Why I Sew Kid’s Clothes

IMG_0016“So, how many children do you have?” I am frequently asked.

“None” is my reply.

This of course always leads to the next question, when the conversation is about sewing, “Then why do you make so many clothes for kid’s?”

Its a reasonable question and I will give you 3 good reasons why I sew so many kid’s clothes even though I have no children to wear them.

P1030369The first reason is my casual style, and that of the husband’s. I wear mainly shirts and pants/shorts. I basically wear 3 styles of shirts. A t-shirt, a collarless v-neck shirt (a baseball shirt) and a collared camp shirt. I don’t wear dresses or skirts regularly.

P1030399The husband wears tab front knit shirts and on the rare occasion a button down the front shirt both with pants and shorts.

So, over the years I have sewn many shirts and pants for both myself and the husband and I have our basic sloper patterns for these items fine tuned to perfection.

Over the years, I have varied the basic slopers with small changes to the designs, but basically it is still the same pattern I have sewn for us for years now.

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So given this, how could I learn any new sewing techniques and expand my sewing skills by just making these same tried and true patterns over and over again?

How could I learn different seam finishes? How could I learn about sewing with different fabric varieties like fur and pleather?

DSCN0533Why would I waste my fabric and my time to make myself a dress or skirt that I would seldom if ever wear just to learn sewing skills and techniques like gathers, pleats and linings?

There are no pockets on my shirts or the husbands shirts, so where would I learn to make different pocket styles?

There is no bias tape used in the construction of our clothes, so where would I learn to make and sew items with bias tape?

 

The answer to many of these questions for me is by sewing clothes for children of course!

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It has been my experience that kid’s are very forgiving when it come to their clothes.

They don’t care if the fit isn’t quite right. As long as the colors and designs are fun, they are willing to wear the item.

So, while I have been learning some great new techniques and skills while making the children’s clothes, even if it isn’t perfect in the end, I still have a usable item that a child will love to wear.

DSCN4123Plus, just how many shirts can I and the husband have with Snoopy or Mickey Mouse on them? I have so many fun embroidery designs and fabrics for fun kid’s clothes that I would probably never be able to use if I didn’t sew for children.

And how could I not sew and embroider up some of these great items for some children to wear and enjoy?

 

Reason number 2 is practice. You could also think of this as making mini muslins.

I wouldDSCN3413 like to make me a spring/fall polar fleece jacket. I want it to have a collar, a zipper, multiple pockets, and for the jacket to be fully lined. I have already purchased the fabric that I want this jacket made from and I have a basic jacket pattern to use as a guide to sew this jacket for myself.

But, I felt that I was lacking in the skills to sew this jacket. Skills that I need to be comfortable and confident using such as working with polar fleece, sewing pockets, inserting a zipper, and lining a jacket without a pattern.

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To remedy this lack of skills, I started out by making some smaller kid’s jackets and vests. I could learn and practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket by practicing first on the kid’s jackets.

I would waste less fabric if it turned out all wrong and I could repeat the skills that I needed to by practicing them first on the kid’s jackets.

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If you are a reader of my blog, you know that is exactly what I have been sewing recently.

I have made several kid’s jackets and vests. And in the process I have learned how to finish fleece seams, and I have learned to sew several different pocket styles, patch pockets, side seam pockets, welt pockets and others. I have practiced inserting zippers and sewing different collar styles.

And, more importantly, I have learned how to line an unlined jacket without using a pattern.

DSCN3898I now feel much more confident about cutting into my expensive fabric to make my jacket and in my ability to successfully sew my jacket together now that I have made all of these kid’s jackets and vests first.

In fact, I only have just a couple of more sewing skills that I want to practice and perfect on a couple of more kid’s jackets before I will finally be ready to make my jackets.

So stay tuned later this fall, as I might just be wearing a stylish new jacket (or two or three)!

Reason number 3 that I sew children’s clothes is that sewing clothes for kid’s is really FUN!

P1030564P1030560I enjoy sewing! A LOT! I really enjoy focusing my time and attention into the creative process and completing a functioning and fun item for someone to wear.

It does not matter if that item is for me, the husband, the house, the garage, or a kid, I (for the most part) enjoy the steps of making that item.

Plus, I enjoy learning. I learn from each sewing project that I make.

And, yes, sometimes what I learn and learn again, is patience!

As I mentioned in reason number 1, I have a lot of fun fabrics and embroidery designs that neither I nor the husband is ever going to wear, so for me anyway, it is just fun to sew and embroidery these fabrics and designs into clothes for children to wear.

DSCN3537DSCN3986As I mentioned in reason number 2, I made the kid’s jackets to learn and to practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket in the future, but each of the kid’s jackets or vests was very fun to design and to sew.

I learned from each project and for the most part I was pleased with what I made and what I learned in making them.

In other words, I really enjoyed the journey, from start to finish.

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Lastly, I really love to make something from nothing. I love to take the scraps from mine or the husband’s shirt and to make something from them for a child.

 

In doing so I feel like I am cheating or beating the odds somehow. I was able to take something that was useless, scraps that I could not use to make something for myself or the husband from, and was able to make a functioning, useful item from them.

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DSCN0389This is extra fun to do when I get to stretch my skills by using my creative process to make the scraps work in almost any situation.

So, that in very long form is my answer to question of “Why do you sew so many kid’s clothes?”.

With this complex of an answer to a simple question, you’re now probably afraid to ask any other questions, but don’t be.

In my own way, I will give you an answer that might be longer than expected, but enjoyable to hear.

Until then, sew forth and ask away!

I Don’t Like Spam!

imageBut I do love my new ham!

Over the years, as my sewing career has progressed, I have found that I iron more and more during the sewing process. This fact has lead me to purchase my first ironing tool, a ham.

When I finally decided to purchase a ham to aid in my ironing while sewing, I went to Joann’s and gasped at the price of the ham, and debated if I really needed one. With the help of a coupon, I purchased a ham for half off and went home to try it out.

imageUsing the ham was an instant success!

How did I ever iron without one? The ham made ironing curves and seams so much easier. I did notice though that using the ham in the ironing process was time consuming.

As you know, ironing is all about positioning. Ironing a little, move the fabric, ironing a little more, then move the fabric. With the ham, there is more moving of the fabric to iron the piece that is on the ham compared to ironing without the ham. But, the end results, the nicely pressed seams and the ease of ironing that seam, are worth the extra time and work of using the ham.

imageSince the use of the ham has been such a success, I have started looking at other ironing tools like a sleeve roll or a clapper. I do see some new purchases of ironing tools in my future.

Until then sew forth and iron on!

Star Wars Senior

DSCN4060DSCN4067“They won’t fit.” That is the reply I got from the husband when I showed him my latest sewing project, the kid’s Star Wars sweatshirts. What do you mean they won’t fit? These shirts will fit a 2 year old just fine. Then, it dawned on me. These shirts would not fit the green eyed husband. So, my next sewing project would be a Star Wars shirt for the husband.

 

Looking at my Star Wars embroidery designs, I picked a maroon colored knit from the stash for the husbands shirt. After laundering the fabric, I laid it out on the cutting table to get started only to find out that the maroon fabric was not big enough to make a shirt for the husband a shirt from it. So, the husband picked a black knit from the stash for the sleeves and the collar. As I cut out the fabric, I was glad that I did not have enough of the maroon fabric. The black and maroon fabrics looked really good together. Far better than the maroon would have looked alone.

 

DSCN4044DSCN4043It’s been awhile since I have made the husband a new shirt, but the sewing process went smoothly enough. Both the maroon and black knit fabric are nice fabrics and where easy to work with. The husband picked his embroidery design, the Stormtrooper with the sun ray rising sun background, and it embroidered on to the shirt nicely.

 

All was going along nicely until the husband picked white/clear buttons and white thread for the double needle hems on the bottom of the shirt and the sleeves. I was more then a little apprehensive about this. Sometimes when using a double needle, my sewing machine and the knit fabric that I’m DSCN4065DSCN4063sewing with like to argue during the sewing process. I can hide a lot of this arguing with a matching thread color but could I hide the arguing with a white contrasting thread?

 

Luckily, as I mentioned before, these were nice knit fabrics to work with and they did not argue with the double needle and the hems sewed fairly smoothly and they look good.

Finally with the last step of sewing the buttons on, the husband’s Star Wars shirt was done!

 

DSCN4041DSCN4042But before I could go back to sewing some more kid’s Star Wars clothes, the husband pointed out the Chewbacca fleece blanket kit we purchased at Joann’s last half price sale. After the husband gave me some sweet puppy dog eyes that said “Please make my blanket next”, I got started on his blanket.

 

To increase the size of the blanket, I did not cut off the black dotted line edges of the blanket that were supposed to be cut into strips and then tied together. Instead I squared the top and bottom fleece pieces and then sewed them wrong side together 1/8 inch from the edge. Next I cut 1/4 inches from the edge with the skip stitch blade. The blanket was then ready for its edge to be crocheted on.

 

DSCN4035DSCN4038After crocheting the foundation row, I tried several different edges like scallops and triangles but the husband liked the chained edge the best. So I chained 3, skipped 2 stitches on the foundation row, then slip stitched in the 3rd stitch. On the next row, after changing colors, I chained 3 then slip stitched in the next chain 3 of the 2nd row. For the 3rd row, I picked a different color but I didn’t like the multicolor look so I changed back to the foundation rows color and crocheted the 3rd row like the 2nd row. I had planned to crochet a 4th and 5th row, but this did not look good so I stopped after the 3rd row.

 

The husband was pleased with his finished Chewbacca blanket as well as his new Stormtrooper shirt. Both were fun for me to sew and crochet. Now, that the green eyed monster has left the sewing room. I can get back to sewing more kid’s clothes.

Until then, sew and crochet forth and remember to always let the Wookiee win!

Rocket the Raccoon

DSCN4107What happened to Red Hearts light gray yarn? It just seemed to disappear from store shelves all of a sudden!

The colors for my latest amigurumi project, Rocket the raccoon, were simple, light gray, dark gray, a touch of white and a touch of black. But, when I went to pull the light gray yarn from the yarn stash, I was shocked and amazed by what I saw.

Upon looking in my gray yarn stash box, I found several skeins of dark gray yarn, medium gray yarn, speckled gray yarn, variegated gray yarn but only one skein of light gray yarn.

DSCN4111As I pulled the light gray skien of yarn from the box, I made a mental note to purchase more light gray yarn the next time yarn was on sale at Joann’s. But, as I held my last skein of light gray yarn in my hands, I was shocked by what I saw on it! A Walmart clearance sticker right on top of the Red Heart Brand Label!

Was Red Heart no longer going to make light gray yarn? No, that couldn’t be! Certainly Red Heart would not discontinue making a basic color like light gray. Maybe light gray was just not a popular enough color for Walmart to continue to carry? Maybe, but how could light gray be an unpopular color?

DSCN4109For my amigurumi making, light gray is essential, elephants, mice, raccoons, baby penguins and so on. Spooked just a little by these thoughts, I put the skien of light gray yarn down, and picked up a skein of medium gray Red Heart Love yarn that I purchased last month and a black skein of yarn for the main colors for my raccoon.

As I crocheted the pieces of this amigurumi, I simply used the medium gray yarn instead of the light gray yarn and black yarn instead of the dark gray yarn that the pattern had called for. All the pieces were crocheting up nicely until it came to the eyes. As I crocheted the eye patches from the the black yarn, I quickly determined that my black safety eyes would be lost in the patch of black yarn. So I picked out some blue, green and yellow eyes from my bag of eyes but I just did not like the look of these colors, so I decided to add a white patch of felt behind the black safety eyes to separate the eyes from the black eye patches.

DSCN4114That worked out too well! The bright white between the black eye and the black patch made the raccoon look like he was staring into headlights, so I picked a cream color felt instead of the white felt to tone down the contrast and that worked out fine.

As I attached the eyes to the head, I ran into another issue. By the time I put the eye stem through the felt, the black patch and the head, there was no stem left to attach the safety back to. So, I decided to only attach the eyes to the felt and eye patch and I left the stitching on of the patch be how the eyes are permanently attached to the head. This worked out great!

DSCN4113I also changed from white yarn to cream yarn for the muzzle and the accent around the ears. The cream colored yarn blended better with the medium gray and black yarn and matched the cream felt of the eyes.

It took some time to stitch Rocket together. His legs are attached by thread joints but his arms are just stitched on. And I ended up trying several different smiles both on and off the muzzle for Rocket. I even considered leaving him without a smile but finally decided on the tiny black smile on his muzzle.

Rocket turned out to be a very cute raccoon even in the darker colors. I am pleased with the end results. It is now time for Rocket to find a good home and someone to play with.

Until then, crochet forth and gray on!

Creative Determining – Part 2

DSCN3986DSCN3987To begin the the sewing process of the Snoopy peplum top I started with the peplum first.

Since I was not going to line the peplum, I wanted to hide all the seams as much as possible, so I sewed French seams to piece the peplum together.

 

This was not difficult, just time consuming with a lot of ironing in between seams. I did a simple 1/2 inch hem at the bottom of the peplum to complete it.

Sewing the bodice was next. I decided at the last minute to add the yellow sleeves to the top. I like the yellow sleeves but as I snipped the curve of one of the sleeves I caught the lining and so I had to do a little mending. Luckily, the mended spot is on the inside of the top and cannot be seen from the outside. It should not affect the wearing of the top.

DSCN3998DSCN3989After gathering the peplum, I sewed the peplum to the bodice, making sure to line up the seams as much as possible. I serged this seam to finish it, rather than covering the seam with the lining and doing the stitch in the ditch seam.

The serged seam looks fine and saved me the headache of doing the stitch in the ditch seam.

 

I probably could have used the practice sewing the stitch in the ditch seam on this top, but sometimes just sewing the easy and simple way is fun too. And it’s much less stressful too!

With that, the little girl’s peplum top from the leftover Snoopy fabric scraps was completed!

DSCN3995DSCN3994The top is just adorable and the multiple seams in the peplum are really not that noticeable with the gathers.

This was a fun sew.

It is always fun to make something from nothing and to let the creative side flow to make it work.

Unfortunately, now that I have used up all the Snoopy scraps, I have at least a hundred projects that have raced through my mind that I could have made using the scraps.

Having said that though, I am not disappointed at all that I used these Snoopy scraps to make this top and at least they were put to good use!

Until then, sew forth and determine on!

Creative Determining – Part 1

DSCN3986There was no way that I was going to throw away any of the precious Snoopy fabric scraps left over from my new Snoopy shirt. The scraps really were not large enough to make anything with, not even for a child, but I just could not bear to throw them away. So, what to do with these scraps beside stack them on the edge of the cutting table and stare at them?

Recently, I have seen several little girls peplum tops that are just adorable and I have wanted to make one. So, looking at the Snoopy fabric scraps, I decided to see if I could squeeze a little girl’s peplum top out of the pieces. The size of top I would make would be determined by the dimensions of the scraps.

DSCN3813I didn’t really have a pattern so I turned to the internet for ideas. The first style of peplum top I found had a circular peplum. This was out of the question. The scraps I had to work with were absolutely too small to cut a circular peplum from. The second style I found was a gathered peplum. Hmmm. I might be able to make this work with the scraps.

DSCN3985Now, how long should the peplum be versus the length of the bodice? I saw a variety of bodice and peplum lengths from long bodices with short peplums to short bodices with long peplums and many hi/low peplums in between while I was searching. Once again, I would need to let the dimensions of the scraps determine the length of the peplum and the bodice and the scraps would also determine how full the gathered peplum would be.

DSCN3999Still not having a pattern, I pulled out my favorite little girls dress pattern as a guide. Based on the size of the largest scrap, I determined that I could get a size 4 bodice front and back from the scraps as well as have a few pieces left over for the peplum. I quickly picked some yellow cotton from the stash that matched Woodstock for the lining of the bodice.

To make the peplum, I squared the remaining scraps of Snoopy fabric I had and found that I had two pieces approximately 6 inches tall by 12 inches wide and 4 pieces that were 6 inches tall by 6 inches wide. (Actually, one of the 6 by 6 inches pieces was only DSCN39965 inches wide, but I could work with that.) With a lot of seam work, I determined that I could make these scraps work out for the peplum. I would sew the two 12 wide pieces together for the front of the peplum and sew the 6 inches pieces together for the back or the peplum.

I would not be matching any of the designs in the Snoopy fabric. There was certainly not enough scraps for that, but luckily with a gathered peplum, the non-matching designs as well as the many seams that I would be sewing would just be gathered in.

Excitement for this project grew, as I saw my almost useless scraps become a little girls peplum top!

Stay tuned for the sewing of the little girl’s Snoopy peplum top.

Until then, sew forth and scrap on!