personal blog

This sounds like fun: BurdaStyle is having a pattern/design contest! This is a website that provides free patterns for download; they're associated with the Burda pattern company that I think is based in Germany. The designs already on the website are clever, stylish, and simple to construct; I love their patterns.

It's tough to design something that fits into their collection. A plain pattern won't stand out of the crowd enough to win. A complex pattern will probably get dumped for being too hard to make, and too hard to adapt. Designing a pattern isn't like designing a garment; you can't rely on a particular fabric or trim as a design feature. The design features have to be in the construction itself.

I've been sketching patterns for the contest today, and it's challenging to design a garment that's versatile enough that people can make it in their own choices of fabric and - this part is great - so they can remix the pattern and make something different out of it.

BurdaStyle actually makes a big deal of their patterns being "open source" - they encourage people to download the patterns, modify them, and share their modifications. I think that's really cool of them.

(Arguably, clothing designs aren't copyrightable in the US, but just try telling most pattern companies that.)
To sewing by Beth on 2007-05-24. 0 Comments
I finally assembled the new flyer that my father-in-law and I laminated:

I also finally assembled the threader using the handle that Beth turned for me:

(I drilled a hole in the end, then covered the wire in epoxy and inserted it; finally I shaped the left-over epoxy into a cone around the wire.)

Also, for those interested in building your own spinning wheel, here's a really easy but very nice tensioner:

The tensioner is just a dowel in a clamp. The handle was chewed by a (bad) dog; I'm making a replacement handle out of a cherry disk, which both looks nicer and offers less purchase for a dog's teeth. For those unfamiliar with how to build a tensioner, the spring doesn't do anything relevant during spinning — it's only purpose is to make it easy to undo the tension cord to remove the bobbin without losing your tension setting.
To spinning by Chris on 2007-02-05. 0 Comments

Hey knitters: sometimes people ask me if I've got any Nauties to sell. I don't currently knit them for sale (no time, etc) so I'm wondering if anybody wants to knit and sell them, for people who can't or don't knit but want a Nautie anyway.

As I've said before, I'm cool with people knitting Nauties to give away or sell (check that link for the details). If you're interested, consider posting your Nauties, or your Nautie-knitting services, on Etsy. Also let me know who you are, so that when people email me to ask about Nauties, I can send them your way!
knit and crochet yourself a teratoma.
I'm taking a statistics class. I somehow got through college without taking one, and it's about time I learned this stuff.

I'm also taking a swimming class at some ungodly hour in the morning on Fridays. I never had any trouble keeping myself afloat, but now I'm learning how to do swimming strokes properly (like how and when to breathe in freestyle). [Helpful links: how to keep water out of your nose, Retro swimsuits from the actual Esther Williams, swimming tutorial with bonus links]

Chris and I have also been taking dance classes, but there's not much to say about that; you kind of have to be there. If you want something to read about, try the catalog of swing dance styles on streetswing.com, a great time-waster where you can read about what dances influenced other dances or were combined with other dances, when and where they were invented or popularized ... Here's one place to start, just click everything.

bird pockets (tree swallows) These are the beginnings of my latest sewing project: the awesomest pair of homemade jeans ever to grace my butt. (They don't have much competition, really). The pattern is from Sew U. It's a good book that comes with a fabulous pants pattern; the only alteration I made was to make the thighs a little roomier, the better to accomodate my fat massive muscles.
linen jeans, back view I made these jeans out of linen fabric; the full story is over here. They'll be great on hot days, I think. (Or perhaps any day, now that I've lost my two favorite pairs of store-bought jeans. I think they may have accidentally gotten into a charity giveaway bag instead of the laundry bag. :(

I got the Sew U book today; Amazon says it's not available yet, but if you "pre-order" it, it'll show up at your door right away. It looks like a very useful, practical book on sewing your own clothes.

Random sewing link of the day: greyhound crafts, including patterns for hound coats and stuffed toys.
To sewing by Beth on 2006-08-15. 0 Comments
Today the hamlet I live in was having a yard sale. I spent $11, and look what I got:
ten-dollar dresser

The dresser was $10. I was calling Chris to ask him about it, when I noticed another woman at the yard sale also calling someone about a dresser. I didn't want to take it from under her nose while she was thinking about it. I hemmed. I hawed. Finally I asked her what she was looking at; she had her eye on a different, smaller dresser! Perfect.

It was full of spiderwebs (and spiders) and was falling apart a bit in the back, but we cleaned it out and fixed it up. It's going to hold my sweaters and perhaps some sewing supplies.

See what's on top of the dresser?
fifteen retro patterns

That's from another sale - fifteen brand-new patterns, a few Vintage Vogue but mostly Butterick Retro (I didn't know there was a Butterick Retro!) ... 15 of them for a dollar, and all in my size. I picked them from a big bucket of patterns, and the lady was so happy to sell them to somebody else who enjoyed sewing that she offered me fabric for free! I exercised great self-restraint in saying no. Really, I'm better off without a fabric stash.
rocketship bag This is my latest sewing project. I had made a flowery shoulder bag before, based on these instructions. The bag was lovely, but I don't own anything that really goes with a blue-and-white flowered bag. (Well, except for the skirt that I made from the same fabric). So I thought I'd make something a little more "me".

I had a plan: black denim for the outside (black goes with everything; denim is nice and durable) and I'd patch some of my scraps together to make the lining. I followed the plan until inspiration struck, I stitched a rocketship onto the pocket, and suddenly the bag was really really cool, far cooler than any patchwork scrap lining could ever hope to live up to. So I scrapped the scraps and found some red fabric.

rocketship embroidery I'm really happy with how the embroidery turned out, but the truth is, you shouldn't be too impressed. While this stuff takes a little bit of patience, it's not hard at all. I traced the image onto the fabric with a dressmaker's pencil, then I stitched over the lines (slowly! patiently!) with a straight stitch on my sewing machine. It's fortunate that the design was small, because I can't do slowly and patiently for more than about two minutes.

I've started a photoset on flickr for clothes and accessories I've made for myself. I'm really enjoying my time at Wardrobe Refashion. Shopping for clothes is no fun, but making them is really cool.

I'm starting to get annoyed with the selection of fabrics in town. JoAnn's is the only fabric store I know of, and most of their stuff is either polyester, or quilting fabric. I did find a good online place to buy cotton: Organic Cotton Plus. Their selection and prices look really good.

Anybody have other suggestions for favorite online fabric stores? I'm especially interested in linen, wool, silk, that sort of thing. Polyester and quilting fabric I can find anywhere :)
To sewing by Beth on 2006-08-04. 3 Comments
What took me so long? Mostly not being able to decipher my own notes on how I made this thing. Apologies all around.

trilobiteThe trilobite is not as simple to make as the Nautie. It starts similarly to toe-up socks; it's got a lot of slipped stitches (both knitwise and purlwise); and at the end you have to do a tiny bit of crocheting. The resulting trilobite is about 3 inches long, depending on the size of yarn and needles you choose. I recommend worsted-weight yarn at a tight gauge, say size US#4 needles. The needles should be double-pointed sock needles. You'll also want a crochet hook in a similar size, a yarn needle, some stuffing, and eyes.

"sl-k" means slip one stitch knitwise
"heel stitch" is worked as: * K1, slip 1 st purlwise, repeat from *. On the next row, slip the sts you previously knitted, and knit the sts you previously slipped.

You will notice that in some places you are slipping the same stitch every row, and that stitch is pulling tighter and tighter. This is correct. The slipped stitches, which are being twisted, form two lines up the trilobite's back.

Cast on 4 stitches with a long-tail cast-on.
Row 1: Purl
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: Use another needle to pick up 4 stitches along your cast-on edge. You now have 8 live stitches you can work as a "round".
Row 4: Knit all 8 stitches.

The first 4 stitches of your round are the front of the trilobite; the other 4 stitches are its back. The directions after this point will include a slash ("/") to separate the directions for the front from the directions for the back.

Row 5: K1, M1, K1, M1, K1, M1, K1 / K1, M1, K2, M1, K1 (7 / 6 sts now on needles)
Row 6: K2, sl-k, K1, sl-k, K2 / heel stitch to end
Row 7: K2, sl-k, Knit in front, then back, then front of the same stitch (this makes 3 sts out of 1), sl-k, K2 / M1, heel stitch to end, M1.
Row 8: P2, sl-k, P3, sl-k, P2 / heel stitch to end
Row 9: K2, M1, sl-k, K3, sl-k, M1, K2 / M1, heel stitch to end, M1
Row 10: K3, sl-k, K3, sl-k, K3 / heel stitch to end
Row 11: P3, K tbl, P3, K tbl, P3 / heel stitch to end
Row 12: same as 10 / heel stitch to end
Row 13: same as 10
Row 14: P3, sl-k, P3, sl-k, P3 / heel stitch to end
Row 15: same as 10
Row 16: same as 10
Row 17: same as 11
Row 18: same as 10
Row 19: same as 10
Row 20: same as 14
Row 21: same as 10
Row 22: same as 10
Row 23: same as 11
Row 24: K3, sl-k, K3, sl-k, K3, CO 1 st / CO 1 st, heel stitch to end, CO 1 st
Row 25: CO 1 st, K3, sl-k, K3, sl-k, K4 / heel st to end
Row 26: K4, sl-k, K3, sl-k, K4 / heel st to end
Row 27: same as 26
Row 28: K2, K2tog, sl-k, K3, sl-k, SSK, K2 / K2tog, heel st until 2 sts from end, SSK
Row 29: same as 10
Row 30: K2tog, K1, K tbl, K3, K tbl, K1, SSK / K2tog, heel st until 2 sts from end, SSK
Row 31: K2, sl-k, (sl 2 knitwise together, K1, then pass the 2 slipped sts over. This makes one st out of three - a centered double decrease), sl-k, K2 / K2tog, heel st until 2 sts from end, SSK

At this point, insert the eyes if desired.

Row 32: K2tog, K3, SSK / K2tog, heel st until 2 sts from end, SSK

Stuff the trilobite, and then close the 10 remaining stitches by grafting (kitchener stitch).

With the crochet hook, make a chain 3 sts long. Single-crochet along the trilobite's "head" (starting at the point where you cast on stitches on row 24, continuing over the tip of the trilobite's head, and ending on the other side of his head, back at row 24. Refer to photo.) Finish with another 3 chain stitches for the other "horn". Trim ends or weave them in. You're done!

To answer a popular question: yes, I have a trilobite pattern. I will type it up as soon as I get home from YAPC tomorrow.

Hang in there! And welcome, boingboingers!