Posted in Crafting Corner

5 Things You Need To Do Before You Start Sewing

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ever since I was a little girl I have always wanted to learn how to sew. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the thought of making my own clothes (fashion designer EJ) or maybe it was just the thought of doing something creative.

I’m not sure. Either way, I never got the chance to learn how to sew in my childhood. It was something that I always regretted.

Not to mention the fact that my husband knows how to use a sewing machine and how to sew by hand. Talk about feeling like a slacker!

Then one day, last summer, fortune smiled on me. My sister in law gave me the sewing machine that she didn’t use. Talk about being super excited!

It was an older sewing machine that she had gotten from my mother in law. (A Singer Millenium Series.)

It was a bit big and bulky, but that was alright with me. I cleared off some space in the kids’ playroom, plugged up my machine and dived right into my sewing journey.

Needless to say, I made a lot of mistakes those first few weeks. But you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.

1.Read the Manual

Bobbin, presser foot, seam guide, handle wheel, oh my?! When I got my sewing machine I had no idea what any of those knobs and dials on my machine were for or what they were called.

And since it was a hand me down a manual did not come with it. Luckily, we live in the digital age and I was able to find a copy of the original manual online.

If you’ve read my crochet posts you know that I don’t like following directions, but I highly recommend reading your manual.

The manual that comes with your sewing machine is a very important resource don’t throw it away.

Not only does it tell you how to properly use your machine. You will find diagrams showing you all the different parts of the machine and their functions.

It will also give you information on how to use the different stitches, what tension should be used for certain stitches, what kind of needle you should use for different kinds of fabric (Yes, there are different kinds of sewing needles!)

It also has a section that details common issues that you may have with your machine and how to fix them.

2. Start with the Basic Sewing Supplies

When I started sewing I didn’t have everything I needed. Which meant I had to make several trips to the store to pick up various supplies.

So before you get all sew happy like I did, you’re going to need some basic sewing supplies. Besides your sewing machine you are going to need the following:

Thread

I started with an all-purpose thread from Walmart. It’s tempting to buy multiple colors, but I would recommend only buying two colors of thread to start with.

Preferably two contrasting colors. Using two contrasting colors makes it easier to learn how to thread your bobbin. It can also help you identify any issues you might have with your stitches.

Trust me your stash of thread will grow as you begin to sew more items.

Scissors

Invest in a good pair of scissors. I was using my kid’s scissors from school for a little while. Then my husband brought me a pair of flat bottom Fiskars scissors (angels singing)…let’s just say I will never use those kiddie scissors to cut fabric ever again!

It’s important that people in the house know that these scissors are off limits and are only to be used for cutting fabric. Using them on other types of material can dull the blades.

Seam Ripper

If you’re like me you will make a lot of mistakes when you first start sewing. (You won’t believe how difficult it is for me to sew a straight line, but more on that later.)

The seam ripper helps to remove the stitches you’ve created without destroying your fabric. Some machines will come with a small seam ripper, but I had to buy a bigger one.

Pins

Sewing Pins

Pins are important for holding your patterns pieces in place or when you need to cut fabric. Like thread, there are several different types of pins to choose from and they all serve their own purposes.

Ruler

Sewing requires you to take a lot of measurements. You will need a decent straight edge ruler to make sure your cuts are perfect and/or you can use a soft flexible tailors ruler like the one pictured.

If your not making clothing then you probably won’t need the soft ruler. However, when it comes to sewing you will always want to measure twice and cut once.

Tailors Chalk/Fabric Pencils

Tailor’s chalk is often used to trace out patterns onto your fabric. The chalk will wash off easily and not leave stains on your fabric.

Fabric pencils serve the same function and can be sharpened when the tip becomes dull.

Fabric

Brightly Colored Fabric

As a newbie, it can be tempting to buy all those cute fabrics that we see in the store. Your best bet is to hold off on the cute stuff.

Instead, buy some cheap cotton fabric for you to practice on. Goodwill is a great place to buy cheap bed sheets that you can cut up and practice sewing on.

Once you’re confident in using your machine, then you can buy the cute stuff.

Iron (Optional)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I really dislike ironing. So imagine my surprise when I learned that there was a great deal of pressing involved in sewing. I’m sure it’s my least favorite part of sewing.

Most of us already have an iron in the house. So buying one isn’t necessary, but I find it tedious to have to go from one part of the house to press my fabric in the laundry room and then take it back to my craft room to continue sewing.

Having a dedicated iron would save me some travel time.

3.Start Simple

Superman Themed Bow-tie

I can be a bit gung- ho at times. Especially, when it comes to things that help me express my creative side. Or starting a new hobby.

I have a tendency to rush through the basics so that I can hurry up and create that masterpiece I see in my head.

I recommend that don’t do that. Take the time to learn the basics of sewing before you move on to more challenging endeavors.

Amber from Crazy Little Projects has a created an awesome free sewing class for newbies like you and me.

The class also has a dictionary that defines common sewing terms and projects that you can complete after each lesson to hone your skills.

I haven’t mentioned much about patterns, but if you’re going to buy a clothing pattern I would suggest starting out with the easiest pattern available and then work your way up to the harder things, like dresses.

4.Youtube Is Your Friend

I’m a hands-on learner and usually, I’m pretty good at following written tutorials, but sometimes I just need to watch a video to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing.

If you’re a visual learner youtube will be your best friend when it comes to learning how to sew or troubleshooting issues with your machine.

I couldn’t figure out how to thread the bobbin in my sewing machine for the longest time. After almost giving up I remembered the wonderful world of youtube.

It was there that I found a video on how to thread the bobbin for my machine and was finally able to get on my way to sewing like a real seamstress. ( I’m not that good yet, but I’m working on it.)

I also had an issue with learning how to read patterns and how to buy fabric. I found a youtube video for that too.

There are also videos on how to sew different types of garments and accessories. I found a video on how to sew women’s underwear (gasp)! I don’t think I’ll be trying that one, but you never know.

Right now I’ve got my eye on a youtube tutorial that shows you how to turn a men’s dress shirt into a toddler dress. But first I need to try to make something a little simpler…like kids pajama pants or something.

5. Have Fun

My final piece of advice is to have fun and enjoy the creative process! Don’t get caught up in the fact that you still can’t sew a straight line to save your life! (They tell me there is a hack to help you with that.)

Like any new task you take on, it will be full of mistakes and frustrations. Seriously, do you know how many tries it took me to make that Superman bow tie?!

But I finally figured it out and it came out better than I could have imagined.

I hope this little bit of advice will help you get started on your own sewing adventure. If I forgot something please let me know in the comments section.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

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Posted in Crafting Corner

Crochet Blankets and Scarves for Christmas

It’s Christmas eve and I’ve finally finished all of those crocheted Christmas presents that I foolishly promised people I would make. A superman themed baby blanket, 2 blankets (lap blankets), and a hat and scarf set.

The first blanket I made using:

Isaac Mizrahi Yarn (Sutton, 7 balls)

Q/16 mm Hook

Darning needle

I really love the color of this yarn. It’s a super bulky yarn so the project worked up pretty quickly.

I’m not big on fashion, but apparently, Isaac Mizrahi is an important designer. I was lucky and found this yarn on sale at A.C. Moore. Seven balls of yarn for $5.

The pattern for this yarn consisted of double crochets and single crochets. Unfortunately, I forgot to bookmark the pattern. If I find the link I will make sure to add it to the site.

The second blanket I made using:

Isaac Mizrahi Yarn (Sutton, 7 balls)

P/11.5 mm Hook

Darning Needle

I used the same yarn for this blanket I just used a different pattern. Instead of trying to do something fancy I just made a blanket using granny squares. Since the yarn acrylic and wool, both blankets turned out to be pretty warm.

My last Christmas gift was a hat and yarn set. Honestly, I really like the scarf, but I’m not thrilled about the hat. She wanted a slouchy had, but somehow it didn’t turn on like I imagined.

For this project I used:

Grey Crochet Hat & Yarn Set

Studio Classic Yarn (Grey, 1 Jumbo roll)

K/6.50 mm Hook

L/8.00 mm Hook

Darning needle

I followed the pattern here to make the slouchy hat. However, I didn’t have bulky yarn so I just used two strands of the grey yarn.

Grey crochet hat

The scarf was made using a half double crochet stitch with the stitches crocheted in the back loops only.

Chain 142 stitches

Round 1: Insert hook into the second chain, half double crochet into that stitch and all the remaining stitches.

Round 2: Chain 1. Half double crochet into the back loops only. Repeat until you achieve the desired width.

Then I added the tassels at the end.

The hat is not my best work. I am still trying to figure out what kind of embellishments to put on it to make it look better. However, the scarf turned out great.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Crafting Corner, diy

Crocheted Toddler Hooded Cardigan

Fall is almost over and I’m finally getting back to that crocheted toddler hooded cardigan I discovered on Pinterest.

You know that one I started a few months ago, but abandoned it because I finished the body of the cardigan only to realize it was too small for my daughter.

I’m not really sure why it took me so long to get back to it. I think I was just really disappointed that it turned out wrong.

On the positive side, I did learn a lesson from my mishap and why it’s important to use the correct gauge when crocheting garments. I’m actually looking forward to crocheting an oversized sweater for myself that I saw on youtube.

After, getting over my disappointment I decided to give it another try. And this time it turned out just right! (Following instructions can be a good thing).

For this project I used the following:

  • Purple Yarn ( Caron Kindness Yarn) – 1 Ball
  • Robins Egg Blue Yarn( Caron Kindness Yarn )- I Ball
  • M13/9.00 mm Hook
  • Darning Needle
  • Scissors
  • Instructions for 2T/3T pattern

The instructions for this pattern suggests that you use a size J/6mm hook. However, I tend to crochet very tightly so I had to use a bigger hook( M13/9.00 mm) to get the correct gauge. I also used the 2t/3t pattern, which the author suggested because my daughter is a little on the chunky side.

In my opinion, I think this hoodie is the perfect starter garment for a beginner. Most of the garment is made using half double crochets. The hardest part, for me, was creating the stitches for the edging.

However, instead of doing the edging described in the pattern I decided to just crochet in the back loops only instead of trying to do the alternating front post and back post stitches.

Besides changing the edging the only other change I made was adding the design to the back of the hoodie. In my post on the corner to corner Superman Blanket, I mentioned graphagens.

A graphagen is a pictorial representation of a design you want to crochet. I’m not sure if you’re only supposed to use them for the corner to corner patterns, but I figured I would give it a try.

I used some graph paper and tried to draw out the diagram for the butterfly (Yes, that’s supposed to be a butterfly lol) and to keep track of how many rows I’d done.

As you can see from the picture it didn’t really turn out exactly as planned. I’m not sure if it was because of the half double crochet stitches or if it was just me.

I did pretty well on the first part of the graphic, but then as I went on I kept getting everything mixed up. According to my diagram, the other blue spot is supposed to be on the opposite side of the top wing. Not on the same side.

Sometimes I think my ideas are a little bit bigger than my skill set. If I could add anything else to this hoodie it would probably be a few buttons to help keep it closed. But my daughter doesn’t seem to mind that it doesn’t have any.

Even though it took me two tries, I eventually got it done. Personally, I think it turned out great!

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

 

Posted in Crafting Corner

Superman Themed Corner to Corner Blanket

A few weeks ago I decided to send out a text to family and friends stating that I would only be making handmade gifts for Christmas this year. Then in my infinite wisdom, I proceeded to give a list of the things I could make…scarves, blankets, dish towel sets, etc. (Thinking they would pick something easy like the dish towel set.)

I’m not sure why I told grown people that I could make blankets. The largest blanket I have ever made was for a baby! And I was over making that blanket within a few days. Now I have two requests for adult blankets and one baby blanket!

I figured I would start with the easiest blanket first. My cousin is pregnant and her baby is due December 1st. Of course, she didn’t want a simple blanket, but a Superman blanket. So I scoured the internet for different superman baby blanket patterns.

And this is where I stumbled upon the corner to corner stitch and all the amazing blankets that could be made using this stitch. The stitch itself is not very complicated once you get the hang of it. It’s mainly single chain and double crochet stitches. If you know how to make a shell stitch then corner to corner is quite easy.

I decided to create my own version of the blanket instead of trying to follow the graphgan, which I wouldn’t have been able to do anyway, because I had no idea how to crochet a C2C stitch. I found a simple corner to corner written tutorial on Craftsy. Once I got the hang of that I was ready to try to create my own rendering of a Superman-themed blanket.

For this project I used:

  • Red Yarn – Studio Classic (1 ball)
  • Blue Yarn- Loops & Threads (1 ball)
  • Soft Yellow Yarn- Studio Classic (1 ball)
  • Black Yarn- Red Heart (1 ball)
  • Scissors
  • K/6.5 MM Hook
  • Darning Needle

The completed blanket was supposed to be a 36in square. However, my husband and I are superhero nerds (he’s a Batman fan) and as I was working on decreasing the number of chains he said that it looked like the Superman logo.

I was a little hesitant about following his suggestion and just leaving it as is, but once I finished the project I was very pleased with the results. ( He also suggested outlining everything in black.)

The measurements for the blanket are as follows: both sides – 24in, top 26.5in.

How to Make the Blanket

Increasing (Rows 1-31)

Starting with the red yarn you will create 15 rows (the last row should contain 17 blocks)

Change to blue yarn and create 15 rows (the last row should contain 32 blocks)

Change to yellow yarn and create 1 row (the last row should contain 33 blocks)

Decreasing (Rows 32 – 43)

In the next row you will continue to use the yellow yarn, but at this point, you will begin decreasing the number of blocks you have.

Decrease using the yellow yarn for 11 rows. The final row should have 21 blocks.

Tie off your yarn and weave in all the loose tails if you haven’t already.

Border

Starting in the bottom corner of row 1 single crochet around the entire blanket using the black yarn. When you get back to the corner tie off your yarn and weave in the tail.

At this point your blanket should look like this:

The Superman Logo

For this part of the project, you will only need the red and black yarn.

To create the S used for the Superman logo I followed the youtube video here.

This was the hardest part of the project. It took me a while to understand the directions in the video. To create this logo you will need to know/learn how to do a single chain foundation stitch and how to crochet stitches together.

In the video when she refers to the single chain side of the foundation chain she is talking about the side of the work that has single chain stitches. (It took me a few tries to figure this part out). I ended up making this logo twice before I got it right. Third times the charm.

Border

Once you have completed your logo, then you use the black yarn and single crochet around the outside of the logo and the inside. Make sure to leave a tail long enough to sew each part of the work to the blanket.

Your superman logo should end up looking like this:

Final Steps

The last part of this project is sewing the Superman Logo onto your blanket. I started sewing at the bottom of the logo and worked my way around, then I sewed parts of the S on the inside that I wanted to lay flat.

You can hide any loose tails you had from attaching the black yarn underneath the logo or you can weave them into the border before sewing it on.

Once you have attached the logo your finished blanket should look amazing! And you should give yourself a pat on the back for getting that logo done!

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed working on this blanket and I hope my cousin likes it. If I could change anything about it I think I would have added more rows of the red yarn.

I also would have preferred for the black yarn not to be seen on the back of the work when I sewed the logo on, but I guess that’s what using a graphgan is for. I’m sure I could have hidden the yarn better during the sewing process.

If you have any tips or suggesting let me know. This is the first time I have ever provided instructions on how I created something. Please forgive me if there is a lack of detail.

If you decide to make this project please let me know or share a picture of it with me in the comments section. If you have questions about anything that I did please ask.

That’s one gift done. Now onto the next one.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

 

Posted in Crafting Corner

Why You Should Pay Attention to Crochet Gauges

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Photo by Imani on Unsplash

A few weeks ago I saw a pin for the pattern for this really adorable crochet child’s hoodie. I just knew my daughter would look super cute in it. Besides fall is right around the corner so why not make her something cute to wear once the temperature drops.

I quickly made my way to my local craft store to purchase some yarn. This was the first time I had ever tried to make an actual garment like a hoodie. Usually, I crochet scarfs, headbands, amigurumi, and shawls, etc. Things that don’t require a precision to make.

If you haven’t read my other crochet post you would also know that I’m notorious for just jumping right in and not following directions to the “T”. Which when your making scarves and headbands you can kind of freestyle it and things usually turn out alright.

So I did what I usually do. I just jumped write in and started following the pattern. After putting in about two days worth of work I made it to the part of the pattern to sew together the shoulders and the armholes.

I quickly stitched everything together, I was so excited to try it on my daughter even though it wasn’t completely finished. I got one arm in and with a bit of struggle her other arm went in. But it was way to small for her. It looked like it was going to pop if she moved to much.

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I was so disappointed. All that wasted time to create something that when completed wouldn’t fit her. Where did I go wrong? I looked back at the pattern. I had followed the instructions as they were written (for a change). So that couldn’t be the issue…then at the top, I saw the recommended gauge for the hoodie next to the words,” make sure you CHECK YOUR GAUGE!”.

The recommended gauge was 11 hdc (half double crochets) and 10 rows in 4” square. Obviously, since I had followed the pattern and it turned out too small my gauge must have been wrong.

If you don’t know what gauge is in crochet. Gauge is the number of stitches and the number of rows created per inch using a specific size hook and yarn. In most crochet patterns the gauge is determined by the number of stitches and rows within a 4” square of the work.

For some crochet patterns like dishcloths or other items where size doesn’t really matter. Gauge is not important. However, if you are going to create a hat or some other kind of garment then trying to replicate the gauge used is extremely important.

Every one crochets differently and if you want your garment to turn out right (and not wrong like mine did) then you need to check your gauge by making a gauge swatch. You should make your swatch using the same stitches in the crochet pattern.

You can create a 4” square swatch or you can make your swatch a little larger 5-6’ square to measure your gauge.

 

In typical fashion, I created my own gauge swatch, but instead of creating a 4” square I just crocheted 11hdc and 10 rows. Based on my swatch I was way off the mark. I tend to crochet tightly especially when using the smaller hook sizes. After 11 dc my width was only about 2.5” and my row height was only a little over 2.5”.

After learning the hard way. I’ve realized that when it comes to making clothing in crochet that gauge is very important. If you don’t follow the gauge in the pattern your item can end up being too small or too large.

I’m just glad that I didn’t complete the whole thing only to find out that it didn’t fit.

Until I’ve figured out how to fix my gauge I will have to put this project on hold, but when I’ve figured it out I’ll share my finished product with you guys.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro