Tag Archive | Mickey Mouse

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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The Long and Winding Road

941656_515344308514980_1754325710_nAnd so it begins. So in the last 18 months I have been able to loose some weight and keep it off. I’m pretty proud of myself. Although this is great news, it has caused a couple of sewing issues to arise. Namely all of my clothes are fitting me like plastic garbage bags and all my basic sloper patterns now need to be adjusted before I can start sewing myself some new clothes. Altering clothes and patterns is not one of my strong suits. I really hate to unpick seams. I am just lazy at heart. When I make something that needs to be taken in or let out, I take the easy way out and say that I will just adjust it the next time I make the pattern.

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P1020785This dilemma would have happened sooner, except I am like most women and I have a stash of clothes that I have out-fatted over the years but just could not bare to part with. And just knowing that someday I would drop those extra pounds and be able to wear those clothes again. And recently I have been wearing those clothes, but I am being teased about my ’80s shoulder pads and I can’t wear my ’90s grunge to work, so it is time to break down and either alter my recently made clothes or alter my patterns and make new clothes.

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Because of my hatred of unpicking seams, I decided to start out by altering my sloper patterns. While wearing one of my favorite ’80s shoulder pad shirts, I remembered that years ago my mom helped me to take a pattern from this shirt. Was there any chance I still had this pattern hiding in the back of my pattern box? This would be a great starting point if I did still have this pattern. Luckily, being the pack rat I am, I did still have that pattern.

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P1020787I decided to start this pattern altering journey with my t-shirt pattern. With the help of the old ’80s pattern and some new measurements, I cut out a current sized t-shirt for me. And I picked a fabric that I have a lots of, and am not the fondest of, to give this new sloper pattern a try. The sewing part of the t-shirt was pretty standard fare. I did try the shirt on a couple of times during the sewing process just to make sure I was on the right track.

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With the sewing of the t-shirt completed and the fit seeming to be good, I decided to do some embroidery on the shirt. When I started this project, I was not going to embroider a design on this shirt. Why would I waste the time and thread on a pattern fitting trial project? But, I was pleased enough with the fit of the final shirt to embroider on it so I did. I picked the Pig Pen design because I really like it and have always wanted a shirt with Pig Pen on it and I just hadn’t got around to it. You see lots of shirts with other peanuts characters on them but not usually Pig Pen alone. Plus, he looks good with the green stripe on the fabric, and since it is a casual shirt, he fits in on it quite well.

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P1020793As I was digging in the closet for the ’80s pattern, I found this black, white and grey striped t-shirt that I had made for myself about 5 years ago. It did not fit very well at the time I made it because the stripes are painted on the knit fabric and the paint took all the stretch out of the fabric. So, it was tucked into the closet for some later day project and that some day was now. It now fits me much better so as long as I had the embroidery thread and stabilizer out, I decided to add a design to this shirt as well and have another better fitting wearable shirt.

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P1020794Now for the biggest test of this whole project. The wear test. And after having wore both shirts a few times, the Pig Pen shirt fits pretty good and is very comfortable to wear but I believe that is due to the knit fabric. If I did not have the stretch of the knit would my alterations be correct? So, I am not saying that I have officially completely altered my t-shirt basic sloper pattern to its new size, but I am getting very close to it. And I am not going to be tracing a new final pattern from the mishmash of the two patterns just yet. But I am using those as a base to use on my next sloper pattern, my v neck no collar pattern, and that will be made from a woven cotton fabric. By the time that one is made and wear tested I should have a completely new pattern with the correct sets of adjustments that I can use for some future sewing projects for myself.

Smaller? Yes! Easier? No!

I found it. When I made the purple Snoopy shirts from the pattern Sew Easy 118, I had bemoaned the fact that the smallest size in the pattern was a size 6. As you might know, I prefer to sew tab front shirts with a cut tab rather than a slit tab, so at the time I was wishing that pattern 118 also had smaller sizes. While digging in the pattern box for another pattern, I found the pattern Sew Easy 117, a cut tab front shirt in sizes 1 to 4. Obviously, I don’t remember buying this pattern or where it came from. But I am sure it came from the same thrift store as the pattern 118, and I probably got it at the same time), but somehow it had gotten separated from my other kid’s patterns and I was thrilled to find it again. I knew my next projects would be to make a kid’s shirts from this pattern.

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Setting on top of one of the piles in the stash was this red with stripes single knit fabric. I had pulled it out to make a sleeper from it but since it was just a scrap piece, there was not enough for a sleeper. It was though big enough for this pattern, size 1. I traced the size 1 pieces and quickly cut the pattern out. Once again, because the pattern was an older style, I shorten the tab, not by too much because I didn’t want to shorten it so much that the shirt would go over the kid’s head.

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Confident that I could easily sew up this tiny shirt in minutes, because I have sewn so many cut tab fronts on the husband’s shirt over the years, I started to sew. I was rudely awaken to the fact that the tiny cut tab front was not so easily stitched as he husband’s larger tabs. I learned very quickly to reduce the number of stitches per inch on the sewing machine as I unpicked and rest stitched the tab. The preset stitch length that I normally have my machine set on was to large to get nice even corners for the small tab. I also learned to cut the tab much more carefully. I learned that a larger tab,bigger shirt, is much more forgiving of sloppy sewing. So, my quick sew of this small shirt took a lot more time than expected but was definitely a learning experience.

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The embroidering on this small shirt was also not as fun as on a larger shirt. Most of my designs are approximately 4 by 4 inches. Although I could have squeezed a design that large on the front of this shirt,it would have laid from the tab to the armpit. Not really the look I wanted. So I had to pick a smaller design and even at that I had to pick one the was larger vertically than horizontally. Because I made this shirt with no design in mind to stitch on it, I was not disappointed when I finally picked Mickey Mouse as the finally design for this shirt. In fact, I love the Mickey on the shirt. The colors and Mickey mix well, and of course Mickey Mouse is always so cute.

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In the end, even though this did not turn out to be a quick easy sew, I am still thrilled to have this pattern, a cut tab front shirt in smaller sizes. I am planning to take the things I learn from makings this little shirt and make more.

Extras

After the puffy foam trials from a few blog posts back, I noticed that I was getting quite a stack of towels with designs embroidered on them. I decided that since I had the sleepers I was working on finished and the blankets all done and ready to go for gifts, I would go ahead and make these towels into baby bibs before I got started on another project.

I really enjoy making the towel baby bibs and in no time at all I had the ribbing picked out and I was sewing away on them.

Once those were completed I noticed that I still had some white and purple floral knit fabric left over from the little girl’s shirts I had recently finished, I decided to use up those scraps to make another sleeper with. I had previously picked out a Mickey and Minnie Mouse design to stitch on one of the shirts, but then I decided to use a Snoopy designs instead. But after that I still wanted to put the cute Mickey and Minnie design on something. Since the sleeper pattern was still out, I cut one out of the purple floral knit fabric and sewed it up. It turned out so cute and I just love the Mickey and Minnie embroidery design on it. And even though I thought that would use up all of that fabric, there is still plenty left over. I have not decided what I want to make next from the leftovers yet, so it might go back into the stash, but as a much smaller piece than before.

Little Girl’s Corduroy Jumper with Embroidered Pockets

I used Simplicity Pattern Number 7056 to make these little girl’s corduroy jumpers. As I had stated in a previous post, I purchased this pattern many years ago, so I would bet it is out of print by now. I picked the sizes that I was going to make based on the amount of fabric I had left of each piece of corduroy. So I ended up tracing a size 3 for the red corduroy and a size 4 for the purple corduroy from the pattern and I was on my way.


When I cut out the dress from the red corduroy, I found a flaw in the fabric so I did not have enough fabric for the facings of the jumper. Because of that I decided to use the same black fabric from the lining of the pockets to do the facings. Because this was a thinner, lighter weight fabric than the corduroy, I decided to use  interfacing on the facings of the red jumper. I did not interface the corduroy facings of the purple jumper.

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With both dresses cut out and the pockets all made up, the first step was to sew the pockets to the front of the dresses. Since I was putting two pockets on each jumper rather than just one as the original pattern called for, I was now the designer and could put them where I wanted. Not being very original, I just placed the red Mickey and Minnie pockets side by side. This looked cute to me since they were facing each other so I went ahead and stitched them down.

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The purple pockets on the other jumper took some more thought though. I tried to place the Bambi and Flower pockets side by side like I did the pockets on the red jumper but it was not as cute. Why were they not as cute I asked myself? Well it was because I had made the purple pockets first, so they suffered from the designs not being quite centered and the pocket’s curves not being quite even, since I was still experimenting with making lined pockets. So, sitting there side by side, the flaws of the pockets stood out like a sore thumb. So just as I decided to make the pockets again, the husband walked by and pushed one pocket up. There, that solved the problem! With the pockets not sitting next to each other, you did not notice the slight flaws in two pockets. Thanks to the husband the day was saved again.

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Not willing to use fusible interfacing on the red jumper and ruin what was turning out to be an adorable outfit, I used sew in interfacing. To help make it easier to sew in the interfacing, I used some spray on adhesive on the interfacing first before sewing. This made it like fusible interfacing and held it in place as I sewed. Using sewn interfacing with a little bit of spray on adhesive worked out so well, I plan to use the technique on other future projects.

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From there the jumpers sewed up quickly and easily. I had to remember how to use the “clip the curves” technique to aid in turning the facings, and clip an inward curve and “v” an outward curve. It was a lot of fun to see the jumpers come together. I had a great time picking out special buttons for each jumper as well. I am so excited about the finished jumpers, that I can’t wait to sew more of them. I know I have some nice soft tan corduroy in the stash and I want to make a jumper from denim too. Now my creative eye is on overload!

The Husband Must Really Love Me

You will never believe what the husband did. It just proves that he really loves me. The husband bought me fabric! Yes, you heard correctly and I will repeat it. The husband BOUGHT me FABRIC!

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Remember my blog post about the online fabric sale that Joann’s was having? Remember the piece of Mickey Mouse fabric that sparked me to actually make a purchase? Remember that the next day, I received an email telling me that that fabric was out of stock and would not ship? Well, the husband received an email later stating that that particular piece of Mickey Mouse fabric was back in stock and could be purchased at the sale price. The husband knew that I wanted that piece of fabric very badly and that I was disappointed when it had not shipped with the original order, so he decided to buy me a couple of yards. Isn’t he so sweet?

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It arrived the other day and I am excited to get creative with this piece of fabric and see what I can design and make from the husband’s fabulous purchase for me.

Making Pockets or The Curvy Conundrum

Years ago, I use to watch a PBS sewing program called The Sewing Connection with Shirley Adams. I really enjoyed the program. One week, Shirley was making kid’s clothes and stated that kids love pockets. Since then I have tried to include pockets whenever possible on the kid’s clothes I make, even though it would make the sewing of the clothes much simpler if I left the pockets out of the project. While trying to decide what I wanted to sew after the slit plackets learning experience, I stumbled across a pattern that I purchased many years ago for a simple little girl’s jumper. After seeing it I decided to just sew it up, and of course, the jumper would have pockets.

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The process started with a trip to the stash. For years I have collected small yardage amounts of corduroy to make little girl’s jumpers with, so I knew I already had the fabric to make this pattern. I dug through the stash and found two pieces of corduroy. Since pockets were a must on the jumper and I wanted to embroider on the pockets, I started to dig through the stash again looking for some matching fabric to make the pockets from. After several hours of searching the stash, the husband decided to check on me and make sure that the boxes had not tumbled over on me and crushed me to death. I showed him the two pieces of corduroy that I had found, so he asked why I was still digging through the boxes. I told him that I was looking for fabric for the pockets. He said, “Why not just use the corduroy?” I responded, “Because I want to embroider on the pockets.” To which he responded,”So.” Silly boy, you can’t embroidery on corduroy. Everyone knows that. Its actually printed in books. But, as I stared at the corduroy, I thought why not. The corduroy I had picked was not a deep welled corduroy. In fact it had very light wells. So, I decided to go for it.

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I cut out the dresses first, but more on that later. Then I hooped the scraps and started to embroidery. I did use Solvy stabilizer on top because of the corduroy. The designs stitched out fabulously with no problems on the corduroy. I was very excited. But,  as I learned later, the pocket construction learning process was just beginning.

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The first thing I learned was that even though the scrap was big enough to hoop, it was not big enough to center the embroidery design on the pocket. Oops! The pockets would need to be smaller than the pattern called for. Luckily, I learned this lesson early on with the first two embroidery designs and so I used larger scraps for the second two designs. I thought I was going to have to embroidery the first two designs again but I decided to try and make them work instead.

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Because of the embroidery designs, I decided that I wanted to line the pockets, so I put a piece of fabric over the thread on the back of the design, so that it would not be rough on the child’s hands or the thread would not get caught on something put in the pocket. This should be simple, I thought to myself. I would place the pocket and the lining right sides together, sew around the curve and finish off the top of the pocket. This is were I learned that I can not sew curves worth a darn! I sewed down one side and around the first curve ok, but sewing the second curve and back up the other side was not as simple. I could not get the same curve the second time. It did not match the first curve at all. I unpicked my sewing and tried again. It was a little better, but still not exact and so I tried it again. The third try was ok, but still not great. I decided to try the next pocket and I had the same problem. Was this going to be like the slit plackets and just take tons and tons of practice to get it right I wondered? I finally had a brilliant idea on the third pocket. I sewed down the side and first half of the curve and stopped at the center bottom of the pocket. I then turned the pocket over and did the same thing on on the opposite side. The results were great. I kept the same curve both sides this time. Hurray! Success was mine!

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I then had to launder the pockets first before I could iron them to dissolve the Solvy. This would tell me how the embroidery design really faired being stitched on corduroy. The embroidery design went through the washer and dryer perfectly and it did not seem to make a difference that it had been stitched on corduroy.

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It was now time to attach the pockets to the front of the dress.