Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sewalong for fleece socks

Around where I live, it is pretty frigid for most of the year, it seems like.  And, as anyone who knows me will testify, I am basically a cheapskate, so we keep our thermostat pretty low.  Consequently, fleece socks are basically an essential around our house.  This sewalong is for the Green Pepper fleece socks pattern #504.  I understand there are several free tutorials hanging about somewhere, but to me it was worth the $7 to have fleece socks that fit right the first time -- without falling down!

I changed the pattern a little to make it easier, faster, and cheaper to sew.  Here's what I did:

1.  First, you need to trace your pattern pieces and cut your fabric.  Make sure the stretch of the fleece will go around the foot, not lengthwise, or you won't be able to get your fleece socks on.  There is an option for calf length or knee length socks; I chose knee length.

2.  We are going to flatlock all our seams using the serger.  Review my previous post about how to flatlock.  One more hint about 3-thread flatlocking:  I got best results when I tied a knot in the serger thread tail before beginning stitching.  That way the stitches would not pull out.

3.  Lay the heel piece on top of the sole, wrong sides together, aligning curved edges at the back of the heel.
Now flatlock this seam at the back of the heel.  It will look like this:

4.  Now open this out flat and lay it on top of the front of the sock, wrong sides together.
 You will see that the raw edges don't quite line up properly because of the shaping of the heel and because the front piece has greater width than the heel.  Don't worry.  As you sew, you will re-align the edges.

5.  Now flatlock all the way around the sock, starting at the top edge on one side.  Continue down the sock, all the way around the toe, and back up to the other top edge.

6.  Now, tie a knot in the serger thread tails at both the starting and ending points.  Then pull apart the flatlocked seams so they actually lie flat.

7.  The last step is to just fold over the top edge about 1 cm to the inside and stitch it down on your sewing machine.  You probably want to turn the sock inside out to make it easier to sew around the small circumference.   I would suggest using a narrow zigzag to stitch it down, as you want it to be able to stretch without popping the stitches.
See how uneven the edge of my fleece was?  I just trimmed this with sharp scissors before actually stitching it down.

 (Sorry this picture is with different fabrics.  I made lots of pairs of socks!)

Once you start, you will probably want to make a bunch!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

One Pattern, Four Looks

In addition to an ever growing stash of fabric, I also seem to have acquired a habit of accumulating patterns as well.  And this is really silly, because I believe my sewing skills are at a point now where I really shouldn't need many patterns.  So this month I participated in a challenge at SewingMamas to try to take one basic pattern and make a few different looks.  I used a basic t-shirt pattern from Ottobre magazine.  Here's how it looks with no changes:

Next, I did an easy modification.  I used the front pattern piece for both the front and the back.  Also, when I did the binding on the neck, I made a few feet of extra binding that I used to make cross straps at the back.  This was so quick and easy, and I love it!

My only caution about this one -- make sure the pattern you choose does not have too low of a scoop in the front, or your bra will show.

This next one might be my favorite.  I made a twist top overlay.  If anyone is interested in a tutorial, let me know in the comments.  I am thinking of making another anyways, in a prettier color, so I could take pictures along the way.

And the last one was the most challenging for me.  First, I changed it to a dolman sleeve (which means the front and sleeve are all one piece).  Then I changed it to a boat neck.  And, finally, I changed the cut to be a little tighter.  This was took a lot of fiddling for me, but it is very easy to sew once you get the pattern the way you want it.  It is one single pattern piece -- same for front and back -- with a seam at the shoulders and the side.  Again, I might do a tutorial on how to draft this one.

It was so much fun to challenge myself a little and not just follow the pattern directions.  I will hopefully be doing the same sort of challenge with a kids pattern, too, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Teddy Bear Bread

Making this with my mom and sister is one of my fondest childhood memories!  And it is SO easy.  You can start with any basic bread recipe that you want.  If you don't have a favorite, here is the one I always use to make teddy bear bread.  It makes a fairly dense loaf that is great for toasting.

White Bread Dough Recipe

Dissolve 1 package yeast in 1.5 cup warm water. 

Scald a half cup milk.  Add 3 Tbsp sugar, 2 tsp salt, and 3 Tbsp margarine to the milk.

Add yeast mixture to warm milk mixture.

Gradually stir in 6.5 - 7 cups flour, mixing with your hands as it gets more stiff.  
Turn onto floured surface and knead for 7 minutes.

Let rise 1 hour (or until doubled) in greased bowl, covered with a towel. 
After your bread rises the first time, you need to shape your dough into the teddy bear shape.  This is really simple and is just a matter of dividing your dough into the correct size pieces.  One batch of bread dough will make two bears.  Here's how to do it.

1.  Turn your nicely risen, puffy dough onto a lightly floured surface.  With a dough scraper or sharp knife, cut in quarters.

Two of the quarters will become the main body pieces for the bears. 

2.  Cut one of the quarters in half again.  These pieces will be the bear heads.

3.  Cut one of the quarters into 14 pieces.  (I do this by cutting it in half and then cutting each half into seven pieces.)  These pieces will be the arms, legs, noses, and ears.

4.  Now take all your pieces and gently roll them or stretch them to make them more spherical.

5.  Assemble them on parchment lined baking sheets.

Make little indentations in the ears by pressing with your thumb.

6.  Add raisins for eyes and belly button.

7.  Beat 1 egg with 1 Tbsp. water and brush gently over the whole bear.  This will help turn the bread a nice teddy bear brown color as it bakes.  Little kids are a BIG help at this point. 

8.  Let rise another 30 - 45 minutes.

9.  Bake at 400F for 25 - 30 minutes, until golden brown.
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