Race Against Springtime Knitting

Front to back seam, three needle bind off
I am nearing completion on a little project I have been working on for a long time. Well, actually I did start it a long time ago, but I have only really been working on it since February. It was one of those projects that got started at a time when a lot of things were happening in my life and I set it aside. Like anything else that gets set aside, it became a UFO (unfinished object). This project has shown up in a couple of other posts, project planning and progress, long overdue knitting.  

In February I decided I really needed to finish this because it is a pretty straight forward, fairly easy project. It is also not easy for me to knit once the weather warms up so that was also a motivator. I can say that I have finished all five of the main pieces and only have the armhole facings and neckband to go. The armhole facings should be pretty easy, just pick up and knit 86 stitches and knit an inch (X2). The neck band though is 376 stitches with more pattern work and about 32 rows. 

Test swatch for three needle bind off
To connect the front to the back this piece uses the three needle bind off. I had never done this before so I made a little test swatch to test it out. It is really easy and it looks amazing. I am not sure why I have never done this stitch before, but I think I will be using it quite a bit. especially at shoulder seams. The results are a very strong seam that is perfectly straight. I have an instructional post on the three needle bind-off stitch for anyone who wants to see it, but it is exactly what it sound like. Below (and first photo on this post), on this pattern it is obvious where the seam is because there is one row of the pattern that is omitted.  I think I will hand stitch over it in the places where the main color should be to keep the pattern matched front to back.

shoulder without flash, easier to see seam
When I started this project I made it slightly slimmer than the original pattern called for, because I was having trouble getting the proper gauge. This alteration required extra planning when I got to the color work. For the back I just took off the extra six stitches on either side, to keep the pattern centered. This worked well for the left front as well, but on the right front I just charted out the pattern, to rewrite the instructions so that the left front matched the right front.  As you can see in the shoulder seam the patterns are perfectly aligned.  

Photo of Vicki Square's garment from Knit Kimono, with my pattern alteration notes
I am so pleased with this bind of method I think I will use it on this kitchener stitch project which has also become a UFO. Every time I have worked on putting it together I have been so disappointed with the results that I have not been able to finish it.  While it will not be the intended finish, it will at least be something I like enough to want to wear it instead of the ugly mess it has become.  

Three needle bind off - how to

I have a favorite bind-off to use when joining live stitches.  It is perfect for joining sweater sections at the shoulder. 

Three needle bind-off

1.  Two swatches with live stitches on needles. 

2.  Hold the two pieces with right sides together.  Insert third needle as if to knit through the first stitch loops on the first and second needles.  (The third needle is the same size as the original two needles.)

3.   Create the knit stitch over the third needle.  For illustration purposes, I have selected a contrasting thread.

4.  Pull the new stitch back through the knit loops on the needle. Drop the original stitches off of the first and second needles.

5.  Create a second stitch.

6.  Slide the stitches off of the first and second needles. 

 7.   Pass the first stitch on the third needle over the second stitch on the third needle like a traditional bind-off stitch, dropping it over the needle tip.

8.  Only one stitch remains on third needle. 

9.  Continue knitting one stitch and passing the first stitch over the new stitch, dropping the first stitch off of the needle.

10.  Completed bind-off row.

11.  Back side of swatches with same thread as the swatch and a contrast thread.

12.  Front side of swatches. 


Sewing Tools, Close at Hand

Handy tools under glass
Lets see, scissors, thread, thread sniper, thimble, chalk marker, measuring tape, pattern weights, needles, elastic, pins, metal measuring device, seam ripper and probably buttons or zippers for the current project are usually close at hand. It is easy for them to be scattered. If the kitty finds them interesting then I have to worry about keeping her safe too. 

When I recently moved a dining table in and the permanent sewing area out it created some sewing challenges. The most notable is having to setup and remove the sewing machines each time I sew. One of the lesser issues is having to gather up sewing tools when I need them. I have a mini carousel bin that holds everything mentioned above, and more. While it is very handy it is far more functional than pretty. 

I have found a new use for a rarely used cake server. It keeps all of my little notions nearby, safely out of the kitty's paws and beautifully displayed so that it is not necessary to move them out of view each time I am finished sewing.  There are also no calories or snacking temptations.



How to Raise the Hem on Pants with Cuffs

Raising the hem on pants with cuffs
My daughter asked me to raise the hem on a pair of capri pants with a cuff. While that sounds kind of intimidating it is really pretty easy. There is only one seam and it can be done on the machine. The secret is pressing. 

Step 1.  Mark the desired finish length. In the photo above there is a pin with a pink glass head marking the desired finish length on the right leg.  

Step 2.  Remove the original hem. In the photo above, you can see the left as the pants were purchased and the right with the cuff and hem unfolded. This pair of pants had been stitched at the sides to keep the cuff from unfolding. Remove those stitches first being careful not to cut the fabric. Then remove the hem stitches.

Step 3.  Determine the amount of fabric required to replace the cuff. To do this measure from the fold that was the lowest point when the cuff was in place. In the photo above there is a pin about an inch below this fold line on the right side. You can see the fold line directly across from the cuff that is still in place on the left side. Measure the length between this fold line and the very bottom of the hem. In the photo above, there is still just about a half inch that was turned under and pressed. It did not unfold for this photograph, but you still need to measure this amount.  You will need to fold the fabric under by the same amount so include it when you measure. I think this pair of pants had about 6 inches from the actual length to the bottom of the fabric that was folded under at the hem. 

Step 4.  From the new desired finished length, (the mark you made in Step1.) measure down the same amount of fabric that you just measured in step 3. In the photo above this is where the second pin has been placed. The distance from the pin with the pink glass head to the pin without the glass head is the same distance as from the original hem to the bottom of the fabric after the hem has been removed.

New cut line, and cuff fold marks
Step 5.  Transfer the cuff fold measurements to the new hem. Cut the excess fabric off at the mark you made for the new cut line. The pin has been removed in the second photo and the scissors are at that mark. The white lines shown above and below are where the new folds will be as a result of the new hem length. Make the same cut on the other pant leg before you proceed to the next step. It will be easier to be sure you are getting them the same length. 

Cuff fold marks in chalk, and with pins

Press the newly cut raw edge under
Step 6.  Press the raw edge under. My fabric was pressed under about a half inch. This was the same amount that was included on the original pair of pants.

Fold the pants to the top of the cuff length
Step 7.  Fold the pants to the new top of the cuff measurement, press. The top of the cuff measurement is marked with the blue-green glass top pin. You can see The top of the cuff mark with the blue-green pin in the photos above Step 6 and above Step 7. This measurement is the length of the original cuff from the level of the hem to the top of the cuff, about 2.5 inches or 6+ a little centimeters on this pair of pants. Ready to press.

Hem folded up, ready to press
Step 8.  Press. 
One leg pressed, Now mark the fold line on the second leg
Step 9.  Transfer the fold line to the second leg to assure the length on both legs match. In the photo above I have placed the scissors and chalk marker between the pressed leg and the second leg so you can see where I marked the fold line on the second leg. Press the second leg to match the first. 

Sew the hem
Step 10. Sew the hem from the inside. In the photo above I have marked the stitch line with pins so you can see where it is. This will be under the cuff so it will not show.  The white line, just down from the pin is the desired hem length and fold line.

Step 11.  Turn cuff up at the new hem line, press.

Cuff folded up and pressed

New hem, cut away part below and view of the inside hem.
Step 12. Stitch in the ditch at the top of each side of the cuffs on both legs to keep the cuffs from dropping. These stitches will not show if you use matching thread.

Finished view of the cuffs. In this view the cut away portion is below the finished pants. You can see a line across the cuff on the right side, this is from the original hem, it should go away when the pants are washed.