Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

beaver with a sweater coat

Please meet the newest Fuzzy Mitten animal: a Beaver, with a beautiful colour-work sweater coat.

The toy is based on my regular-size toy design, and is about 8" tall when finished. He has big feet, a nice pointy nose, little round ears, and a textured tail. The toy itself is fairly easy, knit flat, and then assembled.
The sweater coat is probably the most complicated garment I've ever designed. I've wanted to make something like it for ages, and I thought it would suit a Canadian Beaver. The pieces are all knit flat, then seamed together, and finally you pick up and knit the button-bands and collar. There are large, clear charts for the colour-work design, or you could knit the cardigan in a single yarn. There is a lot of finishing for such a small thing, but you can learn some very useful skills, without spending weeks or months knitting all the pieces! I designed a few other colour-work patterns for the sweater coat, and I hope to publish them as a free add-on to the pattern (sometime in the next month).
Everyone who participated in the Mystery Knit-Along over on Ravelry seemed to have a fun time. There were some people who have been knitting my designs for years, and some people new to my toys. There are many lovely finished beavers now, so you can see just how the pattern will turn out. The KAL was so successful, I will definitely do one again. Plus, there were so many great guesses about what the toy was going to be, I have plenty of ideas for new designs!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

fabric dress tutorial

In the past I've made simple fabric dresses for some of my toys, because I love to sew, and I like the combination of materials. I've put together this tutorial to show how I make them, in case any of you love to sew as well. This dress will fit any of my 8-9" tall toys.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will update this post to address them. If you're having trouble seeing details in the photos, clicking on one should open the full-size version.

Materials: 12" x 6" of quilting weight cotton fabric, 10" length of 3/8" wide elastic, all-purpose thread to match your fabric.
Tools: a sewing machine, scissors, ruler, straight pins, iron, bodkin or safety pin, pencil or chalk to mark fabric.

Notes: While this tutorial is fairly simple, you will need basic machine sewing skills. Ironing and clipping threads between steps will make for a nicer finished garment. Always back-stitch at the beginning and end of straight seams to secure the thread.

Step 1: cut your piece of fabric into two 6" x 6" squares.

Step 2: Mark which edge will be the top. Mark the sides, 4" up from the bottom. Make sure you mark both pieces of fabric.

Step 3: Zig-zag around all four sides of each piece, separately, in order to finish the edges. Then place the two pieces with right sides facing each other, and match up the marks you made in Step 2. Pin the sides together.

Step 4: Sew a 3/8" wide seam along one side, from the bottom up to your mark. Repeat for the other side.

Step 5: Press the seams open, from the bottom to the top of the dress. You will have a slit at the top of each side - they will become the arm-holes.

Step 6: Starting at the top left, sew down the slit on one side, pivoting around your needle when you reach the seam at the bottom of the slit, then sew up to the top again. (I've sewn about 1/4" from the edge) Repeat for the other slit.

Step 7: Fold down the top 5/8" to make a casing. Pin in place and press. Repeat on the other side.

Step 8: Sew down the casing 1/2" from the top edge. Repeat for the other side.

Step 9: Fold up the hem 5/8" all the way around, pin in place and press. Sew down the hem 1/2" from the bottom edge.

Step 10: Turn dress right side out. Using the bodkin or safety pin, thread elastic through one casing, then through the other, ending on the same side where you started. (I've used ribbon to demonstrate, as it was easier to see).

Step 11: Cinch the elastic around the neck-opening, until it's the right size to fit around the neck of the toy, but loose enough to stretch over the head. It will help to have a finished toy handy. Tie a tight square knot. Cut the elastic ends about 1/4" long, then tug on the elastic until the knot is hidden in the casing.

Step 12: Dress your toy.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

not quite there

It seems like Spring is starting almost everywhere, but in Montreal, we're not quite there. Today is blustery and below freezing. I contemplated taking the bus home from my yoga class, even though I walked all winter. A few warmer days make these colder ones hard to bear. The snow is mostly gone, but the ground is still frozen. All I have are a couple lonely snowdrops, which I planted last fall. The gardener inside me is bursting to be out, busy and dirty and tired at the end of the day. Thankfully, I have many things inside to keep me busy. For knitting, I am trying to finish up the last part of the mystery KAL, have a light cardigan about 1/2 done, and have started a new pair of socks (because even if spring comes soon, my feet will be cold for a couple months yet).

I hope everyone else is enjoying some Spring weather (or cooler days of Autumn, if you live in the south).