Friday, January 19, 2018

How to sew an embroidered fabric brooch

A few years ago, I casually promised some folks I would write a tutorial on how to sew my fabric brooch. Well, it's a few years later today and I finally got round to it. Better late than never right?

To be honest, I remembered my forgotten promise upon finding some of my unfinished brooches from years gone by when I was peddling my craft at shopping malls.

How To Make A 2" Round Fabric Brooch
  • small amount of fabric
  • small amount of batting
  • paper to print + printer
  • your choice of transfer tool/pen
  • embroidery floss and embroidery needle (the eye should be able to fit 3 to 4 strands of embroidery floss)
  • brooch pin
  • small amount of felt (optional)
  • scissors
1. Download the template here. After downloading, open template using Adobe Reader. There are 3 pages in total. Print the pages you need at 100% or Actual Size.  For page 3 only, print using thicker paper if possible.

2. Choose the desired animal motif and transfer to fabric.
Here are a few transfer methods.
a. Place fabric over printed animal motif template (use actual not reverse). Place against window (or some light source) and trace onto right side of fabric using either a pencil, frixion pen or a water soluble pen. Your choice.

b. Trace motif (use actual not reverse) to fabric using dressmakers carbon paper.

c. Use a transfer pen to trace over animal motif (use reverse not actual) on paper. Place paper (traced side down) on fabric. Iron over paper to do the transfer. You might need to press hard on the iron and go back and forth several times before you get a good transfer.

d. Draw freehand on fabric. Use a pencil, frixion pen or water erasable pen. (this is the method I usually use)

This is my transfer using a transfer pen. I got it smudged because I moved the paper while ironing. I chose the pig which is a drawing by my daughter when she was little.

3. Using 2 to 3 or 4 strands of embroidery floss, sew using backstitch over the outline of the animal motif. The image above shows how I sew backstitch. Some people do it slightly differently. But the end result is the same. For eyes, you can use a single straight stitch or 2 straight stitches (sew like X or +)

p.s. If you aren't into embroidery, use a fabric pen to draw/colour the animal motifs. Place hot iron over your work to set the colour. (protect your iron by placing a hanky over your work) The colour will become slightly muted.

4. Once your embroidery is complete, place the 2.75" template with the dotted line cut out over the embroidery. The hole in the middle helps you to keep your embroidery centered. Draw around the larger circle. Cut fabric exactly on the drawn line.

5a. On right side of embroidery, using regular sewing thread, sew running stitches around the edge of the circle.

b. Place the 2" template with a little hole cut in the middle (for easy removal) on the wrong side of embroidery. Pull the thread tight. You can adjust the position of the template until all is good. Knot off your thread and place hot iron over your brooch front. This will create a crease of the 2" circle. Remove 2" template. Place hot iron over brooch front one more time.

p.s. sometimes I like my brooch front to feel slightly stiffer so what I do is instead of the 2" paper template, I use a 2" stiff fusible interfacing. (grainy side down on wrong side of fabric) After the hot iron is placed over it, it will fuse to the fabric.

6. For the brooch back, create a duplicate of the brooch front, except this time on a plain fabric.

7. I like to add a layer of batting (or felt). If it feels bulky around the edges, cut the batting slightly smaller than the brooch.

8. Sew brooch front to brooch back with layer of batting in between. I use 3 strands of embroidery thread in a colour close to the fabric.

9. Sew brooch pin to the back. Do check placement of embroidery before you sew. Your stitches will definitely show. Don't worry about it. Hide your knots under the pin.

Alternative brooch back
a. Sometimes I prefer to use felt for the back. Use the template for felt backing. It is just a teeny bit smaller than the size of the brooch front. Cut from a sturdy felt. (I used a $2 Daiso felt)

b. Put batting between the front and the felt.

c. Sew felt to front. I usually use a thread that is closer to the colour of the felt. It's ok for the stitches to be visible.

d. Sew brooch pin to back and you're done.

I hope this little tutorial helps you. Please feel free to embellish your brooch in any way you like. Check out this little pig brooch above. I used scraps of felt to give the pig some colour.

This bird brooch above uses a slightly oval shape. Can you believe I cut the shape by hand? Just fold a piece of card stock into four and cut a curve. Your shape may not be perfect but sometimes I think an imperfect shape for a brooch looks more interesting. Have fun!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Bead Crochet Bracelets

Last week I made the mistake of opening a cabinet where I keep my beads and stuff. The sight of all the beads which I had bought on top of the beads I had been gifted really gave me some stress. When I was in the hospital to have my gall bladder removed in August 2016, I did wonder (as you do before a surgery) what would happen to all my craft supplies should I either become a vegetable or die. Would my family throw everything away?

After I survived the gall bladder removal, I did make an effort to house keep my family insurance and important documents. But I did nothing about my craft supplies. It would be silly to write a will for my supplies. Firstly, no one would honour such a will. Secondly, who should I will them to? In the end, common sense prevailed and I decided that I'm happy with "I'll be dead, who cares?"

Still, while I'm alive, it's frustrating to see beads sitting in my cabinet. Which is why I keep that cabinet firmly closed most of the time. As I was sifting through my beads, I saw this little packet of glass beads. I think these are Tiba's beads gifted to me a few years ago. There were a total of 28 glass beads and I told myself I bet I could use them all up in a simple bracelet.

A few years ago, I made some anklets using some beads but I didn't want to use the same method as this time I needed to use all 28 glass beads.

In order to use all 28 beads, I strung the beads in pairs using a combination of single crochets(US) and slip stitch. If you are interested to make something similar, I found a youtube video that does more or less what I did. You're probably wondering why I used blood red yarn on the glass beads. I too question my taste but I found the weirdness very appealing. I got very lucky that the 28 beads were just perfect for a bracelet with the help of a toggle clasp (already in my stash). Woo hoo! I can't believe I used up every single glass beads. (by the way, there are plenty more of Tiba's glass beads in different sizes)

I liked the blood red glass bracelet so much that I made another one. This time I used the purple beads. I've had these beads for decades but I've never been able to use them up. There's no way I could use them up but I thought a purple bead crochet bracelet would be nice. I used size 10 Lizbeth purple iris thread. Isn't it gorgeous? One issue I face with bead crochet is matching thread with bead depends a lot on the size of the bead hole. With some beads, it's impossible to thread a thick yarn like size 10. I managed to get lucky with these purple beads and ordinarily I avoid a matchy-matchy look but in this case, I thought the two purple do go together.

I decided I had the enthusiasm for one more bracelet and this time I chose this packet of larger beads. I'm not sure what they are called. Maybe bicones? I could be wrong. These beads are larger (with larger holes) and heavier as well. I chose a size 3 Lizbeth Ocean teal. (size 3 is thicker than size 10) I love this colour to death!

I only had 14 of these beads which means I couldn't do the twin beads method. So I strung them singly in single crochet (US). This method of stringing the beads does mean the beads tend to twist this way or that way. It's no big deal. If you want to make something similar, you can watch this video.  I was very sad I didn't manage to use up all the beads. There were 3 left.

I used a lobster clasp plus a split ring for closure.

The actual amount of time spent making each bracelet is about 10 min if you are familiar with crochet. You'll probably spend extra time matching beads with the yarn.

I'm exceedingly happy with these 3 bracelets. It didn't make much of a dent in my beads supply but I'll probably live a very long life so I have lots of time. The trick is to stop buying beads. Pinky promise. Please tell me which bracelet you like most.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

My First Knitted Hat

I'm giving myself a pat on the bag. I finished my first knitted hat. As you knitters can see, it's a very simple basic hat. Hubs says the hat reminds him of Dr Seuss... Does it?

Here I was knitting the hat - please excuse my sexy legs!
The hat was made in the round using circular needles which I already had some practice with previously. The hat design may be simple but I struggled a bit with it. The first thing which stumped me was for the stockinette stitch, which is the right side - the knit or the purl. Am I rite the knit side is the right side? Later another confusion. I thought the Vs are the purl rows. I believe the Vs are the knit rows. Plus it turned out I did not quite know how to count rows. Thanks to Fiona who pointed me to this site. I'm all cleared up now but nope, I did not go back to undo my mistakes. I'm perfectly happy with an imperfect hat. The same site also has a free beginner knitting ecourse. I signed up for it and it turned out it's too easy for me! Did you hear that? It's too easy for me. That means I've improved!

I didn't do a swatch. <gasp> To be honest, I haven't read up on swatches yet. <I will soonish.> But I did do a practice cast on and a couple of rows of stitches and put it over my daughter's head to see if it fit. That's almost a swatch, rite?

It fits every member of my family!

I almost had a heart attack after I had started on the decrease. It didn't occur to me to try the hat for fit until I had reached the point of no return. I quickly put it over my daughter's head and it wasn't tall enough! I asked myself what's the point of continuing and making a hat that fits no one. The old me would have abandoned the project but the 2018 Jane is this fearless knitter warrior. So I REMOVED the circular needle and ripped the stitches to a point before I started the decrease. OMG. After the horrifying death move, I had to PUT BACK the needles. I did it as best as I could - eeny, meeny miny, moe. I'm very sure some (many) of the stitches were strung back wrong. Whatever. Fearless, rite? One day I'm sure I'll learn how to put the needles back correctly. For my first knitted hat, my brain had reached saturation point.

I used these thick acrylic yarn which I bought from Spotlight during their 30% discount sale. Still it was expensive! Knitting is an expensive hobby! Also, I stupidly bought 4 skeins of yarn. In the end, I only used a small amount of yarn. Another reason to learn swatches. By the way, I find thick yarn a lot harder to knit. I imagined it would be easier but my hands got really tired.

What did you knit this week?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Knitted Fingerless Glove For Moi And A Knitted Cowl For Someone With A Tiny Neck

You all know how I struggle with knitting. If sewing is my English Language, then knitting is my second language - Chinese! I won't bore you with tales of my struggle learning Chinese. (It's so hard!)

I really want to get better at knitting and I told myself I would give knitting plenty of attention this year. Since the new year, I've been knitting on and off. I kinda forgot how to knit and purl so I made something very basic to practise the stitches. Who said it's like riding a bike?

Me knitting the glove in front of my messy computer space
For this fingerless glove, I did not create a swatch. To be honest, I've never made swatches before, not even for crochet. It's probably because I've not made anything that needed to fit. So I guesstimate the number of stitches for the glove which is not a good idea really. But I have beginner's luck. Somehow, the glove fits me. I only made one because I live in Singapore and it's too hot to wear such things. So this is just for practice. The glove was made in a flat rectangle and later the sides are seamed together. Oh, I discovered I hate seaming knitted sides.

I'm trying very hard to go beyond something flat and rectangular. I have a few circular knitting needles and I've never learnt to use them. I made this thingy - can I call it an Infinity Scarf? Let's call it a cowl. I used the leftover yarn from the glove on my circular knitting needles. First time doing it in the round! I think I joined correctly. It wasn't quite as hard as I imagined.

The one thing I wondered about as I was knitting this scarf was - what happens when you want to knit something with a huge circumference. Does it mean you have to find a circular needle of that dimension? Since I have no need for a woollen cowl, I made a very small one and Yoko is modelling it.

Yoko is an unfortunate Shibajuku doll which I purchased a year ago and must henceforth live her life modelling my makes. She is a big head doll with extremely tiny neck. Perfect for my imperfect makes. (check out her cat stocking)

It's only the 2nd week of 2018 and I've already made a bit of progress in my knitting. In the past, I often gave up on my knitting projects because I dropped the stitches or made mistakes. Every time I made a mistake, I ripped out everything and started all over again. So tedious. This time round, I tried my best to fix my mistakes. Like if I drop a stitch, I put it back. Sometimes (most times) I put it back wrongly but I carry on. One other big improvement in my knitting is I stopped using my toes to help me grip the yarn. I totally rely on my left hand now. I have a very unenthusiastic left hand but I'm slowly coaxing it to cooperate.

Oh, I discovered there's something called double pointed needles. By discovered, I mean "oh hello, you exist". I haven't quite understood how they work but I will go buy myself some and worry about how to use them later on.

I used less than one skein of this yarn for these two projects. The yarn was already in my knitting stash. I'm not kidding. I have a knitting stash. So happy to use something I own!

So what did you make this year?
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