Knitting for Left Handers: Long Tail Cast On

Sewing gets most of my attention here at The Eli Monster.  But I do really love knitting, especially in the evenings after the kids go to bed and Mr. Monster and I want to sit back and eat copious amounts of chips and salsa and watch some Netflix (we’re rationing the new Bojack episodes so we don’t run out of them immediately).

I’m starting a new Youtube series specifically for fellow southpaws.  If you’ve ever wanted to start knitting but was intimidated, I will go nice and slow and demonstrate all the stitches, from the very basic to more complex.

Back To The Basics: Seams Part Two

We’re going to wrap up our basic seams talk with Pressing and Understitching today, two often overlooked details that can make a world of difference.

Grading:  Grading your seam allowance is easy!  When you are working with thick fabrics or have more than 2 layers going on, the seam allowance can get bulky.  Let’s reduce a good portion of that bulk by trimming each layer to a different width so when you turn and press, there isn’t that weird bump running along the seam.

Notching/Clipping:   With your fabric laid flat in front of you, determine if your curve is concave or convex.  This will change how you cut into your seam allowance so everything lays flat.

  • If your curve is concave (curls inward or makes a “cave” <- that’s how I remember it), you will want to CLIP the seam allowance.  You should clip every 1/2″ to 1″ (1.2-2.5cm), depending on just how curvy your seam is.  Remember!  Don’t clip past your seam allowance!
  • If your curve is convex (pushes out, not in; I have no cute way of remembering that except it DOESN’T make a cave), make NOTCHES in your seam allowance.  Your notches will resemble little triangles cut out of the seam allowance.  Again, spread them out or push your notches closer together, depending on just how curvy your curve is.


Understitching:  Understitching is my baby, my secret weapon, my favorite of almost all techniques around.  Understitching is simply pressing your seam allowance towards your lining piece and sewing it to the lining just next to the actual seam.  When your project is turned and pressed, everything wants to roll in ever so slightly towards the inside so your lining doesn’t peek out.  For a lot of my patterns, it eliminates the need to topstitch certain areas, making the finished dress or top or whatnot look much cleaner and more finished (because haven’t we all made a great bodice only to mess up the topstitching somehow?).

Understiching example
See how the seam allowance is pressed towards the darker blue fabric and then sewn down?



Back to the Basics: Seams

Let’s talk about the most basic things in sewing:  Seams!

Seams are what keeps the whole project together (pun intended).  Today we’re going to investigate what makes a great seam that does its job without drawing attention to itself (unless a conspicuous seam is a design element).

Joining Seamlines:  Place your fabric edges together and pin.  You pins should be at a right angle to the edge of the fabric pointing in towards the body of the piece (heads towards the seam allowance).  This is something I TOTALLY do not follow, but I need to.  I admit it.  I can work on that.

Do NOT sew over your pins.  I have had the needle hit one and break and go flying right towards my eye, impaling my eyebrow.  Learn from me; do not end up with a sewing needle in your face.


Stitching:  When you start your seam, start the needle 1/2″ (1.3cm) from the end of your intended seam line and backstitch.  What’s backstitching?  It’s reversing your machine so it sews backwards for that little bit at the start (and end) of a seam so the stitches sort of “lock” up on themselves and don’t start to come undone as you are handling your project in later steps.  Some machines have a lock stitch option which eliminates the need to backstitch.  And if you forget?  No worries, you can always tie the ends of your thread at the beginning or end of your seam.

Reinforcing Corners:  Ooh, what about getting really nice corners?  You can either add a second layer of short, reinforcing stitches starting about 1″ (2.5cm) from the corner, and ending about 1″ (2.5cm) on the other side of the corner OR you can shorten your stitches as you approach the corner, sew with shorter stitches around the corner, then go back to your regular length for the rest of the seam.


Trimming:  Trimming should ONLY happen when you need to reduce bulk.  Corners will be trimmed across the point of the seam allowance close to the seam.  Then trim diagonally along both sides of the point to ease back into the normal seam allowance.


FREE Tropisch Dress Sewing Pattern!!!

A staple of any summer wardrobe should be a simple shirt style dress.  Last summer we were in Alabama and everyone was wearing shift dresses.  A lovely woman we met while dining on schnitzel under a giant rocket explained that everyone wears dresses because it’s the least amount of fabric touching your body.  It’s resting on your shoulders but then just sort of skims the rest and hopefully you’ll get a bit of breeze and keep as cool as possible.


I decided Girly needed a few shift dresses in her life.  And the more “tropical” the print, the better!  I love the center embellishment to break up the flat plane of the front.  You can stay thrifty or you can find crazy expensive trim.  The yellow flower trim was from one of the local big box stores for super cheap.  I ironed on some fuseable bonding web (stitch witchery) and then painstakingly poked each and every hole out between the flowers before ironing it to the front of the dress.  Time consuming but so worth it!

The Tropisch Dress FREE Sewing Pattern

This free pattern is only available in sizes 3-6 for now.  I will draft more sizes in between other projects as I get time.

Grumpy child wearing retro dress


BTW, Girly was “in a mood” on the day I needed photos for this dress and I got a total of one.  One grumpy image.  She likes the second and third dresses from this pattern I made for her so hopefully I’ll be able to come back and edit this post with more images very soon!

Fixing Holes in your Jeans (the easy way)

PatchJeans (1 of 7)


Up until about a week ago, I owned one pair of jeans.  One single lonely pair of jeans.  The rest had slowly died painful deaths.  I knew my time was limited and went out on the search for another pair of jeans.  That search lasted months.  Possibly even a year.  But then, at Target (?!?), I found my wonder jeans.  They fit perfectly.

Rejoicing, I brought them home and laid them out on the bed to admire the fact that I ACTUALLY bought a pair of jeans, bend over to admire a detail and Rrrrrppppppp-I felt a tug and a pop and there went my old pair.  The hole was small, but in a place that would be embarrassing to wear in public so it needed to be fixed because, dammit, I’m not going to go any longer with only a single pair of jeans.

So I went to my local big box store (I live an hour from the nearest fabric store-it really keeps my crafting in check) and grabbed this patch:
BONDEX WORN DENIM 5″ x 7″ IRON ON MENDING PATCHES (2),Clothing, Repair, No Sew


PatchJeans (2 of 7)
Cheap and easy.

Cut a square (or rectangle) that is big enough to cover the hole but not too much bigger.  Don’t let it overlap any seam.  That will rub your leg/derriere and you won’t want to wear your newly mended jeans and negate any benefit of actually fixing the darn things.

PatchJeans (3 of 7)

Iron that bad boy like there’s no tomorrow.  I mean really get it stuck on there good.  **Always follow the manufacturer’s directions and don’t just crank your iron up as hot as it will go because I will bet good money that you melt something…**

Now, if you’re feeling particularly mend-y today, I would go ahead and stitch around the edge of the patch.  I was extremely lazy and used whatever thread was on top and just changed my bobbin thread to navy to blend in to the dark denim I was mending.

PatchJeans (4 of 7)

Now that you’re sitting down at the sewing machine with your jeans in your hands, look over them and find any holes that are about to form.  You can either patch them the same way or even just run a zig zag over the thin areas to reinforce them a bit.

PatchJeans (5 of 7)
The hole is still visible but it’s only the size of a quarter and won’t get any bigger. Note the zig zag fast repair just above the seam.


PatchJeans (7 of 7)
All fixed! Now I can wear them without risking mooning someone!