Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday Alert! Land's End Warm Up America Campaign

This campaign has ended.

If you knit or crochet, you might want to check out Land's End Warm Up America Campaign.  Through mid-December, they will be collecting knitted and crocheted "squares" (actually 7 x 9 rectangles) that will be put together by volunteers to make blankets for those in need.

Talking Crochet's website has the full information and I'll be talking more about it on Monday.  However --- the reason for a Thursday post on this is that Land's End is giving away cones of their new "Feel Good" yarn to those who can commit to making 51 squares by mid-December and you need to request the cone(s) by tomorrow!

Here's the information I have:

Place Orders Before October 1
Before October 1, place your yarn cone order directly from the Lands' End contact listed below.
How to order: Send the following information by e-mail with your order to
Your shipping address
Your e-mail address
The number of cones you are certain you can complete by mid-December
Quantities are limited. Your yarn will be shipped to you directly from Lands' End.

The Land's End Warm Up America website has two sample knit and two sample crochet square patterns and I'll have more for you on Monday.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Sewing - Invisible Zippers

In last Wednesday's blog, we made a felt wallet with an invisible zipper.  This is probably the easiest way to first put an invisible zipper in - you don't have to worry about the right side of the fabric and the zipper was longer than what we needed, so we didn't have to worry about sewing around the zipper head.

Putting invisible zippers in clothing really isn't hard, you just have to think about a couple more things!  Today I'll show you how I replaced an invisible zipper in an already sewn dress.

If you've never worked with invisible zippers, I recommend watching the video here first. 

Materials List:

*invisible zipper - get an invisible zipper at least as long as the zipper opening.  Too long is not a problem, too short is.  If you can't find a zipper that matches your fabric, get one that has a zipper pull that coordinates.
*invisible zipper foot
*zipper or narrow foot
*hand sewing needle

1.  Iron (on synthetic setting) the zipper coils flat.  They won't be exactly flat, just flatter than they were.

2.  If you are replacing a zipper, take out the old zipper and take the entire seam out that is below the zipper.  In the dress I'm working with, there is a gathered skirt attached under the zipper seam, so I had to open up the gathered seam on about two inches on either side of the zipper seam.

If you are putting a zipper in a garment you are making, the instructions will probably tell you to sew the zipper seam up to where the zipper will go.  With an invisible zipper, you don't want to do this.  Put the zipper in before you sew the zipper seam.

3.  Open up the zipper and pin the right side of zipper to the right side of the fabric on one edge of the zipper opening.

4.  Lay the other side of the fabric that will be sewn to the zipper next to the side you just pinned.

5.  Pin the other side of the zipper (right side) to the right side of the fabric.  Hand baste both side of the pinned zipper.

6.  Starting at the top of the zipper, put the coil in the right channel as shown below.  Sew all the way down to the zipper head.  While you're sewing, roll the zipper coil flat to make sure it doesn't get caught in the needle.  Repeat with the other side of the zipper.  If your zipper is longer than you needed, follow the instructions in last Wednesday's blog to shorten it.

7.  Pull the zipper head up to the top, switch to your regular zipper foot or narrow foot, and finish sewing the zipper in on each side.

8.  Sew the zipper seam together underneath the zipper.

9.  If you're sewing a garment, continue on with the pattern instructions.  If you were replacing a zipper, put back together what you took apart.  On this dress, I regathered the skirt and sewed the seam and hand sewed the top facing down.

10.  This dress is a good example of how an invisible zipper can give a nice clean finish, especially when you're putting a zipper in the front!  Thank you for your patience, Valerie!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Project - Hand Dyed Cotton Yarn

Dying cotton yarn is really easy and allows you to have a much wider range of colors than are available at your local stores.

Materials List:
*skeins of cotton yarn, such as Sugar and Cream or
Peaches and Cream are usually easy to find in stores.  If you want to order cotton yarn, I love KnitPicks yarn in any fiber.
*Procion Fiber Reactive Dye
*soda ash
*non-iodized salt
*plastic gloves
*squeeze bottles
*sealable plastic bag
*measuring utensils used only for dying (not cooking)
*respiratory mask
*rags or paper towels

I buy my dye materials on-line from Dharma Trading Company.  If you want to dye your yarn a solid color, follow the directions in the Fabric Dying post here.  The method we'll use for hand dying a variegated yarn is similar to the method I use for tie-dying fabric, so you might want to look at that post here for more details and explanations.

1.  Before either method of dying, you need to unwind the ball of yarn into a looped skein.  This loosens up the yarn and lets the dye reach everywhere.  If my husband's busy, I turn the piano stool upside down and wind the yarn around the legs. 

There are tools, called "swifts," you can buy to help you with this. 

2.  Once you have your yarn in a large loop, it needs to be tied in several places to keep it from getting all tangled up.  I tie the ends together and tie the loop in several places using a figure 8 tie.  Even though the skein is tied, you still need to be careful to keep from tangling it.

3.  Add 1/2 cup of soda ash to 1 gallon of water (wear your mask) and put your yarn in to soak for about 20 minutes.

4.  Meanwhile, mix your squeeze bottles of dye.  I'm using Peach and Coral Pink.

For a medium color, use 2 to 8 tsp. of powdered dye per 8 oz. of water (use your face mask).  The dyes without a * by them in the catalog use 2 tsp.  The dyes with a * by them use 4 tsp., and the dyes with ** next to them use 8 tsp.  I use a Sharpie and write this on top of the dye containers when I get them so I don't have to keep looking up which ones have how many *'s.

If you want a lighter color, use less dye.  My colors turned out darker than I originally wanted - to get the lighter color I had in mind, I would use less dye next time.  As it worked out, I love what I ended up with!

5.  Squeeze the excess soda water from your yarn (wear gloves) and lay the skein on a rack over a tub.

6.  I'm going to dye both ends and the middle with peach and then make coral pink stripes on each peach end.

Put the nozzle of the squeeze bottle into the yarn and slowly begin squeezing the dye out.  Go slowly and try to make sure as much of the dye as possible ends up in the yarn - you'll just be throwing out any dye that makes it to the tub.

7.  Turn the yarn over and fill in any needed areas on the back.

8.  See how my dye in the photo above is beginning to run together covering up most of the off white yarn?  If I wanted a lot of the original color of yarn to remain between the stripes of dyed color, I would have needed to use paper towels to soak up the extra color from the ends of the stripes.

9.  Put in a zip top bag for around 24 hours.

10.  The next day, gently handwash in a detergent such as Synthrapol or Dharma's Textile Detergent.  Rinse well.

11.  Hang to dry.

12.  Roll into a ball before you begin using it.

In a couple of weeks, you'll see what I'm up to with my hand dyed cotton yarn!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Inspiration - Musical Instrument Museum

Hmmm, your're thinking.  Musical Instrument Museum?  I thought this was a fiber arts blog.  Keep reading!

My husband and I spent last Sunday afternoon at the museum, in North Phoenix, and are planning a return trip soon.  The two floors are divided into regions of the world, each with displays of instruments from the countries in that region along with videos.  When you buy a ticket, you're given a headset that automatically picks up the signal of the area you are nearest.  It's great!  There are also gallery exhibits and a really fun room where you can play many of the instruments.

The displays also include examples of costumes and masks used with the instruments.  And some of the instruments are richly embroidered and/or beaded.  Aha!  There's the fiber arts connection!  I apologize in advance for the quality of some of the photographs.  Taking pictures is allowed, but not with flash, which led to a little bit of blurriness in some.

Detail of Yoruba tied-resist fabric

This clothing was worn with an Egungun mask by the Yoruba people.  Notice the nice example of tied resist dying!  We tend to think of Japan or the US when seeing tied resists, but Africa has a long tradition of using this type of dying also.

Yoruba textiles with tied-resist fabric

Detail of Konyagy weaving

Here is a cotton weaving from the Konyagy people of Guinea.

Konyagy weaving

The embroidery on this tulum (bagpipe) from the Black Sea region is gorgeous.  The photograph doesn't do it justice.  The maker is Murat Atacan.

A beautiful weaving from Peru . . .

and this amazing woven costume from the Kapi village in Indonesia.

Just look at this detail!  It's woven from reeds, wood, and feathers. 

I've only shown you a few of the many, many amazing textiles - none of the beading photos turned out because of the "no flash" rule and they were beautiful.  This museum is definitely worth a morning or afternoon if you live in or are visiting the Phoenix area.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday Sewing - Felt Wallet with Invisible Zipper

This felt wallet/clutch is a good project for practicing invisible zipper insertion.  I really like invisible zippers - they're easy to put in (as long as you have an invisible zipper foot) and make a nice, smooth seam.  They don't seem to be used as much as they used to be and don't come in a huge assortment of sizes and colors like regular zippers do.  It doesn't matter if you get an invisible zipper that's too long - you just shorten it.  For color, if you can't match the fabric you're sewing, get a zipper with a pull that coordinates with your fabric.  The pull is the only part that shows.  Next week we'll look at putting invisible zippers in clothing.

Before starting, you might want to watch this YouTube video on invisible zippers

Materials List:
*felt - if you use Eco Rainbow Felt it can be washed on gentle and air dried
*embroidery thread
*embroidery needle
*felt or tacky glue
*invisible zipper foot that fits your machine
*invisible zipper - these don't come in a very wide assortment of colors or sizes.  Get one that is longer than the wallet you're making and that has a zipper pull that matches or coordinates with your felt
*optional:  decorative buttons

1.  Cut two pieces of felt measuring 8 x 6 inches (these will be the two outside pieces) and two pieces measuring 8 x 5 inches (these will be on the inside - I made mine a light color so it's easier to see what is inside the wallet).  This is a very easy pattern to adjust.  I like my wallets to be bigger - more like clutches.  That way I can put my cell phone and a couple of other essentials in them if I don't want to carry my shoulder bag.  If you want a different size, just make the width of the lining pieces 1 inch smaller than the outside pieces' width.

2.  Iron (on synthetic setting) the zipper coils flat.  They won't be exactly flat, just flatter than they were.

3.  Open up the zipper and place with the zipper pull down.  Line up the edge of the zipper's right tape with a long side of one outer felt, placing zipper stop about 1/4 inch in.  The right side of the zipper should face the right side of the fabric if your felt has one.  Pin and baste.

4.  Lay the other outer felt piece on top of the piece you just basted.  Pin the other half of the zipper to this piece in the same way as the first half.  You'll roll back the edge first, as in the photo below, so your zipper will lay flat and not be twisted.  Baste.

5.  Close the zipper and make sure you haven't twisted it.  This is easier to do than you think!

 6.  To the right is a common type of invisible zipper foot.  This is the one used with the Brother 6000i.  When I bought my machine, it did not come with it and I had to order it separately.  I'm not sure whether or not it does now.  Basically, it has two channels underneath.  The zipper coil goes through one of the channels, depending on which side you're sewing - like a regular zipper foot.  Notice the round hole in the middle for the machine needle to go through?  Make sure you have your needle placed so it can do that.  With the Brother, that's a 01 straight stitch.

7.  Starting at the top of the zipper, put the coil in the right channel as shown below.  Sew all the way down to the bottom of the felt piece.  While you're sewing, roll the zipper coil flat to make sure it doesn't get caught in the needle.

8.  Repeat with the other coil using the left side channel.

9.  Close the zipper.  Your piece should look like this:

10.  Cut your decorative felt pieces out and attach with a small dab of felt or tacky glue.  Attach pieces with a blanket stitch and 2 strands of embroidery thread.  Sew on any decorative buttons you're using.  I made the bee's "track" with 3 strands of thread and a running stitch.  If you haven't made layered felt pieces before, read over this past blog for more information. 

11.  To shorten the zipper, hand sew over the end about 3/8 inch from the side as shown in the photo below. 

Do this several times.

12.  Insert needle under top of stitches you just made and put it through from the top again.  Repeat this until you reach the end of the stitches.  This makes a bar tack.

13.  Trim end of the zipper 1/4 inch in and trim the ends off the top of the zipper.

14.  Pin the two pieces of inside felt together.

15.  Fold in half and mark the center with chalk or disappearing fabric pen.  Sew a line just off of the middle, take a couple stitches at the bottom, and sew up the other side of the line.

16.  Open up outside piece of felt and place face down.  Lay inside felt on one half of the outside felt - match bottoms (end without the zipper) and put the side where you took a couple stitches at the top (the zipper end).

17.  Fold top of outside piece down making a sandwich with the inside piece.  Pin sides and bottom.

18.Sew pinned edges about 1/4 inch in.  Don't worry if the inside piece of felt sticks out a bit.

19.  Trim inside piece and round the bottom edges.

20.  With 6 strands of embroidery thread, blanket stitch around the two sides and the bottom.

And fill up!

Happy Creating!  Deborah