#zippers, Blocking, Seaming & Finishing, Seaming & Finishing, Uncategorized

How to Adjust Zipper Length

The C’est la Vie sweater was SO fun to design but it’s even more fun to wear! It mixes my love of slip stitch knitting, crochet edgings and of course zipper techniques.

The first pattern I released with a zipper was the Desert Bell (published in Knitty First Fall 2015). I ordered a custom zipper from www.zipperstop.com. Simple, right?! Well, yes but did you also know that adjusting the zipper length is SUPER simple too? My goal in this blog is to demonstrate how easy it can be to adjust the length of any metal tooth zipper. For the C’est la Vie pattern, I purchased a lightweight, 27” zipper from my local craft store, removed the stopper at the end of the zipper using a basic tool and cut it down in size.

Bear in mind that most sewing patterns instruct you to cut plastic teeth zippers at the top (near the pull end) and then sew the zipper closed again. While this method works well for plastic teeth zippers, I don’t like doing this on metal zippers as it can compromise the structure of the zipper. Instead, I use a tool to remove the stoppers at the end of the zipper.

First, pin the zipper to the hand knit to determine where you will need to cut it. Yes, I pin the zipper to the actual garment because I’m working with a knit and knits are very stretchy and they can lie to us when we measure them. If this was a cotton or wool fabric garment, I would measure the zipper opening, cut my zipper and then pin it to the garment. Next, measure down ½-1” from where you plan to cut the zipper and use chalk to mark this point. I like to give myself a little extra room so I usually measure down 1”.

Measure down 1/2-1"

Measure down 1/2-1″

Once the cut line is marked, remove the metal stoppers at the end of the zipper using a zipper pliers. You can use regular pliers but I highly recommend zipper pliers because they have an edge that digs under the zipper teeth to more easily remove them without damaging the fabric. Any good fabric store will have these or you can order online – the ones pictured below are from Seattle Fabrics. Place the metal stoppers in a safe place – we are going to reapply them.

Zipper Pliers

                             Zipper Pliers

Using the same technique with the zipper pliers, remove 1-2 metal teeth in the area that you will be cutting the zipper so as not to dull your scissors. Cut the zipper.

Reapply the zipper stop using flat nose pliers (pictured below and also sold at Seattle Fabric). You may need to remove additional zipper teeth before applying the stops.

Flat Nose Pliers

Flat Nose Pliers

Now, cut away the teeth from the fabric in the area that is below the zipper stop – this area will be folded back so this will eliminate any extra bulk.

Cut the teeth from the fabric in the section that will be folded back.

Cut the teeth from the fabric in the section that will be folded back.

Fold back this section toward the garment wrong side.

Fold back zipper to the garment WS.

Fold back zipper to the garment WS.

Wah-lah! You’ve just adjusted your zipper length! Now go and sew the zipper 🙂

See our blog on sewing zippers in hand knits for more instructions.

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#zippers, Pattern Specific

How to Sew Zippers in Hand Knits: an Example from the Desert Belle Pattern

Hello readers!

Well, we’ve been very busy here at Knotty Bebe. Our very first pattern was published in the First Fall 2015 issue of Knitty Magazine! Check out the Desert Belle Wrap here.

This is a convertible wrap that features a separating zipper and can be worn long (with the brioche bottom) or short. For many knitters, sewing in a zipper is a painful task to be avoided at all costs. Trust me, I used to feel that way too! But, after learning the proper techniques (thanks to my teacher Pam Banks at Otis College), I now love installing zippers!

So, to encourage you to go forth and ZIP ZIP ZIP (it’s like conquering but with metal teeth), I’ve created a series of 5 videos that show exactly how I installed the zipper in the Desert Belle Wrap. I really hope this helps diminish any fears of the dreaded zipper and builds your confidence!

I like to use my sewing machine (a Bernina 380) to install zippers as it’s faster and produces professional results. There are plenty of instructions out there for hand sewing zippers for knitters but not so many that break down how to do this on a sewing machine. So, the instructions below are for installing zippers using your trusty machine.

A Nifty Trick for Sticky Zippers

Before installing the zipper, check to make sure the zipper pull isn’t sticking at any point. If you find that your zipper isn’t opening or closing easily, apply a little beeswax to one side of the zipper teeth and then slide the pull up and down. This should help smooth out any sticky points. I learned this trick from some very clever knitters at The Knitting Tree, LA. Many thanks to them!

Pin the Zipper

With the zipper closed, pin the zipper in place using sewing pins.

I start with the St st hem side. Place the zipper on the St st hem with right sides facing (garment RS to zipper RS). Then, pin the zipper in place with the zipper teeth about 1/8 inch from the edge of the folded row of purl stitches.

Note: If you like, you can stop here and baste this side before pinning and basting the zipper to the brioche side. I find it works well either way.

Then, pin the zipper to the crocheted edge of the brioche knit side. You don’t have to work the two rows of crochet but I like to do this as it helps stabilize the edge of the knitted brioche.

Pin the Zipper

Baste the Zipper

Next, single thread the sewing needle using a good quality polyester thread in a contrast color. As I baste the zipper, I ensure the knitted fabric stays about 1/8 inch from the knitted fabric.

Keep basting stitches long and somewhat loose as this is a temporary stitch and will be removed. Remove the pins once the zipper is basted.

Baste the Zipper IMG_2671

Check the Zipper

Once you have basted both sides, open and close the zipper to ensure it has been applied properly. If there are issues (snagging, gaps between the fabric and zipper teeth), do not undo the entire basting stitch. Rather, just release the basting stitches within the problem area and re-secure the stitch by knotting off on both sides where the stitch was released. Then, fix the area in question.

Its time to Sew!

Now you are ready to machine sew the zipper. Remember, before you put your wonderful hand knit fabric to any machine, sew a test swatch. If you are nervous about having your knit against the feed dog, then use Pellon’s Stick-n-Washaway on the wrong side of the fabric. It will protect the knit as it moves over the feed dog and will literally wash away after the first hand washing (or dry cleaning).

Place the garment with the knit side down and the zipper facing you. Using your zipper foot, align your needle close to the garment edge (about 1/8” from the metal teeth). I’m using Zipper Foot #4 for the Bernina. I have aligned my needle all the way to the left using the needle position button on the machine. Notice that the seam allowance (SA) is to the right.

If you have a hard plastic edge on the zipper, walk the machine slowly over this section.

On the St st hem side, sew the zipper to the folded edge (the row of purl sts) first.

Then sew the zipper to the outer edge of the hem.

Next, whip stitch the hem to the live stitches of the garment.

 On the brioche side,

  • If you did not work 2 rows of single crochet you will be stitching in the “ditch” of the brioche (the row of color that is receding).
  • If you worked the two rows of single crochet, stitch in the ditch between the two crochet rows.

Once you are about 5” from the end, insert the needle into the fabric, lift the presser foot and slide the zipper pull out of the way.

 Lastly, sew the outer edge of the zipper to the brioche. You can hand sew this to the brioche wrong side using the whip stitch or use your machine and stitch in the “ditch” of the brioche or crochet stitch

 Wa-la, you have a beautifully installed zipper! Have fun wearing your new garment.

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Decreases, Working the Stitches

How to Work Short Row Shaping Part 4 of 4: The Yarn Over & Japanese Methods

This is part four of a four part blog series on short rows. For the last post, we’re covering short rows that are commonly used in sock knitting (particularly for turning the heel). These methods do not produce holes and are considered decreasing short rows. Click here to read the blog from the beginning.

The Yarnover Method

An easy way to remember how to work this method is to note that on purl rows the yarn goes under the needle and on knit rows the yarn goes over the needle.

Yarnover Method with the Knit Side Facing

  1. On the purl side of the work, work across the row to the turning point. Turn work – the knit side is now facing you.
  2. Bring the yarn over the right needle (to the front of the needle and then over it) and then knit the next stitch.

Yarnover Method with the Purl Side Facing

  1. On the knit side of the work, work across the row to the turning point. Turn work – the purl side is now facing you.
  2. Bring the yarn under and around the right needle and then purl the next stitch.

Once all short rows have been worked, you will now work across the entire row. Notice that you have pairs of stitches – the yarnover and the stitch beside it.

 Closing the Gaps: Knit Side Facing

  1. On the right side of the work (knit side), work to the first yarnover stitch pair.
  2. Knit the first stitch. The next stich will be the yarnover that was worked. But, the yarnover will be oriented in the wrong direction on the needle. Re-orient the yarnover stitch so the front leg of the stitch is facing the proper direction.
  3. K2tog: knit the re-oriented yarnover stitch together with the next stitch.
  4. On the next right side row, you will work in the same way but there will be 2 yarnovers before the next knit stitch. You will knit 3 stitches together to close the gap.

 

Closing the Gaps: Purl Side Facing

  1. On the wrong side of the work (purl side), work to the first yarnover stitch pair.
  2. Purl the first stitch. The next stich will be the yarnover that was worked. But, the yarnover AND the next stitch will be oriented in the wrong direction on the needle. We will work a SSP to resolve this.
  3. Slip the yarnover as if to knit, slip the next purl stitch as if to knit. Move both sts back to the left needle (from tip to tip). Insert the right needle into the two stitches through their back loops and p2tog.
  4. On the next wrong side row, you will work in the same way but there will be 2 yarnovers before the next purl stitch. Purl 3 stitches together to close the gap (SSSP).

Japanese Method: this method is also used in sock knitting for working short row heels and toes. It is worked similar to the yarnover method (see above). The difference is that in the Japanese method, the turning yarn is marked using a removable stitch marker and you are not re-orienting the stitch because you are not twisting them when you work the stitch.

Japanese Method with the Knit Side Facing

  1. On the purl side of the work, work across the row to the turning point. Turn work – the knit side is now facing you.
  2. Place a locking stitch marker on the turning yarn. Slip the next stitch purlwise wyib.
  3. On the subsequent row when you are closing the gap, knit the stitch that the stitch marker is on.
  4. Then, pull up on the marker and put the stitch onto the left needle – do this without twisting the stitch. Remove the marker
  5. Now k2tog.

 

Japanese Method with the Purl Side Facing

  1. On the knit side of the work, work across the row to the turning point. Turn work – the purl side is now facing you.
  2. Place a locking stitch marker on the turning yarn. Slip the next stitch purlwise wyif.
  3. On the subsequent row when you are closing the gap, purl the stitch that the stitch marker is on.
  4. Then, slip the next stitch purlwise wyif.
  5. Now, pull up on the marker and put the stitch onto the left needle – do this without twisting the stitch. Remove the marker.
  6. Place the slipped stitch back on the left needle.
  7. Now p2tog.

 

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Decreases, Increases, Working the Stitches

How to Work Short Row Shaping Part 3 of 4: The German Method

This is part three of a four part blog series on short rows. In this post, we will cover the German short row method. Click here to read the blog from the beginning.

German Method with the Purl Side Facing

  1. On the knit side of the work, work across the row to the turning point. Turn work – the purl side is now facing you.
  2. Make sure the yarn is forward (in the front of your work).
  3. Slip 1 stitch purlwise.
  4. Then, pull straight up on the turning yarn. The yarn will come over the back of the needle. This creates the double stitch.
  5. Keeping the tension, purl the next stitch and work to the next turning point.

 

German Method with the Knit Side Facing

  1. On the purl side of the work, work across the row to the turning point. Turn work – the knit side is now facing you.
  2. Move the yarn forward (to the front of your work).
  3. Slip 1 stitch purlwise.
  4. Then, pull straight up on the turning yarn. The yarn will come over the back of the needle. This creates the double stitch.
  5. Keeping the tension, knit the next stitch and work to the next turning point.

Closing the Gaps Knit & Purl Side

Once you have created the double stitch, it will be treated as 1 stitch in the subsequent rows. When you have finished all short rows and are ready to work across the row, you will work the double stitches by using k2tog on the knit side and p2tog on the purl side.

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Decreases, Increases, Working the Stitches

How to Work Short Row Shaping Part 2 of 4: The Standard Method vs. Wrap & Turn

This is part two of a four part blog series on short rows. In this post, we will cover the standard short row method and the wrap and turn method. Click here to read the blog from the beginning.

Standard Method

Work across the row to the turning point and then turn the work. It’s really that simple. The so-called “flaw” in this method is that it produces a hole at the turning point. Bear in mind that a “flaw” sometimes can be used as a design element within a garment. But holes aren’t always wanted and there are other methods which allow the knitter to avoid holes when working short rows.

Wrap and Turn Method

This is a commonly used method in sweater knitting and is often indicated within patterns as “wrap and turn” or w&t.

Wrap and Turn Knitwise

  1. Work across the row to the turning point.
  2. Slip the next st purlwise wyib from the left needle to the right needle.
  3. Move yarn to the front (wrapping the st).
  4. Slip the stitch back onto the left needle. Turn your work.

Wrap and Turn Purlwise

  1. Work across the row to the turning point.
  2. Slip the next st purlwise wyif from the left needle to the right needle.
  3. Move yarn to the back (wrapping the st).
  4. Slip the stitch back onto the left needle. Turn your work.

Closing the Gaps: Knit the Wraps

  1. For decreasing short rows: knit the wraps on the first row after all short row shaping is complete.
  2. For increasing short rows: knit (RS rows) or purl (WS rows) the wrap together with the stitch on the needle as you work the subsequent short row.

*Note that in some designs, the next row may be a bind off row after working all short rows.

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Decreases, Increases, Working the Stitches

How to Work Short Row Shaping Part 1 of 4: The Types & Methods of Short Row Shaping

Short row shaping is a technique that can be used to add or remove fabric from a specific area of a garment. Short rows can take several shapes within a garment: they can be worked to form a wedge (dart), a convex curve or a concave curve. They are often used to shape cap sleeves, custom fit the bust, shape shoulders, and as a general design element within a garment.

To get started, I’ve outlined some key terms below:

Turning Point: this is where the knitting changes direction from one row to the next row.

Turning Yarn: this is the working yarn – turning yarn is used in some of the techniques outlined in this series.

Gap: the space (or gap) in the knitting where you turned the stitch in the previous row.

Types of Short Rows

June Hemmons Hiatt describes two types of short rows in The Principles of Knitting: decreasing short rows and increasing short rows. I like this classification because it provides a good general description of the different types of short rows.

Decreasing short rows are more common than increasing short rows and form a convex shape. They are called decreasing short rows because the number of active stitches decreases row by row.

Decreasing Short Rows

Increasing short rows are worked from the side edge of the garment and move toward the center row by row and form a concave shape. They are called increasing short rows because the number of active stitches increases row by row.

Increasing Short Rows

It’s important to know if you are working a decreasing or increasing short row because the technique for “closing the gap” differs between the two. For example, in the Pretty in Mink pattern, I used increasing short rows to form the reverse shirttail at the front cast on edge of the garment. This method is outlined in Sally Melville’s Knitting Pattern Essentials. In this method, you work past the gap on the subsequent row – which means you are closing the gaps as you knit the next row. This differs from the decreasing short rows where you close the gaps after all short row shaping is complete or close the gaps as you bind off.

Techniques for Working Short Rows

The short row shaping techniques discussed in this series fall under decreasing and/or increasing short rows. In Part 2-4 of this blog series, I’ve provided information and instructions for the below listed short row shaping techniques. Please note that instructions are written for Stockinette stitch.

  • Part 2 The Standard and Wrap & Turn Method: can be worked as either a decreasing or increasing short row depending on how the pattern is written.
  • Part 3 The German Short Row Method: can be worked as either a decreasing or increasing short row depending on how the pattern is written.
  • Part 4 The Yarn Over and Japanese Method (Sock Knitting): these methods are worked as decreasing short rows and are typically used to turn the heel of a sock.

Decreasing Short Rows Using the Wrap & Turn Method

 Decreasing Short Rows Wrap & Turn

Increasing Short Rows Using the Wrap & Turn Method

Increasing Short Rows Wrap & Turn

Decreasing Short Rows Using the German Method

Decreasing Short Rows German

 Decreasing Short Rows Using the Yarnover Method

Decreasing Short Rows Yarn Over

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All About Color

How to Duplicate Stitch

Duplicate stitch is an embroidery technique where a contrast color yarn is worked on top of the knitted piece by following the knitted stitch pattern. Typically, a yarn of the same weight is used when performing duplicate stitch but this is not always the case. Depending on the desired effect, the knitter may choose a yarn of a lighter weight so that the original stitch shows through or a chunkier yarn so that the embroidery stands out from the fabric. Duplicate stitch may also be used as a finishing technique to weave in tail ends.

When used for embroidery, duplicate stitch may produce a similar effect as Intarsia. However, because you are adding an additional layer to the knitted piece, it may affect the overall drape of the knit. When performed in small areas, duplicate stitch typically produces minimal impact to the overall drape of a piece. But, it’s important to keep this in mind when choosing to perform duplicate stitch over another technique.
Remember, in Stockinette stitch, one stitch forms the “V” shape. It’s important that you know how to identify a stitch before using this technique.

Working from right to left, we are going to follow the “V” of each stitch:
1. Using a tapestry needle and contrast color yarn, bring the needle through the upside down “V” that is next to the stitch you are going to work from right to left.
2. Now go through the top right point of the “V” and through to the left side of the stitch.
3. Then, go back through the next upside down “V”.
4. Repeat steps.

You can also work this stitch from left to right. Just reverse the direction:

1. Using a tapestry needle and contrast color yarn, bring the needle through the upside down “V” that is next to the stitch you are going to work from left to right.
2. Now go through the top left point of the “V” and through to the right side of the stitch.
3. Then, go back through the bottom of the “V”.
4. Repeat steps.

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