Knitting: The Jul Hat

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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I just bought the Jul hat pattern by Jenny Gordy! It is so lovely. I'm nearly halfway done already; it is such a quick little project, which is a great way to get my feet wet with knitting after a Summer of no knitting (not what I had planned).

I'm using this organic yarn in the color Heather Moorland, which has been sitting in my stash for far too long. I actually bought it and even began working on a cardigan for mini when she was just a tiny baby and I learned very quickly that knitting a cardigan (above my skill set) while also trying to care for a baby was, in my case, impossible. Anyway, it's being put to good use now, so I'm happy about that.

I'm also working on some of my own knit wear that I hope to have up in my shop by October. Once I finish the Jul hat, I'm going to begin working on the Chelsea Cardigan. Eeepp!! My first sweater/cardigan. I cannot wait. I hope it goes as smoothly as a first sweater project can go.

Portside Travel Set

Friday, September 12, 2014

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I just finished (with the exception of lining the dopp bag and duffel) the Portside travel set. I have had my eye on this set for a while, but avoided it because I thought it looked like a big undertaking. I decided to begin with the easiest bag - the pouch, then I completed the duffel and the dopp bag. Over all, it's a very good pattern. My biggest frustration was in finding the right zipper length for the 21" and 13" zippers. I checked at all the local craft and fabric stores in my area within an hour radius. I also searched online, including Etsy. I finally bought longer zippers than the pattern recommends, which was not ideal, but it works. I also had a difficult time finding the correct side D-rings in the color and material I wanted (brass antique metal, not plastic) and matching swivel hooks in the right size. 

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I did make two changes to the bag. First, I decided to quilt the bottom of the duffel. I also decided to serge all seams after first sewing them with my sewing machine. Canvas frays like crazy. I wanted everything to be washer friendly and hold up well over time. The pattern uses a 1/2" seam allowance, so you have plenty of room to sew and then serge, if you like. I would not recommend just serging the edges before sewing because if you make a mistake a serge stitch is a beast to seam rip. 

Something to be mindful of when looking for the swivel hooks, D-rings, and webbing is that each of those items can be found under different names, so be thorough when you ask employees or search online. When I bought my notions at my local JoAnns I also found that everything could be found in two or more places throughout the store. For example, the brand of D-rings and swivel hooks I bought were in purse findings, not with the other brands of d-rings, swivel hooks and other notions. The cotton webbing (aka belting) was also found in two places in the store. The only place I found the right size and color of swivel hook (aka dog leash hook) was in the purse finding aisle at JoAnns. I could not find the size and color anywhere else.

Here's a list of where I bought my organic fabric and notions: Natural canvas // plum twill // zippers (amazing customer service and she sets up custom listings!) // D-rings // swivel hooks //cotton batting for quilting the bottom of the duffel // organic interfacing alternative // cotton webbing (aka belting) is from joann fabrics and can only be found in store. 

The pattern over all is very good. There are a couple steps that I would do differently next time. For example, the instructions have you sew on the webbing straps to the sides of the bag first, then iron and sew in the zipper. If I were to make this bag again, I'd put the zipper in first. It was just a bit cumbersome to work around the thick webbing when trying to accurately iron and sew the zipper in. 

I also ran into trouble with the Dopp bag. My pieces did not line up correcting - the upper front was half an inch taller than the single piece for the pocket. I checked and rechecked my pattern pieces and retraced my steps and found no fault of my own. I plan to make another dopp bag for my brother so hopefully I don't encounter the same problem again. Ultimately, I just trimmed the excess and it came together just fine. 

The instructions also say to hand sew in the lining. I plan to machine sew in my lining. Easy change!

Lastly, the instructions for creating the strap were difficult for me to understand. I finally just began playing around with the looping and figured it out on my own. This is where a sew along would be handy. 

Even with the hiccups I encountered, I'd still recommend this pattern again and again. The duffel is very generous in size (my body pillow can fit inside with all my clothing!) as is the dopp bag, which can easily fit regular size bottles if you don't use travel sizes. The pouch is great too and so easy that I whipped up an extra one because why not!