Friday, July 8, 2016

Joining Fabric Strips

  I've been working on a huge recycled sheet project, and it's time to share the truth about such things: It takes more work to make your material than it does to crochet the project. If you want to make fabric strips the "right" way (to reduce the amount of fraying and ensure they stay together), then you'll need to cut the fabric on the bias and spend a lot of time sewing. That's not for me, and my bias strips fray anyways. For those of you who don't mind the thread bits and want to save some time, I'd like to show you my trick for joining fabric strips with a smoother join, no sewing needed.


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  The threads get messy while cutting and crocheting, but the fraying stops once the project is worked up. If you wanted to spend the time trimming all the bits from the finished project, you could... But just like cutting and joining the "right" way, that's not for me. (And wow, that would take forever! You might as well spend the time making bias strips instead.) I think the threads give it extra style, like the fraying bottoms of cut-offs that haven't been hemmed.

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  So, here's my work in all it's glory; I won't hide the mess from you. The ends of the strips are sloppy, threads are everywhere, and I don't even cut the material straight. But the joins are strong and smooth, plus one simple extra step will help you avoid tails popping out. It may not be as pretty as working with bias strips, but it gets the job done more quickly.

  The one thing I actually do that isn't sloppy is wind the material up as I go; otherwise, I'm always left with piles of tangles. You don't have to wind your fabric yarn, but I do recommend it if you'll be making all the material before you begin crocheting.

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You'll need to cut a slit in all the ends of the strips. I do so as I'm creating the material, but you may want to do it as you join the strips. My strips are about 1" wide, and I make the cut 1" from the end. Test to make sure the cut won't rip out easily before making slits in all the strips.

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Run the end of strip 'B' through the slit in strip 'A'. (If you do it backwards and pull strip 'A' through the slit of strip 'B', don't worry! It works the same both ways.)

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Now, here's your trick: If you run the short tail of 'A' (the rest of the strip past the cut) through the slit in strip 'B', then you'll get a knot that smooths out into a tube shape. If you skip that step, the tail gets stuck inside the knot and makes it thick and lumpy. I like to make it easy by pinching the short tail of 'A' together with the opposite end of 'B', and running them together through the slit.

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So, you should have both the short tail of 'A' and the opposite end of 'B' ran through the first slit in strip 'B'. Now, pull the opposite end of 'B' through until there's no more material.

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I like to give the tails a pull to straighten them out, which makes one tail curl over the strip. The other tail usually curls in the opposite direction, so don't fight it.

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As you crochet up to the knot, fold the tail inside of the strip, and you won't have to worry about the tail popping out at all.

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  Is it the best way? No. But it's the way that gets it done for me. I'm not good at sewing, and I have a ton of material to cut up with no help. So when I have time, I sit on the floor with a scrap piece of plywood and my rotary cutter, and cut... And cut, and cut, and cut. It took me a whole day to cut a king-sized fitted sheet into strips. Then it took me more than a day to join them all. And I still have two more sheets to cut up for the project. No, it's not the "best" way, but if I do it any other way, I'll never get it done. 

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It always seems like such a great idea when I'm looking at my old sheets and wondering what I should do with them... "Yay, let's recycle and crochet something!" But after hours on the floor cutting and joining and I'm still only finished with one sheet, all I can think of is getting back to

Happy Crocheting!


16 comments:

  1. I love your sheet joining method, I would never have thought to do that myself. And you're right the yarn does take longer to make then the crochet project. I can't find how to private message you so we can talk shop, you can get me on purfylle at gmail dot com.

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    1. It saves so much time! Sometimes I join my plastic yarn strips this way, so I figured I'd use the same method for fabric.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this! Pinning. We appreciate you linking up with us for Snickerdoodle Sunday!

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    1. Love the party, Laurie! Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Hi Jenny! Awesome tutorial. Thank yo so much for sharing :)
    Congratulations! You are one of my features :)
    Joanita @ Snickerdoodle Sunday

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  4. Wow your crocheting out of sheets is so amazing.
    Thanks for sharing this at Cooking and Crafting with J & J.

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    1. Thanks for having me at the party, Julie!

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  5. This is really incredible. I don't understand exactly what you did there Jenny but I understand it in the abstract. What are you going to make with all these sheets. I am really curious now. Pinning and tweeting.

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    1. It's going to be a big rug, if I ever get done with all that cutting. :) Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Wow...great idea...how fun!

    I’d love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, and tips: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

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    1. Already shared, Jess! Thanks for hosting a great party!

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  7. I had no idea you could crochet fabric like this, holy cow! It seems very labor intensive, but so cool!! Thanks for the great tutorial!
    Jenna

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    1. For smaller projects, it's not so bad... But for a big project, you will get sick of cutting. I'm glad the tutorial introduced you to something new, Jenna!

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  8. This is really fantastic...I learned to crochet from my mother when I was a teenager but stopped for a long time. Now that she's gone and I have my own family, I've taken it up again and have developed a huge passion of making everything from scratch. I really want to make a giant crocheted rag rug for our master bathroom and this tutorial is going to make it much easier. (I thought I had to sew all the strips together. Ugh!) I'm excited to get started! Thanks so much!!

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    1. You're welcome, Melody. You *could* sew all the strips together, but... "Ugh" is right! It's already so much work to cut the material, and then there's the crocheting to finish the project. It may not be the way our moms and grandmas did it in the past, but it sure saves a ton of time.

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