Sunday, September 27

Meet My New Skirt

It’s deliciously lightweight and twirly and eclectically printed…


…and it started out life as a dress, one of those “babydoll” numbers that’s a little too impractical for my current stage of my life.


I can’t take credit for this transformation idea – my friend Mo was shopping, found a bunch of dresses on clearance for $5, figured they were too cute to pass up but too short and sassy for a busy mama to wear, and then had a light bulb moment. Chop the straps off and fix up the waist a bit if needed. (Purple dress not cut yet; one dress AWOL.)


And being the good friend that she is, after showing me her windfall, she let me pick one out for myself. And let me have my favorite even though it was kinda her favorite too! And then insisted I not pay her…  but instead help her with the sewing on the ones she was keeping. : )

Here she is attaching her first waistband – we found a great striped fabric with all the right colors and even thin gold lines.… So pretty!


And alas, I was typing up directions, then realized half way through that I didn’t have photos of some of the next steps.

And I can’t post a how-to without photos.

So it’ll have to wait til Mo’s over here again to finish her skirt…

But that’s perfect since it gives you time to go browse your local clearance racks/thrift store/op shop/etc and find a cheap and fun but way too short shirred dress.

Other things you’ll need are some elastic (we used 1” wide non-roll stuff), long enough to go around your waist, and a strip of fabric for the inside waistband, long enough to go around your hips plus a few inches. And a sewing machine helps. And matching thread, etc.

Thursday, September 24

Picot Edging How To (and Comparisons)

I am a tester. I like to know things. And I like to be “right,” do things the “right” way, whenever possible.

So is it really any surprise that I recently crocheted four samples of picot edging, trying to find the “best” one? No, the only surprise is that I was able to stop after four; seems like every book and website out there does it differently! But I think I’ve settled on one I like….

First, let me back up a quick moment. Picots are those little loops or bumps that you sometimes see on the edge of ribbon, clothes, etc. And it’s a common edging on crocheted projects.


The basic technique is the same: space the picots apart with a set number of stitches, often 2 sc, and make each picot with a set number of chains, often 3-5, depending on how big you want the “bump” to be.

But it’s the way the chains connect to the rest of the piece that changes.

Behold, my comparison photos: (this is where some of you start to shake your head, saying, “Karin, they’re all the same!” Undaunted, I forge on.)


Is it just me or are the bottom two less symmetric, with the left side of the picots straight up-and-down and the right side at an angle? Plus the one at the very bottom has little holes near the bottom of each picot. Not what I’m looking for. So clearly, the top two are better.

Well, then let’s look at the back sides… I like that the grey stitches on top of the pink portion look nice and even on the first (and last) one; the middle two have these funny horizontal “dashes” under every picot.


So, clearly, version #1 is the winner in my book. (Version #2 is what I used on the scarf because I hadn’t found version #1 yet.) I’ve written the picot stitch as the photo caption. The pattern for a whole row would be:

Ch 1, sc in first 2 st, * ch 3, sl st in first ch of ch-3 (picot made), then sc in next 3 st *; repeat from * to * along row, ending with sc in last 2 st.

The other trick, no matter which picot stitch you use, is to tug each little picot so it lays nice. Sure, if you made a blanket, that might be 264 little picots to tug, but I didn’t say I like to do things fast. I said I like to do them “right.”

Oh, and the final trick – after you’ve tugged all those tiny bumps – is to keep them laying nicely by blocking your finished piece. Here are some photos of the Hello Kitty scarf: top shows “pre-blocked” and bottom shows “post-blocked” . I should’ve lightened up a wee bit on the iron, but maybe you can see how the stitches in the bottom photo are all much flatter and sort of meshed together. That’ll help keep the picots looking neat, too.

IMG_1365 IMG_1375

Maybe another time I’ll tell you about baking three different batches of banana bread, all on the same day (I had lots of brown bananas), then asking everyone in the house to blindly taste them and pick their favorite…

But I think I’ll reserve the next post for my favorite new skirt. Or our new pet and his handmade habitat; he’s “singing” to me as I type this…

Tuesday, September 22

Hello Kitty Granny Squares Scarf

A project from a few weeks ago, for a sweet young girl on her fifth birthday:


I’d seen the idea on Ravelry: a scarf (and a bag) made of granny squares and Hello Kitty squares. But when I tried the pattern for the HK part, I couldn’t get the face to look right, especially those ears.

So I tried my hand at making up my own pattern, using the photos I’d seen as a jumping off point. And I actually figured it out! (Though I lost track of how many times I started over and how many bound-off white faces got tossed in the reject pile.)

IMG_1349BTW: I love using paperclip stitch markers (green one visible in bottom left of photo). Idea – and superb shape-tweaking instructions – came from

Some close-ups:

front “right” side with flower… and a face
that my perfectionism embroidered and ripped out
about twelve times before my rational side said
“It’s good enough already. Stop it!”IMG_1375

back “wrong” side without flower,
but with intact face which is one reason for the dozen do-overs –
I wanted BOTH sides to look nice…IMG_1378

granny square #1 IMG_1377

and granny square #2IMG_1376

BTW: I loved joining the squares as I made them. Idea – and superb photo-illustrated instructions – came from

* * *

12/6/09: I’ve written up the pattern and posted it here. Warning: it’s really long – I’m not sure how best to shorten it. Brevity: not one of my strengths! But so many who’ve been requesting the pattern are fairly new to crocheting, so I wanted to include the kind of stuff I wish someone had told me when I was first learning… But seriously, it’s really long!

At the end of it is a link to a shorter, less information-packed but hopefully helpful pdf of the pattern.

Sunday, September 20

Crumb Coating: “So THAT’S How They Do That!”

This is what the AHG cakes looked like before their second coat of frosting (and topcoat of fondant).


I thought I’d mention/show this in case you’ve ever tried decorating a cake and driven yourself crazy because crumbs kept showing up in the frosting. Do what the pros do: put on two coats of frosting.

  • initial “crumb coat” – aptly named because it’s often full of crumbs
  • final smooth, pretty coat

Basic technique:

  1. Apply a thin layer of frosting. Don’t worry if you can see the cake through it; don’t worry how many crumbs you get in it. Just be sure to cover the whole cake. Also, if you scoop into your bowl to get more frosting, DON’T LET ANY CRUMBS FROM YOUR SPATULA GET INTO THE BOWL. I usually use a separate utensil for adding more frosting onto the cake if needed. Some people just wipe their main one off.
  2. Let the crumb coat “set”. It should be a bit dry and firm for step 3. Put the cake in a fridge to speed the process.
  3. Apply a thick layer of frosting over the crumb coat. Do this gently so you don’t break the crumb coat!

Also, here are some great how-to videos about crumb coating:

And now you can say what my friend and fellow fondant layer said the other night when she learned all this info: “Oh! So that’s how they do it!”

Thursday, September 17

AHG Kick-Off Cake

The second American Heritage Girls troop in our little town just got started…


…and 64 girls plus their parents and leaders got to celebrate with cake at the end of our first official troop meeting this week.


Eight pounds from the extra fondant stash gone, eight more to go…

* * *

P.S. I did NOT make these behemoths all by myself. A friend did most of the baking, then she and another joined me for the decorating. Yippee!


Tuesday, September 15

Hankie Hem Dress Dimensions Update

Man, I have new respect for all those sewing tutorial writers out there...

More than a month ago I said I would post photos of the making of the hankie hem T-shirt dress as well as tips for figuring out dimensions.


Since then I have posted about:

And then I abandoned the blog completely for two weeks.

Apparently, I don’t want to post about hankie hem dress dimensions.

…I think I’m embarrassed at the amount of inner math geek that emerged (gleefully) while figuring out the optimal dimensions for any size, shape and configuration.


Yeah, that’s a quadratic equation in the photo above. And I used the Pythagorean theorem too. You know, a² + b²= c²? And then I put all that math into a spreadsheet (more glee!) to calculate the fabric dimensions based on T-shirt width and desired skirt length.

But unfortunately my brain and fingers refused to write out the steps that go with the dimensions. And the spreadsheet is not user-friendly in its current state. And the photos I took along the way show pieces that were way too long because I was guessing at the dimensions – no spreadsheet yet – and wanted to be sure I had enough length. (See below for what “enough length” resulted in before I chopped some off!)


So, here’s the best I can do:

Hankie Hem T-Shirt Dress How-To… Sort of

1) Pick your method:

  • Three Rectangles (shown below left) for solids or directionless-prints (or if you don’t care if parts of your print are “sideways”)
  • Four Panels (shown below right) for things like stripes or prints that have a “top” direction

 cropped IMG_0999cropped IMG_0998

2) Find your T-shirt and your recipient and then email the following  measurements to me (see blog sidebar for current address, or you can also write the measurements in the comments if you’d rather):

  • width of bottom of shirt (if it’s a snug shirt that needs to stretch when put on and taken off, then stretch it a bit when measuring!; my shirt was 9” wide, but I used 11” as my width)
  • minimum length, measured from bottom edge of shirt, with shirt being worn by recipient
  • maximum length, again measured from bottom edge of shirt
  • oh, and for my hem: I just zigzagged over the edge of my fabric to keep it from unraveling so had a “hem allowance” of zero; if you want a more finished edge by turning up and sewing an actual hem, let me know how much fabric you want me to include for your hem allowance

(If you can’t measure the length on your recipient, send in her age and approximate height as well as T-shirt length from shoulder to bottom edge, and I’ll estimate dimensions for a skirt that skims her knees. Body part ratios change quite a bit as you get older thus age is needed….)

3) Give me a minute to pop the numbers into my spreadsheet, then a day or two to reply (unless I’m vacationing on an island with no internet access, not likely in the near future).

4) Use the dimensions I send back to you and the sketches below to figure out how big to cut your fabric pieces (and hole).

  • Three Rectangles Method
  • Four Panels Method


5) Sew up your hankie hem dress.

  • Sew your three or four fabric pieces into a short, squat “plus sign.” On the sketches above, the dotted lines with stars at each end show where to sew pieces together. 


(Four panels method shown above. Just ignore the extra fabric under the black lines…)

  • Zigzag, hem or finish in some other way the edges of the plus sign (the pink outline above).
  • Line up the bottom edge of the shirt and the edge of the hole, right sides together, and sew using a 1/2” seam allowance.


6) Email me if you need further clarification. Seriously, I’d love to elaborate, explain, or enlighten, but only if someone actually needs the info. : )  I know for some of you, this is enough…

* * *

And, if you don’t mind non-user-friendly spreadsheets and want a copy so you don’t have to rely on me, email me and I’ll send it out to you. Maybe I’ll even color-code and format it a little. (Sometimes I can’t help myself.)


Related Posts with Thumbnails