Sunday, September 25, 2011

Shapeshifter Shrug - Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Shapeshifter Shrug.  I am almost done I can almost feel how cozy this will be.  I have completed both parts of the shrug, the left and the right. (In case you missed it, here is Part 1).

The next step is to connect these two halves with a knit stitch called the Kitchener stitch.  There is no way to easily explain how this stitch is done, but I can tell you that the blog The Purl Bee does it with some great instructions.  Basically, you are taking a blunt needle and the same yarn and weaving in the stitches that are on the needle and holder (those are called "live" stitches) to create a stitch that looks like the knit side of your work.  This creates a seamless join.

I had to have the instructions up on the screen the entire time I did this and had the computer cursor on the step I was doing each time.  This took concentration and a quiet house. (Sorry Vince, no TV and no talking!)

Here is the work-in-progress from last week.  Once this was complete I weaved in the loose ends and took a break for about a week.  Ha, the next step I wanted daylight and plenty of time so I waited until the following weekend (this weekend) to block.

Blocking is something that you do at the end of a project to make all the hard work you just put into knitting look fabulous.  This means that all the stitches that puckered and all the curling get smoothed out for a professional look.  I did this step when I knitted the Lace-Up Fingerless Gloves for Christmas last year.

I start out by laying out a towel on the floor.  I measure and arrange (by stretching, if necessary) my shrug to the dimensions that look good to me.  I chose 23" wide.  I took safety pins and stuck them through the edge and into the rug. 

I then used a spray bottle to generously mist the fabric.  I used my fingertips to massage the mist into the fabric and to ensure it is evenly wetted.

I then stretched it to my measurements and pinned all the way around the shrug.

Next, I covered it with a second towel and placed books on top of the entire surface area of the shrug.  I up-ended two TV snack trays and placed those on top of the books along with a box and a bin.  I used whatever would evenly press down on the fabric.  I will come back and check on this in a few days.  It is ready when the fabric is fully dry.

Last week I went button shopping.  I changed the pattern a bit and did not make it as long as the pattern was originally written.  As a result, I did not need as many buttonholes as planned.  Instead of 20 buttonholes, I only needed to make 18.  That being said, I needed 18 buttons.  I thought Joann's would have just what I needed, so I headed there and I discovered two things:
  1. That Joann's did not even have 18 of the same button (unless I bought two bags of the bag-o-buttons and those are plastic and are not going anywhere near the shrug that took me a month to knit).  Yeah, I'm snubbing the bag-o buttons.
  2. That even if Joann's did have that many buttons in a button I liked, it would've cost me a fortune.  That is even taking into account using coupons.  Nice buttons were priced anywhere between $2.99 to $8.99.  Some had only one to a card and some had up to four on a card.  
So, I went looking on the internet and there are several online stores that had some great buttons that you could buy in bulk, but they were still too expensive.  I then got a Eureka! moment and went to eBay.  

I found a lot of 50 flower-shaped white mother-of-pearl shell buttons for a total of $7.05.  That is with shipping.  The only thing is, is that it's coming from Hong Kong and will take 4-6 weeks.  Hey, I don't care, it is still in the 90's here in Florida, I can live a bit longer without the shrug. 

I love eBay!  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Black Diamond Necklace

I'm not one to flip through fashion magazines and say, "Ooh, I have to have that!"  I do enjoy thumbing through and getting inspiration, but I won't spend the money on any of it.  I guess I'm just too cheap!  

So, when I last looked through one, I saw this necklace that was pretty pretentious.  This necklace was a black diamond necklace with a black diamond "frog prince" as a pendant.  This necklace was so expensive that a price must be requested.  I went to the website,, you can view Mr. Frog Prince as an enamel pendant or diamond encrusted one.  And they still don't give a price.

I thought, I got something at home that would look just as nice, and I can save about $15K. Does anyone remember my Tickled Pink Necklace from last year?  Well, I know now that I could have made that necklace so much easier if I just asked someone how to do it.  I work with a few ladies that know how to piece jewelry together so they told me what I "could have done".  Well, better late than never.

I decided to deconstruct the Tickled Pink Necklace to make my new one.  I bought some almost black eye pins, took out my tool kit and went to work.

I first took all the pink nugget stones off of the existing necklace.  I was going to only place two stones on each pin and make a chain of those.

I had to buy pins that were really long, so I ended up using one pin to make two links.  As you can see, I may have learned what to do, but not really how to do it.  My final link has some pretty crazy looking eyes and the post is no longer straight.  Hey, good thing I'm not charging admission for this!

I made a length of this before I really thought about how I was going to affix my centerpiece onto the necklace.  

Ok, so Step 1 is done; necklace links are complete.  Step 2 is to attach or hang my new pendant.  Kj, don't kill me, but I took the bracelet you gave me for my birthday and took it apart.  It was a black diamond [rhinestone] flower on a hinged bangle bracelet.  It was a bit top-heavy and rotated around my wrist when I wore it.  I loved it, though, and knew that was going to be my centerpiece.

Isn't that the perfect flower?  Ok, so I had Vince take this task on.  I said, "Here, take this flower off the bracelet, but don't harm the flower." He came back having used some serious wire cutters with the flower off and the bangle detached.  There was no saving the bangle, though.

The backside of the flower had some gnarly jagged edges from where it was soldered to the bangle, so he took my Dremel tool (that Kj gave me one year) and ground them down to a smooth surface.

I made a bail out of a short piece of coated wire and two crimp beads.  As you can see in the pics of the back of the flower, there are holes.  I threaded the coated wire through the holes to make the bail.

From the front, you can't see the wire.  I then found the middle of the necklace and opened it up so it was two strands of links.  I removed a few links from each side and attached each side to the wire bail.

I will wear it to work or bring in it so the jewelry chicks can see it.  Maybe they can give me a better idea for the bail.  Otherwise, I love it.

All it takes is a magazine pic and the motivation to create a designer knockoff on a dime to have something "new to you".  Aaron Basha, you can keep your Frog Prince!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ruffle T-Shirt

I've had this t-shirt dress in my closet for at least 10 years.  It is from the Gap and I wore it as a bathing suit cover-up in my early 20's.  It's hard to imagine having an article of clothing for that long.  Anyway, I have not worn it aside from pjs for years.  It was time to deconstruct it or donate it to Goodwill.

What did I decide?  To making this a t-shirt with ruffles.  The long length allowed me to adorn it with itself.  Does that even make sense?  I don't know but here it goes:

I cut it about where the waistline would be and hemmed the now t-shirt top bottom edge with a ballpoint needle and a zig-zag stitch with a contrasting color: khaki green.

I then took the bottom skirt part and with my scissors, cut it into one very long continuous strip as if I were peeling an orange.  I did not concern myself that the strip was not perfectly cut.  There were some fat areas and skinny areas and parts where the scissor cuts were a bit jagged.  I figured it would add some character.

Once this was cut, I needed to make this my ruffle.  There are a few ways to make ruffles:
  1. Put sewing machine on the longest stitch and sew.  Sometimes this is all you have to do and the machine gathers it for you.  If not, then try #2.
  2. Do #1, but have a double stitch.  Meaning sew one line then go back and about a 1/4" apart, sew another line.  Hold one end of the two threads tight then with the other hand slide the fabric away from the holding hand.  This allows you to gather the ruffle and make it as full as you need it to be.
  3. Lastly, sew a zig-zag stitch over another, separate strong thread, making a channel.
I chose to do the 3rd way.  Here is a link (Sew 4 Home) to a site that has pictures of what I was trying to explain.  They explain it way better than I can. :-)

The zig-zag method is the second easiest (the first being #1 where the machine just does it for you).  I took the fabric strip and a separate spool of button thread and set the machine to the widest zig-zag.  I placed the button thread down under the presser foot, on top of the material and held it in place and stitched the zig-zag down the entire length of the material.  You have to ensure that you do not actually stitch the button thread.  You are just stitching over it to trap it under the zig-zag.

When I stitched a few inches, I went back to the beginning and tied the green thread and the white button thread in a knot.  This will ensure that the button thread is not pulled out from the channel while zig-zaging and ruffling. I sewed the whole length of the strip.

Then I held the opposite end of the button thread, where I ended, and slid the material down near the knotted end.  This was a long process because my strip was ridiculously long.  I did not want to run out of ruffle so I just did the whole thing.

The button thread will need to stay in the channel to maintain the ruffle until it is sewed in place.  Sometimes it can be removed, but if it is sewed over during the attachment step, then it will have to stay.  I took this now ruffle and adjusted it so it was nice and even.  I took this over to the t-shirt and pinned it, button thread side down, along the neckline of the t-shirt. 

I started pinning it at the back of the neck and where the two sides met in the front where the v-neck was, I continued it down the front.  I sewed it in place and...

How do you like it?  It is not perfect, but it is darn cute!  I will love this shirt for 10 more years!  Well, that is highly unlikely that ruffles like this will be in style continuously for 10 more years, but they keep coming back, so why not later too?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sun Skirt

Happy Labor Day Weekend!  This is an easy-peasy project today.  I had this sundress that was a bit snug in the midsection and because of that, I never wore it.

I had placed this dress in my box-o-tricks for when I went to a friend's house to use her serger (I used it to finish the sleeves from the Summer Lovin' Sweater).  It became a sewing party, with very little sewing going on (bottles of wine and sharp objects don't mix well, ya know?) so I only got to a thing or two and this dress never made it out of the box.

I decided to make this a skirt.  I lopped off the bottom below the breast cups; I figured, "Why not make it a longer skirt?"

I took it over to the ironing board and steamed a double hem.  I did not even measure, just eye-balled it.  It was not critical because I won't be wearing a top that will be higher than the waistline; it will be covered.

I sewed the waist line hem.  This fits as-is without feeling like it will fall down, but just to be on the safe, I wanted to have a cinch.  I figured out the middle of the back and went to the left about an inch.  I went to my button jar and found a cream button.  I attached the button on the outside of the skirt with matching thread.

Then to the right about an inch from the middle of the back, I wanted to place a loop.  I grabbed my embroidery thread holder and chose three colors that were found in the dress: sage green, light pink and yellow.  I cut about a foot of thread of each color, braided it, and tied it in a loop with a knot.

I sewed the loop onto the outside of the skirt, with the knot on the left and the loop on the right.  This way when it is buttoned, the knot will be hidden.

Once the back is cinched, there is no fear that it was slip down on me while wearing it.  I placed a dab of glue on the knot for good measure.

Viola!  The finished sun skirt!

Now, this is something that I will wear this weekend. I'm glad I saved this sundress from forever being in the dark.  Enjoy the day!