Okay this week is THE BIG ONE. “Sashiko Happy Coat MAL Crunch Time”. Bodice embroidery and joining that Collar.... It all comes together. Very exciting times!!!
You can do it!! Truly you can!
On the other side of this effort is a sleeveless shell you can “try on” for the first time and see the coat start to come to life – hopefully followed by a major happy dance!!! I know the edging and joining is going to throw some people off at first though, so I will spend a bit of time on this. I will begin with the...
Let’s face it, the Collar embroidery was a step up in difficulty compared to the swatch – I found it was a further adjustment when I had to conquer surface crochet on the really large scale of the Bodice. I am actually amazed to find so many makers already smashing out the gorgeous Alpaca Rhythm Bodice embroidery and the star-eyed emoji really sums this up for me!
In the Scheepjes Facebook groups it looks like following the embroidery path is more the challenge, so having conquered some new technology recently too, I have made some videos to help with this – fingers crossed they help you to find your way!
Let’s use the Front Left Bodice (RS) as our starting point for embroidery discussion. Don’t forget, I am using UK terms for this blog.
The bottom left tip of the embroidery pattern for all sizes is to start 1 stitch in from the bottom and the coat opening, and everything flows from there. It can be useful to pre-thread guidelines every 12 stitches and rows from that point to outline the larger motifs that use 3ss in each segment to get you bearings, or you can go wild and freeform it, solving the puzzle as you go.
You can see the start point at the bottom left corner of my threaded guidelines in the photo below:
There are actually many ways to trace this embroidery path, and it might be useful for you to print that page of your pattern and literally trace over it yourself, or do it digitally like I have in the video below. It is possible to do the large section in one go, and the first part of this video shows you one version of that – but I understand this won’t be for everybody, so I offer an alternative approach in the second half of the video which is more structured like the way you worked the collar embroidery: no talking - just visual.
Hopefully that helps to “see” where to go – replay the video as much as you want! Just apply the same principles to the other Bodice and Sleeve embroidery sections and slowly find you way around. For the Back Piece, I mark the centre lower Hem, join 1 stitch in from the edge and work upwards and outwards from there. For the top section of Back embroidery, I join about 6 stitches down from the centre-back Neckline and work down and outwards from there, making sure it matches the centre-back Hem landmark as well.
Okay so you found a mistake you made in one or two embroidery motifs you did like aaaages ago.... but the rest is correct and you can’t face frogging back to it and are otherwise seriously considering throwing a tanty? ....What to do!!?
CAREFULLY cut the embroidery yarn at the mistake location and gently unravel the yarn to create 2 tails and sew them at the WS of the fabric, then join new yarn here and work it correctly. Or, if you realised you missed a motif somewhere, just add it on. No biggie! ....Just please do not do the cutting when you are all het-up – take a few deep relaxing breaths first, and be sure to just cut the Alpaca Rhythm embroidery and NOT the Our Tribe Bodice – we certainly don’t want to take a small error and blow it up into a code RED!!!
And now for the main focus for this week.....
EDGING AND JOINING THE BODICE AND COLLAR:
As Austin Powers would say, edging and joining “...is my bag, baby!” It’s kind of THE design principle of my garments. Crochet can make fabric in any shape, and once you have a system to edge any shape and get creative with the joining, the world is your crochet oyster!
The edging in my Sashiko Happy Coat pattern is a good introduction to the technique because we are only crocheting across (into the side of) one stitch type: the dc (UK terms). The row ends can look a bit different though depending if they are straight-ended rows, increasing or decreasing rows, and which side of the fabric you are looking at – and you encounter all of these situations in edging and joining the Bodice and Collar, so I have made a short clip of each of these situations, showing you how and where to insert the hook, and assembled them into a video a little further down the page. Your welcome...
Before I get to that, I just want to say:
Yes, I know reading the assembly instructions for this will make no sense – until you are doing it. All the information is there, and the sequence does work, but it’s abstract until you are actually following it step-by-step, hooking as you go. I wrote it step-by-step while doing it step-by-step or I knew I was going to get lost.
Okay, we already did Assembly Step 1 last week to sew the Shoulder seams, abutting the Shoulder rows to each other. Before we crochet anything this week though, let’s consider a few things:
As you can see here – just laying out the Bodice and the Collar – the Collar appears shorter than the Neckline edge, and that’s largely because of those stretched stitches along the increase and decrease rows. This is okay. Those stretched holey edges are going to be tamed by the edging technique (see the second photo), and as I have said all along, that Collar is a pretty stretchy piece of fabric (as long as your embroidery stitches are still allowing some stretch).
Before Neckline Edging:
After Neckline Edging:
Yay - the pieces look a lot closer in length now! But the edging needs to be done a specific way. If you take a look at the Schematics of each piece (2, 3 & 4), you can see for all sizes the following situation applies:
· There are 30 rows of dc flo and then at the end of the 30th row, we have the 3 ext-ch that brought us to the full length rows for the shoulders. At 1edging-dc/row and 1dc in each of those ext-ch, that will provide 33 sts for each piece.
· There are 42 rows of dc flo between the shoulders, and at 1edging-dc/row, that will provide 42 sts. (If you add the 27 Centre-Back Straight Rows to the 8+8 Back Neckline Shaping Rows, this totals 43, but the last of these is used for the Back-Right Shoulder Seam, so 42 will be left available).
· 33 + 33 + 42 = 108 sts
It is critical that the edging stitches for the Neckline uses a technique to close those stretchy holes and with a gentle tension that doesn’t pucker the fabric, and creates a stitch count that matches that of the edged Collar. (No pressure.... just as well I have made that video I keep talking about - It's coming below, I promise!)
· The Collar size had to be very specific to suit the symmetry and maths of the embroidery pattern, and is very close to 108.
· The Collar has 106 rows of dc flo, with the first row being fdc, meaning there is a chain at the base of Row 1 that can be worked into as well. So one into the ch and 1edging-dc/row, that’s 107 sts we have on the Collar side.
· To match the Neckline though, we will need to add in an extra edging dc along the length somewhere and my pattern describes it at the end of the edging row for a total of 108 sts.
For those 108 stitches to be available to be slip-stitched together we work a chain between the pieces that provides a bit of space. (They are the “ch1 to change direction” described in the pattern).
Right – theory done, lets’ do this:
THE FIRST RULE OF EDGING is to insert the hook under 2 loops in the side of each stitch. 2 loops at all times. Roll the edge a bit and persuade another loop onto your hook when necessary.
Never insert hook under 1 loop,
Never insert hook under 3 loops, (yep, I really really mean 2 loops).
Never insert hook around the whole stitch post (sometimes I break this rule when edging crochet lace, but a dense “main fabric” is best edged with a technique that does not create holes)
Never insert your hook into one of those stretchy holes unless you are picking up an adjacent loop as you roll the edge, and only do this when there is no other option - we do have to do that across the straight edge and the decrease rows of the Bodice.
Step 2. Edge Neckline, then Edge Long Side of Collar in preparation to join with seam (all sizes):
Yes, it’s slow at first. Yes, you will need to wiggle your hook into some spots, but the finished effect is worth it, and the more you do it, the more you can recognise which 2 loops to pick up from each side of the fabric.
So, YAY: here is a video showing how to insert the hook and work the edging for each section of Step 2: I don’t talk – it’s just a visual aid.
Step 3. Seam Collar to Bodice:
Here is a photo of our plan of attack: I folded back the fabric a bit on the left there so you could best see which 2 sides are held together.
Be very careful with your slip stitch tension! I never figured out how to swoop through a slip-stitch all in one motion and have always broken it down into 2 motions. I think this is actually really helpful though for avoiding excessive tension for these seams. Imagining you are crocheting fluffy clouds together may help? Anything that helps you relax and avoid that cling-on death-grip... They don’t need to be tight to take the weight – by the time the seam is completely finished at the end of Step 4, trust me, it’s a really sturdy double-sided seam.
Here is a video showing you how to work the slip-stitch seam in Step 3, and also the second slip-stitch seam in the second part of Step 4. (I talk a bit more about Step 4 below the video – keep scrolling).
Step 4. Edge RS of Collar and reinforce Collar Seam on WS of assembled Coat:
After your ch1 to change direction at the end of the slip-stitch seam, we turn and flip the fabric over to the RS of the Collar and continue to edge the outer border of the RS of the Collar. Again, you are working into the rear of the stitches like you did on the other side of the Collar. Never trap the embroidery in your edging stitches. On the decrease side of the Collar, you might have to use the same hole as the embroidery did, but don’t allow the fibres to cross over.
As you arrive back at the seam, we can turn left and slip-stitch the unworked loops from the edging stitches on the other side of the garment, like this:
At the end of this second slip-stitch seam (at the right hand side of the above photo), we then turn and flip to edge RS down the Left Front Bodice coat opening to the Hem, across the Hem, up the Right Front Bodice to the seam. Then transfer the loop to the WS of the Bodice neatly, and stitch back down across and up to the seam on the Left Front Bodice again, finish off the tails and it’s happy dance time!!! The final pass along the Hemline uses a stitch repeat that produces a gentle splay to the lower bodice fabric and help it kick out a little. It’s one of my favourite trims!
You have probably noticed by now that I have not embroidered my Bodice yet, but I am joining it to the Collar anyway... This is because I have run out of time and need to show you all how to keep going! (Eeekk! Time juggling - I also have a secret project to finish this week for a magazine deadline as well, so you know ....doing what I can!) It doesn’t matter too much as far as the coat goes though. As long as the Sleeves are not yet attached to get in my way, I can embroider it after the Collar is on.
Now I am going to have to focus on getting my Stonewashed/Whirlette Happy Coat finished and come back to this embroidery later. I know people are waiting to see Coco Black in all her understated monochrome glory, and I am itching to try out the finishing touches I have in mind.... Don’t worry, I will be showing it off, like ASAP!
With that, I wish you good luck with your embroidery, edging and joining – just take your time – you can do it! Next week (our final official MAL week but don’t worry, all these blogs will stay for future reference), we are attaching those Sleeves, completing the Cuffs, buttons and voilá!
If you are joining in a little late in the game, never fear! The pattern is available on both Etsy and Ravelry. You can find Scheepjes retailers all over the world by clicking here, and these blog posts will remain on my site for future reference. Have a good read through all my prep MAL posts here on my blog before getting stuck in to the actual project though!
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May your crochet be zen...
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