Friday, January 27, 2017

Make it Your Way Top (2)

  Part 1 of this tutorial showed you the pattern for the panels that make the top, gave you recommendations for size adjustments, and included some variations you can use to alter the shape. Here in Part 2, we will learn how to make the stitch for the seams that join the panels together. You'll also get some extra tips at the end when I show you where I made a mistake on my top. 😕


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Stitch:
Single crochet two together
Insert hook, yarn over, pull up a loop. Yarn over, pull through one loop on the hook.
(2 loops on hook) 
Insert hook in the next space (on opposite panel), yarn over, pull up a loop. Yarn over, pull through one loop. 
(3 loops on hook) 
Yarn over, pull through all three loops on the hook.


How to join the panels:

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  • If you made the square-bottomed panel mentioned in Part 1, then you can begin joining in the bottom space of your panels. 

  • For pointy-bottomed panels like mine, skip the first four rows and begin in the fifth row. 

  • Make all seams in the same direction. Begin from the bottom and work up to the top of the panels, leaving any extra rows loose.


For the first joining stitch, I make what would be a standing-single-crochet-2-together. Whew, that sounds harder than it is! You can begin with a slipknot on the hook, join with a slip stitch, and chain 1 for the first stitch. But let me show you the way I do it, plus some time-saving tips:

Hold the tail behind the hook, and yarn over with the working end of the yarn. Bring the tail back in front of the working yarn under the hook. This makes the first loop of the stitch on your hook.
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This loop will need to be "anchored" when you begin the stitch, so this is where it gets a little tricky for beginners: You'll need to hold the loop steady on your hook - and at the same time - You hold the tail against the space you'll work into. When you insert the hook in the space, bring the hook in front of the tail so it gets caught in the stitch.
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Now, just like for a single crochet: Yarn over and pull up a loop. (2 loops on hook) The tail should be trapped between the hook and the stitch you worked into.
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But unlike a single crochet, we won't complete the stitch. Yarn over.
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Pull through only one loop. (2 loops on the hook)
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Okay, now it's time to work into the next panel! Keep the working yarn behind the hook, and insert the hook into the opposite space.
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Yarn over and pull up a loop. (3 loops on hook)
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Yarn over and pull through one loop. (3 loops on hook)
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Time to make the pieces become one! Yarn over, and pull through all three loops on the hook.
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Want to save some time? Here's where you can weave in your bottom tail as you work. bring that tail up and over your working yarn before making the next stitch.
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For the height of the double crochet stitches I used in the panels, I made two joining stitches in each space... But that wasn't enough.
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Because three joining stitches in a space made the seam puff up a bit, I added a chain space between rows. This is a great place to wrap the tail all the way around the working yarn (if you're working over it).
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In each remaining space, make two single-crochet-two-together, then chain 1.
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Don't chain-1 after the last stitch! Just bind off.
Here, I'm working the seam next to an armhole panel. The seam is worked in each space of the regular panel, but the remaining rows of the armhole panel are left un-worked. In the seam below that, you can see that two rows of the regular panel were left open where it joins to a shorter panel.
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We'll be working around those uneven spaces in the next part of the tutorial. Until then, there's a lot of joining to do! Before we close, let me show you where I ran into a problem with mine... You might find a great tip here:

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I found myself having no problem while I was using myself as the template for my top... But in the middle of creation, my dummy (the dress form) finally arrived. I started using it to fit my top, and "thankfully" discovered that the back was just a little too small... So, I added a panel.

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Now ready to assemble the final pieces! I pinned them together on the dummy one last time to make sure...

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And after I joined the whole thing together, I realized that I had been a dummy. The dress form only goes down to a size small. I'm an extra-small. Maybe even an extra-extra small, if such a thing exists. (I exist, so I guess is does...) 

Which is where I'll give you that golden tip: It's easy to frog around the tails if you worked over them the way I showed you... But leave your end tails out! I had started to "save time" by weaving in some of my ends... Like, across the whole back piece. As in, the part I now had to rip back.

Luckily (?), I have much practice in picking out my ends.
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A little yarn wasted with the seam and extra panel made, but no endless frogging of a project worked in the round!
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There's not much I can do about the extra panel, but I can reuse the yarn from the seam to rejoin the existing panels.
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And hey! I even came up with another variation before I put it back together... The armhole seams ended up in a way that made me think crossed straps would be cute on this top:
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Well, mine was in one piece again in no time! There's still just a tiny bit of extra room when I try it on, but we want it that way! Coming up in the next part of the tutorial, I'll show you how we'll clean up those edges around the uneven panels.


Until then...
Happy Crocheting!


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Make it Your Way Top (1)

  This top is easy to adjust to your own needs, but because of that I found it difficult to write an actual pattern. What I've created instead is a step-by-step tutorial teaching you how to make this top your way, using simple panels to adjust shaping and sizing. Here in part one, I'll be showing you the pattern for the panels and introducing you to the general concept of how to turn them into your new favorite blouse.


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  Obviously, the assembled top in the photos isn't completely done - It's sort of a shell of what it will be. I'm not showing you the fully finished piece yet because I want you to make your own creation.  I'll give you tips for how to change the pattern to what you want. It can be as easy as using your favorite top for a template, or as difficult as turning your own image into a creation... And even then, it will still be easy! The lace panels can be changed to a simple rectangle if you don't like the pointy bottoms. But what if you don't want lace? Change to your favorite solid stitch instead. Let's get started with the pattern for those panels, and I'll share some more of my ideas later.


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Materials I'm using:
Plymouth Dreambaby 4-ply
-fingering weight (1) 50% acrylic microfiber / 50% nylon; 50 grams (240 yds) per ball
I used 2 balls of the main color and one ball of the contrasting color. 
Crochet hook size F/5 - 3.75 mm
Yarn needle
Stitch markers (recommended for keeping track of pieces)

Tip: Because of variations, it is hard to say exactly how much yarn you might use for yours. My top is an extra-small. 
Following this pattern, three 50-gram balls should also be enough to make a size small. 
You will need an extra ball of the main color for size medium, and you may want to get an extra ball of the contrasting color just in case - it will be close. 
Size large will need four balls of the main color, and three balls of the contrasting color.
Any of these estimates should be increased if you plan to expand the length or use a different stitch. 


Gauge:
Following this pattern, each panel measures 1.25" (0.6 cm) wide. There are 8 rows in 4" (10 cm).

Length of gauge is not as important as width - I'll show you how to measure to make your first panel.

If using a different stitch, I would recommend working your panels somewhere between 1" - 1.5" (2.5 - 4 cm) wide.
 

Notes:
(For the panel pattern)
Chain-1 at beginning of rows does not count as a stitch.

The stitch for the panels as shown does not require a multiple for a beginning chain, but in case you're working a square bottom: Each pattern stitch = 5.


Stitches:
(American terms)
Chain
Slip stitch
Double crochet

I'll be showing you the joining stitch in part two!


Instructions for panels:


To make a square bottom panel (not shown), chain 10. Chain 1 more and start with a double crochet in the second chain from the hook. Chain 3, skip 3, double crochet. Double crochet in the next stitch, skip 3, chain 3, double crochet in the last chain. For all following rows, see instructions for row 4, and do not follow decreasing instructions for the end of the armhole panel - Just work your desired number of rows and bind off.


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Pointy bottom panel:
To begin, chain 5 and join into a ring with a slip stitch. (This counts as row 1 for the pattern.)

Row 2:
Chain 1, turn. (Double crochet, chain 3, double crochet) in the chain-5 space.


Row 3:
Chain 1, turn. (Double crochet, chain 3, double crochet) x2 in the chain-3 space.

Row 4 and all following rows for regular panel:
Chain 1, turn. (Double crochet, chain 3, double crochet) in the first chain-3 space. (Double crochet, chain 3, double crochet in the next chain-3 space. 


Work to your desired number of rows and bind off.


For a pointy-bottom "armhole" panel
(more explained below), follow these directions for the last 3 rows:


Third from end:
Chain 1, turn. Double crochet in the first chain-3 space. Double crochet in the space between the next 2 double crochet. Double crochet in the last double crochet.

Second from end:
Chain 1, turn. Double crochet in the first double crochet. Double crochet in the last double crochet.

Last row:
Chain 4, turn, slip stitch in the last double crochet.



Step 1: Get (a few of) your measurements
You can measure directly on yourself, or use your favorite-fitting top for a guide. We will begin by determining the length for the shortest panel.

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First, you will measure from the middle of your underarm to where you want the bottom hem to be. But don't measure right up in your armpit! You want to measure from where the underarm seam would be, so this is where another top can come in handy.

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Next, you will need the measurement across the underarm.

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I recommend creating the pieces that will make the sides of the blouse first, so you can determine the length of the “armhole” panel. If you want wider sleeves, you can make more than one armhole panel for each side.

You will need to determine the measurement across the front (between armhole panels), but this is easily done after the side pieces are created. I slipped both pieces onto my shoulders, and simply measured the space in between them. (This gives you room to change your mind, too! If you create the sides first and decide you want a wider sleeve, then you can just add an armhole panel and keep working inward.)

Without help, measuring across your own back can be difficult! Again, this is where another top can be useful. Measure the distance between shoulder seams.

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Step 2: Figuring the length of your pieces
My top was designed to end just past the waistline. You can easily shorten it for a festival top, or make it as long as a dress!

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It all starts with that shortest panel we measured first – From the middle of your underarm. The panels that border the shortest panels will be two rows longer. And if you need to add more panels for larger sizes, then each one will be two rows longer than the next.

The back and front panels can be changed for different styles. But I'll explain more about that later when we get to “variations”...

The longest side panel is how we determine the length of the armhole panel... It will be double that length, plus more for the armhole itself.

For example, my first short panel is 28 rows long. The panels on either side of that are 30 rows. (Larger sizes will have more panels, but we'll get to that in “sizes”.)

Since I needed to add 20 rows for the circumference of my arm, my armhole panel is 30 + 30 + 20, for a total of 80 rows.

Remember that the pointy-bottomed armhole panel has a three-row decrease at the end which counts as part of your row count.


Step 3: Make your panels!


How I made mine:
For size extra-small, here are the pieces I used to create my top.
(Bust - 28 inches/71 cm)

Sides (2 each)
One 28-row panel
Two 30-row panels
One 80-row armhole panel


Front (1 piece)
Two 28-row panels
Two 30-row panels

Back (1 piece)
Four 30-row panels
Two 32-row panels


Sizes:
I've already given you the dimensions for my size, but please remember that I'm not an average size... And that's why these directions are for you to make your project your way! Because, who's “average” anyways?

The following are just recommendations for getting close to those “average” sizes. I'm keeping the lengths the same as for my pattern, but you can adjust as needed.

(And if you plan to make more armhole panels for a wider sleeve, then remember that it will change the width of your front and back pieces.)

Small -
(Bust - 34 inches/86 cm)

Sides (2 each)
Two 28-row panels
Two 30-row panels
Armhole – Double the length of the longest side panel, plus 22 rows

Front (1 piece)
Three 28-row panels
Two 30-row panels

Back (1 piece)
Five 30-row panels
Two 32-row panels


Medium -
(Bust - 36 inches/91 cm)

Sides (2 each)
Two 28-row panels
Two 30-row panels
Two 32-row panels
Armhole – Double the length of the longest side panel, plus 24 rows

Front (1 piece)
One 28-row panel
Two 30-row panels
Two 32-row panels

Back (1 piece)
Six 30-row panels
Two 32-row panels


Large -
(Bust - 38 inches/96.5)

Sides (2 each)
Two 28-row panels
Two 30-row panels
Two 32-row panels
Armhole – Double the length of the longest side panel, plus 26 rows

Front (1 piece)
Two 28-row panels
Two 30-row panels
Two 32-row panels

Back (1 piece)
Seven 30-row panels
Two 32-row panels


Extra-large -
(Bust - 40 inches/101.5 cm)

Sides (2 each)
Three 28-row panels
Two 30-row panels
Two 32-row panels
Armhole – Double the length of the longest side panel, plus 28 rows

Front (1 piece)
Two 28-row panels
Two 30-row panels
Two 32-row panels

Back (1 piece)
Seven 30-row panels
Two 32-row panels



Variations: Oh, so many!
First, let's get to the biggest change you can make to this top... Adding sleeves! This can be achieved two different ways: 1) Join yarn in one of the bordering stitches and work the pattern stitch in the round until you reach the desired length. -or- 2) Make more panels! Which of course, leads to more variations... Make straight-bottom panels for an even cuff, or make pointy-bottomed panels so the cuff matches the hem.

*If adding sleeves, you'll probably want to make more than one armhole panel for each side.

Shapes:
For a V-neck, make one short panel for the middle, and build up the shaping with each additional panel outwards.

For a square-neck, make all the center panels the same length. 

And, hey... Get creative! You could start with a short panel next to the armhole, then build up as you go across for an asymmetrical neckline.

The back can be made in any of the same shapes, or make longer panels for a full-back tank.


Until next time:

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  That's about all I can fit in today! Coming up in the next post, I'll show you how to work the joining stitch. There's a lot more to cover like assembly, what we'll do to clean up the uneven edges left from joining, adding to the sleeves, and working around the hem. 

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  You'll have a lot of panels to make! But the quick-turning pattern will work up fast, and you'll have them done in no time. I created most of my panels before I began joining them, and things got a little disorganized... I speak with experience when I tell you to mark your pieces unless you want to count your rows over and over. I've got a lot of photos to load for the upcoming posts for the project, so I'll leave you with that last tip and wish you

Happy Crocheting!

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