September 7, 2017

leethal Stencils! Four ways to use them…

New thing! In graphic design school, we used a die cutter for a couple of projects, I was really into it, I checked craigslist juuuust in case and happened to find one used for less than half the price of a new one. So I impulsively bought it, started brainstorming what I could use it for, and now I’ve designed and made a bunch of stencils! You can find them in my newly revamped etsy shop here.

leethal pattern stencil

So first, about the stencils: they are made from thermal laminating sheets, run through a laminator with nothing between the layers, so they are basically sheets of plastic. I wanted to use something better for the earth, and/or recycled/reclaimed, but I found that this option makes the best durable, reusable stencils. I played around with reclaimed transparency sheets, but they didn’t cut as nicely and they don’t hold up as well, so this was the best quality option I could come up with. They can be used over and over if you’re gentle with them.

leethal word stencil

I’ve made two different types of stencils so far: words and repeating patterns. There are three of each type (for now, maybe more later!), and since the word stencils kind of fit together, you can get all three in a set if you want. The repeating pattern designs are different from each other; they are just three random things that I love — craft tools, vegetables, and elephants!

leethal pattern stencil

So, now I will go through four different ways you can use the stencils on fabric. I’ve only used them on fabric, so that’s what I’ll show you, but of course you can use the stencils on other things as well. You can stencil them directly onto clothes, like tees or skirts, or onto pieces of fabric which you’ll later sew into things, or on pillowcases, tote bags, etc. I’ll first show each of the four methods with single stencils, then talk about repeats…

leethal pattern stencil leethal pattern stencil

Before we begin, a note about paints. Be sure to read the label of whatever you decide to use. Many fabric paints need to be heat set (by ironing the fabric once it’s dry). Others don’t need heat setting, but must set for 24-72 hours before washing.

With all methods, it’s highly recommended that you put a piece of cardboard or paper grocery bag or something behind the layer of fabric you’re printing on, so the paint doesn’t bleed through to whatever’s behind it (the back side of the tee, for example, or the tabletop).

Method #1: spray paint.

leethal word stencil

Main pros of this method: it’s fast and easy. Main cons: it can be kinda blurry, and you need to do it outside or in a garage or something.

To use a stencil with spray paint, you’ll need to block out the area around the stencil, with paper or cardboard. If you want to be extra safe, tape it to the stencil so the paint can’t leak under…

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

You can see below that the paint did indeed float under a bit with this one, up by the collar, and down below, there are hints of orange. Also, if you want the stenciled image to be sharper, use 2-sided tape on the back of the stencil, to stick it onto the fabric. The closer the stencil is to the fabric, the sharper it’ll be.

using leethal stencils

After letting the paint on the stencil dry for a few hours, I used it again with a different kind of spray paint. Above was just regular hardware store spray paint, which does work on fabric and doesn’t wash out, but it can be a weird texture. You can instead buy fabric spray paint, pictured below (bought at a craft store), which feels nicer on fabric, and I think tends to go on a bit smoother, making slightly sharper images.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

I painted this the same way as the orange one, no tape on top or bottom, and I think it did come out a bit better, and the paint didn’t leak under the paper at all (but maybe that’s because I held the can a bit closer, or another reason, who knows!).

using leethal stencils

Method #2: sponge brush. (aka foam brush)

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Main pros of this method: can look nice and clean if you’re careful, don’t need much space. Main cons: can get blobby if you’re not super careful, not fast.

using leethal stencils

The above stencil is on its second use; the red paint has been dry for several days. For this one I used Jacquard textile color paint. I highly recommend taping down your stencil for this method so it won’t move around.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Hold down the stencil right around where you’re painting as you go, with your non-painting hand. It’s a good idea to also put pieces of 2-sided tape on flappy bits of the stencil, like insides of letters like c, e, n, d, etc, for example, since it’s hard to hold those down with your fingers as you paint. I did not do that here, and I got some unsharp edges but they may have just been a result of hurrying and not being as careful as possible.

using leethal stencils

Always dab the brush up and down, or in from the edges onto the fabric, never into the edges from the fabric. And very important tip (learn from my mistakes): use minimal paint on the brush. Blobs of paint will result in blobby stenciling.

leethal word stencil

That one above turned out pretty well, mostly because I learned from my own mistakes with my first go at it, pictured below… Firstly, I don’t recommend this kind of ribbed knit; the paint went on okay but since I didn’t stretch it while painted, the letters stretch and distort when I wear it. If you do want to stencil onto something stretchy, try to stretch it approx the same amount that it’ll stretch when worn.

using leethal stencils

For this one I used craft store fabric paint, which works fine but since I squeezed it out directly onto my fabric brush (instead of squeezing some onto a plate or something and then dabbing the brush into that), I had some big blobs of paint on my brush…

using leethal stencils

So I ended up with a messy stencil job. Main takeaway about the sponge brush method: don’t rush it! A smaller amount of paint on the brush will take longer to dab onto the fabric thoroughly, but it’ll be worth it for sharp edges!

using leethal stencils

I used a sponge brush for this tote bag, which doesn’t lie flat, so I held each part down carefully with my non-painting hand and went slowly, and it turned out well. Note about this method: it would probably work similarly with a normal paintbrush, if that’s all you have and you want to give it a try; just use the same tips about going slowly, dabbing up and down at the stencil edges, etc.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Method #3: fabric markers.

using leethal stencils

Main pros of this method: clean edges, easy to use multiple colors if you want to, don’t need much space. Main cons: filled color can look a bit uneven, somewhat slow (but faster than sponge brush).

leethal word stencil

To test out this method, I first bought three different types of markers at the art store — one brush tip, one wide tip, and one chisel tip.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

They all worked, but the brush tip was best/easiest. So, I went and bought a whole set of brush tip (actually, they are dual-tip) fabric markers at the craft store.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

For this method, simply color in the stencil, being careful around the edges so color doesn’t get underneath, holding the stencil down with your non-coloring hand same as with the sponge brush method.

using leethal stencils leethal word stencil

Important note: when I reused a stencil that had been spray painted (and fully dried) it seemed fine, but when I reused one that had dried Jacquard paint on it, the paint bled into the marker color; same for dried fabric marker. So if reusing a stencil, test it out on scrap fabric first, or else choose a marker color that’s the same/similar or will blend well with the dried paint. You can get some really color effects by purposely blending colors from the stencil edges!

using leethal stencils

Method #4: screen print.

using leethal stencils

Main pros of this method: can look very good/clean, the actual printing is quick and you can do multiple prints in a row. Main cons: more tools needed than other methods, and some space, and extra cleanup time.

using leethal stencils

This method works like normal screen printing, but you’ll use a blank screen placed over the stencil. So you need a screen, a screen printing squeegee, a stable surface, and fabric paint that’s meant for screen printing. I also used a palette knife to get the paint from the jar onto the screen. Place the stencil where you want it on the fabric, then carefully place the screen on top. If you want to be extra careful, and/or if you’re using a stencil that doesn’t have much blank space from the image to the outside edges of the stencil sheet, place some thick paper around the sides of the stencil so that you won’t get paint onto the fabric at the edges. (I did not do that in this example, I was just careful to keep the paint within the stencil sheet.) Put some fabric paint in a row along the top, above the stencil image (but not above the actual stencil sheet!).

using leethal stencils

Use the squeegee to pull the paint over the stencil, with pressure to push it through to the fabric. Run it back and forth a few times. Be sure to cover the whole stencil image. I did not do that! I missed the side of the y at the end there. Also, my paint was like ten years old, so it was kinda globby, which I think contributed to how it didn’t cleanly fill in the right side there. The rest of it turned out nice and clean though! If you’re careful, the stencil will be stuck to the screen with paint, and you can set it onto another fabric item and print it again, as long as the stencil doesn’t shift on the screen.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

If you want to try out this method with cheaper tools, but potentially slightly messier results, you may be able to use things you already have. You need: an embroidery hoop big enough to fit the stencil, a piece of mesh fabric bigger than the hoop, a squeegee of some kind that can fit in the hoop, and fabric paint. The homemade screen I have is smaller than the stencils, so I used a mini-stencil just to show you. My squeegee is a cheapo (dollar store?) one that I broke the ends off of to make it fit in my hoop. You can also use an old credit card as a squeegee — that actually might be the better option since I think you get cleaner results from a harder squeegee and this one I used is much softer than the screen printing squeegee. The denseness of the mesh fabric will determine how much paint gets through and how clean the print is: denser mesh equals cleaner print. You can also buy screen printing mesh for this.

using leethal stencils

Same steps as above, place stencil, place screen over it, paint goes onto stencil sheet above stencil image.

using leethal stencils

Pull the ink over the stencil.

using leethal stencils

And lift it up to reveal your print! I either used a bit too much paint here, or it’s just that my mesh isn’t dense enough and/or my squeegee is too soft, because my print isn’t super clean.

using leethal stencils

But it looks okay, mostly just a bit thick. Anyway, play around with that if you have a big hoop and some mesh fabric!

using leethal stencils

With repeating stencils, I recommend any but the screen printing method, depending on exactly what you want to do. Screen printing is not recommended for this mostly because it would be difficult to line up the repeats, and you’d need a lot of space. For printing directly onto clothing, the sponge brush or fabric marker methods will give you the most control.

leethal pattern stencil

The sponge brush will take longer because you’ll need to let each repeat dry to the touch before doing the next one, since the stencil will overlap on top of the paint.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

I did the craft tools on the skirt above with screen printing paint, and I sponge brushed the elephants on the skirt below using craft store fabric paint (same type of paint as the red blobby one up above, but I was careful here to limit my paint amounts and I got clean edges).

leethal pattern stencil

And I did the vegetables below with fabric markers. The marker method goes much faster here because you don’t need to let the paint dry between repeats, since the marker ink isn’t wet enough to be able to smear when you place the stencil overlapping the previous repeat.

leethal pattern stencil

All three of these were repeated along the bottom of the skirts, so only one row of stencil, repeated across. The elephants and rainbow vegetables go all the way around, and the craft tools are only on the front.

leethal pattern stencil leethal pattern stencil

Here’s another example of using a pattern stencil on clothing, but not repeated: I stenciled some of the vegetables onto a pair of socks, pulling the socks over cardboard rectangles so that they were stretched a bit. I stenciled each side, and then turned the sock a bit around the cardboard to get the part that needed to wrap around.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Then there’s the option of stenciling whole pieces of fabric! All the pattern stencils are designed to be able to repeat across and up and down, so they can be all-over patterns. For this, I recommend spray painting, because the other methods would just take so long.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

For spray painting with the pattern stencils, you’ll need to securely tape paper or cardboard around all the sides to protect the fabric from the paint.

using leethal stencils

Tape it all together super securely! You don’t want things coming untaped as you’re painting (trust me)! Tape can go over the stencil, just make sure all the holes are clear. Put tape on both sides.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Especially if using cardboard, overlap the stencil over the paper/cardboard with the wrong side of the stencil up, so you’ll place the stencil on the fabric with the stencil side down, touching the fabric. (So the stencil isn’t raised up off the fabric the width of the cardboard.) I recommend putting 2-sided tape on the side that will touch the fabric, just to help it out to touch the fabric as much as possible.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

For the cleanest results, tape your fabric down (stretched a bit if it’s stretchy fabric) on a smooth surface, like a large piece of cardboard. Start at one corner, and spray your first repeat:

using leethal stencils

Now, lining up the repeats is a bit tricky since your stencil isn’t see-through anymore, once there’s paint covering it. You’ll need to look through the holes, and also pay attention to where things are lining up, like if the top edge of the paper taped to the stencil lines up with the top edge of the cardboard under the fabric, then keep those lined up as you repeat across the row.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

This uses a lot of paint! I ran out of blue and had to finish with purple. For this super long piece, only the top half-ish fit on the cardboard, so that half was taped flat/smooth, and I left the bottom half loose, just smoothed out over the grass. So I can show you the difference between smooth/flat fabric, and not so flat fabric. Here’s the taped down fabric:

using leethal stencils

Versus not taped down. See how much blurrier lots of the edges are:

using leethal stencils

For this next one, I was using a knit fabric, so I stretched it a little, smooth over the cardboard. It went beyond the cardboard there at the bottom, but it’s taped underneath in a couple of spots.

using leethal stencils

Same deal, start at one corner and repeat across the first row. For all of these, I used normal (non-fabric) spray paint.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Next row across, lining the repeats up the best I could…

using leethal stencils

And changing colors here for each row.

using leethal stencils

Tip: be extra careful with really floppy stencil bits, like the embroidery hoop on this one. It’s easy to accidentally smudge paint from a floppy bit onto the fabric as you place the stencil, and if you’re reeeaally not careful, things can happen like you see below:

using leethal stencils

Done!

using leethal stencils

This last one had some issues. The fabric took the paint weird, I don’t know why, it just didn’t show up well at all. I sprayed extra paint on, using up the first color (it wasn’t a fresh can though!) and switching to a higher contrast color for the top and bottom rows. For the circle, I started in the center for the longest row first:

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

This stencil was taped to cardboard, so to line up the repeats I lifted the one side of the cardboard (the lifted side is the blurry line in the photo below) to see the previous repeat next to the stencil.

using leethal stencils

Here’s how this one turned out, kinda subtle but it works:

leethal pattern stencil

Here’s another big learn from my mistakes tip: the tape on this one started coming undone in the middle of the repeats, and I was trying to fix it, wiggling the stencil around, turning it upside down, and the paint started dripping all over the place, on the front and back sides! This made the stencil unusable until the paint could dry, since there were drips on the side that would touch the fabric. So tape thoroughly, and be careful and gentle as you use the stencil!

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Another tip about spray painting a lot of repeats: wear disposable rubber gloves if possible, at least on one hand, because once the paint starts to build up you may want to touch up edges of the stencil, remove globs or blades of grass, etc. If you don’t wear gloves, spray paint is really hard to get off your fingers (TRUST me).

leethal pattern stencil

Here’s a smaller repeat job I did with spray paint — the front side of a tee. Same deal, just line up the repeats across the rows.

using leethal stencils

I did this one before all those others, and I wasn’t as practiced yet at lining up repeats, so learn from my mistakes here too and be careful lining up repeats! ;)

using leethal stencils

Lastly, if you’ll be sewing your stenciled fabric into something, I recommend cutting the pieces out first. That way, you’re not painting anything that won’t get used. I cut out two pieces shaped like this to sew into a pair of leggings:

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

Same process, tape down the fabric (stretched!) and stencil the repeats to cover the whole piece. For this, I used the fancy fabric spray paint. I was not stingy with my application, especially at the beginning when I was still getting used to it, and I ended up using up the entire can about 1.5 legs in. Had to run to the craft store to buy another can and finish the job. So, I recommend just normal spray paint for large jobs, because they use so much paint, and/or if using the pricier paint, don’t spray more than is needed.

using leethal stencils using leethal stencils

After the paint was dry, I sewed them up and here they are:

leethal pattern stencil leethal pattern stencil

Okay I think this post is long enough!! Comment if you have any questions, and I might add updates to the post with extra tips/notes if things come up. Here’s another link to my etsy shop, where the stencils live :)

Filed under: clothing,general crafts,graphic design,leethal store,stencils,tutorials — Lee Meredith @ 1:31 pm

August 15, 2016

New Full Body Trio pattern: Chilli!

My Full Body Trio of any-gauge, versatile garment patterns is now complete!  Tionne the pullover sweater and Lopes the convertible short-sleeved cardigan / skirt were joined by Chilli the buttoning tank top.  (ravelry link)

Chilli

Like the other two patterns, it’s custom fit to your measurements in any yarn weight; this one is meant to be made in a warm-weather yarn for a summery top, but it could be made as a vest too. This one is by far the easiest and fastest knit of the three trio patterns!

Chilli Chilli

The pockets are optional, and you can choose to use one color or multiple colors on your top – the pockets would be much more subtle if made in the same color as the body.

Chilli Chilli

It’s not quite as versatile as the first two designs with how it can be worn (see how the other two can be worn on their blog posts: Tionne and Lopes), but it can be buttoned in different ways to make different styles:

Chilli Chilli Chilli

Chilli Chilli Chilli

Chilli Chilli Chilli

My pocketed sample is in Nettle Grove by Plymouth Yarn, a sport weight made of cotton, linen, silk, and nettle fiber – it’s perfect for a summery top, very cool!  It was great to work with, it’s fully machine washable and dryable, and it softens up a ton once washed, making a super comfy fabric.

Chilli

My solid color, pocketless sample was made with triple-stranded Louet MerLin sport weight, making a bulky weight, which was knit somewhat loosely on size US 11 needles.  Even though it’s a fat gauge, it’s still a totally wearable warm-weather top, as the linen blend breaths well and doesn’t feel too heavy.

Chilli

I started with a prototype in some recycled cotton, and I ended up changing the top part completely, so it’s not a sample of the whole thing, but it works to show you pockets made in the same color as the body, and sewn on at a rounded angle instead of a straight line:

same-color pockets on a Chilli prototype same-color pockets on a Chilli prototype

For another glimpse at my design process, here’s a sketch I made while planning it out, with my original color choices plugged in; I later decided on the light green instead for a more summery look.  But colors like this, with lower contrast, would be a nice, more subtle look.  This sketch doesn’t show the cabled neckline how it ended up, that part came later in the design process.

Chilli sketch with color idea

And here’s a closeup of how that neckline turned out, working to shape the neck by pulling the fabric down, without any change to the stitch count:

Chilli

The garter stitch top part is worked flat, sideways, modularly with stitches left along the bottom edge for later, and then the body is worked down to the bottom, in the round in stockinette, and it’s finished with some ribbing at the bottom.  The pockets are added last, so you can wait to decide at the last minute whether you want them or not, or whether to make them in a contrasting color or not.

Chilli Chilli

There is very little finishing: sew down the pockets if you made them, sew on the buttons, and you’re done!  Techniques used are pretty simple: cabling without a cable needle is easy with the basic cables used, the buttonholes are made like crochet chains (but not using a crochet hook), and a cable cast-on and cable bind-off are used so the edges around the armholes match.

Chilli

I know it’s getting a bit late in the season to start a summer top, but depending on where you live (and what gauge you choose) you may be able to finish one in time to get some wear out of it this year still!  Or take your time and have it ready to wear by next spring ;)  You can get the whole trio mini-collection (the price makes it the same as buy 2 patterns get 1 free!) and make one of the warmer sweaters first, then cast this one on next year.  (ravelry link)  Anyway, I’m so happy with this trio, but don’t expect me to be designing any more garments anytime soon, I plan to stick with accessories for the foreseeable future!  Glad to have dipped my toes into garments a bit though, and I love all three of these designs!

Tionne sweater! Lopes! Chilli

Filed under: clothing,knitting,pattern Trios — Lee Meredith @ 12:13 pm

April 21, 2015

New Full Body Trio pattern: Lopes!

Lopes, the second garment pattern in my Full Body Trio mini-collection (after Tionne), has been released!  (On ravelry here!)  If you follow me on social media at all, you saw plenty of peeks a couple months back when I was making the first sample – I was posting all kinds of close-ups on instagram, revealing things like the sleeves (and the fact that it was an item that had sleeves), the seed stitch edge, the drop-stitch wedges…

Ahh seed stitch, I do so love how it looks but hate the act of knitting it. Which makes it good for just the edge :) Sigh. I'm no good at garment design yet. My sample was sized SO wrong - there are eight of these panels of 26 rows, and for correct sizing there should have been 16 rows instead. The heartbreaking thing is it would have been WAY quicker to knit if I'd fig

#leethalPAD day 14: Jagged. Ziggy-zaggy drop-stitches in my upcoming pattern sample. This was my first time hiring a sample knitter for a pattern sample (shout out to awesome knitter Chantal, who I don't think is on Instagram) and it was very exciting to Sleeve #1, done!  I think I'm pretty darn happy with how this is looking! (Upcoming leethal Full Body Trio pattern.)

But the BIG REVEAL when the pattern was released last Thursday night was that it’s a cardigan that can also be worn as a skirt!!  TAH DAH!

Lopes! Lopes

It’s a springy/summery, drapey, flared, airy, swingy wrap cardigan, with short sleeves which can be turned in and laced closed, turning them into the functional pockets of the wraparound skirt!

Lopes Lopes

I made a video showing you how it works and some different ways it can be worn:

That was fun!  (Many thanks to Pete for whipping up that background music for me!)

Lopes! Lopes!

So, here are things about the pattern…  It’s written for any yarn weight/gauge, though nothing heavier than worsted is recommended, and working at a loose gauge for maximum drape is ideal.  (I made a prototype to figure out shaping/construction/size stuff, in bulky weight, and it is totally ridiculous and unwearable.  Part of it is that the sizing is all wrong, so that all got fixed in the pattern, but the bulky weight is really not a good fit for this item.)

Lopes! Lopes

The samples were made with Hazel Knits Lively DK, the beautiful Sedge colorway (which very much shifts colors depending on light!), knit at a very loose gauge (size US 8 needles on the shorter sample, US 7’s for the longer sample), and it was a fantastic yarn fit.  Hazel Knits is an awesome yarn company, local-ish to me in the Pacific Northwest (based in Seattle), and they do dye-to-order if they don’t have the color you love in stock – turn around is two weeks (or less!) on custom dyed orders – there are so many gorgeous colorways, it was really hard for me to choose just one, but I really love the Sedge so I made a good choice!

Good mail day!! That's @hazelknits DK in colorway Sedge <3  Can't wait to start knitting with it!

Lopes is custom sized to your body, using your own measurements, and you can make it shorter or longer, as you prefer.  You’ll need to make a good gauge swatch, take a few measurements on yourself, then fill out a worksheet with some math (very easy with a calculator app) to find your custom pattern numbers.  (This is the same as how Tionne works, except Lopes is much simpler than Tionne, fewer sections and fewer numbers to find.)

Lopes Lopes

The measurements of the piece are based on the measurements of your upper body, so the cardigan fits nicely around the back/shoulders, and around your waist, so the skirt fits.  The fronts of the cardigan are therefore usually wide, overlapping quite a bit, for a double-breasted kind of wrap style sweater.

Lopes Lopes!

The cardigan flares out a lot, which makes it nice and swingy and fun to wear…

Lopes! Lopes!

Lopes!

…but, as you saw in the video above, you also have the option of using ribbons/laces to cinch it around your body for a more form-fitting look.

Lopes!

Lopes! Lopes!

The piece flares out with short row wedges, worked with a drop-stitch pattern – the fabric is already meant to be light and airy, so the dropped stitches make it more so, and the garter stitch borders add some texture.  Of course, the skirt is designed to be worn over another skirt layer, or opaque leggings, or as a beach coverup, etc.  Even if the fabric wasn’t see-through, it would still be scandalous to wear it without something under, since it’s open in the back!

Lopes! Lopes

That wraparound, open-back design makes for a very comfy, moveable skirt, as you can see in the shot below where I guess I’m being a dinosaur?  Photoshoots are silly.

Lopes! Lopes

The sleeves/pockets are in garter stitch, giving them nice stretch while functioning both ways, and they have braided cables running down the centers, matching the braided cables along the bottom edge.  And eyelet holes around the bottoms, for lacing up the pockets.

Lopes!

They are worked last, out from live stitches left in the body, in the round with short row shaping.  Here’s a closeup of the sleeve cable joining the body:

Lopes

(Side note:  I had originally designed this with plain garter stitch sleeves; the idea to add the cables came to me as I was knitting up the sample, and I’m SO glad it did!  Test knitters agreed that the sleeves are one of the best parts of the pattern.  Love them!)

Lopes Lopes

The short sample has very short sleeves, which makes the pockets not very functional, only meant for putting my hands in; the longer sample has sleeves about an inch longer, making the pockets more functional, but they still can’t hold very much.  If you want really functional pockets for holding stuff, it’s recommended that you go about another inch or so longer than these sleeves.

Lopes Lopes

As you see, the sleeves can be worked in a contrasting color for a nice effect, especially when worn as pockets (I think).  These sleeves are Hazel Knits Lively DK in Low Tide (the leftover yarn from my Warren hat – those skeins are big!) – I love the subtle variegation just on the sleeves.  I think the whole piece is best in a solid/semi-solid, but that contrast works very well to my eye!

Lopes Lopes!

And you can play around with some other color pop ideas like I did in my longer sample – the beginning and ending edges are in a contrasting dark grey color (Anzula Cricket in Elephant), and the last panel is in a contrasting lighter green yarn (Anzula Cricket in Key Lime).

Lopes Lopes

As for yardage, my shorter sample used just under 3 skeins of the Lively DK – approx 730 yards / 670 meters total, and my longer sample used 3 full skeins plus all the contrasting bits, totaling up to approx 1100 yards / 1000 meters used.  I normally wear a size large; you can see my very approximate yardage estimates for all yarn weight and sizes here.

Lopes! Lopes

Let’s see, what else about the pattern?  Oh, buttons!  Buttons are always fun, of course.  Let me show you mine!  My yellow button came from an amazing little button shop in York, England.  I’d been saving it for just the right project, and I think it’s a perfect fit here!

Lopes!

And the second button there was found in my stash – I don’t know where it came from but I’m assuming a bag of old buttons from a thrift store, or from Knittn’ Kitten, since that’s where most of my random stash buttons came from.  There’s a deer on it!

Lopes

The back side buttons on this sample are yellow as well, also random stash finds.

Lopes!

The other sample features antler buttons, bought at Paxton Gate in North Portland.  Love them!!

Lopes!

Lopes

This sample is special, by the way, a first for me as a designer – I hired a sample knitter to make it!  Local knitter Chantal knit the whole body of the piece, and I just added the sleeves and did the finishing.  It was so weird and cool to have an almost finished pattern sample handed to me!  Hours upon hours of work that I didn’t have to do myself.  Not that I didn’t love knitting Lopes, because I really do love this pattern and I (mostly) enjoyed making the first sample, but, two in a row?  With tons of other deadlines and work projects on my mind?  The pattern would have been delayed a month probably if I’d done it myself, not because that’s how long it took, but because I’d have had to wait till I finished other deadline projects first before finishing it… Anyway, that made me feel like I took a new step as a professional designer, and Chantal did a great job, so hooray!  Thanks Chantal!!

Lopes!

And many thanks to my test knitters as well, but super especially to Megan, of the Stockinette Zombies video podcast!  (She shows her Lopes test knit in this episode, keeping the fact that it’s a skirt a secret since the pattern wasn’t released yet – thanks for that, Megan!)  I had a too-tight deadline for testers on this project, since I was eager to release it asap, and Megan is the only one who actually finished it 100% so she’s awesome.  (Don’t worry, other testers tested all the parts of the pattern, and the pattern was also tech edited – thanks Ashwini! – so it’s been fully checked and is up to my quality standards!)

Lopes Lopes

Okay now I’m going to get into a lot of detail about the design process for Lopes, so if that doesn’t interest you, just check out the pattern on ravelry and thanks for reading this far!  ;)  Here we go…

Lopes!

For my first garment pattern, Tionne, I blogged all about how I first got the design idea, and my design process… once I had that design concept in my head, I decided I wanted to do a trio of garment patterns, so I started casually thinking about other garment ideas, and the idea for Lopes just came to me.  I don’t have any kind of story about it; I don’t even remember how I first thought of it.  I just had a thought one day, something like, what if I made a really simply shaped, flared piece, in three panels, and there are sleeves which can fold in and become pockets, so it can be worn as a cardigan and a skirt?  Hmmmmm… and then eventually Lopes was born!

Lopes!

Oh but, my original design concept was for the three parts (the two sides and the center, between the sleeves/pockets) to all be the same width across, and I stuck to that all the way through completing the first sample, which is why this happened.  When it was done and blocked, it was WAY too big.  Horrible fit.  I was in denial the whole way though until it was completely finished, partly because the gauge stretched A LOT with blocking, and I’d measured my swatch without stretching it so much, so that was my fault and it really did get much larger than I expected it to… and part of my denial was just not wanting to frog and re-knit because I was in a big hurry to get it done and out to test knitters.  So, when it was almost done, only partially blocked, with the needles still in one half-done sleeve, I took some quickie photos to send out with my call for testers, and I really did think the fit was going to be okay at this point:

Lopes first fail

Looking back at these shots now, blech, it’s so obvious to now-me that the fit isn’t okay.  The sleeves are so droopy, for one thing.  Anyway, then I finished it, wove in all the ends and everything, and blocked it completely.  And then I did another quickie placeholder-photos shoot.  It was during this shoot that I reluctantly came to the conclusion that it was NOT OKAY and something needed to be done.  As you can see, I tried playing around with making it look cool as it was, but it just wasn’t working.

Lopes first fail Lopes first fail

At that time was when I re-did my original math based on the actual post-blocked gauge, and posted this panic-y instagram, when I was still thinking the pattern was okay as it was, but that the whole thing should have been smaller.  After lots more measuring, calculating, etc, I realized that actually that wasn’t true, and most of my sample was actually okay as it was (yay!) but the pattern needed to be re-written.  It just wouldn’t work for all three sections to be the same width.  So I re-did all the worksheet/numbers stuff, re-wrote parts of the pattern, and figured out how to go about fixing this sample.

I decided I could make the whole thing sized correctly by significantly shrinking the two center panels, and the sleeves; I tweeted about this and Kirsten suggested the excellent idea of grafting first, cutting second, so I could make sure the new sizing was good before doing anything permanent.  That turned out to be a REALLY helpful idea, because I did indeed need to unravel and re-graft the first panel!

Lopes surgery project Lopes surgery project

So I grafted, un-grafted those stitches, re-grafted, it was good the second time, so I cut and unraveled.  Unfortunately, even though I was trying to be super careful, I cut the wrong strand (I thought it was the right strand! It was hard to tell what was happening!) and made a new hole next to the grafted stitches, so I had to graft that closed too.

Lopes surgery project Lopes surgery project

For the second panel, I cut first, grafted second.  So then the center section was the correct size, fit to my body.

Lopes surgery project Lopes surgery project

The other major re-do was to completely frog both sleeves, graft up the armpits several stitches to make smaller holes, and re-knit them.  Here it is after the first was finished, for comparison; of course, the bigger one is post-blocking, and the smaller one is pre-blocking, knit with kinky frogged yarn.  But I made the sleeves MUCH smaller, which really gave the entire sweater a much better fit!

Lopes surgery project

 So that was that – I re-blocked the center and the sleeves, and it fit perfectly!  Phew!  I was so relieved when I tried it on and it actually fit right, unlike the first time when I tried it on and kind of convinced myself that it was okay before finally admitting that it was not.  And the pattern got all fixed up and written to work for all sizes, and to fit right for everyone!  Hooray!

Lopes!

So, overall, even though it was an annoying process, I learned a lot, I ended up with the best possible pattern/sample, and it all turned out for the best!

Lopes!

Okay I think that’s everything I have to say about Lopes.  The third garment pattern in the Full Body Trio (Chilli) will probably be coming near the end of the year; I’ve got to spread out these garment patterns, they are exhausting for an accessory designer!  There will be some exciting non-garment things coming soon, though!  Happy knitting, everyone!

Filed under: clothing,knitting,pattern Trios,skirts — Lee Meredith @ 3:39 pm

November 4, 2014

New pattern: Tionne! (my first sweater pattern!!)

Tionne sweater! Tionne sweater!

I’ve done it!  After 7 years of designing knit accessories, I’ve upped my game and released my first garment pattern!  (Find Tionne on ravelry here, or on my website here.)  It’s a stripy asymmetrical pullover sweater, which can be worn in any direction!

Tionne sweater!

Aaand, it’s for any weight yarn, custom sized to your body, by measuring your gauge, taking measurements of yourself, and filling out a worksheet to find all your custom pattern numbers.   (If this part scares you – it’s 2 pages of easy-to-calculate math, all adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing; if you have a calculator app, and you go through it slowly and carefully, you’ll be fine!  It’s super important to get accurate numbers, so you can’t just wing it… but you can do it, I believe in you!)

Tionne sweater! Tionne sweater!

Tionne features a stretchy, garter stitch, solid color cowl neck on one side, which can be flipped around to be the waist instead, making the striped, wider side into a huge cowl neck, with a fitted waist:

Tionne sweater!

The striped side has an eyelet pattern, so that you can use the eyelet holes to scrunch it up with ribbon, or even sew some buttons on and use the eyelets as buttonholes, so the stripy neck can be styled in different ways.  (Or it can simply fold down around the shoulders, like in the top photo.)

Tionne sweater! Tionne sweater!

The sample is in Hikoo Kenzie worsted weight yarn (on the lighter side of worsted) – I am completely IN LOVE with this yarn!!  It’s a blend of New Zealand Merino, nylon, angora, alpaca, and silk noils.  It is soft but durable, tweedy, with a subtle halo and I just want a pile of it in every color to use it to knit all the things!  (Seriously.  Love it.)

Tionne sweater!

Here’s what this wacky sweater looks like flat:

Tionne sweater

Oh and there’s a short sleeved variation included as well!  My first prototype was a short sleeved one; some changes were made to the pattern after I made this one, but you get the idea.  It’s in bulky yarn (knit loosely), which I don’t really recommend for a short sleeved one – it works, but it’s a bit cumbersome for something with no arm coverage.

short sleeved Tionne short sleeved Tionne

This is a variety of bulky yarns, for some stash-busting action.  The awesome pink and orange neons are Space Cadet Elara, as is the grey in the middle – the leftovers from my giant Mikkey cowl.  The beige is Berroco Blackstone Tweed Chunky, the dark blue is a random handspun I had in my stash, the neon green is leftovers of the handspun used to make this Unbroken hat, and the grey at the bottom is some leftover Austermann Natura from my Maurice cowl.

short sleeved Tionne

For a better example of the short sleeve variation, Sarah – The Sexy Knitter – test knit this version and took awesome photos!  Here is her fabulous many-colored short sleeved Tionne:

Sarah's Tionne

And now, some details about construction…

I kind of love grafting - it's easy, and it's like magic! How do you feel about grafting?

The sweater is worked partly flat, partly in the round, using short rows combined with increases & decreases, provisional cast-ons, and grafting, to make for a totally modular construction, with no picked up stitches or sewn seams.  The six sections are all connected as you knit, with 4 seams to graft with kitchener stitch at the end (only 2 for the short sleeved variation), making it completely seamless.

Section 1 – sideways garter stitch – is connected seamlessly to section 2 using my sideways edge cast-on technique (simple short rows + increases as you knit, to avoid picked up stitches and make a smooth join):

Tionne sweater

Here’s a detail shot of where sections 3, 4, and 5 all come together, with a grafted bit there in the middle:

Tionne sweater

The sleeves are knit in opposite directions, but the cuffs are identical, so they will fit comfortably, with exactly the same number of garter stitch rows around.  The first sleeve is worked flat, side to side (starting with Judy’s magic cast-on to work outwards in both directions, ending by grafting it together), and the second sleeve is worked in the round down to the cuff, then uses what I call a sideways-edge bind-off technique to work the cuff sideways around (grafting it closed).  The second cuff is worked with a stockinette stripe in the middle, to match that detail on the first cuff:

Tionne sweater

There is a very simple slip-stitch faux-seam where the colors switch, to deal with stripe jogging, for the parts worked in the round:

Tionne sweater

The pattern includes a detailed schematic, a diagram showing how to measure yourself, 16 process photos showing how the piece is constructed (on their own pages, so you don’t need to print them if you don’t want to), photo tutorials for the crochet provisional cast-on and Judy’s magic cast-on, and step-by-step instructions for grafting the different sections (some in stockinette, some in garter).

Tionne sweater!

Want to know the backstory of my design process?  I had no plans to design a sweater anytime soon, at the beginning of this year, but then in March I took a trip to my local Japanese bookstore.  One book caught my attention instantly, because of the piece on the back cover (below, left), and when I started flipping through it, there were several more eye-catching items that looks fascinating to me…

Japanese knitting book Japanese knitting book

And then I reached this page, below.  I think I audibly gasped when I saw that page.  That sweater shape, I became obsessed immediately.  I bought the book, to take the inspiration home with me, and I couldn’t stop thinking about that sweater shape.  I loved the cabled design in the book, but the basic shape of it, that’s what I couldn’t stop thinking about…

I spent days thinking about how it was made with all straight lines, no shaping really, and because of this, even though I had zero experience with garment design, and I had only even ever knit ONE real sweater before, I thought I could maybe, possibly, use that shape concept as a jumping off point to come up with a sweater design of my own.  With the parts coming out in different directions like that, the shape seemed a perfect fit for the techniques I’ve developed over the years, which modularly connect knitted sections worked in different directions.

Japanese knitting book

And the other aspect that made me obsessed with the idea was how the shape looked like it could be flipped upside down – the sweater in the book wasn’t meant to be, but if the two sides were both wide enough to fit around the waist, then it seemed like it could work that way!  And if the two wide sides were different, like one worked sideways, and the other worked around, one with negative ease, and the other without, different lengths, etc, then you’d end up with two completely different sweater styles when wearing it the two different ways.

So days were spent obsessively thinking about this, working it out in my head, how the parts would all work, and I had to try it out somehow!  So I dug through my craft stash and found parts of old reclaimed sweaters, cut them to size, and sewed them together into the shape I had in my head.  It was a seriously wonky piece, but I wanted to see if it would even work at all, and also see how the proportions should be and stuff.  And it worked!

original proto-prototype of Tionne sweater

So I used what I learned from that, and wrote it all out into a knitting pattern, while it was fresh in my head.  While trying on the proto-prototype and examining it, I realized that if the sleeve parts were left off, it could still work.  So I decided to use some bulky yarn and big needles, and try out the pattern with a short sleeved variation, quickly – I needed to test it out while it was fresh, and my obsession hadn’t worn off.  I dug through my stash and grabbed all the bulky yarns that would work together, using neutrals for the main colors and brights for the contrasting.  And I knit my prototype!  And it worked!  The pattern needed some adjusting here and there, but overall, it worked.

short sleeved Tionne

Okay so that point is when I knew I had taken this obsessive inspiration to the point where it needed to go before I could let myself get back to my regularly scheduled work – for about a week (maybe 2?), I’d basically let myself put everything else on hold while I followed that process through to having a complete pattern draft.  Now that the pattern was designed, I could plan ahead, and let it sit for awhile; I could come back to the pattern draft later and know what I was talking about.  (If you’re like me, you might sometimes jot down or sketch ideas that strike in a moment of excited inspiration, then go back to them several months later and have NO idea what you were talking about.  So, if I’m really into an idea, I make sure I write down coherent thoughts/plans/diagrams/etc so I can follow them later.  Writing out the entire pattern is ideal for my future self!)

Tionne color decisions

So, planning ahead.  I thought hard about how I wanted my official sample to be – I decided on worsted weight, and after swatching a square with some that I had on hand, I landed on the Kenzie.  I ended up spending an entire month deciding on colors (such a hard decision!) – I even photoshopped a bunch of my top color combos into a sketch of the design (or what I sort of thought it would look like, since I hadn’t actually knit it yet), to help me decide.  Final color choices ended up being Malbec and Boysenberry (that’s top center in the grid above).  I got the bag of yarn around mid-May; by this time of the year, I was unable to even think about the sweater design, while my focus was on Adventure Knitting and other design responsibilities, so the yarn sat there for quite awhile…

I can't wait to finish up my in-progress design samples so I can cast this on!

Until I was finally able to cast on in early September!  I revived the pattern, refreshed my memory on the whole concept, and started knitting!  I made this sweater as quickly as I possibly could (since I’d originally wanted to release the pattern in early fall, but it was already too late for that, sadly), getting the pattern all perfected as I knit it, finishing it by the end of the month.

Officially back to work on my first sweater design! Had to put it on hold for months for adventure knitting; I finally cast on the sample last night!

And it was awesome!  And I was so happy!  So then I had it test knit throughout October, by some fabulous test knitters – see their projects on ravelry! – and that was my first sweater design process!  Bam!

Tionne sweater!

Oh so then throughout the year, since I had this plan to release my first garment pattern, I did lots of brainstorming about other future garment ideas… and I came up with two more ideas that I’m super excited about!  So, Tionne is the first pattern my in leethal Full Body Trio (on my site here).  Lopes and Chilli will come next year; this will be a spread out trio, many months between each pattern release.

Tionne sweater! Tionne sweater!

The future two designs will both be versatile, wearable in different ways, like Tionne is.  If all goes according to plan, neither will be a pullover sweater like Tionne, they will both be other kinds of garments.  I’m hoping that if you like Tionne, and you like my general design style, you can be confident that you’ll like at least one of the future patterns, hopefully both!!

Tionne sweater!

Something else I love about this pattern: it’s almost entirely garter stitch worked flat and stockinette worked around, so very little purling – only 2 of the 6 sections involve purling, the other 4 are entirely knit.  And there is no shaping, it’s all just straight lines.  So, even though there are weird construction techniques used, all the long rows of plain knitting make this an excellent multi-task knit!  Once you get each section set up and know what you’re doing across/around the rows, it’s easy to knit mindlessly while focusing your attention elsewhere.  I knit a chunk of the middle section in a movie theater, while watching Snowpiercer!  (I’d never knit in a theater before, it was VERY exciting.  I think I might have even mentioned that already on the blog, but it was so exciting I had to tell you again, hah!)

Tionne sweater! Tionne sweater!

I really hope a bunch of you get inspired to make a Tionne in really different kinds of yarns.  The Kenzie works excellently, so I highly recommend it if you want a sweater that looks like mine… but if you have a different kind of vision, go for it!  I think it could look rad in a lightweight yarn worked super loosely, for a transparent kind of look – like the looks of this sweater, or this sweater, or this sweater.  If you do end up making any kind of Tionne, be sure to post your project on ravelry so we can all see it!

Tionne sweater!

That’s Tionne!  It’s weird, but I love weird!  I hope you do too!

Filed under: clothing,knitting,pattern Trios — leethal @ 5:57 pm

October 3, 2014

Book review: Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

Book review time!  First things first – the generous publisher sent me a lovely review copy of this book, Gertie Sews Vintage Casual by Gretchen Hirsch, which is why I’m blogging about it.  That doesn’t mean it’s not an awesome book!  Oh, it is!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

What immediately caught my eye was the artwork – so great!!  The book is A Modern Guide to Sportswear Styles of the 1940’s and 1950’s, and the artwork and overall graphic design of the book are just perfect.

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

But that’s just a bonus – the book is PACKED with sewing (and style!) information.  Not at all just a pattern book, the first 125 pages are chapters on…

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

…vintage style (detailing different varieties of styles from the past, inspiration, etc), fabric & supplies (breakdown of different fabric types, tons of info about tools and notions), working with woven fabric (SO MUCH info about seams, necklines, waistlines, hems, pockets, stitches, and more!), working with knit fabric (again, so much info about stuff you’d need to do with knits), 20 pages on fitting (so much detail there!), and patternmaking (all you need to know to actually draft the patterns).

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

So, I’m not much of a sewer – I’m self-taught and have never really used patterns.  For the last couple years I’ve really been wanting to find the time to teach myself how to sew from patterns… and this book seems like a fantastic resource to help me learn!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

There are great little illustrations throughout, and photo tutorials to show complex steps, details, etc.  It seems like a fabulous resource even for advanced sewists who know what they’re doing, with all these very specific techniques included (so many different specific types of seams, for example).

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

And just tons of helpful info and tips – I was pleased to see this page, as I hate the idea of wasting time on a muslin that’s useless after its initial purpose is served.

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

And then we have the patterns!  The Wardrobe section of the book includes 10 patterns, each with at least 1 variation, usually more, making 34 different items.

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

There are lots of basic staple type items, and some more complex pieces.  I love this wrap dress!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

A simple pattern like these great cigarette pants includes variations for: 40’s style wide-leg pants, pedal pushers, flared shorts, sailor shorts (so cute!), and jeans.  So once you get the hang of that one pattern, you can make a ton of totally different items!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

This fitted cardigan is a variation of the pin-up sweater pattern – love it!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

The a-line mini-skirt looks like a basic enough project that I might need to try it as one of my first ever sewing-from-a-pattern projects!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

The pattern instructions have illustrations for any complicated steps, along with the written steps.  Love the vintage style of it all!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

Side note:  One of my favorite people, Jasika Nicole, posted on tumblr about how excited she was when this book came out, because she’s a huge fan of Gertie patterns – “Gertie is my favorite vintage sewing enthusiast and her patterns are wonderful.”  Since then, she’s posted 2 photos of items she made from patterns in the book.  She mentioned that the 40’s sleeveless blouse pattern “instructions were a little wonky” so the more complex pieces might really be for more advanced sewists (like her!) but her top turned out adorable in the end!  I will probably be sticking to the simpler of the projects until I get some experience under my belt, but if you know what you’re doing, you can make some awesome clothes with this book!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

 

Filed under: books,clothing — leethal @ 4:21 pm

January 16, 2014

Reconstructed hooded cardigan, with cuff tutorial!

New cardigan!

I started this project back in October of 2012, worked on it a little bit then, a little bit last spring, and then picked it back up and finished it over the last couple of weeks, finally!  Hooray!  I’m so excited to show it to you now!

New cardigan!

I got this ill-fitting but beautiful hand knit cardigan at a thrift store (4 years ago – wow time flies!), knowing I’d someday fix it up and make it wearable:

original sweater original sweater

Once I had my vision, deciding to use a heavier weight yarn for additions (around aran weight, versus the original sweater in maybe sport weight, I’d guess), and picking out this recycled sweater yarn (the same used in these either/or mittens), I got to the deconstructing.  I carefully removed all the edgings, one step at a time, and picked up stitches to knit on my new edgings.  On some parts I could use the actual live stitches, and on others I picked up stitches from sides.

sweater reconstruction close-up

It was all improvised, but I’ll tell you what I can, based on my crap memory and examining the piece now…

The first edging made was along the bottom – I unraveled those stitches, picked them up, decreased across to get a good stitch count in my heavier yarn to match up, and knit 1×1 rib for a few inches.

sweater reconstruction close-up

Then I picked up a chunk of stitches along the back of the collar, and began knitting those (also in 1×1 rib – all of my additions are 1×1 rib), picking up an extra couple of stitches every time I reached the end of a row.  So this resulted in short-row shaping, making the back of the collar the widest.

sweater reconstruction close-up

Once I had picked up down through the yoke, a couple stitches at a time like this, I picked up all the way down to the bottom on each side, ending the short row shaping for now.  I picked up the stitches closer together than I probably should have; I wanted the collar and front panels to be squishy and not pull in.  In the end, I see that I could have significantly reduced my picked up stitches along the fronts, and it still wouldn’t have pulled in, but it’s okay.

sweater reconstruction close-up

So then I knit around all these stitches (oh so many!  It took like an entire episode of a show to knit 1 row, as I’m extra slow in 1×1 rib) until the narrow front parts were a couple inches wide.  Then I made the triangle pockets on each side, using short rows:

sweater reconstruction close-up

After the pockets were done, I headed back up to the top and made the hood, shaped with short rows and decreases.  It turned out weird, and I learned from my mistakes for next time.  I like it enough to not frog and re-knit (omg the thought of taking it apart now that it’s all finished is awful) but it’s definitely not the best hood ever.  But hey, it functions!

New cardigan!

Basically, I decreased 4 stitches on every other row, because it was starting out so huge, so I thought that would be good, but I should have decreased 2, that would have made for a much nicer shape.  Lesson learned, and passed on to you.

New cardigan!

Once I finished the hood shaping, I knit back down to the bottom, and worked one last full row all the way around, then bound off.

One final row, then I bind off 289 1x1 rib stitches and am done with this long-term project! So excited to show it to you soon!

To finish the pockets, I folded them over to make a straight line with the edging above, and sewed them along the bottom.  I thought this would be it, but then they looked weird and needed to be stabilized, so I sewed them shut a couple inches on the tops and a couple inches on the bottoms, and now they are perfect!  Love them!

sweater reconstruction close-up

Lastly, the cuffs.  I actually took process photos so I can give you a full on tutorial for the cuffs!

Cuff tutorial step

Recycled sweaters are like snowflakes, every one is unique (not really), so this is how I did mine, but if you try to do the same, you’ll need to adjust according to your sweater’s specifics.

Cuff tutorial step

First, I tried unraveling the cuff from the edge, but, sadly, my particular hand knit sweater was knit from the cuff up, so it wouldn’t unravel.  Most recycled sweaters will unravel starting at the cuffs, so it will usually be much easier than this was.

Cuff tutorial step

Since I couldn’t unravel it, I grabbed my scissors and chopped it off, a few rows above where I wanted to pick up the stitches – I didn’t want to cut right up to the row I was going to pick up, and risk cutting too much, but this was kind of an unnecessary step, as I just ended up cutting again.  I could have picked up the stitches first, then cut once.

Cuff tutorial step

For your cuff project, you can either unravel all the way down to where you want your cuff to start, or cut it mostly off with scissors, then unravel the last couple rows, as that should normally work, with most sweaters.

Cuff tutorial step

I picked up my stitches, cut the rest off, picked off all the little bits of yarn stuck in there from cutting it, and had the stitches on the needles ready to knit – small needles, sized to match the original sweater yarn (not my heavier yarn).

Cuff tutorial step

Here is where I actually made a mistake with this cuff.  I made my first cuff over a year earlier, and had forgotten the details, so I slightly messed up on my second cuff.  I knew I had to decrease around, to get the stitch count down to match my bulkier gauge, so for the second cuff I decreased around during the very first round:

Cuff tutorial step

But this resulted in the cuff pulling in a bit at the join.  Damn.  Oops.  For the first cuff, I’d done it the right way: first, knit all stitches for one round in the new yarn, onto the bigger needles to match the new yarn.  Then, on the second new-yarn round, decrease around as needed to get a good stitch count in the new gauge.  This will prevent the join from pulling in.

Cuff tutorial step

Once the stitch count is right, work around (in 1×1 rib or the cuff stitch pattern of your choice) until it’s as long as you want it.  My cuffs are about 5 inches, around three times as long as the original cuffs on the ill-fitting cardigan.  Much better!

New cardigan!

So that’s that!  I chose not to put in buttonholes, since I wasn’t sure how the fit would be and I figured I could add closures later to fit best.  It works well closed with a shawl pin like you see at the top, or with 1-inch round pins like this:

New cardigan!

But I do plan to add some kind of permanent closure at some point; I’m thinking maybe a buckle of some kind, or toggles… we’ll see.  It’s fine for now!

New cardigan!

At the time when I first started this project, I began contemplating the idea of writing an ebook/collection of sort-of-patterns for this kind of thing – tutorials for taking apart reclaimed sweaters and knitting on new parts to make them into awesome new items.  The patterns would be better than this (this was an improvised experiment – if it was meant to be an actual design, the hood and other elements would be better!) and there would be lots of different kinds of projects, and different elements that could be mixed and matched together (like, pick your favorite pocket type, and collar type, etc).  Anyway, I currently don’t have solid plans to make this project happen, but I am still considering it for the future.

If this is something you’d be interested in, please let me know!  Either by commenting on this blog post, or by commenting over on the ravelry project page.  If there does seem to be a significant amount of interest, then I will start thinking about it for real and planning it.  Thanks!

Filed under: clothing,knitting,thrifty finds,tutorials — leethal @ 5:25 pm

February 15, 2013

Convertible cowly sweater vest made from recycled sweaters!

I made a thing!  My now-functioning studio made me itchy to make stuff, so the other day when I should have been working at the computer all day, instead I did a little digging through my reclaimed sweater stash, and made this!  What is “this”?  It’s a convertible cowl-neck sweater vest slash cowl slash shirt slash skirt…..?  It’s a simple concept that I came across on pinterest/ravelry and have been eager to try out ever since!

cowl neck sweater vest thing cowl neck sweater vest thing

cowl neck sweater vest thing cowl neck sweater vest thing

First, to give credit… that pin which first introduced me to the idea had no source (the original wrong source led me to the pattern-less rav project page which helped me reverse engineer the shape; I’ve since edited the pin source and description), so I did some reverse google image searching and found that the pin image is a garment by Elementum, and can be seen in this video (4:40 minutes in).

A major design element of the inspiration garment is that it’s oversized – the baggy size is part of what allows it to be worn comfortably in all the different positions.  Well, I wanted to try the idea, immediately, with what I had on hand.  And what I had on hand were a couple of fitted-sized sweaters.  So my version is the same concept as the inspiration, but fitted, for a pretty different look.  (I plan to make another in the future, appropriately oversized.)

Also, one of the sweaters I had in my recycling stash had a kangaroo pocket, which I thought would make the garment even more awesome, right?!  Well, sort of; it also makes it less versatile.  So, don’t necessarily follow my every move with this tutorial – if you want the most convertible, comfy finished result, then go for big sweaters with no pockets.  If you like mine exactly as it is, find a fitted sweater with a kangaroo pocket and you’re good to go!

A few more words on what to look for in your reclaimed sweaters… Sweaters knit seamlessly in the round would be ideal, but are rare to find at thrift stores, as almost all mass-produced sweaters have side seams.  Seams aren’t a huge problem, but the more clean / less visible the seams, the better your garment will look worn in all the different possible positions.  (It would also be easier to make without seams.)

Your two sweaters should be as close as possible to the same width – if one is a bit bigger than the other, then the slightly bigger one can just have slightly bigger arm-hole parts, not a big deal.  But the closer in width, the better.  As for gauge / stitch count – if you have two sweaters in the same gauge, the same width, for the same (or extremely close to the same) stitch counts, excellent!  This would take some serious thrift store luck to happen though.  Probably, the two sweaters you use will be different gauges, for different stitch counts.  You’ll just need to do a little math to work decreases around the smaller gauge one so that they end up with similar stitch counts, it won’t be too hard.

A couple last notes – if you’re not a knitter, you can do this project without any knitting, by sewing everything together instead.  It won’t be as neat, but it will work.  Stitch around the armholes carefully so no stitches unravel, and sew the edges together (instead of grafting) securely, so everything stays together and nothing unravels.

If you are a knitter, and you’d prefer to just straight up knit this entire thing, that should be easy enough!  You can see the shape here, a big tube with two big holes.  Go for it!

Lastly, if you feel guilty using perfectly good sweaters for craft materials, then look at thrift stores for sweaters with stains or holes… flawed old used clothing at a thrift store is unlikely to be bought and appreciated by normal (read: non-crafty) shoppers, and if you craft with it, you’ll be giving it a brand new life!  Crafting with reclaimed materials from thrift stores is a win-win for everybody, the way I see it!  It’s not like there aren’t plenty of clothes still remaining on the racks for shoppers in need of cheap duds.

Now, on to the tutorial!

You need:

  • 2 reclaimed sweaters, which are not felted (this means you can see the individual stitches, and will be able to unravel them and knit with them), as close as possible to the same width (around the body, under the armpits) – for my sample, one sweater is stockinette, and the other is ribbed; this worked nicely, but is not necessary, they can both be stockinette or both be ribbed (see notes above for sizing info)
  • scissors
  • 2 circular needles, sized to work with the sweater gauges
  • paper and pencil, and a calculator, to figure out and make note of your numbers
  • a yarn needle for grafting

(I used a weirdly shaped sweater which had already had one arm removed for another project, and a sweater from my crafting stash that I got super cheap from a thrift store because the previous owner had sloppily cut the collar off to give it a scoop neck.)

Start by cutting straight across each sweater under the armpits.  To make the right shaped garment, one tube should be shorter than the other; my orange sweater happened to be significantly shorter than my grey sweater, so I just cut under the armpits of both.  If they are the same height, and/or if both your sweaters are big and oversized, cut one of them further down so that it’s shorter than the other.  (Exact measurements are up to you!)

cowl neck sweater vest thing cowl neck sweater vest thing

If cutting across stockinette stitch fabric, turn the sweater inside out, as it will be easier to cut perfectly straight across using the reverse stockinette stitch lines as a guideline:

cowl neck sweater vest thing

Now you have 2 knit tubes, hopefully the same width, one a bit (or a lot, your choice) taller than the other (kangaroo pocket optional):

cowl neck sweater vest thing

For each tube, stretch it out, to loosen up the stitches, then unravel the top 1 or 2 rows.  You’ll end up with a pile of little yarn bits, as a result of cutting across, and the top row may have been snipped into accidentally.  I find it’s easier to get the stitches onto the needle if I unravel 2 rows – those little yarn bits tend to stick in there when you rip out the first row, then they generally fall out with the second row.  Once you’ve unraveled a row or two, and are left with a clean line of live stitches, slip all those stitches onto your circular needle.

cowl neck sweater vest thing

Be careful to pick up all stitches in the seam area so they don’t end up unraveling later – you’ll probably need to do some extra snipping or fiddling around to get every stitch on the needle.  If you end up taking out part of the seam stitching, that’s fine, as you can re-seam it up when you’re weaving in all your ends.

Hold on to the yarn strands that you unravel, as you’ll use them to finish the armholes and graft.  You can also rip out a couple rows worth of yarn bits from the unused part of the sweater, if you need extra yarn.

cowl neck sweater vest thing

Here’s when you’ll have to deal with stitch counts and gauge issues… I didn’t take photos of this part for my project, and it’ll probably be different for you anyway, so you’ll just have to figure it out for yourself with your particular sweaters.  My fine-gauge orange ribbed sweater happened to be almost exactly twice as many stitches as the chunky grey sweater, making the math easy for me – I doubled up the yarn (held 2 strands together) and knit around, decreasing all stitches, for one row around the orange sweater, k2tog every stitch.  It was 2×2 rib, so I k2tog the 2 knits, then k2tog the 2 purls.  I could have k2tog the knits and p2tog the purls, but since I knew it would be grafted in stockinette, I just knit all the decreases.  I did this at a loose tension, so it wouldn’t pull in.  If you don’t luck out with such as even ratio of stitches to decrease, decrease evenly around one tube as needed to give your two tubes close to the same stitch count.

cowlneck sweater vest thing

Now you’ll need to do a little math.  First, you’ll need to figure out how big you want your armholes, and therefore how big your connected parts will be.  The armholes should be big enough for your head to fit through, so at least 22 inches or so around, stretched.  Each tube will have a line of stitches bound off for each half of each armhole.  Make sense?  So, each bind-off section should be approximately 11 inches (or more) across.  (My sample, because the whole thing is so fitted, has smaller armholes – approximately 10 inches across each part, stretched, and juuuust barely fits over my head.)

Count all the stitches across, from seam to seam.  Usually the stitch count will be slightly different on one side from the other – write everything down.  My notes as I worked are shown below.  My orange tube had 79 stitches on one side, 75 on the other; my grey tube had 71 stitches on one side, 69 on the other.

Determine how many stitches will be joined – the stitches not in the armholes.  In the above sketch, this is x (x is the same on all sides of both tubes).  This measurement depends on your total tube width, but it should be somewhere around the width across (when laying flat) minus 11 inches or so (armholes)… or somewhere near 2/3 of the total width.  If your stitch counts for each side are all odd, choose an odd number, if they’re all even, choose an even number; if they are different, then you’ll need to adjust by having slightly different armhole bind-off stitch counts as needed.  I decided my joined stitches would be 43 stitches (odd number).

Now, for each side (4 sides total – 2 tubes, 2 sides each tube), subtract the joining stitch count from the total stitch count, and then divide each of these numbers in half.  (You can see in my notes, 79 minus 43 is 36, in half is 18; 75 minus 43 is 32, in half is 16, and so on.)  These numbers are your bind-off stitch counts for each side of the armholes.

If you like algebra, then using the labeled sketch above, you need to find y and z values for each tube (different for the 2 tubes).  x is your joining number (which you just decided) – so, total stitch count on the y side, minus x, divided by 2, is each y; total stitch count on the z side, minus x, divided by 2, is each z.  y + z is the total armhole length (for the one tube – the y+z numbers for the two different tubes added together makes total armhole circumference stitch count).

project sketch planning

Now that you know the stitch counts, make the armholes.  On the first tube, with needle points at the seam, looking at the wrong side, slip the correct number of stitches to begin first armhole – slip the number that corresponds with the side you’re on.  (Eg: with my numbers, if I’m slipping into the side which has 71 stitches across, then I need to slip 14 stitches for that section of the armhole.  Or, using the variables, if you’re slipping into the y side of the tube, then slip y stitches.)

Knit across all armhole stitches – so, knit to seam, then knit correct number of stitches on other side of seam.  (For mine, if I slipped 16 stitches, then I knit across those 16, then I’d continue knitting 18 on the other side of the seam.  Using the variables, if you slipped y, then knit the y, now knit z.)  Now bind off those just-knit stitches, loosely, purlwise – I recommend the decrease bind-off method.  *Purl 2 together, pass just-purled stitch back onto left-hand needle without twisting it, repeat from *.

Repeat this for all 4 armhole parts, slipping stitches around the circular needle to get from one to the other.  Keeping those center live stitches on the needle for the next step…

cowl neck sweater vest thing

Now you should have two tubes that look like this, all 4 of those rows of stitches between bound-off parts with the same stitch count:

cowl neck sweater vest thing

All you need to do now is graft those live stitches together, for a nice, clean join!  If your tubes’ sides each had different stitch counts from each other, join the two sides which had higher stitch counts, and the two sides which had lower stitch counts.  Hold the 2 rows of live stitches together, needles parallel, wrong sides facing, and thread some of the extra yarn (whichever is the more sturdy, less breakable yarn of the two) onto a blunt yarn needle – try to use a length of yarn at least 4 times as long as the line of stitches.

Head over to my (brand new!) full step-by-step photo tutorial in my leethalknits.com knitting tutorials for grafting instructions.

cowl neck sweater vest thing

Once that’s done, on both sides, all that’s left to do is sew up any holes you might be left with (around the seams, maybe), and neatly weave in all those loose ends:

cowl neck sweater vest thing

And here is my finished piece, shown inside out and folded sideways, and then right side out after washing:

cowl neck sweater vest thing cowl neck sweater vest thing

And all the ways I can wear it!  The standard way places that kangaroo pocket kind of awkwardly… I can pull it down when I put my hands in it:

cowl neck sweater vest thing cowl neck sweater vest thing

The length is better with the cowl neck around my shoulders:

cowl neck sweater vest thing cowl neck sweater vest thing

It’s a better look with the pocket hidden in back (proving that the pocket wasn’t the best idea…)

cowl neck sweater vest thing cowl neck sweater vest thing

I love it as a cowl!

cowl neck sweater vest thing cowl neck sweater vest thing

And then some of the other ways the inspiration piece was worn… I didn’t even bother photographing it worn upside down, since the small, fitted orange section as the body looks ridiculous.  It doesn’t work so well sideways, because of both the pocket and the fit (or in the kind of halter top style):

cowl neck sweater vest thing cowl neck sweater vest thing

But, because I made mine smaller and fitted, it can be worn a couple extra ways – as a skirt:

cowl neck sweater vest thing cowl neck sweater vest thing

…and as a weird tube sweater thing, haha.  I had fun playing around with the different ways.

cowl neck sweater vest thing cowl neck sweater vest thing

Anyway, conclusion on my end, try again with bigger sweaters and no pockets, and it should be awesomesauce.  If you use the tutorial to make your own, I’d love to see it!  I have this flickr group that I tend to forget about, but you can stick a photo in there to share!  Happy crafting!!

Filed under: clothing,general crafts,knitting,tutorials — leethal @ 8:45 pm

March 29, 2012

My first skirt of the season!

Well the weather is still pretty wintery here in Portland, but I’m excited about the bits of sunshine that happen occasionally in the spring, and I’ve recently been feeling the urge to sew up some new warm weather clothes!  Most years I tend to have big plans to make lots of new skirts and dresses, which don’t end up happening… I don’t know how the rest of the year will play out, but at least I’ve made one now!

pleats wraparound skirt pleats wraparound skirt

I’ve been slowly trying to get my studio in order, and the other day I went through a giant pile of reclaimed fabrics, mostly bought by the pound at Trillium, and mostly recycled upholstery fabric samples (and other similar things, donated to Trillium by interior design showrooms)… when I came across this set of three matching canvas rectangles I got inspired to try turning them into something.  Not the best skirt-making material, with some serious wrinkles which my iron just wasn’t capable of smoothing out, but I’m still pretty darn happy with the finished result!

pleats wraparound skirt pleats wraparound skirt

The skirt was inspired by the photo of this skirt from Interweave, which I came across on Pinterest last year, but I made mine with no pattern, just improvising and constantly trying it on as I did each step.  I just kept resewing the lines of the panels, curving them in more three times until the fit was good; not the most efficient way to do things, but it works for me, hah!

I started out my making a basic 3-panel wraparound skirt out of the three fabric pieces, but I made one side significantly longer than the other side.  I put buttons at the two top corners, as I would in a normal wraparound skirt – you can see below the top pearl button, and the arrow points to where the inner button is, holding up the inside corner.

pleats wraparound skirt

Then, while wearing it, I made the folds and marked all the spots where the buttonholes needed to be, for them to line up – three holes per button – and sewed the buttonholes:

pleats wraparound skirt

I put it on again, and figured out the best exact placements for each of the three buttons by putting in safety pins where the buttons would go, then sewed them on, ironed some more to really crease those pleats, and tah dah!

pleats wraparound skirt

My new spring skirt!  I wore it out last night, in the cold rain, with thick tights and tall boots… can’t wait till it’s actually spring weather and it makes more sense to wear out!

pleats wraparound skirt pleats wraparound skirt

Oh yeah, one last thing I’m considering doing… I may tack down the pleats in a few spots so they stay in place better.  And now that I’ve made this one, I plan to make some more similar ones, in better skirt fabrics.  Wraparound skirts are so easy to make, since you don’t need to worry about zippers or anything complicated like that (I am not an experienced sewer – zippers are scary!), and this is a fun twist that only takes a little more time and effort than a basic wraparound design.  Yay!

Filed under: clothing,skirts — leethal @ 4:06 pm

September 13, 2011

My recycled fabric infinity dresses!

I made some dresses!  These are infinity dresses, using this tutorial, made with recycled sheets!

infinity dress! infinity dress!

So, awhile back I had a wedding to go to and I wanted to use it as an excuse to buy a new dress… but after a day of shopping I found nothing I liked, so then my plan changed to it being an excuse to make a new dress!  I searched around and found that tutorial, then I went thrifting for knit sheets that might work, and found a couple good ones – the first, a twin size green stretchy knit sheet ($1.50), I used to make a trial dress, to learn from my mistakes before making my real dress.

infinity dress! infinity dress! infinity dress!

It has some major issues – it doesn’t work worn most ways, and it’s too short worn most ways (since a twin size sheet wasn’t enough fabric)… but I did indeed learn from my mistakes (some of them, anyway) and I went on to make my second dress.  This one was made with a t-shirt material duvet cover ($5), I think queen size, so it was the amount of fabric in 2 large sheets – plenty for a big, twirly circle skirt!

infinity dress!

I made a stupid mistake which ended up resulting in awesomeness.  When I folded my big square in quarters and cut it into a circle, I accidentally cut on the wrong side and made 2 halves of the circle.  Since I had to then sew the halves together to make my circle, I took advantage of the mistake and added pockets!  Love them!

infinity dress!

My one regret with this dress is that I didn’t overlap the two top/strap parts as much as they should have been (I only overlapped about 1 1/2 inches for some reason, even though the tutorial says 3-5 inches – I meant for it to be more, but messed it up somehow).  This made it so I can’t wear the dress most of the “infinity” ways, but after a few hours of playing around with different ways of wrapping it, I found a couple ways that work well, so it’s cool.

infinity dress!

Yay new dress!  It’s super twirly and has pockets and is soft, comfy t-shirt fabric and I love it!!

infinity dress! infinity dress!

I made another dress around the same time as this one (most of it on the same day actually, I was on a roll!) but it’s a different style, so I’ll save that for another post… soon!

Filed under: clothing,general crafts,skirts — leethal @ 1:57 pm

February 10, 2011

February quick knits ebook: Buttons!

February is a month full of love, and I love buttons… well ok, that’s not why I chose the theme… it just kind of developed… anyway, this month’s club:

Buttons! ebook cover

Five different button-filled projects!  The first, a knitting pattern for Shoggoth, the pin cushion demon!

Buttons!

HP Lovecraft monster that knits up in approximately 20 yards of worsted weight leftovers, gets stuffed and covered in button eyes, then functions as an awesome pin cushion!

Buttons! Buttons!

One tentacle curls around, with my intent being that you can store your scissors in there… but it’s not really structurally sound enough to stay up without the scissors balancing on the table.  The curled tentacle looks cool though, even if it’s not super useful.  Also, you could attach googly eyes instead of buttons if you prefer!

Buttons!

The other knitting pattern is called Buttontastic, and it’s a strip of buttons and eyelet holes which can be twisted and worn as a headband, necklace, bracelet, or probably more!

Buttons!

To make it long enough for a headband, you actually need a bit more than 20 yards (I think this one, in Knitted Wit merino yarn, used around 25 yards), but you could totally stripe with different yarn leftovers of the same weight (worsted weight is recommended).  The brown example (in Malabrigo worsted) used around 17 yards, and makes for a fun necklace or bracelet:

Buttons! Buttons!

The linen stitch looks super great in variegated yarns, as you can see…

Buttons! Buttons!

While making these pieces, I came up with a way to attach the buttons into the knitting as you knit – no sewing on oh-so-many buttons afterwards, yay!  The pattern includes instructions for how I did that, but I also plan to do a blog post on it sometime in the near future, for all to see, since it’s an easy process that would be super useful for lots of button-y patterns!  (I’m sure it’s something that many have done before, I’d just never seen it – anyone know of an online how-to for putting buttons into your knit fabric as you knit?)

Buttons!

For my tutorial/extras this month, I actually just did 3 short tutorials for different kinds of fun, simple-ish button craft projects.  The first is an easy clothing embellishment project, which I did on a thrifted skirt – LOVE the finished look!

Buttons! Buttons!

And then a home decor project – a button-covered branch light:

Buttons!

It’s a whole different look during the day, and turned on at night!

Buttons! Buttons!

I am totally in love with how this project turned out, as well!  I think it would also look awesome with just the buttons and no lights… I’ll probably be trying that out soon!

Buttons!

And lastly, a simple little jewelry project – pile of buttons pendant.  A fun way to use up some coordinating buttons… or you could make it with just one extra special small button framed inside the larger button, to show it off.

Buttons!

There are only 4 months left of the club – you can get a subscription starting with this ebook, lasting through the end of the club, which is 5 months for $17.  Or, as usual, you can grab just this ebook alone for $5.

It’s been a weird week, and my computer is in the Apple store getting its fan replaced, so I’m writing this on Pete’s computer… my point being, I haven’t been doing much computery stuff at all this week.  Things should be back to normal soon though, and I’ll have some fun blog posts, and hopefully another mystery knit-a-long very soon!

(One extra thing, you may want to check out my twitter, as I might be having a secret-ish sale this week that I’ve been announcing through twitter only, and that ends tomorrow…)

Filed under: clothing,general crafts,knitting,quick knits — leethal @ 4:13 pm

January 20, 2011

Gifts from the past: Printed Shirt and Oven Mitts

Hah, these gifts from the past posts were supposed to happen before xmas, not a month after! Oh, me… Anyway, I grouped a couple of gifts I made using printing on fabric.  This is a freezer paper stencil printed shirt I made for my dad, on a thrifted long sleeved tee:

dad's shirt

I just freehand drew everything on the freezer paper, using google image search for reference pictures to draw from, cut it all out, and printed it on with screen printing ink.  Easy and fun project!  (Super basic kid-friendly freezer paper stenciling tutorial here, and super elaborate semi-photo-realistic stenciling tutorial here!)

dad's shirt

And this was a totally different kind of printed gift – my brother Matt is super into both cooking/baking and computer coding, so I printed a binary message on some oven mitts with stamps:

binary oven mitts

When I made these, I was in California at my parents’ house for the holidays and didn’t have access to my supplies or shops (or car), so I got what I could with the resources I had – these basic mitts which had square quilting to help with the stamped grid design, and a weird typewriter style set of number/alphabet stamps.  (Couldn’t get just 1 and 0 stamps, so I had to buy a whole alphabet set!)  And then I used fabric paint for the ink… I used the leftover fabric paint to teach my brothers how to freezer paper stencil (oh look, callback to the above project) and they all made awesome t-shirts!  I used the internets to translate a message into binary, then painstakingly stamped each 1 and 0 into the correct spots to spell it out.  I’m pretty sure it says “I like to bake bread.”

djstencil.jpg bensshirtback.jpg

These are a couple more printed gifts that I already blogged years ago, but they fit with the theme so there they are again!

I really am going to try to blog more, have lots planned, it’s just hard getting into the flow of it.  Lots going on around here! Fun stuff! You’ll hear about it all soon enough!

Filed under: clothing,gifts,printing — leethal @ 1:20 am

September 15, 2010

2nd Make-a-Long and Skirt I made during the 1st one!

This Saturday, Sept 18th, will be the second official make-a-long, wooo yay!  The first make-a-long, in case you missed it, was April 10th, and I first wrote about the idea here, then posted about the various ways you can participate here.  Scroll to the bottom of this post (under the skirt photos) for a recap of how you can make-a-long this weekend and join the fun!

shirt sleeve skirt close-up

So, I realized when I talked about everything I made last time, I said I’d be giving this skirt its own post, and then with the move, a lot of planned posts never got written… so now’s better than never!  I absolutely love this skirt I made out of the sleeves of 2 shirts:

skirt

The concept is simple – detach the sleeves from 2 long-sleeved, button-down shirts, and sew them together, rotating shirt #1 sleeve, shirt #2 sleeve.  Because left and right sleeves are different (buttons/buttonholes on opposite sides), two of the joins will have a button and buttonhole together (perfect – no need to add a zipper or anything), but one join will have buttons on both sides, and the last will have buttonholes on both sides.  In the top photo, you can see how I handled the join with the holes on both sides, with a ribbon closure.  If you make a skirt like this, you’ll have to figure out how best to join all the parts together depending on your particular sleeves.

shirt sleeve skirt close-up shirt sleeve skirt close-up

I added one button of my own to make for a smooth join (sometimes things don’t automatically line up perfectly), and as you can see, I added a few bits of ribbon where things needed to be neatened up.  And I added some wavy top-stitching all over, just for fun.  I wavy-sewed all around the bottom edge, which was just cut and not hemmed:

shirt sleeve skirt close-up shirt sleeve skirt close-up

And then I sewed extra wavy lines along all the seams where the sleeves were joined (below).   I don’t have a good photo of me wearing this skirt, but it fits perfectly and I love it!  If you want to make a skirt like this, hopefully you’ll luck out like I did and find sleeves that fit around your waist perfectly when joined together, but you may need to play around with different sleeve arrangements, or join them differently, to make for a good fit.  I didn’t take step-by-step photos, and the construction would be different depending on your sleeves, but hopefully this is enough info to inspire you to try one of your own!

shirt sleeve skirt close-up

For this make-a-long, I will be focusing on wedding-related crafting:  my dress, shoes, fabric flower decorations, etc.  You can make anything you want!  Catch up on old, forgotten projects, try a new craft you’ve been wanting to explore, finish up all your work-in-progress pieces, open up a craft book you bought and haven’t used yet, as long as you have fun making!

The date and time are loose… if you have plans scheduled for Saturday, but are free on Sunday, then make that your making day!  I will be again attempting to make for a full 24 hours (didn’t succeed last time, but maybe this time I’ll do it!), so I’ll be trying to go from 7am-ish Saturday to 7am-ish Sunday, or as long as I can last.  Read the original make-a-long post for my initial inspiration and ideas about the make-a-long concept.

stitching during the make-a-long!

And then, to participate (the “a-long” part) – use whichever social media outlets you prefer: twitter, facebook, ravelry, blogs (commenting on mine, posting on your own), flickr.  Use hashtag #makealong on twitter, join the make-a-long group on facebook, I’ll be starting a thread in the leethal ravelry group… and then I strongly encourage everyone to add any photos you take to the flickr group.  I won’t be posting photos during the actual make-a-long day (probably just some twitter pictures), but I’ll be shooting throughout the day for sure, and uploading them to flickr within the next couple days.

Share what you’re working on, your making trials and errors, talk about the crafty fun you’re having, and get inspired by fellow make-a-longers!  You’ll find me mostly on twitter throughout the day, but I’ll be checking in on the ravelry and facebook groups, and blog comments of course.  Hope to see you making!

Filed under: clothing,general crafts,make-a-long,skirts — leethal @ 3:53 pm

March 27, 2010

Month of leethal Giveaways!

So all the house-buying stuff has been going super well, and now our moving date is exactly one month from today!  That means many things, a major one being that I need to de-stash!  I also would like to make an extra bit of moving-expenses money, so I’m kind of combining these needs into a leethal giveaway sale!

giveaway stuff

I’ve created a giveaway page in the shop (which you can click to from the top of the shop home page, or the photo box on the leethal home page), full of various pieces of recycled sweaters and other fun crafty gifts, and if you place any order from my shop (that totals at least $9) you get to choose one – I pay shipping on the gift, you get some fun materials to craft with!

Want some ideas for how you could use these sweater pieces?  Here are some projects/tutorials I’ve made!

allearrings1

Felted sweater jewelry! For this project, it’s best if the sweater pieces are very felted (technically, fulled) to avoid any unraveling.

my new cardigan! 13white9

Use sweater pieces in bigger recycled sweater projects, as buttonbands and/or pockets, like the ones in my cardigan or vest.

bluessleeve1.jpg csleeve011.jpg

No tutorial for these, but coffee cup sleeves are easy to make, functional, and have tons of room for creative embellishments!

(no)doneon1

I’ve made tons of hats with felted and un-felted sweaters – this hat tutorial for the one above shows how to make a kitty hat with a sweater that doesn’t felt (only difference between a felted sweater is that there can’t be raw edges that will unravel).  I did a post on craftster many years ago (pre-blog) with a bunch of recycled material hats… Here are a few more examples below – the triangle top fabric on the left is one of the giveaway options:

yellow sold hat hat031.jpg leethal monster hat!

And one last how-to by me – also a looong time ago on craftster, I did a silly little tutorial for these felt boots:

boots3.jpg

You can find more recycled sweater projects in a Threadbanger roundup I did awhile back… I know I once saw a how-to for making a purse with a sweater yoke (which would be perfect for light pink piece three down on the right) but I can’t find it – if anyone knows what I’m talking about, you could post a link in the comments…

bead baggies

And then my other crafty giveaway option is a baggie of beads, which came from Knittn’ Kitten!  I have an alternate motive with this option of sharing a piece of my most favorite craft store with a few of you far away from Portland who aren’t lucky enough to be able to shop there.  Each baggie has a bunch of beads, mostly glass, all in pairs, so they’re great for earrings.  The reason I’m de-stashing so many of these beautiful beads is that I keep buying bags of them, use 2 for a pair of earrings for myself, and the rest of the bag sits there since I don’t really do any other bead projects, so now I get to spread the bead goodness!

easy 2-bead earrings easy 2-bead earrings

I did a tutorial for these simple 2-bead earrings, a good beginner project… Each giveaway baggie also includes some cheap earwires to play around with (the same kind I used in this pair and these) and a few eyepins.

If you were being observant at the top of this post, you may have noticed some books in the back of that giveaways photo – that’s because leethal’s month of giveaways will include some raffle-style blog giveaways as well!  This week, Monday through Friday, I’ll be posting a book a day to give away!  4 are knitting books, one is another kind of craft book, all ones I’ve been given and haven’t used, so I want them to go to new homes where they’ll be appreciated and used!

And one last thing, for you, my dear blog readers… I’m extending the shop giveaway to pattern sales (on leethal or ravelry) for anyone who reads this and contacts me about it – if you purchase $12 or more worth of pattern pdfs, through April 17th, email me (leemeredith at gmail dot com) with your gift choice and your mailing address, and I’ll send it your way!

I just found out from Heather this morning that she declared April Stashbusting Month!  So, I didn’t know it when I planned my giveaway month, but I’m totally participating in busting my stash (though I doubt I’ll be doing much stash crafting this month!) – play along and make things with your stash stuff! Yeah!

leethal printed shirt

I almost forgot – I added a bunch of new leethal recycled, printed shirts (and a couple sweatshirts) to the shop!  They were made back in December, finally online now… I’m working on more shop updates, so throughout the next couple of weeks I’ll be adding more stuff for sale, and probably adding more to the giveaways page too (I’ll let you know about both here on the blog), but then after the move, I’ll probably be taking certain things that haven’t sold out of the shop for good.

leethal printed shirt

I think that’s all for reals… Happy giveaway month!

May 2, 2009

recycled tee skirt on craftstylish!

teeskirt6 teeskirt5

this week’s craftstylish tutorial was a special one to me – i designed this skirt a couple years ago for myself, and i loved the design concept (super easy, no pattern, custom fit, crazy comfy) but i loved it so much that i wanted to hold off doing a how-to… it’s silly, but i just felt like this one was better than the recycled skirt series i did here on my blog last summer, so i didn’t want it to blend in with those, so i saved it.  then i figured craftstylish having earth-friendly projects month in the springtime was the perfect chance to show my design to a bigger audience, so there it is!

orangeandred1 orangeandred3

but here on do stuff! i’ll share a little more with you… my first version of the skirt, that red and orange one, was a bit different, as you can see in those photos.  i’m not sure exactly how i made the panels since it was undocumented years ago, but i do know that i cut the diagonals in different directions, instead of all in the same direction. so if you want a more twisted, asymmetrical kind of design, when my tutorial says cutting the diagonal line in the same direction on each one. It doesn’t matter what direction, as long as all four are cut the same (in my case, they were all from top right to bottom left) – ignore that and cut them in different directions. then when you’re deciding on the panel order, lay them out on the ground together and see how you want to piece them together for the coolest looking lines.

teeskirt3 teeskirt4

i had fun twisting and twirling for our photo shoot! and being silly…

teeskirt2 teeskirt7

so this skirt was kind of a continuation of my recycley skirt how-to series from last summer – which were part 1: t-shirts, part 2: sheets, part 3: sweatshirts.  i also did a post about trying to make a sleeve skirt, which i plan to try again this season and post a better how-to if it works out. so, i’ve made a new category for skirts since this is an ongoing topic for me, so you can see all of them.

oh hey and speaking of bloggy things – i’ve (finally!) gotten my links page a little bit up to date, although it still needs more work.  i had pretty much completely ignored my poor links page since i first started do stuff!, over 2 years ago, but i got motivated a few nights ago to give it some attention, and now there are a ton of blogs and sites added, some new categories, and hopefully i’ll continue to keep it updated now.

Filed under: clothing,craftstylish,skirts,tutorials — leethal @ 2:12 pm
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