Category: sewing

Saturday comes and goes

I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather this week. It’s funny how sometimes you don’t realize how crummy you’re feeling until you’re not feeling crummy anymore. And while I’m not at 100% yet, the graph is trending up and up and that is good. And I get to spend this weekend with my parents, at one of my favorite places on earth, celebrating my dad’s birthday. So that’s pretty great.


I’ve been working on some new classes for my gig at the local yarn store. One is for a Brooklyn Tweed square shawl that I am in love with, and the second is an argyle sock class. I made my dad a pair of argyle socks for his Christmas socks, and I was super-happy with them. So I’m writing up a pattern/tutorial for the class. Because everyone should be able to have some argyle socks in their sock drawer.


My office continues to pull itself together. I’m particularly happy with this little corner, right as I walk in the door. Yes, this is home, and yes, I’m happy to be home.


And then there’s this gem. I finally got around to really re-covering (not just fake slipcovering) my office chair. Some old and very awesome (and very found-it-in-the-bins-of-fabric-in-the-shed-at-my-parents’-house) upholstery fabric. I wanted a couch covered in this, but I only had about 3/4 of a yard. Perfect for the office chair, and such a day-brightener

So that’s it for today. More fun awesome to come, folks. More fun awesome to come.


Putting the wheels back on.

The carpet is in. Even better, I’m almost re-organized in my new office. Good enough to be working in here daily, at any rate. Pictures to come.

But the important thing is that I’m back on track after a February that was nothing like I thought it should be. It wasn’t bad, just scattered and not really productive. I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to get done (though I did get those socks done. still haven’t mailed them yet….) And I’m getting back to running now that it’s no longer -40 out and my frostbitten toes are healed.

So I haven’t lost all the focus that I had hoped to shove into 2013.

I even have something crafty-like to show you today. Read on to see….

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The mother of all needle rolls.


Don’t forget to enter the drawing for the prairie boots pattern here!



The New Needle Roll

In an effort to finally corral and organize all of my knitting accoutrement, I have crafted (what I believe to be, in my own humble opinion) the most amazing of all amazing knitting needle rolls. Let me first give you an idea of what I was dealing with before I made this thing: needles everywhere, floating around my knitting basket(s) and in just about a gazillion different locations.

The internal monologue went something like this (and played out at least four or five times a month) –

Hey. where’re all my crochet hooks? I think they’re in a drawer somewhere. what drawer? well, I saw them last week, I think, and I’m pretty sure it was in a drawer. Great. Ok. Let’s check all the drawers. 
Ok, so what about my US3 sock needles? Well, I think they’re in the basket I only see 4 of them. where’s the 5th? It’s not in there? Well, no. I don’t think so. Are you sure? did you check the pocket? Oh, yeah. THAT’s where I put my 42″ Circulars!

Aaaand so on… Riveting, I know. So for the next step in my “Organizational Resolutions” goals, here’s where all my knitting tools are going to live from now on! (and as a bonus, I got to use up a ton of the marimekko scraps that i’ve been hoarding!)

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Goals and Resolutions: The first month.

January is ending. I ran, worked on finishing projects, and tried to get myself more organized.


Running: Didn’t do so well here. My excuse is that it was COLD the last half of the month, so I missed out on all those days. The total distance over the first 15 days of January, according to my garmin watch, was 15.71 miles. The battery died about a mile into one of those runs, so the total was actually closer to 17.5 miles. Not bad, just not what I was hoping to log in January. The exciting news for running in February is the appearance of a treadmill on the horizon. That’s right! I won’t have any more excuses (like these below-zero temperatures/windchills and the inch of ice all over everything from earlier this week) for not getting the miles in, and now I can start training Signe to run on the treadmill as well!!! That’s the REAL reason I want a treadmill…

The rest of the month is a little harder to quantify. There were new Etsy sales, a lot of sewing projects that will never see the light of day, a bunch of knitting, and a good deal of reflection on my hopes for 2013 to be a year of more organization in my brain, my house, and my life. a summary –

Jan Wrapup

  1. Almost finished knitting those Christmas presents! just this pair of socks for my sister, to be delivered by her birthday in February!
  2. Got the baseboard trim finished in the livingroom – added the quarter-round and even got it PAINTED!
  3. Sorted most of my tools, both handywoman and crafting tools, and now i know where BOTH of my hammers live!
  4. learned to use my binding foot  and made a knitting needle roll (more on that later). Look at how awesome that binding looks!
  5. finally got all the embroidery floss into some semblance of order – not perfect, but certainly better than smushed in a box on the shelf. now it’s out for me to see every day in these clear pouches!
  6. Ate a lot of pancakes… YUM!
  7. Helped the old roommate to organize her yarn – even helped her get rid of two bags of extras. It was so inspiring, that all I can think about is destashing my own knitting resource center!
  8. Got my hair cut. Michelle Obama bangs for EVERYONE!

January was a great month – here’s to February being EVEN BETTER!

I like a loose-fitting garment, but this is getting ridiculous.

I seem to have a problem in how I size and sew garments. I like things to be loose, breezy, and comfy, right? Right. And my top is a different size than my bottom (a common problem among a lot of women). I’ve been sewing for myself for years, so you’d think that I’d’ve got this thing figured out, even when I’m starting from a commercial pattern.

yeah, right. Remember this awesomeness? Well, I seem to have outdone myself yet again, and the most recent episode in this saga is even worse (and certainly isn’t helped by the terrible iPhone photo…)


I can’t decide if I just made myself a really awesome maternity shirt (which I certainly don’t need in this particular season of my life) or if I just have a really terrible problem with my mental catalog of my body proportions. For some perspective, here’s the original inspiration, a knit tunic desiged by Nani Iro –

naniIRO poncho

Super-cute, right? Obviously, I didn’t finish the pockets, and I also thought that perhaps a nice band around the bottom would be nice as well. BOY-OH-BOY was this terrible.  Nani Iro’s patterns are provided as “recipes” –

naniIRO recipe 10


For real, I know how to measure, and I did go through and draft myself a really nice paper pattern before I started cutting. And Yes, this was intended to be made with Knit fabric. But it was a disaster (see above picture in case you’ve forgotten…) It sat in my mending/projects to finish basket for months. I found it a week or so ago as I was sorting through my projects in an attempt to prioritize and organize (one of the goals of this simple life). I wanted to salvage it as a shirt, but reflecting on my daily dress code (i.e. all dresses/skirts, all the time), I decided it would be great as a knit dress. I don’t have many/any of those.  The end result?

purple dressII


MUCH better. I can go out in public with this one, right? I chopped off the whole bottom of the shirt right around the base of my ribcage/natural waist and used that to create a casing for some 1″ elastic. Then I slapped a very slightly-gathered skirt on to that, used a double-needle hem, and I am SO much happier with this. It’s super-comfy and a whole lot less likely to make people wonder what I’ve been up to in my private life….

And the hard things too. Resolutions, part III

Ah yes, now it’s the difficult goals, the goals that I’m going to have to work really hard for.

1. Run a marathon. And run it faster than last time. I CAN do this, but it’s going to be a lot of hard work. It was SOOOO inspiring to watch my dear sister finish her marathon (with a PR!) last October. And I’m on the way to getting the milage in to prepare for preparing for training, which is better than where I was at this point in the year in 2010, when I first ran a marathon.

Of course I know I can do this. I’ve done it before. But then I gained some weight and became a PhD, both things that kinda took away from my running. NOW, though, I’m LOVING this couch-to-5k program with speed work. I look forward to running (well, at least until i step out the door. then I dread it until it’s over. At which point I love it again and am looking forward to the next time I get to go out. Running is weird). And now it’s super public, and if nothing else, putting it up on the blog will give me a little extra incentive to keep on running!!!!!!!

2. Find a job that really uses my degree and gets me outta the house. That’s a pretty self-explanatory goal. And that’s all I guess I want to say about it right now.

3. Finish all my knitting and sewing projects and keep my office in order. Oh man. I am not super-good at this. I get distracted easily when it comes to knitting and sewing. And spending day after day in my office makes it really hard for me to keep it clean all the time.

IMG_7281That’s from a few months ago, but I am still struggling. It’s a small space, and that makes it hard too. But I have been doing better this month, and I HAVE to get even better. I need to plan better and be diligent about straightening up each day (or week, perhaps?) Oh Diligence. working at home has made me better at focusing on the task at hand, but there’s still work to be done…. It’s all a part of the organizing my brain and space. I can do it, I know!  It’s just gonna take a big change in behavior, and if I don’t at least pledge to give it a strong try, it’ll never happen!!!!

So that’s it. Those are the (public) goals/resolutions/pledges for 2013.

If I can accomplish even one of these things, it’s gonna be a great year!!!

How to shorten a metal zipper without wrecking your good sewing scissors

Shortening a coil zipper is easy – just cut through the teeth and whipstitch a stop, right? But what about if you’ve got the problem of a pattern that needs an 8″ zipper, and all they carry in the silver zipper department is this zipper, which is clearly 9″ long  –


I’ll admit that up until this week, I would have just cut off the end of the zipper and sewn over the teeth. Of course, I woulda wound up potentially damaging my scissors, AND I’ve definitely bent a few needles using this method. Last weekend, I realized that there is a better way to shorten a metal zipper that keeps your scissors sharp and doesn’t risk the potential eye injury related to flying shards of broken needles. So here I share with you my revelation!

Shortening a metal zipper


  • metal zipper that needs to be shortened
  • a needle-nose pliers (might be good to use a jewler’s pliers. I didn’t, and it scratched up the zipper stops something fierce. Of course, this doesn’t bother me, but if it might bother you, perhaps it’d be prudent to find a pliers with a smooth surface.)
  • sewing pin

1. With the zipper unzipped, mark the final length of the zipper (i.e. the end of the zipper part, not the end of the tape part.) I wanted an 8″ zipper, and have marked it as such.


2. Here I’ve closed the zipper up to the final length. Count the number of teeth between the zipper stop (the large bit on the end to the right) and the pin. Here there are 10 teeth between the stopper and the pin, so I will remove 12 teeth from each side of the zipper in the process of shortening it. I am removing an extra 2 teeth (beyond the pin) to allow for the width of the stopper in the final zipper length.


3. Using the needle-nose pliers, start removing the teeth of the zipper in the portion to be removed. The teeth are clamped around a little ridge in the zipper tape – to remove the teeth, clamp the teeth in the pliers like shown below and twist upward (away from the tape).


When the teeth look bent kinda like the picture below, you can reach in from the top and rotate it off of the zipper.


And finally, here are most of the teeth removed from one side of the zipper. Two additional teeth will also be removed beyond the position of the pin, but I did that later.


Repeat this step to remove all the teeth on the other side of the zipper as well – 24 teeth total (12 per side). You can also remove the pin from the tape.


4. Next remove the zipper stops from the top of the zipper – this is where a jewler’s pliers or something without the little ridged teeth might come in handy. This is usually a little bit of metal folded over the ridge on the zipper tape, which can be gently bent open to slide off.


Here it is opened up enough to slide off the tape. This wasn’t enough to reposition it, though.


And here’s what you should wind up with once it’s removed.


5. After removing the two additional teeth past the pin marking, slide the zipper stop onto the zipper tape right next to the last zipper tooth.


6. Use the pliers to clamp down (hard!) on the base of the zipper stop to secure it.


7. Repeat for the other side to complete the readjustment.


8. Now look! It’s a perfect 8″ zipper, ready for my pattern!


The zipper tape can now be trimmed – I like to use my pinking shears, and I often melt the end of the tape to prevent unraveling.


I hope you were able to follow this clearly and found it helpful. I was just ABSOLUTELY TICKLED PINK when I did this the first time! I love that I can easily modify any zipper and wind up with something that looks like I got it custom (without the custom cost).

As for what I wound up using this zipper for – a heavily-modified version of Anna’s gathered clutch!

The picture of the clutch isn’t exactly the best I’ve ever taken, but whatever.


What we’re really interested in is that zipper! (though the pattern really is super-excellent… more on my modifications in another post. I think.)


Hurrah! A perfect-fit zipper that no one would ever guess had been shortened!