Stitch Exchange: Potluck Topper Tutorial!

Posted by AVFKW Staff on October 16, 2014 1 Comment

Last week we received our fabric order from Cotton and Steel! We ordered their linen/cotton light weight canvas fabric in three lovely prints.

This fabric is great for bags, pillows or garments that need a sturdier fabric. 

Another great project for this fabric is a pot luck topper! It's a very quick project, a lot of fun to make, and makes a great gift for the upcoming holidays. 

I have made several pot luck toppers and I use them all the time. They are perfect for popping on top of salad bowls, pie plates or baking dishes if you are headed to a potluck and the dish you are bringing is still warm, or just needs a little protection on the ride! 

Here is a brief tutorial with all the information you need to make your own!


  • 1/2 yard light to medium weight fabric (more for larger bowls)
  • 100% cotton thread
  • 1/2 - 1 yard double fold bias tape
  • 1/2 - 1 yard 1/4" elastic
  • Chalk or fabric pen
  • Clear 2" wide ruler
  • Bodkin
  • Sewing kit: scissors, pins, etc
  • Sewing machine
  • The dish you will cover

A bodkin is a small tool used for threading elastic through a sewn channel -- much easier than using a safety pin! We carry a great one from Merchant & Mills in our shop, along with all the other supplies you need.


1. Place your dish upside down on the fabric and trace around it with chalk or fabric pen. I placed mine on the printed side of the fabric so I could fussy cut the lions (make sure your pen is erasable if you do this)!

2. Using the clear ruler, add 2" all the way around the first circle. This will give the cover the extra fabric it needs to go over the edge of the dish.

3. Using the outer circle, cut out your fabric. 

4. Pin bias tape around the edge of the fabric circle, making sure you have 1-2" of overlap where the two ends meet. 

5. Starting at one end, sew bias tape onto fabric circle to create a channel for the elastic, stopping 1" before you get back to the starting place.

6. Stretch the elastic around the circumference of the bowl to determine how much you need. I pulled mine a little snug, to make sure the pot luck topper will stay on. Tack one end of the elastic to the fabric within the seam allowance that the bias channel will be covering. This way you can't accidentally pull the elastic all the way through! 

7. Now grab your bodkin and thread the elastic through the channel all the way back around to where you started.

8. Tack down the second end next to the first one.

9. Fold the raw end of the bias tape under, and finish by sewing it in place (by hand or machine) to cover the elastic ends. 

10. Make a dish to share and take it to a friend! 

Happy sewing everyone! 


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Stitch Exchange: Uptown Top Out of Wool Jersey

Posted by AVFKW Staff on October 02, 2014 0 Comments

I have been sewing my fall wardrobe over the last few weeks and I am really excited with how it's developing! 

This is our Uptown Top pattern sewn in a lovely wool jersey (also available as a download here). This month, I am teaching a class on sewing with knits, and I chose this pattern because of the drape and the ease with which it sews up. Students will learn to sew with knits on a straight stitch machine using a small zigzag stitch. I'm really looking forward to the class, and being able to squelch people's fears about sewing with knits. I'm also looking forward to some cooler weather so I can wear this top!

I love the stripes and how they emphasize the architecture of the top. This garment is what I think of as a "blank canvas"; it looks totally different depending on the fabrication you pick. You can sew it out of light weight silks and cottons, khadi cloth, or, for the winter, wool knits or flannels!

When thinking about curating a winter wardrobe, I think about my favorite garments to wear: jeans and big sweaters!  The combination of an over-sized top with a flattering drape sewn in a wool jersey makes this a perfect staple garment for me.

We have many other knits that would be great for this top. From left to right the fabrics above are: silk jersey print from Feral Childe, 100% wool jersey in cream and gray stripe, and soy and organic cotton french terry. Any of these would create a great and unique top that is sure to become a staple in your winter wardrobe!

What are you excited about making for your fall wardrobe? Comment below or come in and tell us in person.

Happy sewing!



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Gertie's New Sewing Book!

Posted by AVFKW Staff on September 18, 2014 0 Comments

We got some exciting new books in this week!

On top of the pile is Gertie's new book "Gertie Sews Vintage Casual". A follow up to her first book, "Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing," the focus is taken off of tailored suits and special occasion dresses and works on building a wardrobe of everyday clothing.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my handmade wardrobe, about replacing purchased items with handmade garments and about choosing things to make that will go with each other so that my self sewn clothing is versatile. I want to be able to go to my closet and grab handmade garments and toss them on, the way I grab commercially made jeans and t-shirt. This is exactly what Gertie talks about in this book. Also full of great fitting tips, advice on sewing with knits, and tutorials on finishing techniques, this book is not one to be missed!

We have lots of fabrics that would be great for the projects in this book. Our Robert Kaufman Chambray Union line is perfect for casual tops, or even a jumper! We also have some lovely new knits from Feral Childe that are great for tops or the wrap dress project.

This book is a great addition to your sewing library and is a helpful guide for planning a well-rounded handmade wardrobe.


Happy sewing!


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Stitch Exchange: Interview with Gudrun Johnston

Posted by AVFKW Staff on September 07, 2014 0 Comments

Our fourth and final designer interview for the upcoming year of our Pro-Verbial Club is with Gudrun Johnston!

Gudrun is from the Shetland Islands, where her mother ran a knitwear design company called The Shetland Trader. Now Gudrun lives in Massachusetts, and is a prolific knitwear designer herself under the same name. Her heritage is evident in her Shetland lace patterns, as well as beautiful color work inspired by Shetland. Her newest book, The Shetland Trader Book 2, will be released in October! (Stay tuned for a special book event at Verb in November!)

Gudrun knitting in Shetland during Wool Week 2011

While Gudrun was busy wrapping up the details of her book, she was able to spare us a moment to answer our questions!

What is your first memory around knitting?

My first memory doesn't actually include the knitting part but I do remember owning a ribbed vest in a greeny pastel color that I know I did knit! I don't own it anymore!

What’s your favorite thing about designing shawls?

Gosh, that's a difficult question to answer! I love so many things about designing shawls! I think one of the aspects that gives the most satisfaction is seeing all the variations that come when others knit them up. 

What are you looking forward to the most about working with Verb yarn?

I look forward to picking the color the most....I just adore the palette that Verb has! 

Can you give us a quick look at your design process? 

I really enjoy the planning stage. As I tend to use a lot of lace in my shawl designs, I spend time swatching with different patterns and love to see how they look once blocked. A lot of my inspiration comes from traditional Shetland Lace knitting but not exclusively. I always have to knit the entire thing myself at least once! I may well change some things up along the way!!

Where do you knit -- everywhere, or only in your favorite spot?

Strangely enough I don't knit everywhere. I actually have a hard time knitting with lots of other people around or in public. Not sure why that is!! I tend to knit either at my kitchen table (where the light is good) or on the couch when watching a movie in the evening.

What is your favorite item someone else has knit for you? 

Not very many people have knit things for me!! So I have two favorite items, the only two things someone else has knit for me. A pair of fingerless mitts and a pair of socks (knit by separate lovely people). I really, really appreciated receiving them!!

Thanks, Gudrun! We can't wait to see your design for the club (and your new book!!).

It's not too late!! Sign-ups for the club will be open until September 15th, and we'd love to have you join us. Click here to read more and sign up.

To read the previous interviews, click the following links for Andrea's interviewSusanna's interview, or Grace's interview.

-- Sarah



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Stitch Exchange: Interview with Grace Anna Farrow

Posted by AVFKW Staff on September 01, 2014 1 Comment

Our third designer interview for the upcoming year of our Pro-Verbial Club is with Grace Anna Farrow!

You probably know Grace from her strong sense of geometry and the bold lines of her designs. She loves color play and is enamored with stripes and angular construction. She is the author of The Fine Line, as well as Kelbourne Woolen's Allium Collection -- both beautiful collections of shawls.

Grace wearing her design Volt with a moody New Mexico sky

Grace learned to knit in the third grade, and lives in beautiful New Mexico. She was kind enough to answer the following questions about her designing life and knitting!

What’s your favorite thing about designing shawls?

Shawls are inclusive; The same design has the capacity look just as flattering on many different body types, ages and genders.

Shawls are a blank canvas; As long as the fabric drapes it can be any shape, color, or size.

Shawls are flexible; Unlike any other garment a shawl is worn not by placing oneself within it, but by draping it around one's body - there is so much room to personalize. 

Do you have a favorite fiber to work with? 

Wool, wool, 100% wool. Then animal fibers, then plant fibers, then synthetics. We are animals. Animal fiber was designed to cover animals. To my mind we have not yet improved upon that solution. 

What are you looking forward to the most about working with Verb yarn?

The thoughtfulness of the colors you all produce at AVFKW from such humble materials seems alchemical to a non-dyer such as myself. I want that magical, mysterious experience running through my fingers, onto my needles and eventually into my wardrobe. 

Can you give us a quick look at your design process? 

I don't want to misrepresent my process as consistent or repeatable because my life is a state of beautiful chaos that only a poet could describe. But here goes:

I sketch things that look like angular repeating lines on graph paper and then I marinate on if it is actually something that should be knit. I think of a way I could knit it. And then I sketch the new idea and repeat the process. 

I swatch stitch patterns and wonder how they could be worn.

I stare into the bottomless void of the internet (recently Pinterest) and am inspired by what comes from the minds of others. 

I squeeze skeins of yarn and see what they want to be when they grow up.

I make the things I crave.

Part of Grace's designing process

What is your favorite item someone else has knit for you? 

My little sister gave me the first item she ever finished - a ribbed scarf. It is the only non-shawl, non-self designed neckwear that I wear.

What do you do when you make a mistake?

Rip. It. Out. 

Most of my knitting these days becomes samples that travel in one trunk show or another.  Having worked in a few local yarn stores, I can remember that at some point, someone is going to scrutinize that sample, count the stitches, turn in inside out to see how it was made, so it has to match the pattern as written. Because most of my designs have a strong graphic element built into the construction (like a chevron formed by stacking decreases) if the stitch count is off it can really show.

But if I were to be completely honest - I have a horrible tendency to be overly critical of my own work. It's that vicious internal critic that will focus on a mistake until there is no way to move forward until I correct it. That internal critic can be helpful at times too. It makes me return to certain themes and iterate, iterate, iterate until it is ready to make that transition off the page and onto the needles.

Grace learning to weave with her youngest daughter

Thank you for your wonderful answers, Grace! And thank you for being a designer for this year's club!

It's not too late!! Sign-ups for the club are currently open, and we'd love to have you join us. Click here to read more and sign up.

Missed the first two interviews? Click to read Andrea's interview and Susanna's interview.

-- Sarah



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