Thursday, December 18, 2014

The last of my doll sewing for Christmas is done!

Kit and Samantha are modeling the doll dresses I finished for a friend of mine who is giving gift sets to several girls for Christmas.

I made it through ten of these dresses, but I seriously doubt I'll be making any more of them.

I really appreciate it when people take the time to write up and share patterns for free. Really, I do. I know how much work goes into it. But I thought I should caution anyone who has thought of using this particular pattern about a few things:

  1. The dresses are difficult to get on and off the dolls. I was afraid I was going to end up pulling the arms off the dolls in the process of getting them on and off. Granted, my Kit and Samantha aren't brand-new dolls, but I'm a lot more careful with them than most girls I know.
  2. The actual sewing is a pain in the neck, especially when you're adding the ribbon at the waist. It would have been a lot easier (and make a lot more sense) to run a gathering stitch through the front bodice instead of just trying to gather it via the pinning method. There's a lot of fabric to gather into a tiny space. And since it's all sewn together at that point, it makes it quite interesting to sew it without sewing the front and back together where they're not supposed to be.
Since I was making ten of them, I went the easy route and used lace trim on the bottom hem and pre-made ribbon at the waist.

Then I knit them coats and hats. I was pretty happy with how these turned out. It's a great use for that fun fur!

For the coats, I used this pattern, available on Ravelry for a small fee. The pink hat was made according to the same pattern, but it isn't the best fit in the world. As a result, I used a different pattern for the rest of the hats: Newsboy Cap for American Girl/Boy Dolls by Debonair Designs. It's free, and I really like it.

Now I'm all caught up with the projects I promised other people for Christmas. I'll try to show you a few more of the projects I've been working on in the next few days.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sewing some Christmas gifts

I'm working on sewing some Christmas gifts for friends. This dress is going to a good friend's granddaughter who has a Kaya doll and wants another dress so she can actually change clothes. (Kaya's wardrobe isn't very extensive, but kids DO like to change these dolls' clothes every now and then.)

I used Simplicity #4786 for the dress portion and used a dark suede-like fabric. If you ever sew this pattern for an American Girl doll, you'll want to widen the bottom of the sleeves a bit. It's a very tight squeeze to get this around her open hands. It can be done, but I'll be changing it the next time I make it.

This dress is very simple. I jazzed it up a bit with the beaded turquoise trim. I have no idea if it's authentic for Kaya's particular tribe, but this little girl isn't going to care, as long as it looks like something an American Indian would wear. I always think of turquoise and silver in relation to American Indians.

This trim is a bit interesting to work with. I hand-stitched it between each and every bead, but it was worth the trouble. I like how it turned out.

And this is what the rest of my work table looks like. I have ten more dresses to sew for another friend - all for 18" dolls. They should go pretty quickly.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Knitting: Twin Leaf Baby Blanket, Day Two

On the second day of knitting this blanket, I finished 14 of the 38 repeats. This is such a beautiful pattern and quite fun to knit, too. I may end up making at least one more of these.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Knitting: Twin Leaf Blanket

Every now and then I get the urge to knit a blanket. I have all the blankets I need at my house (most people I know do), so I knit a baby blanket for charity.

When I came across the Twin Leaf Baby Blanket pattern, it was too beautiful not to knit. So I started it yesterday and made this much progress over the course of about half the day:

Yes, I know this is larger than my margins, but it's much easier to see the stitch detail at this size, so I'm keeping it large. :)

It's knit with sportweight yarn on size 4 needles, so it's not going to be super-fast to knit. But that's okay. With something this beautiful, I enjoy watching it take shape as I knit. I'm more of a process knitter anyway - I enjoy the process of knitting even more than the finished product (usually).

It's a beautiful pattern, and it's free - when you sign up for a newsletter. If you're interested, you can find out more at its Ravelry page here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Knitting: Brambles Beret

I finished the sweater I was designing, but I need to sew the buttons on before I can model it for the blog. So I thought I'd show you a beret I knit for charity in the meantime.

This is a free pattern called Brambles Beret by Amanda Muscha. It's very pretty! It may look difficult, but it really isn't.

I knit this in the small size without any extra repeats, and it’s a perfect fit for my 9-year-old daughter. If I were to make it for myself (or another small adult who wears their hair up), I’d try it with an extra repeat (as suggested on the pattern page when using acrylics).

Monday, October 27, 2014

Designing My Sweater: Days 4 and 5

Reducing the sleeve stitches was exactly what this sweater needed. I was able to complete the entire sleeve with the same amount of yarn that I had previously used for just the sleeve cap and one inch of the sleeve.

I only have to finish the last sleeve cuff and then add buttons. I still have to go through my buttons to see if I have some or if I need to buy some.

My notes on the sleeves:

I wanted to transition the sleeves down to 9” circumference, so I needed to decrease to 44 stitches over 7” in length. (This works out to 42 rows.) So I decreased 2 stitches every 7th row, 6 times. I worked an additional 7 rows, and that put it right at my elbow so that I could start ribbing.
Because I like nice, tight ribbing, I switched to 2’s and decreased an additional 4 sts (every 10th st) on the first row of ribbing. I worked 2" of ribbing before binding off with a stretchy bind-off.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Designing My Sweater: Day 3

You probably can't tell from the picture, but this sleeve is enormous.

I didn't make as much progress today, simply because I ripped the sleeve out at least five times trying to get it "just right".

Two things went wonderfully right, though:

1. The button band turned out perfectly.
2. The two skeins are not as different as they appeared in the lighting I saw them in earlier, so the sleeves will look just fine knit from the second skein.

My notes on the button band:

I picked up 262 stitches (3 for every 4 rows around) with smaller needles. This gave me 44 stitches before the v-neck on each side, and I placed markers to separate these. I'll be working buttonholes onto these stitches and increases directly after them on even rows.

To account for the v-neck, I increased one stitch after the first stitch marker and one stitch before the second stitch marker on every even row. Row 2 is a "make 1 knit", Row 4 is a "make 1 purl", Row 6 is a "make 1 knit" (right beside the previous "make 1 knit"), Row 8 is a "make 1 purl" (right beside the previous "make 1 purl").

I worked the buttonholes on Row 5. I wanted 4 buttonholes, and I worked a bind-off buttonhole over 4 stitches so that I can use the BIG buttons that I want. Each end buttonhole is 2 stitches away from each end (I'll increase to 4 stitches on the bottom if I do this again), so that meant I had 8 stitches between each buttonhole.

I bound off the button bands (regular, non-stretchy) on Row 10 without increasing any at the bottom of the “v”.

My notes on the sleeves:

Originally, I picked up 3 sts for every 4 rows around the armhole and got 84 sts. I tried several methods to make that work (and ripped them all out after the sleeve cap was finished), but that was entirely too many stitches.

So I'm going to go back and pick up every other stitch. That should work a lot better.