Knitted: Tomten Sweater and Toddler Mittens

Due to the extremely cold temperatures around here (have I mentioned how COLD it is here in Michigan yet? Oh yes, now I see that I have…), sewing hasn’t been as high on my priority list as knitting, which is a relatively new hobby for me. I’ve made the occasional washcloth or scarf, but nothing this serious until Elli started making a Tomten for Elliot and I got The Bug. It just looked so simple and cute, which is of course the huge draw of Elizabeth Zimmerman. A big part of it for me was the idea that it knits up in one piece and then you just sew the underarm seams.


Pattern: Tomten by Elizabeth Zimmerman

Yarn: 4 skeins Jo-Ann Sensations Dolcetto (body) and tiny bit Shepherd’s Wool (trim)

Needles: Size 9 (unlike Elli who cast on 88 sts and ended up with a 18-24 mo size, I cast on 104 sts and ended up with 2T)

I realize it’s a serious knitting faux pas to use such a nice yarn as Shepherd’s Wool only on the trim of the sweater. But in my defense I didn’t realize that the yarn store just blocks away sold it until I was looking for a nice contrast trim after I’d already knitted the entire rest of the sweater. Now I can make something else with the rest of the skein! I’m pretty geeked about Shepherd’s Wool is because they make their yarn in East Jordan, Michigan, which is literally minutes away from my Aunt Jan’s house (field trip, Elli?).


I also realize it’s kindof cheating to crochet the trim and totally avoid having to knit buttonholes. I used three rows of half double crochet around the hood and buttons, and two rows around the end of the sleeves. In the end I like how it turned out totally different from Elli’s and doesn’t look TOO much worse, although it’s pretty obvious from my bubbly garter stitch who the more experienced knitted is. The other nice thing is that they are totally different sizes. This one will probably fit Elliot next fall.

Since I’m on the knitting thing here, I thought I’d post a picture of my first DPN project, the Toddler Mittens from Knitting for Babies, one of a bunch of knitting and crochet books I received for Christmas last year and have slowly gotten around to trying.

The yarn is also Jo-Ann Sensations Dolcetto, but in yellow rather than green.

Don’t look too closely there…you would never guess that these two came from the exact same pattern..but hey not bad for a first try at knitting in the round, right?

Christmas Prezzie: Tree Skirt for Elli


Watching the last of January creep up on us I knew I had to sneak in just one more Christmas gift before I lost my chance. At least my Christmas tree is down. Of course, my outside lights are still going on automatically every night because it’s SO COLD I can’t even bring myself to go out and unplug them.

This is the tree skirt I made for seester Elli. It’s a shameless spinoff of one she had her eye on at Mahar Drygoods. She was covering up the bottom of her tree with towels or somesuch and I knew that had to stop.


Materials: red felt, colored ric-rac, gingham bias tape (I know you can purchase this ready-made some places, but I made it with my bias tape maker), cotton scraps.


: : Under the tree at mom and dad’s for Christmas : :


So that’ll be it for the Christmas posts this year. Coming up soon here on MBR, something I’ve alluded to in the past but never officially produced: KNITTING!!! Also, for those of you who have been begging for the return of the Itty Bitty Baby Dress, I can tell you with confidence that it will be back up very, very soon.

Veggie Shirt for Elliot

For Christmas this year I received a serger (cue cheering) from my mom- and dad-in-law, who were happy to give it although they were a little confused about what it actually was.

So here’s one of my first projects, a knit shirt for Elliot:


The fabric is knit jersey (so: different on the front than the back, unlike interlock knit which looks the same on both sides). The orange pieces were scraps leftover from Kricket’s Christmas top.

It looked a little boring, so I stenciled some veggies onto it to make it cuter and distract from the inevitable food stains toddler wear seems to attract:


:: Shirt in action ::


Here’s the lovely piece of equipment that made this all possible, a Brother 1034D. Some of you may remember my request for serger suggestions. A few of you (Wonder Woman and Liz) suggested a Brother, so I looked at the reviews and went with it! This one has two needles, four spools, and overlocks but does not coverlock (see the comments in that linked post for the difference between the two).


And for those of you still wondering what the heck it does, I won’t go into all the details, but one of the things it has is two feed dogs (those movey things that make the fabric go forward under the needle) instead of one like a normal machine. This means that when you are sewing knits, you can make one of the feed dogs go faster than the other one, which prevents puckering, a very common and frustrating (!) problem when sewing knits.

Christmas Prezzie for Kricket


Warning: There’s alot of randomness in this post but I’m just going to go with it because it’s late…

That person in the picture above is my baby seester Kricket. Isn’t she beautiful? She is wearing the shirt I made for her for Christmas. When Krick was little her favorite color used to be orange. Don’t you hate it when people remember one thing about you from a really long time ago and keep giving you things like that even though you’ve stopped liking it? She liked it anyway, even if her favorite color is currently green. I think?

After making this top I wanted to keep it for myself but I didn’t. Just thought I’d throw that in too.


In this horrid bathroom-mirror shot you can see the puffiness in the sleeves and a wee bit of our toilet and that I’m wearing red pants. Which actually looked pretty awesome. But maybe not for going out in public.

Pattern: A combination of McCalls 5388 (View D) and the basic t-shirt from Built-By-Wendy’s SEW U Home Stretch. The bottom half and sleeves were the from the McCalls, the top half was the BBW. I just laid the two pattern pieces on the table with the underarm corners overlapping and traced them onto the fabric.

Modifications: I added pleats in the front and in the back, added a piece of bias tape to the inside for the elastic casing all the way around, added a folded piece of rectangular fabric to the neckline to create that cowl-y look. I think that may have been 8″ wide (to make a 4″ neck folded).

And since it was all knit I didn’t have to do any hems — I just let the fabric roll up on it’s own. I found this fabric in the sale section at JoAnn. It’s a nice heathered orange that reminds me of Tang.

Look what I did this weekend

I would like to mention how comforting it was to hear from all you “rippers” out there after my last post. In fact, no one who commented placed themselves in the “organized-perfectionistic sewing” category. Everyone who weighed in was of the sew-a-little/rip-a-little disorganized sort. Not sure what that says about you guys…perhaps the “do-it-right-the-first-timers” can’t even stand to read my blog? Heh.


This is the “I’ll have one of everything bag” from Seams to Me by Anna Maria Horner. I just got this book for Christmas and this was my favorite project in there so I spent the weekend working on it.

: : back side: :

It’s appealing because you get to use up scraps. My scraps were mainly Amy Butler, but there’s a little Heather Ross in there on the back side because I ran out of the pink coriander from the front. Amy Butler fans will also note that there’s a scrap from Gypsy Caravan and Temple Flowers in there too. *looking pleased with self*

Here’s the book. I love Anna Maria Horner’s color choices. They’re so perfectly warm and bright.


This was the inspiration picture. I love this color combination too — it’s nice and mellow so the bag stands out but it’s not too much. That’s actually my only worry with mine…is it a little too crazy bright? I was just such a fan of the bright pink and turqoise combo that I just went ahead with it anyway.


The only change I made to the pattern was using cotton flannel instead of interfacing. The only other thing I’d change next time is I think I would make the opening a little bigger. For a bag this size, it’s nice to be able to carry large stuff in it (books, knitting projects, rutabaga) so I think the opening needs to be a tad bigger. I’d go back and change this one, but that would mean ripping more seams…

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Birding Bag for Dad

Happy New Year everyone!

As promised, here’s another one of my handmade Christmas gifts, this one for dad who needed something to carry his binoculars and birding book in whilst birding.


I used the back sides of an old pair of cargo shorts that Mr Rae had spilled bleach on. I was especially pleased with this recycle because it meant I didn’t have to make the outside pockets.

I thought Alexander Henry goldfinch fabric (which is, oddly, available at JoAnn as well as many other nicer places) would be appropriate for the inside.

The front and back are stenciled with fabric paint. I used the freezer-paper technique oft referenced on this blog. MSH are dad’s initials, by the way.


The orange trim around the outside is prepackaged extra-wide double fold bias tape. I basted all of the outside pieces to the lining pieces before beginning, and then just sewed everything together using the bias tape to cover the raw edges. I don’t really recommend this to beginners, since even the wide bias tape has a tendency to fall off the edge really fast. I have to admit there was a fair amount of seam-ripping and re-sewing on my part, but that sort of rip-it-out and redo-it kind of sewing is par for the course around here.

I kindof wish I could do things more carefully; certainly if I thought about things more before I started and proceeded in a very organized fashion I might spend less time undoing projects. What kind of sewist are YOU?