Category: Crafts (page 1 of 27)

Sewing notes: Georgie Tops

It’s time to get serious about my sewing, so I’ve made a resolution this year to not buy any new clothes (excluding undergarments, which are in the Too Hard basket for now). Towards that end, I’ve sewn two more new shirts so far in 2017 from Tessuti’s Georgie Top pattern.

Georgie #1:¬†The first was this short-sleeved version in a vintage fabric remnant I had. (We did a burn test on it and it melts so I reckon it’s probably either nylon or polyester.) I cut the largest size and did an FBA – more on that in a sec – and finished with exposed bindings. For the bindings, since I had limited fabric I didn’t bother cutting them with the provided pattern pieces but instead used a square to make continuous binding via the Colette method. I really like the Tessuti method for doing the back neck keyhole opening. I don’t get their insistence on using tearaway Vilene to stabilise the neck though – it seems like stay-stitching would work just as well? Overall I’m really happy with the finish on this one. All this practice is really paying off! The only outright mistake I made on this project was cutting the sleeves upside-down, so the motif (which looks a little like an insect!) goes the wrong direction. It’s small enough though that (the Snook claims) you only notice when I point it out. ūüôā

Okay, so the FBA. Based on my experience with other Tessuti patterns, I decided to do a Full Bust Adjustment on this one before I started. The problem is that I trusted the first result that Google gave me: this Craftsy tutorial. People, this tutorial is WRONG! But I didn’t realise it at the time. So I followed the instructions, not realising that step 7 had a massive error. Then when I went to sew up the side seams, guess what? The front was massively longer than the back. Which makes sense, as that stupid tutorial has you draw the new dart in such a way that you’re adding material to the side. I¬†ended up having to rejig my bodice front on-the-fly and try to make it work, and I still ended up having to cut material off the bottom. So though I’m pleased with the finish on this one, I feel like the fit is slightly weird. The neckline is a little high for me (not really the fault of the FBA though), and there’s excess material on my upper chest. It’s wearable, but not exactly great.

Georgie #2: The second Georgie is this sleeveless version in a vintage cotton remnant. (It’s got little medals all over it!) I was inspired by Gertie’s keyhole blouse to try for a keyhole neckline detail on the front. The first thing I did was print a new bodice front, lower the neckline, and then do a proper FBA. Then¬†I free-handed a U-shape at the center of the bodice front piece and cut it out of my fabric. Rather than using Vilene, I simply stay-stitched the neckline, keyhole, and sleeve openings before I started. I again made my own continuous bias tape via the Colette method. Binding the keyhole was tricky but doable, and I’m really pleased with how flat it turned out! When I bound the neckline, I initially left a gap of about an inch across the keyhole (so it was more of a U-shape than a teardrop). Then I tried it on, and I again had the problem of excess fabric in the upper chest. When I pinched the top of the U-together though (simulating a tuck), it magically disappeared. Huh! So I unpicked half the neckline binding and then redid it, joining the top of the U together into the teardrop. Very happy with that outcome! (If I make this again without a keyhole, I’ll adjust the bodice front to remove that wedge.) As for the sleeves, I did actually cut them¬†and I intended to use them, but when I tried it on for my neckline alterations, I realised I liked it better sleeveless. I debated whether I needed to adjust the sleeve openings – I know that sleeveless garments tend to have larger armholes – but they looked¬†fine. So I simply added an exposed bias binding to each armhole. So far I’m really happy with it!

Lady Skater Dresses

Lady SkatersFinally blogging these two Lady Skater dresses that I made at the start of Frocktober. This pattern’s been on my wish list for a long time. It’s pretty fast to sew up, especially if you have an overlocker. I made the pink one first, and I used a fine merino jersey that I bought at Tessuti’s on clearance a few years back. It has a subtle texture¬†through¬†it, I think created by elastane that has been woven in narrow stripes. It was a pain to work with though, because it was nowhere near square and it curled like crazy. Still, I made that first one in about a day. I could tell while I was sewing it that the waist was going to be too low, but I shrugged, told myself it was a wearable muslin, and kept going. (The fabric had been really cheap as it had a hole at the end that I had to cut around.) The end result doesn’t look too bad in the photo, but it’s practically a drop-waist on me. That waist seam is supposed to be at my natural waist (ie the skinniest point), which is a fair bit higher.

So for the black¬†one, I shortened the bodice by about two inches. (You can see the difference in the photograph.) Better, but I still reckon I could go a bit higher next time. The¬†fabric¬†I used is really, really weird. I bought it at a remnant sale a long time ago, and I have no idea what it is. It feels quite heavy, almost like a rayon, with elastic shot through it. I feel like you easily could use it for leggings or even a bathing suit! But I made a dress out if it, because WHY NOT. It’s actually pretty comfortable to wear.

The pattern itself is clear and easy to follow. I did have a hell of a time with the clear elastic though. It sticks¬†onto my machine and refuses to feed through, so I came up with the idea of putting some wax paper over it. That helped, but it was still annoying and fiddly. Applying the neck and sleeve bands wasn’t too hard, but I haven’t quite mastered getting the joins to line up nicely with the seams. I still find the overlocker very satisfying though! I just need to remember the Cardinal Rule – when it starts misbehaving, check that it hasn’t been threaded wrong. (Every damn time…)

How to: Cotton Candy / Fairy Floss Costume

Cotton Candy CostumeYesterday was Canva’s¬†third birthday, and the plan was to have¬†a “Carnival” themed party to celebrate. As you all know, the Snook and I don’t mess around when it comes to costumes. We wanted to do something original and fun. (No “sexy ringmaster” for us, thank you!) I searched Pinterest for ideas, and I even looked through a gallery of freak show performers.

Me: I had a hilarious image of you as a bearded lady
but that might be offensive
The Snook:¬†well, I’m offended ūüėõ

In the end we decided to play it a bit safer. The original plan was to be sideshow performers – either plate spinners¬†or bottle balancers – until I stumbled across this: DIY Cotton Candy Costume. We both laughed at the idea and decided to¬†go for it. I documented the entire process and figured I’d share it here.

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Shr√∂dinger’s Christmas Cat

For the Canva¬†2015 Kris Kringle gift exchange, I got a colleague who is mathematician and engineer. I tried stalking him on social media, but he doesn’t post very much. I knew that he‚Äôs into dark European films and quantum physics, so my genius idea was to knit him Shr√∂dinger‚Äôs Cat!

You can find more details about the knitted cat over on Ravelry. Obviously, he’s alive on one side and dead on the other! To complete the experiment, I included a bottle of “poison” (ie vodka) and a container full of “radioactive material” (ie Kinder eggs). I packed it all into a cardboard box that I spraypainted silver (since it’s supposed to be steel) and decorated with “PROPERTY OF E. SHR√ĖDINGER” and “CAUTION: LIVE(?) ANIMALS” labels.

I’m very happy to report that the recipient was delighted with it. ūüôā

CampJS Recap & Beanie

Feature photo courtesy of Steven Cooper

I spent last weekend in Springbook, Queensland at CampJS. This is a four-day conference for anyone interested in web technology held at the Koonjewarre Retreat Centre. My Canva colleague Damon was the organiser, and my other colleague Harley came along as well. On a whim, I’d pitched doing a workshop¬†on “Knitting and E-textiles” a few¬†months before and it turned out to be one of the most popular suggestions. I updated my “Granny Was a Hacker” talk and worked with Damon to order knitting supplies for everyone. Then I had the genius idea to knit a special beanie as my prototype for the workshop, and use a Gemma kit with LEDs (based on this Adafruit project) to add some blinky goodness.¬†It was a big hit! I actually ran through the talk on both Saturday and Sunday. I probably had 20+ people at the workshop, and I kept seeing web developers (mostly men!) knitting for the rest of the event. The Camp itself was great, and I met a lot of¬†fantastic people from across the country. Games were played, goon was drunk, and Wi-Fi was cursed. I highly recommend it.

IMG_2822

CampJS BeanieThe CampJS Beanie

I knitted the hat out of oddments of leftover 8ply¬†Filatura di Crosa Zara. All up, it¬†probably uses about 2 balls worth (with the majority in brown). You’ll also need some 4mm needles, as well as a blunt darning needle. I actually knitted it flat and sewed it up, but I’ve provided instructions for knitting it in the round too. I got¬†the Gemma¬†controller from Little Bird Electronics,¬†along with some LEDs and a coin cell battery holder. (They also sell a “starter pack” with all this stuff plus some conductive thread and needles, if you don’t have any.)

Size:¬†¬†Medium / Large¬† (I knitted the larger size, and it’s roomy for me.)

Requirements: 8ply wool in brown, dark green, light green, and blue; 4mm needles.

GraphTo knit flat:
Using 4mm needles, cast on 121 (133) stitches.

Row 1: K2, *P1, K1, rep from * to last st, K1.
Row 2: K1, *P1, K1, rep from * to end.

Repeat these rows until you have 35 (41) rows of ribbing in total.

Knit 4 rows of stocking stitch.

Knit the graph in stocking stitch as shown, working the odd rows from right-to-left and the even rows from left-to-right. For the first two rows, I used the fairisle technique of carrying the wools along the back. I suggest you ignore the tree trunks and use duplicate stitch to embroider them afterwards. For the tops of the trees, I treated them as intarsia and knitted them in solid blocks of light green. Then I duplicate stitched the dark green accents on later. You can this in progress here.

Once you’re done with the graph, switch back to the brown wool and knit¬†two rows of stocking stitch. (You should have the Right Side facing you.) Then begin your decreases:

Decrease row: K1, *K2tog, K1, rep from * to end
Knit 1 (3) rows stocking stitch
K1, *K2tog, K5, rep from * to end
Purl 1 row
K1, *K2tog, K4, rep from * to end
Purl 1 row…

Keep going like this (narrowing by one stitch between the decreases) until you have only 21 (23) stitches left. Then break off the wool leaving a long tail, thread it on your darning needle, and run it through the remaining stitches. Cinch it up tight.

To finish, sew the back seam. (You’ll need to reverse the seam where the brim folds up.) Weave in your ends. Attach your Gemma as shown on the Adafruit website, and load up the provided sketch. When you plug in your batteries and flip the switch, it’ll blink!

To knit in the round:

Using 4mm circular needle or DPNs, cast on 120 (132) stitches.

Ribbing: *K1, P1, rep from * to end.

Repeat this row until you have 35 (41) rows of ribbing in total.

Knit 4 rows.

Knit the graph in stocking stitch as shown, working all rows from right-to-left. For the first two rows, I used the fairisle technique of carrying the wools along the back. I suggest you ignore the tree trunks and use duplicate stitch to embroider them afterwards. For the tops of the trees, I treated them as intarsia and knitted them in solid blocks of light green. Then I duplicate stitched the dark green accents on later. You can this in progress here.

Once you’re done with the graph, switch back to the brown wool and knit¬†two rows. Then begin your decreases:

Decrease row: *K2tog, K1, rep from * to end
Knit 1 (3) rows
*K2tog, K5, rep from * to end
Knit 1 row
*K2tog, K4, rep from * to end
Knit¬†1 row…

Keep going like this (narrowing by one stitch between the decreases) until you have only 21 (23) stitches left. Then break off the wool leaving a long tail, thread it on your darning needle, and run it through the remaining stitches. Cinch it up tight.

Weave in your ends. Attach your Gemma as shown on the Adafruit website, and load up the provided sketch. When you plug in your batteries and flip the switch, it’ll blink!

Denim Hazel Dress

Hazel DressI finished another dress! Back in July¬†I was passing Sew Make Create¬†and did a DOUBLE TAKE when I noticed they were having a fabric sale. I couldn’t resist. I ended up buying three pieces, one of which was an interesting stretchy denim with a pintuck detail (almost like stripes). Of course, as soon as I bought it I couldn’t figure out what the hell to do with it. I knew those vertical lines would be difficult to match up.¬†Donna came through with the best suggestion: why not make another Hazel? (I’ve made two before.) I decided to fully line the top of this one with some red voile, and I used that for the pockets as well. I had a hell of a time with the strap placement and length though, and I’m still not 100% happy with them. (I think I unpicked them three or four times.) On the plus side, the denim was so stretchy that I was able to forgo the zipper entirely. But on the negative side, I didn’t use a walking foot so the top of the bodice got a bit stretched out and gapey. I eventually settled on topstitching a line around the top to create a casing that I was able to thread some thin elastic through. That’s enough to pull the top a bit tighter around my bust and armpits. Despite all the headaches, it ended up being a¬†very cute, functional sundress!

Lark Tee

Lark TeeSydney is in the midst of a spate of really hot Spring weather, and something’s triggered a terrible allergy attack. I spent most of the long weekend lying on the couch moaning. Amazingly, I did manage to get some sewing done in spite of my streaming eyes and nose, mostly because I’d wisely booked in some friends to come over for a “crafternoon.” Behold the Lark Tee. Yes, it’s a v-neck t-shirt. I put in a lot more time, effort, and money than I would have to simply buy a similar shirt from Target. But dammit, I made it! And it’s not too bad. The fabric is some beautiful teal jersey I bought at The Fabric Store a while back, and I spent a long time hand-basting a line down a single rib so I could make sure I wasn’t cutting off-grain. (That’s why cheaply made shirts tend to twist on you.) The cutting took a lot longer than the actual sewing, to be honest.¬†I stitched most of it together on my overlocker, only using my normal machine for the neckline¬†and hems. Many thanks to Donna for her advice and moral support on the day–though it didn’t help that she was wearing her own (much nicer) version!

Dangling Conversation

As you would’ve seen from the Instagram I posted this morning, I finished my Dangling Conversation scarf! It’s knitted out of a single skein of Manos del Uruguay Fino¬†in “Sealing Wax,”¬†a bright orangey-red. I bought the yarn in the last Morris & Sons sale, drawn to¬†its gorgeous deep colour and its exquisite smooshiness. (It’s 70% superfine merino and 30% silk.) The pattern choice was inspired by a guest at an Inner City Knitters Guild meeting earlier in the year, who showed off her version in a variegated yarn. I casted mine on at Camp on August 28 and finished it this past Sunday, so it took me 23 days from start to finish. I knitted it on 4mm needles, which is a fair bit tighter than most of the other folks on Ravelry. To compensate, I added a lot of extra repeats to make it bigger and use up the entire skein. Oh, and I left off the beads. I’m not insane. ūüôā

Ravelry details are here! In sort – excellent pattern; excellent yarn. Highly recommended.

The Wow! Scarf

As you may have gathered from my Twitter or Instagram accounts this past weekend, I attended the 2015 Knitters Guild NSW Camp at Stanwell Tops. When I registered for the Camp earlier in the year, the confirmation message invited me to enter the¬†Mystery Scarf Competition. The details were very vague–basically, you were supposed to knit a scarf of a certain size out of black and either white or cream. Inspired by¬†my Ignite talk, I thought it would be fun to try to knit an¬†actual mystery into the scarf. So I started doing research, and I came up with several interesting¬†possibilities:

In the end I settled on the Wow! Signal. This¬†was a strong narrowband radio signal detected by Jerry R. Ehman on August 15, 1977, while he was working on a SETI project at the Big Ear radio telescope of The Ohio State University. When he saw the spike on the printout, Ehman circled it and wrote “Wow!” in red pen in the margins. The signal lasted for 72 seconds. It came from globular cluster M55 in the constellation Sagittarius. It looks pretty much exactly like what we’d expect an interstellar¬†transmission to look like. It’s never been repeated, and we don’t know what it means. I like to think it’s an alien civilisation saying “Hello!”. So I knitted it into a scarf.

The scarf is knitted as a tube out of Morris Norway 10 ply in Cream using a 5mm circular needle. Starting from the left edge of the printout, I incorporated about 15 columns of numbers by duplicate stitching them on as I went. Once the scarf was long enough, I stopped the numbers and knitted in plain white to leave a space for the “Wow!” which I embroidered with red wool. I also embroidered on some¬†additional pen marks, like the circles around the signal itself and some of the other numbers. As a final step, I added some tassles out of the remaining black wool.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out! I didn’t end up winning the contest, but that’s okay. I took the “mystery” aspect more literally than most of the other contestants did. (The winner did an amazing double-knitted scarf with a photo of her cat on it.) My scarf is exceptionally warm and nerdy, and I had a lot of fun making it.

Canva Comma Club Cushion

Hackathon PosterThis past Thursday and Friday, Canva held its first ever Hackathon. At first¬†I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do for it. (I work with some really brilliant engineers, and my coding skills aren’t great.) But the sign-up sheet came out and it was clear that non-coding projects were encouraged. Then the organiser¬†Chris Doble¬†(jokingly?) suggested that “someone” could create cushions with commas on them. A-HA!

(The Three Commas thing is a running joke from the show Silicon Valley. As a start-up, we quote that show a lot. We even threw in some references as an Easter Egg in our Canva for Work videos.)

So I knew immediately what I would do: I’d sew up a cushion with the Canva logo and three commas, and then I’d use my LilyPad Arduino to make the commas light up. The end result turned out pretty spectacular. Read on if you want to hear how I did it.

Comma Club Cushion

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