PBT: Triangles

This post is part of a series of tutorials on how to create your own unique crochet pixie pocket belt – to read more about this series visit the Intro page.

Today’s task is: Triangles! I don’t personally use this shape much in my belts, but I have seen others do beautiful pixie belts with triangles featured. Speaking of inspiration, have I mentioned I’ve been creating a special Pinterest subsection on my crochet board just for pixie pocket belts? I have, and you should follow me. Anyway, here’s triangles!

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Triangle shapes can be worked either in-the-round, where you crochet your rows in a circular direction and join them before starting a new row (using increases to create points), or in regular rows, where you chain and turn to work the opposite direction after every row (this method uses decreases to shape the piece if working from the base of the shape).

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The square pocket on “Hickory” uses back-and-forth rows with decreases placed at each end of every row to shape the triangle portion.

I personally prefer the in-the-round triangle for decorative applications, because it keeps the right side facing the entire time, which to me looks prettier. I have an in-depth photo-tutorial on in-the-round triangles in my Basic Bralette free crochet pattern, so I’ll not go over the entire thing here – please refer to that tutorial for more info! And of course, I’m using bits and scraps, so I’ll change colors every row or so.

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Pattern for in-the-round Triangle:

MR (Make Ring)

Rnd 1: Ch 2 (does not count as first st), (3 dc into the ring, ch 2) 3 times. Join with a sl st to the first dc. – 9 dc

Rnd 2: Ch 2, 1 dc into the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 2 dc. In the next space, work 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc. (1 dc in ea of the next 3 dc. In the next sp work 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) repeat within parentheses twice. Join with a sl st to the first dc. – 21 dc

Rnd 3: Ch 2, 1 dc in the same st. 1 dc in ea of the next 4 dc. In the next space, work 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc. (1 dc in ea of the next 7 dc. In the next sp work 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) rpt within parentheses twice. 1 dc in ea of the next 2 dc. Join with a sl st to the first dc. – 33 dc

(shorthand version from here on – just continue the established pattern until your triangle is the desired size!)

Rnd 4: 11 dc, [2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc] in next space – rpt around

Rnd 5: 15 dc, [2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc] in next space – rpt around

Etc.

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I want to make my triangle just big enough for one side to match the top of my rectangle pocket – see where I’m going with this?

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So, after I’m done, I’ll  slip stitch through the top row of the triangle and the top row of the rectangle simultaneously to join them – doesn’t matter if you don’t have exactly the matching amount of stitches, ‘cause its fReEfOrM baby! So fudging it is okay. Encouraged even.

Once that’s complete, I weave in all the ends. Now I have a rectangle pocket with a cute pointed flap to cover the top. Let’s get even fancier – or as the kids these days say, extra – by using that ruffle technology I talked about earlier in the series.

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With some handspun orange wool, I attach with a sl st a few stitches down the side of the pocket. Using a gradation of stitch heights and working about 2-3 stitches per every stitch worked into, I make a funky ruffle down the side of the pocket, ending in a couple chain stitches before fastening off. Let’s go nuts and slip a bead on there, too. And some extra yarn bits for tassel.

Then, begin on the other side (working in the opposite direction if you want the right side to be facing) and do the other side to match. Now we’re talking.

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Another word on inspiration here : this is why it’s fun for me to choose a theme for these pieces, which are always nature-based for me.  What made me decide to add that crazy ruffle? Well, for one thing, I had just a bit of that thick wool orange yarn, and bulky handspun makes great funky accent choice. But more than that, I was thinking about the Maple tree, and the way the brightly colored leaves curl as they slowly dry. The pockets so far had bright fall-like colors, but the lines were so straightforward – circle, square, rectangle – that I needed a bit of crazy curl in the pockets to kind of represent that thought of the curly maple leaf. I wasn’t going for an exact replica of the curly leaf, just a touch of the spirit of the leaf. Does that sound crazy? Good. Because this is some artistic pixie magic we’re doing. Save the logic for the office.

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In the next few posts we’ll be tackling circular pockets – stay tuned!

-MF

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PBT: Square Pockets

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This post is part of a series of tutorials on how to create your own unique crochet pixie pocket belt – to read more about this series visit the Intro page.

When it comes to pouches, a square or rectangle pocket is about as easy as you can get. Squares and rectangles are just rows, back and forth, and if you can crochet you’re probably already familiar with them. Then of course there’s granny squares, which are a whole other business, but they can also be really fun in these belts. If you want a tutorial on making granny squares, check the “Part 2 Instructions” crochet portion of this free pattern on my blog.

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Here I’m just going to crochet a rectangle, then fold it in half and seam it up the sides to make a square envelope pouch. I might add fancier stuff later, but for now concentrate on the rectangle.

To start a row for a rectangle or square, chain the length you want, then chain a few extra depending on what size stitch you are making – chain 0 extra for sc (the last ch counts as your first st), chain 1 extra for hdc (the last 2 ch count as your first st), chain 2 extra for dc (the last 3 ch count as your first st) etc.

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Then, work your rows back and forth, chaining as many as necessary for the turns (1 for sc, 2 for hdc, 3 for dc, etc) – until you have a square or rectangle. Easy! I made mine a little more textured and interesting by using rows of linked half-double crochet instead of regular hdc. You can find more info on linked stitches on my free Linked Double Crochet tutorial.

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Linking stitches creates a subtle & pretty texture as well as a sturdier fabric than regular crochet.

Fold over the piece, then use crochet stitching to work through both layers at once to seam them together. Alternatively, you could thread a yarn needle with some yarn and whip stitch them together sewing-style, but I prefer the stitch method. Here I’m going to use single crochet to seam the pieces together, because I’ve decided I’m going to come back and add a funky edging later, and I’ll need something to work into easily.

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The general rule for crocheting into the edges of rows is that you’ll want as many stitches per row edge as there are chains in the turning chain for your stitch height – so for single crochet, the turning chain is 1, and you’d make 1 stitch per row edge. For hdc, the turning chain is 2, so you’d want two stitches per row edge. Keep in mind this is a GENERAL rule and it’s going to depend on your gauge and other factors – for instance, I sometimes only make 2 stitches per row side on double crochet rows, if it works better for the specific situation.

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Anyway, seam that puppy up whatever way you feel like. Weave in your ends, and you’re done! Easy pouch. Now to make it more interesting, see the next post.

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-MF

 

PBT: Ruffles, Shells, and Scales

This post is part of a series of tutorials on how to create your own unique crochet pixie pocket belt – to read more about this series visit the Intro page.

Some textural techniques I like to use when making the pixie pocket belts are ruffles, curlicues, shells, and crocodile stitch scales – in this post I’m going to cover the basics of how to create them in order to add dimension to the piece.

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Ruffles and Curlicues:

The basic technique for making ruffles and curlicues is to create a row of stitching that is dramatically longer than the row it is stitched into – this is done by making 2-4 (or more) stitches into each stitch below. To create a practice ruffle, chain a small length and then 3 dc into each chain stitch.

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The extra length created by the many stitches will force the fabric to buckle, creating a ruffle when the row is held flat, such as if you were to crochet many stitches onto a flat piece.

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If you are working multiple stitches onto a long, skinny piece such as a chain, though, you can do more – when you twist the piece, the extra stitches will cause the base chain to curl in a spiral, creating a corkscrew or curlicue effect.

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I love putting these curlicues at the end of chain cords to create a fun detail, and you can create various looks by changing up the height of the stitch you’re using or making multiple rows. To see an excellent comparison between what these different stitches would look like, use this very helpful post from 1 Dog Woof.

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My ruffle chain allowed to spiral, but laid flat.

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The finished ruffled laid flat, without twist.

Changing stitch heights and number of stitches is a good way to add variety to your corkscrew/curlicue/ruffle shape.

Shells

And speaking of changing stitch heights, shells are another versatile decoration I love to use in the Pixie Belts. Shells (also called scallops or fans) are a stitch pattern that uses a succession of stitch heights to create a rounded wave effect on a row of crochet. There are TONS of different ways to make these that all create a slightly different look. The basic strategy, though, is to start with a short stitch, like a single crochet, then move through the stitch heights to get taller…

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Shown is a ch-1 turn (counts as first sc) then hdc, dc, tr, with one st worked in each stitch across.

…then doing the same thing in reverse to go back down in height.

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Now the sequence is ch-1 (sc), hdc, dc, tr, dc, hdc, sc.

This can be done over a number of stitches to create an elongated wave, as shown above…

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…or you can pile all the stitch heights into one stitch to create a more defined rounded shell shape. This one above starts with a sl st to anchor the shell, then skips a stitch and works hdc, 2 dc, hdc in the next st. Skip the next st, then anchor on the other side with a sc.

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Crocodile Stitches

Now one of my favorite techniques, the scale: Also called the crocodile stitch, this stitch pattern uses a base layer of crochet in the pattern of (2 dc, ch 1, 1 dc, ch 1) skipping one or two stitches in between the alternating single/dual dc. Here’s a chart for what that looks like:

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An example of the base layer of the croc stitch pattern, borrowed from an earlier tutorial.

Then, you create a second layer, working 5 dc into the post (side) of the dc stitch in a pairing, chaining 1, then working 5 more dc into the post on the opposite dc in the pairing. Anchor the scale by slip stitching into the unpaired dc.

CrocStitch2.pngThere are different strategies for working croc stitch, both in rows and in the round, and there are lots of videos out there demonstrating the techniques. This post on my blog has a couple short videos showing my technique specific for my Feather & Scale Halter pattern, but if like me you really like the croc stitch and want to make more designs with it, check out my crochet patterns that utilize this stitch!

Here are some examples of the techniques just discussed on the pixie belts I have made in the past:

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“Kelp” has densely stitched hand-dyed handspun wool yarn in randomly alternating stitch heights along the edges of the belt base to create a ripply water-plant effect.

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“Hemlock” has crocodile stitch across the bottom half of the belt with ripped silk fringe looped through the ch-1 space at the tip of the scale.

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Shells run across the bottom of “Shepherd’s Purse” just before the netted portion, made from bulky white recycled sweater yarn.

For now, I’m taking these two little practice pieces I made for this tutorial and am stitching them onto the pixie belt base I worked on last post. To be continued, with pockets!

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-MF

 

 

PBT: Belt Base

This post is part of a series of tutorials on how to create your own unique crochet pixie pocket belt – too read more about this series visit the Intro page.

Belt Base

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The belt base is where I usually start, using one of the main colors of yarn and essentially creating one long, skinny rectangle by stitching just a few rows onto a long base chain. This belt was started by using my 5.00 mm hook and the double chain technique – regular chaining is fine, I just prefer stitching into the double chain for longer projects.

Make a base chain long enough to wrap around the intended set of hips, and then some. You will most likely lose an inch or two during the process of completing the belt due to the tight slip stitching added later.

Then, add a few rows of stitching to create the belt width. I did a row of double crochet, then turned and did a row of (dc, ch 1, sk next st) repeats to add visual interest. Next, I turned and worked a single crochet in each stitch and chain space (so that I have something solid to slip stitch into at the top of the belt in the later steps).

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I got creative here and decided I wanted the middle of the back of the belt to have a little point to it, so I placed a 3-stitch decrease there in each row.

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Once you have your desired width, prepare to rotate and work into the end/side of the belt.

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I create a pointed triangle shape by working three tall connected stitches across the belt ends. These are trtr (triple treble) stitches, which are equivalent to 6 chain stitches, so I chain 6 (counts as first tr tr), then insert the hook into the middle of the side of the belt. *YO 4 times and draw up a loop from under, then draw through 2 loops on the hook 4 times, leaving the last loop on the hook.

Repeat from * working into the other end of the belt side, then YO and draw through all loops on the hook. For a great explanation on working tall stitches, see this post on Moogly Blog.

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Once you have your pointed end for the ties, you can stitch up a crocheted tie by making some kind of cord (see my guide to crochet cords) or you can leave it and attach a fabric, ribbon, or yarn tie later. Either way, once you are done with this area, slip stitch down the side of the last trtr toward the bottom of the belt. Next we’ll be working into the bottom of the chain foundation.

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For the tattered skirt portion, we’ll need something to attach the fabric strips. You can definitely just put the strips through the stitches themselves if you want, but I like to crochet on a couple layers of loops for attaching the fabric. I’ll start by chaining 7, then skipping about three stitches, then attaching with a single crochet in the next st. I repeat this across the first (almost) half of the belt.

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Around the pointed part, I want there to be more fabric. So I only skip about 1 stitch in between each loop to create this effect later.

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Then, finish up the second half of the belt with regularly spaced loops. Once you reach the other side, create another three-trtr triangle. Here I decided to add a crochet tie, so I chain a length and then slip stitch back down.

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I’m almost out of my ball of plain orange, so I’m going to consider this scrap busted, and with just enough to finish the belt base – mission accomplished!

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Orange scrap, we hardly knew ye. Just kidding, we’ve known ye for about 5 years.

My (semi)-finished belt base here measures about 38-39 inches, unstretched, not including the string tie. As you can see, it curves a little naturally due to the decreases placed at the center.  It’ll follow the curve of the hips a little nicer that way, and the extra loops at the increase point will form a fuller skirt there once I place the strips of fabric – I am aiming for a bustle effect with this one.

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But, I am also going to add a second layer of loops, just so I don’t overload the first layer and make it too bulky. With another scrap, I’ll start by attaching my yarn a ¼ of the way across – I only want this layer to be on the back half of the belt.

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Here I am chaining 7 and slip stitching in each chain loop. When I get to the center, I add an extra loop there to maintain the point by slip stitching in the same loop. Then, 8 more chain 7 loops across the other part of the belt, stopping once I have about ¼ of the way left. Second loop layer added, and another little scrap busted!

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Ta- DA! That’s it for the belt base. This is the piece that you will attach the pockets to later, and can continue to build with color and texture according to your whim.

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The belt base is a great place to start experimenting with different stitch patterns – here are some examples from other belts I’ve done.

 

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“Lavender” uses something like a granny square style stitch.

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I used a more open mesh stitch on “Nightshade” and then wove ribbon yarn through.

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Simple, straightforward double crochet works too!

If you have any questions about the tutorial so far or the techniques I’m using, please leave a comment! I love to talk shop. ❤

-MF

 

 

 

Pixie Belt Tutorial: Intro

In response to many requests, I will be starting a series of tutorial posts for the freeform pixie pocket skirt belts (is that enough words for that?) that I’ve been making for a few years now. These crocheted belts feature utility belt style pockets in whimsical colors and shapes and a tattered fabric fringe skirt – they are great scrapbusters and excellent practice at creating different shapes and textures. And one of my favorite things to make!

The one pictured on me here was the first one I ever made, and I was immediately addicted – mixed media, playing with color, using up spare material, cute AND useful.. sounds good right?

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“Titania”

Once I had made a few more and started posting pictures of them here, I got requests for a pattern. The challenge is that I do these belts differently each time – so figuring out a pattern or a tutorial that doesn’t lock them down into sameness took some thought.

“Nightshade”

So I ruminated on it, and finally decided that a series of technique tutorials, based around the creation of an example belt, would be best. I aimed to explain these techniques well enough for even beginners to experiment with these fun shapes and textures, and for everyone to feel confident enough to let loose and have fun with it.

“Mulberry”

This tutorial series will cover material selection, basic shapes needed to create the pockets and the belt, some textural techniques, instructions on attaching the pockets, and how to make the fabric skirt fringe – and anything else I can think of! The links to the post series will appear in order below:

If you want to stay up to date on this series as it is posted, remember to follow my blog or like & follow my Facebook page!

“Kelp”

In the next section, I’m going to go through choosing the materials for the belt. I use a theme for mine, as you may have noticed: plants and trees. I love being inspired by nature, and choosing a theme like this helps guide me when I’m not sure what sort of look I want to add to the piece. More on that later.

For more inspiration, check out the Pixie Belt section on my Pinterest crochet board.

“Hemlock”

“Hickory”

Whether you choose a theme or not, remember this is a freeform project. It’s an exercise in letting go of control, of not being married to an intended outcome. Let it be zen, spontaneous, and fun! I call these belts my “chaos therapy” projects.

“Lavender”

“Shepherd’s Purse”

That’s it for the Intro – I can’t wait to get started on this project and hopefully to see what you all make!

-MF

Crocodile Stitch Video Demos

Well, I’ve finally cajoled myself into learning to video edit so that I can bring you more video tutorials! One of my goals with my newest design, the Feather & Scale Halter Top, was to create a few short video tutorials that shows the particular way I work the crocodile stitches for that pattern.

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I’m still in the learning stages, though – so these videos aren’t as polished as I’d like them to be. But I wanted to at least get some of these techniques in action, as they are easier understood by watching than by written pattern reading alone – even with all the tutorial photos provided in the PDF!

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While shooting these (roughly) I had a lot of ideas for how I’d like to do videos in the future, which was a great way to practice for the Lotus Mandala Duster tutorial video I am planning.  If you have feedback or something that you’d like to see in my future videos, please let me know in the comments! 🙂

Hope these crocodile stitch demos for the first few rows of my Feather & Scale Halter Top crochet pattern are a good start, at least:

Croc Stitch Demo – Row 1

Croc Stitch Demo  Row 2

Croc Stitch Demo – Rows 3 & 4

Be sure to check out my Facebook page for more updates on new tutorial videos and patterns!

-MF

Huntress Sweater Dress

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Taking a moment today to picture-bomb you with one of my more recently completed projects, the Huntress sweater dress – made from my Flower Child Pullover pattern of course, which you can find on Ravelry and on Etsy, and don’t forget about the big sale I have going on my crochet patterns until July 31, 2018!

I’m enjoying the large window I have in the front room of my new place that lets in lots of light for photography so I don’t have to mess too much with studio lighting right now – which means I have more time to focus on dressing up those bad boy crochet pieces.

And looking silly.

Or serious.

…. or drunk.

This piece is also available for sale in my Etsy shop, and fits sizes Medium to Large, with a bust of up to 40″. This one is extra long with a collar-to-hem length of about 33″. I just love making these things!

You can also find this image gallery on Tumblr now, as I recently began posting some of my style stuff (including but not limited to my crochet designs) on my new account. Howlingxmouse, yo! Follow me!

-MF