archives: crafts

arched gusset mittens

Apparently I spent this past winter knitting baby/child items that were designed by Purl Soho, because I also decided to knit up a pair of the Arched Gusset Mittens one day, using some fingering-weight yarn that was laying around. Mostly I was looking to learn the construction of the mittens before casting on an adult-sized pair. When the first one was done, it was so cute and had used so little yarn that I made a match.

arched gusset mittens from purl soho | pepperknit

Looking at them later I simply could not fathom what size child would fit into what I’d made. I just don’t have any concept of the size of children’s hands! But my friend Christy she thought they’d work for her little girl next winter so I happily gave them to her.


scout tee

scout tee | pepperknit

I bought this fabric when I was in India a few years ago. That fabric shopping trip was overwhelming, and I have no idea what I was thinking when I chose most of the fabrics. I got home and discovered that I did not like most of them!

This fabric, though, I still liked. It was just different enough to not be like everything else I own, but still within my favorite colors. It was a drapey, sort of twill weave but turned out it was VERY loosely woven and in fact basically unraveled the second I cut it into the pieces. I quickly ran each edge through the serger but apparently that was only somewhat successful because after a day of wearing it, there is a hole in the armpit. I sewed that shut and after another wearing and a trip through the wash, there’s the beginning of a hole at one shoulder seam. Those seams were sewn with proper seam allowance; I think the fabric is just too fragile!

scout tee | pepperknit

Sadly I think this one will never be worn again. But I proudly wore it for one fine spring day on a drive with a friend from LA to San Diego! It’s shown here under the pier at Newport Beach and on the rocks around Laguna beach.

purl soho women’s robe

When I graduated from high school 20-plus years ago, I was given a terrycloth robe. It came greatly in handy in college, when I lived in the dorm and would travel back and forth down the hall to the bathroom. But once I started living on my own, I stopped using it—I went from bathroom to dressed, with no stop in between. But the past few years, I’ve taken to showering upon getting home from the day in the summer. Sweaty, salty, and covered in a layer of whatever hangs in the air in the subway, the end-of-day shower is one of my favorite parts of summer. And sometimes after one of them, I just don’t want to put clothing on right away. I kept wanting a robe.

Enter Purl Soho’s free pattern, Women’s Robe. (Well, free if you sign up for their newsletter.) I went to Mood, which has a bunch of Liberty cotton lawn, and agonized over the choices. In general I’m not hugely into the tiny florals of Liberty, but I wanted a super special robe, and this gray/white/blue one was the one. (There are tiny tiny bits of blue.)

purl soho women's robe | pepperknit

The pattern is very very basic—rectangles sewn together, essentially. It is not even a PDF pattern; it comes with no pattern pieces, instead telling you to cut rectangles of certain dimensions. That put a big delay in my process, because I knew the best way to ensure I had everything square was to make the pattern pieces. (I’m so glad I did not pay for this pattern. I’d be incredibly disappointed in how little I got for the money.) I finally sat down one day and did the math to make it work with 8½ x 11 paper.  When I cut the fabric out I was highly conservative with the fabric and had enough leftover to make a shirt! And I even did the long length—it comes to mid-shin.

Of course, even though it’s fall I’ve been loving using the robe. After a shower I don it, put my hair up in my towel, and feel free to swan about for a bit before I eventually put some clothes on.

churn dash quilt

This is a story about a Churn Dash quilt whose promise was dashed to hell. All because I got the address wrong and now the quilt is lost to the streets of San Francisco. Read it and weep. (I already have.)

churn dash |

A friend from college had a baby girl in the spring, and I thought Churn Dash blocks, in a variety of bold colors, would be great, as my friend likes bold color combinations. I was slightly unsure about the amount of pink—death to the patriarchy!—but figured it was tempered by the green and the yellow. I liked that it was an old, traditional block done up with fun fabrics, unlike what you’d have gotten in the past.

churn dash |

For the back, I made 1 additional block that coordinated nicely with the simple polka dot print. I quilted it in diagonals, because my luck with quilting is such that if I cross lines, I get puckers. This worked out swimmingly, and after a wash it got nice and puffy and squishy.

Speaking of my issues with quilting, I thought back to when I’ve had success with quilting, and I realized that the times it had gone the best, I’d glue-basted with the sandwich hanging on a wall. But every time I did that, the spray glue distributed itself all over the entire room and EVERYTHING ended up sticky. And seeing as how I’m in a Brooklyn apartment, I only have the bedroom/office (with computer) or the living room (with TV) to choose from, really, and I didn’t want all my screens getting coated in glue. So this time I cleaned my shower and glue-basted in the bathroom! It worked really well, and even though this made the rest of the bathroom sticky, that was a cinch to clean up. Does anyone have a trick for dealing with drifting glue that doesn’t involve a bathroom wall? I can’t figure out how to deal with it otherwise.

glue basting in the bathroom

I really love the label I made for this one (sigh, whoever took it doesn’t even GET IT). Our alma mater has a tradition of singing songs together, and this line is from one of the songs, called “Good Night.” I have always thought it was such a perfect sentiment to send to new parents and their babies! It’s such a pretty lullaby. (I can’t find an audio of it to link you to, just trust me that it’s super pretty.)

quilt label |

Here’s hoping whoever stole this package out of the foyer of her old building (because yes, I sent it to the wrong address, but she quickly contacted her old landlord, who said there was no box) is using the quilt and didn’t simply discard it when it turned out not to be the pair of shoes the Zappos box might have led them to believe. (Could I have done even more to make this package ripe for disappearing??) I’ve learned a shockingly terrible lesson about mailing my handmade items. But it means I get to make something new and fun and different to give to the little one!

adelaide dress

adelaide dress |

Right before heading to the TNNA summer tradeshow, I finished sewing my first Adelaide Dress from Seamwork Magazine, and I wore it on the first day of the show! I proudly marched over to the Knitter’s Pride booth to show it off, because I purchased this fabric while on the trip to India to see Knitter’s Pride’s factory.

The fabric is a thin lightweight cotton, so this dress was perfect for the 94° day in DC, though it is so thin that I needed to buy a new white slip to wear under. I aligned the pattern so that the same lighter band goes up the very middle of the back, too. The directions for the dress and the sewing of it were incredibly straightforward—not once did I have to run to Google for help with terminology! Could be that I’ve gotten better at this, could just be that the directions were so clear. I cut a size 12 because I wanted some extra room in the bust and waist, and I’m happy with the result because there is no pulling across the bust at all.

Hammering on the snaps was by far my favorite part. I went to Snap Source‘s site and ordered 20 size 14 snaps along with the Snap Setter for that size, and they arrived very quickly. I’d been concerned when reading the website that size 14 snaps (“Suggested uses: Infant wear, doll clothing”) would be flimsy, but that’s what the pattern called for so I didn’t question it. Plus that size has a lot more color options, and if I were committing to the setter in that size I figured it was more versatile. I shouldn’t have been concerned: the snaps are so solid I find it hard to snap and unsnap them! (Luckily I can just pull the dress over my head.) I got white snaps, which you can just barely make out—sorry, no close-ups because Caro, Pam, and I were hot and I was in a rush—and only messed up one of them! I accidentally put the connection piece upside down on one. That snap was ruined in the process but the fabric wasn’t, so it was easy to just affix a new one.

I made the bias binding for inside the neck and armholes from white cotton batiste in my stash, and I made a TON of it so hopefully future garments will go more quickly than this one! The Seamwork estimated time for this is 3 hours. It took me far longer with that long break to make bias binding! But I don’t mind one bit, and I feel certain future versions (there will be future versions) will not take me nearly as long.

Big thanks to Caro for taking these pictures for me.

adelaide dress |

This was a discouraging post to write, because it marks the last garment I sewed before my sewing machine crapped out on me. It had been fussing at me for a while, giving an error for phantom reasons. I could often clear the glitch with a few hand-cranks and it would work for a short while more before beeping madly at me again. But while topstitching the belt—the longest continuous seam in the entire garment!—it got angrier than ever before, and I honestly doubted I’d be able to get through it without hand-cranking the entire thing. I took the machine into a repair shop, and I was told the day we took these pictures that the motherboard was shot and not worth replacing in my inexpensive machine (the Brother CS-6000i; it was about 6 years old with moderate use). So I’m sewing machine shopping! I have my eye on a few machines but still need to get somewhere to try them out. Suggestions?