I spent a lot of time working on a tunic style sweater, and was really looking forward to wearing it. Unfortunately, when I finally tried it on, it didn't fit right. I'd dry blocked, then sprayed, the pieces before assembly, as recommended for the type of yarn. When I put it on, however, I found it weirdly tight at the elbows. Too tight to be able to wear. It didn't feel comfortable in other areas, either. I like my tops loose. It should have been loose. I made it using the largest size the pattern came in. According to the measurements given, that was the right size for me, but I like my tops loose. With the lace pattern in the design, increasing it another size would've made it way too big, so I used slightly larger hooks than recommended to get a larger gauge. So it was a surprise to find it was still so snug.
At first, I was afraid the sweater would have to go to my daughters or something, but I decided to try wet blocking it. The only surface I had that was large enough was a futon mattress. It was partially successful. The pins kept coming loose from the mattress, so the shape wasn't maintained. Still, it was a lot better, even with one elbow slightly tighter than the other because of the loose pins. It was wearable, at least, but I still wasn't completely satisfied.
I needed to find some sort of surface to properly block such large items - especially with a coat being made right now! I decided to pick up a sheet of that foam house insulation that comes in pink or blue. I knew the pins would go into the foam easily, and that it would be hard enough to actually hold them in place.
So today, the girls and I headed to the hardware store. The insulation I was thinking of turned out to come in sheets much thinner than I expected. I also had no idea how I'd get it home. There was no way they'd fit in the car, and tying the 2 or 3 sheets I'd need to get to the roof wouldn't work, as the edges would get damaged.
Then I spotted large sheets of styrofoam type insulation. The size was ideal - great big sheets in different thicknesses. I'd have been able to block all the pieces for my daughter's coat at the same time with those. I still had the same problem, though. No way to get it home. These would be even harder to tie to the roof, and they'd never survive the drive home without damage.
Then we spotted this.
Smaller sheets of the same type of foam in packs of six, available in different thicknesses. Still too long to fit in the trunk, but we could just fit it in the back seat, with my younger daughter. *L*
I also picked up a roll of cloth tape, similar to duct tape, to hold the pieces together while blocking
Because of the arm length of the sweater, I ended up taping 5 sheets of the foam side by side. Buying several small sheets instead of one big one turned out to be the better choice.
Once my younger daughter and I taped the backs together, I flipped it over and covered the top with towels.
I used to use just regular pins with the round heads for blocking. Those worked fine for small items, for for larger items, I found the heads just slipped right through the fabric. One of the library books on crochet I'd borrowed mentioned T-pins - something I'd never heard of before. I found some at Micheal's. These are the smaller size they had available. They're fantastic! Much better for the job. I'm going to have to pick up a couple more packages so I'll have enough to block the pieces for the coat.
Here's the sweater, pinned inside out so the seams lie flat. I paid particular attention to pulling and stretching out the elbow area. I tried to focus a bit more on the neck opening, too, as I have to take off my glasses to put in on, but it wasn't as much of a priority.
The foam seems to be working well. The pins still slide out rather easily while stretching things out, but not enough to be a problem.
This should take about 2 days to dry. :-/