Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lining mittens, part 1: thumb at the side

Today, the first of a two-part series on lining mittens. The two main types of mittens differ in where the thumb comes out: side thumb or front thumb. 

In this post we'll line a side-thumbed mitten. The following post shows the front-thumbed version.

In my humble opinion, the best mitten liner is made of polar fleece. Polar fleece is a synthetic knitted fabric of many virtues: easy to wash, warm and non-itchy. It's cheap and easy to find in lots of colors and weights. Best of all, you can cut it without having to seam it -- it will not ravel out. (More info about Polar fleece here.)

In the illustrations below, the "good side" (the denser, fuzzier side) of the polar fleece fabric is illustrated in blue, the "not-so-good" side is illustrated in green. 

Step 1: Trace the outlines of the mitten on the not-so-good side of the polar fleece, then stop when you get to the straight part of the non-thumb side.

Step 2: flip the mitten over and trace it again, so that you get a double outline, joined along the outside edge, as shown. Cut this shape without separating the two halves. 

Step 3: Fold the shape in half along the dotted line, not-so-good side out and the good sides together on the inside.

Step 4: Pin, then sew the mitten lining form together. If you have a sewing machine, it'll just take a minute or two to sew the lining seams. Use whatever thread and bobbin are handy: color does not matter, it'll never show. If you have no sewing machine, it won't take much longer to hand sew the form shut. The best stitch for this is the back stitch. (Info about back stitch here.)

Step 5: The sewn mitten lining form. Note that the seam is on the outside, and the "good side" (i.e.: the fuzzier side) is inside the form, where it will snug against your cold hands.

Step 6: Slip the lining form into the mitten with the "not-so-good" seamed side facing out, as shown.

Step 7: Once the lining is inside of the mitten, flip the whole business inside out, so that the "good side" of the lining is outside, while the mitten (flipped inside out) is inside the lining form. Pin the lining to the mitten, and sew, using the overcast stitch, as shown. (More info about overcast stitch + lining knits here.)

Once the lining is sewn in, flip the whole business inside out again, and you've got yourself a lined mitten.

Some final notes:

* As you see, there is no seam allowance left when cutting the lining form. This is intentional: In Polar Fleece, you can sew quite close to the edge--1/4 inch or even less. Therefore, when you make your seam, you will make the lining form just that much smaller than the mitten, so that the form fits snugly inside the mitten. Obviously, the thicker the polar fleece you select, the thicker the seam will be, and the snugger the fit of the mitten form. I personally do not use fleece above "200" thickness for linings, and perhaps even a 100 or a micro lining would be useful for lining mittens, matching the thinner linings to a thinner knit. (Again, more information about Polar Fleece here.)

* If you want to line a mitten, knit it bigger (both wider AND longer) to make room for the lining. This is particularly true of the thumb: knit this proportionally even bigger than the mitten itself so the lining doesn't squeeze, cutting off circulation and leaving you with a blue thumb.

* Per illustration 7, the cuff is not lined. It is obviously possible to line a cuff, but this tends to make the wrist stiff, and the mitten uncomfortable and unpopular. If you truly want to line the cuff, you must knit it quite loose to avoid these problems. Lined cuffs are not usually ribbed.

* If the sewing instructions in step 1 ("good side" and "not -so-good side") are confusing, worry not: on double-sided fleece, unless you look closely, it can sometimes be hard to tell which side even IS the fluffier "good" side. The only really important thing is to insert the lining form with the seam on the side of the lining away from your hands, as shown in illustration 6.

* In illustration 2, cutting the entire outline in a single layer is more accurate than folding in the middle and cutting both sides at once: there's less chance of fabric slippage this way. 

You have been reading TECHknitting on "lining hand-knit mittens"