful for those just learning or need to brush up on a few skills.
Sewing.Org offers excellent step by step guidelines.
The Craft/Yarn Council provides good instruction on taking basic measurements (works for fabric as well).
The English Ruler is more difficult to read than a Metric. Here you will find the mystery decoded:
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Learn the basics of measurement and how things are constructed for a successful project.
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Speaking from experience, it's a thrill to hear the words, "Will you teach me?". A strong sense of pride and love filled me when my daughter asked me to teach her to sew recently. The 1:1 time we spent together teaching her the basics of beginning sewing will always be cherished for the conversation and the bonding, and her son loves his new nap pillow she made for her first project! Just as heartwarming was my oldest Grandson asking me to teach him how to sew. We started with basic stitches making a very cool bookmark for his favorite books. That was a stellar week for me!
I'd like to read your responses....leave me a comment on these questions:
If you are an Old Dog, what's the best new trick you have learned?
What have you asked an older or more experienced friend or relative to teach you?
What skills have you passed onto another?
I stand by there is nothing more valuable to we Old Dogs than asking us. Go ahead; ask us. We like to show off our new tricks!