Saturday, February 27, 2010

Steeking "My Way":

Having recently done the most feared thing on my knitting list, STEEKING----- I can honestly say that it was not only not scary, but not hard at all, actually fun to create this lovely thing from a not finished thing. I'm not sure if that made a bit of sense--- if you are a knitter, well, it did!

The entire way through the Lloie Cardigan process I had planned to crochet the steek. As I came to the place where steeking was necessary I totally changed my mind and began to forge another plan. I'd heard it said that there was nothing to fear and what makes this a true statement to me is one very simple caveat: MAKE SURE THAT WHEN YOU CUT YOUR STEEK ABSOLUTELY NO STITCHES CAN UNRAVEL--- or even move in any way. Because the reality is that I don't crochet, I thought I needed insurance I could count on. Not trying a new method to stabilize the area to be cut, and a trial is never a sure thing. Because I do sew that seemed the best way to create the steeking and add a finishing detail. I love little dressmaker details and this led me to think of machine steeking with the addition of stretchy lace seam tape. And, we were off---

I had five steek stitches, and along this line of stitching I applied two rows of lace seam tape making sure that there was a couple of inches extra on the top and bottom for finishing later. (Note: I used the wine color not only so it would show well in photographs, but it does match the wine yarn and is a 'happy surprise' inside the cardigan). The lace tape above is the right hand side row. The lace tape has a right side (which is slightly bumpier than the flat wrong side), and this goes face down with the left side of the tape snugged up to the first row of stitches in the steek. I hand basted the tape down along the edge of both sides of the lace tape making sure that it was not stretched at all and would lay perfectly flat. NOTE: Imagine as you lay the seam tape that when it is stitched in place and the steek cut, the lace itself will flip around to the wrong side of the cardigan leaving a perfectly smooth edge, and when hand stitched to the back of the sweater it will be clean, flat and pretty as can be!

You can see my one area of real concern, the bit between the yoke on the top of the cardigan was unhappily bunchy. I took a bit more time when I basted down the tape in this area pushing and smooshing the bunched bits toward the center of the steek. It really makes me mad that I allowed the bunchy mess to happen in the first place, I was so careful with the color work tensioning!

Forgive the blurry photo, but this shows the lace tape being stitched down. I used my stitch plate with the tiniest hole instead of the regular hole in order to minimize the risk of yarn being sucked into the sewing machine. If you don't have another stitch plate, place a piece of scotch tape over the hole where the bobbin thread emerges, this will serve as a temporarily smaller hole for the machine threads to pass. Stitch very slowly and don't pull the sweater. It is actually a bit clumsy as you're laying a tubular shape on a flat surface to sew a straight line. I used a large flat foot on the machine for maximum control, I did consider using a large flat foot with an open front for better visibility of stitching the line but opted for the closed foot/maximum area covered. The stitch itself used was a very narrow zig zag although a fairly close straight stitch would work as well.

Both lines of seam tape have been stitched in the photo above. Everything is flat and stable.

Bunchy bits contained------ like a dam! After the line of stitching goes down each side of the tape, take a breath. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, it's all good, and downhill from this point on. I then stitched a nice tight row of zigzag next to the line of stitching/lace seam tape. My stitch covered both 'legs' of the next stitch in. Repeat on the other side of the steek.

At this point you should have only a stitch or two "open" in the center of the steek, not covered or contained by machine stitching. Some machine stitched steekers suggest more than one row of zig zag stitches. To my way of thinking, I mean how much security do you need? Those stitches aren't going ANYWHERE!!! Do make sure that you have thoroughly covered the ends of the stitching line with your thready backtracking. Security, security, security. You want to make sure that the row of stitching completely encloses your stitches, with a backtack, yet not so crazy as to suck the edge of the sweater down into the machine guts (which could be a nasty bit of a mess!)

Remember, once you know for a fact that your stitches are not going to unravel and launch you into the land of the bonzo knitter, you can cut that steek with ease.

It is that time. Scissors above, play the theme to whatever scary movie soundtrack you like......

You can see the steek ready to cut, there is still an inch of lace tape on either end of the cardigan (neckline and hemline).

Cut that baby right down the middle. Trust me, once you've made the first cut, it's cake! If you had more stitches for the steek, I'd trim them out if positive that the machine stitching lines had everything in complete control.

The inside of the cardigan with the lace tape now wrapped to the wrong side and pinned. That extra little bit of lace at the ends of the sweater are turned under and snugged right up against the cardigan. With needle and thread stitch the lace tape in place making sure that you only catch the back side of a knit stitch and your stitches do not go through to the right side of the sweater. Think a nice neat backstitch on the smallish side, you don't want this to pop out, or have to re-do the hand stitching.

Looks GREAT!!!!!!! Buttonholes are marked with yarn tailor tacks and I'm ready to think about the I Cord edging around the fronts and neckline.

In this gauge, with this method, I found that picking up to do an attached I Cord with buttonholes was not going to happen. It became easier for me to make I Cord with mad abandon and use yarn to attach it to the sweater. I then reinforced the sweater edge where the buttonholes will be with yarn overcasting and left that bit of I Cord open to accept the buttons.

Looks great------------ and is blocking away. It's almost dry and when I've sewn on buttons I'll be back with photos.

And steeking? I can't wait to use this method again--------- steeking has no more fear for me!!! Maybe next time instead of lace seam tape I'll cut some fabulous fabric on the bias and make my own bias seam tape for the edge. The options are endless.

Steek On!!


Suzy Girl said...

Amazing! Looks wonderful! You're really inspiring me to start planning a stranded yoke cardigan.

Dean said...

Thanks for the help, the images make all the difference. Thanks!!

Michelle said...

I lvoe steeking..and I lov ehow you put in the lace edging! I may have to do that next time I steek!

yoel said...

Scary but cool! It's so purty with the lace on the inside. You're going to have to help me steek my current project.