Sweet Tooth Pouch

Friday, August 08, 2014

My pinterest boards are filled with links to designs that have caught my fancy and I would like to make. I'll never have enough time for most of them, but every once in a while a project just falls together on its own. My daughters know that my heart is ruled by sugar and Rebecca recently sent me a generous supply of Skittles. I knew what to do with the candy! But I also knew what to make with the wrappers - the Sweet Tooth Pouch.

This is an extremely "sweet" project. The tutorial is well written and the sewing of a simple pouch is pretty basic. But working with candy wrappers as a fabric wasn't as straight forward as I thought it was going to be. I made every mistake with my first pouch (which had to be thrown out) and while each successive one became easier, I never got into a production mode.

I worked two things differently from the tutorial:

  • Using a quarter as a template, I rounded the corners and reduced the bulk around the curve by notching. The rounded corners turned easier and didn't have to be shaped by poking.

  • I did not remove the back of the candy wrapper (I cut a slit to remove the candy) and, because the pouch is lined, I didn't apply fusible vinyl to the back of the wrapper.

    My additional tips:

  • Don't stitch tight to the zipper. The zipper tab needs room to maneuver and more is better than less.

  • OPEN zipper before stitching around lining & wrappers. This is pointed out in the tutorial but is worth repeating.

  • Stitch carefully, you can't seam rip because the paper and vinyl will tear.

    All-in-all I'm happy with the results but it was a fussy project and I'm not sure I'd make them again. I do, however, have lots of fusible vinyl left over and need to find a project for that.

  • Tilted Duster

    Tuesday, August 05, 2014

    The Tilted Duster (Ravelry pattern page) is a popular sweater pattern which was first published in Interweave Knits, Fall 2007.

    Almost everything about this sweater was difficult and a challenge. Many of the complications were because of my own choices and pattern changes but there were plenty of fit and knitting challenges as well.

    I started the Tilted Duster early in 2008, finished it in 2011 and I'm blogging about it now in 2014. I procrastinated with every step of this project! If you decide to knit this sweater, save yourself from headaches and frogging by researching the experiences of other knitters and what they've done. Begin with the Tilted Duster project page at Ravelry. You won't regret it.

    Here are my contribution to the research:

  • My Ravelry project page is here.

  • First, check gauge. Proper fit is important with this design so do not skip making a swatch. Second, measure yourself and use accurate measurements. The Tilted Duster has an modified empire waist and it is NOT flattering to have the skirt of the sweater start mid-breast.

  • Webs did a knit-along with this pattern in 2007 and their tips and tricks were extremely helpful. A keyword search using Tilted Duster at their blog will return a page with links to posts and podcasts where the knit-along is discussed. There used to be a link to an electronic file containing the notes from these podcasts but now I can't find it (if you happen to know where this link is please let me know and I'll post it.)

  • When binding off I used the sloped bind-off method and on the skirt side panel I used paired increases of make one right and make one left. Knittinghelp.com has videos on all of these of these techniques.

  • I made a checklist to keep track of the increases, decreases and number of stitches between the markers while knitting the skirt.

  • I completely reworked the sleeves. The tightness of the sleeve design was frequently mentioned by other knitters so I knew I was going to have to make alterations. I knit the sleeve in the round and made a looser fitting sleeve with these adjustments:

    -- Cast on 36 stitches
    -- Knit rib for 4" - ending wrong side.
    -- Increased every 6 stitches - 42 stitches.
    -- Increased 2 stitches every 6 rows until 60 stitches.
    -- Worked sleeve cap shaping for size 44 (I was working everything else in size 36) and I also added a couple of extra rows in the sleeve cap for additional length.

  • Other knitters used various techniques to prevent the skirt front from rolling (garter stitch, crochet, I-Cord) but I thought they all spoiled the clean design. I simply steamed and ironed the bottom edge of the sweater using a plush towel to help prevent compressing the yarn.

    It was hard to persevere and see this sweater to completion. It wasn't that far from being done when I lost patience and threw everything into a bag and the corner of a closet. The Tilted Duster became an UFO (unfinished object) for over two years before I got back to it with fresh eyes and renewed energy. I'm glad I didn't give up on it. It's a creative and different design, a challenging knit and a great sweater.

  • Lilypad

    Friday, August 01, 2014

    Lilypad is "a set of sewable electronic pieces designed to help you build soft interactive textiles. A set of sewable electronic modules–including a small programmable computer called a LilyPad Arduino–can be stitched together with conductive thread to create interactive garments and accessories."1

    I heard about Lilypad during a podcast where it was discussed as a way to engage girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)and I was immediately intrigued. I started by reading the information at the Lilypad website, downloading and installing the Arduino software and ordering a LilyPad Simple Development board from Sparkfun Electronics.

    A bag or purse is frequently my favorite item to make when I'm experimenting or practicing something new and this time I made a small pouch to carry my phone and office keys when I'm at work.

    The Details:
  • The dragonfly design is worked in a Japanese embroidery technique known as Sashiko. Sashiko is worked with a running stitch and that provided the perfect structure for hiding the conductive thread. I used a linen look fabric (53% linen, 47% rayon) and DMC #5 pearl cotton thread.

  • I mapped the best paths from the Lilypad controller to the LEDs on the body of each dragonfly.

  • Before stitching the conductive thread, I ironed fusible interfacing to the back of the fabric to stiffen it and make a sturdier bag.

  • After the LED's were connected and grounded to the Lilypad, I checked the circuit by running a routine to turn each LED on and off. I corrected a short that occurred when a couple of my beginning thread tails were too long and came in contact. I also determined the bag needed to be lined (to prevent the conductive threads on the front and back of the bag from touching.)

  • Before lining the bag I made a small patch pocket to hold the lithium battery and hand stitched it down (it could just as easily been machine stitched but, given a choice, I'm a hand stitcher.) Also, I made a cross-body strap and cut two pieces from that to make loops (for the D rings) which were machine stitched into the side seams of the bag.

  • Finished size is 4.5" x 7".

  • My programing skills are not strong (I'd rather be knitting!) so my husband wrote a more sophisticated sketch (the term used for an Arduino program) where one or more dragonflies light for a random amount of time.

    I love the novelty and challenge of e-textiles and I definitely plan on my next project being a garment. The idea brainstorming has begun!