Tag Archives: clothing

WIP Wednesday

IMG_3747start date: today
completeness: 30%

I don’t know what it is about baby vests.

Maybe it’s the fact that they are so versatile: over a shirt for extra warmth, as a shirt to keep it cool.

Maybe it’s that they are long-wearing; slowly transitioning from simple little tunics and shift dresses to shirts.

Maybe it’s that they are quick to knit and a lovely combination of delicate and practical.

Maybe it’s the perfect way they accent round little tummies and plump little arms.

Whatever it is, I love them.  I can’t seem to make enough baby vests.

In fact, in my newborn-size clothes alone, I have six tiny vests of various styles and in several different colors.

I should stop making vests.  I know I should.  I have asked Robert to tell me to stop making vests.

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And for a while, I held off from making more.  But then I saw this little beauty, and I remembered that I had bought some yarn specifically for baby and toddler vests, and here I am.

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Making another baby vest.


This yarn is Berroco Blackstone Tweed in 2646 Saltwater.  The pattern is Eyelet Vest from Special Knits by Debbie Bliss, although I am making a number of adjustments (because I am familiar with Debbie Bliss’ usual design flaws) and modifications to suit a heavier yarn.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Make a T-Shirt Quilt

I had a great idea last week.

I have this lovely, flat-topped steamer trunk that I inherited from my grandparents.  I’ve been using it to store my fabric upcycling, next to the regular upcycling in the sunroom.  My idea ran like this:

We could really use a small table or chest in the library.  Like maybe another steamer trunk.  

OMG I love steamer trunks!  Let’s see if there’s a good one on Craigslist…hmm…not really.  

Damn.  I really want a flat-topped steamer trunk.  

Like the one I have in the sunroom.  The one I have in the sunroom doing basically nothing, full of stuff that should be sorted, condensed, processed, and after all that would probably fit in the cedar chest in the studio anyway.  

I could empty it out, put the fabric upcycling I want to keep into the cedar chest, scrap the unusable crap, and spend a couple of days making jersey yarn.  Then I could put the chest under the window in the library and use it as a worktable for my computer during the day, and it could store baby toys and a throw…

And that’s how my studio came to look like something off of “Hoarders”.  Piles of fabric, old clothes, t-shirts, stacked up in the middle of the room making it difficult if not impossible to access and use the space.  Bits of lace, trim, zippers, upholstery foam, etc. spilling out into the hallway.

Gross.

So first I pulled out all the synthetic knits good for nothing more than making jersey yarn.  And I spent a few days using a seam ripper and an assortment of scissors to strip off the useful stuff (buttons, lace trim, elastic) and cut the remainder into strips.  I rolled the strips up, and stuck them in with my yarn stash.  Someday they’ll make awesome storage containers, like this one I made last fall to hold dishwashing tools:

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Then I went through what remained, and sorted out all of the woolens (sweaters, vests, etc.) and packed them up in old rice bags with cedar blocks.  Someday they will be made into diaper covers like this one, modeled by an impossibly tiny baby Ithilien:

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Or longies, like these, modeled the same day by an impossibly chubby baby Númenor:

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Yes, these two pictures were taken on the SAME DAY– Númenor was almost 1 year old, Ithilien was just over 2 months old– in retrospect it’s no wonder we never had time to cook in those days.

The notions and embellishments I put away in the correct places.  Zippers waiting for the next time I have to make a new hoodie for the smalls, lace to be re-used on hems or as insertions, elastic ready to be stuffed into casings, buttons making a satisfying “plink” sound as I add them to the button jar.

I found several flat bed sheets left over from before my family discovered the Wonders of the Duvet, which is lucky because the fitted sheets for my bed have all decided to quit in the last six weeks and we need more.  I found some flannel receiving blankets from Númenor’s NICU days that will see the light again as baby wipes or a lovey.  I found some church linens my mother gave me when her church couldn’t use them anymore and easily assigned them– a toddler’s poncho, handkerchiefs for me, more linen baby shirts.  Some antique cocktail napkins and a tablecloth with one of my ancestor’s cutwork and embroidery skills demonstrated tolerably well on them I set aside to make a play tent this summer.

Then there were the oddments– a ripped and stained leather motorcycle jacket Robert wore when we were dating that will be cut up to make soft shoes for babies learning to walk, bits of upholstery foam for which I have no particular plan but that stuff is way too expensive to throw away, socks and gloves and mittens to be made into doll clothes and soft toys or unraveled for yarn, a few synthetic knit pieces that weren’t suitable for anything but ripping up for stuffing, and the interesting pieces of boning, interfacing, facings, and other elements I’ve cannibalized from various storebought goods.

All that effort sorting and assigning and putting away, and the studio floor is still positively awash, partially because we have about 30 (THIRTY?!?!?!!!) t-shirts waiting for the muse.  T-shirts that have too much sentimental value to make into yarn.  T-shirts in colors, designs, or themes I’m not interested in seeing my children wear.  T-shirts that vastly outnumber my lifetime’s conceivable use of rags and bags.

T-shirts, in short, just begging to become one of those ghastly t-shirt quilts.

So fine.

I surrender.

I’ll make one.

And I’ll probably even like it.

But I’ll do it because I want to, not because the internet tells me to.


 

P.S.– The chest works beautifully in that spot in the library, just like I thought it would.

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Baby’s Oversocks

NB: Pictures are still in the works for this project.  Please excuse the plain text in the meantime!


 

I was browsing an archive of local historical photos of Native people recently and was struck by the way small children were dressed.

Babies old enough to be photographed alone, without a cradleboard, but still not of walking age were almost universally wearing some kind of soft leather boot or a knitted sock over all the other layers on their feet and legs.

This is a sensible garment, of course, because the cold draft that can sneak up into the gap between a baby’s socks and their pants is no joke, especially when baby is being worn in a carrier or riding in a carseat or stroller.  Wool, which is difficult to soak and does not become clammy when wet, will help deflect any damp from fog, rain, or snow.

So I thought I would make some oversocks, for a sweet little end-of-winter baby arriving any day now.

These are extremely simple, in an allover 2×2 rib for elasticity and reversibility.  One size should fit all infants from newborn to walking age– the cuffs may be folded down if they seem too long on tiny newbie limbs.  If you live somewhere very cold, you could make two pairs, one to be used as oversocks and one to be used as overmittens, and then you would have a toasty baby indeed!

Sizing:

I ended up with tubes about 1.5″ wide (unstretched), 9″+ in circumference when stretched, and 9″ long.  They fit my 0-3months size doll pretty well, going all the way up to the mid-thigh, and I think they should fit most babies birth to walking age.

Materials:

Pattern:

CO 40 sts, join in the round.

k2p2 around for 8.5″

k2p2tog (30sts)

k2p1 around

k2togp1 (20sts)

k1p1 around

k2tog around (10 sts)

Break yarn and draw it through all remaining sts (I like to do this twice for security), cinch to close.

Weave in yarn ends.

Repeat all instructions to make second sock.

WIP Wednesday from last week…

I just found this in my drafts folder.  Life must have gotten in the way as I was setting out to take pictures and finish up this post…but it’s a perfect snapshot of my life at the moment, perhaps especially because I’m posting it nearly a week late and still unfinished.

Here’s the picture of the finished project, though:

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start date: 1 March 2016
time elapsed: 1 day
completeness: 40%

At some point in the last couple of years, apparently while my back was turned, Ithilien developed a favorite color.

It’s red.

So the last time I was making new socks for the smalls, Ithilien was quite insistent that he wanted red socks.  Red socks with gray toes and gray cuffs.  Having just finished up a pair of red socks for my mother’s birthday, I was happy to use my leftover yarn to oblige him, and the red socks have been his go-to pair for the last year.

But as he put them on one morning last week, the heels no longer reached far enough to cover his heels.

“Oh no,” I said, “They’re too small.  You can wear them one last time today, and then they’ll have to go into storage.”

“Okay.” He said. “But you have to make new red socks with just gray on the toes and the cuffs.”

“So I can wear them.”  Said he.

“Because I very love the color red.”  He said.

“So I need more red socks.”  Said Ithilien.

“Oh.”  I said.  “Really?”

“Yeah.  And then when I am a grown-up I will need very big red socks, and you must knit them.”

And that is why I am knitting new red socks for Ithilien this week.


The yarn is lovely and smooth Limited Edition Chickadee from Quince and Co, which I dyed a semisolid red with equal parts strawberry and black cherry Kool-aid.  I’m holding it doubled for this project.  The pattern is Rye from The Simple Collection by Tin Can Knits, which is a great basic-but-attractive sock in a variety of sizes.  The pattern is definitely written for beginners, which feels slightly patronizing when you already know how to knit socks, but it’s very well-written.  I did an eye-of-partridge stitch heel flap instead of the prescribed stockinette and am knitting a 7.25″ foot, otherwise I’m following the pattern pretty closely.

 

MT: When a button pulls through

This is an installment in a series on mending techniques.  For a full index of posts in this series, please click here.

I have a six-year-old who LOVES to wear button-down shirts, but isn’t always careful when taking them off.  Sometimes he seems to think buttons are snaps, and if he just pulls hard enough…well, you see what I mean.

Most of the time the threads tacking the button down are the first to break, and this is a relatively easy mending job.  But sometimes, especially on older garments or fragile fabrics, the fabric that the button is tacked to will tear through, leaving a small, usually round, hole through one or more layers of the button placket.

Here’s what I do to mend a button that’s pulled through the placket.

You will need: needle, thread, scissors, tweezers, the button in question (or a replacement if the original has been lost), and twill tape that is at least 1/2″ wide.

  1. Cut a small piece of twill tape, roughly 1″ longer than the hole to be mended.  I usually use a piece that’s barely 1.5″ long, but it depends on how fragile the fabric is and how much the tear has spread.
  2. Use the tweezers to push and pull the twill tape through the hole, into the placket itself.  It should be lying flat, sandwiched between the layers of the placket, almost like interfacing.
  3. Slide the twill tape around in the placket with your fingers until the hole is nicely centered on it.
  4. Thread the needle with doubled thread but DO NOT knot the ends.
  5. Use one arm of the tweezers to tuck the fabric around the hole under itself until all fraying is obscured.  A circular motion usually works best.  If the button tore the inside placket fabric, repeat this step on that side of the hole before proceeding.
  6. Bring the needle down through the right side of the fabric just at the edge of the tear, stitching through all layers of the placket and the twill tape itself.  Be careful to leave a thread tail of at least 2″.
  7. Needle up on the diametrically opposite edge of the hole.
  8. Take a stitch across the exposed face of the twill tape, catching the edge of the tear as you needle down.
  9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 around the tear in a star or asterisk shape until the edge of the tear is well-secured.  On larger holes or more delicate fabrics you may want to continue until threads nearly cover the twill tape.
  10. Needle up through the center of the twill tape.
  11. String and tack the button to the twill tape as usual.
  12. Wrap the working thread 3-5 times around the core of tacking threads between the button and the twill tape.
  13. Tie the working thread and the thread tail from step 6 together with your choice of joining knot (the tailor’s knot is a good choice here, but the square knot will suffice).
  14. Trim and bury thread ends within the placket.

A very similar twill tape patching method can be used to repair other structural fabric tears, such as when the edge of a patch pocket pulls through or the mitered corner seam on a fitted sheet begins to fray.  In these repairs, instead of trying to slip the twill tape between existing fabric layers, I simply apply it to the wrong side of the mending.

Balmoral Bootikins

I generally consider myself a fairly practical person.

So why on earth am I posting ANOTHER modern re-working of an 1886 Weldon’s pattern?

Because, when I was working on those other booties for my friends’ baby, there was this gorgeous illustration of the Victorian great-grandmama of all baby footwear right next to the so-called “dotty pattern” booties.

I mean, seriously.  Could you pass these up?!

balmoral

Sadly, when I sat down to actually knit the bootikins, they were a hot mess.

Let me explain: in order to make these (TINY) baby boots, first you knit the leg from just above the beribboned eyelet row to the top of the foot, then you knit the instep out separately in pattern, then you knit the foot, then you seam up the middle of the foot and the back of the leg (because 1886 means NO CIRCULAR KNITTING, apparently), and THEN you pick up stitches from your cast-on row to apply a knitted edging, and THEN you work a crochet border on top of the knitted edging, and THEN all those cute little buttons and laces have to be embroidered over the front of the foot and leg.

And after all that tedium and fuss, you would have, based on my quick gauge swatch on recommended needles, a very fancy sock for an American Girl doll.

Fuck that noise.

I mean, really.

Let me share with you what I worked out instead.

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This is a fairly straightforward pattern worked in one piece from fancy cast-on at the top to a graft along the center of the sole.  I have adapted it for knitting in the round and tried to standardize and clarify the language.

Please note that I omitted the embroidered faux buttons and loops.  If you love them, you are welcome to add them, but you will want to adjust the patterning on the leg section so that a seed-stitch section of the vertical Roman stitch is centered over the instep.  My instep is centered on a stockinette stripe for simplicity in pattern writing and memorization.

Sizing

This pattern is newborn size.  The bootikins are almost exactly 5″ long from sole to frill. The foot is about 3.5″ long unstretched, and the narrowest section of the ankle is a little over 3″ in circumference unstretched.  These fit a doll that usually wears a size 0-3 month clothing, but getting the ankle over the foot was a bit of a squeeze.

Materials

  • fingering-weight yarn (I used KPPPM)
  • US0 (2mm) DPNs
  • a small crochet hook for the cast-on (I used 2.1mm, but size isn’t crucial)
  • about 1 yard of narrow ribbon or cord (optional, I used half-inch silk ribbon, which was a little too wide but compresses nicely due to being so lightweight)
  • embroidery floss or needlepoint yarn in a contrasting color (optional, for faux laces/buttons, not shown)

Stitch Key

M1— make one, using the backward-loop method

cdd— centered double decrease, aka s2kp2

Pattern

CO 48 sts using the Fancy Formal long-tail method and 4-stitch shells.  Join in the round, DO NOT add stitches under the shells.

For the cuff:
On odd-numbered rows 1-13, knit all sts
R2: *m1, slip 1, k2, pass slipped st over BOTH knitted sts* to end of round
R4: k2, *m1, slip 1, k2, pass slipped st over both knitted sts* until 1 st remains, m1, slip 1, pass slipped stitch over the first two stitches of the round
R6: K1, *m1, slip 1, k2, pass slipped st over both knitted sts* until 2 sts remain, m1, slip 1, k1, pass slipped stitch over knitted st and first st of the round
R8-12: Repeat rows 2-6
R14: *p6, p2tog* around.  42 sts.

For the leg:
R1: knit
R2: yo, k2tog around
R3: purl
R4: *p1, k1, p1, k3* around
R5: k1, p1, k3, *p1, k1. p1, k3* to last st, p1
R6-R12: repeat row 4 and 5
R13: slip 1, work in pattern as established until you come to the last 2 sts, cdd.  40sts.
R14-R30: work three rows in pattern followed by one decrease row (same as row 13) 4 times. 32 sts remain
R31-R46: work in pattern as established
R47: k12, p1, k1, p1, k3, p1, k1, p1.  11 sts remain unworked.  Turn work.

For the instep (worked flat):
R1: slip 1, k1, p3, k1, p1, k1, p2.  Turn work.
R2: slip 1, p1, k1, p1, k3, p1, k1, p1.  Turn work.
R3-R16: repeat rows 1 and 2 over just these 10 sts.  Break yarn.

Using the right needle, pick up and knit 12 sts on right-hand side of the instep, knit the 10 instep sts, pick up and knit 12 sts on left-hand side of the instep, and knit the 11 sts left unworked at the beginning of the instep.  56 sts.

For the foot:
R1: p25, kfb, p4, kfb, p25.  58sts.
R2: purl
R3: p26, kfb, p4, kfb, p26.  60sts.
R4: k29, kfb, kfb, k29.  62sts.
R5: purl
R6: k29, kfb, k2, kfb, k29.  64sts.
R7: purl
R8: knit
R9-R14: repeat rows 7 and 8.
R15: p2, p2tog, p24, p2tog four times, p24, p2tog, p2.  58sts.
R16: knit
R17: p2, p2tog, p21, p2tog four times, p21, p2tog, p2.  52sts.
R18: knit
R19: p2, p2tog, p18, p2tog four times, p18, p2tog, p2.  46sts.

Use a Kitchener graft to close up the sole of the bootikin (23 sts on each of two needles).  Repeat all instructions to make the second bootikin.

Finishing

Weave in ends and block as desired.  I didn’t block mine at all, if I had, the cast-on shells would flop over less.

Weave ribbon, if using, through eyelets at the top of the vertical Roman stitch section and tie in a bow at the front or the back, whichever you prefer.

(optional, not shown) Embroider a series of French knots and long straight stitches down the front of the vertical Roman stitch section as shown in the Weldon’s illustration (top picture) to mimic button-and-loop closures.

Enjoy your adorableness!

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MT: Needle and Thread Repairs

This is an installment in a series on mending techniques.  For a full index of posts in this series, please click here.

Tutorials for stitches and knots and other techniques not illustrated below can be found here.

Unless otherwise noted, these repairs are best suited to a doubled thread and a sharp sewing needle.

Seams

A broken seam when you have access to the seam side of the object is possibly the easiest mending task.  Find the broken ends of the threads on both sides of the gap– note that if the original threads were doubled, you are looking for TWO ends on each side of the gap– join your doubled thread ends with the broken end(s) and replicate the original seam across the gap until you reach the broken end(s) on the other side, then join the thread again.  Trim thread ends.

If the seam is broken and you cannot access the seam side of the piece, the best choice is usually ladder stitch.  Find the broken ends of the threads on both sides of the gap, and pick out the seam until the broken ends fall on the wrong side of the seam before joining your thread ends with them.  Work a ladder stitch across the gap until you reach the broken ends on the other side, and join the thread again, making sure this knot will also fall on the wrong side of the seam.  Now bury the ends inside the piece.

A gaped seam is an easy fix, but is often evidence of a more serious problem somewhere along the length of the thread.  Often, if you carefully check the whole seam, you will find a break in the thread further along.

Sometimes, however, a seam will gape without the thread being compromised.  This most often happens in seams along firmly-stuffed sections of soft toys– the problem is that the original stitching was too loose or became too loose when the object was stuffed or washed.  The best approach is to leave the gaping seam in place and simply add a new, tighter seam just to the outside of it, enclosing the too-loose original stitches into the seam allowance.  It is extremely important to ensure that the knot you use to start your repair is hidden– you might be tempted to use a quilter’s knot, but in my experience they are not secure enough for this task.  Instead, I recommend placing a tailor’s knot on what will become the new seam allowance.  When you have finished working your new seam, bury your thread ends inside it.  For most instances of a gaped seam, ladder stitch is the best choice, but sometimes a whipstitch or other decorative stitch may be used instead.

Hems

Often a thread in a hem will snap because the original hem stitching was not elastic enough (knit garments are especially prone to this), in which case the best approach is to unpick the whole hem and redo it with a more elastic stitch.  In order of decreasing elasticity, the options for hems are: raw edge, serger or overlock, “stretch” stitch (an option on many newer sewing machines), zig-zag, whipstitch (press the hem as usual, and use a whipstitch to attach the fold to the garment), blanket stitch, running stitch, and finally backstitch.  If you can’t choose a more elastic stitch, decrease the tension or use a more elastic thread.

In other cases, the hem has deteriorated as the seam allowance or the pressed edge slowly frays, which requires the addition of trim or a guard, and is no longer a needle and thread repair.  This will be covered in amendments and additions.

Sometimes, especially in children’s clothing, the original hem is still in fine condition, but nonetheless must be replaced to let the garment out or take it in.  If you are replacing a hem to let out a garment, unpick the original hem and apply a new one at the required length.  If you are taking in a garment, leave the original hem intact and simply hem again to achieve the required length.  This way, if you need to let out the hem again to restore the item to its original length, all you must do is unpick the new stitches.

Linings and Appliqués

This kind of repair is more about artistry than technique.  The key is to take small stitches and be clever about hiding them.  I use a single thread for these repairs.

Start by anchoring your thread with a quilter’s knot or tailor’s knot.  Which one you use is a matter of personal preference and also the specific task at hand– quilter’s knots are a great way to start repairing a lacy appliqué on a formal gown, whereas I tend to use a tailor’s knot tucked into the interface between outer and lining to anchor my thread when I am touching up a lining.

To repair a topstitched lining or appliqué, use a running stitch or backstitch.  Most other repairs in this category, such as a loose lining on a jacket, will be best suited to a ladder stitch.

To finish, knot and bury your thread end.

Victorian Baby Booties (FREE pattern!)

drawing of baby bootie from weldon's

These are very comfortable boots and not at all difficult to make.

— Weldon’s Practical Knitter, 13th Series (1886)

I have a dear friend who is having her first baby and adores antique baby styles.  I’m kind of esoteric myself, and gladly mix together whatever works best (with the least fuss and the most clever solution) from whatever period, and therefore when she specifically said that she wanted traditional drawstring baby booties, I was at a loss.

I don’t particularly like baby booties.  I like socks.  The booties I do like are totally seamless, modern affairs.  I had NOTHING saved in my Ravelry library or my Pinterest that would suit the request.  So, I pulled up my irreverently digital copies of Weldon’s and began my quest for the Holy Grail: drawstring booties, not too fussy, with pattern directions that aren’t completely broken, and preferably an illustration so I can see what I’m getting myself into.

As a devoted follower of Franklin Habit, I was steeling myself for the worst possible offenses of vague pattern writing: would there be ANY mention of yarn weight or needle size?  How inscrutable would the instructions be?  Would I have to hold a séance to contact a long-dead knitting designer with my questions?

Finally I found something that looked promising (“Infant’s Boots.  Dotty Pattern.”), picked an appropriate yarn that wouldn’t completely self-destruct if I had to frog and re-knit a few times, and dove in.

I eliminated the selvages and knit in the round (because doing the prescribed 3-needle BO across the sole and seaming up the back wouldn’t yield a “very comfortable” foot covering to my mind) and was merrily on my way through the ribbing.  But the so-called dotty pattern!  Oh, no!  First I tried it as written, without regard for the conversion to working in the round, but that makes a strange combination of eyelets and slip-stitches.  Then I tried the conversion for working in the round, but that simply yielded a kind of corrugation or welting, not dots or bumps.  I enlarged the illustration in Weldon’s as far as I could and tried desperately to match the pattern to ANYTHING in my book of knitting stitches, and while that was unsuccessful, I did find a swatch of the same line directions, although it’s under a different name and the picture doesn’t look “dotty” but rather striped.  In fact, it looked very familiar– because it was the second thing I’d tried.

So please note that I consider “dotty” to be a misnomer in this pattern, except perhaps in that the original designer had to be dotty to think that coral knot stitch looks anything like dots.  The textured section looks more like a fancy welted pattern than a dot pattern, at least to me.  I think these booties would be awesome with the pattern section switched out for something that IS knobbly, like double moss stitch or trinity stitch, but that’s a trial for another day.

I’ve also updated the decreases from all k2tog to symmetrical k2tog and ssk pairs and made notation clearer throughout.  The end result is a pretty cute, fairly streamlined bootie that *could* pass for a more modern baby’s sock if you omit the drawstring.

To the pattern!

 


close-up of doll's feet in hand-knitted victorian baby booties

Sizing:

Weldon’s doesn’t get any more specific than “infant”.  The original pattern suggests “Andalusian wool”, which would be approximately modern sport weight, and No. 16 steel needles, which would be roughly modern US 1 or 1.5.  I tried a sport weight yarn on US 1.5 needles to start, since I tend to be a tight knitter, but the resulting booties were HUGE (based on the sole measurement, suitable for the average 2 year old!), so I made some alterations to the size and also yarn and needle recommendations.

My prototypes are knitted with Knit Picks Palette on US 1 carbon fiber DPNs.  These are VERY elastic, and therefore the size isn’t well-defined.   The cuff section has a circumference of about 3″ unstretched, and the leg stretches to about 7″ circumference.  The foot is about 4″ long.  I would estimate that these booties are probably a newborn size.  The doll modeling the booties in the photos wears a size 0-3 months usually, so these are a bit tight on it but still work fine.

You could easily make them a little bigger (toddler size) by using a sport weight yarn and US 1.5 needles, or a little smaller (preemie/doll size) by using lace weight yarn and US 0 needles.

Materials:

about 75 yards of fingering weight yarn

US 1 (2.25mm)DPNs

About 24″ of 1/8″-wide ribbon or cord for ties (optional)

Stitch key:

pick up yarn and purl/knit one— pick up yarn from between stitches using the L needle and purl/knit into this new loop with the R needle

M1— make one, using the backward-loop method

doll wearing victorian baby booties knit from this free pattern

Pattern:

For the leg: 

Cast on 44 stitches and join in the round.

Rounds 1-12: *k2, p2* to end of round

Coral Knot Stitch:

R13: *k2tog* around (22sts)

R14: *pick up yarn and purl 1, P1,* to end of round (44 sts)

R15: knit

R16: knit

R17-44:  Repeat the above 4 pattern rows (R13-R16) a further 6 times.

R45: *k2tog* around (22 sts)

R46: *pick up yarn and purl 1, P1* to end of round (44 sts)

R47: K28, turn work (16 sts will remain unworked on the L needle)

R48: P12, turn work (these 12 center sts form the instep)

Rearrange stitches as necessary.  On DPNs, I had three needles holding 16sts, 12sts, and then 16sts again.

For the instep:

R1: M1, *k2tog* across (7 sts)

R2: *K1, pick up yarn and knit 1* to last 2 sts on instep needle, K2 (12sts)

R3: Knit

R4: Purl

R5-R23: Repeat the above 4 pattern rows (R1-R4) a further 3 times, and then work R1 through R3 again.

R24: Knit

R25: K2, ssk, K4, k2tog, K2 (10 sts)

R26-R28: knit three rows

R29: K2, ssk, K2, k2tog, K2 (8 sts)

Repeat rows 26-28, then break yarn.

For the foot and sole:

Pick up 10 stitches along R side of instep (7 sts along coral knot section and 3 sts along garter stitch section) and knit across instep sts.  With a new needle, pick up another 10 stitches along L side of instep, and knit the 16 sts from the L needle to return to the original beginning of round.  You will have 60 sts in total.

R1: Purl

R2: Knit

R3: Purl

R4:  K25, M1, K2, M1, K6, M1, K2, M1, K25 (64 sts)

R5-R8: Continue in garter stitch

R9: K28, ssk, K4, k2tog, K28 (62 sts)

R10: Purl

R11: K28, ssk, K2, k2tog, K28 (60 sts)

R12: Purl

R13: K28, ssk, k2tog, K28 (58 sts)

R14: Purl

R15: K2, k2tog, K21, ssk, ssk, k2tog, k2tog, K21, ssk, K2 (52 sts)

R16: Purl

R17: K2, k2tog, K18, ssk, ssk, k2tog, k2tog, K18, ssk, K2 (46 sts)

R18: Purl

Use a Kitchener graft to close up the sole of the bootie (23 sts on each of two needles).  Repeat all instructions to make the second bootie.

Finishing:

Weave in ends.

(Optional) Cut a short length of ribbon or make a short cord (about 12″ in length– mine are about 10.5″ and a bit fiddly for bow-making) for  the drawstring tie on each bootie.  Thread the tie through the eyelets in the last repeat of the coral knot stitch pattern on the leg of the bootie and fasten with a bow over the instep.

Slip some sweet baby feet into the finished booties and enjoy your 19th-century cuteness!

doll wearing handmade knit victorian baby booties

WIP Wednesday

homemade satin and lace ballet flat WIPstart date: 18 May 2015
elapsed time: 2 days
completeness: 70%

Living in the modern US as we do, it’s easy to take many things for granted.  Perhaps the most striking example, for someone like me who tries to do it herself, is that somehow, Americans don’t seem to understand what a hugely significant thing it is to have too many shoes.

And not just any shoes– waterproof shoes.  Warm shoes.  Durable shoes.  Shoes that fit pretty well.

We don’t have too many shoes in our house.  I make the smalls’ shoes, and they generally have only one good pair at a time.  Robert buys a new pair of serious boots every few years.  And my last two pairs of storebought shoes– ballet flats and flip-flops– are at the end of their lives now.

I am making myself a new pair of flats– my first pair of homemade shoes.  And I seriously hope they work, because my experience of making shoes for the children for the last few years has been that shoes are harder to make than they seem.  But I’ve learned a lot, and I know a lot about myself as a wearer of shoes, so I’m pretty confident.

pattern piece pinned to batting for cutting out sole pad for DIY shoes

I know that it works best to sew the layers of the sole together, and then sew the layers of the upper together, and finally whipstitch the upper to the insole from the inside, because if they’re on the outside, the stitches will fray and break long before the material needs mending.

I know how important it is for the sole to be the right size for my foot when I’m putting weight on it, but that even more important than size is shape.

I know that I might have to come back later and make corrections and amendments in order to get the shoes to fit correctly.  I wouldn’t be surprised by having to add an instep strap to these.

I know that it’s important to give the sole some padding, but even more important to use a layer of wool somewhere in the upper for water resistance.

And I know that I deserve shoes that make me happy, so it’s worth the extra work to add the lace overlay on these.

upper pinned together and ready to be sewn, sole pieces next to it

As for what I don’t know, well, that’s everything else:  The future.  Whether these shoes will be as reliable and comfortable as the fast-fashion sweatshop-made article they’re intended to replace.  Whether, at that moment of truth when I try to put the first one on my foot, they will fit at all.

me sewing the uppers on my DIY satin flat shoes

Only time will tell.


The pattern is an old one from Shoeology, with some of my own modifications.  If you want something similar, try her basic or bridal flat patterns.  I also bought the soling material from her, but I’m planning to buy natural rubber in the future.  The padding is double-thick Warm & Natural, which I no longer buy and don’t recommend– try Organic Cotton Plus’ Heirloom Cotton batting instead.  The uppers are lined with JoAnn’s smoke gray heather wool blend felt, and the satin and flocked net lace are scraps from my stash.