Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Puff Stitch missing its Puff - My very first Granny Square

Bravery and determination have finally gotten me started and what did I start with?  The very squares that had originally made me think that crochet was only for little old ladies.  HaHa!  I guess the joke is on me because I have to learn the basics somehow.

It's called a Cluster Dome and was designed by: Jean Leinhauser.  I used a book borrowed from my mother titled: "50 Fabulous Crochet Squares" on page 8.  The one thing about this book is that is doesn't tell you how to start, do basic single, double or triple crochet stitches or end colors.  This left me frustrated at night when I knew I couldn't call my mother to ask for help and eventually had me searching the Internet for some answers.

What I found is a wonderful website: "All Free Crochet" It went over the basics for me with simple clear instructions for the moment when I couldn't remember how many yarn over (YO) I was supposed to do again for a certain stitch.  You can sign up for a free account which gives you access to all their free patterns and even allows you to store the crochet patterns you are interested in from their site.  This is awesome because it makes finding something you liked so much easier to do again later.

My center ring of puff stitches and the second ring of puff stitches were so close together in the book's example photo that there was no center hole in the square or any space between the two rounds of puff stitches themselves.  Obviously mine looks nothing like the picture.  So my mother who has been crocheting for many years says tighten your stitching it's a tension problem.  And I thought to myself tension problem?  My frustration levels are starting to rise I am plenty tense.  But I didn't give up.  My goal was to make enough of them to have a 20 inch x 20 inch blanket to donate to the hospital for my mother's Angel Blanket project when I am done.  So I laid this one square aside and started again, calling it practice and having every intention of trashing it.  Before I could do so though, my oldest daughter Seriah saw it and insisted that it was beautiful and she wanted to keep it forever.

Bless her heart my daughter's simple admiration at my first attempt to make something reminded me that nothing is perfect and that is okay.  The Lord accepts our best efforts in all that we do.  And as my crafting was something I wanted to further develop this first attempt was good enough because I had tried my best.  I absolutely love this quote by Chieko N. Okazaki "I've learned that the Lord didn't do it all in one day.  What makes me think I can?"  This is from her book called "Being Enough" page 81.

So I guess that means I can't expect my very first square to be perfect.  Here are the next three squares I made of the same pattern.  It might be difficult to see but they look the same and are the same size and are a hundred times better then my first attempt.  They still don't look puffy like the photo in the pattern book, but at least it is something I can be proud of when I finish it and donate it to my mother's service Angel Blanket project.  More to come as I get the other squares finished and attempt to sew them all together.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sewing is Service A Blindhem Sewing Tutorial

Over the last year with my difficult pregnancy and long term stay in the hospital and recovery afterwards I can not count the number of friends and family who have been here to serve and help our family.  The house work, childcare, prepared meals, and emotional support have been enormous.  And now that things are finally starting to get back to normal I have started looking for ways I can pay it forward and give back.  So I wanted to share with you today's service project.  I am working on shortening the hems on some dress pants and slacks for a neighbor of mine and figured since it was something that is pretty easy to do so I would make a tutorial to share for anyone wanting to know how.  So here it is my very first attempt at making a tutorial.

First whoever is going to be wearing the pants needs to try them on for you.  Then you put a pin in the back of the pant leg where they want to hem to fall.  This is to mark the finished edge of the new length.  You only need to mark one pant leg.  Carefully match seams, lay the pants flat and add 2 inches from the pin.  Cut off extra fabric.  You can add less but I like to have a wide hem in case they need to be re-adjusted in the future.

Next you are going to zigzag stitch around the edge of both cuffs.  I like my stitch length set to 2 inches and my stitch width set to 4 inches for this.  The needle should go into the fabric on one side and then barely into or just over the edge on the other side of the zigzag.

Turn pants inside out; fold and pin a 2 inch hem line.  I use 1 pin in each seam, and 1 pin across from each seam.  Then one in between each of those pins to hold it in place and keep it straight.  Keeping the pins partially pulled up and away from the fabric so you don't melt the heads iron the fold.

Baste hem 1/4 inch from your zigzag line.  For basting set your stitch length as long as your machine allows because you will be pulling this seam out at the end.  My machine goes to 5 inches stitch length.  CAUTION:  Do Not snip the thread ends, and don't reverse sew or lock your thread in.  This will make it difficult to remove when the time comes.  Remove pins.

Switch to a blind hem foot on your machine and the blind hem stitch.  Mine is number 7 on my machine.  I took a photo so you could see which stitch I am talking about.  This foot doesn't allow reverse stitching so sew past your starting point a little ways to lock it in at the end.

Fold the hem inside the pants so only your little zigzag edge is sticking out.  Start your sewing close to one of the pants seams.  Keep the seam guide on the foot right in the fold of your baste line.

Once you are done stitching turn your pants right-side out again.  Remove baste stitching by pulling on one of the two threads.  If it breaks don't worry find the new end and keep going until it is completely removed.  Some fabrics can be pretty stubborn about this part.  If it's really difficult you can use your seam ripper from the right side of the pants so you don't chance cutting your other stitching.

TaDa!  You are finished.  Notice that the stitches should be barely visible on the right-side of the fabric.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Beginning Adventures in Crochet

So it's Memorial Day and I can't post without first saying thank you to all our armed forces who work so hard protecting our lives and liberties both past and present and future.

Crochet has always been something that I thought old ladies did once they couldn't do much else physically.  I know that is awfully judgmental and shame on me but there it is.  I have since come to learn otherwise.  For me it started in December right after Christmas when I was finally able to come home from the hospital.  My sister-in-law Ana Burton who is super talented and who I have always admired for all the crafty things she does gave me three
of the cutest pairs of crocheted shoes for my baby girl.  Didn't she do an amazing job?  You can follow her on Pinterest here.  These shoes got me thinking.  If a talented woman with a young daughter of her own can do it then just maybe it isn't just for my great-great grandmother.  So I asked her to show me some basics while she was here helping with my kids while I recovered.  And I learned a couple of things.

First Wing Needles for sewing machines actually do have a purpose; something I had never understood every time I passed them by in the sewing department buying my quilting and sewing needles.  Second they made this amazing thing called "Wonder Invisible Thread"  That when used together with a wing needle and the star stitch on my sewing machine will actually do the edge punching for you so you can crochet those fancy trims on baby blankets without all the fuss of prepping and piercing the fabric.  I was stoked and ready to give it a go, convinced I would never want to crochet anything else except baby blanket trim. HaHa!  Then she went home and all I had managed to do is sew a ring of stars on a 4x4 piece of fleece to practice with and learn how to start my thread around the edge.  Where it is still sitting to this day six months later.  But I promise I have every intention of getting back to eventually.
 Not long after that I had a wonderful gift given to me by my friend and visiting teacher Nadia Taylor at the time.  It was a beautiful handmade crocheted white baby blessing dress.  I was stunned.  Not only that she (who I would never have guessed actually crocheted) would actually have taken the time to make something so beautiful for me.  Immediately I knew that this was the dress we would bless our daughter in at church and the little white shoes would go perfectly.  Again this loving gift inspired me to reconsider my thoughts on this hobby called crochet.  I knew then I had been hooked and crochet was going to be a new hobby for me for a while and I would be learning more then just blanket edging.  So now to all those men and women out there young and old who have known for much longer then I how lovely, relaxing and fun crochet can be, I have seen the light and my eyes have been opened.  The yarn drawer I added to my craft room is already overflowing and I have oodles of projects in mind for the future.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Why I Blog

This last year I have been blessed with a new appreciation for life.  My youngest and last child was born December 2013 and the miracles of God and modern medicine saved both my daughter and I, allowing me to continue to raise my kids and enjoy my family.  This has given me a brand new prospective on day to day living and I have finally realized that when Christ taught the parable of the talents just maybe I was dismissing or hiding a few of mine from lack of courage to share or fear of what others might have to say about it.  I was like the man with one talent.

"And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine."
Matthew 25:25

My husband commented to me yesterday as I sat watching and pausing, drawing and re-watching Disney's movie Frozen; so I could come up with what I was going to use to make the costumes my oldest 2 daughters had been requesting "I so admire your talent sweetheart.  You have the ability to see something and transform it into something all your own that is beautiful."  I looked at what I considered to be a horrible and rough drawing of Anna's coronation outfit and laughed at him.  "My drawing isn't a talent, it looks terrible."  We then had an interesting discussion about talents and what they are.  And by the end of it I began to understand that maybe I have a few more of them than I have given myself credit for and that I no longer wanted to be afraid.

"Then he that had received the 5 talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.  And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two."
Matthew 25:16-17

So regardless of what the world may think I am determined not only to further develop my talents whether they be two or five in the hopes that someday I will hear what these servants heard:

"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
Matthew 25:21

Thus my blog is born.  And I will share my crafting journey and discoveries along the way with the world and anyone who happens to stumble across my little niche in the hopes that you to might discover your own hidden talents or be brave enough to try and increase the number of talents you already have.