Tag Archive | Design

HaHaHaHa – Part 3 of Sew It Begins

With the husband’s latest shirt completed, it was finally time to sew a new shirt for myself.

I picked the design and fabric for my new shirt based on the embroidery design that I had picked out to use. I love this Snoopy design and I have always wanted to embroider it on a shirt for me. So, with the Snoopy design in mind I entered the stash room and picked a piece of blue cotton and a matching patterned cotton remnant for the fabric for this shirt.

After laundering the fabric, I laid it out on the cutting table and got started. I cut out the pieces from the blue cotton first, then I cut into the remnant only to find out that I was short on fabric. I must have measured incorrectly or the fabric had shrunk more than expected in the wash.

Regardless, this piece was too small to use now. Logically, I should have returned to the stash room and chosen another fabric but, oh no, not me. The challenge was on. My creative mind was churning. How could I get the needed pieces from this short piece of fabric?

I started by changing my idea of matching the pattern of the fabric at the side seams. I debated if not matching the pattern was a good idea, or if it would make me crazy after the shirt was sewn. Since the pattern on the fabric was a little crazy itself and it would be non matching at the seam under my arms, I decided to go for it and disregard matching the pattern.

Even with not matching the pattern at the side seams, I was still a little shy, about 2 inches, of having enough fabric for the sleeves. What could I do to get just 2 more inches? If I shortened the sleeves by an inch each, I would have my 2 inches, but I did not want my sleeves an inch shorter. So how could I cut the sleeves an inch shorter and still have them the same length?

Bias tape was the answer.

I cut the sleeves the inch shorter, but instead of hemming the sleeves, I made some 1/2 inch bias tape from the blue cotton and used the bias tape to finish the sleeves. The rest of the sewing of the shirt sewed smoothly and embroidering the Snoopy design was great fun.

I am very pleased with this shirt. It is fun to wear and I love having the Snoopy design on it. It was also a fun shirt to sew and it was exciting to let my creative mind work to solve a sewing problem.

With a new shirt done for both the husband and the me, it was time to pick a my next sewing project. Stay tuned to see what that will be.

Until then, Sew forth and Laugh on!

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!

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!

Down In The Southwest

DSCN4029Waste not, want not, but as you know there is more to it when it comes to fabric scraps and remnants. It’s the challenge of making something from nothing and the creativity of making it work that gets you to use those scraps and to buy those fabric remnants from the bargain bin at the fabric store.

It was this challenge and creativity that got me to begin my latest sewing project.

DSCN4027I saw this southwest print in a stack of discounted flat fold fabrics and I just fell in love with it. I love the bright colors on the black background and the fabric has a nice weight and feel to it. But, there was just a little over a yard left. What could I make from that? The fabric would be ideal for me a shirt, but could I figure out how to piece it together with other pieces of fabric to make me a shirt? Color blocking ideas swirled in my head so I quickly purchased the piece of southwest print fabric and brought it home!

DSCN4033With a color blocking design in mind, I dug through the stash and found several pieces of fabric that I could put together with the southwest print to make me a shirt, but the deep blood red piece that I found was by far my favorite. But, as I went to cut the shirt out, I noticed that the red piece of fabric was terribly flawed.

What was such a flawed piece of fabric even doing in the stash?

I returned to the stash to select a different piece of fabric to use with the southwest print but now I did not like any of my other choices. I thought about going back to the fabric store to look for more red fabric but I was too disappointed to go. I took another look at the flaws in the red fabric to see if I could work around them. How could I make it work the way it was? After much thought, I came up with a new color block design that should work, but I would have to cut the southwest print perpendicular to the grain line.

Would it be ok to cut against the grain?

DSCN4022After much studying and reading about grain lines, grain, cross grain, welt and warp threads, I decided that yes it would be ok to cut my fabric perpendicular to the grain line as long as I was careful to cut on the cross grain just as I would be careful to cut on the grain line. At this point after fully researching the issue, it was finally time to cut the fabric.

The cutting process started with tracing my pattern and then cutting out new pieces for the color blocking. This took time and thought. I had to decide where I wanted the seams to be, add some seam allowances and then reshape the armscye and hem. With the new pattern pieces created, it was time to cut. I carefully cut the front and back pieces perpendicular to the grain line from the southwest print and the I carefully placed and cut my new side pattern pieces and sleeves around the flaws of the red pieces of fabric. With the pieces all cut out, it was time to sew.

DSCN4023The sewing process was going along smoothly until I noticed the flaw of the red fabric in the center of one of the sleeves. I thought I had cut so carefully around the flaws but I guess that I had not. I had no more non-flawed red fabric to cut out another sleeve with. Could I just pretend the flaw was not there? No, I would never wear the shirt with the flawed sleeve. Hmm, I wondered. Could I cover up the flaw with a little embroidery? Yes, that would work!

I picked a lizard embroidery design and some bright colors to match the southwest print and embroidered the design on the sleeve to cover up the flaw and it worked great! You can still see the flaw, but your eye is now attracted to the embroidery design instead of the flaw so no one ever notices it. Showing the husband my embroidery solution, he suggested embroidering another lizard on the other sleeve to balance out the design. So, I picked some more bright colors and embroidered another lizard on the other arm. With the lizard designs embroidered on each sleeve, it did not take long to complete the hems and sew on some bright southwest looking buttons to complete the shirt.

DSCN4026I was a little apprehensive about wearing this shirt at first with its bright colors and it’s multiple embroidery designs, but it did not take long to fall in love with the shirt. It is a lot of fun to wear! The color blocking, bright colors, and the embroidered designs make it highly unique. This shirt also fits well. The alterations to the pattern for the color blocking did not affect the fit.

I am very pleased with this shirt and have already worn it several times. I am now excited to make more projects with lots of color blocking and embroidery designs but minus the flawed fabric.

Until then, sew forth and lizard on!

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!

 

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!