Tag Archive | coat

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!

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It’s In The Bag! – Part 2 – The Lining

DSCN3886After completing the shell, I sewed the lining next. I serged all the seams and edges of the lining because the gray lining fabric just loved to fray. This was not difficult, just time consuming. I left part of one of the sleeve seams unstitched for the bagging of the jacket. With the shell and the lining sewn, it was time to sew these together and bag the jacket.

DSCN3880Even though I knew what do sew next, I decided to read the tutorial for bagging a jacket one more time, and I am glad that I did. At the top of the bagging tutorial was a link to a tutorial on how to cut a lining for a jacket. I had not read this tutorial before and even though my lining was cut and sewn, I decided to read the tutorial.

I was unpleasantly surprised to find out that I had made my lining incorrectly. There were more steps to cutting a lining out than just cutting out the pattern pieces again from lining fabric. I debated about just using my finishing lining and learning the lesson for the next time but then I read how if the lining is not cut with ease, the jacket will not fit or wear well.

Darn!

DSCN3909I was going to have to make another lining! And this time I would be following the tutorial to get it right!

DSCN3890I returned to the cutting table and I cut out a new lining with the extra inches at the fold in the back and the ease at the armscye and sleeves. I once again cut the lining 2 inches shorter at the bottom and at the sleeve’s hem. At the sewing machine, I made a box pleat in the top and bottom of the back piece to gather in the extra inches. I once again serged all the seams and edges to keep the lining fabric from fraying, and I once again left part on one of the sleeve seams open for the bagging. With a whole new lining, one that had appropriate ease added in, I was ready to once again bag the jacket.

DSCN3892Following the steps of the bagging tutorial, I sewed the shell and lining together. Next I sewed the sleeve hems together, and then turned the jacket through the unfinished seam on the sleeve. This worked fantastically! The zipper turned beautifully to the front of the jacket, the collar was finished, with no twill tape or facing needed, and the hems both at the bottom and sleeves rolled up 1 inch. The last step was to sew the unfinished seam of the sleeve together.

DSCN4004Normally, this is where the hand sewing would be required, but the tutorial said just to sew along the edge of the sleeve seam with wrong sides facing. Yes, this left a little ridge, but it would be inside the sleeve where no one would know that it was there, or see it, or even notice it while wearing the jacket. Even with the jacket off, it would be highly unlikely that the sleeve would ever be turned inside out to reveal this seam. This was great for me! A quick easy seam to finish the jacket plus no evil hand sewing!

DSCN4007As I zipped my completed jacket up, I figured out why the making of the lining tutorial kept talking about the facings. I assumed that since I was lining the jacket, the facings were not needed, but after zipping the jacket and having the lining exposed where the facing would have been, I could see how the facings from the shell fabric would look and wear better than the lining.

DSCN4000At this point in the construction I did something I don’t normally do when I am sewing kid’s clothes. I needed to remove the top stabilizer that I had used to hold the fleece down while embroidering on the pockets. I could have just ran a little water over the pockets and let them air dry, but I decided to wash and dry the whole finished jacket instead, just like a mom would do after the kid had spilled ice cream down the front of it.

DSCN3992I was a little disappointed when I removed the jacket from the dryer. The fleece had fuzzed up a little and some of the shiny new look was gone, but all the seams held well and the lining did just fine. So at least I know this is not a dry clean only type of situation, which wouldn’t be good on a child’s garment, and that the jacket can be machine washed and dried without ruining it.

DSCN3990Despite the exposed facing and the fuzzing fleece, this jacket turned out just too cute. I love the paw print, the contrasting colors, the side patch pockets, the Dalmatian embroidery designs, the zipper and the lining.

Let’s face it, I love the whole jacket! I especially love the bagging of this jacket and the lack of hand sewing. I see another jacket just like this one but with facings added in my near future, so stay tuned!

Until then, sew forth and bag on!

It’s In The Bag! – Part 1 – The Pockets

DSCN3898I found one more way to finish the edges of polar fleece seams on a jacket. Just put a lining in the jacket! Now, lining a project has always frightened me just a little because it required hand sewing to finish it up and as you know hand sewing is evil and must be avoided at all costs. But, I found a great tutorial online explaining how to bag a jacket, i.e. how to add a lining to a jacket, with little to no hand sewing so I was excited to try bagging a jacket for the first time.

At the top of the tutorial, the statement was made that any garment could be lined regardless of whether the pattern called for a lining or not, so I did not bother to look for a pattern with a lining. I just grabbed my tried and true kid’s jacket pattern, Simplicity 8902. It took only a minute to pick out the red puppy paw print fleece fabric and some gray lining to use to bag this jacket.

DSCN3873I gave the design and construction of this jacket a lot of thought before I made the first cut into the fabric. I decided I did not need the facings on it since the lining would replace them. Next, I would cut the lining 2 inches shorter at the hems of both the bottom and the sleeves so that the lining would pull the fleece around to complete the hems. Last, I wanted to embroidery a design on the jacket, but I knew that it would get lost in the busy puppy paw design of the fleece.

DSCN3874So to remedy this problem, I decided to make side patch pockets for the jacket from some grey fleece scraps and to embroider the designs on to the pockets. I also decided to make the collar from the grey fleece too to match the pockets. I thought about using the lining fabric for the bottom of the collar, but the grey fleece was not that heavy so I decided to make both sides of the collar using the fleece. With that plan in mind, it was time to cut the fabric and get sewing!

DSCN3876The cutting process went smoothly. I cut out the pieces for the shell or outside of the jacket from the fleece and then I cut matching pieces from the grey lining. I started the sewing process with the shell of the jacket which was going along just fine, including the sewing on of the zipper, until the pockets.

DSCN3879The husband picked out the Disney 101 Dalmatians for the embroidery designs so I embroidered Perdita on one pocket and Pongo on the other. With the embroidery done, I decided I wanted to line the pockets to protect the back of the embroidery designs from things that would be put in the pockets and to protect little hands from the embroidery designs rough parts. But, how should I line the side patch pockets?

DSCN3991To line the pockets, I cut two pockets from the lining fabric minus the fold over flap. I serged the edge of the lining fabric where the flap would have been. I folded the fleece flap of the pocket to the wrong side of the pocket and then placed the lining on top. I then sewed right sides together on three sides of the pocket. Next, I turned the pocket at the flap. After ironing the pocket, I folded the flap over, encasing the exposed but serged lining under the flap, and then I sewed the flap down to the pocket to complete the lining of the pocket. It was then simple to sew the pockets onto the front shell of the jacket.

I am going to pause here and let you catch your breath for a minute. I still have a lot of story to tell about the sewing of this jacket. So, stay tuned for the exciting conclusion in part 2 of It’s In the Bag.

Until then, sew forth and bag on!

 

Applying The Lessons Learned

IMG_0016After being so pleased with the construction process of the dinosaur vest, and then so flustered by the construction of the ant jar vest, I wanted to make another vest. And in the process I wanted to apply the lessons that I had learned and to end the vest making process on a more positive note.

So, I grabbed some more bottom weight scraps from my pile and some monkey printed flannel and I got started! As I laid out the fabric to cut, I spied some pleather that I had waiting to make its way it to the stash. Oh yes! I would give this vest a pleather collar and welt pleather pockets to step up the style!

DSCN3956With the design completed, I started to cut out the fabric. Because I was working with scraps, I did not have a single piece big enough to cut the back of the vest on the fold, so I would need to add a back seam to this vest. A back seam would not affect the wear or the construction of the vest so I saw no problems in having a back seam. Applying the lessons learned from the previous vest constructions, I remembered to cut the extra inch for the buttons on the fronts of both the top fabric and the lining. I also remembered that I wanted to add some interfacing to the pleather the next time I used it. Soon, I had all the pieces cut out, interfaced, and I was ready to start sewing.

DSCN3957The first step in the sewing process was the embroidering of the monkey design. Remembering the lessons learned from before about placement, I thought long and hard about the placement of the embroidery design versus the size of the design and the collar before I finally hooped the fabric and stitched the design. When the design was completed, I saw that I was not going to have an issue with the collar covering the design. If fact, I had over compensated and I was wishing that the design was a little higher than it was. Even though, the monkey design is the best placed embroidery design I have done on these vests, I still have a few placement lessons left to learn.

DSCN3700The next step was to sew the pleather welted pockets. As I debated about the placement of the welts, the husband peaked over my shoulder to see what I was doing. When I showed him the pleather welts, he said no, that I should make patch pockets like on the dinosaur vest from the pleather. I explained to him that I already had the welt pockets cut out and interfacing applied to the pleather welts, but he insisted that I should cut new patch pockets from the pleather instead. Since I know that the husband has a good eye for design I followed his lead and cut out some new patch pockets from the pleather and sewed them on the front of the vest. The pockets came out great! The pleather was easy to sew and the pockets look very good on the front of the vest. Plus, the monkey embroidery design sits at the top of the pockets so it is now not too low.

DSCN3702When it came to the pleather collar and the pockets, I remembered lessons learned about using a press cloth to iron the pleather. I top stitched the edge of the collar so that it would match the stitching on the pleather patch pockets. The rest of the sewing process went smoothly, even the stitch in the ditch seam of the band.

When it came time for the buttons and buttonholes, I applied the lessons learned from the previous vest’s buttons and buttonholes. I decided not to have a button at the top of the vest, but to place the first button so the vest was open as I expected the vest to be worn. I then spaced the other buttons appropriately. The buttons looked like they were in the right place and there was no seam issues when sewing the buttonholes.

DSCN3963I am super pleased with the end results of this vest! It is just adorable!

And as much as I hate to say it, the husband was right and I just love the pleather patch pockets!

The pleather patch pockets are just perfect with the monkey embroidery design and the pleather collar.

Plus, I am super pleased with myself for remembering and applying the lessons learned from previous sewing projects.

I hope some little girl will enjoy wearing this vest as much as I have enjoyed making it. With the success of this vest, I am ready to more on from vest construction to other sewing projects, but I will happily make more vests at anytime.

Until then, sew forth and apply your lessons learned on!

Some Lessons Learned For Next Time – Part 2

Continuing on with the sewing of the denim ants in a jar vest…

DSCN3525The next step in the sewing process was to add the pockets. Since I really did not have a pattern for the side seam pockets, I decided I would design and sew them how I wanted. In designing the pockets, I wanted the fun flannel I was using to make the pockets to show, so I decided to cut a rectangle from the sides of the jacket fronts. But, how big should I cut the rectangle? After some thought, I cut the rectangle what I thought the size should be, 5 inches tall by 1 inch deep, and then cut the pockets to match. With this size of square, I would place the pocket 1.5 inches from the bottom of the fronts.

DSCN3524In the sewing process, I noticed right away that I had a good size opening for the pockets but not much depth to the pockets. I should have cut the opening square shorter and used that extra length for the pocket depth. It was too late now though as the fabric was already cut. So, the finished pockets are very cute and the flannel is showing, and the pockets will certainly keep the wearer’s hands warm but the pockets won’t be too useful for hold many items due to their short depth. Another lesson learned for the next time!

DSCN3530The next step was to add the bottom band which was a little difficult due to the stiffness and weight of the denim. I had to use a little liquid stitch to help hold the denim in place to start and stop the stitch in the ditch seam. There was a lot of bulk from the denim front, the seam allowance from attaching the band, and the folded over finish of the band, i.e. 5 layers, in this seam. I trimmed the seam allowance but it was still bulky and difficult for my sewing machine to get started on this final band seam, but I made it through it ok.

DSCN3531The final step was to add the buttons. I measured evenly to place the buttons, but when it came to sewing them on, I had to move the top button down slightly due to the bulky denim seam at the top of the vest. This left the buttons mis-spaced slightly. The top button is not quite high enough to keep the vest closed around the neck if it is worn closed. If the top button is left undone, the vest opens a little too much before the next button. This could have been avoided by sewing horizontal buttonholes and avoiding the DSCN3928 (1)bulky denim seam at the top, but because of the pieced strip on the front of the vest to add the extra inch, I had to make the buttonholes vertical. If I had given the placement of the buttons versus the bulky denim seams a little more thought before I started to sew, I could have placed the buttons better. Another lesson learned for next time!

Now that the vest is complete, I am pleased with the end results. I also think the vest will wear just fine, and I hope some kid will enjoy wearing it too. Many lessons were learned from the making of this vest and I hope to remember all these lessons and apply the lessons to my future sewing projects.

Until then, sew forth and button on!

Some Lessons Learned For Next Time – Part 1

DSCN3928 (2)My latest sewing project was destined to be yet another learning experience for me.

After the successful sewing of the dinosaur vest, I wanted to make another vest. When I made the dinosaur vest, I had envisioned so many different options and fabrics for these vests, so this made it easy to decide that my next sewing project would be to make some of these vest options a reality!

The designing of this vest was not difficult at all. When I was picking out the fabric for the dinosaur vest, I had also pulled out a denim scrap that was just big enough to make a vest and a greenish blue flannel with yellow bug outlines from the stash. I could see a vest from these two pieces of fabric and I knew that I would sew one of my favorite embroidery designs, some ants escaping from a glass jar, on the front. Because of the large size of the embroidery design, I would give this vest side seam pockets rather than patch pockets.

With the design of the vest all outlined, it was time to cut it out and get sewing!
DSCN3931 (1)When I laid out the pattern pieces of Simplicity 8902, on the denim fabric, I remembered that I needed to add an inch to each front for the button overlap. I carefully laid the pattern pieces out correctly to cut the extra inch, but then I promptly cut along the edge of the pattern piece as shown on the pattern and I did not add the extra inch. How dumb was that? Well it was done now and I couldnt undo it so I decided it was a lesson to be learned for the next time I make this pattern.

The denim scrap that I had was not big enough to cut two new fronts, so instead I cut two 1.5 inch strips of the denim to add to the fronts of the vest. The strip would look like an intended button placket rather than a fix, so all was good despite the cutting error that I made. After cutting out all the pieces and remembering to add the extra inch to the front of the lining, it was time to being sewing.

DSCN3930 (1)The sewing process started with embroidering the design to the front of the jacket. I remembered that I wanted to do the embroidering first before adding the pockets to keep the pockets out of the way of the embroidery. I also remembered that I wanted to move the embroidery design down so that there would not be an issue with the collar covering some of the design.

What I had forgotten was that the ants embroidery design is two inches taller than the dinosaur design and I did not remember to take that into account when positioning the design. So, even though I moved the design down on the vest, the top of the design was still higher than I wanted it due to the extra height of the design. After stitching the design to the front of the vest, I realized that the top of the ant design was still going to be under the collar, and not just at the edge of the collar like the dinosaur design but that the ant at the top was going to be under the collar. That will be another lesson learned for next time I use this design!

DSCN3932 (1)Flustered even more, I now had to come up with a solution to fix the collar/embroidery design problem. I thought about making this vest collarless or adding a standing ribbing collar that would not fold over, but I did not like the look of these options.

I decided to see if I could just shorten the collar enough so that it would not cover the ants but it would still fold over and look ok. To do that I cut over an inch ff the bottom of the collar. The collar looks a little small now that it is done, but it works just fine. The collar lays right at the edge of the top ant’s antenna, and with a little encouragement, the stiff denim will fold over just enough to cover the collar seam. Still not being totally pleased with the collar, I continued on with the sewing process to the next steps.

But that’s a story for next time.

Until then, sew forth and ant on!

Oh! That’s Gonna Leave a Welt… – Part 2

DSCN0977Continuing on from my first part of the welt pocketed jacket project, the rest of the jacket sewing went smoothly.

I used pleather for the collar as well as the pockets and it all sewed up great! Because the zipper was not inserted into the collar, there was no hand stitching and I was able to finish off the collar with some twill tape. I also remembered to press the pleather with a press cloth on both the pockets and the collar so that the iron did not damage the pleather. Before long the sewing was done and the jacket was complete.

With the jacket completed, I studied it closely and something was not right.

DSCN0981I stared at and studied the jacket until I finally figured out what that something was. The neckline on this jacket is HUGE! It is way too big around. I returned to the pattern, but as far as I could tell, I had traced and cut the pattern pieces correctly. Had I sewed something wrong or was it the pattern? I had a few options to try and fix it. I could try to fix the neckline, but for a trial jacket, I was not willing to spend the time and energy on a fix, especially to find out that the fix didn’t work or made things worse. Disappointed, I thought about not embroidering on the jacket, but then decided that some kid somewhere would be willing to wear this jacket, and he or she would need something fun embroidered on it to distract from the huge neck line.

DSCN0922Picking an embroidery design for this jacket was not an easy task. Since I did not know who the final owner of this jacket would be, I tried to make it as unisex as possible, but each embroidery design I picked swayed the jacket to the feminine or masculine side. I looked and debated over many designs until I finally realized that I was wasting all my sewing and embroidery time picking out the design. I finally went back to one of my first choices and embroidered The Lady and The Tramp design on the jacket. The jacket is definitely for a girl now but I love the design on it.

DSCN0982I am still not happy with the collar on this jacket, but I am very pleased with the welt pockets, the pleather accents and the embroidery design.

Ultimately, I am happy with the end results of this jacket and hope that there is a young girl out there willing to wear this jacket even with the oversized collar. I am super excited about learning to make welt pockets and I cannot wait to start another project with welt pockets!

Until then, sew forth and welt on!